St Joseph’s Catholic School welcomes MP during ‘Send My Friend To School’ campaign

Victoria with Years 3 and 6 discussing Send My Friend To School

Victoria Prentis MP was welcomed to St Joseph’s Catholic School on Friday 26th June 2015. Victoria was given a full tour of the school by Deputy Head Teacher Mary-Claire Hardie.

Victoria was taken into each classroom at the school, on Fiennes Road, to meet with students. She met first with the Year 1 class, and was read to by students during literacy time, and visited the Nursery and Reception classes at playtime.

 

On meeting Year 2s and Mrs Thompson, Victoria gave a quick ‘parliamentary pop quiz’ to see how much the class knew about her work as MP. As part of the ‘Send my Friend to School’ campaign, Victoria and the children spoke about how fortunate they were to attend school and receive a good education. She spent time with Year 4 as they discussed what they would do to help children into education if they were world leaders.

Discussing aspirations with Year 2

Discussing aspirations with Year 2

 

On entering the main school hall, the Year 6 class and Mr Lewis were coordinating a variety of quizzes and tasks to explain what many children around the world would do on a daily basis, instead of attend school. The Year 6 class were explaining to Victoria, staff, and Year 3s that 89 million children around the world could not attend school. Instead children would need to do chores including washing clothes, preparing food, and fetching water.

 

 

Victoria commented “I was very proud to listen to the students. They had many impressive ideas which I have promised to take to the Prime Minister. It was a pleasure to watch the variety of projects the Year 6 had pulled together themselves, and I was excited to sit with Year 3 and take part in the quizzes! I was very grateful to receive the models of world leaders the students had made, and will be displaying them in my constituency office.

 

“I must thank the staff and students for making me feel so welcome. I’m looking forward to visiting again soon.”

Victoria meets Keep The Horton General to discuss hospital services

Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, spent time with the Keep the Horton General group on Friday morning (26th June), to keep up to date with the hospital’s progress.

 

Victoria with Keith Strangwood (l) and Dr Peter Fisher (r)

Victoria with Keith Strangwood (l) and Dr Peter Fisher (r)

Victoria met with Dr Peter Fisher and Keith Strangwood, of the local action group Keep the Horton General to ensure both sides could talk about the current and future plans for the hospital. Meeting at the Terence Mortimer Postgraduate Centre, Victoria spoke at length with Dr Fisher and Mr Strangwood on how services are performing at the much-loved local hospital.

 

Victoria commented “My love for the Horton General Hospital is no secret, and those living in Banbury and surrounding villages are very fortunate to have it. What is important now is ensuring we all work together to deliver the best possible care and services at the Horton – myself, the Keep the Horton General group, and the Oxford University Hospital Trust.

 

“I meet regularly with the Hospital Trust, and plan to do so with the Keep the Horton General group too. There are some fantastic facilities at the Horton and I am committed to ensuring they continue.”

MP meets St Mary’s School to learn about alternative travelling

North Oxfordshire’s MP Victoria Prentis visited St Mary’s School in Banbury on Friday 26th June. Children at the school wanted to show her their plans to travel to school without driving, led by the School Travel and Road Safety team (STARS).

 

26.06.15 With STARS team at St Mary's, Banbury USE

 

Victoria was shown around the school by Acting Head Teacher Tracy Ostler, parent governor Sarah Wallis, and the STARS team. The team is a group of students who encourage parents and staff to try and lessen how often they drive to school.

 

The children produced a PowerPoint presentation to show Victoria some of their work. They explained how they were travelling to school on foot, by bike, and on scooters as an alternative to their parents’ driving. Not only did this lessen congestion, but encouraged the children to consider healthier travel options.

 

After her visit, Victoria said “I was very impressed with the work the STARS team has undertaken. The children are working hard to encourage environmentally friendly travel. I was glad to see that safety was a key factor too.”

 

“I was grateful to the girls from STARS for their time, and thank all staff and students for welcoming me to their school.”

Victoria makes her Maiden Speech in the Commons

VP Maiden Speech 2

On Thursday 25th June North Oxfordshire MP, Victoria Prentis, made her first speech in the Commons.

Victoria was able to make her maiden speech during a debate on investigatory powers. The full text of her speech is below:

Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con): I am honoured to be called, after such distinguished speakers and in such an important debate, to give my maiden speech.

For me, paying tribute to my predecessor is more than a convention; it is something I do with real affection. Sir Tony Baldry has served our area since I was a little girl. In the 32 years he spent in this place, he helped, as a Minister, to privatise the energy industry, served as Chairman of the Select Committee on International Development, and, more recently, sat on the Government Benches as Second Church Estates Commissioner. He acted as the voice of God in this place and was responsible for everything from bats and bishops to blasphemy. Sir Tony believes in God, but he also believed in Mrs Thatcher. In his first political job as a young man, he was proud to act as keeper of the hairspray. He is loved locally as our very own “Sir Cumference”, but it is his loyalty, decency and sheer hard work that will make him so hard to follow.

There is another former Member, now in another place, to whom I must pay tribute. I owe to my father my lifelong knowledge of, and love for, our area and its people. I am one of the very fortunate band of Members able to represent their home-town.

North Oxfordshire is a beautiful place to live. I am sure many Members can picture our river valley, rolling hills and medieval churches encircled by villages. It is true that at home I make cider and keep ferrets.

Four generations of my family have the soil of north Oxfordshire under our fingernails, yet this is only partially a rural constituency. The vast majority of my constituents live in one of our two major thriving and substantial market towns: Banbury and Bicester.

Business is booming. Thanks to the long-term economic plan and the impressive industry of my constituents, we have almost no unemployment. That is not something my predecessor was able to say until the very end of his term here. We excel at food production and engineering, often with agricultural roots; town and country balanced to provide the perfect setting. The Bicester hunt meets in a factory that produces engines for lawnmowers. The diversity of commerce found in converted barns is extraordinary. We have high-end technical businesses, hospitality and national charities where once we had cowsheds.

Many of those businesses now operate internationally. Whatever the result of the referendum, our businesses need an easily accessible market for trade in Europe and strong global trading connections. Bicester village is the most visited attraction outside London for Chinese tourists and is known to many well-dressed Members of this House. All this is, in part, down to our very fortunate geographical position. We benefit from superb road and rail links, with which I am, as a commuter who lives in the middle of the constituency, very familiar. We also have the excellent Horton general hospital, where I was born, which now boasts more consultants than ever before.

It does not surprise me that so many people want to move to our area and join us. The challenge facing us over the next few years is how to manage unprecedented expansion across the area and to ensure that Bicester can blossom into a garden town. We must provide new infrastructure and work hard to ensure that we preserve what matters to us while building for the future.

Although I love my home, I am not blind to its problems. I am proud that this summer, for the first time, students in all our secondary schools will finally be able to take A-levels, but we must raise aspirations much higher. Child sexual exploitation has been a problem for us, but it is being recognised and tackled at all levels, not least by the changes I hope we will make following today’s debate.

As the mother of two girls, I am acutely aware of the pressures now heaped on our children in the social media age. Creative measures to build their self-worth and to protect them must be a priority for us all this Parliament. Only by tackling these difficult issues can we create the one nation we have pledged to deliver. Compassionate Conservatives, such as my predecessor and my father, know that the marginalised and vulnerable must be protected for society to thrive.

As a Conservative, I am committed to standing up for the rights of the individual. I am fortunate to have had a front seat in courts for the development of human rights law over the last 20 years. When I started out as a young Government lawyer, protecting issues of national security, we used to joke that we represented “the powers of darkness”. Since then, battle-hardened by so many inquests into the deaths of servicemen killed fighting for us, those who died in the 7/7 bombings and, more recently, Alexander Litvinenko, it has become ever clearer to me that our Security Services are nothing of the sort. They have been proved repeatedly to be both efficient and decent, and a great example of the values we hold so dear in this country. They, and others in our civil service, get on with the business of protecting us for modest salaries and little public recognition. We are lucky to have them.

We face a grave combination of threats. We must not allow those who mean to harm us to exploit any credibility gap in our regulation of investigatory powers. Checks and balances are welcome, but the process must not become so burdensome as to result in delays that mean we cannot respond to threats as quickly as we need to. As a lawyer, married to another lawyer, I am of course very comfortable with the idea of judicial oversight! This is precisely what judges are trained for and able to provide and they are very good at it, but the system must retain sufficient flexibility to enable us to act at great speed when necessary.

I am indebted to my pupil master, my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), for his support throughout my legal career. I was amused to note that he, and several of the initiates on the Opposition Benches, were happy to admit that they find the existing regulatory framework somewhat difficult to understand. I share their concerns, but at this stage of my parliamentary career, I am not going to make any such admissions! Going forward, I would add that we must make sure that the language used is wide enough to encompass threats that have not yet materialised—whether or not they be at a school sports day. Technology is moving faster than regulatory drafting.

Our regulation of investigatory powers should be seen in the wider context of protections that we are fortunate to enjoy in the United Kingdom. As a nation, we should be proud of our record on human rights. In the 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta, our perceptions have quite rightly evolved. The greatness of the common law is that it has evolved with them. The European convention on human rights is a masterful document, and we must remain a signatory to it, but it is very much a product of the cataclysmic events that it was designed to prevent from re-occurring. In this country, the courts are unable to quash an Act of Parliament. It seems we need to re-state that, while our courts should have regard to the decisions of the ECHR, these are on the same footing, and Parliament is sovereign. I am pleased that the Government are consulting wide legal minds in a variety of venues on how to take this forward.

We can now, if we wish, formulate rights for today—including, for example, parental rights and those of children—and we can discuss sexuality and disability rights in a way that would have been unthinkable 65 years ago. I hope that, in so doing, we can deal with some of the more unwieldy aspects of the Human Rights Act. I have seen how the principle of extra-territoriality adds to the burdens on the soldiers whom I was so proud to represent, and how the interpretation of the investigative obligation under article 2 has benefited lawyers rather than bereaved families. I have seen those who face the enemy with bravery quail at the idea of a significant disclosure exercise. We must not allow excessive requests for paperwork and over-burdensome oversight to become themselves deadly weapons.

I am, as I said, battle-hardened, but not battle-weary, and I look forward to fighting hard to represent the people of north Oxfordshire in the years to come.

Victoria is appointed to Justice Select Committee

New MP for North Oxfordshire, Victoria Prentis, has been appointed to the Justice Select Committee.

Victoria said: “I am delighted to have been chosen to sit on the Justice Select Committee. During the last Parliament, the Committee examined a diverse range of issues from sentencing guidelines to the role of the probation service.I look forward to our first meeting and getting to work.”

Further information about the committee can be found here.

Victoria sets out her position on Tuesday’s High Speed Rail motion

Victoria made some enquiries ahead of the HS2 debate on Tuesday 23rd June in the House of Commons.

The motion related to the following amendments which are relevant to her constituency:

  1. Additional land for the temporary diversion of Featherbed Lane and relocation of Featherbed Lane overbridge satellite compound
  2. Realignment of Footpath 303/7
  3. Additional land for the reconfiguration of environmental mitigation at Mossycorner Spinney
  4. Additional land for the widening of bridleways CHW/24/1 and 225/4
  5. Additional land for the reconfiguration of wetland habitat at Moat Farm, Godington

Victoria said:

“These are clearly improvements which have been made following requests by petitioners. In the end, there wasn’t a vote this afternoon; I can assure my constituents that my views on the HS2 project as a whole remain the same.”

Fritwell School welcomes Victoria

Victoria with Fritwell students

Victoria with Fritwell students

Fritwell School welcomed local MP Victoria Prentis for a tour of the school on Friday 19th June. Victoria was also delighted to open the school’s Reflection area.

Victoria was able to see many fantastic examples of artwork completed by the children, as Friday marked the end of Art Week at the school.

The new Reflection area, formally opened by Victoria, now offers the school a dedicated area for pupils to consider questions or issues that are important to them.

After the visit, Victoria said: “Thank you very much to everyone for taking the time to show me around the school. I saw some very impressive artwork from the children to mark the end of Art Week. I was also thrilled to open the Reflection space at the school, which will offer a perfect spot for students to take a moment out to think.

I look forward to seeing everyone again soon, and wish the year six students luck in their new secondary schools from September”

Dementia activity cafe reminds MP of importance of support

VP Age UK Dementia Day

Member of Parliament for Banbury Victoria Prentis visited a dementia activity café in Banbury on Friday 19th June, as part of Dementia Day.

The singing session at the café, organised by AgeUK Oxfordshire, allowed Victoria to see directly the benefits the café can deliver to those in the community suffering from dementia.

Victoria commented “I was happy to spend time at the café, and the environment was so welcoming. I had the chance to meet people who suffer from dementia, but also their family, friends and carers who support them on a daily basis.

“I am proud that the Prime Minister and this government is clear in its view that dementia needs greater attention – to identify, diagnose, and support patients. We must do all we can. Our GPs are working hard on identifying the signs of dementia so we can diagnose sooner. I am grateful too to Oxfordshire social care and NHS services, as well as private homes and carers, who are offering vital support in our communities. With everyone working together I am sure we will make great strides to ensure we provide the best support to those who are diagnosed, and their families.”

MP joins service of celebration at Ambrosden church

Victoria Prentis MP joined the congregation of the Church of St Mary the Virgin’s for their Service of Celebration on 18th June in Ambrosden.

The church held a celebratory service to thank the community for supporting their renovation efforts. The ‘West End’ project was recently completed, bringing together the conclusion of a number of major works at the church. Recent works have included electrical rewiring, redecoration, and the replacement of the chancel roof.

“What a fantastic evening” noted Victoria, “I was grateful for the invitation from the churchwardens and Reverend Canon Charles Masheder. The service led by Bishop Colin Fletcher was full of life. The bishop flushed the new lavatory to prove it worked, before the final hymn!

I always enjoy the chance to see first-hand the results of a strong community-led project. The church is now a fantastic venue for a variety of community events, and I look forward to attending more of them!”

Victoria responds to Cllr Woodcock’s letter in the Banbury Guardian

Response to Cllr Sean Woodcock, sent to Banbury Guardian 16.06.15 and not printed

As he has before, Cllr Woodcock has declared that he will vote to remain a member of the EU regardless of the outcome of the negotiations proposed by the Prime Minister.

I do not share this view. Our current relationship is not what was signed up for when the 1975 referendum on membership of the EEC took place. Reform is necessary.

When we have the final options in front of us we will be able to decide whether membership of the EU remains in this country’s best interests. In my view no informed decision can be made until we know the lay of the land; unless like Cllr Woodcock you think nothing needs to change.

A referendum on Europe is long overdue. The majority of people in this country have never had the opportunity to cast their vote on this issue. My vote will help decide the outcome, but it will be equal to that of any other elector in the country. When the votes have been counted and the result is declared, the people of Britain will have decided what path we shall take.

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