Tag Archives: featured

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.

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 says Style Acre Banbury resource offers “fantastic opportunities”

VP Style Acre

Victoria Prentis MP attended the formal opening of Style Acre Banbury Resource (SABRe) on Butchers Row, Banbury, on Friday 12th June.

Along with many other local people and businesses, Victoria attended the ribbon cutting ceremony. SABRe was opened by Vice Patron John Craven OBE, and attendees were well fed with sandwiches, chicken, pizza and cake from local charity Banbury Youth Homeless Project (BYHP).

The centre offers a variety of resources for young adults with mild and moderate learning difficulties to meet, learn, and be supported to increase their skills. There are computers available, a sensory room, and places to meet. Above the centre are four apartments, supporting young adults with mild to moderate learning difficulties to live as independently as possible.

After the event, Victoria commented “what a fantastic facility to have, right in the middle of Banbury. This will offer so many opportunities to young people. I know the centre is working closing with local specialist schools and the council to offer ongoing support for young people, many of whom will have just left school. You can get work experience at the centre too, which is brilliant!

“The apartments upstairs were amazing. They offered a combination of high specification good quality accommodation, and appropriate design to meet the needs of those who might use a wheelchair or require that extra bit of support around the home.

“I am excited to see what SABRe will deliver in future. Of course as the young people learn new skills and gain confidence, they’ll move on to work or other things. The centre has the potential to help many many more people in the coming years.”

Local MP visits Banbury Citizens Advice Bureau

VP Banbury CAB

Victoria Prentis, MP for North Oxfordshire, visited the Citizens Advice offices on Friday 5th June to discuss local issues with staff, and have a full tour of the building and services on offer.

Victoria was greeted by Sharon Graham, Operations Manager for Banbury, and Barbara Shaw, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Banbury, South Northants and West Oxfordshire. Victoria met with Barbara and Sharon to look in detail at issues effecting those living the constituency. They also spoke about ways in which the Citizens Advice team and MP can work together for the benefit of the constituency.

Victoria was given a full tour of the building, meeting staff who volunteer advice in fields such as transport, housing, debt and benefits.

Victoria commented “I was delighted to visit the CAB. I know the team celebrated their 50th birthday the night before, and have been going from strength to strength locally – winning awards including the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and supporting our community. It was perfectly timed to coincide with National Volunteering Week, allowing me an opportunity to extend my thanks to every staff member for their hard work. I am sure we’ll be in touch regularly in future.”

Barbara commented “Working closely with our local MP is an important part of the service we offer to clients. We are looking forward to working with Victoria and her team to find workable solutions to some of the problems faced by local residents.”

Victoria is sworn in to the House of Commons

VP Swearing In (1)

On Wednesday 20th May, Victoria took to the floor of the Commons to be sworn in.

All Members of Parliament, regardless of whether they have served in a previous Parliament, must take an oath or affirmation before they are allowed to speak in a debate or participate in a vote. In fact, if a Member does not take their oath but subsequently sits in a debate or votes they can be fined £500 and they have to vacate their seat!

The full wording of the Oath is as follows:

“I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.”

Swearing in takes place over a number of days following the Speaker’s Election which took place on Monday. The next time Victoria will take to the green benches will be next Wednesday 27 May after the State Opening of Parliament. It is anticipated that Victoria will make her maiden speech some time during the week beginning 1st June.

Victoria visits Bicester Community College

From left to right: Head Boy Mj Oosthuizen, Head of PE Sarah Calnan, Head Teacher Tony Rushworth, Victoria Prentis MP, Maths Teacher Suzannah Wake, and Deputy Head Teacher Tim Marston.

Victoria Prentis, Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire, spent Friday morning at school at Bicester Community College, briefly attending lessons including Maths, Art and English.

 

Victoria visited Head Teacher Tony Rushworth and a number of his staff, to speak in more detail about the school’s future plans and ever improving standards. She was then given a tour of the school with staff and Head Boy Mj Oosthuizen.

 

Victoria said “I was so happy that one of my first of many visits as MP for North Oxfordshire was to a greatly improved school.  I was very impressed with the steps Bicester Community College have taken to offer the best opportunities for students.  I am excited for their future, and know staff have a clear vision of aspiration for the young people studying there.”

 

Mr Rushworth commented: “We were pleased to welcome Victoria to our school and to be able to demonstrate the pride and commitment of our staff and students.

 

“This is an exciting point in the school’s development, as we prepare to re-launch as The Bicester School, an academy sponsored by Activate Learning, in September.

 

“Victoria recognised the significant improvements which have already been delivered and we look forward to building on these for the further benefit of pupils and the local community.”

Thank you for supporting Victoria!

VPGEThanks

On Friday May 8th at approximately 07:20, Victoria was declared elected Member of Parliament for North Oxfordshire.

“I want to thank every single person who put their faith in me. I’m delighted to be the MP for the area I call home. I promise to work hard and be a strong voice for the constituency.”
Victoria Prentis

Victoria Prentis – Conservative 30,749 53%
Sean Woodcock – Labour 12,354 21.3%
Dickie Bird – UKIP 8,050 13.9%
John Howson – Lib Dem 3,440 5.9%
Ian Middleton – Green 2,686 4.6%
Roseanne Edwards – National Health Action 729 1.3%

Turnout was 65.84%

General Election 2015 Literature

VPGELeaflets

You can download a digital copy of all of Victoria’s election literature. With the exception of a free mailshot via the Royal Mail (granted to all General Election candidates) all of the literature has been delivered by volunteers – sorry if they didn’t manage to get to your house!

Herald Newspapers EDITION ONE – Delivered February/March 2015
VPCherwellHeraldBanbury1_Page_1 VPCherwellHeraldBicester1_Page_1 VPCherwellRuralNorth1_Page_1 VPCherwellRuralSouth1_Page_1
The Banbury Herald
The Bicester Herald
The Cherwell Herald – Northern Edition
The Cherwell Herald – Southern Edition

Herald Newspapers EDITION TWO – Delivered March/April 2015
VPCherwellHeraldBanbury2_Page_1 VPCherwellHeraldBicester2_Page_1 VPCherwellRuralNorth2_Page_1 VPCherwellRuralSouth2_Page_1

The Banbury Herald

The Bicester Herald
The Cherwell Herald – Northern Edition
The Cherwell Herald – Southern Edition

Election Addresses – Delivered April 2015
VPElectionAddress1_Page_1 VPElectionAddress2_Page_1

First Election Address

Second Election Address

Visit to Banbury Litho

DSC00239_crop

Victoria visited local printers, Banbury Litho on Tuesday 21st April to see her latest election leaflet coming off the presses.

“I’m proud that my election address is being printed locally, I strongly believe in supporting local businesses. Banbury Litho is a fantastic example of how well businesses have come since the dark days at the end of the last Labour government.”
Victoria Prentis

1 9 10 11 12