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Welcome to the twenty fifth edition of my Westminster Report.
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Tom Pursglove MP's Westminster Report

It's a huge honour and a privilege to be your Member of Parliament for Corby and East Northamptonshire.

Welcome to my Westminster Report, where you can find out more about what I've been doing as part of my Listening Campaign, both in Westminster and across the constituency.

As always, if I can ever be of any help to you, please feel free to contact me at any time using the following details:

Address:
Tom Pursglove MP
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA

Email:
pursglovet@parliament.uk

 

Telephone:
020 7219 8043

I also hold weekly advice surgeries around the constituency, and as I said in the run up to the General Election, I remain committed to being Corby and East Northamptonshire's voice in Westminster and not Westminster's voice in Corby and East Northamptonshire.


Now, for some of what I've been getting up to, both locally and in Westminster!

With best wishes,




Tom Pursglove MP
Member of Parliament
Corby & East Northamptonshire


Address:
Tom Pursglove MP
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA

Email:
pursglovet@parliament.uk

Telephone:
020 7219 8043

Website:
www.votepursglove.co.uk
Contents:

Introduction

Tom in Westminster

Tom in Corby & East Northamptonshire

Lobbying Campaigns

Tom in the Press
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TOM IN WESTMINSTER
This week, the Boundary Commission for England announced its draft proposals for new constituency boundaries to come into effect at the next General Election in 2020. 
 
Prior to my election, Parliament voted for a new boundary review, with two objectives: to reduce the number of MPs by fifty, and to equalise constituency boundaries - ensuring that votes are of equal value across the country.
 
The current proposals, which are now being consulted upon, propose far-reaching changes to the boundaries of many constituencies, including ours.  In relation to Corby & East Northamptonshire, it is proposed that Irthlingborough is removed from the constituency and transferred to a revised Wellingborough constituency, despite it being a part of East Northamptonshire, and it having been a part of our constituency, since it was formed in 1983. 
 
It was also disappointing that the Commission is not proposing to formally change the name of the constituency to 'Corby & East Northamptonshire', rather than 'Corby' as is currently the case - despite the fact that politicians and members of the public always refer to it as "Corby & East Northamptonshire", recognising its diverse character and the two distinct parts that comprise it. 
 
As such, I am now working hard to listen to local feeling on these proposals and I will comment further in due course, having taken those soundings. I am, however, on the face of it, very disappointed that there is a possibility of Irthlingborough being lost from the constituency - something my Labour predecessor and I strongly agree on.  Whilst I agree with the need for equalisation, to my mind, the review should seek to displace as few voters as possible, and respect existing boundaries, along with geographical, local government, and historical synergies and connections.

Last Tuesday, during Justice Questions, I asked the Minister what progress the Department is making on ensuring that offenders find employment on release. The Minister described how most offenders arrive in prison with very low levels of educational attainment, very high levels of substance misuse, and a very poor employment history. He outlined how he believes that the purpose of modern prisons is to keep the public safe and to tackle each of those issues, so that prisoners have the foundations in place to secure and hold down a job upon their release. I then highlighted that research shows that employment after custody greatly reduces the chances of re-offending, and asked what work the Department is doing with the Department for Work and Pensions to make sure that offenders not only find work after they leave prison, but that they stay in work. You can see my question and the Minister’s answer, here.

Last week, during an Urgent Question on the topic of the Sellafield nuclear plant, I asked the Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, whether or not he agreed that it is essential that the BBC continues to give the same prominence to the regulator’s response as it has to the original claims made about safety concerns at the site. In responding, the Minister acknowledged that the television series, 'Panorama', has served an extremely useful function in this country for many years, by shining a spotlight on specific and important issues - something I too appreciate and commend. And, he agreed that it is important that we have proper transparency and accountability on such a fundamental matter, re-emphasising that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority have published their view that Sellafield is safe. He added that it is up to the BBC whether it continues to extend the balance shown in the programme and reflect that reality - personally, I believe this to be very important, not least because of the alarm that this programme has prompted in the local area, but also because of the more fundamental debate we are having in this country about the future of nuclear, which must be balanced and informed. You can see my question and the Minister’s answer, here.
On Monday, the Emergency Services Cadets Youth Action Group came to Westminster for a visit. They were taken on a tour of Parliament, and got the opportunity to see first-hand what happens here on a day-to-day basis. Afterwards, I met with them for a quick Q&A session, where it was interesting to hear the perspective of young people on the emergency services and politics more generally, and to hear what challenges there are facing the emergency services in their daily tasks. It was great to meet some of my young constituents and hear about the fantastic work they do through their volunteering!
Early this week, I was able to raise the steel issue twice with Ministers. On Tuesday in the House, I outlined how it is hugely encouraging that the Government are developing their comprehensive industrial strategy, which I believe will give a great confidence boost in our steel industry. I then asked the Minister if he would update the House on what early discussions he has had with the industry about its role in that. The Minister assured me that he has had extensive discussions with the steel industry over the summer, and added that it is very important that we should have a sustainable future for what has been, and is, a very important sector in our economy. You can watch my question and the Minister’s answer, here.
 
Furthermore, I also tabled a further question to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, in which I asked the Secretary of State what steps he is taking to improve the confidence of suppliers and customers in the future of the UK steel industry. I received a written answer from the Minister, in which he explained that the Government has been working closely with the industry to provide all the support it can during these difficult times. He also added that there has been significant progress made in addressing the challenges faced by the industry and that a Steel Council has been convened to ensure the Government’s continued support is targeted in the right areas.
On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting with a group from Maplefields Academy who came down to Westminster for a visit. The students enjoyed a tour of Parliament, where they were able to see what goes on every day in Westminster. Before they went on their tour, I was able to meet the students, where they had the opportunity to ask questions about what it is like being an MP. It was brilliant to meet the students, as well as their companion, Danny, who provides assistance as a reading dog, and hear their views on politics, and the work I do as their local MP!
This week, I was delighted to receive the award for Grassroots Sport Parliamentarian of the Year. The awards ceremony was hosted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance and also offered the opportunity to chat to the national governing bodies of many different sports, particularly about grassroots sport and recreation. I was delighted to be given this award for my work to try and protect parks and playing fields and for my parliamentary activities more generally to help promote sport.  As a keen sportsman myself, and a member of my local cricket club, I really appreciate how important it is to promote grassroots sport, and this was a great opportunity to hear about the work that the Sport and Recreation Alliance are doing.
Last Thursday, during the Urgent Question on the topic of new grammar schools, I asked the Secretary of State for Education if she agreed that not only do different things work in different areas, but it is essential that we have a mixture of routes by which our young people can go on to succeed. I added that surely it is only right that a new Government are reviewing exactly where we are, and looking at how best we can enhance what matters most: opportunity. In her reply, the Secretary of State agreed, and pointed out that we have 1.4 million more children in good or outstanding schools, and that this has been achieved in a variety of ways, in terms of what children are learning in the classroom, and also through schools working together more collaboratively. She also highlighted that we now need to ask how we can take that to the next level, and pointed out that, critically, for the 1 million-plus children who still are not reaching the attainment levels we want, and are living in parts of the country where they do not have a chance to get to a good school, we have to make sure that we change the terms of trade in terms of their educational opportunities. You can watch my question and the Secretary of State’s answer, here.
On Monday, during Defence Questions, I outlined how I wholly support the increasing use of small firms in defence procurement, and asked if the Minister would undertake to encourage those small firms to use British steel wherever possible. The Minister acknowledged that it is a process of encouraging competition, not only within the procurement process, but also where there are long lead-time items. She highlighted that in the strategic defence and security review, a large programme of investment in ships was set out, and in this programme there will be a lot of long lead-time items. The Minister also added that small business and producers will be able to work with those who are procuring contracts with prime contractors to find a place in that supply chain. You can watch my question and the Minister’s answer here.
Last week, during the Business Statement, I raised the steel issue once again. I outlined the anxiety caused in Corby by the ongoing discussions about the future of the steel industry, and I asked if we could have a statement from Ministers to update my constituents on exactly where we are with those discussions between the industry, the Department, and the unions. In his reply, the Leader of the House assured me that he would make sure that the Business Secretary and the International Trade Secretary were aware of my concerns. He said that he certainly understood the importance of the steel issue for my constituency and mentioned how the Prime Minister had raised the question of over-production on global markets in the plenary session of leaders while she had been in China at the G20, and that she hoped that would lead to the international powers considering a better way forward to manage this. You can see my question and the Leader of the House’s answer, here.
 
Last week, during Culture, Media and Sport Questions, I highlighted to the Minister that I recently had an opportunity to visit the excellent Corby Smash Table Tennis Centre, to see the brilliant new facilities, and also meet the staff and volunteers who work there. I asked the Minister what steps the Government is taking to promote the sport, and also asked if she would like to come along for a game when she is next in the area! The Minister replied that she was glad to learn that I had been inspired by Paul Drinkhall, the first GB player in 24 years to reach the last 16 in the Olympics, and added that she would love to come and visit. She also explained that the last time she visited a table tennis event, she got a bit over-competitive with some table-tennis-playing pensioners! You can see my question, and the Minister’s answer, here.
Last week, during the Prime Minister’s statement on the G20 summit, I informed the House that my constituents and I are both enormously encouraged by the international interest being shown in signing free trade deals with the UK, and I asked the Prime Minister if the G20 discussions confirmed my suspicion that interest in doing exactly that is only going to grow. I then asked if the Prime Minister also agreed that it is the particular responsibility of every Member of the House to shout from the rooftops for jobs and investment in this country.
In her answer, the Prime Minister confirmed that what was very welcome was the way in which a number of countries had approached her throughout the summit to say that they wanted to be sitting down and talking to the UK about trade deals. You can watch my question and the Prime Minister’s answer,
here.
Yesterday in the House, during Transport Questions, I highlighted how people in Corby would like to see a greater number of rail services, both northbound and southbound, and asked if Ministers would commit to factoring that into any future discussions that they have on rail capacity. The Minister assured me that he is always happy to take suggestions from all parts of the House as to how rail services can be improved across the country, and added that he looked forward to hearing more suggestions about how to do this in Corby. You can watch my question and the Minster’s answer, here.
On Thursday, in the House, I pointed out what a summer of sport we have had: Andy Murray winning at Wimbledon, scores of Olympic Golds, Paralympic success at the moment, and, perhaps most significantly, Northamptonshire winning the T20 Blast! (Well, I would say that as a Northamptonshire lad, wouldn't I?!) I went on to ask the Leader of the House, if, when the House returns in the autumn, we could have a debate about the stunning summer of sporting success. The Leader of the House said he could not promise a debate, but acknowledged that everyone in the House would not only want to congratulate the Olympians and Paralympians, but also Northamptonshire on their T20 triumph! I too add my huge congratulations - we are extremely proud of them all, but particularly of Club Captain, Alex Wakely, the players, and all involved at the County Ground.  You can watch my question and the Leader of the House’s answer, here.
Yesterday, during a statement on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, I acknowledged that this is a massive infrastructure project, and I welcomed the Secretary of State’s positive comments about the many opportunities it will bring for UK supply chains. I added that I hoped that those opportunities would be extended to the UK steel industry, urging the Secretary of State to get out there and make the case that all the steel used in the project should be British; plugging Corby tubes specifically! In his reply, the Secretary of State recognised that our Corby steel is of excellent quality, and advised that the commitment given to him by EDF was that 64%, by value, of the work will be with UK firms and that this will be of particular benefit to such firms and to the supply chain right across the country. You can watch my question and the Secretary of State’s answer, here.
TOM IN CORBY & EAST NORTHAMPTONSHIRE
Earlier, after attending one of my weekly surgeries in the constituency, I attended a Joint Action Group (JAG) meeting at East Northamptonshire Council, along with the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Stephen Mold, and East Northamptonshire councillors at the parish, town and district levels. This meeting was a useful platform to come together to discuss the main policing challenges which are affecting the people of East Northamptonshire, and discuss how we can best work together to ensure that these issues are addressed, and local priorities reflected in ongoing policing work.

I also made a visit to the newly refurbished McDonald’s in Corby at Phoenix Parkway. Whilst there, I had the opportunity to meet the enthusiastic and hard-working members of staff, and also meet with Glyn Pashley, the McDonald’s franchisee who runs 13 restaurants across the region, including the two in Corby. It was interesting to speak to him about his businesses, to have a tour of the operation, and also to hear about the day-to-day running of the restaurant, which looks incredibly smart after the refit!

I have recently received communication from East Northamptonshire Council regarding the Business Administration Apprenticeship which they offer. This scheme, based in Thrapston, offers people the opportunity to gain nationally recognised qualifications, whilst also earning a wage. The apprenticeship gives people the chance to play a support role to the Land Charges or Building Control team, and to achieve an NVQ in Business Administration; a great opportunity for a local person keen to build their skills, or get their foot on the first rung of the employment ladder! In order to find out more information please visit: http://www.east-northamptonshire.gov.uk/jobs

This month will see the Nene Valley Festival come to our area. This is an incredibly exciting event, which is being held over nine days from the 17th – 25th September, and includes many different events, taking place at a variety of venues spanning between Northampton and Peterborough. The festival is designed so that there is guaranteed to be something for everyone to enjoy, ranging from cultural heritage, local history, archaeology, the arts, leisure activities, and of course, food and drink! It is set to be a superb few days, and you can find out more information about the festival here.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a special Civic Service in Oundle at St. Peter’s Church, hosted by Cllr Rupert Reichhold, the Chairman of East Northamptonshire Council. The vicar of St. Peter’s, Reverend Stephen Webster, officiated and I was pleased to be asked to give a reading, along with Cllr Reichhold.  Three different charities were nominated by the Chairman to receive the money donated from the service; the National Autistic Society, the Royal Anglian Regiment Benevolent Charity and the Gurkha Welfare Trust - all very worthwhile and important causes, and it was also very pleasant to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon in the stunning setting of St Peter's.

Last Friday, after attending one of my weekly advice surgeries, I made a visit to Mademoiselle Desserts, for the opening of their new Corby site. It is fantastic that this business has relocated to Corby and I was shown around the factory, and saw how the desserts are made, whilst meeting with some of the dedicated workforce. I also met with the board of directors and heard about their plans for the future – as well as being offered the opportunity to try a few of the delicious desserts they produce!

I have recently received communication from Northamptonshire County Council regarding superfast broadband in Northamptonshire. I am pleased to say that approval has been granted for an open procurement for the next stage of the Superfast Northamptonshire project. This is the third project in the UK to get approval under the new State Aid regime. I know that many of my constituents will be pleased to hear this, as limited or poor broadband is an issue which affects many - particularly those based in rural areas. Indeed, rural areas will be a specific priority for the project, and rest assured that I will continue to press hard for early progress.

Last Tuesday, I was pleased to attend a joint meeting with my colleague, Peter Bone MP, as well as several representatives from Templar Strategies, in order to be updated on the Rushden Lakes development. Once opened, this exciting new development will offer fantastic new facilities for local people, not to mention around 1900 new jobs! During the meeting, the plans for road improvements were focussed upon, and I was able to hear how several nearby roads will be upgraded in order to ensure that this fantastic new development does not adversely affect the local transport situation.
LOBBYING CAMPAIGNS
As you might be aware, I am now responding to standard campaign emails via my website, here.  For ease, I also wanted to share the links to the most recent replies, which you can find below:

Give us the Internet we need 31-08-16

Dog Meat Trade 06-09-16

Spread of Bovine TB 06-09-16

Homelessness Reduction Bill 06-09-16

 
TOM IN THE PRESS
Chairman of East Northamptonshire Council welcomes local guests to special service

Northants Herald and Post, 6th September 2016


Gulf countries consortium 'seeking early free trade agreement' with Britain

Belfast Telegraph, 7th September 2016


Minister warns Corby of her table tennis skills

Northants Telegraph, 10th September


Corby and East Northants MP awarded for contribution to grassroots sport

Northants Telegraph, 13th September 2016
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