19 SEP 2014

CAROLINE WELCOMES ¬‘NO¬’ VOTE & CALLS FOR MORE POWERS FOR ENGLAND

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has this morning welcomed the news that the Scottish people have voted against independence and is calling for a review of the existing devolution framework.

Yesterday's landmark referendum rightly gave the people of Scotland the opportunity to decide on their own future, however, learning that the country will remain part of the United Kingdom comes as welcome news to many.

In response to the referendum, Caroline is backing the calls to give English people more power by revising the devolution framework that was put in place by the last Labour Government.

"I am pleased that the Scottish people have voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. The UK is stronger with Scotland, and Scotland is stronger as part of the UK.

However, following this referendum, Scotland will have new powers; so should England. It is absolutely right that English MPs should be the only elected representatives with the right to vote on issues that only affect English people.

The majority of the letters that I have received on the issue of the Scottish Referendum were asking if, in the case of a yes vote, shipbuilding would return to Portsmouth. That's symptomatic, not of an area that doesn't fully appreciate the historic ties that mean we are better together, but more a reflection that English people feel it's time we were allowed to put our own interests first."

Caroline will continue to support the campaign for a review of the devolution framework.


17 SEP 2014

CAROLINE ATTENDS SOUTHAMPTON BOAT SHOW

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage yesterday visited the Southampton Boat Show where she met with a number of local marine businesses and attended an event to commend the success of maritime apprentices.

The Southampton B

Caroline also met Sir Ben Ainslie who was giving out awards to apprentices from the marine sector, and speaking about his Portsmouth Harbour-based Americas Cup venture.oat Show takes place every year, showcasing the best of the British marine industry. Amongst the other exhibitors, Gosport's own Haslar Marina and Marine Advertising Agency were promoting their services at the event.

Speaking after the event, Caroline commented:

"I always enjoy attending the Southampton Boat Show and particularly seeing local marine companies flying the flag for Gosport.

This year, I was honoured to join Sir Ben Ainslie at the Apprenticeship Graduation Awards and was delighted to hear about his hopes for local apprentices in the lead up to the Americas Cup. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for young people to develop industry specific skills and Sir Ben's project will offer terrific opportunities to those in our area who are passionate about the maritime sector."

Since her election, Caroline has worked hard to promote Gosport as a world-class marine and sailing destination. She was instrumental in the formation of the Gosport Marine Scene group in 2012.

The Southampton Boat Show will run until Sunday 21st September.


16 SEP 2014

PARLIAMENTARY GROUP FOR MATHS AND NUMERACY PUBLISHES FIRST PAPER

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has welcomed the publication of a new briefing document on the issues of maths and numeracy in the UK.

The paper was put together by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Maths and Numeracy which Caroline established at the beginning of the year and highlights some startling facts about numeracy skills in the UK. For example, only one in five 16-64 year olds in England have numeracy skills roughly equivalent to GCSE grade C.

Caroline said:

"This Parliamentary Group was launched to shed light on the huge impact that poor numeracy has on individuals and our economy as well as to make recommendations about how the situation could be improved. With an estimated cost to the UK economy of £20 billion per year, the Group's first publication sheds light on the need to address poor numeracy urgently.

I am confident the Group's future work will continue to place pressure on policymakers, maintaining momentum in this important campaign to boost numeracy skills in the UK."

Caroline has long campaigned on the importance of numeracy and literacy. Most recently, she was instrumental in securing a landmark Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee inquiry into literacy and numeracy which presented its findings earlier this month.

You can access the full report here: APPG Briefing Paper


11 SEP 2014

CAROLINE DEMANDS TOUGHER ACTION ON LATE PAYMENT

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage today pushed the Government to introduce tougher measures for large companies that fail to pay their bills on time. Late payment is one of the most serious issues affecting small businesses; with research showing that in 2011, 125,000 businesses were almost put out of business by late payment; and the local MP, who is the PM's Small Business Ambassador for the South has repeatedly pushed the Government to take a firmer stance on big companies failing to pay small businesses on time.

Speaking in the chamber, Caroline said, "Businesses in my region really welcome proposals in the Small Business Bill on prompt payment but with £46 billion currently owed to businesses in the UK, up £10 billion on last year, as the bill goes forward will the Minister consider making the code even tougher, and broadening it to more companies?"

Responding for the Government, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation, and Skills Vince Cable replied:

"Well she's quite right that particularly given the overall problems with access to finance for small and medium sized companies, the issue of late payment is critical and it is on a massive scale as she describes. We will in the course of this bill be making it much more transparent; how larger companies in particular make their payments, helping small companies in that way. I'm very happy to look at how we can strengthen the code and indeed we are talking to the institute of credit management about how we can do that."

Commenting outside the chamber, Caroline said, "As a small business owner I know first-hand the problems a late payment can cause for small and medium sized firms. This Government has a good record on backing small businesses – but we need to go further in tackling a widespread and harmful culture of larger firms failing to pay smaller companies on time."


11 SEP 2014

CAROLINE CONTINUES CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER RAIL LINKS

Local MP Caroline Dinenage today continued her fight for improved rail links between Portsmouth and London, during Questions to the Leader of the House in Parliament.

Improving the transport links to her Gosport constituency has been a key priority for Caroline since she was elected in 2010; having successfully secured a number of significant funding packages for local roads, she is calling for reduced journey times and better conditions on the rail route between Portsmouth and London.

Caroline asked:

"In light of South West Trains' announcement that £210 million will be invested in rolling stock and not a single penny will be used on rail routes between Portsmouth and London, will the Leader of the House agree to a debate on the much needed improvements to this important route which has been painfully neglected for decades?"

The Leader of the House, William Hague MP, replied:

"The investment that my Honourable Friend is referring to is the investment coming in to provide additional capacity to meet the expected increase in the number of peak time passengers arriving at London Waterloo and this is targeting the suburban network by creating extra platform capacity.

There will be a small number of evening peak services to Portsmouth that will be lengthened with more cars in the train, something that I hope she will welcome, but I know she will continue to make the case for investment that benefits her constituents and again there are many opportunities open to my Honourable Friend and Honourable Members to raise such issues in the House."

Speaking outside the Chamber, Caroline said:

"Whilst vast amounts of money are being ploughed into rail projects and route upgrades across the country, Gosport is still the largest town in the UK without a railway and commuters travelling between Portsmouth and London are still faced with a journey that takes longer than that from London to Doncaster, a distance that is more than twice as far.

I hope that the Government will recognise the need to improve connectivity to the South Coast and work with providers to secure improvements."

Today's question follows a Parliamentary debate which Caroline led in March, during which she urged the Government to invest more money in the transport network across the Solent region.


09 SEP 2014

CAROLINE URGES GOVERNMENT TO IMPROVE LITERACY RATES IN OUR PRISONS

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage today pushed the Government to cut reoffending and improve rehabilitation by helping inmates improve their reading skills. The move came following a report by the Business, Innovation, and Skills Committee which emphasised how the ability to read is critical to the rehabilitation of inmates, and the local MP called on the Government to ensure that all prison libraries are open at weekends.

Speaking in the chamber, Caroline said, "Can I ask the Sec of State to carefully consider the report from the Business, Innovation, and Skills select committee that was published this week that shows that improved literacy really supports rehabilitation and recommends that prison libraries should be open at weekends?"

The Secretary of State for Justice replied that he would "read this very carefully indeed", commenting that this was "a very helpful contribution to how we address the literacy problem."

He also took the opportunity to "pay tribute to all of the volunteers in the Toe by Toe programme, and also to all the prisoners who can themselves read, who devote time to helping those who cannot, to do so."

Speaking outside the chamber Caroline said,

"There is a clear link between those people who leave prison without any real skills and those who instantly slip back into a life of crime. If we don't equip people with the right skills then we can't hope to properly rehabilitate them. The ability to read is so fundamental that we have to do everything we can to make sure that everyone leaving prison can read and write well – only then can they get on in life and make a real, positive contribution to society."


08 SEP 2014

CAROLINE COMMENDS LOCAL LITTER ACTION GROUP

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage today praised the work of Gosport and Lee Litter Action during questions to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The local organisation is part of a wider national campaign to keep Britain's streets tidy. It has held a number of events across the Gosport and Lee-on-the-Solent area, bringing residents together to tackle the litter problem locally.

Caroline asked:

"This Saturday, I will be cleaning up Gosport with my local Litter Action group. In light of the recent launch of the DCLG Select Committee inquiry into litter, will the Minister join me in commending the Litter Action initiative which sees community volunteers from across the UK working to keep their local streets clean?"

Responding on behalf of the Government, the Minister responsible, Kris Hopkins MP, said:

"Well I fully commend the work of the group that she is supporting and also just to say that my own previous authority we identified six million pounds will have been spent on picking up litter; and across the country if you added that together, how many more elderly people could we be supporting? How many individuals in schools? How many books could be buy for libraries? It's about the lack of responsibility of the individual which needs to be addressed and challenged."

Speaking outside the Chamber, Caroline said:

"Not only is litter a vastly expensive problem, it is also an eyesore which can give an area an unflattering reputation. I hope that the Select Committee's inquiry will help inform the Government about how best to tackle this widespread issue and in the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing members of the local community on Saturday for our 'Big Clean Up' here in Gosport."


08 SEP 2014

CAROLINE WELCOMES ADULT LITERACY & NUMERACY REPORT

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has this morning welcomed the publication of the long-awaited Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee report on adult literacy and numeracy.

Caroline is one of eleven members of the Committee which looks into Government policy and makes recommendations about how it could be improved. She led a debate in Parliament on the issueof literacy and numeracy problems amongst the adult population last year and campaigned passionately for the Committee to investigate the matter further.

The report reveals that there is still an alarmingly high proportion of adults with low literacy and numeracy skills and that previous Government interventions have not been effective. A number of recommendations are outlined in the report, such as reassessing the funding provision for literacy and numeracy courses and moving away from the traditional approach to qualification attainment. The Committee also calls on Government departments to implement a joined-up plan to address the problem.

Caroline commented:

"The scale of adult literacy and numeracy problems in the UK is a huge cause for concern. With a large proportion of the adult population unable to reach their full potential because of weak basic skillsets; it is not just affecting individuals, it is impacting upon Britain's economy as a whole.

That is why it was so important that the BIS Select Committee looked into the matter, taking evidence from organisations and stakeholders with experience in the adult skills sector. I was delighted that Gosport-based charity 'We Can Read' and St. Vincent College were asked to provide their invaluable insights during the oral evidence sessions.

I hope that the publication of this report will shed light on the issue and encourage the Government to do more to tackle this longstanding problem."

For the first time, the BIS Select Committee has produced a video to accompany the report which features Caroline and the Committee Chair, Adrian Bailey MP, setting out the recommendations. You can watch the video online here: http://youtu.be/eC33GxFBCYc.

The full report is available on the BIS Select Committee website: http://bit.ly/1k8di4s.


03 SEP 2014

CAROLINE HOSTS BOSOMBUDDIES IN PARLIAMENT

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage today hosted the charity, BosomBuddies, in Parliament for an event aimed at raising awareness about the importance of the early detection of breast cancer.

Through BosomBuddies, breast cancer survivors ('Buddies') have been deployed to visit schools across the country speaking to girls of Year 11 age about how they can self-examine and why early detection of the disease is so crucial. The Buddies also offer support to young girls who may have been affected by breast cancer indirectly – living with a family member who is undergoing treatment for the disease.

Whilst 1 in 8 women in the UK will get breast cancer at some point in their lives, 1 in 3 still do not self-examine. The charity is now looking to recruit more Buddies from across the UK and to get MPs to promote the initiative in their constituencies, hence the event in Parliament.

Speaking in support of the initiative, Caroline said:

"BosomBuddies is made up of a truly inspirational group of women who are reaching out to young girls and ensuring that the next generation is better prepared to protect itself against breast cancer.

Early detection is absolutely key to tackling this disease which is why I am delighted to be supporting this accessible and informative initiative."

Over the next few months, Caroline will be working to create linkages between BosomBuddies and schools in Gosport, Stubbington, Lee-on-the-Solent and Hill Head.


03 SEP 2014

CAROLINE WELCOMES EXPANSION OF FREE CHILD CARE

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has welcomed the news that from this week, the Government has extended the entitlement of 15 hours of free early education to the 40 per cent of most disadvantaged two-year-olds.

At present, 116,000 two-year-olds benefit from this initiative and from this week, eligibility will be extended to encompass over 260,000 children, including 4,000 two-year-olds in Hampshire. The Government already offers 15 hours of free early education per week to all three- and four-year-olds.

Speaking in support of the news, Caroline said:

"Giving children an equal start in life and ensuring that they are ready for school is hugely important. That is why I am pleased that this Government has expressed its commitment to giving the most disadvantaged two-year-olds 15 hours of free early education.

This will help to ensure that all children are able to reach their full potential, regardless of their background."

Alongside this, the Government now meets up to 70 per cent of childcare costs for low and middle income families through tax credits. It is introducing tax-free childcare from autumn 2015 which will see all eligible families receive up to £2,000 towards each child's childcare costs.


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