Caroline Dinenage MP has welcomed the unanimous passage of two important Private Members' Bills through parliament.
Both Kevin Hollinrake's Parental Bereavement Bill, which will give employed parents two weeks paid leave if they lose a child under the age of 18, and Chris Bryant's Assaults on Emergency Workers Bill, which will create a new offence of assaulting an emergency worker, have progressed to the Committee Stage unopposed. All Bills must pass through several stages, in both the Commons and the Lords, before becoming law.
Most primary legislation passed by Parliament originates from bills introduced by the Government. However, Private Members' Bills are Public Bills introduced by MPs and Lords who are not government ministers. Both of the Bills heard today were presented to Parliament through the ballot procedure. As there is enormous pressure on the time available for debating bills introduced by backbench Members, priority in the use of this time is established by a ballot held shortly after the beginning of each parliamentary session.
Commenting, Caroline said: 'Private Members' Bills are a really important mechanism for enabling all MPs to shape legislation, and Kevin and Chris have done a fantastic job in bringing parliamentary attention to these really important issues. Creating a new offence of assaulting an emergency worker sends a clear message that this will not be tolerated, whilst granting bereaved parents paid leave is a compassionate, necessary policy that may go some small way towards making an awful situation more bearable. I'm glad the Bills are progressing so well through parliament, and look forward to seeing them enter law.'
Caroline Dinenage MP has welcomed news that Hampshire County Council is to receive a £6.9 million funding boost to extend the Bus Rapid Transit busway from Tichborne Way to Rowner Road. Caroline leant her full support to the Council's funding bid, which was submitted over the summer.
Funding will be awarded through the Department of Transport's National Productivity Investment Fund, which aims to ease congestion, provide upgrades on important local routes, and unlock economic and job creation opportunities. Hampshire County Council is one of a number of local highway authorities in England which have been successful in bidding for funding. In total, the funding will enable projects worth more than £527 million to go ahead, with £345.3 million of the Department's funding.
The Rapid Transit Eclipse services have achieved growth of around 65% compared to the services they replaced, which has led to an overall increase in bus use in Gosport and Fareham of 12%. Customer survey results have reinforced this success, and First now operate Eclipse services every five minutes in each direction along the busway. An independent case study carried out by KPMG has indicated that for every £1 spent on the Gosport-Fareham BRT, the scheme has delivered up to £6.94 of benefits to users, non-users and the local economy. Further development of the BRT network remains part of the overall transport strategy for South East Hampshire, and the busway southern extension forms part of the Solent LEP's Strategic Transport Investment Plan.
Commenting, Caroline said: 'Addressing our area's crippling congestion problems has always been a priority of mine, and I'm thrilled that the Department for Transport has recognised the substantial local benefits of extending the BRT Busway. This will build on the significant improvements the busway has already delivered. Historically, the Gosport peninsula has suffered from chronic underinvestment in transport infrastructure, and while there is still more to do I am glad that much needed progress is being made'.
Caroline Dinenage MP met yesterday with the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, to emphasise the benefits of a direct rail link between the South and Heathrow Airport.
Having already emphasised the benefits of a direct rail link in a letter to the Transport Secretary, Caroline followed up by arranging for Hampshire MPs to collectively make the case for southern access. This would put an end to her Gosport Constituents having to travel into London or via an infrequent bus connection from Woking to access the airport.
One of the suggested schemes, brought forward by Heathrow Southern Railway [HSR] Limited, proposes a Southern Rail Access Scheme which would offer direct services from Basingstoke to London Paddington and Old Oak Common via Heathrow, providing not only access to the airport but also a vital link to HS2 and the Elizabeth Line. By providing an alternative London terminal to Waterloo, the development would also provide much needed capacity relief at peak periods.
HSR's initial appraisal of their scheme shows a Benefit Cost Ratio of 6.82, based on Heathrow's existing runway capacity, and with a third runway the Benefit Cost Ratio increases to 15.37. Both values are much higher than the 4.0 level classified as 'very high value for money' by the Department for Transport.
The Transport Secretary said he was aware of the need for direct southern access to Heathrow, and assured Hampshire MPs of his commitment to finding a solution to the current problems. He suggested that the Department for Transport is currently doing some financial modelling on the situation and is likely to explore a range of possible options early next year.
Commenting, Caroline said: 'Despite Hampshire's relatively close proximity to Heathrow, rail services are currently poor. A direct rail link from the South would benefit both the local and national economy, ease congestion, deliver reliable journey times and reduce air pollution, by taking cars off the roads. The Transport Secretary was aware of the need for southern rail access to Heathrow, and encouragingly receptive to our views. I will continue to follow this important matter closely.'
Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, has challenged Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat South East MEPs over their vote last week in the European Parliament to block progress in Britain's Brexit talks.
The Brexit negotiations are the most important negotiations our country face. The Conservatives want to move negotiations on from discussing withdrawal issues to talks about the substance of the future relationship we want with the EU. This will cover, for example, the rules our businesses trade under, the way the police work across borders to keep us safe, and how we get control of our borders.
Last week the European Parliament passed a non-binding motion to hold back talks on the future relationship. Remarkably some of our Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat South East MEPs voted in support of this motion.
Challenging them, Caroline said:
"However people voted in the referendum, most now want us to get on with making Brexit work. That means negotiating the best deal for families and businesses in Gosport and across the UK.
"The Conservatives are doing just that, but some of our local Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat South East MEPs voted to block progress in the negotiations. They need to explain to people in Gosport and across the South East why they voted against our interest and to delay talks.
"It looks like some of our MEPs are more interested in frustrating Brexit than delivering the decision the country made and getting the right deal."
Drama students from Bay House School visited parliament to perform the original play, 'How to be a Girl!', marking International Day of the Girl. Caroline Dinenage MP arranged the event having seen the play performed earlier in the year.
An all-female cast performed in front of an audience comprising MPs, Peers and Government Officials. Staff from the Government Equalities Office, which sits within the Department for Education, were so impressed they invited the cast to return to London to perform at the Department. The performance also won praise at this year's Totton Festival of Drama, where it was awarded the Trant Trophy.
The play, which was written by former writer in residence at Bay House School, Zella Compton, takes a darkly comic look at media pressure for young women to look and behave a certain way. It is presented as a magazine, and also offers a satirical peak between the covers of How to be a Boy!, highlighting the gendered discrepancies that continue to shape modern British society. The script throws into painfully sharp relief the negative impact of media messages that generate and exploit young women's insecurities.
Commenting, Caroline said: ''How to be a Girl!' addresses a really important and challenging issue. It's unsettling in a really productive way, forcing the audience to confront uncomfortable facts about the way modern society operates. I was really proud to welcome my colleagues to the performance, and am thrilled they were as impressed as me. The cast did fantastically and I'm really grateful for the hard work of everyone involved'.
The news released from BAE this morning is distressing and my thoughts are with those affected by the potential 340 job losses in the Portsmouth area. In light of some recent failures to secure valuable contracts, BAE state restructuring and redundancies may be vital to ensure the company is sustainable moving forward.
BAE have told me that most of the possible job losses would be in white collar, management roles. They are confident that a good number would be achieved through voluntary redundancy and that compulsory redundancies would be kept to an absolute minimum. They would also be planning to see staff retrained and redeployed within their own business. I am pleased that BAE are in active dialogue with their staff and Trade Unions.
I have spoken to Harriett Baldwin the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence Procurement to seek her support for our local area as these changes take place.
Claire Perry, Minister of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, answered Urgent Questions in Parliament today on this topic. You can read it here.
For more information please visit http://www.baesystems.com/en/article/announcement-of-organisational-changes.
There were some really positive announcements at this year's Conservative Conference, including some issue that many of my constituents have contacted me about.
You can find more details at the following links.
Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, visited Daedalus yesterday to see the latest progress at the site including the Daedalus Park business estate and the brand new Civil Engineering Training Centre (CETC).
Since gaining Enterprise Zone status in 2011, over £52 million public money has been invested to realise the potential of this disused military site, already creating hundreds of jobs and training opportunities and attracted £100's of millions of private investment.
Daedalus Park opened in July 2017 all bar one of the 30 industrial units are now occupied, largely by aviation, engineering or manufacturing businesses. In February a £6.6m extension to the Business Innovation Centre was announced, creating 33 new office units and five new workshops - as well as 300 new jobs. Work will be completed in the spring.
Earlier this year a group of construction employers from our region (Solent Civil Engineering Employers' Group) in partnership with Fareham College opened CTEC the Civil Engineering Training Centre offering intensive 20 week construction and groundwork apprenticeships.
Commenting on the visit Caroline said:
"It was great to see the recent developments at the Daedalus Site and to meet the first intake of apprentices at the Civil Engineering Training Centre. The site is set to create even more jobs, allowing more people to work locally and taking cars off the road at peak times.
I firmly believe that the success of Daedalus is crucial to the future of our local economy. There is still much more to be done to see the site reach its full potential including the redevelopment of the waterfront part of the site."
Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, yesterday held another Gosport Taskforce meeting to discuss the future of key Government owned sites in the constituency following the Defence Minister, Tobias Ellwood's, visit to Gosport in August.
These taskforce meetings come in the wake of the Ministry of Defence plans for "A Better Defence Estate" published in November 2016 which includes the disposal of 91 sites, including two, HMS Sultan and Fort Blockhouse, which are in Gosport. This came in the wake of the announcement by the Ministry of Justice that the Haslar Immigration Removal Centre was planned for disposal.
For centuries the Gosport Peninsular has played a key role in serving the armed forces, and particularly the Royal Navy, with the facilities to accommodate, train, feed, equip, arm and prepare for their vital roles. Despite substantial sites like Haslar Hospital and HMS Daedalus being sold off in the last 20 years, approximately 21% of land in Gosport still remains in MOD ownership.
This meeting was attended by over 20 people including representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, Ministry of Justice, Oil Pipelines Agency as well as local stakeholders such as Gosport Borough Council and the LEP.
The release of MOD Sites such as Fort Blockhouse and Royal Clarence Yard, in a way which will maximise local economic benefits, creating jobs and prosperity was discussed as well as alternatives to the proposed disposal of HMS Sultan.
After the meeting Caroline commented:
"We need to learn the lessons of our predecessors who watched as large Government owned sites in Gosport were sold off without robust plans for what would replace them. I will continue to fight the closure of HMS Sultan and plot the best future for other Government disposal sites in Gosport."
Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, is encouraging Small Businesses to sign up to the DWP's Small Employer Offer.
The Offer aims to raise awareness of the support available to small businesses when employing a person with a long-term health condition or disability.
Janeene Ashcroft-Coe is the new Small Employer Adviser for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight who will work with local Small Businesses and work coaches to provide support, ensuring everyone can have the chance to fulfil their potential.
Commenting Caroline said:
"Disabled people make up a fifth of the working age population, and our local employers could be missing out on a large proportion of the talent in our community.
"I hope this will help assist more employers in the Gosport Constituency to improve opportunities for local disabled people and to realise their potential in the workplace."
The Small Employer Offer is a voluntary programme that has been designed to increase local job opportunities for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit claimants who have a Limited Capability for Work.
Click here to contact Caroline.