Posted Thursday, 1 December 2016 at 11:09
Last night I gave the following speech during the opposition day debate about pension age equalisation for men and women, known as the WASPI campaign.
"There has been much agreement in the Chamber today about equalisation, but I am probably unusual in that I am not actually sure I agree. Maybe, when the majority of men become carers, and when all men have a menopause, I might, but I am not sure I do now.
I feel very sorry for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, because he has come to the Dispatch Box to pick up a mess that has been created by others. We knew equalisation was taking place, but the former Chancellor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne), decided he would move things from 2026 to 2020.
I am terribly sorry to say this to the Secretary of State, but I am one of the WASPI women. I am also one of those who were not written to and informed about this, and I think the DWP knows where I live—I have made that point before. Many of these women were not informed and not able to plan, and that is because the former Chancellor wanted to save £30 billion.
I understand that the former Chancellor may have wanted to save that money. I also understand that the SNP is never going to be able to achieve anything in this debate. It is never going to be in power. When it makes financial claims, as it is trying to at the moment, that absolutely shows how unprepared it would ever be to be a party of government. The claim about the £30 billion is ridiculous, and the SNP is doing the WASPI women an injustice.?
The crude way the former Chancellor tried to slip this £30 billion saving under the fence by moving from 2026 to 2020 without informing women was wrong, and many women are suffering as a result. I am not saying that, financially, we can achieve what most people are asking for. However, in the spirit of fairness, amelioration and pouring some oil on troubled waters, would the Secretary of State please go away and have a look at whether we can do something just around the edges, for some of the women, or perhaps the older women, in this group—I am 21 May 1957, by the way. I do not mean that we should deal with all of it or do something for everybody, but that in the spirit of fairness, there may be something we could do.
Obviously, I have constituents who are in this situation, and I have heard from lots of the WASPI women. I am actually appalled at some of the comments I have seen on social media, and I have stopped engaging with the WASPI women on social media—not the core campaigners, who are a very decent bunch of ladies—because some people have hijacked their cause for social media and unpleasant purposes. However, I have engaged with many of the WASPI women, and their stories are very difficult.
I do not know how many women in the Chamber or the House are of my age, but I would not like to be in the position where I thought I was going to get my pension but then had to get another job, because nobody would employ me. Who would employ a woman facing her 60th birthday? Despite the fact that we have a lot of skills and life experience, and that we are probably very good employees, it is difficult for women of a certain age to get employed. You become faceless when you reach a certain age."
I thank my hon. Friend for giving such a powerful and impassioned speech, but could I correct her in saying, “Who would give me a job at my age?” I gave two ladies in my office who are in exactly that age group a job, because—I think this is what the Secretary of State was driving at—there is a change in culture.
I thank my hon. Friend. I actually have a member of staff in my office who is older than I am, but I also know of many friends who are being made redundant and have lost their jobs. Recently, in fact, a whole group of people in a company—all women over a certain age—were made redundant, and they all know that it was because of their age. It is not the case that most employers want to take on women in their 50s and 60s—it just does not happen.
Will the hon. Lady give way?
No, because it takes up other people’s time. If the hon. Lady wants to speak, she should put in to speak. [Interruption.] I am sorry, but it is a fair point—a lot of people want to speak.
I ask the Secretary of State please to go away and have a look at this, because that would be a generous and healing statement on the part of the Government. We would be able to show that we are a kind, considerate and caring Government—because we are—in doing something for these women and making things a bit better for some of them, going forward.?
Final 300 Homes to be Reconnected to Gas Supply
Posted Monday, 21 November 2016 at 12:23
National Grid briefed me this morning about the final work to restore gas supplies in Ampthill, Clophill and Maulden.
There are now only 300 houses left that have not been reconnected. All those homes have been visited but engineers were unable to gain access, they will keep trying over the rest of today.
Nobody should try to reconnect their homes to the gas network themselves. If you have to be out then please call National Grid on 0845 835 1111 to arrange for an engineer to visit when you get home.
Press Release: Ampthill Gas Main
Posted Thursday, 17 November 2016 at 14:17
I've issued the following press release about the gas main shut off in Ampthill and surrounding villages.
Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, will be visiting the National Grid command centre in Maulden on Friday 18th November following the incident that left 6,000 homes in the constituency without gas supply.
Having consulted National Grid to ensure her visit causes no disruption of reconnection efforts, Nadine will meet the engineers in charge of the operation and receive a full briefing on how reconnection work is progressing.
Speaking from Westminster, where Nadine has been kept abreast of developments over the course of the week, Nadine said, “I know many of my constituents have been put to serious inconvenience by the disruption to their gas supply this week. I have been impressed by the efficiency of National Grid’s response.
“The first priority is safely and swiftly restoring supply to those that have been cut off. This will happen quicker if we work together as a community to help the engineers gain access to homes. Afterwards we can begin to look at what went wrong and consider what further steps need to be taken.”
Gas Main Latest
Posted Thursday, 17 November 2016 at 08:47
As many of my constituents will know, a major operation is underway to restore gas supplies to 6,000 properties to Ampthill, Clophill and Maulden after builders damaged a gas main on Tuesday.
National Grid has drafted in engineers from across the country. Engineering work to repair the pipe is well under way, with engineers working late into last night to fix the damaged pipe.
Gas must be turned off at the meter of every property before gas can be pumped back into the gas network and supplies restored.
National Grid has visited over 3,100 properties to turn off gas supplies. Of those, they not been able to yet get access to 400 homes.
If at all possible, please arrange for someone to be at home so National Grid engineers can switch you off. The sooner they are able to switch everybody off the sooner they can restore supplies.
If it just isn’t possible for someone to be in during the day, call 0845 835 1111 to make arrangements for access.
Once the repair has been made and gas is back in the mains, a second visit will be made to turn on the supply to each property and make sure it is flowing safely.
Gas Main Update
Posted Wednesday, 16 November 2016 at 15:59
The ongoing problem with the gas main has resulted in a loss of gas supply to 6,000 homes in Ampthill, Maulden and
have been turning supplies off in Clophill, Maulden and then Ampthill. If
possible, please arrange for someone to be at home so they can switch your
I want to
remind everyone that you should ask National Grid staff to show official
identification before you let them into your house. All staff carry official
identity cards, for more information and to verify an engineer’s identity call
0845 835 1111.
An incident room has been set up in Maulden Village
Hall where people can find out more information.
distribution company UK Power Networks are asking residents to avoid using
their electric heaters continuously while their gas is off in order to help
prevent the local electricity network from becoming overloaded.
kept updated and will pass on any further information when I have it.
Gas Main Shut Off in Ampthill
Posted Wednesday, 16 November 2016 at 11:57
There is an ongoing problem with the gas main in the Ampthill area of Mid-Beds. This has left many of my constituents without gas since last night.
I’ve been in touch with the National Grid who have given me a briefing. Their engineers are on site and working to fix the leak and restore supply.
However this is a big job, it will take some time and there will be some disruption in the area.
To safely restore gas supplies, National Grid engineers will need to visit every affected property and switch the gas supply off at the meter. Engineers have already begun switching people off and this operation will continue throughout today.
To assist them, they are advising that someone be at home so they can switch the supply off. The sooner they are able to switch everyone off, the sooner they will be able to restore supplies.
Once the repair has been made and gas is back in the mains, a second visit will be made to turn on the supply to each property and make sure it is flowing safely.
Finally, National Grid are liaising with the local council to ensure elderly and other vulnerable residents are being identified and cared for.
If you know of an elderly or vulnerable resident, please contact National Grid on 0845 835 1111, so they can provide whatever help is needed.
Out and About in Mid-Beds
Posted Monday, 31 October 2016 at 14:18
Another busy day in the constituency on Friday. After the stuffy committee rooms and gloomy corridors of Westminster it’s always a pleasure to get back to the real world.
First up was a meeting with a large group of farmers, kindly organised by the NFU. They briefed me on their concerns about rural crime with some truly horrific examples that had happened to them personally.
We are making progress on this issue. Just two weeks ago the other Bedfordshire MPs and I had a meeting with the Police Minister to press him on our case for changes to the funding formula. It isn’t right that Beds Police are funded as a small, rural force when they have serious and diverse challenges, not least an international airport.
We then discussed Brexit. During the referendum campaign I lost count of how many times people told me that farmers would vote en masse for Remain, because they want the subsidies. I thought at the time this was wrong. All but one of the farmers in our meeting on Friday couldn’t wait to get out the door and see the back of the intrusive bureaucracy that comes with our EU membership.
On to the next meeting in Ampthill. My constituent Ben is running a campaign on behalf of our local mental health service provider called Break the Stigma. This is such an important issue, none of us will be without friends or family members who at some time will have experiences a mental health problem. The ongoing stigma can prevent people seeking help and, ultimately, cost lives.
Barely had I gulped down my tea in the snug, welcoming and award-winning Cakestand and Crumb (please do stop by if you’re in the area) before I was off to a local manufacturer to talk more about Brexit.
Neil at Colpac is a straight-talking model of an upstanding businessman. He cares for his customers and his employees as a way to build his business. And it is thriving. Neil told me that he diversified his customer base long before the referendum and doesn’t rely on domestic or EU business. Colpac now has customers all over the world including, most recently, Japan and China.
Companies like Colpac rely on an educated and multi-national workforce. I would never vote for a Brexit deal that threatens the rights of EU citizens already working in this country, just as I hope our nationals elsewhere in Europe will be protected. Brexit is about stepping up to the challenges of the globalised world, not shutting ourselves off from it.
A Busy Week Begins
Posted Monday, 17 October 2016 at 09:24
Another busy week in Westminster is beginning. Starting today I’m chairing proceedings of the Small Charitable Donations Bill for its Committee Stage.
Later other Beds MPs, as well as our brilliant Police and Crime Commissioner, are meeting the Police Minister to lobby for reform to the funding formula. Currently Beds Police are funded as a small rural force despite the challenges of modern urban areas and an international airport to look after.
After the police meeting I will be having another quick chat with my colleagues from Luton to mention the incredible support in Mid-Beds for the Luton Town FC Power Courts development. I’ve been copied into hundreds of emails sent to the planning authorities about this and I’m happy to offer what support I can.
At the other end of the week, when I’m finished in Westminster, I hope to be back in Mid-Beds on Thursday evening in time for my round of constituency engagements. This is what I always look forward to on Mondays, if you’re a constituent I hope to see you either this week or sometime soon.
Delay Repay Improvements for Thameslink Line
Posted Thursday, 13 October 2016 at 12:00
The Department for Transport has announced that our Thameslink line will be the first in the country to get the new enhanced delay repay scheme that kicks in after 15 minutes, rather than the current 30.
This is something my constituents have long been asking for, with many of them suffering delays just under the previous 30 minute limit on several days a week, making them late for work but ineligible to claim any money back.
While I’m incredibly pleased at this move, which I think demonstrates the DfT is finally recognising the plight of those of us who use Thameslink regularly, the fight doesn’t stop here.
Compensation for delays is all well and good but we need to improve the service on the line so there are fewer delays and we can all get to work and home again on time. Figures show that about 40% of the delays are the fault of Govia, the operating company, and most of the rest are due to problems with Network Rail’s infrastructure.
Investment and better management in both companies need to cut the delays experienced by my constituents and all the other people using the Thameslink line. I will keep lobbying Ministers and managers until that is what we get.
How Not To Dodge A Hard Question...
Posted Tuesday, 13 September 2016 at 16:28
While I have fought against the Labour Party my entire political life, I have also respected the party, many of its politicians and some of its principles. I believe that our system of parliamentary democracy requires a strong opposition to bring about good government.
It was therefore tragic and quite embarrassing to witness the Shadow Foreign Secretary appear on Sky News over the weekend. Unable to name either the French Foreign Minister or the South Korean President, Emily Thornberry was shown to have a poor grasp of her brief.
What did she do? Accept she had been caught out and take it graciously? No, for Thornberry is a Corbynista and they never seem to accept any blame for any failings. She accused the presenter of being ‘sexist’ for daring to ask her basic questions about her brief.
Before any keyboard warriors on Twitter get their undergarments in a twist I’ll admit I probably couldn’t have named the two people mentioned off the top of my head on a Sunday morning. But I’m not the Shadow Foreign Secretary aiming to present myself as member of a government in waiting.
What’s worse is that there is still a huge amount of sexism about in Westminster and much of the rest of the country. It needs to be called out wherever we find it. But to just use a knee-jerk accusation of sexism as a disguise for basic ignorance of your brief is to de-value the term.
The Labour Party was once the party of Barbara Castle, fighting very real injustice for women and I, as a Tory, am still thankful for their work. How a once-great party could fall so quickly from Barbara Castle to Emily ‘White Van’ Thornberry is astonishing and deeply sad.
On a different note, my office is still getting requests from constituents for the tours of ‘Big Ben’ offered by the parliamentary authorities. Unfortunately these are now fully booked until December, when the Elizabeth Tower closes for lengthy renovation. While I can’t for the time being arrange tours of the tower, I will very happily arrange tours for constituents of the rest of the Palace.
My Times Red Box Article on Brexit
Posted Tuesday, 6 September 2016 at 15:58
In Parliament yesterday, David Davis took to the dispatch box for the first time since 1996 to explain what Brexit means to those who felt that the phrase, ‘Brexit means Brexit,’ had run its course.
‘It means leaving the European Union,’ he explained to the most zealous of europhile MPs still attempting to mount an attack.
It is worth noting that since June 23rd, we have seen an increase in car sales, a record increase in manufacturing industry growth and countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Speaker of the US Congress all pressing for free trade deals. Maybe they understand our desire to take control of our own borders, keep our streets safe, make our own laws and our elected government decide how British tax payers money is spent? A bit like they do.
The process of establishing the framework within which we trigger article 50 and repeal the European Communities Act will take a little time. Not a lot. Polls are telling us that the public would rather we got it right, than rushed and got it wrong.
If some still cannot believe in Britain and our ability to innovate and achieve, they should listen to the Japanese Ambassador who said that he had not met a single company that did not think Britain was the best place in Europe to do business. Not one.
The fact is that Britain had become damaged, subsumed by the priorities, interests and demands of the twenty seven member states of the European Union.
Our goal should now be to look outwards and trade with the rest of the world. We must negotiate access to the single market as other countries have done, not membership. Trade agreements are based on mutual benefits to both countries, not just on one side. No European country is committed to self harm. They want to do business with us as much as we do with them, but without the ties, which presently bind us and prevent us from doing deals elsewhere.
There must be areas where policy will exist in harmony, develop and amend, such as environmental policy, security and foreign affairs. Brexit doesn’t mean throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It is about securing the very best deal for Britain.
This summer, our best athletes travelled to Brazil to show the world just how great Britain is by beating every other EU country on the leader board and proudly flew home wearing a stash of medals. Those amateur athletes knew exactly what they could achieve.
No MP should demand the right to a vote on the final Brexit agreement and dilute the outcome. MPs who assume to do so, believe themselves to be the professional politicians who know better. Seventeen and a half million Brits voted for Brexit. They didn’t need David Davis to explain to them what Brexit means. They know what we can achieve. We are merely the people’s representatives. We had our own vote on June 23rd and the people have told us, get on with it.
Why I'm Voting for Andrea Leadsom to be Prime Minister
Posted Tuesday, 5 July 2016 at 17:27
Andrea has a searing intellect and was a board member when she was just 32 and was 7 months pregnant.
Her drive and ambition for our country is phenomenal.
She’s held two ministerial positions and has a better understanding of finance than anyone else in Government.
She is committed to delivering Brexit.
She is also totally committed to protecting those from abroad already living here as well as British citizens living in Europe.
On that point she absolutely will not waiver. It will be the number one priority.
Andrea knows she can turn this country into a far wealthier place where every vulnerable person and poor community can benefit and dodgy bankers fail.
Andrea is warm, compassionate and truly caring.
She is not part of the establishment.
She shuns the words ‘you can’t’ and replaces them with ‘I can and I will’.
She is the kind of person you can invite into your home for lunch – feel as if you had known her all your life – and she would eat it with your children clambering in her lap.
Boris backs her and, I believe, the country will back her too.