MP’s Question Time

The Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning will officially open Northampton College's 'Lower Mounts 2'  new town centre building.'John Hayes MP unveiling a plaque to officially open the new building.
The Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning will officially open Northampton College's 'Lower Mounts 2' new town centre building.'John Hayes MP unveiling a plaque to officially open the new building.
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Have your say

South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes replies to more of the questions put to him by Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian readers...

BRIAN DUFFY (via email)

JH: THERE is certainly an argument for EU co-operation.

Pressing issues we face are cross-border issues such as environmental challenges, organised crime and terrorism, which no single country could solve. Working with other European neighbours is essential if we are going to face up to these geopolitical challenges. Co-operation is quite different to submission.

It’s absolutely right that discussions made about Britain should be made by Britons throughout the sovereign Westminster Parliament.

I have always voted against EU integration. I do not ever want to see us enter the Euro currency.

• WHY does the Government think it is essential we remain in the EU and why can’t a referendum be held?

ANN MATTHEWS

Spalding

JH: FOR any future powers to be transferred to the EU we have to have the British people give their consent in a referendum. This sovereign lock means the creeping institution of Brussels bureaucrats and unelected people will end.

• WHY has the overseas aid budget not been cut?

MIKE HARRISON (via email)

JH: THE overseas aid budget is 0.7 per cent of our national income, which is a very small part of government spending. It’s right that aid should support developing nations and wherever possible that aid should be distributed through non-government organisations with sound track records.

But in the end it’s about the kind of country we would like Britain to be and how it is seen to be.

• WHY doesn’t South Holland District Council support Spalding and Peterborough Transport Forum?

RODNEY SADD

Spalding

JH: I AM president of South Holland and Peterborough Transport Forum and I met community members last week to look at the possibility of another bus stop outside Spalding Railway Station.

It’s right that democratically elected representatives at all levels become involved with community organisations, as I have always tried to do. I would encourage councillors to be involved in the transport forum, as a number of them already are.

• WHAT action are you taking to ensure that the Crowland to Peterborough road is swiftly opened? What action is being taken over failures in the project and what is the extra cost for tax payers?

WAYNE SEABORN

Spalding

JH: THE engineering fault has been identified and there will be no long term cost to the tax payers in correcting it as I understand it results from a design fault. The cost of correcting it will be covered by the insurers. I have discussed this with county councillor William Webb who tells me that the road will be dealt with by Autumn.

• DO you think a nationwide ban on drinking alcohol in the streets could work?

JENNIFER HEMINGWAY (via email)

JH: SOUTH Holland District Council was right to introduce a Designated Public Place Order (DPPO) for Spalding town centre. The aim of this is to strike down on anti-social drinking and loutish behaviour, which causes such offence, by giving police and PCSOs the power to confiscate alcohol.

I supported this from the outset and will continue to press the powers that be to enforce it.

Like other local people I am sick to the teeth of loud groups of men congregating to swig lager and by doing so making Spalding a less agreeable and welcoming place for others.

If we get this right, as we must, I hope other parts of the country will take note and act accordingly.

• PLEASE confirm if drinking on the streets at any time of the day is allowed or not?

ADAM MCVEIGH (via email)

JH: THE DPPO specifies the area where, when and how drinking is restricted, but for me there are plenty of good pubs, bars and restaurants in Spalding. It’s clear there are places to drink and places not to.

• DAVID Cameron’s party bears no resemblance to Conservatives of the past and appears to be going the way of Tony Blair’s New Labour.

Have you considered leading a revolt against David Cameron or fighting for the leadership yourself?

JUDY CHAPMAN (via email)

JH: AS A Government minister I am playing an important part in delivering an agenda which I devised in opposition. My ability to do so is a result of David Cameron asking me to be a part of his team.

In creating training and employment opportunities for millions of British people and building a record number of apprenticeships, securing and reforming adult and community learning are all authentic Conservative policies.

I know I have the Prime Minister’s backing. I have never sought or received Tony Blair’s backing for anything thankfully.

As far as being leader myself, I would rather work to be regarded as a good constituency MP.

• MONTHLY borrowing rates continue to set new records and the Government’s fiscal data shows that expenditure in the public sector continues to rise year-on-year. Why is it, therefore, that the Coalition does not strongly rebut the cuts agenda played out in the media and in the public conscience?

There is a reduction in the anticipated increase in public expenditure (following on from Labour’s irresponsible spend fest) but it is dangerously misleading to allow the impression of real cuts in the size of the public sector.

It will be much more difficult to sell the truth further down the road when people are “tired” of cuts. Also, a clearer and sustained declaration of the state of the economy will wrong foot Labour’s “cut more slowly” nonsense.

CHRIS SMART

Spalding

JH: THE new government inherited the largest deficit in peace-time history. We are spending £120million every single day just to pay off the interest on Labour’s debt, money which goes to foreign countries to help them fund their schools and hospitals rather than our own.

It’s true that total public spending in 2014-15, at 41 per cent of GDP, will be around the same level it was in 2006-07.

However, our discussions in the spending review encouraged fresh thinking about the difference this spending makes and the value it represents.

We are very hopeful that by rethinking our priorities we can get the Government off people’s backs and on their side.

• WHILST in opposition, David Cameron made much of the need to address three major issues head on. These were to give people a referendum on opting out of the EU, repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities, and to tackle immigration.

In the run up to the 2010 General Election, I attended a meeting in Saracen’s Head Village Hall where you were campaigning for re-election.

I sat in the front row, and in answer to my specific questions regarding the three issues stated above, you said categorically that if the Conservatives were successful these problems would be tackled as a matter of top priority within weeks of assuming power. On that basis I voted for you, fool that I am.

Fourteen months later your government has reneged on all three issues, citing the fact that they are in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Despite the fact that Tory MPs outnumber their coalition partners by a ratio of five to one.

I find it a convenient excuse to go back on the promises made whilst in opposition, resulting in the loopy Lib Dems being allowed to punch well above their weight in Parliament.

Are you aware that unless you address these problems in this Parliament you will find yourself in opposition for at least a decade?

GERRY HUTCHINSON

Holbeach

JH: THE Lisbon Treaty had been forced through by Labour before we got to power. Nevertheless the bill we passed will ensure a referendum on any future transfer of power to the EU.

I share Mr Hutchinson’s scepticism about the Human Rights Act so I am pleased that David Cameron has announced a committee will investigate a British act. It will be set up soon to consider what steps can be taken to ensure discussions about Britain’s future are made in our Parliament and not in foreign countries.

We have already taken steps to place a limit on non-EU migration, a crack down on sham marriages and a new English language requirement for people coming into the UK on visas.

The coalition was necessary because the alternative of five more years of Gordon Brown was too hard to contemplate and means to get business done our Conservative and Lib Dem MPs must vote together.

• WHILST understanding fully the need to address the unsustainability of the current pension deficit, when will MPs address the inordinate unfairness of their ‘platinum plated’ pensions.

They currently receive 31.6 per cent of their salary paid by the tax payer each year to ‘top up’ and maintain their pension scheme.

The benefits grow at the rate of one fortieth of salary per year (2.5 per cent) which is double the rate for other public sector workers and teachers.

Their remuneration from travel was 98 pence per mile, and is now believed to be nearer £1.20 per mile. All other public workers and elected members receive 40-45 pence per mile (except the mouthwatering 65 pence which Mrs Brighton’s North Kesteven district pay their members).

They suggest we are all in this together.

When is this patent iniquity of them ‘saying one thing’ and ‘doing another’ going to be addressed seriously? When will they join the rest of the population of the UK in facing reality?

COUN CHRIS BREWIS

Sutton Bridge

JH: MY salary as an MP (I have had a minister’s salary as well since the election) is much less than I earned as a businessman in the years before 1997.

I took a pay cut because I have always wanted to serve my country in Parliament. To receive a pension a member of Parliament must be in the house for almost 30 years, yet the average length of service is around a dozen years.

Nevertheless it would be wrong for other public service pensions to be reformed while the Parliamentary scheme was not. I would favour the implementation when the independent Parliamentary Standards Authority takes responsibility for members pensions in 2012-13.

Members of Parliament can claim 45 pence per mile for business travel, which is in line with with HMRC’s recommended rate, and as Coun Brewis notes, is equivalent to similar public sector schemes.