We asked our readers to submit questions to be answered by all six candidates for the South Holland and the Deepings seat. John’s answers are below...
1 - Mrs Sue Croucher
I have been a carer most of my life and know from personal experience just how hard this role can be. I would like to ask the candidates how they will address the problem of the 700k+ children under the age of 16 who are currently carers for family members, distorting their childhood, and placing a huge burden on such young shoulders. I understand they receive no financial compensation, and very little support from government agencies. They are therefore working for free, an easy opt out for Parliament.
JH: Young carers are the unsung heroes of the care system, selflessly providing support for the people they love. New rules were passed in 2013 to ensure that young carers benefit from a full assessment of their support needs. As the voice of local young carers in Parliament, I voted for the Children and Families Act, extending the right to an assessment of support needs to all young carers under the age of 18. More is still to be done, and Conservatives will always be willing to explore all the possibilities to support carers like Mrs Croucher as best we can.
2 - Nita Attwood and Christine Ayliffe
Theresa May stated that she is willing to repeal the Fox Hunting ban. How do the other parties feel about this? This law is surely for the few (elite landowners only) and not the many. My friends and I are beginning to doubt our allegiances to the Tory Party if this becomes law.
JH: I agree with the Prime Minister that Parliament should review the current legislation and that MPs should be free to vote according to their own views rather than on Party lines. The Hunting Act does nothing to protect wild animals, which is why I do not support it. In many cases, the methods used as alternatives to hunting are indiscriminate, less effective and cruel, which is why I oppose snaring and trapping foxes. Without control, the population of foxes would grow exponentially, with devastating effect. The countryside requires responsible management to maintain a stable and sustainable populations of foxes.
3 - Roly Hare
What are you able to bring to the table in support of a greater and improved railway link to the people of South Holland, bearing in mind that the franchise is due for renewal in near future and that a huge amount of money has already been spent in modernisation of the network to allow 24 hour access for freight.
JH: I am the Patron of the Spalding and Peterborough Transport Forum, with whom – as the voice of local rail and road users – I have worked for many years to secure transport improvements. As a Minister, I introduced the Road Investment Strategy – the biggest improvement programme for decades. Locally, we are currently enhancing Spalding Station. If re-elected, I can assure Mr Hare that I will use my authority as a local MP to campaign for further improvements to Spalding Station; the opening of Littleworth Station in Deeping St Nicholas; and more regular train services to and from our area.
4 - Paul Poll
Why should low earners pay tax so a government can give subsidies to farmers so they can pay exorbitant rents to rich landlords?
JH: The Conservatives have lifted many people out of paying income tax. As their voice in Parliament, I voted to raise the personal allowance. Almost 500,000 people now pay no income tax, and the Conservatives’ commitment to raise the personal allowance to £12,500 will see this increase. I would not wish to see low-earners pay more.
Because the Common Agricultural Policy was concocted to reconcile wildly divergent interests across Europe, it is fundamentally flawed. Leaving the EU provides an opportunity for a bespoke policy, providing fair support for those who farm to feed us in a more tailored, cost effective way.
5 - Andrew MacDonald
Given the increasing number of candidates that don’t live within the constituency, isn’t legislation prohibiting such applicants overdue as they can hardly best represent local opinion?
JH: I have lived at the heart of the constituency since before I first became a candidate. Using the same local public services as those I seek to represent, I know what is best about our area and what people want to improve. I do not believe that an MP could be the voice of local people without living in the constituency. Ultimately, it is and should remain up to voters who they choose to speak for them in Parliament, weighing up their own priorities, but, personally, I would not wish to represent a Parliamentary constituency in which I did not live.
6 - Alan Meekings
If elected, will you campaign for a referendum on the terms of Brexit actually offered by the other 27 members of the EU? If not, why not?
JH: No. The British people voted decisively to leave the EU last year. Their decision should be honoured.
The Supreme Court made clear that triggering Article 50 makes leaving certain so a second referendum is unwanted, unnecessary and its prospect might encourage the EU to offer a bad deal. We must be prepared to walk away from the negotiations if we are offered unacceptable terms. No deal is better than a bad deal. I campaigned for Brexit out of conviction. It is a question of principle: a sovereign nation should control its own laws, its own money and its own borders.
7- Yvonne Allcott
Is there no mention of the deliberate destruction of UK Armed Forces for EU Military Unification because the British people would overwhelmingly disagree with this merger?
JH: As the voice of local servicemen and women and our veterans, I would never vote for such a merger. Defence is a national, not an EU responsibility, and must remain so. If an EU army were to be proposed, it would be subject to national veto, which the United Kingdom would undoubtedly use. Thus, while the UK remains a full member of the EU, UK forces will never be part of an EU army. Happily, once we leave – as we will soon – the question no longer arises.
8 - Rodney Sadd
With so many zero hours contracts in the UK, my concern is with the unscrupulous agencies that exploit job market.
JH: Under Conservative-led governments since 2010, employment has increased by 2.8 million. Three-quarters of this rise has been in full-time employment, with under 3% of the total on zero-hours contracts. As the voice of local workers, in 2015, I voted to ban exploitative zero hours; it is now illegal for employers to include exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts. Individuals can also make a complaint to an employment tribunal if their employer mistreats them for working, or seeking to work, elsewhere. Quite simply, I agree with Rodney that no one should be forced into a contract which they do not choose.
9 - Michael Ingamells
What will the candidates do for dementia care, how do they see the future of social care... for instance what will they do to enable people to stay in their own homes for longer? What will they do for people who give up work to care for their loved ones in the way of increasing carer’s allowance?
JH: Conservative measures mean councils will have £9.25 billion more dedicated funding for social care over the next three years. £1 billion will be provided in 2017/18, allowing councils to take immediate action. Money alone will not fix the problem and far-reaching reform — better integrating health and social care — is needed, encouraging high standards across the country.
Dementia is a particular priority for me; I have held local summits at the Tanglewood care home on the subject. Research is crucial to tackling dementia and, as the voice of those in need, I voted to double research funding to over £300 million by 2020.
10 - John Hayter
£13 billion on foreign aid and for our own people, potholes and foodbanks. Discuss, bearing in mind we are paying £60 billion a year on national debt interest payments, more than we spend on the education of the nation’s children.
JH: I want the UK’s international influence to continue and we must earn moral authority abroad by doing moral good. However, I appreciate concerns about how the aid budget is spent. Too often, resources have ended up in the wrong hands. Foreign aid should be more intimately bound up with diplomacy, defence and security. A combined budget can ensure we continue to play an active role in development, but means that resources can be deployed more effectively as needs arise. Mr Hayter mentions potholes. As the voice of local road users, I voted to give councils an additional £250 million to tackle them.