South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes answers questions submitted by Lincolnshire Free Press and Spalding Guardian readers...
Almost every day we hear how the Government’s unfair distribution of expenditure wihtin the UK disadvantages people who live in England. Do you think this situation is fair and, if not, what do you as a an English MP intend to do about it?
Philip Clay, Spalding
JH: It CERTAINLY does not seem reasonable that some parts of the UK should receive disproportionate support from tax payers. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do indeed receive more than England due to the Barnett Formula, which originated in the 1970s and we have been stuck with it for more than 30 years.
Linked to that is the West Lothian question because as well as the funding formula, there is the added issue of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland MPs voting in Parliament on issues concerning England where as English MPs do not vote on devolved matters.
The Government has set up a commission to look at the West Lothian question.
As a minister I do not have responsibility for the skills system in Scotland and Northern Ireland. So I have noticed as a member of the Government that concerns expressed by Mr Clay apply to ministers too.
• WHAT is the Government doing to improve the quality of life for those with learning disabilities and mental health issues to help overcome the cruel prejudice still faced in life?
John Taylor Holbeach
JH: I WAS co-chairman of the all-party disability group for many years and I am a patron of the charity Headway, which works really hard for people with brain injuries.
I have seen first hand the determination and devotion of the charities, community groups and carers.
The Government has a duty to support what they do to build the quality of life of people with disabilities, learning difficulties and mental health problems.
That is why I am working to ensure in areas for which I am responsible that they are given priority.
The Mansell Report, published last year, provided a detailed analysis of how we can best care for people with complex needs and the Government supports its advocacy of a more personalised, preventative service focused on enabling people to achieve their potential and live as independently as possible.
• OVER the last two years I have written to you on numerous occasions with my concern on the amount of eastern Europeans arriving in Spalding.
I, like many other local people, believe there are too many, and that health, education and housing is suffering.
When will our government stand up for the British hard workers and say enough is enough? Get all the low-life scroungers off their backsides doing the work the migrants are doing, and if they refuse, stop their benefits and let them go hungry.
Margaret Margree (via email)
JH: I AGREE immigrantion levels are high. We have let too many people enter Britain over recent years. We need to reduce the number of people coming in to the country.
Above and beyond that, as Iain Duncan Smith said, we must make sure jobs are available for British people. Iain’s right. Welfare reform should be based on the expectation that people who can work do so. I am reforming the skills system to ensure British people have the right skills to serve business needs. Getting these things right will address the concerns Ms Margree has raised.
Nevertheless, these welfare reforms will protect those too ill or unable to work. We are not in the business of helping people who can work and should work.
If people are capable of doing a job and the jobs are there, they should be expected to take them.
• SHOULDN’T promises in election manifestos be legally binding?
JH: OF COURSE I think it is right people say what they believe and do what they promise to.
However, Government has to adapt its policies to the contexts it faces.
It would be impossible if every pledge was legally binding because the result would be vague and non-committal pledges to prevent political parties from running into trouble later.
When MPs reapply for their jobs we have a robust democratic check on what they have claimed and what they have done.
Many people say that parties should work more closely together and that would lead to a more consentual kind of government.
Whilst I am clear that the best kind of politics involves a frank exchange of ideas are honestly held, I do not think we can set all policies in stone.
• WHAT are you doing to help the police in the area, given how badly they are affected by the funding cuts?
Kevin Smith, Spalding
WHY are you not lobbying our present chancellor over the proposed cuts to Lincolnshire Police numbers?
M Moloney, Holbeach
JH: I ATTENDED a meeting last week with Chief Constable Richard Crompton and Lincolnshire’s MPs to discuss budget issues.
He told me there will be no loss in the services they provide and the number of Bobbies on the beat. He is writing to me shortly to detail the reforms which have been put in place.
Lincolnshire has been one of the worst funded forces in the country for several years. I will continue to argue for a better funding formula. In respect of the savings Lincolnshire Police are now expected to make, I know that restructuring back office services and reduced management overheads will all deliver greater cost effectiveness.
• WHAT are you doing to help unemployed young people locally?
Kevin Smith, Spalding
JH: AS MINISTER responsible for skills and further education, I am building more apprenticeships than Britain has ever had before.
There are more than 114,000 new apprenticeships, which is the biggest boost in numbers in history.
I am reforming further education colleges to give them more freedom and I am working with the Department for Work and Pensions to make sure work programmes integrate with these policies.
• THE consequences of so many people becoming unemployed not only at Bombadier but also at their suppliers will be extremely detrimental economically and socially for our country’s recovery and devastating for the families concerned.
If other European countries can manage to give their contracts to firms in their own countries, why can not Great Britain give contracts to companies in Britain?
Diana Smith, Spalding
JH: WHEREVER possible the government should support British industry. It seems right that we look at how procurement can be used to bring about economic and social benefits to our country.
My own view is we should certainly defend our economic future. I would like to see more bought and sold locally and where government and local government can play a role in that they should.
• WHAT are you doing to ensure the children of south Lincolnshire have an NHS dentist?
JH: I HAVE written many times to NHS Lincolnshire to make them aware of my view. The government is determined to improve access to NHS dentists and we are reforming NHS contracts to do so. In March, 166,000 more adults and 28,000 more children accessed NHS dental services.
The reforms are being preceded by a pilot scheme for the new NHS dentist model with a view to improving services. The nearest pilot to here is Peterborough.
I use the NHS for the dentist and healthcare. My children were born in NHS hospitals. What is good enough for my constituents is good enough for me and my family.
• WHY have the affordable homes due to be built in Church Lane, Moulton, not yet been started?
MARILYN HENRY (VIA EMAIL)
JH: THIS is really a question for the developer, but my well-known view is that permission should not have been given to build on this green, open space in the first place.