Thursday, 26 May 2011

New Blog Site

Please note that, due to ongoing problems with Blogger, this site is no longer being updated.

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MR Webmaster

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Eurozone, Not Britain Should Pay For Portugal 'Bail-out'

European finance ministers are meeting today to discuss a request from Portugal to provide financial assistance to the country following previous ‘bail-outs’ of Greece and Ireland. The Treasury has failed to make clear so far today whether any UK contribution will be limited to that which may be entailed by our membership of the IMF or whether, indefensibly, it is proposed to use the EU natural disasters Mechanism.

I believe that the British taxpayer should not contribute to an EU bail-out for Portugal and that the Leader of Conservative MEPS, Martin Callanan, with Parliament in recess, speaks for the Party on this when he said that the UK should refuse to accept any liability for Portugal under the EU Mechanism.

Article 122 of the Lisbon Treaty states that other member states may be expected to help when another state experiences “difficulties caused by natural disasters or exceptional occurrences beyond its control”. The chronic issue for Portugal is that it has only been able to grow at 0.7% per year since joining the Euro and has failed to control it’s spending, so Article 122 cannot apply to this situation.

This is a matter for the Eurozone and I cannot see any basis whereby we could properly use the Mechanism to bail-out Eurozone countries. To use the Treaty this way is simply not lawful. Britain decided not to join the Euro, so we should not be asked to bail-out countries that did join. I don’t see how we can ask the British taxpayer to prop up a supranational European currency they do not want and they did not ask for.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Mark Reckless: Tackling Crime through Community Activism

Mark Reckless MP welcomed the report of Baroness Newlove, the Government’s Champion for Active Safer Communities, which sets out a radical new approach to community activism. As she suggests, there needs to be a change of culture so neighbourhoods no longer view crime, anti-social behaviour and disorder as a problem for someone else to solve. Services and local agencies need to go beyond just asking communities what their problems are – they must see local communities as equal partners in tackling issues.

The Government has a clear plan to cut crime through reforming the police and the criminal justice system. They have already abolished all the complex targets that Labour imposed from Whitehall and set the police just one goal: to cut crime.

Communities also have an important role to play in the fight against crime. The website, launched in February, gives local people real information in map form about exactly what crime is happening in their areas and allows them to hold the police to account for their work.

Further reforms include:

• Introducing, from next May, directly-elected Police and Crime Commissioners to restore the link between the police and their communities.

• Driving out bureaucracy that wastes police time so that officers can be crime-fighters not form-writers.

• Reforming and strengthening the powers to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Mark Reckless MP said:

"I fully support this commitment from Government and Baroness Newlove to harness the great energy of communities across Medway in the fight against crime.

"Crime and anti-social behaviour are not someone else's problem but a real issue that we all must work together to address. I want to see streets right across Medway reclaimed by the people who live here".


Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mark Reckless MP Discusses Personal Debt


Friday, 1 April 2011

Mark Reckless Welcomes £12 Million Extra For NHS In Medway

From today – 1 April – the NHS in Medway will enjoy an extra £12 million, to support key Government priorities such as the Cancer Drugs Fund, investment in talking therapies for those with mental health conditions, 4,200 extra health visitors, and support for carers’ breaks.

Spending on healthcare in our local area this year will total £435 million overall. The increase follows the decision by the Coalition Government to protect NHS investment over the next four years – investment vigorously opposed by Labour.

Across England as a whole, over £89 billion will now be spent on doctors, nurses and frontline services in the NHS – an increase of more than £2.6 billion over the year before.

Welcoming the increases in NHS funding, Mark Reckless said:

"We recognise just how important the NHS is to this country – and to patients here in Medway. That’s why the Coalition Government is protecting the NHS not just today, but for future generations.

"Next year alone, our constituency will benefit from an extra £12 million of investment going straight to doctors, nurses and other frontline services.

"Under Labour, billions of extra spending was swallowed up as the number of managers increased at five times the rate the number of nurses. Their plans would have meant cutting the NHS, denying patients the improved services we are putting in place.

"Their approach – to spend less and keep things as they are – would leave the NHS in crisis."


Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Mark Reckless MP: At Last, Democracy Is Coming To Policing

Originally posted on ConservativeHome Today and tomorrow the House of Commons will put its finishing touches to the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. It is a long title for one key reform, putting a directly elected individual “in charge” – as the Home Secretary put it on Monday – of each police force. That reform will have huge ramifications as power in policing shifts from the Chief Constable to the elected Commissioner. Unsurprisingly, the Chief Constables don’t much like that. However, unlike police authorities, which have spent public money fighting their own abolition, most Chief Constables, if not necessarily their Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), accept very professionally that it is for elected politicians to set policy under which they operate. Police authorities are generally considered to have been the weakest of the ‘tripartite’ pillars of police governance, the others being the Home Office and the Chief Constable. Our plan to deal with that, which I passed to Douglas Carswell to develop further when he replaced me at the Conservative Policy Unit in 2004, was to transfer the police authority powers to people who are elected, so as to reinforce those powers with a democratic mandate. David Cameron wrote that plan into our manifesto in 2005 and has evangelised it ever since, so much so that he appointed the hugely impressive Nick Herbert as Police Minister, having seen him make the case for democratic control of policing when leading the thknk-tank Reform. The Prime Minister then promised in July 2006 that “We will enshrine operational independence in legislation”. It is unfortunate that some concessions have since been made to ACPO, but any apparent increase in Chief Constables’ powers will surely prove illusory once they face Commissioners empowered with a democratic mandate. If this bill fails to give the elected Commissioners the power they need to deliver what the public wants, then they will come back and demand that power, and Parliament will give them the power, as we have for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. I will nonetheless make the case today and tomorrow for us to get it right first time, to give the elected commissioners the powers they need now, and to give a clear steer to the courts that, in the Home Secretary’s words, the elected commissioners must be “in charge”. Chief Constables must of course make operational decisions regarding investigations and arrests independently of politicians, but it is for the elected commissioners to determine policy and set priorities. Moreover, if panels of elected councillors are to scrutinise elected commissioners and potentially second-guess their budgets, then we shouldn’t need the Secretary of State to third-guess that process. It may make sense to give the Secretary of State a reserve power to require a referendum if a local council wants a really excessive council tax increase. For policing, that power would surely better be exercised in extremis by the Panel which will scrutinise the police budget and represent the local councils and electorate which would pay for a referendum. David Cameron, Theresa May and Nick Herbert are truly driving home the Direct Democracy agenda with the police. They deserve our support.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Mark Reckless MP Welcomes Improvement To Emotional Support Service

Mark Reckless MP has welcomed the improvements to confidential emotional support for people in Medway and Kent. Medway and Kent will soon be among a handful of places in England to offer residents 24-hour confidential, emotional support, free of charge. From 1 April, support from the helpline Mental Health Matters will be available round the clock in Medway and Kent on 0800 107 0160. Previously the helpline was open in the evenings and at weekends but was closed in the daytime during the week. Speaking of the improved service, Mark Reckless said: “I hope the expansion of this service will provide residents in my constituency with the advice and support they need to cope in today’s current climate. Having spoken to many local people who have contacted me for help and assistance, I know this improved service will be of great benefit to many constituents who need a helping hand and confidential advice. This is an excellent addition to the wide range of support services offered to residents in Medway and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in making it happen.” The increase in hours is being funded by mental health commissioners in Kent and Medway (the three primary care trusts and two local authorities) and reflects the success of Mental Health Matters in helping people who are distressed. “Last year, the Mental Health Matters helpline in Kent and Medway received more than 10,000 calls,” said Lauretta Kavanagh, Director of Mental Health Commissioning for the Medway and Kent primary care trusts. “People called about relationship problems, loneliness, stress, bereavement – the whole range of emotional distress. “The team of highly trained and experienced support workers at the helpline use counselling skills to provide confidential emotional support and guidance. They also have details of local and national support services that people may find useful.” Rose Collinson, Medway Council’s Director of Children and Adults, said: “I am delighted that by working with our partners we are able to provide this improved and much needed service to people in Medway and Kent.” “Many people reach a moment in their lives when they badly need to speak about feelings they are struggling with and by making this helpline available round the clock, people will now be able to call when they need to.” People can also live chat with a counsellor by email if they prefer, at Alan Heyes, from the voluntary organisation Mental Health Matters which runs the helpline and live chat email system, said: “In these uncertain times, it is often quite natural to feel anxious, apprehensive or just down. Job insecurity, debt, relationship problems, or emotional distress can all take a toll and, when this continues, it can start to impact on your health and mental wellbeing. “Since it started in Kent and Medway more than two years ago, the helpline has provided successful interventions for people with problems such as low mood, emotional distress and stress. Clients say they feel ‘held’.”

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Mark Reckless MP: A Budget For Growth, Jobs And Families

Today Mark Reckless MP welcomed the Government’s Budget with its plan to reform the economy to support jobs and growth, and to take steps to help families with the cost of living – including an immediate cut in fuel duty.

Key measures in the Budget to boost growth include:

• Tax cuts for businesses and entrepreneurs
• Scrapping burdensome regulations
• Radical reform of the planning system
• New investment in science and innovation; and
• More support for young people with additional apprenticeships and work experience places.

To help families facing the rising cost of living, the Budget also will:

• Immediately cut fuel duty by 1 pence per litre and delay April’s inflation rise in duty to next January. This means fuel duty is 6 pence lower than it would be under Labour.
• Introduce a Fair Fuel Stabiliser to tax oil companies more to stop above inflation rises in fuel duty
• Increase the Personal Allowance from by a further £630 from April 2012. That’s another real increase of £48 extra per year, or £126 in cash terms. Together with this year’s rise, that means a total of £326 extra each year for those working hard to support their families. And it means, just ten months into office, this coalition Government has taken 1.1 million low paid people out of tax altogether.

Welcoming the Budget, Mark Reckless MP said:

“Last year the Chancellor in the Budget brought Britain back from the brink of bankruptcy and I am delighted that the Chancellor didn’t have to come back for more today.

Instead this year’s Budget sets out plans to back enterprise and get Britain making things again. By cutting fuel duty immediately and cutting income tax for millions the Chancellor has done what he can to help families now.

Constituents have written to me about 40p a mile approved mileage allowance not being sufficient to offset the cost of driving and I hope they will be pleased that the chancellor has listened and increased this to 45p per mile.

This Budget has put fuel into the tank of our economy.”

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Michael Gove Accepts Invitation To Open Strood Academy

Mark Reckless MP is delighted that, during education questions yesterday in the House of Commons, Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, accepted his invitation to open Strood Academy when construction is completed in 2012.

Mark, who attended the Turning of the Sod ceremony at Strood Academy on Thursday 17th March alongside fashion designer Zandra Rhodes, asked the Education Secretary:

On Thursday, I saw the beginning of construction for Strood academy in my constituency. Does the Secretary of State appreciate the extent to which confirmation of that investment is appreciated in the local community, and would he visit my constituency to open the academy when construction is completed next year?

To which Michael Gove responded:

My hon. Friend makes a good point, and I should be delighted to accept his generous invitation.

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Question To The Prime Minister

Today is the Parliamentary debate on Libya. MPs' response to Friday's statement by the Prime Minister suggests that there will be strong support for the military action. Our Armed Forces will know that they have the backing of the whole country.

It is also important that MPs exercise oversight of how our Armed Forces are kitted out. To do this we need appropriate information from the government, so we can seek to ensure that the right procurement choices are made.

On Friday I asked the Prime Minister about the decision to decommission our current aircraft carrier capability, and whether this should now be reconsidered:

Simon Hoggart wrote up the exchange as follows in his Parliamentary sketch:
Then the laudatory slathering. Labour's Mike Gapes offered congratulations. So did the Tory Richard Ottaway, "as one of the doubting Thomases", now praising a "remarkable diplomatic success".

It was left to Mark Reckless, another Tory, to point out that the Ark Royal filled with Harriers would be the perfect weapon, except that they are being decommissioned. Mr Cameron had little response to that, except to say that other countries weren't using aircraft carriers.

I was surprised to read in yesterday's Sunday Times both that:
France, which had 20 aircraft in the air last night, will send its only aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, into acton today.

...and that...
At RAF high command in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, senior officers concluded that the most flexible rapid response force would be aircraft stationed on a carrier off the Libyan coast. But there was no carrier nor any planes to fly off one since the Ark Royal's Harrier GR9 jump jets had been retired in December. So the planners considered another possibility.

They wondered whether they could bring some of the Harriers back into service and deploy them on a former container ship, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Argus, making vertical take off and landings.