Christmas 2022 Update
I am pleased to bring you my Christmas 2022 Update. As ever, if you would like to sign up to my mailing list, you can do so on this page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much has happened since my summer newsletter. In September, we sadly said goodbye to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. With few knowing life without the Queen, I know that residents, the nation and indeed the world have felt this loss very deeply. The period of mourning that followed was not only a time for collective grief, but an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary life of our beloved monarch and to remember the legacy of the woman who in so many ways provided the bedrock for modern Britain. King Charles, I am sure, will continue this legacy.
Events in the political world have also progressed. After somewhat of a turbulent few months, we do now have some very welcome stability within government, following the appointment of Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister. Many of you will be aware that I was a supporter of Rishi during the leadership contest as I believed he was the candidate to restore integrity to government and to bring about certainty in a time of great economic uncertainty. I know this is particularly important in the face of cost-of-living challenges and I am pleased to see that the Government is upholding its commitment to support households and businesses at this time. Further information on the support available can be found here.
Additionally, both local authorities covering Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner are offering support to residents, and I am including links with further information for both Hillingdon and Harrow.
As we near the end of 2022, I would like to take the opportunity to share with you the work I have been doing over the past few months. If you would like to see more of my latest news and updates, please do visit my website here, or my Facebook page here.
London Marathon 2022
Readers of my previous newsletter will know that I had signed up to take part in the 2022 London Marathon. I am relieved to say that I made it to the finish line, having been overtaken by a Gruffalo and a man carrying a fridge, after 06:34:48.
I am incredibly grateful for all the donations I have received in support of two very important local charities, The William Low Trust and the Paul Strickland Scanner Centre, as well as the encouragement from friends, family and strangers along the route.
My donation pages remain open, and I would greatly appreciate any further contributions that can be afforded to help reach my target. You can find links to both pages below:
During the Bermondsey stretch of the London Marathon in October
In the Constituency
I have been continuing my regular surgeries, which I hold in venues around the constituency to ensure that I reach residents in all corners of Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner.
I would like to thank Northwood Hills Library, Vito’s Café in Ruislip, Caffe Pascucci in Hatch End, We Love Coffee in Harefield, Maison du Soleil in Ickenham, Village Express in Northwood, Daisy’s in the Park in Pinner, Bucket List Coffee in Eastcote and a new addition to the list, Morrison’s Café in Hatch End, for hosting me over the past few months.
If you are a local business who would be interested in hosting one of my surgeries, please do get in contact with my office. Residents who would like to make an appointment to speak with me should also get in contact with my office via the usual channels.
With constituent Imad at my Harefield Surgery, hosted by We Love Coffee
With the political landscape everchanging, UK Parliament Week is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about Parliament and its role as a pillar of our democracy.
Ahead of this year’s UK Parliament Week, which took place between 14-20 November 2022, I wrote to everyone who signed up to take part to ask what they had planned. Although I was not able to attend all the events that were taking place, I was really pleased to see how many organisations were getting involved locally and to hear how they were marking the occasion.
It was great to be able to bookend UK Parliament Week with two school visits. I marked the start of the week with a visit to Bishop Ramsey School in Ruislip and finished the week visiting Pinner High School.
On both occasions I met with Year 12 and 13 Politics students, who had clearly put a lot of thought into their questions, which had been inspired by what they had studied, the current goings on in Westminster, as well as the wider political climate. These insightful questions resulted in a robust discussion on a range of issues, including voting systems and democracy, strike action and leadership.
I am very grateful to everyone who took part in UK Parliament Week this year and look forward to hearing what activities will take place in 2023.
Engaging with Year 12 and 13 Politics students at Pinner High School during UK Parliament Week 2022
It was great to face another set of interesting questions from Year 3 and 4 pupils at West Lodge School in Pinner, particularly on the environment and what we can do as individuals to collectively make a positive change.
Something that came up was the impact of idling vehicles on air quality, particularly around schools, and the action pupils at West Lodge are taking to reduce this. I had the opportunity to raise this issue and how we can look at bespoke local solutions, as opposed to Mayor Khan’s unpopular and ineffective ULEZ expansion policy, with the Transport Secretary, Mark Harper, during a recent Transport Questions. You can view his response here.
I was also interested to learn about the school’s focus values, with the emphasis this half-term being on ‘Be Kind’. It was a pleasure to meet with the steering group of children who have been working on definitions for each value and they told me how they have linked the theme of ‘Be…’ with nature and bees. I was impressed by their creativity, especially the ‘bee characters’ they have been working on, which each embody each of the focus values.
Answering a range of interesting questions from children at West Lodge School in Pinner
Moving onto opportunities for residents seeking higher education, I was glad to meet with Keith Smith, who has recently become the new CEO and Principal of Uxbridge College, following the retirement of Darrell DeSouza at the end of October.
We had a useful discussion about how the college supports students to progress into further education, or to move towards their desired career path. I was particularly interested to learn about the work they are doing to ensure better access to apprenticeship opportunities and expanding the exciting work of the Institute of Technology. This will create new opportunities for my constituents to access high-quality careers.
With CEO and Principal of Uxbridge College, Keith Smith
I also joined Hillingdon Mayor and Eastcote Councillor, Becky Haggar, as she officially opened the new multi-sports court at UTC Heathrow in Northwood Hills.
The new court, which was built on a previously inaccessible piece of land, provides a generous space that will allow students to take part in a variety of sports, using new equipment and kit. This has been made possible thanks to funding from one of the school’s employer partners, CyrusOne.
I was interested to learn that the addition of the court comes as an extension of CyrusOne’s partnership with UTC Heathrow and the creation of the Digital Futures Programme last year. It was designed to help address the data centre industry's long-term skills gap and is aimed at giving students essential knowledge and skills, and a vocational start, for a career in the sector.
We know that the digital economy is creating roles that hadn’t even been thought of when this setting was established more than a decade ago. The fact that companies are now coming into this space to help young people take advantage of those opportunities is such a positive for our local economy and an opportunity for us to further improve the life chances of our young people across the country, which is a cause I championed during my time at Hillingdon Council and continue to do so in my role as MP.
With students from UTC Heathrow in Northwood Hills at the opening of their new multi-sports court
Something that will always be raised with any MP under any government is local healthcare, because it is vital that we are able to access high-quality services that offer the treatment and care that we need when we need it.
I am aware of the profound impact of the pandemic on the health service and, although we are in a period of recovery, it is a reality that challenges remain. The effects of the Covid-19 backlog and cost-of-living crisis risk placing additional pressures on the NHS, greater than those we usually see during the difficult winter period. This will impact local A&E services and will also be felt by general practices.
I know this has caused understandable concerns amongst residents about what this might mean for them and for their loved ones and has been reflected in some of their experiences which have been shared with me over the last couple of months.
I have been asked whether I have seen first-hand the challenges faced by local A&E departments, and the answer is yes. As my local hospital, I have been to Hillingdon in my capacity as a parent, where I had similar experiences to those shared by residents, and subsequently visited in my capacity as MP to discuss the rebuilding of the hospital.
Residents will be familiar with the long-standing care provided by Hillingdon Hospital, both for emergencies and those with long-term conditions. However, the current infrastructure does present challenges for being able to provide that care to the high standard we know and expect of Hillingdon. Within this remit, A&E was raised as a concern and stakeholders are aware of just how important the new project is to the improvement of patient access and experience. This is also something I am feeding back to the NW London Integrated Care Board (ICB) and colleagues in Government.
I would also like to reassure residents that facilities would remain open during construction, which will lessen the disruption for those currently receiving treatment at Hillingdon Hospital. You can find out more about the plans here.
Discussing plans for the new Hillingdon Hospital, which will improve conditions and care for staff and patients
Pressures will also impact general practices and so I wrote to surgeries across the constituency to invite them to meet with me so that they could share how things are going from their point of view, as well as what their concerns are and how I, as the MP, can offer my support. It also gave me the opportunity to relay residents’ positive feedback, but also areas where they are experiencing challenges with accessing services. I know that the new online system PATCHS is one of the biggest issues that has been raised with me by residents and is something that I will be discussing with colleagues in the Government.
During the meeting, we also discussed a number of other pressing issues, such as the autonomy of individual surgeries and recruitment. It certainly gave me food for thought and a lot to feedback both to Ministerial colleagues and the NW London ICB.
Discussing pressing issues for local practices at my virtual surgery in November
Although not able to attend the surgery, I did also meet with Dr Amol Kelshiker (Senior Partner), Dr Mehul Lakhani (Partner) and Ms Rupa Yagnik (Practice Manager) from the Pinn Medical Centre. We had a useful discussion about their continued support for residents and how they are managing the post-Covid recovery period.
However, it is clear that there are a number of issues facing the practice, some of which have been caused by changes enforced by the NHS that the Pinn has little control over. I have written to Ministers with a view to putting pressure on our local NHS managers to get this resolved, and I know that Pinn doctors and management are continuing their efforts in trying to get improvements for residents.
Lastly, there were concerns raised about a number of incidents that have sadly taken place in the Love Lane car park and the benefit of increased lighting as a preventative measure. I will be discussing this with the new leader of Harrow Council, Cllr Paul Osborne, so that both patients and staff can continue to feel safe when attending the practice.
With Dr Amol Kelshiker, Ms Rupa Yagnik and Dr Mehul Lakhani at the Pinn Medical Centre
Lastly, I informed readers of my last newsletter that work had commenced on the interior of the new Northwood and Pinner Cottage Hospital. By way of an update, Hillingdon Council has helpfully held the NHS to its commitments to residents by applying a ‘Section 106’ legal agreement. It is welcome that this has been finalised such that the development can proceed with these commitments attached to the planning consent.
Support for Businesses
It has been encouraging to see life restored to our high streets with thanks to the unwavering support from residents for the businesses that form the very foundation of our local community in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. I am proud to represent a constituency with so much life and character on the doorstep.
As we approach Christmas, many of these businesses will be experiencing one of their busiest times of year. We should take this opportunity to celebrate all our local businesses and the contribution they make to our community.
In November, I was delighted to show my support for Family Business Week. I paid a visit to the team at Homeflair on Ruislip High Street, which has been a treasure trove for the DIYer and the building trade for many years.
Furthermore, earlier this month, I dropped into Home Needs in Northwood to mark Small Business Saturday. It is a shop that sells almost anything and is one of the many small businesses from Hatch End to Harefield, and everywhere in between, that keep our high streets thriving.
Supporting Home Needs in Northwood on Small Business Saturday in December and Homeflair on Ruislip High Street for Family Business Week last month
Of course, I do recognise that difficulties continue for many. The footprint left by the pandemic has been great and, in addition, the rising cost of living has brought with it a new set of challenges for businesses, particularly those in the hospitality sector.
The Government’s unprecedented package of support throughout the pandemic provided a lifeline for many. Now, in response to the rising cost of living, further support has been announced to provide energy bill relief. As such, I was keen to catch up with hospitality businesses across the constituency for their thoughts and feedback.
I wrote to all hospitality businesses across Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, inviting them to a virtual surgery. This was attended by a number of business owners, as well as local councillors representing both the Hillingdon and Harrow sides of the constituency. We had a really useful discussion about business support, as well as other national issues such as business rates and VAT, and local issues such as parking and fly tipping. These issues will be fed back to colleagues in local and national government.
Thank you to the Queen’s Head (Pinner), The Woodman (Ruislip), Melisi (Ruislip), Hop and Vine (Ruislip), Fruity Fresh (Northwood), Bubbles (Northwood), Café Amici (Pinner), TAG Drinks (Eastcote), We Love Coffee (Harefield) and Councillors Eddie Lavery, Jonathan Bianco and Hitesh Karia for their time.
Discussing local and national priorities for hospitality businesses
Although not able to attend the meeting, I did also catch up with Hisham who runs Lattakia, a wonderful Lebanese restaurant in Hatch End. We had a productive conversation where I gained a useful insight into the challenges and priorities for his business. I am grateful for his time and for the delicious baklava provided!
If any other businesses who were not able to attend but would like to catch up separately, please do get in contact with my office.
Catching up with Hisham from Lattakia restaurant in Hatch End
Out and About
On the topic of businesses, I joined the Builders Merchants’ Federation for a visit to Jewson Ruislip in West End Road.
The constituency is home to many builders and house-proud owners wanting to improve their homes, and so this was a useful opportunity to see first-hand the role the building materials industry can play in improving energy efficiency and driving down energy bills for residents. This is more important than ever as we navigate the challenges of the cost-of-living crisis.
It was very useful to gain a further insight into the products and solutions that are already available to help maximise energy efficiency in the home and to find out more about the expertise and knowledge that builders’ merchants have to offer.
The Government has set out its plans to tackle the energy crisis this winter, and it is encouraging to see that there are a range of options and products available that can help householders reduce their energy use.
With Kris Winters (Jewson Regional Director), Dean Colwill (Jewson Branch Manager), Nadine Matthews (Jewson MD) and John Newcomb (BMF CEO) during a visit in October
Back in the summer, I was pleased to welcome Ruislip Waitrose Store Manager, Jenna Arm, alongside Ruislip Cllr Philip Corthorne, to Parliament for the Responsible Business Champion Awards.
The John Lewis Partnership has an outstanding reputation of being excellent community partners, and it was fantastic to hear how partners at the Ruislip branch of Waitrose go above and beyond the high corporate benchmark to support the community and how this led to their position as an award finalist.
Ruislip Waitrose support local partners to promote and host events in policing, community safety and crime prevention. They also work alongside the council to promote food waste recycling and assist with their sustainability objectives.
On this topic, the local store donates to a foodbank in Yiewsley and I am told that night shift partners also donate items, which can be consumed legally but are not legally saleable, to local care homes, resulting in the store putting minimal food waste into landfill.
There is also a huge focus on diversity and training development, including effective apprenticeship schemes being run in store and support for work experience placements.
Furthermore, the partners have helped engender a fundraising culture within store, which goes above and beyond the Partnership’s corporate responsibility, including a local initiative of setting up a drop-off point for Ukraine donations.
Following this visit to Parliament, I was pleased to join Philip Corthorne in presenting the certificate in-branch to Jenna and the team. I am proud that the hard work being carried out in our community has been recognised and am grateful to all those involved.
With Branch Manager, Jenna Arm, and Ruislip Ward Councillor Philip Corthorne
In June, Pinner residents Prakash and Joanne Daswani held a fundraising event in their garden as part of the National Garden Scheme (NGS). Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the fundraiser, but I was delighted to make a subsequent visit to see the garden and to meet with Prakash and Joanne.
For some background, the National Garden Scheme is a UK charity founded in 1927, which gives visitors access to over 3,500 exceptional private gardens across the United Kingdom and raises generous amounts of money for nursing and health charities through admissions, teas and cakes. Furthermore, NGS promotes the physical and mental health benefits of gardens.
Residents may be aware that Joanne is the former Chair of the Pinn Medical Centre Patients’ Association and Prakash a member, and both were instrumental in the campaign to save the walk-in back in February 2020. As such, health causes are close to both their hearts and I was delighted to learn that their first ever public opening this year generated over £800 in charitable contributions for the NGS.
I was very interested to hear about both Prakash and Joanne’s efforts to make their garden not only look spectacular, but also sustainable and organic, by encouraging bees and having several bird houses. They also have grapes growing in their garden and was told this was soon to be used to make wine.
Prakash and Joanne would like their garden to be enjoyed by residents and to help support natural wildlife. They plan to open their garden again next year on Sunday 11th June between 3.30 and 7pm.
With Joanne and Prakash Daswani in September
In September, I joined Northwood Councillor Henry Higgins to perform the opening ceremony of the new Pat Byrne Memorial Stand at Northwood F.C., in honour of the club’s Life President who sadly passed away in 2020.
Chairman Ian Barry gave a fitting tribute to the late Life President, which was appreciated by many of Pat’s family who were present at the ground to be part of the ceremony, as well as the squad and spectators.
I was interested to learn that the stand has been positioned in an area that Pat used to say was his favourite viewing point and was funded by money raised at a memorial match in his honour, which took place last October and involved two sides of the ex-club legends and players from the past, as well as family members.
To complete a fantastic afternoon, Northwood won against Chertsey Town 3-1, with a brilliant last-minute goal.
Honoured to jointly open the Pat Byrne Memorial Stand at Northwood F.C.
Remembrance Day 2022
Ahead of Remembrance Day this year, I planted a Remembrance Cross in New Palace Yard Constituency Garden of Remembrance on behalf of those in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner who made the ultimate sacrificed to defend our freedoms.
Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, invited Members of Parliament to take part in the inaugural Constituency Garden of Remembrance, located in New Palace Yard on the Parliamentary Estate. Within it, a stake representing each of the 650 constituencies of the United Kingdom.
Locally, I was honoured to attend the Remembrance Day service in Pinner, alongside local councillors and Lord Finkelstein. The event was wonderfully organised by The Pinner Association and I would like to pay particular thanks to Sharon Pink for her incredible hard work, Nitin Mehta & Cllr Norman Stevenson who were also part of the organising committee, and for the support and sponsorship of local businesses in Pinner.
It was important to remember those who served and sacrificed. We will never forget them, or those who continue to serve our country.
With Lord Finkelstein and Sharon Pink at the Pinner Remembrance Day Parade
Christmas Card Competition 2022
At the start of the new school year, I wrote to schools across Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, inviting children to enter my third Christmas Card Competition.
I have been thrilled with the creativity shown for this year’s theme of ‘Pets at Christmas’ and all entrants should be genuinely proud of their festive designs. It certainly made choosing one winner and only a handful of runners up (from almost one hundred entries!) a very difficult task.
However, I am delighted to announce that this year’s winner is Ava from Northwood College, whose wonderful Christmas scene appears on the front of my card. I also had the privilege of showcasing Ava's design to the Prime Minister. Many congratulations to Ava!
Additionally, I am delighted to announce the following entrants as runners up, whose designs are all featured inside the card:
Milana, Northwood College for Girls
Tiana, Northwood College for Girls
Alexander, Reddiford School
Anya, Reddiford School
Molly, Reddiford School
Duru, St Helen’s School
Matilda, Warrender Primary School
Olivia, Whiteheath Junior School
I would like to extend a heartfelt congratulations and thanks to all this year’s entrants from Northwood College, Reddiford School in Pinner, St Helen’s School in Northwood and Warrender and Whiteheath Schools in Ruislip. I thoroughly enjoyed looking through all of the creative designs and look forward to seeing more next year.
I am also grateful to Hillingdon Print Ltd for printing the cards. It was a delight to be able to support one of our excellent local businesses.
The winning design, created by Ava from Northwood College
Showcasing the winning design to the Prime Minister
All the runners up from this year's competition
Since my last update we have seen considerable progress made at the West Ruislip HS2 portal. In October, I was privileged to be shown the recently launched Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM).
Having attended a briefing led by senior members of HS2 and the respective contractors, I was taken to the viewing platform to see progress on the site, including the new conveyer system to take trucks off the road. The two TBMs will tunnel underneath parts of Ruislip towards the terminus being constructed at Euston. Due to the scale of the challenge, the remaining 3.4miles of tunnel will be constructed by two further machines that will be launched from a site in Ealing and will meet Caroline and Sushila at Greenford.
During my visit, I was shown the extensive facilities that enable the crew of the machines to operate for extended periods of time deep underground. Having been shown the crew capsules and the control room, I was then taken closer to the machine's cutting face, where I glimpsed the process of excavating earth before the debris is conveyed away from the machine.
With the launch of the two TBMs from the West Ruislip site, a major milestone in the development of this project has been reached. I appreciate that many of my constituents have faced disruption due to the ongoing work at the West Ruislip site, but with the TBMs underway it is important to remember the exciting opportunities that HS2 will bring for much of the country.
With the future construction of railway sidings at the West Ruislip site and the removal of debris via the new conveyor system, I am hopeful that disruption locally will be further reduced over time.
I remain wary that the construction of the Colne Valley viaduct and the necessity for vehicles to continue to use local roads will mean limited disruption is likely to continue. However, I am grateful for the outstanding work of Hillingdon Council and the ongoing understanding of the community engagement team at HS2 to help minimise any problems.
Members of Parliament have been busy working through the festive season as major pieces of legislation continue their progression through parliament. Since I last wrote this update, much has happened in Westminster, and I wanted to share an insight into some of the things that I have been involved in.
Ultra-Low Emission Zone Expansion
Like many of my colleagues, my inbox has been inundated with constituents who are concerned about Mayor Khan’s decision to expand the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
Along with Conservative colleagues from across London and the surrounding counties, I have been eager to speak in Parliament on behalf of my constituents who overwhelmingly oppose the Mayor’s decision.
To date, I have had the opportunity to raise this issue in a manner of forums from debates in Westminster Hall to questions to Ministers. Earlier this month my colleague Gareth Johnson secured a Westminster Hall debate on this important matter.
In this debate, I was able to focus on the issue that faces a number of constituents, namely the cost of this policy and the impact it will have on those dependant on their cars. This is of particular concern for those of ill-health or who need to support vulnerable family members in accessing medical care. These constituents often own older but extremely well-maintained vehicles that, without access to a scrappage scheme, they are unable to replace.
I also drew attention to the challenges faced in areas such as Harefield, as well as Park Lane, Dene Road and Eastbury Road in Northwood, and the A4008 in Hatch End. These roads change from being part of Greater London to the neighbouring county, the border where the ULEZ zone will now end. People who now need to use these roads to attend GPs appointments, shop on the high street or access public transport will now face a £12.50 charge every time they do one of these things.
I have also had the privilege to question Ministers on this matter in Westminster. While the Government is not responsible for this matter, I have pressed Ministers at the Department for Transport on this, as well as Ministers at the Department for Health who are responsible for ensuring patients are able to access treatment.
It is important that we remain mindful of the need to improve air quality across London. I have written at length in the past about solutions to this issue that do not financially impede my constituents. If you would like to read more, I would encourage you to see my article here.
While council colleagues in Hillingdon and Harrow continue to oppose the Mayor locally, and while myself and parliamentary colleagues continue to challenge this in Parliament, I would encourage all of my constituents to sing the following petitions, one launched by the GLA and the other in Parliament.
Early Years Intervention
Residents may recall that I have previously written about the work of Dr Jide Menakaya, a Northwood resident who is a Consultant Paediatrician at Hillingdon Hospital and an expert on care of neonatal children. As part of his work, Dr Menakaya has been leading the Hospital's collaborative work with health visitors and Children's Services at Hillingdon Council to develop a package of support which addresses the care needs of children with significant medical challenges through a 'family hub' model. It has been fantastic to see the impact the clinic has had locally on new-born babies and families.
I recently facilitated a meeting between Dr Menakaya and Dame Andrea Leadsom in Westminster. Readers may be aware that Dame Leadsom chairs the Start for Life Unit in Parliament and I have personally supported her extensive campaign to improve early years provisions, citing the care provided up to the age of two as critical to a child’s development. This intrinsically links with the work Dr Menakaya has been carrying out at a local level, and mirrors the vision that Dame Leadsom has for levelling up the health and care provision for the very youngest in our society across England.
It was a really useful discussion in which expertise and ideas on this issue were exchanged and I look forward to following developments in this area closely. You can find further information on the Best Start for Life programme here.
Discussing Early Years Intervention with Dame Andrea Leadsom and Dr Jide Menakaya in Westminster
It has been just over three years since levelling up became a central part of the Government’s manifesto upon which I was elected. Since that election, areas across the country have seen new investment in a bid to revive and rejuvenate left behind areas that have been neglected for too long.
The Levelling-up and Regeneration Bill was introduced during this parliamentary session to provide the legislative footing for future projects, such as devolution. This Bill presents a golden opportunity to shape our country’s future.
Along with support from others, I tabled an amendment to the Government’s flagship Bill that finished its passage through the Commons earlier this month. This amendment would have introduced a wildbelt designation that could protect biodiverse wildlife areas, such as the Colne Valley. While this was not pushed to a vote, I was grateful to the Minister responding who reassured me, at the end of the debate, that the Government has considered the importance of wildbelts and remains committed to improving biodiversity, as well as people’s access to nature.
Focusing on other aspects, I tabled and signed further amendments to this important Bill, and I was glad to mention these in my short speech. I also thanked the Government for moving on housing targets and asked Ministers to be open-minded to future amendments designed to give local authorities greater power over air quality locally.
Prior to the debate taking place, there was speculation surrounding amendments regarding the Government’s housing targets. I am glad that the Government moved on central housing targets and accepted the reasonable amendments tabled by colleagues.
Hillingdon and Harrow councils have consistently delivered more housing than the targets that have come from both the Government and the Mayor of London. As I set out in Parliament, it is clear that effective local leadership, and a sense of ambition, particularly around regeneration, can deliver the homes that we need in this country.
The Bill now goes through to the House of Lords for further scrutiny, and I anticipate its return to the Commons in the new year. My contribution to the debate can be accessed here.
Reforming our Financial Services
Since my last update, I have been delighted to contribute towards the Government’s efforts to reform the financial services sector following our departure from the European Union.
The Financial Services and Markets Bill, that MPs debated recently, set out how the financial sector here at home will seek to be more agile and more internationally competitive when compared to our partners in the USA, Asia, and Europe.
What is overwhelmingly clear, is the need to protect the City of London, which has long been the jewel in the crown of our economy and is vital in stimulating growth right across the United Kingdom. It is also particularly important for a number of my constituents, who work in the City, and the wider finance sector.
Protecting institutions such as the City of London is vitally important as we ensure that the sector is allowed to continue to grow and thrive away from the single market. Having engaged extensively with representatives of the sector, it is clear that this Bill is welcomed by the industry and seen as an important step in managing risk.
In my two speeches on this topic, I chose to focus my remarks on a range of issues from financial innovation to EU structures, while also addressing concerns about my constituents' ability to access cash in the constituency.
I am widely supportive of this Bill as it continues to support the innovation that is vital to this sector, while moving away from EU structures and ensuring customer protection. As I referred to in my speech, this gives us the independence to futureproof UK financial services. This importantly means ensuring that non-regulated activity undertaken by regulated bodies is scrutinised.
I was glad to see this Bill go largely unamended during committee stage where it received line-by-line scrutiny. Some proposed amendments brought by colleagues were useful additions, but I was keen to use my more recent speech to challenge the inclusion of New Clause 27 and to press Ministers on the need to sure up financial regulators such as the FCA.
A number of constituents contacted me prior to these debates. While this has been discussed in good detail before, I specifically highlighted the essential need to access coins for small businesses when it comes to cash transactions.
The strength of this Bill and its wide support among parliamentarians is testament to Ministers past and present who have worked on it, and I look forward to scrutinising it further in the new year.
Public Order Bill
As constituents will know, over the last few years we have seen an increase in disruptive protests lead by environmental groups, such as Just Stop Oil, that have brought roads to a close. Since my last update, I was delighted to speak in favour of the Government’s important Public Order Bill. This Bill seeks to introduce new sensible police powers specifically to tackle incidents of locking-on that have brought gridlock to roads across the country.
The disruptive tactics of environmental groups such as Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain show the importance of such legislation. As many of my constituents will know, travelling by road, rail and bus is the lifeblood of London’s economy, and many residents rely on these modes of transport for work, attending hospital appointments and of course taking their children to school.
The Government is right to take action to update legislation to protect my constituents. Ministers have listened to the sensible voice of the law-abiding people across the country. Allowing our police to tackle the changing nature of protests is absolutely the right thing to do.
In my speech earlier this year, I drew the House’s attention to the importance and necessity of this legislation. I also decided to focus my remarks on New Clause 11 that would allow local authorities obtain public space protection orders. I know from my time in local government how costly and complex obtaining such notices can be.
While maintaining sympathy for the plethora of emotive debate, I take the view that, whatever we think about the detail of the abortion debate, it is right that we protect all our citizens. I recognise that there are rightly concerns about the drafting of the proposals; I am hoping that the Government will work with those who opposed the new clause in the Bill.
As I have set out, I broadly support this Bill and recognise its importance. My constituents will have been pleased to see it complete its passage through the House of Commons and has now gone onto the House of Lords. I look forward to seeing its further passage and scrutiny as it continues to be reviewed by Peers.
Support for Ukraine
It has now been over 300 days since Russia began its unlawful invasion of Ukraine. At a time when Ukraine was making sweeping advances by retaking lost territory, I had the chance to speak in a Parliamentary debate on this topic.
Highlighting the incredible work of our two local authorities, I set out that the Government must continue to provide support for those who are going to be resettling in the UK in the long term. This importantly includes ensuring access to education, healthcare, and other services.
Further, in a wider geo-political context, we know that delivering long-term peace is only possible through a unified response by the West. While the NATO partnership remains steadfast, we must work with our European colleagues at every level. Pre-empting the upcoming meeting of the new European political opportunity, I urged Ministers present to ensure that we cooperate with allies to both deliver justice for the actions of Russia and to push for cordial relations with a future Government of Russia, should the current President be removed.
Finally, I moved on to the issues of cyber security that had been raised by the Home Affairs Committee. Ensuring the robustness of our cyber defences is paramount to ensuring western unity in the face of Russian aggression. As I set out in my closing remarks, we must stand united with consistency and purpose across the West.
UK Parliament Tours
Part of my role as Member of Parliament, and something residents may not be aware of, is being able to organise free ‘Inside UK Parliament’ guided tours for constituents.
I have had the pleasure of organising tours for constituents in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, as well as for larger groups, including schools, Residents’ Associations and, most recently, Ukrainians who have resettled in the constituency and their hosts.
I have received some fantastic feedback from satisfied residents, who have been thrilled to be able to see inside Parliament, and to hear the history explained by knowledgeable tour guides.
Tours can be booked up to 6 months in advance. For further information on when they run and what is covered in the tours can be found on the UK Parliament website here. I would encourage residents to get in contact with my office if you would like to book a tour.
Schools may wish to book directly through the Education Centre. Further information on tours and workshops for children aged 7-18 can be found here.
Ukrainians who have resettled in the constituency and their hosts enjoying a tour of Parliament
I hope that residents are looking forward to spending time with loved ones over the festive period and extend my warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas.
I look forward to meeting with you in the new year.