Parliamentary sketch – Homing in on a Private Members’ Bill
Some folk apparently believe that Parliament is “winding down” before a General Election next year!
Well, the message hasn’t got through to the Westminster village. With late votes, meetings with Ministers about prospects for an offshore breakwater for Penzance, about essential rail investment including our campaign for the Train Care Centre at Long Rock, about the desperate need for funding to rebuild ‘C’ block at Helston Community College, further meetings on health, transport to the Isles of Scilly and with the Chief Executive of a helicopter operator, the week was already packed before I included the many debates, committees, Health Select Committee Inquiry into child and adolescent mental health issues and the very welcome visits of local schools as they “take in” Parliament whilst they’re in London.
But the subject concentrating much of my time at present is to reflect on the thousands of responses I have received from constituents about the subject matter for my top billing in the Private Members Bill list and the decision I must make this week.
At the time of writing (Tuesday), of the three subjects I had proposed, an “Affordable Homes Bill” was winning by a short head.
Of course, I’m also negotiating specific policies with Government Ministers, Opposition “Shadow” Ministers and others to work out whether I would get the support necessary to get the Bill through Parliament.
My proposal to create a Housing Investment Bank to encourage lenders to support those buying and selling shared equity and shared ownership homes is gaining some ground.
However, my proposal to introduce a new planning regulation which would help communities in Cornwall and Scilly put a cap on second homes has never been supported by the Conservatives and, disappointingly, the Labour Party are not supportive either! Indeed, I took the proposal three times to Housing and Planning Ministers in the last Labour Government and each time they found excuses or refused. Their reluctance remains, so, frustratingly with only Liberal Democrat support that may have to wait for another day.
Labour and my Liberal Democrat colleagues are more supportive of my proposal to negate some of the worst effects of the “spare room subsidy”/“bedroom tax”. But of course, I will most probably need the support of some Conservatives to get that Clause through and I think you all know what the likelihood of that is!
My proposal to weaken the grip of speculative developers to hoard land in the hope of driving up development land prices is also one I’m struggling to get political support for. I’m not having any difficulty with any of my Liberal Democrat colleagues on these matters.
I have also spoken to the excellent charity Shelter who are keen to introduce regulations to better protect tenants in private rented homes. Those proposals look sensible and fair to me.
We’ll know by next week which subject has been chosen and how I’m getting on with the progress of my Private Members Bill…
You can contact Andrew George by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. His constituency office can be contacted at Trewella, 18 Mennaye Road, Penzance, Cornwall, TR18 4NG. Telephone: 01736 360020.
Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866
24th June 2014