Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Working Hard for North Devon
News Update -
Date: 7th July 2019
Thank you and welcome to my latest Newsletter. Please do forward this on to someone who you think may be interested, and urge them to sign up.
Climate Change Lobby
On Wednesday last week, as the photo shows, I was delighted to meet North Devon campaigners who travelled to Westminster as part of the huge climate change day of action. The group, including campaigners from Ilfracombe, Barnstaple and Braunton, were among thousands who lobbied Parliament.
We had an extremely useful and constructive meeting and discussed a wide range of topics, including air travel, fracking, nuclear power, and, of course, climate change policy.
We talked at length about the government's recent commitment to move Britain to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This puts the UK ahead of every other industrialised nation in the G7, which is extremely welcome. However, there is an ambition that this should be achieved sooner, and I have agreed to take this up with the government.
I have also committed to pushing for the new Environment and Agriculture strategies to be backed up with strong legislation with real teeth to ensure our environmental goals are met.
I am passionate about these issues, and indeed was a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee which was instrumental in introducing the ban on micro-plastics which cause so much pollution in our oceans. I'll keep pushing on these vital matters, and I'm really grateful to have had the opportunity to hear the concerns from the local delegation who travelled to Westminster.
Divorce: New Rules
There’s an old saying that there are two things you should never watch being made: sausages and laws! The process in both cases can indeed be ugly, for very different reasons. In truth, it’s a huge privilege to play a role in the creation of a new piece of legislation, but there are many stages in what can be a very long, drawn-out process.
For that reason, it’s relatively unusual for an MP to be involved at every stage in the creation of a new law. But thanks to my role as Parliamentary Private Secretary at the Justice Department, that’s what I’m currently doing with the Divorce Bill. This is a very significant change to the rules governing divorce, and last week I sat on the committee which is analysing the proposals in detail.
The current legal process means many spouses are forced to make allegations about the other’s behaviour to avoid having to wait for the statutory two years of separation. Such allegations can set the scene for serious conflict. This can be especially damaging for any children involved, and creates unnecessary acrimony which can harm the chances of a future amicable relationship between the parents.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, to give it its full title, removes the need for couples to play ‘the blame game’. It will mean, in effect, that if both spouses agree, the divorce process could be completed within 26 weeks without the need for one to make allegations about the other.
We completed the committee’s deliberations on Tuesday and are now waiting for the Bill to come back before the House of Commons. I hope we can get these long overdue changes into law as soon as possible.
In Parliament – 1
Theresa May is stepping down as Prime Minister in less than three weeks. But it’s very much business as usual in the meantime, and last week she came to the House of Commons to report back on the latest European Council meeting.
Surprisingly, Brexit was not the main item on the agenda. Instead, among the topics discussed was internet security, which is something that will need international cooperation. I asked the Prime Minister – in what might be my last opportunity to ask her a question in the House – to confirm that the UK was leading the way in making the internet a safe place, especially for young people.
You can see my question and the PM’s answer here:
In Parliament – 2
This week there was an urgent debate in the House of Commons about the way the Department for Work & Pension reviews its most serious cases. I used to work in the DWP so I take a close interest in these matters. I was keen to seek confirmation that the Department always launches a review where a claimant sadly passes away, and was reassured by the minister’s response.
My question and the minister’s answer are here:
In Parliament – 3
The very last item of business in the House of Commons this week was Thursday’s adjournment debate. A Labour MP raised a specific case about a business in his constituency which had missed out on a contract for refurbishment work at a local hospital. I used it as an opportunity to highlight our fine hospital here in North Devon, and to seek assurances that small businesses in our community are able to compete for such work.
I made two separate interventions; here are the links:
Peter Heaton-Jones MP
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