Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Working Hard for North Devon
News Update -
Date: 10th June 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.
This newsletter has been held back until today to allow for the nominations for the Conservative Party leadership, which have just closed. We now know there are ten candidates. The first ballot of Conservative MPs takes place on Thursday, after which the candidates with the least votes drop out. Ballots continue next week until we’re down to the last two. These names are then put to a vote of all Conservative Party members, with the final result known towards the end of July.
Who am I voting for? I can’t say. I have given a commitment that I won’t make a final decision until I have had detailed meetings with all the candidates, and there’s still a couple to do. I also want to see how the hustings unfold this week.
But there’s another important factor. I have written to every member of the Conservative Party in North Devon asking for their views. Only after I have analysed those will I make my decision as to which candidate to support. Of course, I’d welcome input from others too.
I will feed all of that into my decision-making process. As I have said before, I will support the candidate who I think is best placed to deliver Brexit and move the country forwards.
It may seem an age ago, but this is the first newsletter since the announcement of the European Parliament election results. We should not have had to take part in those elections, and I am frustrated that we did.
The results are a clear sign that people just want us to get on with leaving the EU. When you crunch the numbers, the total proportion of voters in North Devon supporting parties whose policy is to deliver Brexit was 58%. That's virtually identical to the Leave vote here in the referendum in 2016. To coin a phrase, 'nothing has changed'.
The new Prime Minister, and MPs from all parties, must now find a way to deliver an orderly exit from the EU, and must do so soon. That's something I've voted for in the House of Commons at every opportunity.
BBC Licence Fee
Today the BBC announced its decision to stop giving free TV licences to everyone over the age of 75. From next year, only households where somebody receives Pension Credit will be eligible.
The BBC had agreed to take responsibility for the over-75s’ licences as part of the last funding settlement with the government. Under that deal, the BBC gets a guaranteed increase in the licence fee every year. That adds up to more than four billion pounds from us, the taxpayers. The BBC’s total income is more than five billion. And yet, it now says it can’t afford to keep the current scheme.
This is a disgraceful decision. The BBC receives this windfall of cash but fails to live within its means. If it were a commercial organisation – which it shouldn’t be – its financial management would be far more competent and accountable.
I proudly worked for the BBC on and off for 20 years. But I’m afraid this decision shows it is a largely unaccountable organisation with an arrogant streak. It was also cowardly and cynical to make the announcement on the very day the process of choosing our next Prime Minister officially started. Trying to bury bad news?
I have raised this issue in Parliament already and will do so again. The BBC must be held to account for the way it spends our money. When it organised a consultation, it included scaremongering about cuts that would supposedly be necessary. This was manipulative and diversionary, designed to draw our attention away from the profligacy of the Corporation.
I love the BBC. But this is an unacceptable decision, and it’s not over yet.
Parracombe Primary School
Just before half term, I had the pleasure of visiting Parracombe Primary School. The photo shows me with the three brilliant young people who showed me round.
The school was gutted by a devastating fire in 2011, but has had considerable investment in new buildings and has risen from the ashes.
The main purpose of the visit was to talk to the students about plastic pollution. A number of them had written to me to express their concerns, and I was so impressed by the points they made that I wanted to talk to them in person.
The photo shows some of the letters we have written between us about this already, but the correspondence is continuing. I have agreed to meet the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to hand over the students’ work and get his response to some of the ideas they’ve come up with.
It’s always such a pleasure to visit our schools – I try to get round as many as possible because I’m passionate about getting our young people engaged in politics. Judging by my visit to Parracombe, that’s certainly not a problem!
Peter Heaton-Jones MP
Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PeterNorthDevon
Like me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PeterNorthDevon
Mail: 1st Floor Office Suite, Church House, Church Lane
Barnstaple, North Devon, EX31 1DE
Telephone: 01271 327990