Evennett welcomes funding to save theatres, arts venues, museums and cultural organisations across England

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, has warmly welcomed the news that over 1,300 arts and cultural organisations will be able to benefit from a share of £257million as part of a vital financial boost from the Government’s £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund.

The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP, announced the funding, which will save 1,385 theatres, galleries, performance groups, arts organisations, museums and local venues facing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and ensure they have a sustainable future. It is the biggest tranche of funding distributed to date from the Culture Recovery Fund. Mr Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery. These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country – from the Beamish museum in County Durham to the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Bristol Old Vic. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly”.

Aimed at cultural organisations with key national and local significance, the funding will boost iconic venues known around the world, such as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Bristol Old Vic Theatre and Liverpool’s Cavern Club, as well as hundreds of smaller organisations at the heart of communities across the country.

Earlier today (12 October) in Parliament, Sir David showed his support for the funding and attended a briefing. He commented: “I am delighted the Government is providing further support for the arts and culture at this difficult time for our nation. These organisations play a vital role in our economy and bring such joy to people’s lives. The funding will help allow performances to restart, venues to plan for their reopening and it will continue to protect jobs”.

Prime Minister dynamic, upbeat and enthusiastic in Conference speech

Speaking at the 2020 virtual Conservative Party Conference earlier today, the Prime Minister (PM), Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, laid out the vision of a post-Covid UK.

In the keynote speech, the PM highlighted the Governments plans to:

  • Build a greener economy and becoming the world leader in low cost clean power generation.
  • Build more homes without destroying the green belt, and giving young first time buyers the chance to take out a long-term fixed rate mortgage of up to 95 per cent of the value of the home.
  • Build more hospitals and invest in schools, so public services have the tools they need to give everyone the opportunity to get on.
  • Transform the provision of skills with a new Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, branded the speech as “brilliant, upbeat and enthusiastic”. He commented: “2020 has been a tough year but the Government is doing all it can to tackle this terrible virus. We are now looking forward to a bright future and the Government will take this opportunity to transform our country and build back better. I welcome the measures highlighted by our Prime Minister today, including delivering on our promises to the NHS, improving home ownership, tackling crime, a greener economy, job creation and the Lifetime Skills Guarantee”.

Evennett welcomes Government investment in lifetime skills and post-16 education

Yesterday afternoon (1 October) in the House of Commons, the Education Secretary, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP, set out further details on the Government’s plans for the lifetime skills guarantee and post-16 education.

The lifetime skills guarantee will provide adults in England without an A-Level or equivalent qualifications from April the opportunity to take up a free, fully funded college course. Alongside this, the Government is also making higher education loans more flexible, allowing people to space out their study across their lifetimes and take more high-quality vocational courses. The Education Secretary commented that the lifetime skills guarantee “will help people to retrain and upskill” and that “This will be the backbone of our covid recovery and will enable us to come back stronger and build back better.” The Government is also providing support for employers to continue to take on apprentices, such as by making it easier for larger employers to transfer their unused levy funds to smaller employers.

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, Member of Parliament for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, has welcomed the announcements from the Government. He commented: “as a former teacher and Further Education lecturer myself, I am passionate about providing people the opportunities they need to develop their skills at every stage of their lives and to improve social mobility. Despite the difficulties of recent months due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, this Conservative Government is delivering on the promise to level up opportunity across the country.”

On Tuesday (29 September), Sir David also spoke in the House of Commons in the Statement on ‘Students’ Return to Universities’, where he highlighted how education is essential for opportunity and social mobility, and that the role of further education colleges is absolutely vital.

Evennett backs Government’s plans to radically overhaul sentencing

Today (16 September), the Justice Secretary has set out the Government’s plans to radically overhaul sentencing, crack down on crime and protect the public by ensuring dangerous criminals are kept in prison for longer.

The White Paper, ‘A Smarter Approach to Sentencing’ delivers on the Conservative Party manifesto commitment to reform the sentencing and release framework in England and Wales. Under the proposals, prisoners serving four to seven years would no longer be eligible for release half-way through their sentences and would instead have to serve two thirds. Prisoners convicted of terrorism offences or who pose a wide danger to the public would not be automatically released, while community punishments, including 20 hour a day curfews and satellite monitoring, for convicted burglars are among other measures.

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, has expressed his strong support for the Government’s plans. He commented: “This Government’s top priority is protecting the public. These sensible proposals announced today will see the most serious offenders serving the time in prison they deserve, with new community interventions and changes to the rules around criminal records to help with rehabilitation and reduce reoffending.”

The White Paper can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/a-smarter-approach-to-sentencing

Chancellor announces a new ‘Plan for Jobs’

David Evennett speaking virtually in Commons 8 July 2020 (© Parliamentary Recording Unit).JPG
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Earlier today (8 July), the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, delivered a Summer Economic Update in the House of Commons chamber, where he set out a ‘Plan for Jobs’.

The Chancellor outlined that the plan will support people to find jobs, create new jobs through investing in our infrastructure and housing, and protecting jobs by revitalising the hard-hit sectors upon which many jobs depend. He explained that this is the second phase of the Government’s response to COVID-19, and that a third phase will come, which will focus on rebuilding. There will also be a Budget and a Spending Review in the autumn.

The Chancellor’s package of support is worth up to £30bn. It sees a new Jobs Retention Bonus Scheme to encourage employers to keep their employees on with a one-off payment of £1,000 to the business for every employee who was furloughed previously and who is successfully kept on continuously until January. There will also be a ‘Kickstart Scheme’ to assist 16-24 year olds get jobs who are at risk of long-term unemployment.

The tourism and hospitality sectors will see a temporary cut of VAT from 20% to 5%, and a new ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme will be launched to give people up to 50% off meals out in August to encourage them back into restaurants, cafes and pubs.

Among other measures, homebuyers will benefit from a temporary increase to the Nil Rate Band of Residential Stamp Duty from £125,000 to £500,000, equating to an average saving of £4,500.

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, has warmly welcomed the Chancellor’s measures to spur the UK’s recovery from the Coronavirus outbreak. In the House of Commons chamber, Sir David was able to comment on the measures and asked the Chancellor:

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement and all the work he has done in the past months to preserve jobs and assist our businesses. Young people are at greater risk of unemployment at this time, and I welcome his plans to help 16 to 24-year-olds with his kick-start scheme, traineeships and a better careers advice service. Does he agree that these proposals will be good for them and for our economy, and give real hope for the future, with many more jobs?

The Chancellor responded:

I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend for his support. He is absolutely right; the research and the evidence lays bare the risk that young people face from scarring at this early stage in their careers. They are entering an appalling labour market, which is why it is crucial that we have made the interventions that we have today, particularly the kick-start scheme. He is right: if this is about one word, it is about providing them with hope.

Record-breaking package of support for UK arts and culture sector

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Thousands of organisations across a range of sectors, including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will benefit from access to emergency grants and loans, the Government has announced.

The £1.57 billion package represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture and will provide a lifeline to vital cultural and heritage organisations across the country hit hard by the pandemic, ensuring they stay afloat and protecting multi-billion pound industries that are famous around the world for the future.

This builds on the unprecedented financial assistance the Government has already provided to the UK’s cultural sector through the pandemic, with loans, business rates relief and furlough support. More than 350,000 people in the recreation and leisure sector have been furloughed since the pandemic began.

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, has welcomed the measures. Earlier today (7 July), in the House of Commons Chamber he asked a question to the Minister for Digital and Culture, Caroline Dinenage MP. His question was:

I warmly welcome the Government’s decision to give assistance to the performing arts, which will allow the industry some breathing space and help them to survive. Does my hon. Friend agree that creative industries play a vital role in our economy and are a growth industry, and that there is a need for venues to be open as soon as it is safe for them to be?

The Minister responded:

Yes, my right hon. Friend is absolutely right, but the key word is “safe”—we want to keep people safe and do not want to go back into a lockdown scenario, which would be disastrous for our economy, for people up and down our country and for the cultural venues we are talking about. My right hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this issue. Where it is safe for things to restart, they have been and are restarting: film and television production is among the creative industries, and that has already started, and museums and other cultural institutions are able to reopen, albeit that they have to overcome some obstacles before they can do so fully. As things gradually can open, we want them to do so, because it is fundamental for people’s health and wellbeing for them to be able to access our cultural institutions.

Virtual Parliamentary Questions

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© Parliamentary Recording Unit

During the lockdown period, Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, Member of Parliament for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, has continued to carry out all his Parliamentary duties virtually from his home in Barnehurst.

This includes speaking virtually in the House of Commons Chamber, and just yesterday (3 July), he asked two virtual questions to Ministers. The first of these was in the regular oral questions to the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP.

Sir David asked: “Wearing a face covering is an easy way to help protect us all from coronavirus, especially in more confined spaces such as public transport. Will my right hon. Friend join me in urging my constituents in Bexleyheath and Crayford to make that small change which can help us to control the virus and save lives?”

The Secretary of State responded: “My right hon. Friend is right about the importance of face coverings. We have seen very high levels of compliance. According to the Office for National Statistics, on the week of 26 June, it looks like 86% compliance was in existence. We did say that in the early days we would ensure compliance was enforced gently, but I inform the House that TfL, Network Rail and British Transport police will be tightening up on that. I have just signed the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings on Public Transport) (England) Regulations 2020, which under regulation 8 give powers to TfL to increase enforcement.”

In the afternoon, Sir David asked a question to the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP, in his Statement to the House of Commons on the opening of education settings in the autumn. Sir David asked: “I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement on the autumn opening of education settings. Going to university is an important milestone for many of our young people, but there are real worries about starting or restarting courses this autumn. What measures is he taking and what reassurance can he give to those students?”.

The Secretary of State replied: “I reassure both my right hon. Friend and students who are looking forward to the prospect of going to university in the next academic year about the importance we place on not just the educational offer of universities but the whole experience of going to university. We are working closely with Universities UK and the whole sector to ensure that we have a full and wide, proper opening of all universities so that they can welcome students through their gates. We are seeing a positive increase in the number of young people applying to go to university, and we will work with the sector to deliver on that. As a point of note, revised guidance for the HE sector will be issued later today.”

 

Foreign Secretary announces bespoke immigration route for Hong Kong

 

Speaking virtually in Commons Statement (© Parliamentary Recording Unit).pngEarlier today (1 July), in the House of Commons Chamber the Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, announced a new bespoke immigration route for British Nationals Overseas and their dependents. They will be able to apply for five years’ limited leave to remain with a right to work and study. When this visa expires, they will be able to apply for settled status and a year later for citizenship.

This is in response to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in Beijing adopting a wide-ranging national security law for Hong Kong and the UK’s historic commitment to the people of Hong Kong.

Mr Raab commented: “We have carefully assessed the legislation. In particular, we have considered its impact on the rights, freedoms and, critically, the high degree of autonomy bestowed on Hong Kong under China’s Basic Law for Hong Kong and under the joint declaration, which, as the House will know, is the treaty agreed between China and the UK in 1984.

“Today I have the depressing but necessary duty to report to the House that the enactment of this legislation, imposed by the authorities in Beijing on the people of Hong Kong, constitutes a clear and serious breach of the joint declaration.”

 He went on to state that: “China has broken its promise to the people of Hong Kong under its own laws, and has breached its international obligations to the United Kingdom under the joint declaration.

 “In addition to changing the arrangements for BNOs, the UK will continue to work with our international partners to consider what further action we should responsibly take next. I can tell the House that yesterday in the UN Nations Human Rights Council, the UK made a formal joint statement expressing our deep concern about the human rights situation in both Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Twenty-six other nations joined that statement. It is the first time a formal statement has been made at the Human Rights Council on this issue, and it was delivered through our diplomatic leadership. We will continue to work with our partners in the G7 and the EU and across the region.”

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, spoke virtually in the House of Commons Chamber to ask the Foreign Secretary:

“I strongly support and welcome my Right Honourable Friend’s Statement today. This is really a sad day for Hong Kong and all of its people. Does my Right Honourable Friend agree that the new National Security Law is, of course, hugely detrimental to the people of Hong Kong but will also do great damage to China and its reputation. We must therefore continue to be robust in our responses on behalf of the people of Hong Kong as he has outlined.”

Evennett welcomes easing of lockdown measures in England

 

David Evennett and Boris JohnsonRt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, has welcomed the new measures announced by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, earlier today to begin to safely ease lockdown and reopen the economy. These changes will enable people to see more of their friends and family, help businesses get back on their feet and get people back in their jobs.

Everyone must continue to keep washing their hands, stay two metres apart wherever feasible, mitigating the risks at 1 metre where two metres isn’t possible, avoiding public transport when possible, getting tested immediately if they develop symptoms, and self-isolating if instructed by NHS Test and Trace.

The changes mean that pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers will be able to reopen, providing they adhere to COVID Secure guidelines, two households will be able to meet up and socially distance in any setting and some leisure and tourist attractions may also reopen.

Sir David commented: “The cautious and responsible easing of restrictions for England should help restore some sense of normality. The reopening of businesses and hospitality is particularly good news for the economy and our way of life.

“Reopening of domestic tourism but with rules and regulations is also welcome, as is the ability for more people to be able to get together again with their families and friends will. I know this will be welcomed by so many.

“There will, of course, be guidance issued shortly, particularly for pubs and restaurants. However, the a reduction of social distancing from two meters to one meter plus will be a significant help and, as the Prime Minister said, will be the end of ‘our long national hibernation’.

“Of course, common sense and adherence to the guidelines will be essential to ensure that the virus does not reignite and spread across our communities but I am sure the community spirit of most people will prevail.”