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
© Parliamentary Recording Unit

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.”

Evennett backs Constituencies Bill

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© Parliamentary Recording Unit

Yesterday (2 June), Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, was back in Parliament to participate in the debate on the Parliamentary Constituencies Bill.

The Bill would see the last Parliamentary Boundary Review based on reducing the number of MPs to 600 scrapped, with a new review on the basis of a House of Commons with 650 seats.

The new legislation would also see future boundary reviews taking place on a cycle of eight years, moving public hearings from the initial consultation period to the secondary consultation period, takes new Council Wards into account and will use figures from an updated electoral roll.

Sir David used his speech to express his strong support for the measures. He highlighted the different towns in his constituency and the need to maintain communities in the new review, which was something the 2018 Review failed to do in Bexley. Sir David concluded with:

This is a good Bill, and we need to get on with it. It is a Bill that improves democracy. Change is often difficult for all of us, but it is important that this Bill goes through, that we get down to some business and that we implement our manifesto commitment. I give this Bill my wholehearted support and look forward to its passage through the House.

Evennett participates in COVID-19 Debate

Yesterday evening (12 May), Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford participated in the COVID-19 debate in the House of Commons.

The debate was opened by the Paymaster General, Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, who acknowledged we are facing the largest challenge in a generation and outlined the Government’s “unprecedented level of support to retain jobs and help cash flow, with 25,000 loans, half a million firms furloughing workers, and 600,000 grants”.

Sir David participated in the debate virtually via Zoom. Sir David used his speech to praise the Prime Minister’s leadership throughout the current crisis and to thank our tremendous frontline staff who are dealing with the pandemic across the country, particularly highlighting those in his area of South-East London. He also stated that he believed that “The response to the crisis has brought out the best of Britain. Our people have risen to the challenge. That is particularly true in my borough of Bexley.”

In concluding the debate, he commented: “We must look to the future and start up our economy, but it is vital that we do it in a measured manner, to give businesses, employees and consumers confidence that they are in a safe environment. In conclusion, there will ​be many lessons to be learned, and we can highlight areas such as care homes, testing and PPE where things could and should have been done better”.

Over 1,000 businesses in Bexley receive Government coronavirus support

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1,047 businesses in Bexley have already received grants as part of the Government’s Small Business Grants Scheme. In total, more than £12,855,000 has made its way to small businesses in the area.

In recognition of the extraordinary pressures facing small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, the Government launched the Small Business Grants Scheme, backed by £12.3 billion. The funding is provided to local authorities, who are then able to offer grants of up to £10,000 to small businesses, and up to £25,000 for eligible leisure, retail and hospitality businesses. Since the scheme’s launch in March, £6.1 billion has already been paid out to 491,725 business properties across England.

In total, Bexley has been provided with £36,438,000, which could help as many as 2,715 businesses in the local area.

The Government is providing a huge and unprecedented package of support to help small businesses during the coronavirus outbreak, including:

  • Helping to pay people’s wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, including for more than a million people who are employed by the 140,000 businesses which applied for the scheme in the first day alone.
  • Introducing the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to provide loans of up to £5 million, interest free for 12 months, to small businesses.
  • Taking all retail, leisure and hospitality businesses out of business rates altogether for the next year.
  • Helping small and medium-sized businesses with the cost of paying Statutory Sick Pay for employees off because of Covid-19.

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, Member of Parliament for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party for Business Engagement commented: “This is an extremely challenging time for businesses, especially for the smaller firms that are at the heart of our local community.

“It is reassuring to know that the support announced by the Government has already reached so many local businesses across Bexley, and that it is helping to protect businesses and people’s livelihoods. However, there are a number of businesses across the Borough that have not yet applied so I would urge them to do so immediately.

Business Secretary, Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP said: “I am very grateful to local authorities who have been working flat out to ensure these vital funds get to hard-pressed small business owners. Government is doing everything we can to support individual councils and help ensure that these grants reach local firms as soon as possible. I urge everyone to keep working at pace to get the money where it is needed quickly.”