Working for the future of Bedford & Kempston

Please note: This site covers the period that I was the Member of Parliament for Bedford from May 2010 to June 2017. I am now the Member of Parliament for North East Bedfordshire. Please visit my new website: for the latest news and information.


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The House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has released its recommendations on how businesses can address mistrust among the public after a series of high profile corporate scandals and failings.

The report recommends a number of actions on executive pay, a new and stronger voluntary code of governance for private companies, better reporting by companies on how directors fulfill their duties and responsibilities and a major expansion of the role and powers of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).

As a leading member of the Committee and author of the report, Richard said:
“Following our inquiries into BHS and Sports Direct, we are calling for more controls on senior executive pay, toughened up governance rules and a Red/Yellow/Green independent assessment of how company boards work. These measures are essential if we are to maintain the country’s strong international standing in corporate governance.”

On executive pay, the Committee recommends the simplification of executive pay and putting an end to long-term investment plans (LTIPs), which lack transparency and can distort decision-making. The Committee also suggests workers be represented on remuneration committees and for the chairs of remuneration committees to be expected to resign if shareholders fail to approve the company’s pay policy.

On gender diversity, the Committee calls for the Government to set a target that from May 2020 at least half of all new appointments to senior and executive management level positions in the FTSE 350 and all listed companies should be women.

The full report can be read here.

Dido Harding, CEO of Talk Talk Group and former John Lewis CEO, Andy Street headline the upcoming Bedford Community Business School aimed at giving advice and encouragement to anyone who runs, or wants to start, their own small business.

The Business School, which is free of charge, is being organised by Richard over five Thursday evenings in January and February hosted at Kings House, Ampthill Road, Bedford between 6-8pm, starting on the 19th January 2017.

The evenings are open to anyone who is studying business, running a business or thinking of running a business. There is the added incentive that if people register and attend all five sessions they will be entered into a ballot to win an hour of free mentoring with one of the national speakers. Each session will also include speakers from the business community in Bedford and Kempston and an opportunity to network.

Speakers include:-
• Dido Harding, CEO of Talk Talk Group on Winning Big
• Andy Street, Former Managing Director of John Lewis plc on Selling Successfully
• Margot James MP, Business Minister on Managing People
• Brendan Harris, Former CEO Coca Cola Italy and Coca Cola Africa on Presenting Effectively
• Samuel Kasumu, Founder of Engage Fundraising on Getting Funded

Commenting on the launch of the Business School, Richard said: “This is an exciting opportunity for people who want advice on running their business, or who are thinking of running a business or studying business. The advice will be provided by national business leaders, as well as successful local business people.”

Simon Holley of Kings Arms said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with Richard Fuller to host these five leadership evenings at King’s House. It’s always been our dream to see more businesses starting across Bedfordshire and the opportunity to have such high calibre speakers equipping the potential leaders of the future is a real privilege.”

Please register to attend online.

Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Statement this week allocated £100m to accelerate the building of the Western Section of the East West Rail Project, the Bedford–Oxford line, and a further £10m was allocated to continue development work to identify a preferred route for the line to extend east of Bedford, via Sandy, to Cambridge. He also gave a commitment to deliver the new dualled Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, via Bedford.

After listening to the announcement in the House of Commons, Richard said: “I am delighted that the Government is investing in new road and rail links for Bedford. This investment will unlock economic growth in and around our town by further improving connectivity and our attractiveness for businesses to invest. This will bring more, local jobs making Bedford an even better place to live and work.”

In the Autumn Statement, Mr Hammond said: “This project can be more than just a transport link. It can become a transformational tech-corridor, drawing on the world-class research strengths of our two best-known universities.”

On Saturday night, Richard attended the 2016 Bedfordshire Asian Business Association (BABA) Awards night in Kempston.

The keynote address was given by Post Office CEO, Paula Vennells and the awards acknowledged strong leadership in business, public service and local charity organisations.

Richard, who had the opportunity to speak at the Awards said:
“There have been many examples tonight of business success from local leaders of Asian origin worthy of celebration. Now that we are looking at a new future for our country, we need to excite people about the opportunities for business all across the world and that is what BABA does so well.”

Richard also thanked the organisers, in particular BABA Chairman, Jas Parmar, for a great night. You can find out more about BABA here.

Richard was delighted with E.ON’s announcement last month that it is doubling its workforce in Bedford with the recruitment of 400 additional customer service jobs at the Caxton Road office. He said:

“Since 2010, unemployment in Bedford has fallen by nearly half but there is more to do. E.ON has been a large employer in Bedford for many years and I am pleased that they are continuing their investment in Bedford and creating more new jobs.

“This is a vote of confidence in Bedford as a great place to do business.”

Richard opening the new British Friendly office in Bromham Rd with CEO Mark Myers

Richard opening the new British Friendly office in Bromham Rd with CEO Mark Myers

Earlier this month, Richard officially opened the new British Friendly Society offices whose headquarters are in Bedford.

British Friendly is a small Income Protection insurance company who have been providing sickness and accident cover to their members since 1902. They specialise in cover for the self-employed and manual workers and have over 17,000 members throughout the UK.

Speaking at the event Richard said:
“It’s great that Bedford is home to a national success story and one that is thriving. For over 100 years, Bedford based British Friendly has been paying out claims to people who are too ill to work across the country, so we can say that local people are helping those in need throughout the UK!

“Their new offices and new brand show that Bedford is a good place to do business and the Friendly Society brand is one that is welcome in this age of multinational banking corporations – a friendly focus on helping their members first and foremost.”

Richard celebrating 35 years of McDonald's on Bedford High Street

Richard celebrating 35 years of McDonald’s on Bedford High Street

In February, Richard joined Ismail and Ann-Marie Anilmis to celebrate the 35th anniversary of McDonald’s on Bedford High Street. To mark the event, the fast-food restaurant was transformed into a dining room with formal table settings, a red carpet and live musicians for entertainment.

Speaking at the event, Richard said: “I was proud to be a customer in its first year and still a customer in its 35th year!”

Bedford and Kempston MP, Richard Fuller has been elected to the Select Committee which will scrutinise the Government’s policies towards businesses and Colleges of Further Education such as Bedford College. The Select Committee is a cross party Committee chaired by the Labour MP for Hartlepool, Iain Wright.

Commenting on his election, Richard said that he wanted to be a voice for the small, family owned businesses that are so important to our town and other towns like Bedford across the country. He also focussed on the importance of the Living Wage and ending the era of ‘corporate welfare’ where some companies keep pay low because they know taxpayers will make up the difference through in-work benefits.

“I am delighted to be able to work with MPs from all parties to ensure that this government pursues policies that support working people and encourage people to start their own business so our economy can continue the solid progress it is making.”

You can follow the work of the Committee on Parliament’s website.

MP for Bedford and Kempston, Richard Fuller, has long called for employers to pay a ‘living wage’ to employees. Today, the Chancellor took a major step to achieving that goal by announcing the introduction of a National Living Wage. A National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour for the over 25s will be introduced in April 2016, and this will rise to over £9 an hour by 2020.

Richard said, “Working people in Bedford and Kempston need a pay rise and George Osborne has committed to doing just that for people who earn modest incomes from their hard work. The Budget is a major step forward to a higher wage, lower welfare and lower tax society, putting our economy on a surer foundation for the future.”

Richard also welcomed a number of other measures announced in the Summer Budget, including a further increase in the amount people can earn before paying income tax – a rise to £11,000 in April 2016; reforms to welfare to make it fairer for taxpayers who pay for it, while protecting the vulnerable; taking the family home out of inheritance tax; a further cut in the National Insurance bill for small businesses; increased spending every year on the NHS; and a commitment to protect spending on defence at 2% of national income.

Richard added, “This Budget gives working people lower taxes and higher wages. It makes the welfare system fairer and more affordable, and it ensures our economic security.”

For full details of measures announced in the Summer Budget, click here.

Richard Fuller (c) is presented with his award by Peter Wells (l) and Justin Phillimore (r)

Richard Fuller (c) is presented with his award by Peter Wells (l) and Justin Phillimore (r)

Bedford & Kempston MP, Richard Fuller, has been honoured with a prestigious award for his championing of Britain’s beer industry. He was presented with a certificate and souvenir pump clip by local brewer and pub operator Charles Wells, on a visit to the Queens Park brewery.

The special award is a joint initiative from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA), who wanted to recognise the role of MPs who supported Britain’s national drink during the 2010-2015 Parliament. It acknowledges acts of advocacy in Parliament, in votes, supportive motions, and debates.

In particular, the award highlights the support of Richard Fuller MP in securing an historic hat-trick of consecutive cuts in beer duty in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Budgets, helping to safeguard jobs and investment, and keeping beer affordable for consumers.

Receiving his award, Richard Fuller MP said: “The brewing and pub sector is a dynamic part of the local economy in Bedford, creating jobs and contributing to the local economy. It is at the centre of the hospitality industry, our cultural heritage and the social life of every community. In Bedford alone, it contributes £78.4m to GDP and provides jobs for nearly 2000 people, of which 489 are 16-24 year olds.”

Richard’s award was presented by Justin Phillimore, Managing Director of Charles Wells Brewery who commented, “MPs of all parties made a huge difference in achieving the historic duty cuts in the last three Budgets, and deserve our thanks and recognition. We are delighted that Richard Fuller has spoken on our behalf on many occasions and it’s a pleasure to welcome him to the brewery to honour his contribution to achieving the third successive duty cut.

“We have automatically passed this cut onto our customers but as well as encouraging more people into the pub to enjoy Britain’s traditional drink, the cuts have given us the confidence to invest in our business which is good news for the local economy“ continued Phillimore. “Last year we invested £2.3m in our brewery and a further £4m into our pub estate and we will continue to work within our operating areas to offer great local beers in a welcoming and enjoyable environment.”

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