This week, Richard welcomed members of the Ravidassia community from Bedford and Kempston to a seminar in Parliament to celebrate the teachings and 640th birth anniversary of Sat Guru Ravidass Maharaj Ji.
Richard said: “It was a great pleasure to host the community at the Palace of Westminster and I look forward to joining their celebrations this weekend at the Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha in Bedford.”
The Bill to trigger Article 50 and start the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is currently being debated in Parliament. On Tuesday, Bedford MP, Richard Fuller spoke in the debate, outlining his views about Brexit.
Today, the Government has launched it’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper to address long term challenges to the UK economy.
Richard’s view can be found here:
Richard Fuller on Industrial Strategy
Richard Fuller today welcomed the announcement by Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport to enable fast track completion of the rail link from Oxford to Cambridge via Bedford and Milton Keynes.
In his statement to the House of Commons, Mr Grayling said, “I want to bring new skills into the challenge of upgrading our railways. I will begin by looking at the reopening of the link from Oxford to Cambridge, to support a range of opportunities including housing, science, technology and innovation. I am going to establish East West Rail as a new and separate organisation, to accelerate the permissions needed to reopen the route, and to secure private sector involvement to design, build and operate the route as an integrated organisation. This East West Rail organisation will be established early in the New Year and chaired by the former Chief Executive of Chiltern Rail, Rob Brighouse.”
Responding to the announcement, Richard said, “Completing this important rail link, especially from Bedford to Cambridge, was at serious risk of getting stuck in an over-committed Network Rail, leading to delays and potentially cancellation if government changed investment priorities in the future. I will continue to press the Secretary of State to ensure that his plans will deliver this rail line ahead of time, on budget and to the highest safety standards.”
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.”
Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford, attended the Second Reading of the Homelessness Reduction Bill in Parliament today, which was passed by the House of Commons with Government support. The Bill will ensure that local authorities provide homelessness services to all those affected, not just those who are protected under existing legislation. It will also legally require local authorities to introduce measures to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place.
Richard backed the Bill to reduce homelessness, continuing his work with national and local homeless charities such as the King’s Arms Project in Bedford.
Speaking from the House for Commons, Richard said: “This Bill aims to prevent people from losing their homes through early intervention and cross agency support and helps those who are not currently considered a priority under current legislation. At the moment, if you don’t have dependent children or you can’t prove that you are particularly vulnerable, your local authority has no legal obligation to offer you help.”
The Bill places a prevention duty on local authorities to help anyone who is eligible and at risk of homelessness to secure accommodation, 56 days before they are threatened with homelessness regardless of their priority need status. It also creates a new duty for councils to provide those who find themselves homeless with support for a further period of 56 days to help to secure accommodation. The Bill will also ensure that other local services refer those either homeless or at risk of being homeless to local authority housing teams.
The passing of the Bill, proposed by Conservative MP Bob Blackman, follows a Government commitment to provide a £40 million fund to prevent homelessness and help those on the streets with the most complex needs.
This week, Richard raised the ongoing concerns about Bedford Hospital’s future with the Prime Minister.
At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Richard sought assurances that the NHS’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for Bedfordshire would be ‘subject to proper local accountability and full local decision authority’.
In her response, the Prime Minister said: “It is absolutely the point of these plans that they are locally driven.”
“They will be considered locally and should be taking into account the concerns and interests locally, not just those of the clinical commissioning groups, but those of the local authorities and of the public. These plans must be driven from the locality, so I give my hon. Friend that assurance.”
Richard also heavily criticised the Beds and MK Healthcare Review as an ‘abject failure that lost all credibility with local people’. In June, the Review published recommendations for significant changes to services, such as plans to close maternity services at Bedford Hospital, and then refused to answer any questions.
Richard has continued to campaign for the multi-million pound Healthcare Review into a merger between Bedford and Milton Keynes Hospitals to be scrapped. He has also called for the STP to include Bedford Borough Council’s cross-party alternative report, which outlines a number of ways in which social care and hospital services could be integrated to save money and ensure that Bedford Hospital can continue to provide as many local services as possible.
Richard attended a British Red Cross event in Westminster on Tuesday where new research revealed that up to 59% of ‘pre-hospital’ deaths from injury could potentially be prevented if more people stepped in with some simple first aid. The research was commissioned by the British Red Cross and conducted by the University of Manchester.
Data taken from coroners’ offices showed that while 93% will call for an ambulance if they find someone with an injury, first aid intervention of any kind was infrequent. Around half did not attempt any first aid while waiting for the emergency medical services to arrive.
At the event, Richard learnt two simple first aid skills and pledged support for others to also have the opportunity to gain the confidence and learn the skills that could save a life.
Richard said: “I was shocked to hear that so many deaths potentially could have been prevented by some basic first aid. Something as simple as turning someone on their side and tilting their head back to keep their airway open could be all it takes to make that difference between life and death in certain situations.”
Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross head of first aid education said: “The good news is that most people are calling 999. But after calling 999 we want people to then do something in those crucial minutes before the ambulance arrives. Sadly in the majority of deaths we looked at, the simplest interventions could have helped keep someone alive until they got to hospital.”
The British Red Cross is calling for everyone in the UK to learn two basic first aid skills that could help to prevent the number of people who die from injuries before reaching hospital. The simple interventions which could have saved lives and improved outcomes are:
• Breathing: turning someone on their side and tilting the head to open the airway if they are unresponsive and breathing.
• Bleeding: applying pressure to a wound to stem blood flow.
The charity is calling for more opportunities for people to learn first aid, starting at school, but also through the driving test and public health initiatives.
Find the report and more about the British Red Cross campaign here.
The speed and decisiveness of Prime Minister Theresa May to reshape her Cabinet showed that she is a leader who means business.
On entering Downing Street, Mrs May said that her Government will be driven by the interests of families that are “just managing” and for whom “life can be a struggle”. I welcome this commitment and expect to see real progress to enable anyone, from whatever background, to go as far as their talents take them. This is the agenda of a government which I believe will resonate with the vast majority of people in Bedford and Kempston.
After a tumultuous month, now begins the steady work to put these strong intentions into practical effect.