Working for the future of Bedford & Kempston

Please note: This site covers the period that I was a Member of Parliament from May 2010 to June 2017. 

Parliament

At the beginning of July, Year 3 and 4 pupils from Cauldwell Lower School visited Parliament as part of a day trip to London.

Richard welcomed the children to the Houses of Parliament and showed them Westminster Hall, St. Stephen’s Hall, Central Lobby and the Terrace. During their visit, they learnt about the history of the buildings and its people and were shown statues of great parliamentarians, the mosaics depicting the patron saints of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and a recently installed sculpture which celebrates the fight for women’s suffrage.

I am so deeply saddened by the death of Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen today and feel great sorrow for her family.

MPs rightly wish to be open, to meet and to talk with all the people they represent – a valued feature of our democracy.

Jo has made the ultimate sacrifice; a sacrifice she should never have had to make.

 

Richard presenting the Continence Care Champion award to Jacq Emkes at the House of Commons

Richard presenting the Continence Care Patient Champion award to Jacq Emkes at the House of Commons

Richard Fuller, MP for Bedford, joined Jacq Emkes, a teacher from Bedford, at the House of Commons last week to celebrate her success at the National Continence Care Awards where she was presented with the Continence Patient Champion award.

The NHS estimates that over 14 million adults in the UK suffer with bladder control problems and 6.5 million with bowel control problems, many of whom will suffer in silence. Jacq received the award in recognition of her efforts to campaign for better continence care for patients.

Incontinence is still a taboo subject, with almost half (45 per cent) of people with the condition waiting at least five years before they get help, and can have a devastating impact on an individual’s quality of life, leading to avoidable complications, such as infections, pressures sores and falls and is second only to dementia as a reason for admission to residential care.

Speaking at the awards, Richard said: “I am delighted to present Jacq with the award and to thank her for all her work in raising awareness about the impact of the condition in order to improve the lives of those living with incontinence in Bedford and beyond.”

Richard opening the parliamentary exhibition to celebrate 150 years of the Howard League for Penal Reform, with Frances Crook, Chief Executive and Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Justice.

Richard opening the parliamentary exhibition to celebrate 150 years of the Howard League for Penal Reform, with Frances Crook, Chief Executive and Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Justice.

This week, the Howard League for Penal Reform celebrated its 150th Birthday with an exhibition in Parliament, opened by Richard Fuller MP with Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Justice, in attendance.  The Charity is named after John Howard, a High Sheriff of Bedfordshire who went on to become a leading prison reformer. The Charity was set up – first as the Howard Association, and later the Howard League for Penal Reform – in 1866 to further John Howard’s work on penal reform. The League is the oldest penal reform organisation in the world.

The exhibition ran for a week in Parliament and celebrated the Howard League’s achievements, including the abolition of the death penalty, their legal service to support children and young people in custody and their work to overturn restrictions on books for prisoners.

For more information, visit The Howard League for Penal Reform’s website.

This week, Richard called a debate in Parliament to consider closer working between the emergency services.

Under new proposals announced by the Home Office, Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) will be invited to make the case for taking on responsibility for local fire and rescue authorities in order to improve efficiency, cut costs and extend democratic accountability to the fire service.

The purpose of the debate was to probe the Minister for further details on the Government’s thinking on closer collaboration between the emergency services and to raise some concerns about the Government’s plans.

During the debate, Richard also raised concerns about PCCs using these new powers to ransack the budgets of the fire service.

Speaking in the debate, Richard said:

“The fire service is not a piggy bank for police and crime commissioners to raid for their budgets.”

Richard added:

“For those of us who believe that we need to do more to reduce public expenditure to deliver public services more efficiently—I count myself as a fiscal conservative—a whole range of savings are available in the fire service through combinations of fire services across the country. One fear that the FBU and I have is that, by concentrating control through PCCs, the Government are giving up the opportunity for cross-border collaboration and the savings that will come from that.”

Richard also asked whether the Minister would impose collaboration where it was not forthcoming.

During the debate, many examples were given by Members of Parliament of where collaboration is working successfully in their constituencies.

Responding to the debate, the Minister said that the “Government wanted collaboration to be as voluntary as possible, but where there is complete belligerence about not doing it, we will take powers”.

The Bill is expected to be published shortly.

The full debate can be read here or watched here.

Trade Speech 2016
During January, Richard made contributions in the House of Commons on counter-terrorism and the UK’s support for the Nigerian Army in seeking to defeat Boko Haram terrorists and a comprehensive speech on the UK’s policy on trade, export and innovation. Richard has also tabled questions on a broad range of subjects including NHS Continuing Healthcare, compensation for Equitable Life policy holders, delays by the Home Office in processing visas and government policy on access to taxis for wheelchair users.

As a member of the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, Richard has taken evidence from key witnesses on the digital economy, the productivity plan and access to Higher Education. The Committee has also published its first report on the UK Steel Industry. The work of the BIS Committee can be followed here.

If you would like to follow what Richard is doing in Parliament, enter your postcode on the independent website theyworkforyou.com. On this site you can also sign up for an email alert every time Richard speaks in Parliament or asks a parliamentary question.

 

“Don’t let Da’esh divide us” was the call from Richard Fuller’s public meeting held on Sunday at St Cuthbert’s Hall which posed the question: “Syria. Terrorism. What should be the UK government’s response?”

Addressing an audience of over 80 local residents, Richard laid out a range of facts on the situation in Syria – military actions, diplomatic efforts, humanitarian support and atrocities by Da’esh – before opening the floor to comments and questions.

Many residents voiced concern at the use of violence – including bombing by the UK – but all acknowledged how complex the issues were facing the Syrian people.

Domestic security issues also featured with Kathryn Holloway amongst those calling on Richard to ensure Bedfordshire police had adequate counter terrorism resources to keep us safe.

Contributions included those from local residents who had special knowledge of the region from diplomatic, military or humanitarian service in the region. Richard said it was an honour to represent such a special town that could bring together people with such wide and personal experiences of Syria and with such compassionately held views.

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.