Newsletter July 2012
Posted by Margot James, MP for Stourbridge, at 15:29, Tue 3 July 2012:
I had been a supporter of the Banking sector through these troubled times. I recognise that they are in a highly mobile and competitive market for talent and that they contribute hugely to our GDP. Financial services is one of the few global industries in which Britain is truly dominant.
I appreciate that the lending problem is not all of their making. If we are going to require banks to hold more capital reserves as part of the new regulatory framework then there will not be as much loan finance through the normal channels. Also,many businesses are paying down debt and are not keen on extending themselves at the moment. I am pleased the government has created a new small business funding stream ‘Finance for Lending’. I could never borrow money without putting up personal security when I was in business and that was twelve years ago.
The news that banks have been manipulating the rate at which they lend to each other thereby affecting the costs of borrowing for small businesses and even homeowners has come as a shock to me. The miss selling also of ‘swaps,’ vehicles to protect small businesses against interest rate changes, is another thing beyond the pale.
We have reached a tipping point. And the current top management of some of these institutions have forfeited the benefit of the doubt. Surely these practices they have been overseeing are simply fraudulent. Cleaning up these corrupt practices without further damage to the image of the City of London is going to be a difficult task and there is no doubt that new leadership is required.
---Activity in Parliament:---
--I asked questions, took part in debates and wrote to ministers on behalf of constituents as follows:--
Economy: I spoke in Parliament about the large difference that has emerged between public and private sector pay in some parts of the country. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120620/debtext/120620-0003.htm#12062086002607
Business: I urged the Government to reform employment law. http://www.margotjames.com/content/margot-james-calls-end-%E2%80%9Ctribunal-culture%E2%80%9D-which-damaging-business
Careers: I asked ministers what they can do to improve careers advice and improve the image of manufacturing as a career option amongst young people. http://www.margotjames.com/content/mp-backs-see-inside-manufacturing-campaign
--I wrote to the following ministers;--
o Steve Webb, Minister for Pensions, regarding state pension reform.
o Anne Milton, Health Minister, on behalf of a constituent concerned by proposed rises in nurse registration fees.
o Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment, to raise a constituent’s concerns about the Work Programme.
o Nick Gibb, Schools Minister, regarding phonics teaching.
Older people: I spoke in the debate calling for a Minister for Older People. http://www.margotjames.com/content/margot-james-backs-calls-minister-older-people
I attended a meeting of the Human Trafficking all party group.
I took part in a round table discussion with Michael Gove on education policy.
--I continued my work promoting trade and investment:--
Meeting representatives of Diageo and the Institute of Directors.
Leading the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Trade and Investment; we co-launched research in to small businesses and exporting carried out by the Institute of Export and held a meeting of the advisory board to the APPG.
I attended a board meeting of the UK Japan 21st Century Group and contributed to a meeting of the UK-Korean Forum.
I attended a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting on trade between Britain and Asia.
My Business, Innovation & Skills select committee held a meeting with Universities UK and the IoD on the new requirements for student visas which are causing concern.
--I attended various receptions and welcomed visitors from Stourbridge to Parliament:--
Staff and pupils from Greenfield Primary School.
The chef and his team from the ‘Balti Bazaar’ in Lye who were finalists in the ‘Tiffin Cup’ presented by MPs to the best South Asian restaurant in the UK, congratulations to Rais Miah and his team.
Carer’s Week, I acted as an ambassador for Carer’s UK.
The Royal British Legion.
The Politics Home MPs awards.
I sponsored a visit by women from Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce to Parliament
--I spoke to various groups:--
The Institute of Government on ‘the state of the coalition at mid-term’ with fellow panellists: Sir Alex Allan, Lord Jack McConnell and David Laws MP
Solihull Conservative Association
The Carlton Club
---Out and about in Stourbridge:---
The Jubilee celebrations were wonderful, despite the weather. I helped to organise a street party outside St Mary’s Church in Oldswinford, visited the Jubilee open day for older residents at Elizabeth House and then held my own tea party during the bank holiday for Stourbridge Conservatives. I enjoyed taking part in many other seasonal events and activities:
The Victorian Fayre in Halesowen
National Farmers Market week in the Ryemarket http://www.margotjames.com/content/mp-visits-stourbridge-farmers%E2%80%99-market-%E2%80%98national-market-day%E2%80%99
National Cycling week with Dudley Council http://www.margotjames.com/content/mp-supports-national-bike-week-stourbridge
Oldswinford Hospital School Prizegiving
Armed Forces Day at Himley Hall
The Olympic Torch came to Dudley! I formed part of an enthusiastic crowd to cheer its route through the Black Country Living Museum. I spoke at a lunch given by the Stourbridge Rotary Club for visiting Rotarians from Sturbridge, Massachusetts. http://margotjames.com/content/margot-james-congratulates-stourbridge-rotary-club-80th-anniversary
As part of Carer’s Week I met members of the Carer’s Forum at Wychbury medical practice and the Young Carer’s Group with Action 4 Children at the Stourbridge family centre. http://www.margotjames.com/content/margot-james-attends-forum-carers%E2%80%99-week-0
Kim Stevens, a student of film and video at Dudley College, came to interview me about the new Stourbridge College Art & Design Centre for her course work. Ian Austin MP and I formed a panel to answer questions from students at Glasshouse College. http://margotjames.com/content/mps-attend-glasshouse-college-students%E2%80%99-question-time
It was a pleasure to be invited to celebrate leading supplier to the aluminium industry, Kingswinford based, Mechatherm’s first £200m in sales.
I held advice surgeries in the town centre and in Lye. ---People:---
Congratulations to Cllr. Colin Elcock who won the Norton by election so convincingly.
We welcomed two people on work experience: from Bromsgrove School – Max Kendrick and from Cambridge University – James Mitchell (Congratulations to James who has already been promoted to a temporary paid position).
I am very sorry to report that Gary Moore, who has worked with me for nearly three years, first as an intern during my election campaign and then as my parliamentary researcher in Westminster, is leaving. I would like to thank Gary very much for his excellent work and good company. Gary will be taking up the position of policy advisor at the National Association of Pension Funds. We will all miss Gary and I wish him all the very best in his new position.
I am pleased that Emma Turney, who joined us as an intern in the Westminster office in November last year, has officially joined my team as Parliamentary Assistant as of June 1st.
---And it wasn’t all work:---
The highlight of my month was the centenary of my father’s birth. Maurice James was born on June 19th 1912 in the Cheylesmore district of Coventry. He lived a very full 89 years and Jay and I brought family and friends together for a lunch to mark the occasion and to celebrate his incredible life.
I took part in the ‘Race for life’ in support of Cancer Research UK along with five other women MPs. We ran a 5k circuit around Battersea Park.
The Speaker organised a wonderful lecture on Charles Dickens given by his biographer, Claire Tomalin, I am reading her book (still...) so was especially interested in her talk.
The other highlight of the month was of course the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which I have already mentioned. I was fortunate to get two tickets for Jay and I to attend a lunch and viewing of the Flotilla from the terrace of the House of Commons.
I managed to watch most of the England games in the European Football Championships and some of the QFs and SFs. Although ultimately disappointing it was a surprise to win our group and then hold Italy for 120 minutes. I think we have a manager of quality in Roy Hodgson so, as ever, I am optimistic about the future. Congratulations to Spain though, I love Spain and I feel for them over their economic problems and especially the unemployment of their young people, so it was great that they had such a brilliant team and result to cheer.