February Newsletter

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Dear Constituent,

Welcome to my latest newsletter to keep you updated on my work in Parliament and around Amber Valley.

As always, you’ll find a selection of what I’ve been up to over the last month and details of upcoming events. You’ll also find the usual information about my columns and surgeries, and how to get in touch.

Exiting the EU Bill passed:

Earlier this month, a bill to trigger Article 50 was passed in the Commons, and is now proceeding through the Lords. Parliament also voted by a majority of 373 to invoke Article 50 by March this year, so the Prime Minister will be able to proceed with the exit timetable as planned, and as clearly set out through last year’s referendum result and majority vote to leave.

To support this, the Government also recently published a White Paper on our exit from, and future relationship with, the EU. This sets out the basis for the Prime Minister’s 12 exit priorities and the aims for a new relationship with the EU going forward. You can read the full paper here.

Housing White Paper:

The Government has introduced new plans to fix our broken housing market and build more homes where we need and want them. The new White Paper sets out reforms to all aspects of the house building process; from finding sites, to getting planning permission, and then ensuring the homes we need are built.

For our area, this will mean:

  • Making more land available for houses – so there are the right houses in the right places. Councils will be given extra encouragement to ensure they have clear and realistic plans for the number of homes their area needs, and that local people are given a voice on where the new houses are.
  • Protecting our Green Belt land and prioritising brownfield developments. The protection of our Green Belt land, and the focus on developing and cleaning brownfield sites will be clearly emphasized in our national planning policy. The aim is for planning permission on 90 per cent of suitable brownfield sites, identified on a brownfield register, to be in place by 2020, with help from the Brownfield Regeneration Fund, Housing Zones programme and Starter Homes Land Fund.
  • Getting homes built faster by ensuring construction starts after planning permission is received. New funding programmes will provide extra infrastructure and capacity for planning departments, and Councils will be given extra powers to ensure homes are built.
  • Making the housing market more competitive and diverse. Encouragement will be given to small and medium sized firms, and modern methods of construction – such as that provided by SIG Housing in Alfreton – as well as supporting Housing Associations in building more.
  • Helping make the housing market accessible and affordable immediately. The White Paper contains plans to improve safeguards in the private rented sector, do more to prevent homelessness, and help households that are currently priced out of the market.

I welcome these new plans, along with the clear commitment they make to protecting our Green Belt land and prioritising the regeneration of brownfield sites.

In a similar way, constituents regularly contact me to highlight their understandable anger that developers are gaining planning permission and banking more and more land, but not building any of these promised new homes. As a result, there is a significant and growing gap between planning permissions granted and new homes completed. I’m therefore pleased that this Government is taking action, through new measures to allow Councils to ensure sites with planning permission are delivered, or allowing the withdrawal of permission if construction doesn’t start.

You can find out more about the White Paper here.

In Parliament:

Criminal Finances Bill:

As part of my continuing campaign to increase transparency and reduce corruption, I’ve been speaking in the House on amendments to the new Criminal Finances Bill, which will significantly improve our ability to tackle money laundering, corruption, tax evasion and terrorist financing.

You can read the full debate, and all my contributions, here.

Pension Schemes Bill:

As auto-enrolment is rolled out across the country, I’ve also been speaking on amendments to the Pension Schemes Bill, which is currently progressing through the Houses. In particular, I’ve been focusing on my amendment on how we deal with self-employed people who may end up in a master trust and, more broadly, on how the Government sees master trusts being used. You can read the full proceedings of the Bill Committee here.

Takeovers & Mergers:

Following the news of a proposed takeover of Vauxhall and Opel, I asked the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about a new, robust and enforceable government policy on takeovers and mergers. This would clearly set out how we will handle takeovers when we leave the European Union and how we can intervene in deals that we do not want to go ahead.

The Secretary of State confirmed that the Government will be bringing forward these proposals, along with new regulations on corporate governance, whilst also ensuring this policy balances with ensuring we continue to attract overseas investment.

Public Accounts Committee:

In Public Accounts Committee meetings over February we’ve been looking into integrating health and social care, housing and the restoration of the Palace of Westminster. You can read more about these inquiries and evidence sessions here, or find out more about upcoming PAC business here.

PAC inquiry into NHS Treatment for Overseas Patients:

The Public Accounts Committee has also recently been discussing concerns that we don’t currently charge enough overseas patients who are treated under the NHS. People who are ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom are not charged for NHS hospital services, and whilst statutory regulations place hospital trusts under a legal obligation to identify and recover charges from overseas visitors who are not exempt from paying for treatment, the identification and recovery of charges from chargeable patients is something which can be improved. The inquiry found that more can be done to recover the costs of treating overseas visitors and effectively identify chargeable patients.

Following the report, I welcome the recent announcement by the Government that new regulations will be introduced, from April, which will require all hospitals to check upfront whether patients are eligible for free NHS treatment and charge those who are not eligible for any non-urgent, planned care. This will help to meet the target of recovering £500 million a year for the NHS from overseas visitors who are not eligible for free care.

In addition, there may be potentially positive possibilities ahead to make these charges easier to identify and recover when we leave the EU.

You can read more about the PAC inquiry, and see the full report, here.

Columns:

You can find my latest Ripley & Heanor column, looking at the housing reforms recently set out by the Government, here.

Street Watch:

If there are any street repairs in your area, such as potholes, pavement repairs or broken street lights, you can report these issues and concerns to me quickly and easily here so I can ask for the repairs to be investigated and addressed.

Surgeries:

I regularly hold surgeries to give you the opportunity to meet with me and discuss any concerns or problems you may have. These are held on Friday evenings between 5pm and 7pm.

If you would like to meet me and discuss any issues, the dates of my upcoming surgeries are:

  • Langley Mill – 3rd March 2017
  • Horsley – 10th March 2017
  • Ripley – 24th March 2017

Please contact my office on 01773 744341 to book an appointment for any of the above, or to arrange an alternative meeting.

Get in Touch!

As always, you can contact me by hitting the ‘reply’ button on this email, or you can ring my office on 01773 744341.

Twitter and Facebook

You can also follow me on Twitter @NigelMillsMP and like me on Facebook here to stay up to date with news and events in Amber Valley throughout the month.

Yours sincerely,