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Rural Related Politics - An RSN weekly review

03 February 2020

Below is an RSN review of last week's rural related politics as well as a look forward to the week ahead:


Last week in politics 
(27 Januray - 2 February)
  • Neil Parish MP (Con, Tiverton and Honiton) was re-elected unopposed as Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. Neil was a farmer before entering the House of Commons. He was the only candidate and so won by default. On 28 January 2020, Neil contributed to a debate on Direct Payments to Farmers (Legislative Continuity) Bill, linking responsible farming with environmental benefits.
  • Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said on Thursday that well-designed, high quality homes and tree-lined streets should be the ‘norm – not the exception’, following the launch of the Building Better Building Beautiful Commission’s final report. Contained within the 130 practical recommendations to support the creation of more beautiful communities, includes:
  • planting millions of trees over the next five years, as well as opening old canals and supporting every home to have its own or access to a fruit tree;
  • speeding up the planning process for beautiful buildings through a new ‘Fast Track for Beauty’ rule for councils;
  • increasing democracy and involving communities in local plans and planning applications, including using digital technology like virtual reality and 3D modelling to help locals shape their own areas.
Written Questions

Jim Shannon (DUP) asked on 7 January: what steps the Government is taking to increase the number of GPs in rural constituencies. Jo Churchill (Con), Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health and Social Care) answered on 14 January: that the actions set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, backed by the extra £4.5 billion of investment in primary and community care by 2023/24, and the five-year contract framework for general practice, are already being implemented and will build the general practice workforce and improve access to primary care services.

Cherilyn Mackrory (Con) asked on 28 January: what steps the Department of Health and Social Care is taking to increase the recruitment of dentists in rural areas. Jo Churchill (Con) answered on 28 January that she met with the Chief Dental Officer this week and the Government is actively looking at how it can increase the number of dentists and improve services access and reach. This includes ambitions for the dental workforce in the interim NHS People Plan, which proposes more flexible innovative dental training pathways, and new skill-mix models to increase access to dentistry, particularly in rural areas.                                                     

Anthony Mangnall (Con) asked on 21 January: what steps the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is taking to ensure that rural communities have adequate access to health care facilities. Jo Churchill (Con) answered on 30 January: that the NHS Long Term Plan sets out how the National Health Service will develop over the coming years and take stronger action surrounding health inequalities, including eliminating variation in quality of care across the country, building a workforce for the future, and embracing the opportunities of technology for rural communities. As part of this all local health systems have been asked to set out how they will specifically reduce health inequalities by 2023/24 and 2028/29 and their plans will be published shortly.

Oral Questions

In Topical Questions on 30 January, Ruth Edwards (Con) raised the issue of poor bus services in her rural constituency. Ms Nusrat Ghani (Con) responded that of the £220 million being invested in the bus services, £20 million has been set aside for demand-responsive buses. An announcement is expected in February.

During a Business of the House debate on 30 January, Mark Fletcher (Con) tabled a debate on online consultations, in particular, how residents in rural villages are able to take part in consultations on local health centre closures, when the consultation process is often done online, and many residents don’t have access to the internet.

In Prime Minister’s Questions:

  • Kevin Hollinrake MP (Con, Thirsk and Malton) asked the Prime Minister if he agreed on the need to increase capacity on Britain’s railways, and that the only way to do this through the Midlands Engine Rail, Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2.
  • Mohammad Yasin MP (Lab, Bedford) asked the Prime Minister to urgently review the funding formula for capital and revenue, so that SEND schools are not disadvantaged because they have fewer pupils.
  • Derek Thomas MP (Con, St Ives) asked the Prime Minister to meet with him to resolve the inequality that half of the adult population of Cornwall and 40% of children have not seen an NHS dentist in the past year.

This week in politics 
(3 February -  9 February)

On Monday 3February there will be oral questions in the House of Lords on the availability of children's emergency beds in the NHS in England.

Following the publication of the report by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and The Big Issue, there will also be an oral question on 'Public Libraries: The Case for Support', discussing what plans are there to invest in England's public libraries.

There will also be a second reading of the Agriculture Bill.

On Tuesday 4th February there will be a Committee on the Remaining Stages Of The NHS Funding Bill. There will also be an adjournment debate on Rail services in the North East.Elsewhere, there will be a Westminster Hall debate on net zero targets and decarbonising transport.In the House of Lords, there will be an oral question on ensuring free cash machines are available for all communities in the UK.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Rail in the North will meet for a discussion on how to delivera better rail service in the North of England with Network Rail, Transport Focus, Northern and TransPennine Express.

On Wednesday 5February there will be an Opposition Day Debate on Local Government Finances, as well as a Debate on Transport.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Local Democracy will meet.  

On Thursday 6 February there will be oral questions on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (including Topical Questions) in the House of Commons Main Chamber.

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