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David Johnston MP - Newsletter, August 2021

on Fri, 13/08/2021 - 3:15pm

I hope you, your friends and your family continue to be safe and well.

Thank you to those of you who attended my pre-COP26 summit earlier this month. If you missed it, you can watch the full event <here>.

I was pleased to introduce my first 10 Minute Rule bill on behalf of the AEAT Pensioners we have in the constituency, as well as to raise the concerns I know some of you have regarding housebuilding and the forthcoming Planning Bill (both speeches below).

I will take a short break at the end of August, but otherwise will be working and attending lots of events across the constituency across the next month so I hope to see some of you along the way. As ever, if I can help you with anything then do contact me via [email protected]

Best wishes, 


In the House of Commons

A real test of my not having used notes for any of my speeches in parliament – the 10 Minute Rule Bill required me to remember my 11 co-sponsors, which thankfully I just about managed, to the amusement of Madam Deputy Speaker (see end)! The Bill would allow the Parliamentary Ombudsman to investigate their case, which at the moment the Ombudsman’s remit prohibits them from doing. Just before recess, I was pleased to raise the various concerns there are about housebuilding ahead of the forthcoming Planning Bill.
In questions, I praised the Didcot-based 11 EOD Search and Rescue Regiment to the Prime Minister in reference to our involvement in Afghanistan and highlighted constituent concerns about the response of Action Fraud to their reports of scams and online fraud, as well as about continued access to cash in the move to card payments. I also asked about the latest cyber-attack by China and about the Government’s confirmation that exams will go ahead in 2022.

In Parliament

The Education Committee has just published our enquiry into Home Education, which you can read here. Ahead of that, we had a series of hearings, including with the Government’s preferred candidate for Ofqual, with the teaching unions, and on what has happened in children’s homes during Covid.

I was pleased to reintroduce to parliament the Local Electricity Bill that I am a co-sponsor of and to support my colleague’s campaign to ban ‘virginity testing’ and repair surgery. Amongst other meetings and events I met with Nacro regarding the Opportunity Gap project I am co-running; with the Alzheimer’s Society about the next steps regarding the prescribing of anti-psychotic drugs issue that I raised in the House of Commons in May; and with CPRE about housing and planning issues.

I had enjoyable Q and A sessions with a class at St Birinus School and with the Vale Academy Trust Pupil Parliament; conducted a range of surgery appointments; and attended the ceremony where local hero, Lincoln Callaghan (who cycled 100KM at the age of 5 for Didcot Town FC), had his name put on a train!

In the constituency

It was a pleasure to have Nadhim Zahawi, Vaccines Minister, at Harwell for the 5th Anniversary conference of the HealthTec Cluster and to hear again how we (and Harwell specifically) lead the world in so many areas. I visited the brand-new SEND school opening for primary aged children in Wantage, Huckleberry, as well as Style Acre’s T2 site, where people with learning disabilities gain skills and confidence. I was delighted to meet Mervyn, the 86 year old veteran who I have been matched with through the Didcot Good Neighbour Scheme

I went to Stirlings Care Home as part of Care Home Open Week, having a good laugh with Dot (93), Doris (93) and Molly (96). I bought my first bottles of mead at the Great British Mead Company, as well as visiting my first fish farm, Brookleas Fish Farm, and made my first visit to a horse racing trainer, Harry Whittington Racing.

There has been plenty of other sport now restrictions have lifted. I dropped by the Harwell and Hendred Youth FC Tournament, which is one of the largest in the country, and attended Home Show 3, put on by Didcot Boxing Academy which does a lot to put young people back on the right path. What feels like ages ago I was made an Honorary VP of Wantage and Grove Cricket Club, but with Covid have not been able to see any cricket yet, so it was good to at least see some young ones training. I also had my first visit to a Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust site with their Chief Executive.

And finally (for the newsletter, there has been plenty else), I attended Driving Miss Daisy’s 2nd Birthday celebration and continued to visit lots of small organisations and businesses. Special mentions for the Cornerstone Coffee Shop and the Premier Grove Convenience Store, which have both been vital lifelines for people in Grove. Special mention too for the various independent businesses I saw at the Wantage Artisan Market (first Sunday of each month), including the White Horse Soap Company and Lauren’s Brownies, which were delicious!

In the media

I took part in this month’s episode of ITV Meridian’s The Last Word, which you can watch <here>.

I wrote an article for City A.M. with my colleague, Claire Coutinho, about how employers are failing their younger workers in the move to remote working, which you can read <here>.

On Sunday I will be taking part in Times Radio’s new MP slot, c.11.45am.

My fortnightly columns for the Herald can be read <here> (although they are currently suspended by the paper due to the local elections).