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David Johnston MP - Newsletter, June 2020

on Fri, 26/06/2020 - 7:03pm

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

Since my May newsletter, some of the restrictions of lockdown have been lifted. As a result, life for MPs has been slowly returning to normal and we are back to being physically in parliament Monday – Thursday. We can also now return to visits across our constituencies on Fridays, which I am particularly pleased about.

I am keen for everyone to support our local businesses and want to visit as many as I can. I spent last Friday in Faringdon – partly eating my way round via Sheffords, the Rainbow and Stay Grounded – do please let me know if you have any suggestions of places it would be good for me to visit.

As ever, I can be contacted via [email protected] 

Best wishes, 

David 


In the House of Commons

I was pleased to speak in a number of debates regarding government legislation, including the Agriculture Bill, which will create a brand-new system to pay farmers for both food production as well as steps they take to protect the environment. I spoke in favour of the points-based immigration system that will be introduced with the Immigration and Social Security Coordination Bill and in favour of the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill, designed to help prevent the kinds of terrorist attacks we saw in late 2019/early 2020. The importance of this last Bill was highlighted a few days ago with the awful attack in Reading; in the House of Commons I expressed my deepest sympathy for the families of the victims, my admiration for the Thames Valley services and suggested to Priti Patel we should not give terrorists the attention they crave.

In questions to Government Ministers, I’ve raised with George Eustice of lockdown for pubs such as the Fleur de Lys in East Hagbourne; encouraged all MPs to support their local, independent businesses; and raised issues such as the closure of schools and social mobility with Gavin Williamson and Liz Truss respectively.


In Parliament

I was one of the co-sponsors for my colleague Peter Aldous’ Local Electricity 10 Minute Rule Bill, which is designed to allow local communities to sell the electricity they generate without prohibitive set-up costs. I also gave my support to the efforts to ban the ‘rough sex defence’ that has been used in a number of cases where people have killed their partners, and am pleased the Government has said they will amend the Domestic Abuse Bill to do this.  

On the Education Committee we have had weekly hearings with ministers, charities such as Barnardo’s and union representatives exploring the issues for children and young people as a result of the lockdown and what can be done to mitigate them. I was also asked to me a member of the Trade Bill Committee, which scrutinises the legislation which will enable us to have continuity trade agreements with the countries we currently trade with through the EU, and will create a new Trade Remedies Authority to recommend action if UK producers are being harmed by unfair practices.


In the constituency

I have continued to help individuals and businesses to access the support Government has made available in response to Coronavirus. For most of this period I have been constrained in where I could physically go in the constituency, but have continued to volunteer where I can. I have also tried to engage with as many constituents as possible via Zoom, taking part in a host of sessions including Lockdown Lessons with local business Stowhill Estates and a testing Q&A with local scouts!

For Volunteers Week this month, I invited constituents to name their ‘volunteer hero’, whether an individual or organisation. The Top 3 most nominated organisations were the Ray Collins Charitable Trust, Helping Hands and Maymessy. Congratulations to them all! I am going to bring representatives from all 3 organisations to parliament for a tour and lunch as soon as visitors are allowed again. You can see everyone who was nominated here.


In the media

I wrote a piece for Times Red Box on why the Government shouldn’t change direction as a result of Covid-19, which you can read on my website <here>.

With my colleague Laura Trott, I wrote a piece (click) for Conservative Home on the importance of opening schools as soon as possible. 

My fortnightly columns for the Herald can also be read <here>.