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David Johnston MP - Newsletter, October 2021

on Tue, 05/10/2021 - 11:48am

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

A lot has been happening since my last newsletter, particularly in the constituency, as you’ll see below. I’m taking part in the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme this year and also have a new role, Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) at the Department for Education (which I’m very pleased about, but it does mean I can’t now give speeches in the House of Commons on education!).

As ever, if I can help you with anything then do contact me via [email protected]

Best wishes, 


In the House of Commons

We only had 3 weeks of parliament sitting before it rose for the party conferences and the 3 weeks were not lucky for me as far as being drawn for questions! Just the one speech in this period: on why I think the Government is right to temporarily pause the 'triple lock' for one year before returning to it the following year (in sum: the Covid pandemic has caused an anomaly with wages and pensions will still rise by 3%+ based on prices).

In Parliament

My new role at the Department for Education means I unfortunately had to stand down from the Education Committee, because I am technically a member of the Government and the Committee has to scrutinise its decisions. Before I was appointed PPS, we held accountability hearings with Nick Gibb (then Schools Minister), Susan Acland-Hood (the Permanent Secretary of the Department for Education) and Ofqual (the exams regulator), as well as a further hearing for the prison education enquiry.

I am taking part in the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme this year, a year-long programme to help MPs and Lords gain a better understanding of life in the armed forces. I’ve picked the army strand as my dad was in the army and we kicked off the Scheme at the Defence Academy of the UK in Shrivenham this month.

I took part in a Conservative Environment Network trip to Knepp, the subject of Isabella Tree’s Wilding book. I am continuing my support of my colleague’s campaign to ban virginity testing. I am pleased to say that I have been made the lead sponsor of the Local Electricity Bill this year and am going to be trying to drum up more support for it among parliamentarians and others.

In the constituency

There has been too much in the constituency since my last newsletter to include everything here – 1 weekend this month I had 8 events in my diary! – but I’ll cover as much as I can and see my Facebook/Instagram pages for other things.

We had Zac Goldsmith, Minister for the Environment, visit the Buscot and Coleshill Estates, which are one of 6 pilot areas for a new Woodlands for Water project (and I took the opportunity to take another minister to Greencore’s Southmoor development). There have been lots of events, from the Letcombe Fun Day (where I am wellie wanging below), to the Longworth Fete and the Big Green Week exhibition in Faringdon.

There was the parade in Wantage to celebrate 100 years of the British Legion and 80 years of the Air Training Corps; the Hanney Michaelmas Fayre; the open day at Eve Johnson Houghton for National Racehorse Week; and the 75th anniversary of the Almshouse Association at the Almshouse of Robert Stiles in Wantage.

I opened the new stables of the Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, attended the official unveiling of the new Harwell Village Hall signs, took part in a successful coffee morning in Watchfield for Macmillan and attended the 40th anniversary of the Wantage Community Church.

Aside from the events, there have been the usual meetings and visits, including with the Churn Churches Climate Change Action Group, visits to Lains Barn, the Park Club Leisure Centre and to Dews Meadow Farm Shop for all sorts of delicious meat, including great sausages.

I had an enjoyable meeting with Adrian, Stroke Association Ambassador, who can run free-of-charge sessions for groups about the risk factors for having a stroke. Please email him if you are involved in a group of any age that might be interested: [email protected]. I’ve continued visiting schools, like St Birinus, as well as community shops and charities, like the Hanney Shop and Root and Branch. And, as ever, plenty of pubs for lunch each time.

I didn’t write a recess newsletter so, as per last year’s, here are the books I read over the summer. Probably the best (in my opinion) is Putin’s People, although they were all good in different ways and My Mess is a Bit of a Life was very funny. Unfortunately, the amount of reading I am doing now parliament has returned has significantly declined….

In the media

I took part in the BBC Oxford MP phone-in, which you can listen to in the last hour here:

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