John Redwood welcomes work at Arborfield weirs

John Redwood has welcomed news that the Environment Agency and Thames Water are to carry out work on the weirs at Arborfield in a bid to improve the area’s flood defences.

The River Loddon is controlled by two overfalls and two adjustable weirs at Arborfield Mill. Thames Water own the land and are responsible for the maintenance of the site, but residents have complained that the weirs are set in a manner which fails to adequately protect from flooding.

John wrote to the Environment Agency last month asking them to make adjustments, and in their response they say that they are working with Thames Water to carry out the necessary changes. They will be reducing the level of the fixed crest weir, which will reduce upstream water leaks, and this work is due to be completed in March.

John Redwood said: “I am pleased there is some progress and that Thames Water and the Environment Agency are carrying out their responsibilities. I am grateful to the various residents’ groups who have pursued this diligently. However, much more needs to be done to improve the flood defences, and overall progress is far too slow”.

John Redwood’s blog once again ranked the best website by a Conservative MP

Wokingham MP John Redwood’s blog has been ranked the best website by a Conservative Member of Parliament for the second year running. John’s blog was also rated the second best website by any Member of Parliament, being beaten only by Tom Harris, the MP for Glasgow South.

The rankings were based on the judgement of more than 1,500 people who voted in the Total Politics annual blog poll during the second half of July. Total Politics is a politics and lifestyle magazine that has on its advisory board political heavyweights such as Paddy Ashdown, David Davis, David Trimble and Denis MacShane. The full list, together with articles from leading blog commentators, will be published in the Total Politics Guide to Political Blogging, which will be sold in bookshops from mid-September.

John’s blog is well regarded by journalists and political bloggers. Unlike his blogging rival Tom Harris, John’s website doesn’t have any articles about Doctor Who or how to survive a zombie attack, but it does contain comprehensive blog posts about subjects such as Britain’s debt crisis, quantitative easing, bank bonuses, pensions, inflation, energy policy, the recession and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking about the result, John Redwood said: “While I was disappointed my website wasn’t rated the best MP’s blog this year, I was still pleased to come second, and to be voted the best blogging Conservative MP. This shows that when politicians drop the spin and communicate with voters in a straightforward manner about complicated subjects, they get a good response and people engage back sensibly”.

“My blog isn’t an MP’s website as narrowly defined. It is a running commentary and an invitation to my readers to debate with me on subjects ranging from local issues to the state of the world economy”.

John Redwood welcomes projected timetable for Emm Brook flood defence work

John Redwood has expressed disappointment that the Environment Agency thinks it unlikely they will secure Government funding for a flood prevention scheme near the Emm Brook, but welcomes news that they will instead be promoting the scheme from the levy raised by their Regional Flood Defence Committee.

The Emm Brook project will introduce several measures to hold excess water during times of heavy rainfall, including a flood storage option adjacent to and upstream of the Tesco shop in Wokingham. Subject to the results of the Emm Book Options Study, which will be completed in November, the Environment Agency expects design work to begin this year and construction to start at the beginning of the next financial year.

Speaking about the flood protection plan, John Redwood said: “While it is disappointing that Government funding has not materialised, I am pleased there does now seem to be tangible progress, including an estimate of when work will begin”.

“The flood defences around the Emm Brook do need attention. I have found it most frustrating that while everyone recognises this and there has been endless meetings, discussion and correspondence on the subject, this has not been sufficiently matched by action on the ground”.

“Let’s hope they now stick to the timetable they are talking about. Along with the recent awarding of a flood grant for work on Sylvester Close and the Environment Agency’s recent maintenance work on the Emm Brook, I am hopeful that this is a sign our message is finally getting through”.

John Redwood criticises further Equitable Life delays

John Redwood has criticised the Government for delaying even further on the issue of compensation for Equitable Life policyholders who lost out as a result of regulatory failure. Speaking during the debate on an Urgent Question demanding a statement on the Government’s progress yesterday, John asked for an idea of how much would be paid, and on what basis payments would be made, but did not get a satisfactory response.

The exchange, taken from Hansard, now follows:

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): How much compensation does the Minister envisage for his ex gratia scheme? I do not suppose that he has put a penny in his budget for this year or for next, so I do not believe that he intends to pay any.

Mr. Byrne: That is not an estimate that I shall present to the House this afternoon; it is something that I shall look at when Sir John presents his initial recommendations.

In a letter to Equitable Life policyholders in Wokingham, John wrote:

“Several of us asked for a deadline for the development of the scheme and for the payments under it. I also asked for some idea of how much would be paid, and on what basis to the losers. The Minister would not answer any of these basic points. Even the Labour MPs present were astonished at the Government’s insouciance and asked the Minister to hurry up and secure payments for those who have lost out.

I am afraid the Government seems happy to wait for more delay and I think it is unlikely that any payments will be made before the next General Election.”

John Redwood reiterates opposition to ID Cards

Speaking in yesterday’s Opposition Day Debate on Identity Cards, John Redwood reiterated his opposition to the Government’s Identity Card and National Identity Database scheme. He warned that ID Cards will do nothing to prevent illegal immigration given that immigrants already have to show their passports when coming into the UK.

The text of John’s intervention from Hansard follows:

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): My hon. Friend is making a very good point. Does he agree that it was always absurd to suppose that an illegal immigrant coming into this country would somehow escape all passport checks but would suddenly be caught out by a check on an ID card? It is completely unnecessary, is it not, to demand an ID card as well as a passport? We should use the passport.

Chris Grayling: My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. Of course, if we had a proper border police force in this country—that is what we need—the problem would not arise in the first place because we would intercept those illegal immigrants at the border.

John Redwood welcomes flood grant for Sylvester Close

John Redwood has welcomed the announcement that the Environment Agency is to make money from a property-level flood protection grant available to Wokingham.

Over 150 applications to the “Pathfinder” grant scheme asking for more than £18 million were submitted to DEFRA as part of the Government’s response to the floods caused by the heavy rainfalls of July 2007. Sylvester Close in Wokingham has been selected for the first round of grant awards. The money will provide increased flood protection to 20 properties with a grant of £114,000.

John Redwood has also welcomed work by Wokingham Borough Council to the inlet and outlet to the culvert under the A329M, as well as maintenance by the Environment Agency on the Emmbrook from Sylvester Close to Blue Bell Meadows, which should help alleviate some of the flooding issues in the area.

Speaking about the grant award, John Redwood said: “This is good news for residents but we have waited far too long for it”.

“A great deal of my postbag since July 2007 has been taken up with flooding issues. I have been in regular correspondence with the Environment Agency, the water companies and Wokingham Council with a view to getting all these outstanding issues resolved speedily. I have held meetings with Ministers and made formal submissions to various reviews and Government proposals”.

“It has been frustrating that progress has been so slow, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. However, there is still long way to go before I will be satisfied that everything has been done to protect the whole of Wokingham from the kind of flooding that we saw a few years ago”.

John Redwood argues against new parking charges for Wokingham

John Redwood has written to the overview and scrutiny panel at Wokingham Borough Council to outline his opposition to proposals for new car parking charges in the borough. In his letter, John argues that the new charges will increase costs, require substantial capital investment, and entail additional annual expenditure. John argues that Wokingham’s small traders would suffer as a result of any decision to implement additional parking charges, and says the council should instead offer free parking for the first couple of hours for shoppers using the town centre’s council owned car parks.

The full text of John’s submission to Wokingham Borough Council now follows:

“I am writing to oppose the imposition of new car parking charges and meters in Wokingham.

I understand this has emerged form a Councillor led initiative to reduce costs. This proposal, far from reducing costs, will increase them sharply. It requires substantial capital investment in meters and supporting systems, and will entail substantial annual expenditure on servicing the meters, running the payment and supervision systems and collecting the cash. I fully support reductions in costs and overheads. A suitable start would be to stop proposals and consultations like this, which must be costly to produce.

The case against higher and more parking charges is very simple. The town centre of Wokingham has been weakened by the delay of the developer in implementing the planning application granted to him to renovate and improve the town centre, and by the subsequent delay in finding an alternative way forward to improve the shops. There are some good shops and hard working shop keepers in the town, but the empty shops and blank frontage especially in Peach Street detracts from the total retail offer. Wokingham also faces stiff competition from Reading, the Meadows and other neighbouring centres.

In this situation Wokingham can still offer something the larger centres cannot offer – shorter journeys and easier access to shops. Most people will come to shop in Wokingham by car. We need to make them feel welcome, and provide free or low cost parking which is easy to use.

I have in the past urged the Council to make its own extensive car park available free to Saturday shoppers. I think now we need to go further, and to offer free parking for the first couple of hours for shoppers using a couple of the town centre Council owned parks, with a rebate offered through town centre shops participating in the scheme.

The last thing we need is intrusive meters on streets, with a new army of traffic wardens enforcing the rules. Not only will it be dearer for shoppers, but it will change the atmosphere, making people less inclined to come. We need a more welcoming town, not a less welcoming one.”

John Redwood launches new book, “After the Credit Crisis: No More Boom and Bust”

John Redwood has today launched his new book, “After the Credit Crunch: No More Boom and Bust”. Published by Middlesex University Press, “After the Credit Crunch” is an authoritative and up-to-date analysis of the credit crunch and the events that led up to it. John Redwood’s analysis focuses on how and why the UK economy fell into the crisis, what it needs to do to escape, and how it can avoid similar problems in the future. It rebuts claims by the Labour Government that the UK’s problems are solely the result of an economic crisis that started in the United States. He argues that a series of policy and regulatory errors combined to deepen the effect of the global recession, and shows how the current crisis is an extreme example of the old fashioned boom-and-bust cycle that Gordon Brown claimed to have abolished.

“After the Credit Crunch” examines the global context of the economic crisis and illustrates the changing balance of power between commodity producers, manufacturers and consumers. He reviews all the policy areas that contribute to national competitiveness, including taxation, regulation, energy, transport, regional development and education. He expands on his previous publications, “Superpower Struggles” and “Stars and Strife”, and offers a strong defence of market based policies and low taxation in addressing the economic challenges of the 21st century.

Speaking at the launch of “After the Credit Crisis” today, John Redwood said: “We have lived through three phases of wrong policy and bad regulation. Between 2003 and 2007 interest rates were too low and banks allowed to expand too much. In 2007 and 2008 rates were too high and the money markets were starved of cash. In 2009 the UK government is failing to sort out the broken banks it owns whilst running too large a deficit. The UK has to save and export more, and has to raise quality and efficiency throughout the public sector”.

About John

John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

John was an Oxfordshire County Councillor in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s he was Chief Policy Advisor to Margaret Thatcher. He urged her to begin a great privatisation programme, and then took privatisation around the world as one if its first advocates before being elected to parliament. He was soon made a minister, joining the front bench in 1989 as Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department of Trade and Industry. He supervised the liberalisation of the telecoms industry in the early 1990s and became Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities after the 1992 General Election.

Shortly afterwards, John joined the Cabinet and served as Secretary of State for Wales from 1993 to 1995. In opposition he has acted as Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1997-1999), Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1999-2000) and Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation (2004-2005). He stood for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 1995 and again in 1997. He is currently Chairman of the Conservative Party’s Economic Competitiveness Policy Review.

John has been a fellow of All Souls since 2003. He is currently a Visiting Professor for Middlesex University Business School and has published a number of books including “I Want to Make a Difference, But I Don’t Like Politics”, “Singing the Blues”, “Third Way, Which Way?”, “Stars and Strife”, “Superpower Struggles”, “The Death of Britain”, “Just Say No” and “Our Country, Our Currency”.

Buying the book

To buy the book please visit the Middlesex University Press website at, or click here to buy the book from Amazon.

Wokingham Schools’ Debating Competition winners enjoy day out at the Palace of Westminster

On Wednesday the 17th June, pupils and teachers from the Emmbrook and Willink School were treated to a day out at the Houses of Parliament by John Redwood.

As a prize for winning the 2008 Wokingham Schools’ Debating Competition, Adam Connell and Florence Curtis of the Emmbrook School, along with their teacher Diana Collins, joined runners up Lawrence Hill and Dominic Murray-Vaughn, and their teacher Lorraine Gordon from the Willink, on a trip to Westminster where they enjoyed a guided tour of Parliament by John Redwood and had the chance to watch Prime Minister’s Questions.

Following a two hour tour of the Palace of Westminster, where John explained the history behind the building and also outlined in some detail the intricacies of how the Lords and Commons operate, the debating students from the Emmbrook and Willink were able to witness Parliamentary debating first hand by watching Scottish Questions and Prime Minister’s Questions from the public gallery. Amongst the political heavyweights the pupils were able to see in person were Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy and former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell.

The day ended with lunch in the Adjournment restaurant, where the group was joined by David Wilshire MP, a seasoned Parliamentary debater and Vice-Chairman of the Political Affairs Committee in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Speaking after the visit, John Redwood said: “It was a pleasure to one again welcome Wokingham pupils to the Palace of Westminster, and, at a time when politics has a poor reputation, show them how Parliament operates and why our democratic traditions are so important”.

“In these challenging times employers are looking for people with the skills to succeed. Public speaking and the ability to think on one’s feet are important life skills that offer an advantage in a competitive job market. I am pleased that by organising the Wokingham Schools Debating Competition and bringing the winners to Parliament, I have been able to help Wokingham’s pupils develop these important life skills”.

Notes for editors:

The Wokingham Schools Debating Competition is an annual tournament organised by John Redwood and his office for secondary schools in his constituency. The competition aims to encourage sixth form pupils to develop public speaking skills, think on their feet and develop clear and concise arguments. The winners of the competition are awarded the John Redwood Cup and the winners and runners up receive the trip to the Houses of Parliament.

The 2009 Debating Competition will be held in October, with the final taking place at Wokingham Town Hall on Friday the 27th November.

Please feel free to reproduce the attached photographs. Photograph 1 shows Adam Connell and Florence Curtis with John Redwood. Photograph 2 shows Adam Connell, Florence Curtis, Diana Collins, Lawrence Hill, Dominic Murray-Vaughn, Lorraine Gordon and John Redwood. If you need the photographs in a higher resolution, please contact Carl on 020 7219 4205.

The sponsors of the 2008 competition were 3M, Classicstone Properties, RBS, Mr. William Clark, Clifton Ingram and Titcheners. We are grateful for their support. The sponsors of this year’s competition are Mr. William Clark and Clifton Ingram.

For more information please contact Carl Thomson on 020 7219 4205

John Redwood presses for referendum on Lisbon Treaty

Speaking in the European affairs debate in the House of Commons yesterday, John Redwood called for democracy to apply to the United Kingdom and pressed the Government to hold the referendum on the European Constitution, otherwise known as the Lisbon Treaty, that they promised in their last manifesto. John also said the Shadow Foreign Secretary should send message to countries that haven’t yet ratified the Lisbon Treaty, such as Poland, asking them to hold off on ratification until a future Conservative Government has the opportunity to put the treaty to the British people in a referendum.

The full text of John’s contributions, taken from Hansard, now follows:

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): The Foreign Secretary mentioned democracy: may we have some in Europe? Why do the Irish have to vote again, when their verdict was very clear? Why cannot we have a vote in Britain? And what did he not understand about the Eurosceptic majority in the European elections?

David Miliband: I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman has brought me on to this topic, because there is unfinished institutional business in the European Union. Since the Irish people voted no in their referendum on the Lisbon treaty on 12 June last year, the Irish Government have been deciding on their next move. In December, the European Council agreed, on the basis of Irish proposals, that the EU would give Ireland the legal guarantees it wanted on the issues of concern to its electorate. In December, as the Prime Minister reported to the House, the European Council conclusions set out what the Irish guarantees will cover—no change in EU competence on tax; no prejudice to national security and defence policy; and guarantees on provisions in the Irish constitution on the right to life. The December conclusions also record the high importance attached to the issues, including workers’ rights.
There are now detailed Irish proposals for these commitments to be agreed as legal guarantees, for a declaration by the European Council on workers’ rights and social policy, and for a national declaration by Ireland. We are assessing these texts against the two objectives that we have consistently set out to Parliament and to EU partners. The first is to ensure that the Lisbon treaty comes into force on the basis of support in all 27 member states. To do that, the EU collectively has to address the concerns of the Irish people to the mutual satisfaction of Ireland and other member states. The second is to ensure that the content of the Lisbon treaty as it affects the UK is not changed.

Mr. Redwood: I am grateful to the shadow Foreign Secretary for giving way. Will he use this opportunity to send a message to countries that have not yet ratified the Lisbon treaty? The message is that a future Conservative Government would hold an immediate referendum, and that the British people would be very likely to veto the treaty for them—so countries should hang on and not ratify, to give us the chance to do what they want us to do.

Mr. Hague: Those countries must make their own decisions; it is not for us to dictate to them what their decision must be. However, my right hon. Friend is correct in his description of the situation. The Lisbon treaty referendum, which all parties promised at the last general election, will certainly be implemented if the treaty remains unratified and is still on the table at the time of the next general election.