My answer to the emails I received on the Gaza votes

Thank you for your email concerning the Hamas/Israel war. I was in Parliament for the proceedings and was frustrated that we were not allowed to vote on the motion and amendments. This was owing to an error by the Speaker, who wanted to put the Labour amendment first which ran the danger that no vote would then be possible on the original SNP motion. He apologised after the event for his mistake. As   a result no recorded votes were undertaken on the issues. The chair said the House passed the Labour amendment  unanimously. Many MPs in practice cried No to this amendment and objected to the procedure. No division lobby vote was allowed to demonstrate it was not unanimous.


         What matters is what happens in Gaza. A vote in the House of Commons is not going to change the conduct of Hamas and Israel. I have throughout said I would like to see a ceasefire and pointed out this can only occur if the two sides in the conflict negotiate the terms of one, whether temporary or permanent. The UK government is speaking for the whole country when it uses its diplomatic powers to support Qatar and Egypt as they seek to bring the two sides together. It is good news to hear from the US Secretary of State that he  thinks progress has been made in crucial talks  to try to bring the two sides to a ceasefire.





My question on the Post Office Governance and Horizon Compensation Schemes – UKGI governance

John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con):

Will the Secretary of State review the governance of UKGI? How did it manage to preside over the Post Office with its dreadful treatment of sub-postmasters? How did UKGI allow senior Post Office managers to rack up and accumulate losses of £1,390 million, effectively bankrupting the Post Office so that it can now trade only if it has the reassurance of massive cash infusions from the Treasury on a continuing basis? Surely this body has done very badly, and we need a better answer.

Kemi Badenoch (The Secretary of State for Business and Trade):

That is one of the reasons why we have been making personnel changes in this area. It goes back to the point I was making in the statement: Post Office needs an effective chair. Until the day I had the conversation dismissing him, I never had any correspondence from Mr Staunton about difficulties that he was having with UKGI. If he was having difficulties, he should have told me, rather than give an interview to The Sunday Times effectively stating that he had no control over the organisation that he had been appointed to run.

Supporting British farmers

Dear John,

Sticking to our plan to back British farmers

I am writing to update you on the next steps to deliver the Government’s plan for farmers, which the Prime Minister has announced today at the NFU Conference.

We committed to spend £2.4 billion in the farming sector on average every year of this Parliament and we will deliver. In your constituency alone, we have invested £1484212.75 in farming since 1 April 2023.

We are moving away from the EU’s bureaucratic Common Agricultural Policy, which saw 50% of the budget reach the largest 10% of landowners. The Government’s new schemes are investing in the foundations of food security, environmental sustainability and profitable farm businesses. In January this year, we announced the biggest update to farming schemes since the start of the agricultural transition, which included an average 10% increase to payment rates, and up to 50 new actions. This ensures we have something for every type of farmer in England to choose what works best for their business – from uplands to lowlands and beyond. Unique within the UK, we have a policy that puts farmers in control. Choosing how to engage with our schemes in a way that works best for their farm.

Building on the update to our schemes announced in January, we have today announced further steps to back our farmers. Firstly, we will be taking further action to invest in sustainable, resilient farm businesses. In September 2023 we introduced the Management Payment to cover the administrative costs of entering our schemes. This has helped an increased number of small farmers to sign up. We will be doubling that payment to up to £2,000 in the first year of agreements entered into by March 2025 and extending it to Countryside Stewardship mid-tier. This means that the 11,000 farmers in England already in Sustainable Farming Incentive will receive that top up this Spring.

We are also launching the largest ever grant offer totalling £427 million. This invests £220 million in productivity and innovation in farming, £116 milli in slurry infrastructure, and £91 million in improving the health and welfare of our farmed animals. The first of these schemes is an enhanced £70 million round of the successful Farming Equipment and Technology Fund and we will also be increasing the currently open Improving Farming Productivity Fund from £30 million to £50 million – which covers robotics, automation and rooftop solar to build on-farm energy security.

Next, we will improve the service and support being offered to farmers and cut planning red tape which currently stands in the way of farm diversification. We will lay the legislation to deliver those permitted development rights in April so that more farms in England can introduce farm shops or outside sports venues. We will continue to improve Government services with better digital infrastructure, that is easier and faster to use. We will introduce more rolling application windows and make payments on time. Further, in recent years there has been a growing awareness of the importance of farming mental health and we will be making up to £500,000 available to three charity partners to deliver projects that support mental health in the farming sector.

Third, we are also strengthening our food security, which is a vital part of our national security. We remain committed to our target to maintain food production at least at current levels – which is around 60% of what we consume. However, in recent years global shocks from the illegal invasion of Ukraine and extreme weather have made clear that we must step up our monitoring. We will therefore introduce a yearly Food Security Index to underpin the Government’s three-yearly food security report. This will be made statutory when Parliamentary time allows. The index will present the key data and analysis needed to monitor how we are maintaining our current levels of self-sufficiency and overall food security. We expect this to be UK-wide and will work to achieve this, strengthening accountability across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. We will publish the first draft during the second UK Farm to Fork Summit this Spring, which will be an annual event.

We are also supporting farmers to utilise more of their produce. We will be launching a £15 million fund available directly to farmers or the redistribution sector working with farmers, to redistribute surplus food at the farm gate which cannot currently be used commercially. We are also committed to building fairness in the supply chain. We will be laying the regulations for the dairy sector this week, and have today confirmed that the next review will be in the poultry sector.

Supporting farmers, improving our approach, and strengthening food security – this is our plan. We are sticking to it, to deliver a resilient and profitable farming sector which continues to produce some of the best food in the world.

Yours sincerely,



Anti driver madness at the crossroads

Anti green policies are now blighting many local communities. Individual Councils declare a climate emergency and take it out on motorists. They wish to grandstand whilst often adding to emissions. Create worse traffic jams and fuel use rises for a journey.

Lib Dem Wokingham Council hates drivers. They do not want us driving to work, taking children to school by car, going to the shops in a vehicle. They want to make the lives of delivery van drivers bringing  goods to our home  and truck drivers taking things to our shops and factories more difficult. They do not seem to like taxis, and see delaying the ambulance or fire engine  as acceptable collateral damage in their campaign to get people out of vehicles.

They spend large sums on closing some  roads altogether. They take well functioning main roads between villages and towns and place obstacles in one carriageway to make vehicles wait until the other direction lane  is empty for their use. This presents new dangers. They see roundabout junctions that flow well and spend large sums on reducing their capacity. In the latest scheme just to the south of my constituency they are spending £5.5 m on changes to a roundabout that the public strongly opposes.Conservative Councillors with the approval of the local MP tried to stop it.  Main roads at the junction will be completely closed or subject to one way light controls for six months. Local shops and the garage report lost trade on a big scale. Parents will be badly inconvenienced when the junior school returns. The Council has had to warn people not to take it out on the workers at the site as they are not to blame for such an aggravating waste of money.

People pay a lot of tax. They want the road money spent on mending the potholes and improving the safety and capacity of junctions, not on making life difficult for drivers. The Councillors who inflict this misery have a car park at the  Council offices, presumably take delivery of on line goods at home from vans and expect emergency vehicles and trucks to get through to handle crises and restock the shops. This latest example of anger about local government should be a warning to all that the wrong kind of green policies make people more distrustful of politicians and Councils. Why can’t they do things that make our lives better? When do they not do a proper carbon count of how much CO 2 all their tarmac, crazy paving  and traffic congestion causes?

My visit to Tepeo

On Thursday, I visited a business in my constituency. Tepeo is a Winnersh based company that produces zero emission boilers and I was kindly show around their facilities by the CEO.

I have long campaigned for green products to be VAT free and will make the case for zero emission heaters to be included. Heat pumps are not practical or affordable for many homes so I welcome ideas to offer other heating solutions. The government should not use expensive subsidies to favour one heating solution over others when the market needs to develop new choices for consumers. I do hope new heaters can be made in the UK to ensure more people benefit from this technology here at home.

Dear Colleague on NHS Dentistry

I was pleased to see the government adding to dental services through the methods set out by the Minister. I am keen to see Wokingham’s needs recognised, so I put to her the issue of ensuring we add additional dentists and dental surgeries as more housing is built and the population expands. She said she also wished to see this and understood the point.

Please find below the Dear Colleague Letter from the Minister which sets out the Government’s plans.

Dear colleague,

Faster, Simple and Fairer: Our Plan to Recover and Reform NHS Dentistry

The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England have today published Faster, Simple and Fairer: Our Plan to Recover and Reform NHS Dentistry.

Our new plan will help patients can get the dental care they need when they need it and support NHS dentistry to deliver 2.5 million more appointments for patients.

The plan will address the series of challenges facing NHS dentistry which affect patients’ oral health and ability to access the care they need, as well as workforce recruitment and retention. Our plan will deliver faster, simpler and fairer access to NHS dentistry. The new measures being announced include:

  • Offering a New Patient Premium to support dentists to take on new NHS patients
  • Introducing dental vans to deliver care to under-served areas
  • Attracting dentists into areas of need with ‘Golden Hello’ payments
  • Launching our ‘Smile for Life’ programme to focus on prevention and good oral health from birth so that every child includes toothbrushing as part of their daily routine by the time they reach primary school. We are keen to embed good oral health habits at an earlier stage, given the evidence that doing so later – for example, through supervised toothbrushing programmes in the later school years – will have less impact on outcomes but add administrative burdens to primary school teachers.
  • Streamlining and tackling bureaucracy to support and maximise the effectiveness of our entire dental workforce
  • Expanding dental training places by 40% as set out in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan
  • The full plan can be found here

The plan is backed by £200 million across the next year and will immediately introduce the new bonus payment scheme for dentists taking on new NHS patients from March. As well as reforming NHS dental contracts to make NHS work more attractive and encouraging practices to take on new patients, the government is also boosting the number of dentists. There were 1,352 more dentists doing NHS work in 2022/23 compared to 2010/2011, and the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan will expand dentistry training places by 40% by 2031/32.

The plan also includes new measures to attract dentists to work in the NHS, including supporting more graduate dentists to work in NHS care. We will consult on a ‘tie-in’ to explore whether dentists should be required to work in the NHS for a period upon completion of their training.

In 2022, 46% of new dentists joining the General Dental Council’s (GDC) register were from overseas. A lack of flexibility in international registration processes can create unnecessary delay to overseas-qualified dentists providing NHS services. That is why we are making it easier and simpler for NHS practices to recruit dentists from overseas by reducing bureaucracy and streamlining systems.

Geographical variation in access to dental care remains a challenge across the country, particularly in rural and coastal areas. To make access fairer, ‘golden hello’ financial incentives will be brought in for dentists who commit to working for three years in areas of need, and mobile dental vans will be rolled out to bring care and treatment to the most isolated and under-served rural and coastal communities later this year.

Tooth decay is a significant, yet largely preventable public health problem and is the most common oral disease affecting children and young people. In the plan we have set out a new emphasis on prevention and embedding good oral health in all parts of society, particularly babies and the youngest children, where outcomes are best, through an ambitious new programme called “Smile for Life”. The government will support nurseries and early years settings to incorporate good oral hygiene into children’s daily routines by the time children get to primary school and provide advice to pregnant mothers and expectant parents on how to protect their baby’s gums and teeth. This will include dental teams going into primary schools in areas of need and applying fluoride varnish to children’s teeth.

We will also consult on expanding water fluoridation, initially to the northeast of England, to protect more people from the risk of tooth decay. The northeast of England was chosen based on a combination of factors including the oral health needs of the region and water company experience operating schemes.

Our recovery plan is ambitious, with immediate impact on access through the new patient payment which will start from the 1st March, alongside proposals to deliver improvements through the rest of this year and beyond.

Our ambition is for everyone who needs an NHS dentist to be able to access one and today’s announcement puts us on the right path to achieving this.


Dear Colleague letter – LONG TERM PLAN FOR HOUSING

13 February 2024

Dear Colleague,

Today, we are taking the next step in our long-term plan for housing, announcing a package of measures to ensure more homes get built where they are needed most – in our inner cities – helping protect the Green Belt and countryside.

We have a strong record of housing delivery. We are on track to meet the manifesto commitment to build one million homes this Parliament, and to have delivered over 2.5 million more homes since 2010. This includes almost 696,000 affordable homes, and supporting over 876,000 households into home ownership. Over this Parliament, we have delivered the highest number of new homes for over thirty years, with the greatest number of first-time buyers in a single year for two decades.

The changes we made to national planning policy in December were designed to support delivery by addressing legitimate concerns about weaknesses in the planning system, which in turn led to frustrations about the nature of development. That is why we moved to protect the Green Belt, clarify how housing targets should be set, safeguard the character of suburbs, and ensure urban authorities play their proper part in meeting housing need. The further targeted action we are announcing today builds on those changes by making it easier to pursue the right kind of development on brownfield land – because we want to see more new housing in the hearts of our cities, rather than the unnecessary tarmacking over of the countryside.
Brownfield development

Last summer, I used my speech setting out our Long-Term Plan for Housing to draw attention to the particularly poor record of housing delivery in London, where housing affordability challenges are most acute. Only 35,000 new homes were delivered in the capital last year, which amounts to just over half the 66,000 homes the Mayor of London’s own plan identifies as needed each year. That is why I urged the Mayor to take urgent action, and when he failed to do so, commissioned an independent review of the London Plan led by Christopher Katkowski KC.

This review, which we are publishing today, reveals the problems plaguing delivery in London – concluding that “the combined effect of the multiplicity of policies in the London Plan now works to frustrate rather than facilitate the delivery of new homes” and “four years into [the] ten-year [London Plan]…there has been an undersupply of more than 60,000 homes, more than a year of equivalent supply”. It recommends that to tackle this under delivery, a presumption in favour of brownfield development is introduced into the London Plan.

The Government intends to deliver the spirit of this recommendation – but believes it is important to tackle under delivery not just in London, but in our other major towns and cities that serve as engines of jobs and growth. We are therefore proposing to introduce a new ‘brownfield presumption’ in the twenty most populous cities and urban centres in the country, where housing delivery has dropped below expected levels. These twenty places, which include London, are the ones to which an ‘urban uplift’ already applies when determining the need for homes. This new presumption will make it easier to get permission to build on brownfield land where an authority is underdelivering, by raising the bar for refusing applications – ultimately helping more young families to find a home.

We also want to support brownfield development more widely, by making clear to every local authority in England that they need to be more flexible in approving planning applications on brownfield land. To make this happen, we are proposing a change to national planning policy that would require councils to give significant weight to the benefits of delivering as many homes as possible where there is a shortage of land for homes. This change would also tell councils that they need to be pragmatic in applying policies on the internal layout of developments – cutting through what can sometimes prove too complex a web of constraints that misses the prize of building new homes.

I want to note that neither proposed change affects the definition of previously developed land in national policy and so would not alter existing protections, including for residential gardens, nor amend other relevant policies on the character of suburban neighbourhoods. A consultation on these two proposals launches today, and will close on 26 March. Subject to that consultation, we will introduce these changes as soon as possible, through an update to the National Planning Policy Framework.

Permitted development rights

Complementing these changes on brownfield development, we are also helping developers overcome tiresome bureaucracy by slashing red tape that stops appropriate commercial buildings being turned into new homes. Following a consultation last year, the relevant secondary legislation will be laid in Parliament today to extend current Permitted Development Rights such that commercial buildings of any size will have the freedom to be converted into new homes – this means shops, offices, and other buildings all quickly repurposed, resulting in thousands of quality new homes by 2030.

In parallel, we are launching a further consultation on proposals to support millions of homeowners to extend their homes outwards and upwards, freeing new extensions or large loft conversions from the arduous process of receiving planning permission, while ensuring continuing protection for neighbours’ local amenity. Our proposals will also allow homeowners greater freedoms on installing heat pumps and Electric Vehicle charging points, ensuring these rights deliver what people want for their homes.

London delivery

These planning reforms are important, but our changes to policy come alongside additional funding too. We are announcing £50 million of investment to unlock new homes and improve the quality of life for existing residents through estate regeneration in London. Working closely with the London Borough of Camden, we are establishing a new Euston Housing Delivery Group to explore maximum regeneration and housing backed by £4 million. We are also announcing £125 million loan funding from the Home Building Fund Infrastructure Loans portfolio and Long-Term Fund for sites in East and South London which will unlock 8,000 new homes – and to help tackle undersupply in the medium-term, we are announcing our intention to legislate at the earliest opportunity to remove the current block on Homes England’s role in London.

Support for SMEs

It is right that we do what we can to unleash the capability of housebuilders across the housing sector. SME housebuilders play a vital role in our communities, and we are already backing them through our £1.5 billion Levelling Up Home Building Fund and £1 billion ENABLE Build guarantee programme. Today we are going further by expanding the ENABLE Build scheme to cover more lenders and increase the availability of SME finance to the sector. To support access to land for building, we will also introduce SME-only sales of Homes England land, with pilots starting this year in the Southeast and Midlands. We will also update the Community Infrastructure Levy guidance to discourage higher rates being charged on smaller sites, responding to feedback from the sector.

Public sector land

It is also crucial for Government to play its part to release more land directly. That is why we are working with the three main landowning departments – the Department for Transport, the Ministry of Defence and the Department for Health and Social Care, as well as Homes England – which have pledged to set aside suitable unused or unwanted land for housing. So far departments have pledged to release Government owned land for at least 15,000 homes before March 2025, and we have set up a ministerial Taskforce to assure and accelerate delivery over the longer term.

Second staircases guidance

Finally, our focus is of course not just on building more but building safely. I have already announced my intent for second staircases in new buildings above 18 meters, and the associated transitional arrangements that will allow projects that are already underway to continue as planned. The Building Safety Regulator will publish detailed guidance to support a second staircase by the end of March, and this guidance will set out that the second staircase will not come with additional provisions such as evacuation lifts, providing housebuilders with the clarity they need to progress developments.

I would welcome your support as we take the next step in our long-term plan for housing that will ensure more safe, warm, affordable homes get built in the places that need them most.
With every good wish


Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities

Minister for Intergovernmental Relations

California Crossroads The Council fails to listen .

There is huge local anger about the decision to spend vast  sums on disrupting the California crossroads  junction which works fine.

Residents should not take it out on the workers undertaking the contract. They should continue with strong legal  protests against the Council. We told them well in advance not to mess with this junction. We told them not to waste an astonishing £5.5 million of taxpayers money. The  current MP for this part of the Borough disagrees with this scheme.

People are incensed by the Council’s costly anti driver agenda. People need to use vehicles to get to work, to take children to school, to do the weekly shop and to get to sport and leisure activities. It is heartless  of the Council to block roads, put in endless temporary traffic lights, and create more dangerous spaces where there once were clear roads and pavements. This long building project will do plenty of damage to local businesses who will lose customers over it.

Why does the Council hate us so much? Why do they delight in making busy lives more difficult?

South East Lib and Lab Councils get some frosty answers to their survey

The South East Councils asked the public which cuts scenarios they were most concerned about. The public did  not express as much concern as the Councils probably hoped in a   number of areas.  On climate change 61% of Councillors wanted increased public transport but only 32% of the public did. Only 17% of the public wanted more EV charging points which are  now making their costly appearance more often.  46% of Councillors wanted more financial assistance for insulating homes but only 32% of the public. Only 14% said they plan to buy or drive an electric vehicle.

In area after area Councillors wanted a higher spending more interventionist model of local government whereas more of the public did not. The survey was a typical one with so many Labour and Lib Dem Councillors on the organisation. It was skewed to wanting more and bigger local government and more spending. There were no reported options to spend less, reduce the number of things Councils do,  to reduce executive and admin staffing levels, and to cut down the number of bogus consultations where Councils then ignore the findings if they do not like them. There was  no option to stop the aggressive spending on removing lanes, reducing flows at junctions, narrowing roads and making it very difficult to drive  to work or school.

The survey did capture people’s frustrations that local government makes important decisions about their lives but the people do not feel part of the process or empowered to stop bad decisions being made. Lib Dem Wokingham is an example of a Council which ignores public opinion after spending a lot on consultant designed schemes and on consultations. It specialises in spending  money on trying to get more people to abandon their cars as it follows its anti motorist agenda.

Pharmacy First Programme

Please find below the Dear Colleague that I have received from the Government concerning the Pharmacy First Programme.


ICB Name Number of community
pharmacies opted into
Pharmacy First as of
end of 28 January 2023