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BILL WIGGIN MP

MP for North Herefordshire

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Bill Wiggin MP urges new Prime Minister to prioritise sealing a Vertex/NHS drugs deal

Following the Adjournment debate tabled in February by Bill Wiggin MP on enacting a Crown Use Licence on the Cystic Fibrosis drug Orkambi, negotiations have continued between the NHS, NICE and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. MPs across the House are now uniting to call on the Prime Minister Boris Johnson to make sealing a Vertex/NHS deal a priority for the new Government.

Bill said: “I would very much like to see a deal with Vertex, but if they refuse to accept the NHS offer then we should prepare to override their copyright protection, like in Argentina, where patients are able to acquire identical medication for a fraction of the price.

My proposal to allow Crown Use Licensing would have made similar low cost medicine legally possible here.

I urge the NHS and Vertex to keep trying to reach an agreement so that we do not need to use such serious powers as they do take longer and every day is precious to CF sufferers and their families.”

Endangered Spreading Bellflower re-introduced in Frith Wood, Ledbury

Bill Wiggin MP joined conservationists from Plantlife and Forestry England in Frith Wood to monitor the progress of the recently re-introduced Spreading bellflower (Campanula patula).

Plantlife Species Champion for the Spreading bellflower, Bill commented: “the Spreading bellflower is one of the rarest plants in the UK, growing in only a small number of habitats in the West Midlands and Welsh borders.

Increased levels of herbicides in roadside soil and changes in woodland management have brought the bellflower close to extinction in recent years.

Thanks to the hard work of Forestry England conservationists who re-planted the local bellflower seeds, I am delighted that this critically endangered species is alive and flourishing on our doorstep.

The newly flowering Campanula patula in Frith Wood demonstrate how the UK’s species diversity depends on a delicately balanced ecosystem, and that we must make sustainable land management a priority in order for endangered species to survive.

According to the UN Report on Biodiversity published earlier this year, 25% of species of flora and fauna globally are vulnerable, whilst 1 million species face extinction unless urgent action is taken to reduce biodiversity loss. It is therefore vital that we do all we can to protect biodiversity in North Herefordshire, and the re-introduction of the Spreading bellflower shows us what is achievable now on a local level.”

The biennial species can be recognised by its upright, funnel shaped purple flowers and narrow leaves. It flowers in June to September in its preferred habitat of fallow land, banks, meadows and open woodland.

Bill Wiggin MP holds environmentally conscious mobile surgeries promoting the use of electric vehicles

Bill Wiggin has been promoting the use of electric vehicles by using a BMW i3 to conduct his mobile summer surgeries in North Herefordshire.

Having won the opportunity to trial the fully electric car at a ‘Road to Zero’ Parliamentary reception hosted by the BVRLA (British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association) earlier this summer, Bill commented: “I am delighted to support the BVRLA and Alphabet’s important work promoting the use of electric vehicles. The benefits for the environment are clear; they reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harmful tailpipe pollutants, and are also more cost effective to run than petrol and diesel vehicles.

In North Herefordshire we are serious about reducing emissions and it is vital that the car manufacturing sector develops efficient green technology to achieve this as a priority.

Following my Ten Minute Rule Bill on standardised electric vehicle charging portals in November, I am pleased that progress is being made to make electric vehicles more accessible across the UK. Last month, the Department for Transport announced that all newly installed charge points will provide ‘pay as you go’ chip and pin facilities by spring 2020 in order to encourage the uptake of the UK’s charge point network.

The vehicle leasing, rental and car club sector offers the fastest way to get electric cars on our roads, but the right incentives and infrastructure need to be in place.”

Alphabet, who supplied the BMW i3 for Bill’s summer surgeries, currently manages over 138,000 vehicles in the UK and advises businesses on integrating electric vehicles into their existing fleets through its ‘AlphaElectric’ service.

Gerry Keaney, Chief Executive of the BVRLA explained: “We are very grateful to Bill for supporting our campaign to increase the uptake of electric vehicles. Our members currently purchase around a third of all new electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles sold in the UK.

Last year we pledged to go even further, with an ambition to see our members combined plug-in vehicle fleet size surge from 50,000 in 2018 to 720,000 by 2025. Achieving this pledge is only possible if we can secure the necessary support from the Government through forward thinking vehicle taxation, investment in charging infrastructure and adequate supply of the right vehicles.”

Bill is among nearly 50 other MPs who have so far signed a letter to the Government campaigning for the necessary infrastructure and funding required to increase the use of electric vehicles in the UK.

BMW 1

Bill Wiggin MP joins Shobdon residents in re-dedicating the WW1 Memorial

Shobdon memorial

On 20 July, a re-dedication ceremony on Hanbury Green marked the restoration and relocation of Shobdon’s WW1 memorial.

Bill Wiggin MP, the Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire, local councillors and Shobdon residents were among those who attended the ceremony to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the First World War.

Bill commented: “Thanks to the hard work of the parish council, volunteers, and local businesses, the Shobdon war memorial has now been restored to its former splendour and re-dedicated in honour of those who served in WW1.

Protecting our rich heritage is of paramount importance and I am delighted that this beautifully restored memorial is once again standing tall in Shobdon.

The re-dedication ceremony highlights the importance of paying tribute to the servicemen and women who lost their lives to protect our country.

This message will never fail to be relevant, and serves to remind us of the hard work and sacrifices that our military, police force and emergency services continue to make today to keep us safe.

It is wonderful to see the memorial re-instated at the centre of the Shobdon community as a demonstration of their bravery and dedication; a lesson that I hope will continue to inspire Herefordians of all ages.”

Bill Wiggin MP lobbies new Government for honesty in food labelling

Honesty in food labelling-chamber

Before the House rose for recess at the end of July, Bill Wiggin MP took the opportunity to lobby the new Government on universal access to safe, healthy and affordable food.

Commenting on the day’s debates, Bill said: “A key issue I raised with our new DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Secretary of State today is the need for honesty in food labelling; something I know many North Hereford constituents care passionately about.

The problem with safe food is that we need to be able to read on the label that it is safe. 15 year old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse tragically died because she ate food that was contaminated with sesame seeds, but the label did not make that clear.

We still have a problem in this country with honesty in labelling and I hope that our new Government will do more to ensure that the label says what it is.

For example, grass-fed meat must mean 100% grass-fed, so that people with food allergies, and particularly those with a sensitivity to meat, know what they are buying.”

Watch Bill’s questions to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs here: https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/05844a50-a0d9-4d16-bd19-e9e3df717acb

View the transcription here:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2019-07-25/debates/3AB4FA43-2251-4B93-BFD1-3BF44206FFBB/AccessToFood#contribution-428E5848-C106-4384-BBAD-2DECEAC39C7B

 

Bill Wiggin MP campaigns against animal cruelty in farming

This summer, Bill campaigned to show his support for a future of cage-free farming in Britain at Compassion in World Farming’s ‘End the Cage Age’ campaign.

According to Compassion in World Farming’s 2018 report, over 300 million farm animals are imprisoned in cages each year on farms under EU legislation. Around 16 million farm animals are still confined in cages in Britain every year, causing distress and suffering, and increasing the likelihood of spreading disease.

Compassion in World Farming End the Cage Age

Bill commented: “Cage farming is a central feature of farming systems in Europe. It particularly concerns pigs in sow stalls and farrowing crates, rabbits and quail in barren cages, and ducks and geese that are caged and force-fed to produce foie gras.

Cages isolate animals and pack them into confined spaces that prevent them from exercising and performing natural behaviours. Studies have shown that extreme confinement has severe health and welfare implications for the animals.

The UK was one of the first countries to completely ban sow stalls in 1999, and it was not until 2013 that a partial ban was introduced across the rest of the EU. We must continue to set an example of high priority animal welfare legislation to EU member states as we leave the EU this Autumn.

As a longstanding campaigner for animal welfare, I am delighted to support the ‘End the Cage Age’ campaign to reach the highest possible standards of farm animal welfare and ensure that the UK continues to grow as a global leader in ethical, sustainable farming.

Every animal in our food production chain should be respected as the sentient being that it is. It is vital that we adjust our farming culture accordingly and support new legislation to bring farming into the 21st century.”

105,785 people have already signed the petition to ban cages for all farmed animals. It will be debated in Parliament on 9 September 2019.

Bill Wiggin MP backs NFU’s Home-grown Heartland campaign in Westminster

Home-grown Heartland Westminster Bill Wiggin MP with Paul Curran from Avara (002)

This summer, Bill Wiggin MP met farmers in Westminster to back the NFU West Midlands Home-grown Heartland campaign highlighting the vital contribution of the agricultural, food, and drink industry to the environment and economy.

Bill commented: “Farming in the West Midlands helps contribute approximately £800 million to the UK economy. It is particularly important, now more than ever, that we recognise farming as the bedrock for the largest manufacturing sector in the UK; the food and drink industry.

Farmers play a crucial role in managing the countryside and providing traceable, affordable and high quality produce. This is particularly the case in North Herefordshire with its enormous economic contribution from the food and drink sector.

Farming generates a total of £160 million per year to Herefordshire’s economy. Renowned for its specialist livestock,grain, hop and fruit production, Herefordshire alone employs around 10,200 people in agriculture.

It was fantastic to meet representatives from across the West Midlands, and learn more about their produce and the incredible variety of ways in which farming benefits communities in the region.

I am delighted to see ever-growing support for the Home-grown Heartland campaign and its key messages to enjoy the countryside responsibly and buy local British produce to ensure a thriving and sustainable future for British farming.”

Bill Wiggin MP rejoices as Boris Johnson elected as the new Leader of the Conservative Party

Boris Johnson has been elected as the new leader of the Conservative Party with 66% of the vote.

Bill said “I am delighted for Boris and wish him the very best for a successful premiership.

I am excited for the future of our County and our Country under this leader. He has the energy and vision to break the Brexit deadlock and leave the EU by 31 October.

Under Boris, the next Conservative Government will be able to get the best deal for Britain that keeps our economy strong and sets us on the path to a brighter future.

Making sure the UK is prepared for a no deal is the best way to secure a better deal, and that is what Boris intends to do.

Boris plans to strengthen our NHS with higher frontline spending, making sure that the £20 billion in new NHS funding will be seen in GP surgeries and hospitals in North Herefordshire.

He will give young people the best chance to get on the housing ladder, and will fund our schools so that every child benefits from more guaranteed funding, regardless of where they live.

I am also encouraged by his plans to hire 20,000 new police officers to keep our streets safe, which I know to be of great concern to many North Herefordshire residents.

I thank our outgoing Prime Minister Mrs May for the hard work and dedication that she has shown throughout her premiership, and I look forward to a new Conservative government that will deliver Brexit and shape an exciting future for Britain.”

Bill Wiggin MP joins Herefordshire residents at the Ribena Big Berry Bash

Solent News & Photo Agency

On Saturday, Bill Wiggin MP joined over 100 Herefordshire locals at the Ribena Big Berry Bash; the biggest ever pick-your-own event at Corbett Farms, Shobdon.

Activities on offer included pick-your-own, farm tours, harvesting demonstrations, a hog roast and garden games, all in the name of the blackcurrant harvest which kicks off in July when the berries are ripe enough to pick.

Visitors also saw first-hand how the 1,200-acre farm has worked with Ribena to protect local habitats, wildlife and threatened native species including barn owls, yellowhammers, grey partridges, bees and woodpeckers.

Bill Wiggin comments: “Herefordshire’s agricultural heritage is an important part of our community, so I’m delighted the local community was offered a behind-the-scenes look at the blackcurrant harvest at this year’s Big Berry Bash.

“With 2.5k tonnes of blackcurrants grown in Herefordshire each year, it was fascinating to learn about the important steps Richard and the other Ribena blackcurrant growers are taking to protect the wildlife on their farms. Richard’s commitment to farming in the most sustainable way possible speaks volumes about why Herefordshire and Ribena continue to enjoy a fruitful relationship which spans more than eight decades.”

Third generation blackcurrant grower, Richard Corbett, said: “People came out in full force this weekend and we couldn’t believe the amount of interest in our blackcurrants. Few people enjoying a Ribena realise that its hero ingredient is actually grown right on their doorstep, not least the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure we’re growing blackcurrants sustainably.”

Once picked, the blackcurrants are sent to Somerset to be pressed before heading to the Lucozade Ribena Suntory factory in Gloucestershire to be made into Ribena. Around 20,000 litres of blackcurrant concentrate are stored in the factory’s giant cold store before it is refilled with the next annual fruit crop.

Solent News & Photo Agency

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