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Sir Bill Wiggin MP

Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire

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Findings of Second Permanent Secretary’s Investigation into alleged gatherings on Government premises during COVID restrictions

Please find a link below to the full report, published on 25 May 2022.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1078404/2022-05-25_FINAL_FINDINGS_OF_SECOND_PERMANENT_SECRETARY_INTO_ALLEGED_GATHERINGS.pdf

Sir Bill Wiggin MP’s statement following BBC Panorama programme on Children’s Services

BBC’s Panorama programme highlighted the real challenges that social workers face every day, and the damage that can be done to children when things go wrong.

I found the programme deeply moving.

It revealed reoccurring problems of the care system, especially regarding staffing.

I am aware of past cases where staff who perpetrated serious failures were rehired as temporary staff, which highlights terror that local authorities have of another “Baby P” case.

We need good social workers who, unless the children are at risk of serious harm, provide the support that parents need to keep their children. However, that is much easier said than done!

Herefordshire Council comprehensively failed on more than one occasion, and continued to try to take children away from their families even though the proper protocols were ignored.

The new Chief Executive of Herefordshire Council arrived in post in time to bring in the new measures mentioned in the programme, which we all hope will bring these problems to an end.

Watching the programme, it struck me that there is a much greater need to talk to the children in question – far more.

The role of grandparents and other family members was never mentioned, yet I have had many constituents complain that the grandparents are not consulted enough in childcare cases.

It just seems too easy for Councils to take a child into care, and that this decision is used by default rather than as a last resort.

It was also important to notice that nobody in the programme complained about the care that was being delivered by foster parents.

These people are unsung heroes, and it was heartening to see how one of the girls wanted to be adopted by her foster carer, so there are some very good points to take away from the programme too.

Having spoken to the reporter myself, I share her concern that the recycling of senior council staff sets a dangerous precedent.

Personally, I have had to intervene many times for the families in these sorts of cases to try to find common sense solutions.

I am usually met with enormous bureaucracy, and sometimes when social workers are clearly wrong, the extraordinary lengths people will go to protect their own backs.

This culture is one of the reasons why the number of children in care has grown.

There are other factors such as drug use by parents, violence by partners and difficult mental health issues in children which parents struggle to deal with.

However, Herefordshire is a great County with wonderful people and a harmonious society.

This programme did not do justice to the extraordinary work delivered by our good people, the teachers, the dedicated grandparents and foster carers, as well as so many others who are doing their best to help our young people.

We live in a society where people are too quick to judge, and it seems that social workers are no exception. It seems wrong that many of these cases end up in court.

Sir Bill Wiggin MP welcomes the Conservative Government’s plan to grow and strengthen the economy and help families in North Herefordshire with the cost of living

  • This Conservative Government has risen to challenges with no precedent in recent history – leading the response to Putin’s attack on Ukraine and protecting lives and livelihoods in the battle against Covid – but these events have caused huge disruptions to the global economy.
  • The Queen’s Speech set out 38 new bills to deliver on the United Kingdom’s top priorities, including easing the cost of living and growing our economy, cutting crime and supporting communities, clearing the Covid backlogs, and providing the leadership needed in the years ahead.
  • The Conservative Government is building on the work it has done so far, delivering on its manifesto promises, focusing on the British peoples’ priorities, making the most of our Brexit freedoms and getting the country back on track.

Sir Bill Wiggin MP has welcomed the Queen’s Speech 2022 – setting out the Conservative Government’s legislative agenda to grow and strengthen the economy and help ease the cost of living for families across North Herefordshire.

The Queen’s Speech sets out how the Conservative Government will seize Brexit freedoms to best grow the economy and support British business – creating the economic strength and prosperity needed to ease cost of living pressures and help people into high-skilled and well-paid jobs.

Measures set out today to help grow the economy and boost living standards include the landmark Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, shifting power to local leaders to regenerate their towns and cities; the Energy Security Bill, delivering a more secure, homegrown and cheaper energy network; the Social Housing Regulation Bill, ensuring better quality homes meaning renters are not saddled with the cost and worry of unsafe homes; and the Schools Bill, raising standards for students, reforming funding and encouraging attendance.

The Conservative Government also set out how they will be using Brexit freedoms to grow and strengthen the economy, using the Brexit Freedoms Bill to give greater control over UK laws that best deliver for the British people.

Further Brexit freedoms includes the Financial Services and Markets Bill, enhancing the global leadership of the UK’s financial services sector, and the Trade (Australia and New Zealand) Bill, implementing new Free Trade Agreements as Global Britain.

Further delivering on the Conservative Government’s pledge to put 20,000 more police officers on our streets to keep our communities safer – the Queen’s Speech outlines how the Conservative Government is going further to cut crime. The promised Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill will bear down on criminals and kleptocrats who abuse our economy whilst the Public Order Bill will give the police new powers to keep our street safer.

This legislative agenda builds on the Conservative Government’s commitment to fund our NHS and clear the Covid backlogs – investing a record £36 billion and recruiting an additional 27,000 nurses to provide the NHS with the funding and resources it needs

Commenting, Sir Bill said:

“It is the central mission of this Conservative Government to deliver on the priorities of the British people – providing the framework for the economy to proposer, supporting families with the cost of living.

“That is why I was pleased to see this new agenda, showing how we will strengthen our economy, regenerate towns and cities, support people into high-skill and well-paid work, seize Brexit freedoms to deliver for British businesses and cut red tape within our public services to deliver value for money for taxpayers.

“This Queen’s Speech addresses costs of living pressures and goes further to support long-term growth in our economy, increases safety across communities and spreads opportunity across the UK.”

ENDS

Sir Bill Wiggin MP Statement

I have received, read and listened to many differing and interesting points of view from constituents concerning gatherings at Downing Street.

As I have previously written, I reserved making my comments public until all the facts of the matter had been established.

That I why I have waited in the past for the findings of the Sue Grey report and of the Metropolitan Police investigation, which have not yet concluded.

However, the Speaker has determined that the House will vote today on whether to refer the Prime Minister to the Committee on Standards.

I shall be making my decision on how to vote based upon the currently available information.

Whatever your views on the details as you see them, I accept that that those who make the law must not break the law.

This appears to be the case, although the Prime Minister says he did not knowingly break the rules.

He ordered the enquiry, gave it evidence and accepted the role of the Police which has led to him being issued with a fixed penalty notice.

Therefore, I hope you agree that it is right that the Prime Minister has accepted the ruling of the police, paid his fine and apologised.

I do not believe that the Committee on Standards is fit for purpose, and have recently given evidence to them on improving the processes.

Whatever one’s view on the matter, the crux of the issue now is whether we should accept the Prime Minister’s apology or not.

I know that many people will not accept his apology.

I went to Church on Easter Sunday, and I find it helpful when making decisions to know what Jesus said :-

Luke 17 vs 3-4: “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

While I understand that many people will not, I accept the Prime Minister’s apology and will therefore continue to support his leadership.

I shall not vote to refer him to the Committee on Standards.

Sir Bill Wiggin MP joins calls to secure the future of the great British cider industry

Sir Bill Wiggin MP has joined the cider industry in calling on the Government to futureproof the economic and cultural contribution of an integral and distinct part of our great British heritage.  

Sir Bill attended a reception hosted by the cider industry in Westminster, highlighting the important role the cider industry plays in the UK and in areas like North Herefordshire.  

At the event, Sir Bill heard about how crucial it is that proposed changes to alcohol duty supports the cider industry, which is facing unprecedented conditions, threatening centuries of rural tradition. Cider has declined 44% in the last 12 years, with its share of the total alcohol market now standing at only 4.6%.  

Sir Bill therefore calls on the Treasury to ensure that proposals encourage cider making, avoid increasing duty on the majority of ciders and encourage greater innovation through fairer treatment of fruit ciders.  

From farms to pubs and shops, cider makes a big contribution to the British economy supporting thousands of jobs across the UK, as well as being a favourite in pubs across the country. Cider is integral to rural life in the UK – without the industry, 16,500 acres of apple orchards and 35% of all UK-grown apples would be at risk, as would the communities that rely on them. Every year some 500,000 tourists visit cider makers across the Country against the backdrop of their stunning cider apple orchards. 

Sir Bill said: “The cider industry plays a huge role in our heritage, culture and economy – whether it’s supporting livelihoods or simply being enjoyed in pubs up and down the country. 

“The new alcohol duty system is set to be finalised shortly, and the Government must fulfil its promise to secure the future of this important industry. 

“Therefore, I’m joining calls for the Government to stick to its pledge to reduce the duty on apple cider which will support cider makers, farmers growing cider apples and publicans alike.  

“It’s vital that people show their support for this industry as every voice matters, so I urge constituents to learn more about the role cider plays in supporting communities like ours.” 

Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal

On 2nd March 2022, Sir Bill Wiggin joined Paul Chuckle, TV comedian and entertainer, to back Marie Curie’s Great Daffodil Appeal.

Sir Bill pledged his support to the Great Daffodil Appeal and is encouraging local people in North Herefordshire to donate and wear one of the charity’s daffodil pins to help fund vital care and support for people living with a terminal illness, and their families.

Donations also support the charity’s Information and Support line, which provides a listening ear to anyone dealing with any aspect of death, dying and bereavement.

The campaign, held every March, was forced to cancel its public collections for the past two years due to the pandemic. This year, fundraising events and collections are going ahead, and the charity is urging new and existing supporters to come forward to show their support.

Last year Marie Curie provided direct support to more than 69,000 people – a 15% rise on the previous year –more than ever before.

Sir Bill Wiggin MP said: “Every five minutes, someone in the UK dies without getting the care and support they need at the end of their life, and that also has an impact on those they leave behind who are grieving.

“From the expert care given by Marie Curie Nurses, through to the reassuring voices on the support line – its services have never been more in need. But they can only continue to reach those in urgent need of help with the generosity of the public. That is why I am supporting the Great Daffodil Appeal this March.”

Update on Ukraine – 9 March 2022

Ukraine

President Putin has unleashed a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by land, sea and air. This is a premeditated and wholly unprovoked attack on a sovereign democratic state.

The will, grit and determination of the Ukrainian people has been remarkable and Putin’s forces are feeling the brunt of this.

Sadly, their tactics are starting to become more barbaric and indiscriminate in nature as a result.

However, their evil will not win and it is right that this Government is doing all it can to support Ukraine in their hour of need.

So what has the UK has done so far and will continue to do to help Ukraine, it’s people and it’s military?

Sanctions

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the West has moved to impose the most severe and coordinated package of sanctions Russia has ever faced in response to Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.

In lockstep with allies around the world, the UK is: 

  • Sanctioning Russia’s Central Bank, banning the Russian State and banning over 3 million Russian companies from raising funds in the UK, and freezing the assets of all Russian banks. (£258 Billion so far)
  • Shutting off Russian banks’ access to the global financial system by blocking access to SWIFT.
  • Sanctioning President Putin, his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, leading oligarchs. In total 228 individuals, entities and their subsidiaries have been sanctioned. 
  • Sanctioning members of the Russian Duma and National Security Council for their support for the invasion.
  • Banning Aeroflot, Russia’s national airline, and all other Russian commercial and private jets from UK airspace.
  • Denying access to UK ports to ships owned, controlled, charter of operated by anyone connected to Russia as well as any vessel registered in Russia or flying the Russian flag.
  • Imposing new restrictions to cut off wealthy Russians’ access to UK banks.
  • Imposing sanctions on Belarus for its complicity in Putin’s invasion.
  • Extending a Crimea-type embargo to occupied territory in the breakaway Ukrainian republics.
  • Intensifying sanctions enforcement, with new powers for law enforcement and a specialised Kleptocracy unit to crack down on companies that breach sanctions.
  • Bringing forward measures from the Economic Crime Bill early which strengthen Unexplained Wealth Orders and broaden their scope, cracking down on corrupt elites in the UK.

Military

The UK has, for a number of years now, worked to support Ukraine’s security and defence. This includes the training of over 22,000 members of the Ukrainian army through Operation ORBITAL

In the months prior to the invasion, the UK provided extra support in the form of 2000 anti-armour missiles, which the Ukrainians are now putting to good use.

The UK has now sent further military support (lethal aid in the form of defensive weapons, and non-lethal aid such as body armour and helmets) to Ukraine since the invasion.

The scenes unfolding in Ukraine are creating a humanitarian disaster not seen in Europe since the Second World War.

It is estimated that over 2 million people have now fled the country with this expected to rise north of 5 million people.

The Prime Minister recently announced that the UK is committing another £80m in aid to Ukraine to save lives and protect vulnerable people.

After the £100m economic package for Ukraine and £40m in humanitarian aid announced in February, this brings the UK’s overall aid support for Ukraine during the current crisis to £220 million.

The UK is also guaranteeing up to $500 million of loans to Ukraine through Multilateral Development Banks.

The Government is matching the first £20 million donated by the British public to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

Humanitarian

Many constituents have also been in touch regarding refugees and how they can help.

The new expansive Ukrainian Family Scheme which will enable British nationals and Ukrainians already settled in the UK to bring a wider group of family members to the country, extending eligibility to parents, grandparents, adult offspring and siblings.

This offer broadens the original package beyond immediate family members which formed part of the first phase of the Government’s humanitarian response.

The Government is also establishing a humanitarian sponsorship pathway, which will open up a route to the UK for Ukrainians who may not have family ties with the UK but who are able to match with individuals, charities, businesses, and community groups.

Those who come under this scheme will also be granted leave for an initial period of 12 months and will be able to work and access public services.

Details of the scheme and how you can apply will be published shortly by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

I know many good-willed people of North Herefordshire have already been in touch offering their homes to escaping Ukrainians.

As soon as I hear more on this scheme, I will provide an update.


Putin must fail. I am assured that the UK Government, standing alongside our friends in Ukraine and allies around the world, using all possible means at its disposal, is urgently engaged in ensuring he does.

I am following these efforts closely and I will continue to update this page when more information becomes available. 

Update 15 March 2022

The scheme has now launched, for more information on how to record your interest in the scheme, please visit: https://homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk/

Sir Bill responds to Herefordshire Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Infrastructure

Cllr Harrington blames Herefordshire’s current pothole issues on austerity.  

Roads are devolved to Herefordshire Council who have a statutory responsibility for managing and maintaining their roads as set out in the Highways Act 1980.

Between 2020-2022, the Government provided £33.2 million for road maintenance. 

Never forget that Herefordshire Council spent £4.5 million on the Maylord Shopping Centre and then released a video asking residents what the Council ought to do with it!

The loan to pay for this will affect tax-payers for the next 40 years. 

This Council’s decision to cancel the by-pass will further add to this pain. 

However Hereford City will benefit from a portion of the £328 million 15 Towns Fund Deals as announced in the Governments Levelling-Up White Paper.

Hereford City was also offered £22.3 million as part of the Town Deal offers in 2021. They have been invited to develop proposals as part of the government’s Towns Fund. 

Historic England have made available as part of the High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme, £1.8 million of Government funding for the revitalisation of Leominster’s high street. 

This funding came directly from the Treasury to be administered by Historic England as they see fit. 

Herefordshire also received, as part of the Government’s Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund, £2.7 million. 


With regards to buses the Council offered free transport around Herefordshire at weekends. 

This was done thanks to £800,000 from the Government’s Covid Recovery Fund granted to the Council. 

As part of his Autumn Budget, the Chancellor committed £1.2 billion for bus transformation deals to deliver London-style services, fares and infrastructure improvements.  

£16m of Local Growth Funding will go towards Hereford City Centre’s Transport Package.

The Council recently announced the £15 pre-paid cards portrayed as free money provided by the Council to revitalise the local economy.

This money would not have been available had it not been for central Government’s £6 million Covid Recovery Funds to Herefordshire Council. 

It is a shame that residents in Herefordshire will not fully benefit from the Treasury’s £150 council tax rebate as the Council has decided to increase Council tax by 2.99%. 

Herefordshire has been allocated £24.7 million in direct Covid-19 support to the local authority. 

£123.7 million has been passed through the Council to businesses in Herefordshire. 

£1.6 million has been passed through to individuals and £5.7 million in a combination of direct and passed-through support. 

Thanks to this Government’s spending, Herefordshire has a benefits claimant count (unemployment rate) nearly half that of the UK average at 2.6% of the adult working population. 

This council has embarked on reckless spending on vanity projects such as the Maylord Center and blamed the Government for their shortcomings. 

Letter to Sir Bill from Minister Whately regarding Silage Film and Plastic Packaging Tax

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