Letter received from the Prime Minister on 21/05/19:
Letter received from the Prime Minister on 21/05/19:
Last week, pupils at Bosbury Primary School welcomed MP Bill Wiggin into their school assembly. They asked topical questions, showed curiosity and demonstrated respect towards their guest. Bosbury’s School Council also met with Mr Wiggin, whose favourite British value was tolerance.
He said: “Visiting Bosbury was delightful and the behaviour was exemplary. I certainly was asked some interesting questions and pupils had done their research on my voting record. I was impressed with the level of engagement with national issues such as Brexit and the future leadership of the Conservative Party. However my favourite question was whether I liked chocolate! I certainly do and enjoyed talking about Cadbury’s facility on the edge of Leominster.”
Addressing budget cuts, he said: “I understand the challenges of a tight school budget and think the staff and governors at Bosbury are doing an excellent job.”
Chair of Governors Emma Smith took Mr Wiggin on a tour of the school to show how difficult budget cuts have made running the school. Teachers and Teaching Assistants, as well as pupils were able to highlight how they have been impacted. Emma said: “Budget cuts are hitting all schools hard and Bosbury is no different. We have had to cut TA hours already and from September support staff cuts are even more severe. Showing this in practise and how hard staff work to maintain outstanding educational standards was very important and we look forward to working with Bill moving forward to highlight this reality.”
Head teacher Miss Spence said: We are very grateful Mr Wiggin visited our school and listened to our concerns about budget cuts. It was a fantastic opportunity for the children to hear about British values, understand how Parliament works and also what skills you need to be an MP – we are very pleased Bill has offered to come back again in September to meet with the school Council.
Thank you to all those who have recently contacted me about climate change.
I agree entirely that climate change is one of the most serious long-term economic threats that we face today. In 2006, I wrote a book called ‘A better agenda for the environment’, and I have continued to meet with constituents to discuss the effects that climate change has and will continue to have on our County and how best we can combat this incredibly important issue.
In November I put forward a Ten Minute Rule Bill to standardise Electric Vehicle charging points, aiming to make electric cars more accessible in the UK and reduce our carbon footprint.
I appreciate that you would like to see the UK increase its ambition on climate change. That is why I am pleased that the Government are taking these urgent changes very seriously in the new 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment. This addresses diverse environmental issues such as eliminating all avoidable plastic waste, protecting and regenerating our woodlands, and using the opportunity provided by Brexit to develop our own agricultural and fisheries policies with a more sustainable focus.
The Chancellor’s Spring Statement announced a new global review to assess the economic value of biodiversity globally so we know what action is needed to restore our environment.
It also announced further funding to tackle poor air quality through the Clean Air Strategy, and plans to ban petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and invest millions in greener public transport and electric and hydrogen vehicles.
Global leadership in combatting climate change
One of our proudest achievements as a country is our position as a world-leader in tackling this global challenge, being the first country to raise the issue on the international stage and introduce long-term legally-binding climate reduction targets, and cutting emissions further than all other G20 countries.
The Government is delivering a greener Britain with record amounts of electricity generated by renewables. Britain is firmly on track to meet the 2050 target to reduce emissions of all greenhouse gases by 80% and underpins the remarkable investment that the UK has seen in its low carbon economy since 2010.
2018 was the cleanest and greenest year ever for electricity. We invested over £52 billion in renewable energy, and UK Greenhouse Gas Emissions have fallen by 23% since 2010. Low carbon electricity generation is at a record high and now accounts for over 52 % of our electricity.
The Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Strategy identify and target the huge potential opportunity for the UK from clean growth and transition to low carbon economy, while the National Adaptation Programme 2018-23 sets out a strategy for dealing with the effects of a changing climate. The Government has also agreed to support and expand offshore wind, and made the historic commitment to close all coal-fired power stations by 2025.
Draft Environment Bill
As set out in the 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment, the decision to leave the European Union has created an historic opportunity to deliver a Green Brexit, where environmental standards are not only maintained but enhanced.
Draft clauses to be included in the Environment Bill on environmental principles and governance have now been published, and will place environmental ambition and accountability at the heart of government. These clauses are part of a broader Bill, which will include legislative measures to take direct action to address the biggest environmental priorities of our age: air quality, nature recovery, waste and resource efficiency, and water resource management.
Opposition Day debate on Climate Change 01/05/19
It is fantastic to see a renewed cross-party commitment to tackling this global crisis in recent weeks. In Wednesday’s debate, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs stressed the need for the UK to do everything we can to combat climate change.
We have been clear since 2016 that we would legislate for a net zero emissions target at an appropriate point in the future to provide legal certainty on where the UK is heading.
Today, the Committee on Climate Change has responded to the Government’s request for advice on a date to achieve net zero emissions in the UK, so that we can leave the environment in a better state for the next generation.
This report now sets us on a path to become the first major economy to legislate to end our contribution to global warming entirely. In the meantime, Ministers will continue to seek advice from the UK’s independent advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, on the UK’s long-term emission reduction targets.
Environment and economy
What is often overlooked by many activist groups, however, is the fact that in order to combat climate change, we must ensure the right balance between an environmental and economic focus.
If we want our efforts to reduce climate change to succeed, our country must also succeed. Announcing radical environmental goals without developing the corresponding economic infrastructure is not a sustainable policy and will ultimately damage the UK.
Balancing long-term economic growth in Britain with increasingly ambitious environmental commitments is therefore a more effective strategy. Other nations such as India and China will not follow our lead on climate change until they see that our environmental achievements are sustained by, and indeed sustain, strong economic growth.
We are one of the largest donors of overseas development assistance
I firmly believe that, whilst we must lead the way, the most important challenge we face is in educating and supporting developing countries in emulating the steps we are taking to combat climate change.
I welcomed The International Climate Fund which has been set up to provide £5.8 billion to help the world’s poorest adapt to climate change and promote cleaner, greener economic growth. Through it, the UK works in partnership with developing countries to reduce carbon emissions through promoting low carbon development, to help those worse off protect themselves from the effects of climate change and to reduce deforestation.
I am sorry that this letter is so long but you will appreciate that Climate Change is complex and covers many different areas of Government.
We have been taking this seriously and I wanted to share these achievements with you.
You may already be aware of the immediate and concerning changes to general licences for pest bird control which came into effect at midnight last night. This is a result of a legal challenge by environmental organisation Wild Justice against the Government advisor Natural England (NE) that has escalated rapidly in the last few days.
On Wednesday night, I attended an emergency meeting with the acting Chief Executive of NE. She confirmed that NE is this week being forced to temporarily revoke three general licences for bird control due to a strong legal case against them issued by Wild Justice.
The licences being withdrawn (GL 04/05/06) collectively cover 16 bird species including jackdaws, crows, magpies and woodpigeon, and cover control methods including shooting, cage trapping and destruction of eggs and nests:
Natural England are working rapidly to:
We now have three options:
Further guidance on these options is available by contacting the Natural England helpline at email@example.com or 0300 060 3900.
I am continuing to work with colleagues across other rural constituencies and at DEFRA to express our constituents’ views.
Here is a further list of useful links for information and support, and FAQs anwered by Natural England can be found below:
General Licences – Frequently Asked Questions answered by Natural England
Q: Why did Natural England revoke three licences?
In light of the legal challenge by Wild Justice, Natural England concluded that the licences were issued without us being lawfully satisfied about the absence of other satisfactory solutions as required by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Once Natural England reached this conclusion we had no choice but to revoke these licences.
Q: Which general licences are subject to this action?
The 3 licences subject to the challenge cover 16 bird species, including several members of the crow family (crows, magpies, rooks, jackdaws and jays), feral and wood pigeon and number of invasive non-native species (like the Canada goose).
Q: When exactly will they be revoked?
The three general licences were revoked at 23.59 on Thursday 25 April.
Q: What did Wild Justice allege was wrong in this case?
Before issuing these licences, Natural England must be satisfied that there are no satisfactory alternative solutions to lethal control. Wild Justice argued that Natural England failed to satisfy itself of this. It also argued that, through a condition in the general licences which requires users to be satisfied that appropriate legal methods of resolving the problem such as scaring and proofing are either ineffective or impracticable, Natural England and previously Defra had left this decision to the licence user.
Q: What requirements will I have to meet as a result of this change of policy by Natural England?
From 23.59 on 25 April onwards the three general licences above cease. Users will have one of three options:
Anyone exercising lethal control of birds after 25 April without taking the above steps will not be covered by a general licence and could be acting outside the law.
Q: Tell me more about the new licences you are planning to issue?
Natural England is undertaking licensing assessments that would support general licensing of lethal control of specific bird species in defined situations, such as preventing serious damage to livestock from carrion crows and to preserve public health and safety from the impacts of feral pigeons. We are prioritising circumstance which are likely to be of the greatest need and impact at this time of year. We intend to start issuing these licences on gov.uk from the 29 April or sooner. We have provided a timetable to show which we intend to have ready by when. We encourage people to look first at gov.uk if they need to act.
Q: Will I have to register with Natural England to be able to shoot birds on my land?
Not if there is a general licence available: look first at gov.uk to see if your circumstances are covered by one of the new licences. If the action you want to take is not covered by an existing licence published on gov.uk and you cannot wait for one that is due to be issued you will need to apply for an individual licence.
Q: When I can apply for an individual licence?
The online application system for individual licences is available on gov.uk from the afternoon of Thursday 25 April.
Q: Will there be a ‘grace’ period for farmers/landowners et al to ensure compliance with the new interim regime?
Unfortunately, no, the law does not allow for a grace period.
The timescales dictated by the need to respond to the legal challenge dictated that we had a very short timetable in which to remove the three licences. This, combined with the rigorous legal and technical work required to create robust new licences, has made it impossible to provide a smooth transition from old licences to new. Natural England is working very hard to ensure there is as small a gap between the two as possible.
Q: We have heard you are doing a wider review of licensing. What is this and when will it happen
This work in relation to the three general licences will form the first part of a wider review of general and class licensing by Natural England, due to be completed this year. We will be consulting stakeholders fully to ensure that the outcome of the review includes their feedback, expertise and evidence. We will provide more detail about the review in the summer.
Q: Why do you need a licence to shoot these birds?
All wild bird species in the UK are legally protected, even common species and those that some people consider to be ‘pests’. Therefore, lethal control can only be carried out lawfully under a licence from the relevant statutory conservation agency (Natural England in England).
Q: Why is Natural England protecting these birds?
Natural England isn’t changing the law. These birds are fully protected and have been since 1981. The law recognises that some birds can cause problems and allows people to take action under a licence for legitimate purposes subject to strict conditions. The legal challenge means Natural England need to change how these licences are issued. The legal status of the birds remains unchanged.
It remains lawful to shoot Canada geese, which is listed on Schedule 2 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, without a licence outside the close season. This is not affected by the changes to these 3 general licences. The close season for geese and other wildfowl species is 21 February – 31 August (inclusive) below the high-water mark of ordinary spring tides and 1 February – 31 August elsewhere.
Q: Gamekeepers have captive decoy birds such as crows and magpies for use in Larsen traps and larger crow traps. Can they lawfully be killed after the General Licences are revoked on Thursday?
Q: What is the history of the general licence?
A: First introduced by MAFF and DETR (Dept of Env, Transport and the Regions) in the 1990s, general licences are used for frequently licensed activities that carry a low risk to the conservation or welfare of a protected species. They seek to strike a proportionate balance between the need to minimise burdens on those who need to manage species without impacting on their welfare or conservation status. Unlike individual licences, users do not need to apply for a general licence or report on its use, but they must comply with the terms of the licence. The use of general licences is provided for in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
Q: How many people currently use a general licence and for what reasons?
A: Natural England estimates there may be at least 50,000 people who rely on these licences. This includes farmers, game keepers, pest controllers, local authorities and conservation organisations.
On 4 April the Department of Transport published the disappointing news that Ledbury Station has not qualified under this round of the Access for All scheme.
I have spoken to the Department for Transport, who have told me that 300 nominations were considered for 73 places and that unfortunately Ledbury did not score highly enough on this occasion.
Selection criteria included the level of local disability, footfall, usage, and value for money of the proposed works. More information and the full list of stations set to benefit from additional funding can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/access-for-all-73-stations-set-to-benefit-from-additional-funding
Whilst the next round of Access for All nominations will not take place until 2024, there is a much more positive note.
Today the Department announced that £20 million will be allocated to re-launch the Mid-Tier Access for All programme. This aims to provide smaller scale accessibility improvements to stations which can be delivered using £250,000 to £1 million of Government funding.
The Department for Transport will be seeking Mid-Tier nominations in due course and I very much hope that Ledbury station will be considered.
I have been campaigning for this and will never give up until we have access for all people at Ledbury Station.
Following PMQs this morning I have been in further meetings and will keep you informed of any developments.
Brexit update 05/04/19
On Wednesday, remainer MPs won the vote to allow the House to legally stop a no deal Brexit and to ask for an extension to Article 50.
This morning, Theresa May has written to the European Union to request a further delay to Brexit until 30 June.
A senior EU source claims that Donald Tusk will propose a 12-month “flexible” extension to Brexit next week, with the option of cutting it short, if the UK Parliament ratifies a deal.
The third recent development is that the Government is trying to get its deal through with Labour votes.
It is very unlikely to succeed as the Labour party have been playing politics with this subject for a long time and are likely to exploit it in an attempt to force a General Election.
Their success in forcing an imminent General Election is remote. However, it is possible that Labour will exact unpleasant demands on the Prime Minister and blame the outcome on her.
The likely outcome is that we will still leave, maybe with a Customs Union arrangement.
The critical element is the European Communities Act (ECA) 1972, which currently gives EU law supremacy over UK national law.
At the point at which Britain repeals ECA 1972, Britain will have left the European Union and will continue to distance itself from the EU.
EU legislation in place in the UK under ECA 1972 would cease to have effect, and the UK would be free to determine the transfer of relevant EU law onto the British legal system.
So while this week looks bleak, all is not lost and once ECA 1972 has been repealed the rest will follow.
The House has cancelled next week’s Recess in order to schedule further debate before 12 April, and I will continue to do all I can to honour the majority of my constituents’ views.
Bill Wiggin MP
I shall be voting for the Prime Minister’s deal today.
Even though I would prefer a clean global Brexit under WTO terms, I am supporting her because there is no majority in the House of Commons for a WTO departure.
The indicative votes last week showed that there were only 160 in favour and 400 against WTO, while the vote for a second referendum was only 268 for and 295 against.
The votes for a customs union were far closer at 264 in favour and 272 against.
If we do not get the deal through today then I expect the majority of remainer MPs to vote for a customs union which keeps us in the EU.
That is the mathematical reality that I am forced to deal with and that is why I am supporting the PMs deal which is far from perfect but gets us out of the EU on 22 May.
I promised to vote to get us out of the EU and I am doing all I can to honour that promise.
Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, today used his question to the Prime Minister during PMQs to call for disabled access at Ledbury Train Station in his North Herefordshire constituency.
Click the link below to Parliament TV where you can view Bill’s PMQ in full. You can find the clip by clicking on 12:18:09 Bill Wiggin MP under the Agenda section.
I am delighted that through the debate I held in Parliament last month which threatened the patent on Orkambi which is a drug to treat Cystic Fibrosis; the Minister for Health has revealed that the NHS and NICE have met and are continuing to engage in constructive negotiations next week:
“Constructive meeting with Vertex CEO with NHSE & NICE to find ways of breaking the impasse on #OrkambiNow so we can get this to those who desperately need it. Vertex, NHSE & NICE will meet again next week.”
Matt Hancock, 12:47PM 11 March 2019 https://twitter.com/MattHancock/status/1105193593860435968
Whilst it is too early to celebrate, I am thrilled for all the children who are suffering from this condition and those around them. It is great to see that we can make a difference in the House.