Sir Bill Wiggin MP

Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire


Media Releases

Delays to passport applications and renewals

Over recent months, I have been receiving an increasing number of emails from constituents concerned with delays to their passport applications and renewals.

I am aware that some people in Herefordshire have sadly missed out on important family events or long-awaited holidays, which is truly very sad.

Since April 2021, HM Passport Office have been advising customers that it can take up to ten weeks to process a passport application.

This remains current guidance, and I would strongly encourage everyone to ensure that they seek to renew their passport as far in advance of their holidays as possible.

While I am able to speak to the Home Office directly to request updates on the progress of passport applications, they will not expedite these applications until ten weeks have already passed.

If you are due to go on holiday within the next ten weeks and need to renew your passport, I would advise you to use one of the premium services which can ensure you receive it in less than a week.

While, unfortunately, these services incur an additional charge, it is the only way to ensure you receive your new passport in under ten weeks.

I am aware that the Government are working hard to reduce waiting times and increase capacity, adding 850 staff since April 2021.

According to Home Office Ministers 98.5% of applications were completed within ten weeks between March and May of this year.

If you applied for your passport over ten weeks ago but are travelling within a fortnight, HM Passport Office have indicated that they will prioritise these cases.

Should you need a passport urgently on compassionate grounds, HM Passport Office will expedite your case with the necessary evidence of a need to travel.

For more information on prioritising your case or applying for an urgent passport, call the Passport Adviceline on 0300 222 0000.

Many are unaware that you can, in fact, have more than one valid passport.

Therefore, if you are in any doubt as to whether your current passport will be valid by the time you travel, start the process of applying for another as soon as possible.

I am always very glad to assist my constituents, and whilst I cannot process passport applications myself, I am able to address unusual delays directly with the Home Office.

If I can help, please get in touch with my office by email and include the following:

  • Full name
  • Address in the constituency
  • Date of birth
  • Date of application
  • Application reference number
  • Any details of upcoming travel

Helpful links

Leominster house fire

I was deeply concerned to learn of the terrible fire that destroyed a number of houses in the Buckfield area of Leominster yesterday evening.

While I am very relieved that nobody was hurt in this incident, my thoughts are with the families whose homes have been lost.

I would like to pay tribute to our fantastic emergency services who attended the scene and helped to bring the fire under control.

Leominster has a wonderful sense of community which I am sure will come to the fore in the aftermath of this, and I am aware of donation pages that has been set up to support the families and I am aware that Morrisons in Leominster have set up a joint clothing and essentials collection point for all of the families. 

The details of the donation pages are as follows:

Sir Bill statement on Boris Johnson

I regret the nature of the end of the Prime Minister’s tenure in office.

Though the media could not help but find this fascinating, my own involvement with those people in Government roles makes this a difficult and personal occasion for me.

In deference to the political process, and the large electoral mandate granted to the Prime Minister, I have supported him, as is my duty.

Likewise, I shall support the next Prime Minister as they deliver for my constituents and for our Country.
We must never lose sight, however, amidst any leadership election, of the current alternatives to a Conservative Government.

Labour remain in disarray following years of Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist leadership. They have no plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, and struggle to share the values of decent, hard-working people.

A Labour government would worryingly embolden Vladimir Putin, while President Zelenskyy and all those fighting for a free, democratic Ukraine will be bitterly disappointed with the Prime Minister’s departure.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats are very successful by-election opportunists who do not really want to govern as we saw from them in 2015.

I therefore hope that the Conservative Party painlessly selects a new leader with the ability to lead both the party and the Country, and who is best placed to address the United Kingdom’s most pressing issues.

That will be helping families with the cost of living, delivering on the opportunities of Brexit, and helping the people of Ukraine.

I also hope that the situation in Westminster does not distract from the issues that affect us in Herefordshire.

Herefordshire Council continues to be a bastion of policy confusion and monetary waste, such as in the case of scrapping the much needed proposals for a long-overdue Hereford bypass, the £800,000 spent on tree planters for City Link Road, or the gross overspend on Maylord Orchards shopping centre.

A useful guide on what to do if you are struggling to pay your mortgage

“A new consumer leaflet from the Building Societies Association and the Money Advice Trust.

The rising cost of living is stretching many households’ finances with some struggling to meet the increased costs of essentials, and having little or no savings to fall back on.  This can lead to some families having problems making their monthly mortgage repayments.  

With this in mind, the Building Societies Association and the Money Advice Trust have produced ‘What to do if you can’t pay your mortgage which gives straightforward guidance to consumers on what to do if they can’t pay their mortgage, or think they might struggle to make payments in the coming months. 

The booklet is available from the BSA website and will also be made available to people seeking advice from National Debtline and Business Debtline, the free debt advice services run by the Money Advice Trust.”

Myths about MPs’ Business Costs

“Recent research shows that there are still misconceptions around MPs’ staffing and business costs. Here are some facts that might surprise you:

MPs don’t decide their own pay or business costs.

At IPSA, we decide MPs’ pay and what they can claim as business costs. We have been doing this since 2010. Our decisions are made independently from Parliament, and we work hard to ensure that public money is spent appropriately.

MPs can only claim for costs they incur whilst performing their parliamentary duties.

Business costs are not a bonus to top up MPs’ salaries. MPs can only claim for resources that assist them in doing their job. Think printer cartridges, train tickets and staff salaries, rather than duck houses or mortgages. You can find out more about what MPs can claim as business costs here.

Most of MPs’ costs are for their staff and constituency offices.

If you look at the data we publish on our website, you will see that most of the funding we provide goes to MPs’ staff. Around 90% of the money we allocate to MPs isn’t actually spent on the MP at all. It is invested in local communities through caseworkers and parliamentary assistants, who work hard to support constituents on a huge range of issues and to represent them in Parliament. You can access our data on MPs’ business costs here.

MPs can’t claim for personal costs like food and drink in their normal working day.

Whilst MPs can claim for some subsistence costs if they are travelling for work, they cannot claim for any personal costs outside of this. This is no different from typical travel policies across the public and private sector.

There are rules in place to decide what MPs can and can’t claim and all claims are regulated by IPSA.

The rules we have in place are all detailed in the Scheme for MPs’ Staffing and Business Costs, which clearly sets out the limits of what an MP can claim. All claims must follow four fundamental principles, which are:

Parliamentary: MPs may only claim for expenditure for parliamentary purposes

Value for Money: MPs must have regard to value for money when making claims

Accountability: MPs are legally responsible for all money claimed and for managing their budgets and their staff

Probity: When making claims, MPs must adhere to the MPs’ Code of Conduct, including the seven principles of public life

You can read the latest edition of our Scheme here.

Check out our blogs below to find answers to other commonly asked questions about IPSA.”

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.

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.”


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.

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