On 19th May, I took the Oath of Allegiance and was sworn in as a Member of Parliament. It is a great honour to represent Dover and Deal again. I'm looking forward to serving our community again and helping to make Dover and Deal all it can be.
I have also been appointed to the Government's Whips' office. This means I will be tasked with ensuring the Government follows through with its manifesto promises and makes the positive change our area and the country needs.
By convention, Whips do not speak in the House of Commons. However, I will continue to fight for Dover and Deal and speak up for our community with Ministers and behind the scenes.
I took part in the debate on the Finance Bill. Top of the agenda were taxes and the deficit.
I made the point that borrowing under a Labour Government 2010-15 would have added an extra £200 million to the British Government's National Debt. This would have been disastrous for our economy.
The debate and my contributions can be found in full at this link.
A Labour Government would need the SNP - they would be forced to dance to Alex Salmond's tune.
Charlie: Is the Deputy Prime Minister aware of representations that there should be a tax on family homes in London and the south-east to pay for nurses in Scotland? Does he agree that we need to have a fair Union and a strong Government, not a weak Government dancing to the tune of, and held to ransom by, the Scottish National party?
Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime Minister): I certainly agree that in the same way as it would be very ill-advised to put the UK Independence party in charge of Europe, it would be very ill-advised to put the SNP in charge of a country it wishes to pull apart.
On property taxation, as the hon. Gentleman knows we have a property tax system, the council tax, which rather eccentrically ends at a certain level. My party therefore believes it is logical to extend the principle of banded taxation for properties higher up the value chain, both here in the south-east and elsewhere.
In the debate on the Budget, I welcomed this Government's record on boosting jobs and getting Britain back to work. Labour like to claim that most of the new jobs are on zero-hours contracts, low-paid or part time and are only going to London. These are myths. The reality is most of the new jobs since 2010 are full-time and every region of the UK is benefitting.
Charlie: It is a great privilege to follow Mr Clarke. My experience is sharply different from his, as I represent Dover and Deal. Before I was elected to Parliament, under the last Labour Government the number of unemployed claimants in my area went up a shameful 50%. Under this Government and their clear plan, which has been implemented and is working through, the number has fallen dramatically by nearly 40%.
The right hon. Gentleman told us about his constituency experience, but I have looked at figures indicating that the difference was even sharper there. In the previous Parliament, the number of unemployed claimants in his constituency went up by 100%. Since this Government came to power, the number has fallen by 40%. This picture does not apply only to Dover and Deal or to Coatbridge; it applies across the country. We have seen a jobs revolution, which I put down to sticking to our long-term plan....
In Justice Questions, I asked about how our legal aid budget compares to other countires around the world. I also asked about reforming Human Rights to keep our country safe from terrorists.
Charlie: Can the Minister tell the House how our legal aid budget compares internationally?
Mr Vara (Justice Minister): As I said, we compare very favourably internationally. We have one of the most generous legal aid budgets in the world, and that is after the cuts have come through.
Charlie: Is the Lord Chancellor aware of a report by the Henry Jackson Society that shows that at least 20 foreign terrorists have used the Human Rights Act to prevent their deportation from the United Kingdom? Does that underline the need for modernisation and reform of the Human Rights Act, and its replacement with a British Bill of Rights?
Chris Grayling (Lord Chancellor): Absolutely it underlines that requirement. All of us in this House will, I suspect, be debating these matters in a lively way in the next few months. I believe we need to reform. I think the people of this country need reform. It is a matter of surprise to me that the other parties in this House do not appear to agree.
I called a debate on Transport Management in Kent. For too long, gridlock in Dover has been ignored. Any time there are problems at the Port of Dover or the Channel Tunnel, it is the people of Dover who pay the price. I called for the isse to be made a national strategic priority and for a number of solutions. My speech can be found below:
Charlie: It is a pleasure to have the debate under your chairmanship, Mrs Main. I am bringing before the House the issue of gridlock in Dover recently and the wider problems on the M20 and A20 through Kent.
The most pressing matter for my constituents is the gridlock in Dover. In January and February 2015, and indeed today, Dover has been experiencing a serious rise in gridlock on the roads through and into the town. Tailbacks and gridlock have been a constant problem for many years, but they have become more serious recently. They have the following effects: residents are unable to travel around my constituency or Kent in general; local businesses are hurt as visitors stay away or cannot access businesses in the town; access for emergency vehicles is restricted, as is access altogether to some parts of Dover, in particular for the long-suffering residents of Aycliffe; and vast amounts of rubbish and litter are left along the A20 by the drivers of parked heavy goods vehicles. Some of that rubbish is unhealthy or contaminated waste and does not belong on a roadside....
Charlie: What plans he has to introduce penalties for financial advisers who promote aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion schemes.
Danny Alexander (Chief Secretary to the Treasury): This Government have been relentless in cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion. We have introduced a tougher monitoring regime and penalties for high-risk promoters of tax avoidance schemes, and the unprecedented common reporting standard will mean that by 2018 more than 90 countries will be exchanging information on offshore accounts automatically, helping Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to find and pursue offshore evaders successfully.
Charlie: I thank the Chief Secretary for that answer. Does he agree that more has been done on tax avoidance in the past five years than was done in the previous 13, so craven were the previous Government before big business and big tax avoidance? Will he welcome the Financial Secretary's announcement yesterday of further action on tax avoidance-promoting schemes?
Danny Alexander (Chief Secretary to the Treasury): The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right in both things that he says. The Financial Secretary's announcement was very important further progress, but if we look back over the past five years, we see that the relentlessness of our pursuit of measures to crack down on avoidance, be it the general anti-abuse rule in the tax system, the disclosure of tax avoidance schemes regime, the monitoring regime that we are putting in place or the measures to increase prosecutions for tax evasion, has made it clear that there is absolutely no tolerance for aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion in this country.
The Government's Troubled Families Programme helps turn difficult families' lives around. It helps to tackle problems such as anti-social behaviour, drug abuse, worklessness and truancy.
Charlie: I, too, congratulate the Secretary of State on his vision, persistence and leadership in seeing through this very important programme that helps to change lives and transform people's prospects. Will he tell the House how many children have benefited from this programme and will now be able to fulfil their true and fullest potential?
Eric Pickles (Local Government Secretary): Time will tell how many children will benefit in the end. Getting children back into school and attending three successive terms makes a big difference. In my hon. Friend's area, the total number of families we would describe as troubled is 2,560. Some 80% have been turned around. So far, just short of £10 million has been expended in that process.
We need to have strong oversight of facilty time for trade union officials to ensure value for money for taxpayers.
Charlie: Will the Minister join me in congratulating the TaxPayers Alliance on its important work which shows that £100 million of public money is wasted on facility time? Does he share my concern that a PCS-Unite merger would undermine our democracy and mean that the Labour party would be even more bought by the unions than it is today?
Francis Maude (Minister for the Cabinet Office): I make the point again that the perception of political impartiality in the civil service is fundamental to our system of government. That should not be imperilled in any way. My hon. Friend is completely right to draw attention to the much wider scale of facility time and the cost borne by the taxpayer—money that would be better spent in the delivery of front-line public services on which vulnerable people depend. That is something that all public authorities should be looking at.
I asked the Home Secretary to consider human rights reform and a Communications Data Bill to help us tackle terrorism.
Charlie: Given that many of these terrorists represent a clear and present danger to our country, our national security and the security of individuals, is it not important that we offer our intelligence services more powers, particularly through human rights reform and a communications data Bill, to ensure that we can secure our nation properly?
Home Secretary (Theresa May): My hon. Friend makes an important point about the impact that human rights legislation has sometimes had, for example on our ability to deport certain individuals who pose a threat to us here in the UK. I am clear that we need to reform our human rights legislation and introduce a communications data Bill, and a Conservative Government after 7 May will do just that.
It is an honour and privilege to have served as Member of Parliament for Dover & Deal. I try to press the case for Dover & Deal whenever possible in Parliament.
Many of my appearances in the House of Commons are now on Youtube. Please click the link to watch the footage.
Please email me at email@example.com or ring my office on 01304 379669 if you need to get in touch.