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Justin Madders MP - Blog - April 2017

Author: Justin Madders MP Published: 10th April 2017 09:08

In his latest blog for AboutMyArea Neston readers, Justin Madders MP discusses the recent terrorist attack at Westminster, the Brexit negotiations and more.

Justin Madders MPJustin Madders MP. Photo by Bernard Rose

The recent terrorist attack on Parliament was the latest in an emerging trend of attacks involving people using vehicles as weapons, which is of course something that is very difficult to legislate against.

What is rather easier to prevent is people accessing the Parliamentary estate and, as people will know, it is a very secure location. However, it is right next to the public highway and it was terrible timing that the carriage gates allowing vehicles access to the estate were open at the time of the attack. The reason why they were open was because a vote had been called and the gates are routinely opened at such times so that Ministers can travel in from their departments across Whitehall in Ministerial cars. I expect the authorities will have to look at that practice as well as the fact that PC Palmer and his colleagues on the front gate were unarmed. PC Palmer's bravery led to him making the ultimate sacrifice as well as other innocent people losing their lives and the incident has given us all cause to reflect on the selflessness of those whose duty it is to protect democracy.

I would like to thank the many constituents who have enquired after my welfare as a result of the incident. Although I was close to where the attacker entered around 30 seconds or so before he arrived, I was heading straight to the voting lobbies by the chamber, which were sealed very shortly after I arrived. Clearly we were anxious for a period after this as it wasn't clear what was happening other than there was an attack, but as time wore on we realised that there were not going to be any further attacks at which point it was simply a case of letting the authorities do their job until they were confident it was safe to let people out. In the circumstances, being locked in the Chamber for four hours was no hardship at all and my thoughts are with the family of PC Palmer and all those who lost a loved one that day.

One of the great pleasures of being your MP is, when time allows, being able to meet constituents in Parliament who have come to look around the magnificent surroundings. History pores out of every corner and it would be a real shame if access in the future for the public were limited because of this incident. I am hopeful that we can strike the right balance between being accessible and being secure.

As anticipated, last week marked the start of Britain's formal negotiations to exit the EU with the triggering of Article 50. This is the start of a process that could take two years to finalise the terms of our exit. The most important issues from my perspective, for the constituency, are trying to get the same benefits as we currently have as members of the single market and the customs union in order that our industries are able to continue to export freely and competitively. A Brexit that secures Britain's future cooperation with the EU, a strong economy, managed and fair migration, fundamental rights, national security, and the distribution of power and opportunity across the country are all major elements of what I want to see achieved. You can be sure that as your MP I will hold the Government to account every step of the way to fight for our best interests. Whatever the final exit package looks like, it may in fact be years before the final deal is done on the second element of the negotiations which is our future relationship with the EU and I suspect that a transitional arrangement will be needed.

The other side of the coin in terms of how we deal with Brexit also had its first Parliamentary outing last week when details of the "Great Repeal Bill" were revealed. This will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act, which took Britain into the EU and meant that European became UK law. It will also end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. Ironically though, the title of the Bill is rather misleading as what will also happen is that all existing EU law will be transferred into UK law, because to do otherwise would mean that some areas of everyday life would have incomplete or no laws governing them.

What complicates this further is that some of these laws will need amending before they are re-introduced because they refer to EU institutions that we will of course no longer be part of. As it is estimated there are around 1000 laws, if not more, which will need to be looked at, the Government has said it plans to enact its "corrections" to the statute book using what are known as Henry VIII powers, after the Statute of Proclamations 1539, which gave the King the power to legislate by proclamation. As this will not involve the usual Parliamentary scrutiny process, this sounds like the opposite of the pledge to "take back control" that we were promised during the referendum. I am also concerned that this will be used as an opportunity to water down some existing rights, with workplace protections being one area I will be keeping a close eye on. From anyone's point of view, Parliament will be extremely busy over the next few years.

There has been lots of controversy about George Osborne's decision to become editor of the London Evening Standard whilst remaining as an MP. An MP can take a second job as long as it registered in the appropriate way and the most recent research indicated that around one third of MP's have another job. Some are doctors or barristers who want to keep their professional skills up to scratch, and they often undertake such work in the Parliamentary recess. That is clearly a world away from being the editor of the main daily newspaper in one of the most important capitals in the world and is on top of the five other jobs he has.

I am loathe to criticise individuals personally, but George Osborne's appointment reeks of an arrogance and disregard for his constituents that I find embarrassing and wrong in equal measure. When I stood for Parliament I made a pledge that I would not take a second job as I believed that being an MP is a full time job. My experience since being elected has led me to conclude that it is much more than that and I cannot believe he is representing his constituency as well as he could be.


Justin Madders MP
Ellesmere Port & Neston
Shadow Health Minister

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