Posted Saturday, 18 April 2015 at 06:53
This morning I returned to the doctors’ surgeries in Houghton Close during the dangerous hour at midday. This is the time parents arrive to collect children from the Jack and Jill nursery, which is situated in the middle of a complex of Drs’ surgeries, an ambulance station, fire station and just off Oliver Street, which leads to the landfill site.
It was mayhem. I felt so unsafe driving in the midst of so many cars in such a tight space, I grounded my car up on the verge while I went into the surgery for the practice manager.
On my way in an elderly gentleman wound down his window and thanked me for the petition I have launched to secure funding for a new car park and he also said this;
'I have to bring my wife here every week and it worries me if we can't have the first appointment of the day, because I need to park near to the surgery for her.'
As I watched him drive away, he was in a log jam of cars with an ambulance heading straight into the middle. It terrifies me that one day there will be a mishap worse than the car that drove into the GPs’ windows and that, next time, someone will be hurt.
If I am re-elected, one of my first priorities will be to present the petition from all three surgeries to both CBC and Parliament and to lobby NHS England to return some of the money they have kept, which should be for primary care in Ampthill and to secure safer and better car parking in Houghton Close. Then, maybe, the elderly gentleman will be able to keep his weekly appointment in the knowledge that he can transport his wife to the surgery without risk or worry.
My First Election Message to Mid-Beds
Posted Thursday, 16 April 2015 at 08:12
For the past ten years I have had the privilege to serve as the MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, however, prior to this I trained as a nurse, became a mother of three and began my own business from an original idea, which I then sold. Having had experience of both the public and private sector, I chose to move into politics but first did my ‘training,’ by fighting a no hope seat and then working for the shadow chancellor for three years.
During my time as the MP for Mid Bedfordshire I have fought off and opposed the building of an industrial sized waste incinerator, 30,000 inappropriately placed homes, a landfill site, a view obliterating wind farm, numerous gypsy and traveller sites and the sprawl of Milton Keynes into Mid-Beds. I was very proud to be described as a ‘Prime Ministerial irritant,’ forcing David Cameron to reject a plan to turn Mid-Beds into a garden city, which would have altered our communities beyond recognition.
Recently, I hauled Thameslink-Govia into Parliament and demanded a better service for commuters and lobbied ministers on behalf of Bedfordshire Police, helping to win an additional £4. 3 million of funding.
I was one of only a handful of MPs to vote for an immediate referendum on our membership of the EU, voted against increases to the EU budget and have consistently voted and pressed for an EU referendum and a point’s style system of immigration, similar to that used by Australia, Canada and other Commonwealth countries. I am known as a ‘rebel’ because I have always put my constituents and Mid-Beds before party politics. In Parliament this does not make for an easy life!
Without doubt, the most important and rewarding aspect of my work has been the weekly surgeries, where over ten years I have had the chance to help many thousands of constituents with their own, often serious, problems. I have championed business growth and am delighted that we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.
I am not going to make empty politician promises, but I can give you a sample of what I have already achieved and how I have spent my time as your MP and ask that you return me to Westminster to continue the hard work, which is necessary to keep Mid-Beds as the great place we have all chosen to live.
Mail on Sunday article
Posted Sunday, 5 April 2015 at 06:30
Business is Booming in Mid-Beds
Posted Tuesday, 24 March 2015 at 09:01
I had a great day on Friday visiting businesses run by and that provide employment for my constituents in Mid-Bedfordshire.
It started with a breakfast meeting in Flitwick with entrepreneurs who have braved the business climate of the last few years and are now feeling quietly optimistic about the road ahead.
One delegate even told me, ‘We are all scared to say it out loud but the phones are ringing again and everyone I speak to in Mid Beds is getting busier and busier.’
Then it was on to Driveline Golf, who produced a nice video of me meeting their enthusiastic young apprentices, and the Consumer Protection Association, which is doing well and celebrating its 25th birthday in Mid-Beds.
This all goes to show that business is booming in Mid-Beds. We have the Millbrook technology hub and now Centre Parks all contributing to a long-term downward trend for unemployment in the constituency.
Posted Friday, 6 March 2015 at 19:45
Posted Thursday, 5 March 2015 at 20:30
Littlewoods and Telegraph Pension Funds
Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Mel Stride.)
Nadine Dorries (Mid Bedfordshire) (Con): I am proud to represent the seat of Mid Bedfordshire, but I am also proud to have been born and bred in Liverpool. I have secured this Adjournment debate because I am gravely concerned that the pensions of many thousands of people in Liverpool and elsewhere in Britain, including in my constituency, might be in danger and that if things go badly wrong the British people, via the Pension Protection Fund, will be called on to pick up the pieces.
We must not forget the lessons learned from the Robert Maxwell scandal. Potentially, billions of pounds of public money is at stake, placed at risk by the pension schemes of the companies ultimately controlled by two men, Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, also known as the Barclay twins.
The twins are rich men, although perhaps not as rich as they appear to be, who live in Monaco and in a pseudo-Gothic castle on the island of Brecqhou, off Sark, to avoid British tax. They do not pay their fair share of tax, yet their company, Shop Direct, formerly known as Littlewoods, is suing the British taxpayer for £1.2 billion in compound interest for overpayment of tax on a company the Barclay twins did not even own when the event took place. Some might call that greedy. I do. The Barclay twins are avariciously greedy.
The Daily Telegraph, and they are notoriously aggressive in defence of their own reputations. Twice they have sued British journalists in France. The BBC “Panorama” journalist John Sweeney was convicted of criminal libel in France for comments he made on BBC Radio Guernsey. In 2005, The Times was sued by the twins, again in France. Some might call it hypocritical for owners of a British newspaper that regularly dishes out dirt to sue competitor journalists in a foreign jurisdiction. I call that hypocritical. When I wrote a critical judgment of their actions on my blog, they harassed my blog site host with midnight e-mails from lawyers in New York, France and London, forcing my host to close down my blog for a few hours. The Barclay twins are deeply hypocritical.
The Twins are notoriously reclusive, which is rather weird, as they own
People who watched the “Panorama” programme “The Tax Havens Twins”, still available on YouTube, saw ordinary people on Sark give witness that they have been bullied by the twins’ representative on the island. The Barclay twins are also bullies.
The danger to public funds from the twins is fundamentally simple, although the details are murky and obscure, perhaps deliberately so. The twins’ companies, including Shop Direct and Yodel, are losing money hand over fist. Yodel has a loan with HSBC worth £250 million pounds, and if we add that to other loans we see that the twins’ companies owe about £l billion to the banks. That may all be with HSBC, and not just the £250 million as reported. In addition, Shop Direct has traded receipts from its loan book for a £1.25 billion pound facility with a clearing bank, believed to be HSBC.
On the rare occasion when profits are made, they are shelled out of the individual company and transferred to parent and/or grandparent companies often incorporated
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offshore in the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda and other offshore havens. In plain English, the twins’ businesses are losing massive amounts of cash, and when they do not they are hollowed out. If the pension funds suddenly needed a fresh injection of funds, how easy would it be for the pension trustees to extract that money from this complex maze of offshore accounts?
The answer to the question turns on the strength of the pension fund covenants. Again, the picture is not clear, and that is not good. Let us take the Littlewoods scheme, the Littlewoods plan, the GUS ex-gratia unfunded scheme and the unfunded scheme for members. I will refer to them as “the scheme” for short, and that scheme is worth £1.37 billion.
One of the problems highlighted by the Robert Maxwell scandal was that too many of the pension fund trustees were dependent on Robert Maxwell. How many of the Littlewoods scheme trustees are genuinely independent of the twins? One, maybe two. Of the eight trustees, I can identify five that are not. The Pensions Regulator recommends the appointment of a professional trustee for a large scheme. As far as we can tell, no such appointment has been made. It also recommends two independent trustees. Of the two that are in place, one has been there since 1997, the other since 2008—that is not independent.
With a pension scheme worth £1.37 billion, it is very worrying that the recommendations of the Pensions Regulator appear to be ignored. That is at the heart of this matter. The dire financial performance of Shop Direct and Yodel, the £1 billion of loans, and the trade of the Shop Direct loan book for a further £1.25 billion give rise to concerns that the trustees must, by law, address. Minister, is that happening?
The Daily Telegraph because, he said, the paper was defrauding its readers. He said that it had gone soft on HSBC because it did not want to lose advertising income. Mr Oborne understated the problem. The Daily Telegraph went soft on HSBC not just for fear of losing advertising money but because the twins’ companies are in so much debt to HSBC—at least £250 million, possibly as much as £1 billion in loans if HSBC is the bank behind the loan-book deal.The Daily Telegraph owners may have a further £1.25 billion of reasons to be soft on the tax cheats’ bank. We are talking a cool £2 billion-plus here, not the £250 million that was recently reported.
Recently, journalist Peter Oborne left
As I have told the House, the twins are suing the taxpayer in the Supreme Court for almost exactly the same amount as the loan book agreement, which by the way, requires renewal every 12 months, making it very vulnerable. They have already received the simple interest and principal amounting to over £470 million so they have already taken a fair slug of our money. But it is not enough. These offshore, non-UK taxpayers would like the British taxpayer to transfer to their pockets the cost of four operational hospitals or 12 running schools. But they may not win their case in the Supreme Court. The twins’ companies underlying the pension funds may end up in a serious amount of debt, running into billions, just like Robert Maxwell’s companies.
If the twins win their case, how are to we ensure that the £1.2 billion remains on British soil to safeguard the scheme from future poor investment returns? As we know, that happens. It is the reason why the Pension Protection Fund was established—to protect members
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and contributors from scheme shortfalls. I fear that the money will be siphoned offshore, leaving the tax payer via the Pension Protection Fund to pick up the £1 billion-plus price tag if the group continues to perform financially as badly as it has been doing.
The Barclays winning or losing their £1.2 billion court case makes no difference to this scenario. If they win, they could siphon the money abroad and the British taxpayer will pick up the bill. If they lose, the British taxpayer picks up the bill by picking up any shortfall in the scheme fund. Can we depend on the Barclay twins to do the right thing should the scheme suffer a shortfall? We can only make that assessment based on their financial track record and character. We know that they are in serious debt. We know that they were criticized for their role in the Crown Agents scandal going all the way back to 1973. As Mr Paddy McKillen, the owner of three London hotels, can testify, they lack scruples. Mr McKillen’s American social security number was stolen in order to gain access to his financial information as part of an aggressive and hostile takeover of his business.
Let us take a look at the experience of the islanders on Sark. For years they have been bullied, blackmailed, threatened and terrorised. People have fled the island, others have woken to find flyers and papers with their personal information posted across the island. When the wife of the seigneur of Sark fell seriously ill, the twins’ man on the island attacked the seigneur, and all because the Barclays want control of the island and for it to be run as they see fit. The character of the twins can be summed up in three words: greedy, hypocritical and bullying.
What assurance can the Minister provide that if the Barclay twins win their victory in court and get £1.2 billion from the taxpayer, the money will stay here in the UK for the benefit of the scheme fund members, should there be a shortfall? What guarantee can he give that if there were a shortfall, the British taxpayer will not be funding the scheme via the Pension Protection Fund? Has the Pensions Regulator looked into this matter, given the poor financial performance and indebtedness of the contributing companies?
The Robert Maxwell pensions scandal happened because too many people— journalists, politicians, pension fund trustees and lawyers—held their tongue for fear of legal threats and intimidation. Today, the Government protect individuals against pension fund loss via the PPF, but that fund could not survive a hit to the tune of £1 billion. I know the Minister will be keen to provide reassurance that all is well with the fund, but all is not well when one considers the existing make-up of the fund trustees. We are not just concerned about today. Just under the surface, things are not well. I urge the Minister to use his good offices and impress on the Pensions Regulator the need to evaluate at the very least the composition and validity of the scheme trustees.
Click here to read the minister's reply.
Today the foundations of the Barclay twins’ empire are cracking. Tomorrow the walls may come tumbling down. I hope that as a consequence of the dire financial circumstances of the Barclay twins’ companies, there will be no threat to the long-term security of the pensioners dependent on them. I hope I am wrong, but I fear I may be right.
Visit to Leonard Cheshire Agate House
Posted Friday, 27 February 2015 at 20:59
I have visited the Leonard Cheshire Home in Ampthill many times during my tenure as the MP for Mid Beds and it feels like only five minutes ago we were fundraising for the renovations. None of us know how we would cope if we were faced with such adversity. I know many of the 'back stories' of the residents and some have lived a very different life before tragedy or illness kicked in. Many thanks to Cllr Mark Smith for answering so many of the council related questions.
Read more at leonardcheshire.org/agatehouse
Nisa Toddington wins at the Best Small Shop of the Year awards
Posted Wednesday, 25 February 2015 at 20:20
Nisa Local Toddington received Highly Commended for the Best Small Shop Competition 2015
at the House of Commons. Really exciting to be with them all on the day and witness their achievement. Small business thrives in Mid Beds!
For more see bestsmallshops.uk
Why career politicians are terrible for democracy
Posted Monday, 23 February 2015 at 20:52
I'm always thrilled to be asked to appear on BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Show and here, I am explaining why career politicians are a disaster for democracy. Click here
about three mins in.
Ampthill Surgeries Parking Crisis
Posted Thursday, 12 February 2015 at 10:55
As a patient at the Greensands surgery in Ampthill I have always been frustrated by the parking situation in the area. The allocation by SEPT of 20 district nurses to the town was a great boost to health service provision but it has turned a serious problem critical.
When I was contacted by the management of the surgeries and the patient participation groups I was happy to do what I can to raise the issue and push the relevant decision makers to release the funding necessary to provide adequate parking. This is vital before a serious accident occurs.
Amanda Devlin of the Beds Times & Citizen has covered the story with a great article (available here
), the video above and the front page splash.
I have contacted the head of NHS England and Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health. I am working with the local council. I have started a petition in the surgeries so that the people directly affected can make their voice heard.
With a playgroup nearby and elderly patients trying to navigate the pavements a serious accident could occur near the Ampthill surgeries at any moment. I will work with any and all available stakeholders to find a solution that keeps my constituents safe.
Millbrook Technology Park
Posted Tuesday, 10 February 2015 at 09:17
It was a pleasure to attend the Millbrook Technology Park in my constituency last week for the launch event of the new business park.
This fantastic asset for Mid-Bedfordshire is a globally renowned centre for design, engineering, testing and technology development.
The new technology park will provide a home to a cluster of companies renowned for their expertise at the leading edge of automotive technology.
Expansion and development of the site’s facilities is a great boost to our local area and will provide more than 1,000 highly skilled jobs, worth a forecast £118 million to the economy.
Mitochondrial Donation Regulations
Posted Wednesday, 4 February 2015 at 12:41
Yesterday I was proud to be able to vote for the mitochondrial donation regulations. I thought about this at great length and received much correspondence from constituents on the matter so I wanted to explain why I voted the way that I did. Several people, including my own family, have expressed surprise for my support of this issue.
When I first became an MP in 2005 one of the first pieces of constituency casework I dealt with was a family with two young boys suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The regulations I voted for yesterday will enable scientists to attempt to eradicate the disease. Although neither of those boys would have been able to benefit, other families around the country and in Mid-Bedfordshire in the future will have the chance to rid themselves of what can only be described as a heart-breaking disease, which affects the very young.
The regulations presented for a vote yesterday were very specific. The slippery slope argument therefore doesn't apply as any further move would require a further vote. I am also satisfied that the regulations affect such a small number of scientists working in such specific circumstances that most of the arguments against given are not relevant.
If there are any further votes liberalising rules in this area more generally for advancement in DNA modification I would likely vote against in an instant. The arguments given by several of my constituents against general genetic engineering are entirely valid but they are fighting against changes that have not been proposed and were not voted upon yesterday.
For me, the best illustration of the broad coalition supporting these regulations comes in the form of both Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer, and the Bishop of Carlisle. Many religious groups have legitimate concerns about the direction of some medical research but this was not the right time to draw that line.
Any further attempt to loosen regulations and unleash a torrent of negative side-effects from genetic research will not receive my assent. But this was a chance to make a minor change to regulations that will bring enormous benefits to families affected by diseases such as muscular dystrophy. I could not look in the eye the parents of those two young boys in my constituency if I had voted in any other way.