THIS week in Westminster we had a series of new pieces of legislation being introduced, writes MP Anne Marie Morris.
First up, the Victims and Prisoners Bill, a piece of legislation designed to strengthen the rights of victims of crime and improve their treatment.
The Government wanted to move beyond the current voluntary code and enshrine victim’s rights in law, putting in place an ‘Advocate’ scheme to support bereaved families and victims of major incidents. A positive step forward.
The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill replaces existing EU law with new legislation that will work better for the UK. The bill attempts to prevent businesses from aggressively marketing products to consumers. For example, it will ensure companies alert customers when subscriptions are close to being rolled-over so consumers can make a timely decision about whether or not they want to roll over. The bill will also prohibit fake reviews online. This has been a real problem, with consumers making poor decisions based on misinformation. Now there is a remedy.
The long-awaited Renters (Reform) Bill was introduced to Parliament this week. I have read the legislation and while trying to fix the problems of bad landlords, it sets us on a path that will damage the sensible market we have for good tenants and good landlords. We need a thriving private rented sector. Not everyone can afford or wants to buy a property. I expect we shall see lively debate in the coming weeks!
I was delighted to have the opportunity this week to visit the Dawlish Sea Wall and see the beautiful promenade that has been created - opening soon! Network Rail and GWR also gave me a welcome update on the Southwest Rail Resilience Programme.
While the first three phases are almost completed, phases 4 and 5 are work in progress. Phase 4 looks like it can now be completed on time and on budget. GWR and Network Rail assured me the lack of buses for the necessary rail replacement services was no longer an issue. They also assured me that subject to the national constraints on budgets, they believed a proposal for the first part of phase 5 work would be fairly considered. I shall make sure that it is!
The Treasury Committee, of which I am a member, this week scrutinised HMRC on tax reliefs. We have over 1000 tax reliefs and we wanted to know if they still delivered value for money and the policy outcomes intended. There is a system for regularly reviewing the big reliefs, but it is rather reactive.
Smaller reliefs however do not get the same attention despite the money cumulatively involved. It was reassuring to hear that there was now a better framework in place to ensure any new reliefs both deliver the policy and value for money intended in the context of existing tax legislation.
Every few weeks I have a call with business and community leaders across Dawlish, Newton Abbot and Teignmouth. The weather is making a difference! Better summer weather always brings more visitors with spending power. There are however a number of challenging issues that need attention.
Top of the list is anti-social behaviour. One of the main problems seems to be a lack of co-ordination across local government and the police and a lack of appropriate priority for our trouble spots. The Police and Crime Commissioner was excellent in her response to recent events, but we need more police to prevent trouble brewing. Torquay and Paignton clearly have issues but so do we!
I shall be taking this up with all involved this coming week. The challenge of business rates was also raised - the recent revaluation has given rise to a number of problems which I will be taking up with the valuation office.
And this week was a very important one for all things farming - The Devon County Show! Brilliant weather which was a nice change from previous years. It’s a shame it is only once a year!
► As always, if you would like to book a surgery appointment (in-person or virtual) or raise a specific issue, please call my office on 01626 368277 or email [email protected] to arrange an appointment.