Not exactly a busy seven days in parliament for Croydon’s MPs judging by ANDREW PELLING’s weekly round-up
None of our Croydon MPs spoke in the Commons last week and only one participated in the sole vote of the week. It was Gavin Barwell who ventured into the No lobby to oppose a motion suggesting that pensions should be linked to the higher running RPI than the CPI as introduced by the coalition government.
Barwell was somewhat busier on Twitter, even calling a Croydon resident “a loon” and threatening her with legal action over a childish debate about who he did and did not invite to a meeting about racism and multi-culturalism held at the Conservative Club on Selsdon Road.
On his website, Barwell offers to send emails about his activities to anyone who signs up. Obviously aimed at his constituents, it does not state that you have to be a Croydon Central constituent, nor does it state that news about the MP won’t be sent to journalists or other local websites. Therefore, Inside Croydon would like to encourage our loyal reader to sign up on Barwell’s website (click here) to see whether they do receive news of the MP’s activities.
At that meeting, Barwell seemed content to debate openly with English Defence League and British National Party sympathisers.
Barwell’s approach suggests that he is a fan of multi-culturalism, something to which his party leader, David Cameron, has expressed strong opposition.
The first real issue raised was the allegation that people were coming to the UK and securing access to benefits and housing. The Croydon Central MP made a point of saying that these people were poor and that the poor had to be supported. Housing was justifiably allocated on need.
Barwell spoke out for better integration and less division but was challenged on big cuts to language teaching, which one audience member said disadvantaged women in some minority communities who had poor language skills and that this damaged their ability to interact with GPs, to seek work or, indeed, to integrate.
Barwell also felt that multi-ethnicity allowed for an important link to other nations that could be used for trade purposes.
The cancellation by Croydon Council of the annual Mela music and arts festival in Lloyd Park was raised as a concern.
An eastern European gentleman spoke on how he came here to trade his skills and was earning good money. He wanted to bring his parents over when they got too old, and he said he would support them. This was welcomed by the MP as he felt that they would not be a burden on the UK taxpayer.
There was concern expressed, though, over competition from cheaper eastern European labour.
Stop and search was mentioned, and how it was alienating black youth from the Police. Barwell felt that conviction rates showed that youth muggers were more likely yo be black, while youth burglers tended more often to be white. He felt that intelligence-led policing was what was required, rather than the Met’s and Mayor London’s policy of stop and search.
Back at Westminster, Croydon South’s MP Richard Ottaway secured an entirely unhelpful answer from LibDem junior health minister and Sutton MP, Paul Burstow, to a written question about post-traumatic hypopituitarism, which adversely affects the brain.
More importantly, Ottaway has secured a back bench members’ debate in the Commons on March 27 on assisted suicide. Ottaway has been assiduous in raising his concern that the law should be clarified on this sensitive issue. He wants to see the Director of Public Prosecution’s guidance on prosecuting cases of assisting suicide codified and not left to officials to start setting the law through their own guidance.
Ottaway justifies the debate by saying it is the responsibility of MPs to consider such important moral issues relating to assisted suicide.
“Although the DPP’s guidance is almost two years old, it has never been formally discussed by MPs,” Ottaway said. “While the DPP decided the factors in his guidance after public consultation, Parliament was not directly consulted. Although the factors in the guidance determine how the law is applied MPs have never debated them. I don’t believe this is right. As MPs we have a duty to discuss this important development which is of great legal significance and public concern.
“Because the guidance affects how the law is applied, I also think the government should consult on whether or not it should be put into statute. This would formalise the guidance. This is why I’ve put at the end of the motion I’ve tabled that MPs invite ‘the Government to consult on whether to put the guidance on a statutory basis’.”
Ottaway has been happy in the past to court criticism in his own constituency over population control and his initiative may lead to a wider debate on this subject in Croydon with those who feel that life is not theirs to take, and with those who fear that when old they’ll be under pressure to depart early.
Apart from his robust criticism of the flop that is Croydon’s 8/8 riots inquiry report, the highlight of Croydon North MP Malcolm Wicks‘ week will have been welcoming Harriet Harman to the borough. Harman, the Labour Deputy Leader and decades-long campaigner on feminist issues, is backing a campaign by Labour Women against cuts to the Family Justice Centre, as she told a fund-raising dinner staged in the borough last week.
MPs’ votes this week: 1
Barwell 1 out of 1
Ottaway 0 out of 1
Wicks 0 out of 1
- Inside Croydon: brought to you from the heart of the borough, free of charge, an independent voice standing for freedom of speech for the people of Croydon
- The week at Westminster: More war, and more MPs’ holidays (insidecroydon.com)
- Compromised riots report covers up policing problems (insidecroydon.com)
- Dear Prime Minister: this is what Croydon really needs (insidecroydon.com)