The week at Westminster: voting on the end of the NHS

Former Croydon MP ANDREW PELLING reviews last week’s parliamentary activity from our local representatives

Another lightweight week for our local MPs. Perhaps, with the Cheltenham Festival taking place, some influential, horse-loving parliamentarians preferred it that way. Or maybe the business of the House was scheduled with one eye on the Budget.

Carshalton MP Tom Brake: voted with the Government on NHS reforms

“Look on the bright side of life” was the approach of Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell in his only intervention in the Commons last week. “His Life of Brian” motif was seen in his invitation to the Leader of the House to be cheerful that the private sector is creating jobs.

This may be of limited encouragement to the 3,491 residents in his constituency who now rely on job seeker’s allowance. Barwell’s view seems to be that public sector job cuts will lead to private sector job growth. Or perhaps he is losing faith in his own ability to fulfil his promise to deliver public sector jobs to Croydon?

Barwell, Richard Ottaway, the Croydon South MP, and Tom Brake, Carshalton and Wallington’s LibDem MP, voted the party line and against a Labour motion to withhold support for the controversial health bill, despite 170,000 voters signing a petition opposing the legislation.

However, this past week did see two local MPs rebelling against the party whips by voting against plans to reduce the independence of select committees. Brake and Ottaway stood up and were counted in their defence of the Parliamentary back-bencher.

Ottaway continued to pursue his interest in proper care and screening of head injuries with a question to a minister, but seemed bound to continue his experience of banging his head against a brick wall with yet another unhelpful stonewall response from Sutton’s Paul Burstow. LibDem Burstow, who is a junior health minister, gave the response: ask a doctor not me.

Brake took the opportunity to ask after sharing of information between different countries’ intelligence agencies and the role this can play in providing information for people who have lost loved ones in conflict.

MP activity this week

Votes (out of 6)/ Written questions/Speeches/Oral questions & interventions/Early Day Motions

Barwell 6/0/0/1/0
Brake 6/0/0/1/0
Ottaway 5/1/0/0/0
Wicks 0/0/0/0/0

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