Bucks Free Press Article

David thought you might be interested in seeing an article he recently wrote for the Bucks Free Press.

"This week, as part of my duties as Lord Chancellor, I took part in a ceremony to mark the beginning of the new legal year. The senior judges, in their scarlet or black and gold robes, joined me in Westminster Abbey, after which we all processed to Westminster Hall, the most ancient part of the Houses of Parliament.

The ritual affirmed the authority and the formality of our legal system but was also an opportunity to reflect on the central importance of the rule of law in our constitutional system.

That principle, together with the independence of the judiciary, forms the very bedrock of a free and democratic society.

It safeguards us against tyranny and dictatorship. It allows us to live in a society where no individual and no government is above the law, a society where everyone can expect equality before the law and the right to a fair trial.

Here, governments of all political colours expect to have their decisions challenged and sometimes overturned in court.  But that respect for the rule of law is not universal.

As a Foreign Office Minister, I talked to colleagues from Eastern and Central Europe who remembered living under communist rule, when the judges and the courts were just a tool of the ruling regime.

I also spent many hours discussing with British business leaders their plans for foreign investment. They explained that a country with an entrenched commitment to the rule of law and judicial independence had a head start over the competition to attract jobs and inward investment. By contrast, businesses were nervous about committing money to a country where a dispute over their tax bill or their license to operate would be decided by a legal system that was in the pocket of ministers or oligarchs.

It is striking that in today’s global economy, English law remains the first choice when companies decide how to settle commercial disputes. Companies from around the world go to the London courts to obtain justice because they know that our judiciary is both expert and relentlessly impartial, doing justice according to the evidence without fear or favour.

I'm not starry eyed. There are many things about our legal system that could be improved. But let us also value those principles of the rule of law and judicial independence which underpin both our prosperity and our freedom."

Bucks Herald Article

David thought you might be interested in seeing an article he recently wrote for the Bucks Herald.

"House of Fraser is to pull out of Friars Square. That unwelcome news highlights the fact that Aylesbury faces competition for shoppers from towns like Wycombe and Watford. I also think that there's a longer-term message here about the changing nature of our high streets and town centres.

A couple of weeks ago, at one of the regular meetings between Bucks MPs and the County Council cabinet, we talked as usual about current local issues, everything from social care to potholes, but also discussed what the County might look like in 2050.

None of us can predict with certainty how digital technology will change our way of life, but it's already clear that retailing is being shaken up in a big way. When I talk to supermarket bosses, they tell me that it's “click and collect” that's the growth area of business. I've seen too how big retailers, whether computer and electrical stores or clothes chains are integrating their online and in store operations. Royal Mail tell me that the number of Christmas cards sent is on a steady downward trend but the number of Christmas packages and parcels ordered and dispatched online is growing apace.

About a fifth of non-food retail sales in Britain are now online. That figure will continue to grow. So will our mid-century town centres need so many shops? I suspect not. But what does that mean for jobs and for the character of our high streets and market squares?

My hunch is that there will still be a demand for smaller, specialist shops offering exceptional customer service, provided of course that rents and rates are set at levels which they can afford. As shoppers go online, planning policy too will need to change.  I would expect to see town centres with fewer shops than now, more residential accommodation, and more small offices and workshops.

Towns and cities will also thrive as cultural and artistic centres, so the Waterside, Queen’s Park and the cinema should stand Aylesbury in good stead."

Naphill Gazette Article

David thought you might be interested in seeing an article he recently wrote for the Naphill Gazette.

"Roughly once a quarter, all five Buckinghamshire MPs meet the County Council’s Cabinet members to run through current local issues. It's always a very useful catch-up session, which can cover everything from economic development and transport planning to social care to pot holes.

In September, we spent part of the time trying to take a step back and talk about what the County might look like in 2050. What were the implications for the long-term planning of services?

Some things struck us as almost certain. There are going to be a lot more homes in Bucks. The population is growing. Ours is a popular area to live in, with low unemployment. We need more homes to address both greater longevity and the present unaffordability of housing for so many young people.

The impact of that on transport is harder to calculate. The Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge railway crossing North Bucks will be a strategically important growth corridor, but will need improved links to Heathrow and the Thames Valley too. By 2050 driverless vehicles will probably be the rule. How many of us will want or need to own a car, especially if it sits unused most of the week, if the option is available to summon a driverless hire vehicle to take us where we want to go?

Those vehicles will probably be fuelled by electricity. The government’s target already is to have no new petrol or diesel vehicles by 2040 - and my hunch is that industry will move more quickly than that anyway. So we’ll need a network of charging points. Who provides those, especially in rural areas with small populations? To what extent should this be left to the market and what if any kind of public service duty will be needed?

All kinds of questions crowd in. We are likely to have far fewer shops, with a massive shift to online sales. High Streets and town centres will have more residential properties and small businesses. As modern service businesses are not noisy or smelly, should we reinvent the Victorian fashion for mixed residential and business development instead of separate planning zones?

In social care, how can we maximise the opportunities presented by robotics and artificial intelligence to improve the quality of life for elderly and disabled people?

We didn't have all the answers! But discussing the challenges and opportunities is at least a start."

Political Studies Association Schools’ Video Competition

David thought you might be interested to hear about a Schools Competition run by the Political Studies Association.

This year’s competition is entitled: ‘Fake News: Is this the end of facts?’

The winning team will receive their award at the PSA’s Annual Awards Ceremony in Westminster. On top of this, the winning students will each be invited to spend a week volunteering with and shadowing the YouGov political team during their school holidays.

The competition closes on the 30th October.

More information about the competition and the link for submissions can be found here.

Rehabilitation in prisons

I recently visited HMP Parc in Bridgend, South Wales. 

I was encouraged by the excellent work of prison staff in rehabilitating prisoners. This is a crucial step in helping to deal with some of the challenges facing our prison system.

David at the Eid Fair at Aylesbury Mosque

David recently visited Aylesbury Mosque.

David said:

"I was delighted to visit Aylesbury Mosque during their Eid Fair. It was a good opportunity to hear from local Muslims and celebrate Eid al-Adha.

"It was great to see Aylesbury Mosque opening their doors to welcome in locals from all faiths. Occasions like this provide a fantastic opportunity to strengthen the Aylesbury community, as people from different neighbourhoods are able to meet and learn more about each other’s beliefs and traditions."

David's meeting with members of the Bucks & Milton Keynes Fire & Rescue Service

David recently visited the Aylesbury Fire Station In Stocklake to meet firefighters and the Chief Fire Officer, Jason Thelwell.

David said:

"I was delighted to meet with members of the Bucks & Milton Keynes Fire & Rescue Service and discuss fire safety in the local area, particularly in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

"It was a great opportunity to be updated about local issues and I was particularly pleased to hear about the success of the Embers programme in engaging with young people in the local community."

Latest unemployment statistics for Aylesbury

The total number of unemployed claimants in the Aylesbury constituency in August 2017 was 740.

This represents a rate of 1.2% of the economically active population aged 16-64, the 533rd highest of the 650 UK constituencies. (1st = highest claimant rate, 650th = lowest claimant rate.)

The equivalent UK claimant rate was 2.5%. The UK unemployment rate, which includes people not claiming benefits and is estimated from survey data, was 4.3% between May and July 2017.

The number of claimants in Aylesbury constituency is 70 higher than August 2016 and 15 lower than July 2017.

There were 115 claimants aged 18-24 in August 2017, 5 lower than August 2016.

David at the Bucks County Show

David recently spoke to the Country Land and Business Association at the Bucks County Show.

David said:

“I was very pleased to have the opportunity to talk to the CLA about the implications of Brexit and the opportunities for the rural economy that it will create.

“The CLA have been working on ways to move the rural economy forward including the idea of a ‘Land Management Contract’ to help both landowners and the local community, as well as opportunities for landowners to help address the current housing shortage. I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss these ideas and others during the question and answer session.”

More information about the CLA can be found here.