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Bob Russell at PMQ's

  • Sep 1, 2014:
  • Jul 22, 2014:
    • Parliament: Anniversaries | Education | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for Education whether her Department is working with the History of Parliament Trust and the publishers St James's House on a publication to be published in 2015 to mark 750 years of Parliament; what reports she has received of schools being asked to contribute sponsorship towards that publication; and if she will make a statement.

    • Backbench Business - Summer Adjournment | Child Benefit Entitlement (Disqualification of Non-UK EU Nationals) | Commons debates

      Britain's road safety record is arguably the best of any industrial country in the world. The number of people who lose their lives on the road today is about a third of what it was almost 50 years ago. Great progress has been made, and successive Governments can take pride in that. It is in that context, therefore, that I draw the House's attention to the inexplicable possibility of a relaxation of certain aspects of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. This year, we commemorate the 40th anniversary of its passing in Parliament with the unanimous support of all political parties, which it has had over those years.

      Based on the figures of 40 years ago, it is estimated that 1,000 lives have been saved every year-40,000 lives have been saved. That is not to mention the injuries at work that have been prevented. We should think about the impact that such injuries have on the lives of people who are injured, their families and work colleagues, and the about impact on hospitals' accident and emergency departments, which hon. Members know are already overburdened. In that context, to even talk of or think about diluting something that saves lives and prevents injuries, and makes work a safe environment, is unbelievable. The fact that the Government and others are thinking about it is something that we should take very seriously.

      It is worth noting that the whole Olympic stadium was built without the loss of a single life. We should contrast that with the large number of deaths that occur in the building of World cup stadiums and Olympic stadiums elsewhere in the world. The 1974 Act was crucial in ensuring that safe environment in that flagship development, which we all enjoyed two years ago. We give praise in equal measure to employers organisations and trade unions, as well as Governments, for allowing that to happen.

      Into that great success story of safety and of lives being saved, it is being suggested that the approved code of practice in construction regulations should be diluted.

      I draw attention in particular to what is known as appendix 4. Many of us assume the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 applies only to dangerous occupations such as building, but it applies everywhere, including in our constituency offices. I was going to say it applies to the Houses of Parliament, but I have a feeling that they are exempt. I would like to think they follow the code of conduct. Health and safety accreditation schemes cover industries from A to Z, from air travel to zoos-just about everything.

      Appendix 4 is adopted by a whole range of organisations to ensure that their work force can work in a safe environment. It is simple to read; clear; easily understood and applied; relevant and applicable across a wide range of industry sectors, not just, as I said, in construction industries; and widely used and recognised because of its regulatory standing as part of an approved code of practice. I therefore hope in this very brief contribution-I want to keep it very tight-that my right hon. Friend the Deputy Leader of the House will ensure that common sense breaks out. If 1,000 lives a year are being saved and people at work are being saved from serious injury-not to mention the impact that that would have on their place of work and on their employers' ability to do whatever that business is doing-why do away with it? If it is going to be done away with, what will the consequences be, purely in terms of injuries, on our accident and emergency departments?

      The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 has been a great success story. In the same way that we have made our roads safer, we should ensure that we do not make our workplaces less safe.

    • Israel/Palestine | Oral Answers to Questions - Foreign and Commonwealth Office | Commons debates

      Will the Minister confirm that if the Foreign Secretary last week, when he was Defence Secretary, had ordered British troops to fire on civilian communities in the way the Israelis have, he would be guilty of a war crime?

    • Israel/Palestine | Oral Answers to Questions - Foreign and Commonwealth Office | Commons debates

      What plans he has to visit Israel to discuss the current situation in that region.

  • Jul 21, 2014:
    • Ukraine (Flight MH17) and Gaza | Oral Answers to Questions - Education | Commons debates

      The Prime Minister is right to condemn Russia, but he was less than even-handed when it came to Israel. As he has ducked the questions asked by the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr Hain) and the hon. Members for Walsall North (Mr Winnick) and for Preston (Mark Hendrick), will he now confirm that the disproportionate action of Israel's political and military leaders constitutes war crimes and that, as with the downed aircraft, criminal sanctions should not be ruled out?

    • Sixth-form Colleges (Funding) | Oral Answers to Questions - Education | Commons debates

      The Minister is right to remind the Opposition that they had 13 years to put right the anomaly, but we have had four years. What is the justification for continuing for another year a funding formula under which sixth-form students at an 11-to-18 school have two thirds more funding than if they go to a sixth-form college?

  • Jul 17, 2014:
  • Jul 14, 2014:
  • Jul 10, 2014:
    • Local Enterprise Partnerships | Deputy Prime Minister | Written Answers

      To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance the Minister of State for Cities and Constitution has given to local enterprise partnerships on informing (a) district councils and (b) hon. Members about Growth Deal schemes before briefing the media; and if he will make a statement.

  • Jul 9, 2014:
    • [Mr Clive Betts in the Chair] - Local Plans (Public Consent) | Westminster Hall debates

      Whatever it is, the general public are not exactly dancing in the streets. The public consent for local plans is the issue we are debating, and the Minister is personally culpable for what he approved in north Colchester not that long ago. He approved it despite the fact that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government personally visited the area to see it for himself. I got a Transport Minister to come down and see the existing congestion in the North Station road area, and despite that this Minister rubber-stamped a plan, knowing full well that the land had never previously been zoned for housing. How the plan came through the system is one of those great mysteries of life, but it did. Myland community council, the only parish council area in my constituency, was opposed to it.

      Councillors across the borough ganged up and shoved the housing allocation on one area, so it could be argued that the public consent came from the democratically elected local borough council, but there was not public consent in the area affected. It is an area that has had

      massive new development, and it now faces the prospect of having an additional 3,000-plus houses on a roundabout that is already a quart in a pint pot. I have to tell the Minister that the situation is not resolved by adding another pint or two.

      Indeed, only this Monday the Colchester Daily Gazette reported that around £2 million of public money will go towards a project to encourage commuters to car-share, use public transport, or cycle or walk to work instead of driving through the North Station road roundabout. Even before a brick is laid, public money is having to be spent and it will not sort out the mess that is already there, let alone the problems caused by having the additional housing on two sites, one the site of a former psychiatric hospital-allegedly, it is a brownfield site, but some brownfield-and the other on virgin open countryside. All that will come into this area.

      There is another problem. Because the section 106 agreement did not produce sufficient funds for a primary school in that area, the local authority is now going to expand a proposed school that is yet to be built, over and above what was originally intended. Far from it being a community school, it will become a destination school.

      Those are two direct results, Minister, of a decision made by you, for which you are culpable as the Minister responsible.

      I now move on to a second development, which is causing great worry. A local authority wants to build all its housing allocation, or a large part of it, on the border of another local authority area. I will end my remarks by asking the Minister and his officials to investigate urgently what Tendring district council is playing at in wanting to build a large proportion of its housing allocation immediately on the eastern border of urban Colchester, which will create an urban sprawl going eastwards. I urge the Minister and his officials to look at that urgently, because Tendring district council is putting its housing allocation where the local people in Colchester do not want it. The people in Colchester will have no say on Tendring district council's housing allocation.

    • [Mr Clive Betts in the Chair] - Local Plans (Public Consent) | Westminster Hall debates

      I congratulate the hon. Member for Wycombe (Steve Baker) on setting out the case. The Minister will have noticed that there are a dozen or more Conservative MPs here, and it will be interesting to see how many of them speak in support of his policies, because in the last debate that we had here on this subject not one Conservative MP did.

      The simple fact is that, as the hon. Member for Wycombe has pointed out, the Government are not delivering what the Conservative party said in opposition, and I will cite-

  • Jul 3, 2014: