I am concerned to read newspaper reports about the Government’s position on rural broadband. I know how important broadband access is to all my constituents, and how much effort the Government has put in during recent years to ensure a good rollout, and make us an advanced country in terms of access.

I will be looking for a word with the Minister very shortly to clarify matters, and find out exactly what the position is for the future.

As soon as I have some news I will make it available here and on my Facebook page. 

ALISTAIR BURT MP WELCOMES NATIONAL APPRENTICESHIP WEEK TO NORTH EAST BEDFORDSHIRE  

 

Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP has welcomed the Government’s commitment to creating apprenticeships at the launch of National Apprenticeship Week 2016. The theme for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is that an Apprenticeship can take you anywhere, as a growing number of young people are looking to an apprenticeship as an alternative route for people who don’t want to go to university.

 

Alistair Burt said:

“I want to give young people the chance to get the skills that they need to develop their careers.  That’s why I am supporting the Government’s commitment to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 and congratulate every college and business locally that has taken on an apprentice. 

 

The Government is driving up the standards of apprenticeships and introducing new routes into the professions. The opportunity to earn and learn is why we’ve already seen 3,790 new apprenticeships created in North East Bedfordshire since May 2010, with I hope, many more to come across a whole host of industries.

 

The Government plans to launch the new independent, employer led, Institute for Apprenticeships. The Institute will regulate the quality of apprenticeships in England, taking on responsibility for approving new apprenticeship standards and assessment plans. Only standards that are valued by employers will be approved and funded.”

15 March 2016

 

CATALOGUE OF EXTREME WEATHER LEAVES MP CONCERNED ABOUT BIGGLESWADE BRIDGE

 

MP for North East Bedfordshire Rt Hon Alistair Burt is concerned with the further delays to the reopening of Stratton Street Bridge, Biggleswade.

 

Alistair Burt said:   

“I understand the project had been delayed following the aftermath of Storm Eva at Christmas when the railway lines were shut especially for the works to take place.

But with the increase of bad weather hitting Bedfordshire, Network Rail may wish to review the best process for getting this work done to the highest standard and finished as close to time as possible, in order for Stratton Street bridge to be back in use.

I will continue to support Central Bedfordshire Council and Biggleswade Town Council to ensure that adequate and up-to-date information is available for residents.”

A Budget for Continuing Growth

 

The Chancellor George Osborne has today delivered his first Budget since the General Election 2015, which sets out the Government’s commitment to putting the next generation first- this is a Budget to make Britain fit for the future.

 

North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt said: “I am pleased to welcome the first Budget since the General Election. The Chancellor’s economic plan is still continuing to work, not only for the nation but also for people across Bedfordshire.

 

The tough decisions made by the Chancellor have meant that by April 2017 the tax free personal allowance will rise to £11,500, up from £6,000 from 2010.

 

Small businesses will continue to be supported with the doubling of the small business rate relief and an increase to the maximum threshold for relief from £6,000 to £15,000 meaning 600,000 small businesses will now never pay business rates again.

 

Fuel duty will stay frozen for the sixth year in a row, an average saving of £75 per year. Along with my CAMRA supporting constituents, I also welcome the freeze to beer and cider duties, showing the Government’s commitment to backing British pubs.

 

Finally, I am pleased to welcome the increase in the ISA limit from just over £15,000 to £20,000 for everyone. As well as the introduction of the Government’s Lifetime ISA, helping those under 40 who will no longer have to choose between saving for their first home or saving for their retirement- they will be able to do both. For every £4 saved, the Government will give you £1. So put in £4,000 a year and the Government will give you £1,000 every year until you’re 50.”

North East Bedfordshire MP Alistair Burt was in touch last night with some of the parishes affected by the flooding, and will be keeping in contact today to ensure that all help and assistance is being given.

 

Alistair Burt MP said: “I was sorry to hear that some houses have been flooded and I have been in touch with the Environment Agency and the Parish Councils affected.

 

I understand from Parish clerks that the emergency services have been very helpful and responsive, and that the Environment Agency’s flood warning system has been very useful.

 

This is a reminder of the need for flood responses to be kept constantly up to date, and I will be up to discuss matters first hand shortly.”

 

For more information, please go to either Bedfordshire Local Resilience Forum website at: www.bllrf.org.uk/ or the Flood Warning Service at https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk 

I shall be campaigning and voting for the UK to remain in the EU in the Referendum on June 23rd.

This is unlikely to come as a surprise to any constituent who has contacted me about the EU whilst I have been an MP. I am fortunate enough to have voted in the only other referendum on the subject in 1975, in which I voted for the UK to stay in the EEC. Subsequently, in Parliament and Government, my position has been entirely consistent in support of the UK’s engagement with a developing Europe.

That position is built on heart, head and the same patriotism that all MPs, of whatever persuasion, display in working for the best for their country.

I entered Parliament in 1983, when there were still MPs who had fought in the Second World War, who had driven in tanks through the tragedy of northern Europe, and seen Berlin in ruins. This was nothing new to Europe, which had destroyed itself and its peoples generation after generation. I listened to them, and their stories. What is now the EU was born out of the horror of war and occupation, the latter a disaster this country has not suffered for a thousand years, and a determination that never again would the sovereign states of Europe be in this position. Frankly, when you look around the rest of the world, that in barely seventy years Europe has succeeded in building tolerance, forgiveness, and reconciliation to such a degree that war between its nations is unthinkable, it is a modern miracle.

This really matters to me, and is rarely given the prominence it needs in this country as we see the EU through a different lens than on the continent. It deserves a place in the argument.

My head says that the EU has delivered a great deal for the UK, and much at the UK’s insistence, in dealing with issues which transcend borders:- the single market, access to half a billion people in the EU, with all the advantages of making trade deals for all; increasing common approaches to terror and the need to arrest, detain and transfer perpetrators of violence; benefits for consumers from airline prices to new tech charges, opportunities for our students to study and live abroad; to our retired to live in the EU if they choose; the environment and climate change issues which require common approaches - and much more.

Of course it is not without flaws. Some of those have been addressed by David Cameron in his recent negotiations, ensuring that the particular needs of the British people at this time can be recognised in a group of nations which needs to be alert to the needs of all to be effective for any. But that processes exist to do this should give confidence that the EU can continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of its members, whilst retaining the unity needed to enable it to function.

In terms of patriotism, I will not hear it that one side or the other has a monopoly in this argument. Those who want the best for their country, its people and its future are as entitled to see it either in a UK apart from the EU or within it. I believe that our essential security, in a threatening world, is best defended by our ability to use our own forces in alliances and collective action, whether that is through the transfer of intelligence, civil authority liaison, NATO, or the political and economic structure of the EU which enables us to meet challenges together. The Syrian crisis, and the consequent migration issues of staggering proportions, will not go away if we leave the EU. Nor will the threat from terrorist groups with no boundaries, nor the issues surrounding our relationships with states such as China or Russia. But it is not inconceivable that if as big a player as the UK chooses to leave, that the current political passion for dissolving what has been successful for generations, from the UK itself, to some of the internal borders within some EU states, might lead to an unravelling of the EU, threatening a return to the jealousies and tensions which plunged our continent into disaster all too often. History should not be made in haste, nor on transient issues.

I do not intend to limp towards June 23rd with a series of apologies for the EU and our relationship with it. The UK has, for the past twenty years, been cowed by elements of press, political and public opinion which urged us to see the EU as the fount of all our problems, the whole thing being ‘all about us’ instead of recognising that a state can share what is important to it, and sometimes has to accept that it wins some and loses some. That will remain the case whether or not we are inside the EU, with no guarantees that things will always go our way.

So enough of the working with the EU with one hand behind our back, leaving behind our friends of decades in sister parties and trying to be an influence for needed reform and change whilst giving every impression of being uncommitted and hinting that we really wanted ‘out’. No wonder the EU is less effective that we want it to be.

If the British public decide to leave the EU, as a Member of Parliament I would feel mandated to pass the necessary legislation to give effect to their views.

However, as I very much hope, after June 23rd, if the people of the UK decide to remain in the EU, let us work for a future for the UK in that reformed and reforming EU, fully committed to it, and finding the partners who know we really mean it. Then, let’s see the UK truly take off.

NE Beds MP Alistair Burt has been keeping a close watch on the possibilities of flooding across NE Beds throughout the festive period and into the New Year.

‘Compared with some previous years we have been rather more fortunate than some of the very hard hit areas in the north and west. I have been following the flood alerts, as I am sure most of my constituents have, via the Environment Agency networks, and I went out and about to look at the water levels from the Great Ouse and the Ivel in some of our villages.’

‘Although any flooding has been fairly localised and small scale for now, we are still on flood alert in places across the area, and I would urge constituents to check the Environment Agency website for their area, and to use the flood preparation information available on both the Central Bedfordshire and Bedford Borough websites.’

‘Any flooding is always devastating for residents, so let’s try and be as prepared as we can as we go through the rest of the winter weather.’

Bedfordshire Local Resilience Forum www.bllrf.org.uk/

Flood Warning Service https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk