Adam Afriyie (Conservative, Windsor): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps she has taken to improve flood defences in the Thames Valley in 2014.
Dan Rogerson (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for water, forestry, rural affairs and resource management): Since the 2013/14 winter flooding, over £3 million has been spent on work to restore flood defence assets in the Thames Valley and Surrey areas to help reduce the risk of flooding to communities. This has included completing eight flood defence repair projects and capital works on two weirs (Molesey and Godstow). The Environment Agency has also carried out repairs to damage on three Thames weirs, including removal of trees and blockages, and shoal clearance works across twenty sites through the Lower Thames.
During this year, the Environment Agency has also made progress in developing two large-scale flood alleviation schemes:
- The Oxford to Abingdon scheme, reducing flood risk to over 1,000 properties; and
- The River Thames scheme, reducing flood risk to over 15,000 homes and businesses and significant local infrastructure around Teddington to Datchet.
An indicative allocation of £297m of Grant in Aid has been allocated to projects within the Thames RFCC are over the next 6 years. These projects will better protect at least 25,000 households by 2021. It is planned to start the construction of 36 projects by April 2016 with a further 126 projects in development and the pipeline for construction in future years.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he has taken to improve transport links in the Thames Valley.
Mr Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport): The Government launched the Roads Investment Strategy on 1 December. The M4 Junction 3-12 smart motorway project to upgrade the M4 between Reading and Heathrow continues to be progressed. This month the Highways Agency is conducting a public consultation on the proposals, including exhibitions at 11 locations in the Thames Valley.
Construction of Crossrail is now more than half completed and electrification of the Great Western Main Line is also under way. Electrification of the Thames Valley branch lines, including the Slough to Windsor line, is approved and will improve local connectivity.
The transformation of Reading station was completed on time and under budget as part of the £850 million Reading Station Area Redevelopment programme and formally opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 17 July.
The programme to increase passenger capacity on the Reading and Windsor to Waterloo railway by 25% is now under way and will be completed in early 2015. 60 additional carriages are being incorporated into an extended and refurbished fleet of trains to operate as a maximum 10 carriage train length.
In July the Government announced £94.6m to support local transport projects across Berkshire as part of the Growth Deal with the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, in addition to the £36.9m integrated transport block funding announced in March for the six Berkshire local authorities, covering the period 2015/16 to 2020/21.
Labour have announced plans that would introduce rigid criteria for fee-paying schools to meet if they want to keep tax reliefs. This will cause more problems than it solves.
In an article published by the New Statesman, I write that “We all want to see more children from less advantaged backgrounds gain greater social mobility, but this kind of visceral proxy class-war needs unpicking.”
Read the full article online here.
On Wednesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne gave his Autumn Statement, outlining the state of the economy and what measures he plans to boost the economy.
According to statistics released by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), the economy will grow by 3% this year. Unemployment has also fallen, with almost 700,000 people finding work in the past year.
The Chancellor also announced several measures including changes to stamp duty to help those buying modestly-priced homes, a doubling of the small business rate relief and support for apprentices and post-graduate students.
Adam Afriyie, MP for Windsor, commented:
“The main economic figures demonstrates the success of the Conservatives’ long-term economic plan.
“The British economy is growing faster than any other nation in the G7. British employment levels are at a record high and wages are starting to rise faster than inflation as they will continue to do for the next five years.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he has taken to encourage more foreign direct investment in UK companies.
Andrea Leadsom (Economic Secretary to the Treasury): In 2013-14 the UK attracted 1,773 foreign direct investment projects, giving a total stock of £1.6 trillion of such investments – more than any other country apart from the USA. During this Parliament the Government has taken action to make the UK a more attractive location to run a business including reducing corporation tax so that it will reach 20% next year – the lowest in the G20 – and investing in skills, science and infrastructure. The Government has also increased resources at UK Trade and Investment including for example establishing private sector-led teams in the Gulf, Central Europe, and South America dedicated to attracting inward investment into the UK.