Adam Afriyie, the MP for Windsor, used the most recent session of parliamentary questions to the Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan, to praise the Government’s move to ensure that victims receive compensation from offenders for certain crimes.
Under the Labour Government, offenders could opt to extend their prison sentence rather than pay the charge, which is intended to help victims rebuild their lives.
As registered in the official record of the House of Commons, the exchange went as follows:
“Adam Afriyie Conservative, Windsor: The Berkshire women’s refuge serves my constituency incredibly well. We all abhor domestic violence, particularly towards women, so does my right hon. Friend, like me, welcome the victim surcharge, which ensures that those who commit these acts contribute to making reparations?
Adam Afriyie (Conservative, Windsor): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what recent steps he has taken to encourage banks to offer their services to money service businesses.
Andrea Leadsom (Economic Secretary to the Treasury; Conservative): The UK Government is committed to supporting a healthy and legitimate remittance sector, and ensuring that UK citizens are able to continue to remit funds safely to family abroad. That is why, in response to the withdrawal of banking services from the Money Service Business sector we set up an Action Group on Cross Border Remittances to address this issue. The group is monitoring changes to the market, has developed guidance for MSBs and banks and is promoting a shared understanding of risk. The group is also overseeing the development of a Safer Corridor to ensure the continued, secure flow of remittances to Somalia.
Treasury Ministers have been engaging closely with the banking industry both through the British Bankers Association and directly with those banks involved in this issue, including personally writing to and phoning a number of banks.
Adam Afriyie (Windsor, Conservative): To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent progress has been made in deregulating the consent process for river maintenance pilots; and what plans she has to start new pilot schemes (a) along the Thames in Berkshire and (b) elsewhere.
Dan Rogerson (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for water, forestry, rural affairs and resource): On 10 December 2014, Defra launched a consultation on proposals to integrate flood defence consents into the Environmental Permitting framework. The new scheme will simplify the application process while removing unnecessary costs and burdens for those who wish to carry out construction works or other activities in, or near, main rivers.
The River Maintenance Pilots (which explore how red tape could be reduced for landowners who wish to undertake maintenance in man-made ditches, land drains or previously straightened watercourses that had been dredged in the last ten years) were launched by the Environment Agency in October 2013 and were scheduled to last for one year. In response to interest shown by local farmers, the pilots were expanded in May 2014 to include two new pilot areas, and expand an existing area. To allow those affected by the 2013/14 floods extra time to carry out their work, the pilots were also extended until mid-March 2015. We will consider the evidence from the pilots when they are complete.
In addition, the Environment Agency and National Farmers Union are launching a new local initiative across rural Oxfordshire to help landowners along tributaries of the River Thames with the consenting process. This initiative will start in 2015/16 and it is likely to expand into Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
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.