While the debate on Britain’s aviation future won’t start in earnest until the final report from the Airport Commission is released in the summer, the fight against the third runway continues.
During the recent election campaigns, local MPs from the main parties won their seats on the back of a pledge to fight Heathrow expansion. This is good news because newly elected MPs must now live up to those pledges in Parliament by making the case that any airport expansion must not include a third runway at Heathrow.
A number of constituents have been in touch with me in the weeks following the Election asking what they can do to help.
What can you do to help?
To do your bit please:
The Chancellor, George Osborne has announced his 2015 budget, outlining the economic landscape and his plans for the country.
In the Budget, Mr Osborne explained that the UK had grown the fastest of all the major advanced economies in the world, had the best employment figures in British history and had seen an improvement in living standards by an average of £900 for each household since 2010.
The Chancellor announced plans including a freeze of fuel duty, an increase in the income tax threshold for the lowest earners and investment in scientific research and developments.
Adam Afriyie, Windsor’s MP, welcomed the Budget saying:
“On the same day that we see the number of people in Windsor on out-of-work benefits at an all-time low, it’s encouraging that the national economy is set to grow even more.
“The Conservatives sensible economic management has helped to create 2 million jobs in the private sector and drive down unemployment by 40% since 2010, and left us as the fastest-growing major economy in the world.
Among financial and techie communities, digital currencies (DC), such as bitcoin, have become the exciting development to watch.
It’s exciting because it could transform the way we transfer money in the UK. Bitcoin payments are approved via a network of other users, who verify them. Payments are instantaneous and completely transparent because a record of every single transaction is stored on users’ computers in something called the “blockchain ledger”. There is no central bank involved, no credit card fees and no lengthy waits for the money to be wired through.
Many people recognise the huge benefits and implications of this technology. Remittances, online payments, contract clearing, multi-person derivatives and crowdfunding could all be made significantly cheaper, more transparent and more efficient using digital currencies. Not to mention the wider applications for the technology such as electronic voting.
And yet, it is not being widely discussed by politicians in the UK. That’s why I was delighted to be invited to participate in a ResPublica debate entitled “Digital Currencies: Will regulation stifle innovation?” along with Steve Baker, Conservative MP for Wycombe.
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.
Today, with great trepidation, I accepted the challenge of discussing the gender pay gap on Radio 4 Woman’s Hour. It was a fantastic opportunity for me to explain why I believe passionately that we should finish the job of closing the gap in the right way.
Overall, the gender pay gap, as measured by the Office of National Statistics, stands at around 9% – the lowest in British history. This compares to a pay gap of 17% in 1997. Indeed, in many cases, women below the age of 40 are now earning more than men.
I want the current pay gap to close further, in the interests of economic growth and social progress, and, thankfully, progress continues.
This is why I could not bring myself to support a recent Bill that would risk the progress we’ve already made without awaiting the results of recent new initiatives by the Government. The Bill aims to ‘force’ private companies with more than 250 staff to publish data, as yet unspecified, about employees pay, which could cost businesses in the region of £70m.
This is the wrong approach and I voted against the Bill for several reasons: