SHE told them so! Well done to Newport East MP Jessica Morden for being proved right, after she warned about the consequences of cuts to the passport service. Now we see a nationwide application backlog, as overstretched staff try to cope with the consequences of Tory cuts and incompetence.
I was puzzled when Ministers claimed there was no great problem in the House of Commons this week. I’ve had a spate of constituents contact me in the past fortnight, worried about getting their passports back in time to go on holiday. Perhaps if Theresa May and her Ministers listened to the wise advice of Jessica Morden, many people would have been spared an anxious wait.
MPs also had a long wait before the Government called us back to hear its final Queen’s Speech before the election. This annual occasion is our chance to hear what legislation the Government has in store for the coming year. This year, what struck me is how little there was in it. It seems there is not much the coalition can agree on after four dubious years together. Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have certainly seemed a little awkward when pictured together in recent weeks, and there’s no love lost on the Tory benches for their Liberal colleagues either.
One thing I do agree with Vince on, though, is the welcome legislation to tackle the unfair practices of Pubcos – something I’ve written about before in this column. We desperately need a statutory code to stop hard-working publicans being treated outrageously by Pubcos who watch their tenants work their fingers to the bone and take an unfair share of the profits. This is an important issue as without action, too many community pubs are needlessly closing and too many communities are losing out. A good, responsibly-run pub is a great asset – and let’s remember too that these publicans are hard-working local small businessmen and women.
I spoke in the House last year and voiced my suspicion that Vince Cable, as Business Secretary, agreed with our campaign, but that someone else in Government was stopping him acting. So the proposed Bill is progress, even if it badly needs strengthening to include an enforceable market rent review with a free of tie option. I will be pursuing amendments in the Commons on these points, and hope they can attract cross-party support. That way, publicans can decide whether the tie works for their pub, and responsible drinkers will have a fairer deal too