Frequently Asked Questions

Campaign groups like 38 degrees often organise e-mail write-in campaigns to MPs. Bim welcomes these campaigns as they give him a sense of what his constituents care about. However, due to the capacity they take time to retrieve, compile and reply to them. So, here is a list of replied to the Frequently Asked E-Mail Questions which constituents can refer to.

Tackling the climate emergency is a top priority for the Government and myself, who as a member of the Conservative Environment Network (CEN), understands the severity of this matter – one of the fundamental CEN caucus principles is to act on climate change. Climate change and the environment should matter to all of us because for us to make the necessary changes we need to make over the next decades, we will need all policy to be made through a green lens.

We need to set out a pathway to Net Zero to get us on track to meet it – one of the most fundamental tasks of this Government will be to design an economy with much less reliance on fossil fuels, whilst also making our country more prosperous over the long term, and in a sustainable way. I’m encouraged that the Government has committed to doing this and that the Treasury Net Zero Review is underway.

The Committee on Climate Change has already made several recommendations for what should be included in the pathway to bridge the current policy gaps. I have also put forward some suggestions of my own. In 2019 I hosted my inaugural Net Zero by 2050: A Policy Response conference which focused on bringing climate change to the heart of the political agenda. Together with academics, experts and local constituents, we produced three lists of policy aims – one list for local Government over the short term, one list for the Government over the longer term, and one list for local Government and civic society in a “community like ours”. I discussed the conference with the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, and they have been put to his senior civil servants for official consideration. I’m pleased that a number of our proposed solutions align closely with the policies implemented in the Environment Bill, presented to Parliament before the General Election.

Protecting our climate and environment is a priority for me, and I pledge that I will continue to push for a greener world in Parliament.

I firmly believe that just one person without a roof over their head is one too many, and it is vitally important that the most vulnerable people in society, including homeless people and rough sleepers, are helped to get their lives back on track.

This is why I am pleased that £263 million was announced in December for 2020-21 to help local authorities tackle homelessness in our communities. Between 2010 and mid-2018, there have been over 1.6 million cases of homelessness prevention and relief across England. Whilst this is welcome progress, I recognise that there is much more to be done, which is why I am glad that over £400 million in additional funding was announced this September toward tackling homelessness and rough sleeping.

I welcome the launch of a new £100 million Rough Sleeping Strategy expected to provide rapid support to up to 6,000 vulnerable people either new to the streets or at risk of becoming rough sleepers. A recent study showed that in 2018 alone, the Rough Sleeping Initiative helped reduce the number of rough sleepers by over a third in funded areas. The Initiative complements the £28 million Housing First pilots which are supporting the most entrenched rough sleepers off the streets by providing them with stable accommodation and intensive wrap-around support. Furthermore, I am glad that the Homelessness Reduction Act requires councils to provide early support to people at risk of homelessness.

I am confident that these measures will reduce homelessness not only in Hitchin and Harpenden, but across our country and help to achieve the aim of ending rough sleeping by the end of this Parliament.

I stand in admiration of the great work that nursing staff contribute to our health and social care services. We are at a time when staff shortages are threatening the quality of patient care. In order to improve the functioning of our national asset, it is necessary that overseas visitors make a fair financial contribution, just as the British taxpayer does.

The Government believes that overseas visitors should be able to access our wonderful NHS. However, it is important that the NHS remains free at the point of need in this country. This charge was brought in to make the system better and fairer by ensuring that temporary users of the NHS, from outside the EEA, contribute to the running of the NHS.

I would like to stress that the IHS applies to those living in the UK temporarily. Those with indefinite leave to remain and vulnerable groups, including asylum seekers and refugees, are exempt from the charge. I believe that it is only right that people who come to the UK for more than six months should contribute to the running of the NHS.

After a review of the evidence, the annual surcharge will now cost £400 per annum, with a discounted rate of £300pa for students (and their dependants) and Youth Mobility Scheme applicants. This proposed amount is still below the full average cost recovery level, which is calculated at £470. This increase still offers access to far more comprehensive services at a lower cost than some of our main competitor countries.

Although some non-EEA nursing staff will be paying tax and national insurance contributions, this financial contribution to the NHS will still not equate to that which most UK nationals and permanent residents have made or will make, over the course of their working lives.

The creative industries make a valuable contribution to the UK economy. I am assured that Ministers have been working closely with the creative industries to understand the impacts and opportunities presented by the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

A significant number of UK workers in the creative industries regularly travel for work in the EU, and similarly there are creative workers in the UK who are from other EU countries. Movement into and out of the UK for the purpose of short-term engagement, such as orchestral performances, touring and festivals will continue to be important after the UK has left the EU. I know that the Government wants to ensure the creative sector remains a key part of our economy and the UK’s world-class arts and cultural organisations continue to flourish. The Government will announce the details of the UK’s future immigration system early next year.

My colleagues and I fully recognise that international collaboration plays a vital part in the contribution that the creative industries make to the UK’s rich culture and economy. The future system will work in the best interests of the whole of the UK, including that of the creative sector.