Summer Adjournment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:09 pm on 25th July 2019.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West 2:09 pm, 25th July 2019

Before the House adjourns for the summer recess, there are a number of points I wish to make. It is really good to see so many colleagues recognising that this is such a valuable debate.

The all-party parliamentary fire safety and rescue group will not shut up until sprinklers are installed in all high-rise buildings and the cladding issue is dealt with following the disaster at Grenfell, just as I will not shut up about city status until it is awarded to Southend-on-Sea. I am glad that the new Prime Minister has said we are going to get it.

Two of my constituents, Stephen and Rosalind Clifton, have paid full contributions for 47 years and, extraordinarily, now find that they do not qualify for a full state pension, so I want an answer from the Treasury Bench on that.

Recently, Mrs Margaret Tothill came to my surgery and told me that in January this year, her granddaughter, Maisie, died in her sleep from a sudden epileptic seizure at the age of 22. The condition is called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy or SUDEP. The charity SUDEP Action has been helping the family with their loss and is calling on the Government to do more to prevent such incidents. Specifically, it is calling for a Government inquiry into avoidable epilepsy deaths and a funded annual risk check for people with epilepsy.

I am very concerned about the number of constituents whose visit visas are being turned down. There does not seem to be any fairness in this. An Australian constituent of mine signed up to an organisation called Sopra Steria and paid £2,400 to try to get a visa. It was a complete mess and now they find they have lost their money and they are having to pay for access again.

Carl Beech—I mean, for goodness’ sake! Harvey Proctor was my neighbour when I was Member of Parliament for Basildon. Leon Brittan died with his name being trashed, and there is Lord Bramall. The way the courts dealt with this matter just is not good enough. People can never restore their reputations, but there should be some compensation. My former colleague, Harvey Proctor, has lost everything, including his home and any future employment.

I recently had a meeting with the Schools Minister—I hope that he is still the Schools Minister—together with my hon. Friend James Duddridge , regarding primary and secondary school funding in our area. We are losing out to London’s schools. Darlinghurst Academy has recently had a wonderful Ofsted report, and I congratulate Emma Nicholls, the executive head, and Mrs Beverley Williams, on all that they have achieved.

I was once a paid advocate for the Caravan Club, although I am not any more. It has advised me that two motor homes that are identical in almost every way can be charged either £265 or £2,135 in vehicle excise duty. This really needs to be looked at by the Treasury, and these vehicles should be classified as commercial vehicles. Recently, I parked my car on a meter but did not have my mobile phone—