Andrew Selous: Many Traveller children are home-schooled, yet only 4% go to university, compared with 43% nationally. The race disparity audit showed Traveller children having the worst educational outcomes of any group, so will my hon. Friend meet me to discuss how we can ensure that Traveller children access education like every other child in the UK?
Andrew Selous: While strongly supporting the initiative of my hon. Friend the Member for South Norfolk (Mr Bacon), will the prisons Minister tell the House which construction companies get this and actually offer fair opportunities to ex-offenders in the construction sector? Will he perhaps also tell us which companies need a bit of a nudge in this area?
Andrew Selous: What steps his Department is taking to tackle unauthorised Traveller encampments.
Andrew Selous: On a daily basis, Central Bedfordshire Council is dealing with completely unacceptable numbers of unauthorised Traveller encampments. Many of those Travellers own land elsewhere, and many of their children are not in school, so when will the Government’s consultation lead to appropriate powers being made available to all local authorities, including my own?
Andrew Selous: Can the Minister tell us what specific help Jobcentre Plus is able to give older women to help them to retrain or to reskill to find age-appropriate work? That is a question that a number of older women often ask. What specific help is out there for them?
Andrew Selous: Will the Secretary of State do everything possible to spread across the country the excellent “dads to be” courses that are part of the antenatal provision at Chelsea and Westminster and Kingston Hospitals? We know that they help solidify relationships between parents at a moment of strain and reduce family breakdown.
Andrew Selous: Does the Minister, who cares deeply about these issues, share my concern that lung capacity often never recovers after being damaged in childhood? Is not that a powerful reason why we need to make significant progress on air quality issues?
Andrew Selous: I note the Minister’s typically fair comments about the comparator forces, but does he agree that what distinguishes Bedfordshire’s case is the unusual level of challenge coming from Luton, from the terror issues and from the particular and serious nature of the crime mix within the county? When those things are put together, Bedfordshire’s case is genuine.
Andrew Selous: rose—
Andrew Selous: I take the point about Essex and its airport, but I am sure that the Minister is aware that Luton is the country’s fifth-largest airport and is rapidly expanding.
Andrew Selous: I am grateful to Mr Speaker for granting me this important debate, and I am honoured to have the chief constable of Bedfordshire present. Keeping the public safe is the highest duty of any Government, which is why I take this issue so seriously. Back in 2004, the concept of “damping” was introduced to the police national funding formula. As a result, Bedfordshire police receive...
Andrew Selous: I hope that the Government will listen to the chief constable, because damping—which, as I think the hon. Gentleman would admit, has been happening under Governments of both parties for a long time, starting in 2004—has had a cumulatively serious effect on Bedfordshire police. Between 1 April 2016 and 31 August 2017, Bedfordshire experienced a 12.2% increase in crime, a 24%...
Andrew Selous: I will, briefly.
Andrew Selous: The hon. Gentleman is exactly right. Community policing plays a vital role in prevention. In Bedfordshire, 40% of the force’s activity takes place in Luton. While there is insufficient police capacity to deal with the challenges in that town, it means that the rest of Bedfordshire has less than its proportionate share of police cover, for which its residents also pay. A small...
Andrew Selous: I set out the increases in crime on the record for the House just now. Bedfordshire Police’s unearmarked reserves are only £3 million, the absolute minimum they should be allowed to fall to. Merger with Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire would not be agreed by those two counties on the current level of Bedfordshire police funding. Further savings could only be made by reducing the...
Andrew Selous: I am listening carefully to what the Minister is saying. Would the Home Office consider having a look at what the Department for Education did in managing to take quite a lot of money from the central functions of the Department and get it out on to the frontline? I do not know if there is scope to do that in the Home Office, but it would be hugely welcome.
Andrew Selous: It is good to see a Bedfordshire Member of Parliament in the Chair, Ms Dorries. Bedfordshire Members from all parties have always worked together, under Labour, coalition and Conservative Governments, to stick up for Bedfordshire police; and I hope that we shall carry on doing that. For many years, Bedfordshire police were adversely affected by what the Home Office called damping. That meant...
Andrew Selous: I am grateful to my county colleague for his points, and would simply return to my point that the effect of damping on Bedfordshire police—the £3 million to £4 million every year that the Government’s formula said we should get, but which we have never received—has come home to roost in an ugly and unacceptable way. Something I want to say to the people of...
Andrew Selous: Low rates of tax and growing tax revenues depend critically on every penny of tax due being paid. What is the position if someone receives a fee, then sends it to a trust fund in Mauritius only to receive the money back as a loan?
Andrew Selous: Will the consultation look at the costs that fixed odds betting terminals put on the police, mental health services and the families of vulnerable gamblers—especially the children?