May 2022 Newsletter from John Howell MP for Henley

On 10th May we had the State Opening of Parliament. This is a formal occasion which marks the start of the parliamentary year. It is a ceremonial event at which the ‘Queen’s Speech’ is read from the Throne in the House of Lords. The Speech is written by the Government and contains an outline of its policies and proposed legislation for the forthcoming parliamentary session, so it is effectively the agenda for the year.

All new legislation coming before parliament is, of course, important and different Bills will be more or less important to different people. I am particularly pleased to see the new Planning Bill in the list which it was said in the Queen’s Speech, will give residents more involvement in local development. I know that there are a number of concerns over the current planning legislation that are widely shared, and I will be looking to see the impact of proposed change. The Health and Social Care Bill is also good to see. The need for better integration between health and social care is well documented and the experience of many constituents bears out the need. For our younger people I am pleased to see that there will be some reform to education, especially in further and higher education. This will bring greater flexibility into further education making it more readily available for everyone. I know from correspondence that many will be pleased to see the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill in the list. These are just a few from the long list of Bills, 38 in total, coming forward. I know that many people will have views on the different pieces of legislation, and I look forward to sharing thoughts going forward.

I am sure there are many people who, like me are looking forward to the celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. I know from the copies of magazines and newsletters that I receive from across the constituency that there are many Jubilee celebrations planned. Whatever your view of monarchy there is no doubt that the Queen has served our country, and the Commonwealth nations, in an exemplar way over her long reign, and it is good to have reason to celebrate together. I am also sure that there are many people who share my concern over the Queen’s health. Her majesty is, of course, a good age but let us hope and, where we are able, pray for her health so that she can truly celebrate a life of dedication and service. Whatever you are planning in your own community I send my best wishes for a good celebration. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all those in our communities who work hard on behalf of everyone else – those who serve on parish councils and parish meetings, those who run the many voluntary and charitable organisations and those who on their own, perhaps behind the scenes, support other people. It is all of this work that makes a community. and it is good to read about it month by month in local publications.

On the world stage the war in Ukraine sadly continues and it is a worry as to what Russia will do next. You may have seen that I was sanctioned by Russia. As you may have seen in the media Ukraine is thankful for the support that we have been giving. Here the response to support Ukrainians has been great whether seeking to offer refuge to people or help in many other ways. After some initial teething problems the visa processing is settling down and over three-quarters of visas have now been granted. In some cases there have been complications due to a variety of reasons and my team has been very active in helping to assist where possible. There are some problems in rural areas where plans have fallen through as most of the people seeking refuge are from Ukrainian cities and would prefer to be in a city or town. I have also been told that many are applying for visas as a back up but for now prefer to stay in the region which is quite understandable.

We have an interesting schedule ahead of us in Parliament. If there is an issue that concerns you please do share your thoughts. Email is the easiest way in you have access to that. My email address is john.howell.mp@parliament.uk. Alternatively, you can write to me at the House of Commons (House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA) or my constituency office (PO Box 84, Watlington, OX49 5XD). Please note that correspondence sent through the post can take a couple of weeks to reach me as it has to go through offsite security scanning before being delivered.

If you would like to know more about my work on behalf of the Government and the Constituency please do look at my website which is regularly updated. The address is http://www.johnhowellmp.com. Further details of the work of Parliament is available on the parliament website at http://www.parliament.uk.