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In a Parliamentary debate on Thursday 24th March, on the closure of magistrates’ courts, Newbury MP Richard Benyon raised a number of points.

He asked the Minister to ensure that technology such as video conferencing is available for witnesses to give evidence in towns like Newbury where the court is closing, thus saving them making the journey to Reading or beyond.

He also raised the importance of the listing of cases in Reading by geographic area. He said that West Berkshire cases should, where possible, be listed on the same day. This would ensure that some parts of ‘local justice’ are maintained. Not least, this would allow local media to report convictions as well as crimes.

Later in the debate, he raised the concern that according to Ministry of Justice figures, less than 15% of the population of West Berkshire will be able to reach the court in Reading by public transport in under one hour.

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In Parliamentary questions to the Second Estates Church Commissioner, Caroline Spelman MP, on 17th March, Newbury MP Richard Benyon raised the indecision of the Church of England to appoint a new Bishop to the Diocese of Oxford.

Richard apologised for his “Trollopean” question, but registered people’s astonishment at the length of time it has taken to make an appointment.  He even quipped, “People are starting to wonder if Sir John Chilcot has been involved in the appointment process.”

Mrs Spelman replied that she believed a short list of names was likely to be brought forward in May. 

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Newbury MP and former Waterways Minister, Richard Benyon, was named as IWA’s Parliamentarian of the Year 2015 at a function held at the House of Commons on Tuesday 3rd November.

The MP who was Minister during the transfer of more than half the country's navigations from British Waterways to Canal & River Trust, has retained a strong interest in the inland waterways and was recently elected as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Waterways. He is also Chairman of the UK Water Partnership.

Presenting the award, IWA National Chairman Les Etheridge, said, ‘The support our inland waterways get from so many politicians always makes this a difficult decision and this year has been no different. Transferring inland waterways from government to charity control with an appropriate funding package was a brave and wise decision which recognised what volunteers bring to the waterways, and it is this as well as Richard’s continuing involvement in the waterways that make him this year’s IWA Parliamentarian of the Year.’

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With the retirement of Gordon Lundie as Leader of West Berkshire Council, the ruling Conservative Group has elected Councillor Roger Croft to replace him.  On hearing the news Newbury MP, Richard Benyon said,

“I warmly congratulate Roger on his election to be Leader. He has the vision to see what is needed in the years ahead and the determination to carry forward the manifesto commitments on which the Conservatives were elected. On a personal level I find Roger really easy to work with and am looking forward to working with him and his team in the coming years”

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Richard Benyon, Member of Parliament for Newbury, has welcomed new figures that show 20 people in the Newbury constituency have been helped off benefits and supported to start their own business, thanks to the Government’s New Enterprise Allowance scheme.

The allowance, which supports people on out of work benefits to start their own business, has helped more than 73,000 people nationwide since its introduction in April 2011.

Richard said: “I want everyone in Britain to benefit from the opportunities being created by our growing economy. Supporting small businesses is an important part of backing working people. This scheme rewards vision and hard graft. I congratulate all those who have benefited in the Newbury constituency”.

He continued: “More broadly, corporation tax has been lowered to 20 per cent and will reach 18 per cent by 2020, red tape continues to be cut and the Employment Allowance, which reduces employers’ National Insurance bills and makes it cheaper to take on staff, will also increase to £3000 next year. These are all bold measures designed to ensure Britain keeps growing”.


·         The New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) helps people on out of work benefits start their own business. The scheme, launched in April 2011, aims to help unemployed people claiming out of work benefits who wish to start up their own business. Participants in the NEA work with a business mentor to develop their business idea. Once they have started trading and left benefits, they receive a weekly allowance worth a total of £1,274 over 26 weeks to help them get their business going (DWP, New Enterprise Allowance: April 2011 to June 2015, 23 September 2015, link).

·         More than 73,000 people have started a business under the scheme since it was introduced. Over the past year nearly 1,500 businesses a month have been started by people moving off benefits and becoming their own boss

o    17,140 businesses started by people aged 50 and over

o    5,440 businesses started by people under 25

o    14,530 businesses started by people with a disability

(DWP, New Enterprise Allowance: April 2011 to June 2015, 23 September 2015, link).

·         Businesses have created almost 2.5 million new jobs since Labour were in power. The private sector has created over five jobs for every one job lost in the public sector since 2010(ONS, MFZ2, 16 September 2015, link).

·         And 703,100 fewer people are claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance and Universal Credit-not in work (ONS, Regional Labour Market, 16 September 2015, link; nomis, accessed 16 September 2015, link; DWP, Universal Credit: 29 Apr 2013 to 3 September 2015, 16 September 2015, link).

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Richard Benyon was re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Newbury on 7 May 2015, with an increased majority of 26,368. Richard won 61 per cent of the vote share.



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