Every month the Stray Ferret tries to find out what our local MPs have been up to in their constituencies and in the House of Commons.
In April, normality began to return to the district as retail, leisure and outdoor hospitality reopened. On April 9, Prince Philip died and the three district Conservative MPs paid tributes to him.
We asked Harrogate & Knaresborough’s Andrew Jones, Skipton and Ripon’s Julian Smith, and Selby and Ainsty’s Nigel Adams if they would like to highlight anything in particular that they have been doing this month, but we did not receive a response from any of them.
Here is what we know after analysing their online presence.
In Harrogate and Knaresborough, here is what we found on Mr Jones:
- Mr Jones spoke out against ‘restrictive’ guidance which means residents who leave care homes must isolate for 14 days. He published this on his Community News website, which hosts articles by local Conservatives.
- The Harrogate MP threw his weight behind a campaign to allow outdoor dining on the Stray.
- In Parliament he welcomed government plans to keep VAT on hospitality at a reduced rate of 5% until September, noting that this sector is particularly important for Harrogate and Knaresborough. In the same debate he supported measures to freeze income tax and personal allowance thresholds. This measure will bring more low-paid people into the income tax system, but the Government claim it is necessary to increase revenues. Mr Jones later supported calls to extend the reduced hospitality VAT rate until March next year.
- On his website, the MP spoke out against rumoured plans for vaccine passports, describing them as ‘extremely problematic.’
- Mr Jones (and the other two local MPs) voted against a Lords amendment to the Fire Safety Bill, which would have prevented leaseholders from paying for the costs of the cladding crisis. Thirty-two Conservative MPs rebelled to support the amendment, which was defeated.
- The MP wrote a vaccination update, praising the success of the programme locally and nationally. He noted that while there would be supply difficulties in April, increased stocks should be available from May.
In Ripon, here is what we found on Mr Smith:
- Mr Smith began a new job as an advisor to MJM Marine Ltd, a cruise ship refurbishment company based in County Down, Northern Ireland. He will receive £60,000 for 30 to 40 hours of work over the next year.
- The Stray Ferret reported that taking all his three advisory roles together Mr Smith is now the highest-paid MP in Yorkshire, and among the biggest earners in Parliament.
- In his constituency, the MP met with representatives from Ripon City of Sanctuary to discuss how they are supporting refugees. He also met with owners of newly-reopened businesses, and had an online session with pupils from Kirby Hill primary school, answering their questions about politics.
- Mr Smith tweeted 19 times about Northern Ireland, 11 times about his constituency and 14 times about other matters. He also spoke on Radio 4’s Today programme about Northern Ireland politics.
- The MP has not spoken in the Commons since February 10.
- On Facebook he welcomed the news that eight organisations in Ripon and Skipton, including Ripon Cathedral, received £750,000 from the Culture Recovery Fund.
In rural south Harrogate, here is what we found on Mr Adams:
- The Selby and Ainsty MP was dubious about the proposed European Super League, tweeting “This sounds like a terrible idea but not at all surprising.” Two days later, when it was announced that all six English clubs had pulled out, he tweeted “Common sense prevails.”
- On 8 April the Minister for Asia met with Myanmar ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn. The ambassador was locked out of his embassy after he supported the democratically-elected government over the military junta, and had to sleep in his car the night before the meeting with Adams. He has been offered temporary refuge by the British Government.
- The MP spoke in the Commons on Chinese government sanctions on UK citizens, sanctions on Myanmar, and human rights in Xinjiang.
- He also updated the House of Commons on medical support the UK has sent to India to help with the covid crisis, including 200 ventilators and 95 oxygen concentrators.
- Mr Adams described Selby Town FC’s new website as “great.”