Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell’s reputation as being one of the most prolific contributors to debates and questions in the House of Commons has been confirmed by a check with Hansard, the official record of Parliamentary proceedings, which reveals that in the past few days he has spoken seven times.
On Wednesday he spoke in the Autumn Statement and called on the Government to allocate money no longer required for military expenditure in Afghanistan to be spent on modernising the homes of members of HM Armed Forces including those at Colchester Garrison.
In the debate on increased funding for the National Health Service he praised medical and support staff at Colchester General Hospital in working to bring it out of “special measures”.
Sir Bob also urged that the teaching of First Aid in schools should be part of the National Curriculum – prompting Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to observe that “no-one campaigns more for First Aid than the MP for Colchester” and to agree that First Aid is not only an important skill but should considered “as part of the prevention agenda.”
In the debate about the Road Investment Strategy he asked about the A12 Colchester Northern By-Pass, which is to be upgraded to three lanes, and the A120 to the east and west of Colchester where he is supporting campaigns for this to be made dual-carriageway from Braintree to Marks Tey and a continuation to the east of Colchester as far as Harwich.
During Education Questions Sir Bob asked if it was still the case that, for the purpose of school league tables, a pupil in hospital receiving treatment for cancer would be marked as “absent”. He was told that “there is a specific code” for such absences so that they were not included.
With the approach of the 200th anniversary of the ending of the North American War of 1812-14 between the US and Britain, Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said he would look at Sir Bob’s suggestion that this was an historic event worthy of being marked. The Peace Treaty was signed on Christmas Eve 1814. Soldiers from the East Essex Regiment were involved in burning down The White House on 24th August of that year.
In a Defence Statement on Afghanistan, with the ending of British combat operations, Sir Bob praised solders from Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade which has been deployed three times to Helmand Province. He also again raised the issue of why, six years after a dangerous mission by the Brigade of taking a huge turbine through hostile and difficult terrain, this had still not been installed to provide electricity.
During Business Questions Sir Bob said: “On Christmas Eve, printing company Polestar will be axing 75 jobs in my constituency and shutting all three of its sites in Colchester.” He called for a wider debate on the “spare capacity in the printing industry – a situation not helped when British companies such as BT print all their directories overseas.”