As you are no doubt aware, Parliament was recalled today by the Prime Minister in order to consider UK involvement in the coalition against ISIL in Iraq.
Over the last four years, these votes have come to affect me much more than I anticipated when I first became our MP. There are few comparable situations to casting a parliamentary vote in matters of this kind, when - whichever way the vote is cast - there are ramifications affecting tens of thousands of people, and very possibly more. These are not decisions which can be taken easily or lightly.
I stand by my vote last year against military action in Syria. At the time the Government had no coherent strategy for what it wanted to do, and the timescale seemed to be determined by the existing schedule of the US military. Crucially, we did not know whose side we would be joining by taking action against the Assad regime. In retrospect, it seems to me that we would have effectively been fighting on the same side as ISIL if we had attacked Syria. I am aware however, although I disagree, that some believe ISIL is a product of not intervening in the region earlier.
In addition, since 2010 I have become more sceptical of some of our foreign engagements, particularly in Afghanistan where I think we have many lessons to learn. This is primarily because, having entered Parliament from a background as a solicitor and local councillor, I have taken some time to become more familiar with our armed forces. I have been to Afghanistan, spent time at UK bases and at the Defence Academy at Shrivenham, and been to our training facilities in some remote parts of the world. I believe that too many times, we have deployed our forces without a clear mission, or on the basis of poor intelligence or bad advice from our senior military personnel.
So I entered the House of Commons today uncertain as to which way to vote. Like everyone else I am revolted by the actions of ISIL. It is an outrage that they claim allegiance to the Islamic faith, when their activities are of the most un-Islamic kind. Their politics, in so much as they have any, are a form of ultra-fascistic piracy. We have little chance of taking to them, as there is nothing we can talk to them about. They have brought terror, death and horrific atrocities to the areas they have conquered. The further expansion of their influence is untenable.
The request for the UK to join the coalition against ISIL has come directly from the Iraqi Government. The form our intervention would take would be the involvement of RAF as part of a coalition air campaign, in support of Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces. The coalition already includes five Arab countries, including Jordan and the UAE.
I therefore voted for the UK to join the coalition, but not without reservation. I do not believe we can ignore ISIL and if we did I believe we only end up intervening at a later date, when they would be stronger and the danger to us would be greater. And the prospect of Kurdistan, one of the few functioning democratic societies in the region, being overrun by ISIL is unconscionable. Many times as an MP, the choice is not a binary one between a good decision and a bad one, but a considered choice between two equally difficult courses of action. This is one of those occasions.
Long term, I believe the only way to achieve a full resolution to this conflict is to understand that at its heart is the conflict between Sunni and Shia Islam, i.e. between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Only by bringing these countries into negotiations can we end the cycle of conflict, and this is what I believe must be central to the UK's policy in the region.
The House of Commons voted 524-43 in favour of the UK joining the international coalition. I expect military operations to begin immediately.
As you are no doubt aware, Parliament was recalled today by the Prime Minister in order to consider UK involvement in the coalition against ISIL in Iraq. Over the last...
Commenting on the news that Monitor, the sector regulator for health services in England is to commission a team of experts to work with Tameside Hospital on their integrated care plans, local MPs Andrew Gwynne, David Heyes and Jonathan Reynolds said:
‘Today’s announcement builds on the hard work already undertaken by staff over the last eighteen months.
‘We support the view that the local health system should work in a more integrated way, so that our constituents can receive a standard of healthcare that Tameside can be proud of.
‘We will continue to work closely with patients, staff and local health partners throughout this process to ensure that any future plans are in the best interest of our constituents.’
Published 12th September 2014
Commenting on the news that Monitor, the sector regulator for health services in England is to commission a team of experts to work with Tameside Hospital on their integrated care...
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority have today published my annual claim for expenses for the financial year 2013 - 2014. The publication can be found here: http://parliamentary-standards.org.uk/AnnualisedData.aspx
The figures published today include claims for running my parliamentary and constituency offices, for employing my staff and for rental of accommodation in London.
As the figures show, there was in increase in expenditure over the last 12 months compared to the previous year. This is due to a claim for additional staffing funds from IPSA to cover the long-term absence of a member of staff. All claims for contingency payments have been paid in line with Business Costs and Expenses Scheme guidelines which are published on an annual basis.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority have today published my annual claim for expenses for the financial year 2013 - 2014. The publication can be found here: http://parliamentary-standards.org.uk/AnnualisedData.aspx The figures published today...
MP Jonathan Reynolds has highlighted the growing need to support non-league football clubs, in a parliamentary debate to coincide with national Non-League Day.
The Stalybridge and Hyde MP pointed to the important community role played by Hyde FC, Stalybridge Celtic and Mossley FC.
And he said there was a need to address the increasing financial gulf between the Premier League giants and those clubs in the lower leagues to safeguard their survival.
“Unsurprisingly, money is a real cause for concern at that level, with many clubs constantly struggling to survive,” said Mr Reynolds.
”. . . Given that we have just seen a transfer window where in excess of £800 million was spent, it is fair to say that non-league clubs feel forgotten, that the money does not trickle down to the grass roots of the game, and that those at the top all too often come across as being too focused on themselves.
“That was no more apparent than in the ludicrous proposals for the A and B teams of premier league clubs to play in the lower leagues—something that would kill non-league football.”
He contrasted the high wages paid to Premier League footballers, with non-league clubs that struggle to survive and rely on an army of volunteers.
Mr Reynolds also called for greater attention to be paid to the travel costs incurred for aspiring non-league clubs to meet their fixture commitments.
“Travelling to mid-week matches on the other side of the country can be a logistical and financial nightmare for semi-professional teams; greater consideration is needed,” said Mr Reynolds.
“Travelling distances can also hinder clubs’ progression, as the costs involved put them off taking promotion, even if they have earned it, as often happens in the northern league.
Mr Reynolds said he was proud that the Stalybridge and Hyde constituency was home to the three non-league clubs – praising their contributions on the pitch and in the community.
He said: “Non-league football may not be seen as the glamorous end of football, but it is real football, it is the grass roots and it keeps the game alive. Without it, football would lose its soul.”
The debate was held in the House of Commons Chamber on September 4, 2014.
MP Jonathan Reynolds has highlighted the growing need to support non-league football clubs, in a parliamentary debate to coincide with national Non-League Day. The Stalybridge and Hyde MP pointed to...
Stalybridge & Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds and High Peak MP Andrew Bingham have this week reassured local residents that a solution to the traffic problems between Mottram and Tintwistle is still very much on their agenda.
The pair spoke just after attending the latest meeting of stakeholders for the Trans-Pennine Feasibility Study in Sheffield. The study was set up last year following personal representations to the Chancellor, and a dedicated team of officials from the Highways Agency and Department for Transport have been working on it ever since.
As part of the Government’s Action for Roads strategy, the study is looking at congestion on the roads along the Trans-Pennine route - including the A57 through Glossop and the A628 through Mottram, Hollingworth and Tintwistle - and also looking at identifying potential solutions.
The work is now in its third and final stage and should report in time for the Chancellor's Autumn Statement later this year.
Speaking after the meeting, Jonathan Reynolds said:
“When I and Andrew Bingham first decided to work together on this in 2010 we were essentially told that we had no chance. The Highways Agency had officially ditched the plans for the Mottram-Tintwistle bypass and, as far as they were concerned, this wasn’t their problem anymore.
“Working together with our local council’s in Tameside and Derbyshire, we have spent the last few years lobbying Ministers and other MP’s to support us and we were delighted when the Government announced they would fund the feasibility study last year.
“What we have now is a clear indication that the Government is taking this problem seriously, and evidence of the disruption that the congestion in our areas causes throughout the Trans-Pennine corridor. We will have to wait and see what the final report proposes but it is clear we have come a long way since 2010.
"Whatever the outcome, solving the traffic problems in Mottram and Hollingworth will continue to be one of my main priorities, and I am determined to find a solution that will improve the quality of life for people in the area.”
Andrew Bingham said:
"On being elected back in 2010, one of the first things in my sights was a bypass for Tintwistle and a spur-road to Glossop. I have spent four years pestering the Chancellor and various Ministers about this issue and highlighting the major traffic problems, so I was pleased to finally see some movement earlier this year in the form of this feasibility study.
"At the latest meeting I was pleased to see the work that has been done on looking at all possible solutions and testing them against various criteria, and that these solutions will now be tested in greater detail.
"Whilst I don't know what the final report will say, I remain hopeful that it will officially confirm what we all know - that there is a major problem here - and I am also hopeful that it will propose real solutions for the Government to look seriously at."
Stalybridge & Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds and High Peak MP Andrew Bingham have this week reassured local residents that a solution to the traffic problems between Mottram and Tintwistle is...
As I have reported previously, the Government has begun the process for the refranchising of train servicesw currently operated by Northern Rail and TransPennine Express, which serve all the stations throughout Hyde, Stalybridge, Longdendale, and Mossley.
To start that process the Government have issued a consultation document which sets out some of the guiding principles they want to include in the invitation tender, which will be issued in the near future.
I have made a submission to the consultation process which sets out my concerns about this initial document, and shares some of my priorities for rail services in our area.
The letter I have submitted as part of the consultation process can be read below:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing in response to the Rail Executive’s stakeholder consultation document in relation to the Northern Rail and TransPennine Express rail franchises.
The fate of rail services in my constituency and throughout the region is a matter of great concern to me and something that I know is high on the list of priorities for both constituents and businesses alike. It is crucial that the franchises deliver the best possible services so as to ensure the greatest possible economic benefit for the region, and a high quality service for the passengers who rely on the railway on a daily basis.
The consultation document leaves me with some serious concerns about whether the Governments tender proposals will achieve those ends, and I know that these concerns are shared by transport campaigners and passenger groups throughout the region.
In my constituency of Stalybridge and Hyde many people’s experience of the railway is not overwhelmingly positive. I regularly hear complaints about overcrowded trains, old, poor quality carriages, and infrequent services with regular delays. Commuters at Stalybridge and Mossley stations don’t feel that there are currently enough services to meet the demand of their busy commutes, and there is unhappiness about the fact that when you do board some of these services you are unable to get a seat.
The consultation document seems to acknowledge many of these problems too but seems to insinuate that the only way they will be resolved is to increase fares, reduce the number of services and cut back on jobs. This does not seem to me to be a good deal for commuters in my area who already feel that they are not getting good value for money.
I agree that improving rolling stock needs to be a priority for the new franchises, especially on the services where outdated and overcrowded stock is still being used. Tackling this issue is crucial to ensuring that the services are able to cope with the predicted growth in passenger numbers and to improve passenger satisfaction for those already using them. Investment in rolling stock and stations is my overwhelming priority for the railway in my area.
Secondly, maintaining affordable fares for passengers using these services is crucial. The argument that fares need to be increased in line with the national average seems to avoid any explanation for why fares are below the national average in the first place. The reason that some fares are slightly lower is because services in the region benefit from much less investment than those in parts of the South, particularly London, and people here have, on average, lower incomes. If this logic was to be taken to its natural conclusion investment would have to increase substantially to justify the resulting fare increases.
My third major point of concern is regarding the proposals to reduce services on parts of the network. Whilst I’m glad that there is a consensus emerging on the need for new investment on the franchises it seems counter intuitive to bring in new money and then reduce services. For instance, I find it difficult to see how there could be an argument for reducing the number of calls at Stalybridge – particularly during in peak hours – and I would have serious concerns about passengers at more isolated stations such as Godley, and Flowery Field losing out from any push to reduce calls at smaller stations.
The only specific suggestion I would make regarding changes to the individual services that serve my constituency would be to increase the number of night time services to and from Manchester city centre. If some flexibility over timetabling is going to be devolved to the operators as part of the new franchises then this could be rearranged to suit demand as long as a final service was guaranteed on each of the services.
In conclusion, I am clear on the need for new investment, particularly in infrastructure and rolling stock, and am keen to explore the possibilities on how this can be done. I want to ensure that passengers in my constituency receive a service that continually improves and benefits from greater connectivity as a result of increased investment across the network. I look forward to engaging in this discussion throughout this process and am keen to hear the Government’s comments on the consultation responses.
Jonathan Reynolds MP
As I have reported previously, the Government has begun the process for the refranchising of train servicesw currently operated by Northern Rail and TransPennine Express, which serve all the stations...
TENDING to the graves of forgotten soldiers in Hyde Cemetery has become a personal crusade for pensioner Ron Andrew.
He can regularly be spotted tidying up the gravesides of more than 40 servicemen who fought in the two World Wars in Hyde Cemetery.
Today his outstanding dedication will be recognised nationally, when he will be named as the recipient of a new Point of Light Award.
Mr Reynolds, who met with “inspirational” Mr Andrew to congratulate him on his award, said:
“Mr Andrew makes a tremendous effort to ensure the graves of these servicemen are properly cared for – and I am delighted that his work has been recognised.
“His work in the cemetery not only shows respect for those individuals who served in the World Wars, but his research will ensure their contribution is recognised for years to come.
“I believe Tameside is a better place to live because of people like Mr Andrew, who selflessly give up their time for others.
“And I hope the Point of Light award will encourage others in Tameside and beyond to consider how they could volunteer to improve the communities where they live.”
Mr Andrew, aged 84, and a former member of the Royal Artillery, began looking after the graves following the death of his wife, May Elizabeth, three years ago.
On a regular visit to the cemetery he happened upon the unkept grave of Lance Corporal Joseph Collier, who served with the Lancashire Fusiliers and who died a month after returning from World War Two.
And it was after cutting back the overgrown grass on Lance Corporal Collier’s grave that he noticed the graves of others who had served in the two World Wars.
Now Mr Andrew regularly tends to the graves of around 40 ex-servicemen in the cemetery, including a boy soldier who died at the age of 15.
He puts Poppy crosses on their graves for Remembrance Sunday in recognition of their contribution and he has even researched their histories in the hope that they will never be forgotten.
The new Points of Light awards are designed to recognise outstanding volunteers, who are making a real change to their communities.
They have been developed in partnership with the Points of Light programme in America. Mr Andrew’s award was announced today by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Mr Andrew’s contribution has previously been recognised by the Mayor of Tameside Council and by The Poppy Factory.
TENDING to the graves of forgotten soldiers in Hyde Cemetery has become a personal crusade for pensioner Ron Andrew. He can regularly be spotted tidying up the gravesides of more...
Commenting on the latest CQC report into Tameside General Hospital, local Members of Parliament Andrew Gwynne, Jonathan Reynolds and David Heyes said;
“Today’s report by the CQC shows that progress has been made, particularly in vital areas such as accident and emergency and mortality rates, which is reassuring. But there are clearly still significant problems that need to be addressed.
“Without doubt staff at the hospital have worked hard over the past 12 months to make the changes recognised in this report. And crucially we believe the new management team is better placed to be able to deliver the improvements that remain necessary.
“However, as local Members of Parliament, we believe further improvements are crucial - and we will continue to work with management, patients and staff until we have a hospital that Tameside can be proud of.”
Published 16th July 2014.
Commenting on the latest CQC report into Tameside General Hospital, local Members of Parliament Andrew Gwynne, Jonathan Reynolds and David Heyes said; “Today’s report by the CQC shows that progress...
Big changes are already underway for in the North of England's railway services, some of it good, some of it not so good.
For instance, our area will benefit from around £4bn of investment that is coming from Network Rail’s ‘Northern Hub’ project, which will see several of the key routes throughout the North being electrified and significant alterations to both Manchester Piccadilly and Victoria stations.
On the other hand however, we stand to lose trains that run on the Stalybridge line to help satisfy a shortage in the Chilterns, as I explained here.
Whichever aspect you choose to focus on there is no doubting that rail services are an extremely significant issue for people locally, and something that the success of the area is completely dependent on.
That’s why I think the most recent announcement form the Department for Transport regarding the refranchising of Northern rail services is so important.
As the Department’s consultation document explains, both the rail franchises that run through our area are due to be refranchised by 2015.
I have long campaigned for better train services across Stalybridge, Hyde, and Mossley and believe that any reduction to our current services would be both unacceptable and counterproductive. People depend on these services, and the success of the local economy is dependent on the quality of our transport links.
As part of this process I will be making a formal submission to the DfT’s consultation – through which I will be making the case to protect local services – but I would encourage people who use them to do the same.
If you wish to read the consultation and make a submission you can do so by following this link, and if you wish to share your thoughts with me please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Big changes are already underway for in the North of England's railway services, some of it good, some of it not so good. For instance, our area will benefit...
Commenting on the case of former soldier Dave McIntyre - originally from Hyde - who is facing extradition to the US, Jonathan said:
'I first became involved with Dave's case 2 years ago when he came to see me at a surgery. He has since moved home, meaning I stopped being his MP and could not continue to represent him, but I have continued to keep a close eye on the case.
I have always believed that Dave is suffering considerably from post-traumatic stress and that he should not be extradited. I am disappointed that the High Court has not agreed with this. I can only say that, from my own dealings with him, I believe Dave to be an honest and trustworthy man.
I do not have sufficient knowledge of the legal system to say if it is possible for Dave to be tried in the UK, but I do believe all steps possible should be taken to ensure he is given a fair trial. In particular, I do not believe he should be extradited until the trial is ready to commence. That way he will not face undue pressure to sign a plea bargain admitting guilt for an offence which he is adamant he is innocent of.'
Commenting on the case of former soldier Dave McIntyre - originally from Hyde - who is facing extradition to the US, Jonathan said: 'I first became involved with Dave's case...