Dairy products were to the fore last week, when Dr Dan visited one of Suffolk's excellent small businesses.
'Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses' is a family-run business, situated just north of Needham Market, and established in 2004 by Jason and Katharine Salisbury.
The couple have built up their own herd of over 50 pedigree Guernseys, from which they produce fine, hand-made cheese, using traditional methods.
The business has grown a lot since its inception and now employs an apprentice at the farm, where they also make other dairy products and rear their own beef and pork.
On his visit, Dr Dan learned a great deal about their business and the working methods employed, commenting:
"It is so heartening to see a small, rural business like this thriving in Suffolk, and producing food of such quality. Jason and Katharine have put in such tremendous work over the last 10 to 15 years, and deserve the success they are getting. Just as impressive was the quality of the cheese, whch was extremely tasty."
Pupils at Creeting St Mary Primary School got a first-hand lesson in Parliamentary democracy last week, when Dr Dan popped in for a visit.
Dan spoke to pupils in years 5 and 6 about his work as an MP and received a warm and interested welcome from children and teachers.
Five years ago, Dr Dan helped the school secure the necessary funding for an extension – allowing it to expand to house an extra classroom.
This has been put to good use, with Ofsted, in their most recent inspection, rating the school as 'Good' and commenting that the school's motto, 'Anything is possible', was demonstrated throughout the school.
Talking about the visit, Dan said:
"It was really heartening to go back to the school and see the good work being done there, and to meet and talk to a group of happy, motivated pupils.
"As so often tends to be the case, children ask some of the toughest questions. I think I got through it ok though!"
Residents at Alice Grange Care Home, in Ipswich, received a visit from Dr Dan last Friday.
On visits around his constituency, Dan dropped in to join residents and staff in celebrating the care home's 10th Anniversary.
Alice Grange is a residential care home, providing 24-hour nursing care to frail older people, and to older people living with dementia, as well as to younger adults with physical disabilities or otherwise in need of care.
Dr Dan was delighted to meet and talk to staff and residents, all taking advantage of the fine weather. As he said:
"Alice Grange provides a homely and caring environment, and it was a real pleasure to visit, and meet some of the residents and staff. Happy birthday to Alice Grange!"
Dr Dan has this week joined leading MPs from across the political spectrum in calling for a tax rise to boost funding for the NHS.
A letter, organised by Dr Sarah Woollaston, chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, and signed by nearly 100 MPs, including Dr Poulter, urges the government to set up a Parliamentary Commission to look at the entire way health care is funded.
It calls on the government to "act with urgency and to take a whole-system approach to the funding of the NHS, social care and public health. On behalf of all those who rely on services, we need to break down the political barriers and to agree a way forward."
The letter suggests that the Commission could take a year, calling on expert witnesses, and then reporting by Easter 2019.
A Stradbroke based pet-food company has successfully forged a new market in Bahrain, with help from Dr Poulter.
Skinner's Pet Food is a premium dog food manufacturer employing over 60 people and now providing fourteen dried dog foods, exporting to Europe, Russia, Romania and beyond. To that list can now be added Barhain, although the process wasn't an easy one.
Initially told, incorrectly, that no export requirements were in place for Bahrain, Skinner's therefore dispatched the order of dried dog food to Bahrain, incurring charges, as no Export Health Certificate accompanied the goods.
Skinners then contacted Dr Dan Poulter to ask for his assistance.
Dr Poulter made representations to DEFRA and APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency). Following this, APHA created a new EHC Certificate relevant, allowing Skinner's to ship to Bahrain.
Roger Skinner wrote to thank Dr Poulter for his intervention and they have now received their first order from Bahrain.
Dr Dan Poulter dropped into Paddy Geere House, late last month, to surprise one of their residents on her birthday.
A long-standing supporter of Paddy Geere House in Whitton, Dr Poulter is well liked by the residents, who are always keen and pleased to see him - whether at their fetes and events throughout the year, or just to drop in for a cup of tea with them. Yesterday, he was made aware that it was one of the longer-term resident's birthdays, so he took time to drop in to see them and wish them well.
Dan enjoyed tea and cake with a group of staff and residents – with a special birthday cake for Yvonne Metcalf who was celebrating her 83rd birthday.
On Tuesday 23rd January Dr Dan was delighted to welcome a group of students from St Joseph's College, Ipswich to Westminster. Not only did the group comprise sixth form students from St Joseph's, but Dr Dan was also pleased to welcome their German exchange counterparts - a group of visiting students from Gymnasium Theodorianum School in Paderborn, Germany.
Starting off their busy day in Westminster, the group of students enjoyed a tour of the Houses of Parliament, incorporating a visit to both the House of Commons and the House of Lords Chambers, where they learned about the fascinating history and heritage of the buildings themselves, but also more about the role of our democracy and the passing of legislation.
Immediately after the tour, Dr Dan hosted a special Q&A session for the students; it was abundantly clear that staff and studens alike had enjoyed their tour of Parliament very much and were enthused and all too keen to get the Q&A session underway. Staff and students from both schools took the opportunity to quiz Dr Dan on a number of local and national issues, and it goes without saying that the topic of Brexit featured highly, particularly in relation to local impact here in Suffolk. There was lively debate amongst the students, on both sides of the debate and aside from the politics of the day, there was also wider discussion around agricultural and environmental affairs, public health policy, health and social care funding and education. As part of the discussion Dr Dan was happy to share his experiences of balancing work as an MP with that of being a part-time NHS doctor.
Visits such as these help to strengthen the link between what Dr Dan does as an MP locally here in Suffolk and what he does in Parliament, but they are especially important in engaging and enthusing our next generation of voters and decision makers.
Our electricity network is built to be resilient, but despite best efforts, extreme weather can cause damage to overhead power lines resulting in some customers temporarily losing their electricity supply. During recent high winds, UK Power Networks have teams working around the clock here in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich to make sure that homes and businesses are reconnected to the electricity network as quickly as possible.
But did you know that extra help is available to those who need it during a power cut, via UK Power Network's Priority Service Register. Households with older, disabled or more vulnerable people, those with children under the age of five, or where someone uses medical or mobility equipment that requires electricity, as well as other reasons can join the register. Further information on the Priority Service Register can be found at www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/priority
In the event of a power cut, please call either 105 or 0800 3163 105 – this is a free service and can be accessed from either a landline or mobile phone. Aside from reporting the power cut in the first instance, you can also call 105 to receive further updates on when power may be reconnected.
Neighbouring Suffolk MPs joined forces to raise their collective concerns around the wider rollout of Universal Credit here in Suffolk later this year.
The Westminster Hall debate, secured by Stephen Lloyd, MP, was an opportunity for Members to examine the effect of Universal Credit on the Private Rented Sector and in taking an intervention to his speech, Mr Lloyd took the opportunity to welcome Dr Poulter upon his return to Parliament.
Recognising that the Government has already demonstrated that it is listening and adapting to feedback around Universal Credit as part of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement in November 2017, Dr Dan Poulter, and Member of Parliament for Waveney, Mr Peter Aldous, took the opportunity to ask that as the wider rollout of Universal Credit progresses, the Government continues to listen to feedback and to make changes to assist those who may be struggling with the transition, as well as for new claimants. Also in attendance at the debate was the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Family Support, Housing and Child Maintenance, Caroline Dinenage MP - both Dr Poulter and Mr Aldous were broadly reassured by the Minister's comments, whilst recognising that there still remains some work to do before full implementation of the new system.
Speaking immediately after the debate, Dr Dan said "With some one in five households being in the private rental sector it is vital that we do all we can to ensure a smooth transition during the implementation of Universal Credit. Currently some landlords in the private rental sector are fearful of offering tenancies to those in receipt of benefits, but there can also be a tendency to be cautious when considering those on low incomes, for fear that they too may find themselves in need of benefits. There is still work to be done, but I am reassured that the Government is listening."
Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney, said "The full rollout of Universal Credit in Lowestoft commenced in May 2016 and significant problems were encountered including delays in rental payments. The position as a result of collaborative working between Job Centre Plus, Citizens Advice and local landlords has improved and the changes announced in the November Budget were very welcome."
There is still work to be done to address the ongoing concerns of the private rental sector and this debate was helpful in highlighting these. Dr Dan and Mr Aldous will continue to work with local organisations, bringing their concerns to the attention of Government so as to ensure that Universal Credit achieves its goals.
Dr Dan Poulter was today pleased to support neighbouring Suffolk MP, Peter Aldous as he introduced his Ten Minute Rule bill to the House of Commons concerning the ring fencing of cash retentions for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the construction industry.
Research commissioned by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) revealed that over a 3-year period £7.8bn worth of retentions was outstanding for small businesses. Cash retentions are withheld as security in case a firm fails to return to rectify non-compliant work. However the monies are primarily withheld to bolster the working capital of the party withholding them. Furthermore the practice gives rise to widespread abuse with the monies being withheld for three and more years.
If successul, this Bill would secure and release on time these retentions by way of a deposit scheme.
Here in Suffolk, and across the UK, SMEs are the backbone of our economy and Dr Dan was pleased to work with Mr Aldous to hopefully bring about this change in legislation, which will ensure greater support and protection for small businesses in the construction industry.
The bill passed its first reading stage and will now have its second reading on Friday 27th April 2018.
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Dieter Helm Energy Review — [Steve McCabe in the Chair] (24 Apr 2018)
Daniel Poulter: I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing the debate; he makes some good points. I agree entirely with what he has just said about price, and with what the report seems to indicate. There has been a complete failure of competition in the domestic energy market; Governments always talk about it, but they have failed to deliver. There is still a predominance of the big six energy...
Leaving the EU: Tourism and the Creative Industries — [Mr Peter Bone in the Chair] (17 Apr 2018)
Daniel Poulter: I congratulate the hon. Lady on securing this debate. As a remain voter, I am sympathetic to her position, but does she agree that sometimes one of the main drivers of tourism is the exchange rate, and one thing we have seen is increased tourism as a result of decreased value of the pound against the euro and other currencies, perhaps as a direct consequence of that Brexit vote? I know she...