Homemade tea and scones with Tessa & Shirley Williams

Tessa and Shirley

Tessa Munt MP and Wells Liberal Democrats invite you to join them for homemade tea and scones and an afternoon with Baroness Shirley Williams.

Shirley was Co-Founder of the Social Democratic Party and one of the few “80 year old politicians who can make their parties stop, think and change direction.” (Guardian, 2011)

Where? Wells and Mendip Museum

When? Thursday 27th November, 3:00pm until 5:00pm

Tickets are £10 with cheques made payable to Wells Liberal Democrats.

RSVP: organiser.wellslibdems@gmail.com or Wells Lib Dems, Hodge’s Chambers, Cheddar Road, Wedmore, BS28 4EH

Tessa Munt

14th November 2014

Tessa lays wreaths in honour of the fallen at Remembrance Sunday services

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Tessa joined dozens of locals attending a wreath-laying ceremony in Axbridge Square marking the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War and organised by Brian Winder from the town’s branch of The Royal British Legion.  This was followed by a service led by Rev. Andrew Hemming at St John the Baptist Church, Axbridge and then refreshments in the Town Hall.

In the afternoon, Tessa accompanied many villagers to the War Memorial in Chilcompton, where wreaths were laid after a service at St. Aldhelm’s Church, jointly led by Dom. Boniface Hill, the Rev. Chris North and the Rev. Stephen Burrow.  After a ceremony of Remembrance, Tessa spoke to a number of locals including veterans from the Second World War, Jo Vango and Bert Williams.

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National Grid announce £500 million to remove “biggest and ugliest” pylons

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Local MP Tessa Munt welcomed an announcement from National Grid to tear down pylons and under-ground electrical cables blighting some of the nation’s most highly treasured landscapes.

The £500 million budget for the works will be funded through levies on customers’ energy bills, adding an estimated 22 pence per year to a typical household’s bill.

In an unexpected but highly welcome admission, Chris Baines, Chairman of National Grid’s Stakeholder Advisory Group, said:

“Undergrounding is best when you can do it.” And, “a range of engineering measures could be implemented including the replacement of existing overhead lines with underground cables, the re-routing and screening from key public viewpoints of the lines”

Tessa said:

“This announcement, whilst only about pre-existing pylons in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England and Wales, is nonetheless very welcome.”

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Superfast Broadband for Somerset: Update

Super fast rural broadband is a key issue for us in the Wells constituency, speeds are infuriatingly slow.

Super fast broadband has the power to unleash the true potential of our vibrant and varied economy and the wealth of talent that exists in our communities, from eBay entrepreneurs to farmers and everyone in between.

It’s also important socially – internet shopping, gives senior and less mobile citizens more independence and allows them to stay at home, Facebook and Skype keeps us all in touch with friends and family, school homework and pupils’ support is available online and Jobcentre Plus advertises all its work vacancies on the internet.

It’s hardly surprising that this is one of the most commonly raised issues in the countless letters, surgery visits and emails (many entitled ‘hope this works’) which I receive on a weekly basis, all expressing exasperation. Despite big promises during a flying visit to my patch from the Minister in charge, nothing much has changed and the service we receive is totally unacceptable.

I recently asked the Minister responsible the following Parliamentary Question:

Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD): I spoke to the Minister again in July about broadband in my area, and showed him the map of the proposed coverage. It seems that exchanges just a couple of miles away from main roads such as the A38 and the A370, where fibre-optic cables were laid years ago, cannot be connected, and—to use BT Openreach’s description—the “poor-quality cables” around new cabinets that have been fitted in places such as Wells mean that previously generally reliable but slow services running at 750 kilobits have become desperately unreliable and pathetically slow, at about 250 kilobits. There is no point in changing the provider, because all the signals are carried over the same wires. What do my constituents have to do to get superfast broadband?

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Elected representatives must face the music when they let the public down!

The much anticipated Recall Bill is currently making its way through Parliament.

I strongly support voters having the power of recall over MPs who let them down.  MPs should face the music if they have abused their position or neglected their basic duties.  I am very pleased the Government has introduced legislation, particularly since the Lib Dem Manifesto in the run up to the last General Election outlined our intention to make sure MPs could be recalled by their voters for ‘serious misconduct’.

Last week, the Bill passed its Second Reading, and on Monday this week, it had its first day of debate in Committee.  I listened carefully to the discussion on both occasions.  At the end of the debate on Monday, I voted against one of forty nine separate amendments which had been suggested to improve the Bill.  There are many amendments still to be discussed, and I am sure many more will be put forward as the Bill is debated in the days to come.

The amendments which have attracted the most publicity are those from Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, so I have set out my thoughts about these in this letter.  If your interest in this Bill related to a different amendment or amendments, then please do not hesitate to let me know and I will write to you separately about your concerns.

Zac’s proposals are quite complex and long-winded. They require firstly a Notice to Recall, signed by 5% of the electorate within the constituency.  Following this, 20% of the voters would then have to sign a Recall Petition.  Once that threshold was met, a Referendum would be held on whether or not the MP should be recalled, and a majority of voters would have to vote in favour of doing so to move the process to the next stage.  Then, and only then, would a by-election be triggered.  These four stages could prove a very long and drawn-out affair, particularly when appeals might be launched at any stage, delaying the process even further.

Another problem with Zac’s proposals is that they actually made it harder for voters to recall an MP if he or she was found guilty of a serious criminal offence.  Interestingly, the current system used to sanction MPs actually deals with that eventuality swiftly and summarily, although it falls short in a number of other respects.

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Tessa commemorates WW1 centenary at ‘Wells Remembers’ Exhibition


Local MP Tessa Munt visited a unique exhibition marking the centenary of the First World War, hosted by the Wells & Mendip Museum.

The exhibition, part of the ‘Wells Remembers’ Centenary commemorations, includes a ‘walk through trench’ designed by locals Geoff Dickinson and Jeff Allen pictured.

This was built with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and a combination of efforts by many local organisations and individuals, all of whom pitched in to help get this four year rolling exhibition up and running.

Exhibits from a variety of local sources, including the City Archives, remind visitors of the need to ensure the great sacrifices made in the trenches during the bloody conflict are never forgotten.

Tessa said:

“This exhibition doesn’t seek to glorify this conflict, but walking through this trench shows much more clearly the day-to-day conditions of living through a war for many ordinary soldiers.”

“The exhibition also highlights how many young men went to war from Wells and the surrounding villages, and the numbers who paid the ultimate price, losing their lives.”

“During this special four years of commemoration, we will all remember the great human cost suffered in wartime.”

“Remembering those whose lives were lost and whose families were forever scarred by the violence of war, we can keep them in our thoughts and, hopefully, keep history from repeating itself.”

“We must never forget.”

Tessa Munt

24th October

Chaos continues at County Hall

I’m pleased that the Conservative leader of Somerset County Council has finally accepted it was not right to pay such ludicrously large sums to his managers.

Children and young people placed into care, through no fault of their own, have a right to be safe and secure.  Those of us who pay our taxes have a right to know that these children and young people are looked after in ways that meet the highest standards of care.  The real problem in Somerset was, and remains, a lack of frontline staff whose job it is to identify children and young people who are at risk.

An emergency meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday this week to approve the Council’s new Human Resources policy. Having read the documents, I’m staggered to find that the Conservative-controlled Council has not made any of the changes necessary to stop the very practice that drew such enormous criticism from Conservative Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, who slammed the situation as

“An outrageous use of public money”, and “an abuse of process”

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Tenants to be protected from retaliatory evictions under Lib Dem plans


Tenants would be better protected from rogue landlords and retaliatory evictions under plans passed by Liberal Democrat conference today.

Current rules mean that landlords can evict tenants with just two months’ notice and without having to give a reason. Rogue landlords often use this provision to evict tenants  rather than carrying out much-needed repairs, knowing that they will easily be able to find a new tenant because there is such a high demand for rented housing.

Over the last five years, an average of 324,000 households each year have been the victims of retaliatory evictions, and one in eight tenants admits they have not asked their landlords for repairs to be carried out for fear of retaliatory action.

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The use of air strikes in Iraq

TessaOn Friday 26th September, Parliament was recalled to debate and vote on the UK joining air strikes in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), also known as IS or ISIS.

The wording of the Government motion put before the House of Commons was:

“That this House condemns the barbaric acts of ISIL against the peoples of Iraq including the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yazidi and the humanitarian crisis this is causing; recognises the clear threat ISIL poses to the territorial integrity of Iraq and the request from the Government of Iraq for military support from the international community and the specific request to the UK Government for such support; further recognises the threat ISIL poses to wider international security and the UK directly through its sponsorship of terrorist attacks and its murder of a British hostage; acknowledges the broad coalition contributing to military support of the Government of Iraq including countries throughout the Middle East; further acknowledges the request of the Government of Iraq for international support to defend itself against the threat ISIL poses to Iraq and its citizens and the clear legal basis that this provides for action in Iraq; notes that this motion does not endorse UK air strikes in Syria as part of this campaign and any proposal to do so would be subject to a separate vote in Parliament; accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government, working with allies, in supporting the Government of Iraq in protecting civilians and restoring its territorial integrity, including the use of UK air strikes to support Iraqi, including Kurdish, security forces’ efforts against ISIL in Iraq; notes that Her Majesty’s Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations; and offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of Her Majesty’s armed forces.”

Naturally, my postbag and email inbox were inundated with the views of local people. Some were for military intervention, some were against.

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Tessa takes Radiotherapy Fight to Downing Street


Tessa was joined by Top Clinical Oncologist, Nick Van As and England Rugby Star and campaigner Lawrence Dallaglio yesterday at Number 10 Downing Street.

The team were there to press David Cameron on increasing access to advanced radiotherapy for cancer patients.

Tessa said:

“In many instances, this type of cutting edge radiotherapy is more effective, quicker, less painful, and cheaper than drugs, yet the Government currently chooses to spend far more on pills, than radiotherapy.

After asking over 200 Parliamentary questions on this issue and countless meetings with experts, Ministers and people in need of treatment it was an important milestone to finally brief the Prime Minister.

He’s promised to go away and look at the problems and our solutions and we’re hopeful that he’ll come back with the right answers.

Tessa Munt

3rd October 2014

Child Abuse | Oral Answers to Questions – Attorney-General | Commons debates

Edward Graham, a retired serviceman, was recently sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for 23 counts of sexual abuse, after a trial by a court martial. I understand that a court martial should be used for service personnel only for matters of military discipline, so will the Attorney-General have discussions with the Secretary of State for Justice and the Secretary of State for Defence to ensure that all future cases not involving matters of military discipline are investigated by the police and tried by the civilian courts?

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Prison Communications | Oral Answers to Questions – Justice | Commons debates

I thank the Justice Secretary for his statement. He raised questions about communications between a relevant MP and his or her constituents in prison and those between prisoners and an MP’s staff. Was he suggesting that the exclusion of calls from MPs’ Westminster and local offices from the surveillance by prison authorities from now onwards will cover MPs’ staff, or was he trying to differentiate between the two? This is not rocket science. Confidentiality is of supreme importance.

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Wanless Review | Oral Answers to Questions – Justice | Commons debates

In the interests of clarity, may I ask the Home Secretary on what date she instructed her permanent secretary to check and order the preservation of each and every file containing documents relating to any allegations of abuse, so that the independent panel has access to them? Destroying any documents would be against section 29 of the Data Protection Act, which should protect them in the interests of justice.

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Dairy Industry – [Mrs Linda Riordan in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

I will make very few points, because most of the points have been made already, but it seems a great shame that the advantage of power is all held by the retailers and processors. One thing that I welcome is what has been done by Farmers For Action. Its protests have generated publicity. That sort of thing gets on to the news, and those protests have always proved peaceful and, certainly in my area, have taken place with the agreement of the police. I particularly welcome the move that Farmers For Action has made to produce stickers, posters and leaflets that it will distribute outside supermarkets so that the customers, who are the end of the line, can connect the dots and understand the difficulties faced by the producers, who are at the very beginning of the line. Asking farmers to plan when they are being offered prices that are well below the cost of production seems desperately unfair. I will leave it there, but I endorse everything else that has been said today.

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Dairy Industry – [Mrs Linda Riordan in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

I thank my hon. Friend for his generosity. When farmers are asked to open their accounts prior to the arrangement of their contracts, it is no surprise that they are laid bare to the vagaries in behaviour of the people with whom they sign contracts to sell their milk. If they have to expose every single tiny bit of profit, of course the contracts will be screwed right down to the deck.

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Badger Culls (Assessment) – [Martin Caton in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

Does the hon. Gentleman agree with me on this point? Certainly in my part of Somerset, a number of the farmers have declared that they have cattle with TB, but the cattle are not removed from their farms with any level of speed whatever, so it both causes a great deal of distress to the farmers and has the potential to keep the infection level going.

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Child Abuse Inquiry | Oral Answers to Questions – Work and Pensions | Commons debates

I welcome the Home Secretary’s statement and thank her for taking the time and trouble to consult my colleagues and me, and for recognising the importance of trust in the process. Will she expand a little on her thoughts about the six regional events and their place in the process, protecting survivors against what can be a slightly intrusive press, and making sure that services such as counselling are available to support them?

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