Open Q&A with Simon Hoare MP

Date:

Last month in the BV the North Dorset MP offered to answer an open postbag – and here he has answered all the letters that were sent.

Q. The UK government signed an international agreement in the Northern Ireland protocol. Are you happy
that it would then break it – what would that say about the trustworthiness of the Johnson government?

Christie Burton,
Monkton Deverill

A. You may be aware that I chair the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee so I know this policy area pretty well. The UK’s reputation for upholding the Rule of Law is really important. I have made this clear in the Commons and directly to Ministers. We cannot and should not act unilaterally but through the dispute mechanisms of the Agreements. To do otherwise would send a devasting message to the rest of the world and would undermine our Rule of Law message to Putin.

Q. Why has Mr Hoare not publicly stated his confidence, or lack of, in the PM, and has he sent a letter
to the 1922 committee?

Chris (via Twitter)
Blandford St Mary

A. I think my views are pretty well known on these matters. I expect more and better from the Government.

Q. I would like to ask Simon about the NHS dental services in this part of Dorset. When I moved to Dorset I waited a year on an NHS Dentist waiting list to get an appointment. My dentist is now retiring and I have to go back onto the list. With only three of 99 NHS dentists in Dorset taking patients, this is not going to happen soon. We now have a dental crisis in Dorset – this is nothing to do with Covid. ALL dentists say that the money they receive from the NHS makes it impossible to provide dental services in a financially viable
way. The NHS has got to pay dentists sensible money – they have to be paid more and this has to happen now. In the meantime perhaps Simon can tell me what I am going to do?

Alyson Parkes,
Verwood

A. NHS dentistry is in national crisis I am afraid and I hear many such stories as Alyson’s in my inbox. Put simply we do not have enough trained dentists in the UK, so this puts pressure on the system both public and private. The Government is aware of the situation and trying to encourage more people to become dentists. It’s not so much about the money per se but rather a shortage of trained people.

Only three out of 99 dental practices in Dorset are accepting new adult NHS patients, a health watchdog reports. Healthwatch Dorset said its research, undertaken between September and November 2021, also found that only 12 were accepting new child NHS patients.

Q. With second-homing becoming such a major issue affecting not only house prices but also the social backbone of our village communities, can Mr Hoare share what steps can, should and will be taken to ensure more truly affordable housing in the countless new developments planned for Dorset – and also that this housing is kept for people who live and work locally? Our adult children are leaving, not by choice,
but because there is simply nowhere for them to feasibly live.

Angela Park,
Blandford Forum

A. Angela raises an important point. Housebuilders want to build and deliver their product to market. There is a real issue of viability evaluation on development proposals, which I am discussing with the Housing
Minister. Changes in viability can affect the per cent of affordable housing that is delivered. The housing list
already has a local connection element to the assessment criteria, but this can always be strengthened. The key ambition, I would suggest, is to keep our villages and towns vital and viable.

Q. What is Mr Hoare going to do about illegal fox hunting, with the local hunts (Portman and Blackmore &
Sparkford Vale) [potentially] endangering the public on footpaths, roads and railway lines?

Lucas North,
Buckhorn Weston

A. It is imperative that local hunts stay clearly within the law. It is imperative that we all stay within the law. As I always say when this issue is raised with me, if there are concerns or evidence of lawbreaking, inform the Police, record the evidence if you can and submit it.

Q. A fascinating addendum to Tales from the Vale in the May issue of the BV was a link to a House of Commons debate from March 1942, in which Major Lloyd George states: “we can call upon our people for
any sacrifice, provided they have the knowledge that it is equitable”.
It is a shame then that a fact which the Liberal Party understood 80 years ago is still not grasped by our current Conservative party. How does Mr Hoare justify the seeming culture of ‘one rule for them’ rife in
Westminster, exemplified by Partygate? How does he explain this to those who missed their loved ones’ last
days during Covid, and who were denied the comfort of a simple hug upon their death bed from similarly-
grieving family, only to now see images of our political leaders thoroughly enjoying themselves at parties?

Annabel Cores,
Gillingham

A. Let me start by saying that my family and I, like countless others, took the Covid rules seriously. We stayed home. We saved lives. We protected the NHS. I called for Dominic Cummings to be sacked following his Durham ‘eye test’. I was ignored and the rest, as they say, is history. I cannot and will not defend the indefensible. Politics has been damaged by this shameful episode, compounding the feeling of ‘do as I say not as I do’. It is appalling. I am furious. There is no justification and I won’t use weasel words to mitigate that which cannot be mitigated against.

Q. Why does the Tory elite seem so set against home working? Proposals to expand flexible working were removed from last week’s Queen’s speech. Boris Johnson has decided that those who work from home are aimlessly drifting back and forth to the fridge. Rees-Mogg decided the best way to bully civil servants back into the office was to leave passive aggressive notes on their desks. It’s clear that flexible working is here to stay (the ONS predicts that 57 per cent of workers will work at least partly from home by this autumn, while two-thirds already work flexibly in some way), and those who resist are refusing to acknowledge the benefits and bound to be left behind. Just last month in the BV a local recruitment firm acknowledged flexible working was a must on an employer’s benefits list if they wished to recruit the best candidates. In a rural
area like ours, the ability to work from home opens up opportunities previously unseen, and can drive real
change in our local communities – what sucks the life from our area is young people moving away for better
jobs. But would more choose to stay if remote working for at least part of the week let them tap into big-city opportunities without having to up sticks?
More home working means less commuting (with its enormous knock-on environmental benefits), putting money back into hard-pressed pockets; it breathes life back into struggling local high streets too, drawing new people in.

Brian Holmes,
Shaftesbury

A. I agree with Brian. My party professes to believe in individual choice and discretion. If a boss and employee can come to a good working solution allowing flexible working, then let them get on with it. We have not rolled out broadband across the UK just to allow superfast gaming! It is also good for the environment, saving miles of car journeys, as well as being good for family life and the work/life balance. It also means we can employ good people who don’t live in the area but are happy to visit once a week or
whatever. Home working is a dividend of the IT revolution. Let’s exploit it.

Jacob Rees-Mogg hit the headlines when he left this note for civil servants who weren’t at their desks

Q. It seems that the Conservatives have abandoned their pledge to reform the planning system, and I wonder if Mr Hoare can explain how they propose to improve the chance for young people to buy their own
home? The last major house- building programme took place many decades ago and we just don’t have enough homes for everyone. I voted Conservative because they promised to rectify this.

S Richards,
Fifehead Neville

A. Another planning Bill was announced in the Queen’s Speech. Let’s see where that takes us. I agree with
the question that, if we are to have sustainable communities allowing inter-generational living, then we must have a wide range of home ‘products’ of wvarying types, price points and purchasing schemes to get our young on the housing ladder.

Q. How do we regain trust in our government when their lack of proximity to the truth undermines trust in
all MPs and by doing so undermines democracy? Without truth there’s no trust and without trust, democracy flounders. Simon Hoare is a decent MP tainted by dishonourable colleagues. As a supplement,
I would be interested to know which of the seven Nolan Principles Mr Hoare believes (and is able to confirm) Johnson adheres to: • selflessness • integrity • objectivity • accountability • openness • honesty • leadership

Wendy Darvitt
Chalke Valley

A. It is for any Government to earn trust, secure it and retain it. It is not automatic from the people,
nor should it be. No party has a right to be in government. It is a sacred trust vested by the people
and it can be taken away. I think the key task at hand is to veer away from easy populism and deal with grown-up politics in a grown-up way.
The Nolan Principles are pivotal to our public life and tinkering with the Ministerial Code is inept politics.
All I can say is that in the 19 years that I have been elected to office – 12 as a parish, district and county councillor and seven as an MP – I have tried to maintain the highest levels of public service and uphold the Nolan Principles. I think they are important as they are, in essence, the heart of our UK political system.

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