Westminster Column

2nd September 2013

I know from letters and emails from constituents that there is significant local concern about the threat to the UK bee population so I wanted to update you on what steps I have taken on this matter.

As it happens at this time of year I always have the great pleasure of joining Sutton Coldfield’s Beekeepers at their annual BBQ in Sutton Park.

I am supporting the campaign by Friends of the Earth calling for a ‘Bee Action Plan’ to reverse the decline of Britain’s honey and wild bees who are essential to our farmers, our food security and the economy in the UK. At the recent BBQ more than 50 people attended and we were able to discussed the progress of the campaign and its importance

The Government is providing significant funding for honey bee research during this Parliament but further action is necessary. In addition, beekeepers are encouraging local people to grow insect-friendly plants to attract pollinating insects particularly as the cold Spring has been very damaging to bee populations. However, it was good to hear that the hot spell of weather in July has helped to reverse the fortunes of most of the colonies in Sutton Park.

Many thanks, as always, to the Sutton beekeepers for their kind invitation and generous hospitality. The locally produced honey is available to buy at Sutton Park Visitor Centre and I can vouch that it is delicious!

For more information please go to www.suttoncoldfield-beekeepers.co.uk


I now turn to some positive news. Last week the Office for National Statistics published figures which show a record high employment level. More women are in work, more jobs are available than at any time since late 2008 and more hours are being worked than ever before. In the West Midlands the number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has fallen by 2,600 between June and July 2013.

This growth has been driven by a rise in permanent private sector jobs which suggests businesses are feeling positive about the future. This is good news and reflects that British business is rising to the challenge of creating jobs.

There is still a long way to go but these figures paint a positive picture of the UK labour market and this Government is determined to ensure that hardworking people benefit from the recovery. However, I am extremely concerned at the level of youth unemployment and determined to ensure that helping young people into work, particularly those who are looking for a job for the first time, is a top priority of the Coalition Government.