When John first became Weston’s MP in 2005 he was one of the few newly-elected Conservatives who volunteered for the Parliamentary Committee (the ‘Select Committee’ in the jargon) that monitored the Government’s performance on Work and Pensions, and held Ministers to account when things went wrong.
Work and Pensions is an enormous Government Department which handles everything from the state and workplace pensions, the Child Support Agency (CSA), through benefits paid to people who are sick or disabled, plus finding jobs for people who are out of work and health and safety legislation as well.
John volunteered for the job partly because, as MP for an area which has plenty of retired folk, he wanted to keep an eye on what the (then Labour) Government was up to on pensions. And partly because he felt that the benefits system was badly broken and needed to be fixed, so it rewards people who work, and who put something by for a rainy day.
John’s involvement didn’t end there, of course. He continues to support local organisations involved in these issues, like Weston's Senior Citizen Forum, Crossroads (helping local carers) and You Tree (supporting local cancer sufferers); and he remains strongly committed to a benefits and a pension system that clearly and systematically rewards people who do the right thing (like work and save) and which, as a result, has the public's trust.
As Wessex Water announced today that they will keep any bill increases to below inflation levels until 2020, Weston’s MP (who is also the author of a paper on reforming water, energy and other utilities called “We Deserve Better”) said he was delighted by the move and drew a strong contrast with above-inflation rises in household energy bills.