The Need for a Maritime Patrol Aircraft

In the Chamber of the House of Commons on Thursday 10 April Bob outlined his very serious concern that the United Kingdom currenty has no Maritime Patrol Aircraft. A tried, tested and top of the range maritime patrol aircraft exists and could easily be procured; the P8 Poseidon Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft as illustrated in the attached phtograph. 

The Need for a Maritime Patrol Aircraft

In the Chamber of the House of Commons on Thursday 10 April Bob outlined his very serious concern that the United Kingdom currenty has no Maritime Patrol Aircraft. A tried, tested and top of the range maritime patrol aircraft exists and could easily be procured; the P8 Poseidon Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft as illustrated in the attached phtograph. 

Remembering the Hyde Park Bombing of 1982

On Thursday 27th March Bob contributed to a debate in the House of Commons which lamented that John Downey, a suspect in the Hyde Park Bombings which took place on 20th July 1982, had been allowed to walk free because of a mistake made by politicians and the police in Northern Ireland.  His speech is detailed below.Today, we are talking about events in London on Tuesday 20 July 1982. In particular, we are debating the consequences of an explosion—about 20 to 25 lbs of high explosive was packed with nails to cause maximum casualties, and hidden inside a Morris Marina car—in South Carriage drive near Hyde Park. It was placed there by the so-called “England Department” of the Irish Republican Army, and the bomb killed four members of the Blues and Royals as they rode to change the guard on Horse Guards.Apparently, John Downey, who was arrested at Gatwick in May last year, was a leading operative of the so-called “England Department” of the IRA. Yet he felt he was immune from prosecution, because he had in his possession a letter saying that he was not wanted by the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which appears to have been issued as part of the bargaining between the authorities and terrorists during the Northern Ireland peace process. When the letter was issued to Downey, the authorities either missed the fact that Downey was wanted on a 20-year arrest warrant for his alleged part in the July 1982 Hyde Park bomb, or they decided to ignore the fact.I totally understand why so many people are utterly dismayed by the fact that a suspect for the murders of four soldiers by IRA terrorists has apparently been granted immunity from prosecution. To my mind, it was an extraordinary mistake by both politicians and police in Northern Ireland. All of us here today in Parliament should send a clear signal that murder is murder and those responsible for it should face the full rigour of the law.I remember 20 July 1982 extremely well. At the time, I was a company commander serving in Northern Ireland; unknowingly, I was also only six months away from being directly involved in a similar atrocity at Ballykelly, where I personally lost six soldiers killed by terrorists on 6 December 1982. It has had a tremendous impact on me.In the Hyde Park bombing, there were not just four deaths, but 31 other people were wounded. Seven horses were killed and several others hurt. Some older Members may remember the heroic Blues and Royals horse called Sefton, who became something of a national hero for making such a great recovery after the incident.To their immortal memory, like my friend the right hon. Member for Belfast North (Mr Dodds), I remind the House of the names of our men who were killed in this atrocious barbarism.Lieutenant Anthony Daly was aged 23 and had been married only 27 days before he was murdered. I gather his mother was waiting at Horse Guards to proudly watch her son carry out his duty as escort commander. Corporal Roy Bright, aged 36, was carrying the standard. A senior soldier, Roy did not die at the scene but in hospital three days later. Trooper Simon Tipper, aged 19, died on the street. He had been married less than a month and must have been looking forward to a great life with his new bride. Finally, I must name Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, who was just a week before his 20th birthday. With his wife Judith, he already had two children, who will never remember their heroic father. He died in hospital a day after the attack.Neither must we forget—and we have not raised this matter—that the same IRA team, which must have consisted of several people, was also responsible for a second explosion that day. It killed seven Royal Green Jackets bandsmen in Regent’s Park a few hours later. It would be remiss of me not to at least name them, too. Their names, without rank, because it does not matter anymore, were Graham Barker, Robert Livingstone, John McKnight, John Heritage, George Mesure, Keith Powell and Laurence Smith. May their souls also Rest in Peace.I gather that Mr Downey has at some stage raised horses, which I find somewhat ironic, and I would dearly like to see him brought to trial in whatever way we can. However, I accept that may seem unlikely, but in the meantime, as I have mentioned, there were others in his team. One other person has also been identified and taken to court, but there must have been others in the team that carried out this attack. Everyone in this Chamber without exception will agree with this: let all who have committed criminal acts in Northern Ireland sleep unsoundly. I very much hope that one day the authorities will knock on their door, wherever they are, and bring them to book.

Lewisham Hospital

 The photograph above shows Bob speaking in the Second Reading of the Care Bill.  He has always questioned why Lewisham Hospital had to be infected by failures in the South London Healthcare Trust to which it did not belong.  In the House of Commons Chamber he said, "I have never understood why Lewisham hospital had to be involved in this exercise, and I still fail to see why it has to suffer as a consequence of the failure of other hospitals that, although they are outside my constituency, affect my constituents deeply."  Later he went on to talk about the arrival of a Trust Special Administrator who seemed to have the power, without Parliamentary approval, to involve the excellent Lewisham Hospital in a reorganisation of the South London Healthcare Trust: "What level of debt would have to be achieved in order for one of these extraordinary witchfinders-generals suddenly to appear in our area to sort out our hospitals?"   In the voting lobbies on the Second Reading of the Care Bill Bob had to vote against the Government because of what had happened at Lewisham Hospital.

Campaign to stop Female Genital Mutilation

On Monday10th March, as a result of an e-petition a debate on stopping Female Genital Mutilation was held in Westminster Hall to which Bob contributed.  He was genuinely shocked that such barbarous practices continue in the UK and greatly concerned that nobody in the country had been brought to court for arranging such a crime.  This is in direct contrast to France where several hundred cases have been heard in court. 

The Special Care Baby Reception

Bob Stewart MP attended Bliss’ parliamentary event on Thursday 27 February. The campaign and reception were organised by Bliss, the special care baby charity, which provides support to families of babies born premature and sick across the UK.

Flooding Situation Report

  The flooding situation remains very serious.  On Saturday 15 March Bob returned to Courtfield Rise and remained alarmed at what he saw. He is concerned about the long-term implications of flooding along the valley of the River Bourne.  The lake which occupies the Beccehamians First Fifteen Rugby Pitch is hardly subsiding and many gardens in Courtfield Rise still have substantial water in them.  A number of houses have also had their cellars flooded which is really bad news too..  Clearly the water table has reached ground level in the area and urgent consultations are now taking place between the Environment Agency and Bromley Council to see what can be done to fix the problem both now and into the future.  The three photographs above show Bob, in the garden of 11 Courtfield Rise, then with Councillors Colin Smith and Nicholas Bennett looking at fire engine hoses emptying water into the Rover Bourne culvert and finally a view of the First Eleven pitch at the Beccehamians Rugby Club which is now a lake.

Bob opens RBL Hayes' Bar

On the evening of Tuesday 18th February Bob visited the Royal British Legion Club in Hayes.  He was welcomed by David Jukes, Vice Chairman of the Club and John Rayment, the Club's Chairman.  After some time talking to the many members present Bob formally opened the new £40,000 facilities - including a fabulous bar.  Bob has been a member of the Royal British Legion for over 40 years but he was was especially thrilled to be made a Lifetime Member of the Hayes Branch.  Immediately he put on the Club Tie which he is wearing in the attached photograph. Club Chairman, John Rayment, is also standing behind Bob in the photograph. 

Keston Village Shops

On 2nd February Bob spent the morning in Keston Village.  In particular he visited the excellent parade of shops which were built 106 years ago.  He spent some time talking to Mr Don Ward of Keston Village Stores.  Mrs Helen Ward purchased the shop in 1981 and together Don and her have run it ever since.  It is a magnificent example of the very best of village shops.  Bob took a photograph of Don Ward at the entrance to the shop and it is attached.  Afterwards Bob spent a while talking with the staff of Fiona's Pantry which is next door.

Visit to Bromley College

On Friday 31 January Bob visited Bromley College.  There are now 10,000 people of all ages studying at Bromley College; 3,000 young people, 5,000 adults, 1,000 apprentices, 750 people in higher education and 100 students aged 14-15 from local schools.  There are also 650 staff running its two major campuses.  Bob met with the Principal, Sam Parrett, to discuss some rather exciting future plans for the College,  He also spent 45 minutes talking to and taking questions from young people on the Public Service Course with whom he was photographed.