Robert Halfon

  1. Government to work with councils on school summer camps

    BBC Politics

    The government has said it would be willing to work with Essex County Council on any plan to set up summer camps to help pupils catch up on the teaching they missed out on during lockdown.

    The idea was raised in the Commons by Harlow MP Robert Halfon, who welcomed the £1bn package to help pupils catch up on missed teaching.

    But the Conservative MP - who is also chairman of the Commons Education Committee - wanted assurances that councils would have a say in the way that money was spent.

    Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said the government will look at the idea.

    Robert Halfon
  2. Get retired teachers to get pupils back to school, says MP

    BBC Essex

    Conservative MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon, is calling on the prime minister to put forward a detailed plan for how children will be able to return to schools in September.

    It comes after the government dropped plans for every primary school pupil in England to spend at least four weeks back in class before the summer break.

    Only children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 have returned so far.

    Robert Halfon

    "We know that 85% of vulnerable children are not in school; 700,000 children according to 900 head teachers are not doing any school homework", he said.

    "There should be some kind of summer school with a national volunteer army of retired teachers, Ofsted inspectors, graduates, to help these children left behind catch up."

    Downing Street said it has not ruled out the possibility of retired teachers being called back into the profession in England to help deal with the coronavirus crisis.

  3. Shielding MP 'very happy' about proxy vote plan in Commons

    Pete Cooper

    BBC News

    Palace of Westminster

    On Tuesday MPs voted to reinstate a physical Parliament, despite a rebellion by 10 Conservatives.

    Some MPs have said the Conservative government's plans risk excluding those with medical conditions or caring duties.

    Responding to criticism, Boris Johnson said shielded and older members should be allowed to vote by proxy.

    Later, the government will introduce a motion, allowing those MPs to be able to take part in questions virtually.

    Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP for Harlow in Essex who is shielding and did not attend last night's vote on medical advice, said he was "very happy" to hear the news.

    View more on twitter

    Currently, MPs who are new parents are able to arrange a proxy vote.

    Mr Halfon was born with mild cerebral palsy. He has since developed osteoarthritis and walks using crutches.

  4. Video content

    Video caption: Coronavirus: MPs on political life in lockdown

    Keeping fit, buying chickens and spending more time with the family are some of the things that MPs have been getting up to, during the coronavirus lockdown.

  5. MPs react to remote voting poll

    Katy Lewis

    BBC News Online

    The Liberal Democrat MP for St Albans, Daisy Cooper, has criticised the government's move to have insist on MPs voting in person in Parliament instead of having the option to do it from home - a measure that was brought in during the coronavirus lockdown.

    A bill to not allow remote voting passed by 261 votes to 163 in the House of Commons yesterday.

    Daisy Cooper

    Ms Cooper had to join a long, socially distanced, queue to vote.

    "If they want to lead by example they should be embracing digital technology and reducing the amount of commuting MPs have to make up and down the country," she said.

    "They should be reinforcing social distancing not encouraging MPs to travel the breadth and length of the country to end up being super-spreaders and putting their own communities at risk."

    Meanwhile, the Conservative MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon said he was "ashamed" of his party after the decision.

    Mr Halfon, who has cerebral palsy and has been shielding, said it was not fair on people like him who've been told to shield by medics as they're considered vulnerable to the virus.

    He decided not to travel to Westminster yesterday, so had no vote in the decision about how the House would vote in the future.

  6. Shielding MP not going to Commons for 'virtual parliament' vote

    Andrew Sinclair

    BBC Look East political correspondent

    One of the region's MPs who is currently shielding said he will not be going to Parliament after all today for a vote on its future.

    Robert Halfon, Conservative MP for Harlow in Essex, was considering driving to Westminster to take part in the debate on the new voting arrangements and then immediately returning home.

    MPs will vote tonight on how the House of Commons will work from now on, but they'll have to be there in person to do it.

    But he says after talking to his doctor he will stay in his constituency during the ongoing pandemic and called the situation "very frustrating".

    Video content

    Video caption: Robert Halfon: Government making MPs 'Parliamentary eunuchs'

    Mr Halfon was born with mild cerebral palsy. He has since developed osteoarthritis and walks using crutches.

    His fellow Conservative, Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg, has scrapped the temporary electronic voting system which has allowed MPs not to have to attend Parliament in person.

    Mr Rees-Mogg has previously said the hybrid system of having some MPs in the chamber and others video-conferencing had cut the time available for debating legislation by around two thirds, and prevented "proper scrutiny" of the government.

    "We will not be returning to the crowded, bustling chamber of old," he said, adding MPs would be returning to a "safe working environment".

  7. Video content

    Video caption: Robert Halfon: Government making MPs 'Parliamentary eunuchs'

    Conservative MP Robert Halfon has said the government is forcing MPs back to the Commons too early.

  8. Shielding MP to drive to Commons for 'virtual parliament' vote

    Harlow MP Robert Halfon, who is shielding himself during the coronavirus pandemic due to a health condition, is planning to go to the House of Commons under protest to vote for a virtual parliament.

    Mr Halfon was born with mild cerebral palsy. He has since developed osteoarthritis due in part to many operations, and walks using crutches.

    His fellow Conservative, Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg, has scrapped the temporary electronic voting system which has allowed MPs not to have to attend Parliament in person.

    MPs will vote on Tuesday night on how the House of Commons will work from now on, but they'll have to be there to do it.

    Mr Halfon had tweeted on Friday asking Mr Rees-Mogg not to "snip away at democratic right of MPs who genuinely can't come in" as that would risk turning those MPs into "Parliamentary Eunuchs".

    View more on twitter

    Mr Rees-Mogg has previously said the hybrid system of having some MPs in the chamber and others video-conferencing had cut the time available for debating legislation by around two thirds, and prevented "proper scrutiny" of the government.

    "We will not be returning to the crowded, bustling chamber of old," he said, adding MPs would be returning to a "safe working environment".

  9. Essex MP warns against parliament returning to sit in Commons

    An Essex MP has joined others and warned against an early return to business as normal in Parliament, saying it would be would be a "retrograde step".

    Robert Halfon MP for Harlow

    Commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has suggested the current largely virtual proceedings put in place to prevent Covid-19 spreading will end on 2 June as they are stifling debate and scrutiny.

    But speaking to Politics Home,Harlow MP Robert Halfon warned the Commons would become an “apartheid Parliament” if virtual participation measures were not kept in place for those who need them.

    Mr Halfon, who is currently shielding, told the publication: “It’s not that I don’t want to come in, I would come in tomorrow if I could.

    "It cannot be a Darwinian parliament. It is not a parliament for survival of the fittest, it’s a parliament for everybody,” he added.