Archive | October, 2012

TP Parliament

Fears grow that the government has abandoned small pubs

Fears are growing that the Conservative-led Government have abandoned their responsibility to protect small pubs, and the consequence will be that a few large pub companies will come to dominate the market and ride rough-shod over publicans and small pubs.

Shadow Pub’s Minister, Toby Perkins MP, has written to Jo Swinson, the new Minister in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills asking her to demonstrate leadership, take the Government in a different direction from her predecessors, and work with him to develop a consistent policy on the beer tie which supports local pubs so the pub trade can be sure of its future.  You can read the letter here.

The beer tie is the practice whereby large pub companies (PubCos) contractually oblige a licensee to purchase beers, wines and spirits through the PubCo rather than on the open market. This theoretically resulted in tenants paying a below market rent for the premises but making up the difference through increased unit prices (known in the industry as wet rent). Many of the pub companies bought huge numbers of pubs when the breweries were forced to divest themselves of their pubs (due to the Beer Orders Act 1989 which restricted the number of pubs owned by brewers with the intention of opening up the market).  Pub companies over estimated the value of their premises and are now propping up their business model by imposing unfair restrictions on tenants and increasing the level of rents and alcohol on their tenants, often to the point where tenants have been bankrupted.

The government’s disregard for Pubs

During British Pub Week 2010, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I am a big supporter of British pubs, and I want us to be a pub-friendly Government”.  Unfortunately these warm words have not been backed up by real action.

A broad coalition of organisations as diverse as CAMRA, the Federation of Small Businesses, the BIS Select Committee, UNITE the Union, the Independent Pub Confederation, Fair Pint, the GMB Union, the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, the Guild of Master Victuallers, the Society of Independent Brewers, the Forum of Private Business and the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group – have all called for a review of the current self-regulation system which is no longer viable.

On 12 January MPs voted unanimously to conduct a review of the new self regulatory regime in Autumn 2012 and confirmed the view of the house that only a statutory code would resolve the contractual problems in the industry.

In answer to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Mr Perkins soon after the vote, the then Pub’s Minister, Norman Lamb, confirmed that he would be ignoring the vote which called for an independent review of self regulation writing that: “It would not be appropriate, at this stage, to commission an independent review.” This was clearly disingenuous given that he must have known that the motion called for a review in autumn not in March as he suggested.

The pub industry had hoped that the Government reshuffle and the appointment of several new ministers to BIS might change the Government’s approach.  However, on the list of each minister’s responsibilities on the BIS website, pubs are not included in any of their portfolios.

As successor to Norman Lamb in most other areas, the industry and MPs are assuming that Jo Swinson has taken responsibility for pubs.  However, when the Publican’s Morning Advertiser asked her for a meeting to discussion the situation she refused to meet with them, claiming all the government’s commitments made “have now been achieved”.  This prompted an angry reaction from the Chair of the BIS Select Committee and the All Party Save The Pub Group (

The Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations (FLVA) has now also written to the Swinson to express their “disappointment” at her attitude (

Toby Perkins said:

“I want to see Britain’s community pubs thriving, it is clear that there is a widespread consensus amongst those in the pub trade that there should be review of a self regulatory regime that is not fit for purpose.  Parliament also unanimously voted for this to begin in the near future.  Unfortunately, the Tory-led government is completely out of touch with the concerns of pubs and has washed its hands of any responsibility to support them.

“I hope the new Minister will perform another u-turn, open her ears to the concerns of pubs and work with us to develop a regulatory system that does right by pubs and their millions of patrons.”


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Toby calls for collective approach on Chesterfield Remploy factories in Westminster debate

Chesterfield’s MP, Toby Perkins, spoke up for the disabled staff at Chesterfield’s threatened Remploy factories in a Parliamentary debate on Tuesday (16 October 2012).

The debate was called by Toby’s Labour colleague Willie Bain MP (Glasgow North East) who is also battling Remploy closures in his own constituency.

Toby paid tribute to Mr Bain’s campaign and called for a collaborative approach to ensure that the workers at the factories do not feel isolated or ignored.

“My hon. Friend has been working incredibly hard on behalf of his constituents in Springburn, and we have been speaking a tremendous amount about this matter because both of our factories—his in Springburn and mine in Chesterfield—are under the Remploy Healthcare banner. We agree entirely about the role of Government, but does he also agree that there needs to be a real collective working together by the management, the Government and the trade unions to ensure that the work force, who are under tremendous stress at the moment, feel empowered and involved in this process and have an understanding about what the long-term future might hold? Recent events have been incredibly stressful for those people, and have led to difficult working circumstances for them.”

Toby also called for the Conservative Minister responsible for Remploy, Esther McVey, to not avoid her responsibilities in this area and to ensure a strong process is in place.

“To return to the process, my hon. Friend Mr Bain asked whether the Minister was satisfied that there was no threat of legal recourse from disappointed bidders and that the process was robust. I want to clarify whether the Minister is satisfied that the process was robust and that she is happy to take responsibility for it going forward, and that, as far as she is concerned, we are not going to come back to a west coast main line situation in which everyone says, “It was not my fault”. As long as she is happy and the process is robust, she can take responsibility for it.”

You can read more of the full debate here.

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Toby & Guide Dogs

Perkins backs Guide Dogs’ Safe and Sound campaign

Toby Perkins MP is supporting a Guide Dogs campaign ( which highlights the potential danger that quiet electric and hybrid vehicles present to visually impaired people.

Toby Perkins MP showed his support for the Safe and Sound campaign when they visited Guide Dogs’ stand at the Labour Party Conference. The imaginative stand featured a large Scalextric track, complete with Guide Stig dressed in a white racing suit and helmet, and delegates were invited to post their best times on a leader board.

After achieving a respectable lap time of 3.0 seconds, Toby Perkins MP said: “I’m pleased to support Guide Dogs’ Safe and Sound campaign, because quiet vehicles pose a real danger to all pedestrians, especially those living with sight loss.

“I think Guide Dogs did a great job of raising awareness of a serious issue in a fun way.”

Guide Dogs launched its Safe and Sound campaign at this year’s party conferences. Last month the charity released a report called Silent But Deadly, which examines the danger that quiet vehicles pose to blind and partially sighted pedestrians, who rely on hearing them approach in order to cross roads safely.

Guide Dogs believes that the risks will only increase as more quiet vehicles are sold, and so the charity wants these types of vehicle to be fitted with artificial engine noises so pedestrians can hear them approaching.

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Toby outlines the importance of sales skills at a national conference

Toby Perkins, Shadow Minister for Small Businesses, and Labour MP for Chesterfield, today (12 October 2012) addressed the Institute of Sales and Market Management’s (ISMM) Annual Conference at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

Toby spoke about his background in sales and as the owner of a small business and also outlined how he believes sales skills are vitally important to the economy and for helping young people to find employment.

You can read what he said below.

Why selling is key to the skills agenda

“Thank you to the ISMM for all of their support in the work we’re doing to promote sales skills and for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today, it’s great to be here.

Before I start, can I say this. Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour Party has quite rightly highlighted how there are parts of our business community that must change. He has highlighted the behaviour of some of our banks and the impact that has had on the small businesses who rely on them; he has spoken of the need to challenge the vested interests in fields like energy and the media who don’t work responsibly and whose practices have shamed us all.

Can I start by saying as someone who has spent more time in a sales career than a political one, I know that the vast majority of people in business don’t see the values of the rip off merchants as representing anything that we want to be associated with.  And I know Ed Miliband understands this to.

I’d like to say a word or two to all those people who have dedicated their lives to a sales career, to business success, who have generated revenue, employed staff, trained and developed young people, paid the tax revenues that have built a thousand schools and a hundred hospitals . To all of you I want to say this.           THANK YOU.

Thank you is something we don’t find time to say often enough, but I mean it from the bottom of my heart.
Let me tell you a little bit about my history and why I am so passionate about the importance of sales for the economy, as a career option and in helping British firms to grow on the world stage.As I alluded to a moment ago I have been the Member of Parliament for Chesterfield since 2010 but before that I was a human being.
But for all the sales we made, I can still remember the first one, and though it was only £22 I can still remember the feeling when my email box went ping and that first order came in.I Left school at 17, went into sales, worked in telesales (like most people I didn’t look for a job in sales, I just kind of fell into it). From there, I worked in recruitment as a Consultant and subsequently Regional Manager at one of Britain’s fastest growing companies. In 2005 I set up my second company, and this one actually did pretty well, Called Club Rugby we were an online rugby kit distributor who also imported and sold bespoke kit to rugby clubs, universities and schools.

I can also remember the very first sale I ever made back in 1987. I know what it was for, how much it cost and who it was too. Sales was a passion as well as my livelihood
I can also remember that first morning when I woke up self employed. And that feeling. If I dont sell something today, we dont eat tonight. Can be pretty lonely.But sales has been the life blood of so many businesses since the beginning of time.

Because so many firms know the truth of one of the oldest adages in business; until someone sells something, nothing happens.

But whilst sales is certainly key to businesses across the UK, it is also a key component of our economy in its own right. Famously the NHS is the world 3rd largest employer, behind just the Indian Railway and the Chinese Army . Yet at 1.7 million people it falls some 500,000 behind the number employed in sales and customer services roles (9% of all the people employed in the UK.)

2 million three hundred thousand people employed in selling, and if we could estimate how much of the economy was employed by those people it would be truly staggering.

And yet when sales is so key to our economic prosperity, so vital as a source of employment and revenue growth, how can it be that government has so little strategy to encourage young people to pursue a career in sales and so little idea how to help people be good at it.

Consider this…  The A level Business Studies specification mentions production 36 times, marketing 35 times and accounting 22 times. Sales?? Just the once.

In fact it is perfectly possible to complete a three year Business Studies degree without once turning your mind to the idea of how a product or service is sold.

It seems that in Britain we are ashamed to promote the value of selling, and indeed to describe someone as a salesman is a pejorative term to describe someone as showy and lacking in depth or understanding. This denigration of the reputation of sales must stop!

But alongside the value of sales to the UK economy there are other strong reasons for one nation Labour to want greater recognition of the importance of sales.

We face a graduate employment crisis, yet too few graduates view a sales career as attractive, and sales is also a multi tiered role offering a step up for so many people who haven’t enjoyed glittering academic careers.

From telephone advertising sales to the car showrooms and from home improvements to the call centres many people have seen unpromising lives transformed by the discovery of unknown talents.

That’s why as Labour’s shadow small business minister I want to see a future one nation labour government promote sales as a career that is not only to be respected but is imperative to our future economic success and to embark on a programme of discovery that ensures we have more young people better prepared for the world of business and work generally and for sales in particular when they leave our education system.

The world is changing, soon the world will house 8 billion middle class people, and the N11 countries are chasing the BRIC nations in fighting for their share of the growth. Success in the future wont come from being quite good at a lot of things but from what you excel in.

When we think of the pace of technological change that we have seen in recent years. With the growth of the internet followed by the enormous opportunities created by social media, the electronic  infrastructure developments and necessity for worldwide high speed broadband, the quantity of data we store and move and the technological developments that open new frontiers in every field in every country every day it is hard to believe this.

But the truth is the pace of technological change will never again be as slow as it is today.

Many of the jobs that our young people will do in ten years don’t even exist today, and so the skills agenda will place a premium on the capacity to absorb new information and skills, to communicate and to persuade. And whilst technology is changing so we all know is the way that we sell and the way that we communicate.

So the sales people of today often need to be technologically competent and capable of communicating in many different forms as well as having rounded skills.

Later this year, the Labour Party will be holding a sales skills summit with professionals from across the world of sales to discuss the role government can play in improving the sales skills of our school leavers, our college and university graduates and how we can ensure sales remains one of the most educationally and socially diverse professions of all, the ultimate meritocracy where performance outweighs background and where how well you perform means more than where you come from.

Inviting business experts to feed into our policy review isn’t just good politics and leads to good policy making, it is absolutely fundamental to ensuring that Labour’s business policy is rooted in the real world needs of British employers.

We know that Britain faces a serious challenge. The road back to financial prosperity won’t be easy and for us to get there we must make the best of all our talents, to be one nation we must build a country in which we can all contribute and we expect no less of all those who can.

And we know that we must make more, but to make more we must sell more. That is why the work you do is so important, and why the next Labour government will salute the work you do and promote it to the next generation;

I look forward to hearing your ideas about how we can get more of our young people turned onto sales, and how we can build the growth of tomorrow by better preparing the young today, your insight is invaluable as is the work you are doing have a great conference friends. Thank you very much.”

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Empty... The previous meeting was poorly advertised

Consultation is “Shambles”

A ‘public’ consultation on plans to shut 53 ambulance stations was slammed as a ‘shambles’ after not a single member of the public turned up.

Empty... Stonegravels Parish Centre

Empty... Stonegravels Parish Centre

Toby Perkins MP, Member of Parliament for Chesterfield said: “These are important changes that could dramatically change the way our ambulance services are delivered. Yet there was no publicity about the consultation, I only found out by accident, the press notices on the consultation were sent out late and in most cases weren’t received.

There are arguments for and against the proposals, but the way this consultation is being handled provides a very one sided description of the advantages to an empty hall. It is a total shambles. I have demanded that the Ambulance service hold another public meeting that people are made aware of, and present a balanced presentation that reflects the risks as well as the benefits of these plans.”

The only conclusion you can come to is that this is an attempt to get major changes in through the back door. I dread to think how much money was wasted on a consultation entirely attended by my staff and a single journalist.

There are currently 66 ambulance stations across the East Midlands region and ambulances are taken there when they need cleaning as they often do after a call out. They would now go to a much smaller number of hubs, potentially meaning more redundant time travelling between hubs and slower reaction times. The plans would be paid for by selling off the majority of ambulance stations.

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Toby Perkins MP

Not sitting, but still learning

Toby Perkins MP writes for the Derbyshire Times…

Toby Perkins MP

Toby Perkins MP


Parliament is currently in recess for the conference season, meaning no laws get passed but all parties have an opportunity to spell out their policy thinking at this stage of the political cycle.

Whilst conference provides political parties with a week of scrutiny and publicity, the recess also affords MPs important time in their constituencies to learn more about what is happening and to see how the theoretical talk of Westminster plays out in the real world.

I am once again in awe at the commitment and contribution of the voluntary sector. Visiting the new Ashgate Hospice Collection Centre is to see the latest stage in the growth of a much loved Chesterfield institution. The Hospice has applied modern day business principles to the serious business of raising money which supports the caring ethos that has enriched the final days of so many local people.

From charity walks and drag races to the network of shops Ashgate Hospice has shown that voluntary doesn’t need to mean amateur. But across Chesterfield so many other people are committing to causes from cancer charities and sports clubs to advice agencies, religious and political groups.

Last Friday saw one of the highlights of the charity calendar in the form of the Macmillan’s Coffee mornings. I attended three, at Barclays Bank, Chesterfield Labour Club and at Brimington Bowls Club where the inspirational Pam Wright has created a major 32 player tournament around the fund raising and raises four figure sums in the good cause.

But alongside promoting the work of our charitable groups the recess also provides an opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing our public and private sectors.

I also visited Mary Swanwick school and learnt how Zoe Kimber, a newly qualified nursery teacher is pursuing new plans to open up the overgrown gardens and exploit the natural wonders on our doorsteps for children there, and met with bosses in the restructured doctors network to see how GPs are handling the NHS’s greatest ever changes.

Whilst the voluntary sector are often marrying together public funds and private revenue streams and the public sector must constantly seek to deliver more for less, as Labour’s shadow Business Minister I am always aware that Britain’s business success is the cornerstone of our economic recovery.

Our small firms provide 75% of our employment and 50% of our tax revenues and reducing the barriers that the growth creators face and increasing the support British firms need to expand and to take their products or services into export markets has never been more important.

To this end, I have visited over 50 Chesterfield businesses during my two and a quarter years as the town’s MP and will visit and take up the cause of many more.

A week of recess in Chesterfield can teach me more about the real life challenges facing us than a month of parliamentary debates. It has taught me the value that all sectors provide to our economy and our society and we should salute them all.

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Toby Perkins MP presenting staff from West Bars Tandoori with their award

Spicing up Chesterfield!

A Chesterfield restaurant has taken a top accolade in a prestigious competition.


Toby Perkins MP presenting staff from West Bars Tandoori with their award

Toby Perkins MP presenting staff from West Bars Tandoori with their award


West Bars Tandoori has won the regional runners up prize in the Tiffin Cup, following their nomination by Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins. 

The hotly-contested annual competition, backed by a cross-party group of Parliamentarians, sees MPs country-wide nominate a South Asian restaurant from their constituency. 

Following Mr Perkins’s nomination, a mystery diner ate at West Bars Tandoori to sample the curry house’s signature dishes, atmosphere and service. 

Commended establishments in each UK region have been awarded celebratory embodied chef’s whites and a certificate in recognition of their success. 

Toby Perkins MP, who presented West Bars Tandoori with their prize, said: “I am delighted that West Bars Tandoori have won this prestigious recognition. 

“We’re lucky in Chesterfield to have a good number of excellent restaurants and West Bars Tandoori is a colourful and much-loved feature of the local culinary scene.” 

Mr Perkins added: “I wish all the staff at West Bars every success in the future and look forward to enjoying many more excellent meals at the restaurant.”


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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email to make a booking.

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