The work of any MP is, by its very nature, varied - especially so in Westminster. Mark is associated with a number of bodies and organisations on a more permanent basis, as well as contributing to current debates and issues.
Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards
Mark is a member of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards which was appointed by both Houses of Parliament in July 2012. Its role is to consider and report on:
- Professional standards and culture of the UK banking sector, taking account of regulatory and competition investigations into the LIBOR rate-setting process.
- Lessons to be learned about corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest, and their implications for regulation and for Government policy.
As well as to make recommendations for legislative and other action. The Commission will report on legislative action in early 2013.
For further information and publications, please click here.
Treasury Select Committee
With the state of the country's finances, the euro in crisis, confidence in our banks at an all time low and our system of financial regulation in need of restoration the work of the Treasury Select Committee has never been so important.
As a member of that committee, Mark is one of the 13 man team whose job it is to examine and scrutinise the expenditure, administration and policy of HM Treasury, HM Revenue and Customs, and associated public bodies including the Bank of England and the FSA.
Mark brings to the committee previous experience in banking, investment and business. This gives him a useful financial and economic background that has proved invaluable to his ability to scrutinising the proposed changes being brought in by the Government and other regulating bodies.
The Committee chooses its own subjects of inquiry and since Mark has been a member these have included;
- - The Future of Cheques
- - Accountability of the Bank of England
- - Private Finance Initiative (PFI)
- - Competition and Choice in the Banking Sector
During these inquires the committee take oral and written evidence from interested parties which often includes senior figures such as the Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England.
In March 2011 Mark spearheaded a TSC inquiry into the Retail Distribution Review (RDR), which is part of the FSA's consumer protection strategy. It has three clear objectives which are:
- A transparent and fairer charging system for financial advice
- A better qualification framework for advisers
- Greater clarity around the type of financial advice being offered
Although the objectives behind RDR are admirable, Mark feared that the level and intensity of the new qualification framework would put up to 20% of Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) out of their jobs. This would mean consumers would get LESS choice, not more.
The Committee received an overwhelming amount of evidence from IFAs across the country as well as from Wyre Forest, illustrating the strength of feeling behind the issue. It also took oral evidence from Hector Sants, CEO of the FSA and Sheila Nichol, Director of Conduct Policy at the FSA.
In a report on the inquiry the Committee called on the FSA to delay implementing RDR for 12 months to allow advisers more time to comply with the new rules. It also recommended that the RDR should work on a more flexible, case by case basis.
Click here for more details of the work of the committee, including publications and reports.
All Party Parliamentary Groups
All Party Parliamentary Groups, or APPGs, are regarded as relatively informal compared with select committees. However, they are important as they bring together Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum to champion various causes, issues and activities. This can be through personal interest, as a result of constituency interests, or where experience can be brought to bear.
Mark is a member of a number of groups, but acts as an officer on a selection (some still in the process of being formed) of groups where he has something to contribute. Mark is a member of the following APPGs:
This APPG aims to develop good relations between the legislatures and governments of Azerbaijan and the UK.
This APPG aims to promote the interests of the carpet industry and associated businesses in Parliament, responding to issues on behalf of the industry, and ensuring the industry has a loud and clear voice in Parliament.
To engage with the People's Republic of China (including Hong Kong) and to develop all aspects of the bilateral relationship. In particular, to engage closely with Anglo-Chinese organisations, the National People's Congress, the Chinese embassy in London and the wider Chinese community in the UK.
This APPG aims to promote awareness of all aspects of the British aerospace sector in Parliament and government.
Business, Finance and Accountancy
To enable high level discussion between Parliament and business leaders on major issues relating to business, finance and accountancy, including social responsibility and sustainability.
To raise greater awareness in the Houses of Parliament for aspects of the well-being of the nation's children, and our obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child; to work with children, young people, children's organisations, and politicians from all sides to promote first class policy for children.
To raise, in Parliament, the profile of diabetes and its prevention; to monitor new initiatives; and to work to ensure a better deal for people with diabetes.
Economics, Money and Banking
To provide Members with information, new ideas, talks and debating opportunities on economics, money and banking. Mark is Vice Chair of this APPG.
The Economy of the West Midlands
Aims to stimulate the local economy and to make sure that it remains a safe haven for businesses and organisations to grow, whilst helping to get businesses, government and universities working together to boost skills, attract investment and strengthen the region's economy and create a brighter future.
To explore each area where EU legislation impacts on the UK and assess whether this is better dealt with at the national or European level. To work with MEPs, interest groups and other experts to explore what a new UK-EU relationship could look like and what needs to be done to get there. Mark is Vice Chair of this APPG.
Mark is also a member of the 'Fresh Start Project'; a group of backbench Conservative MPs who are dedicated to researching our relationship with the EU, supporting renegotiation of those areas in which we find our country's interests are not well-served.
Financial Education for Young People
Mark is a cofounder and current Vice Chair of the APPG for Financial Education for Young people. Mark firmly believes in the ability of Financial Education to ensure that ''our young adults coming out of our local schools are as financially literate as possible,'' to help reverse the culture of high borrowing and low saving in the UK.
The APPG has published a report called 'Financial Education in the Curriculum'. The report follows an eight month, UK-wide inquiry, and recommends that the Government should promote the provision of high quality financial education in schools in England. Mark supports these recommendations.
Game and Wildlife Conservation
To provide a forum for the discussion of science-based wildlife conservation policies in the countryside.
Mark is the Chair of this APPG, the aim of which is to brief parliamentarians about heritage railways, the contribution they make to their local and regional economies, and the skills training opportunities involved.
"The best way to secure a bright economic future for any area," says Mark "is to ensure that its businesses and industry have first class infrastructure links." Mark is Secretary of this APPG.
Infrastructure has continued to remain has one of Mark's key priorities and is one of the most important factors in the revival of the economy so it can plan for the future confidently. Mark has emphasised its role and the importance of engineering professions to execute these policies further.
As a member of the Treasury Select Committee, Mark is keen to develop infrastructure to ensure the government's growth agenda delivers promising results.
Insurance and Financial Services
Aims to examine issues of interest to the insurance industry and broader financial sectors, especially where there are legislative implications. There is particular concentration on improving communication between the insurance industry and Parliament, which has helped to tackle a wide range of issues. It meets frequently with the regulators and a wide range of organisations representing the industry.
Interest Rate Swap Mis-Selling
Mark is Vice Chair of this APPG which aims to examine and address the impact of mis-sold interest rate swap products to UK small and medium sized businesses.
Combating Metal Theft
To focus on the scourge of metal theft affecting the UK, consider its impacts and look at possible solutions to it whether by legislative or other means. As part of this it will invite non-parliamentary membership from amongst the affected sectors and wider affected community. Mark is Vice Chair of this APPG.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME)
The APPG on ME strives to support the improvement of health, social care, education and employment opportunities for people affected by ME Mark is a member of the APPG as well as being patron of the Worcestershire ME support group.
Speaking about the illness, Mark said, "ME is an appalling condition that still has little understanding in both the wider community and the medical profession. Having worked with sufferers, I am keen that this condition receives as much attention as possible and that is why I am proud to be the patron of the Worcestershire ME Support Group and to support APPG on ME in every way I can."
The Packaging Manufacturing Industry
To create a better understanding of UK packaging manufacture; to address issues facing industry from regulation; and to promote the UK as a centre of excellence for packaging manufacture.
Primary Care and Public Health
To raise the profile of primary care and public health within Parliament; to speak within Parliament on behalf of both users and those working in the NHS; to place primary care and public health high on the government's agenda; and to inform debate by parliamentarians with outside bodies.
Retail and Business Crime
To raise the profile of retail and business crime issues in Parliament.
Parliamentary Space Committee (an Associate Parliamentary Group)
Mark is Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Space Committee which aims to raise awareness of the huge benefits we all enjoy from Britain's leading role in space. More than ever, Space is the future of technology, the economy, society and climate change, and also directly employs 25,000 people across a variety of other industries.
Mark is keen to harness some of this potential for Wyre Forest. He said; "At the moment, 79% of the space industry is concentrated in London and the South East, but I want to see this change over the coming years.
"The economic benefits of a space station locating in Kidderminster, for example, would see a massive boom in job and investment opportunities which could transform the area beyond recognition."
This APPG focuses on telehealth in the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies. This can be as simple as a doctor contacting a patient by email, or even a patient monitoring his or her own health from home.
The benefits include greater independence for patients, more rapid responses by GPs and greater access to people living in remote communities. The system could also bring large savings to the NHS by reducing the number of hospital admissions, home visits by the GP and the number of appointments at the GP surgery.
Although Mark is now stepping down as chairman of the APPG he continues to play an active role as Vice Chair. He believes that telehealth "will be one of the defining factors of health in the 21st century."
As an active member of the APPG for inland waterways, Mark appreciates that waterways are an important issue to Wyre Forest because of the canals in Worcestershire and the regeneration sites in Kidderminster and Stourport-on-Severn.
"Wyre Forest is one of the wettest constituencies and boasts some of the most beautiful canals and rivers in the country. I therefore think it is incredibly important that I play role in the APPG for Waterways which does an excellent job in keeping the interests of our national waterways at the forefront of the Government's agenda."
Topical Work in Parliament
News stories relating to Mark's topical work and contributions to Parliament can be found here.