Parliamentary Career, 2015 - Present
Alex Chalk was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Cheltenham in May 2015 and was re-elected in 2017.
Justice Select Committee
In June 2015, Alex was appointed to the Justice Select Committee, which scrutinises the Government's decisions relating to the justice system. Alex's membership of the Committee continued until the dissolution of the 2015 Parliament on Wednesday 3rd May 2017, and resumed after his re-election in September 2017. For the duration of Alex's time as a member of the Committee, the Committee has held inquiries into:
- Courts and Tribunals Fees and Charges
- Disclosure of Youth Criminal Records
- Implications of Brexit for the Crown Dependencies
- Implications of Brexit for the Justice System
- Personal Injury: Whiplash and Small Claims Limits
- Pre-Appointment Scrutiny of HM Chief Inspector of Prisons and HM Chief Inspector of Probation
- Pre-Appointment Scrutiny of the Chair of Judicial Appointments Commission
- Prison Reform
- Restorative Justice
- Role of the Magistracy
- Transforming Rehabilitation
- Youth Adult Offenders
Please click on each topic to find the publications which the Committee published in relation to each inquiry.
All Party Parliamentary Groups
In addition to his role on the Justice Select Committee, Alex was active in a number of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs). APPGs are informal groups of Members who join together to pursue a particular topic or interest regardless of the individual's Party membership. They are essentially run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords, although many groups involve individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities.
In the 2015-2017 Parliament, Alex was Chair of the APPG on Pro Bono; Co- Chair of the APPG on Cycling; Vice Chair of the APPG on Public Legal Education; Vice Chair of the APPG on Bees; Vice Chair of the APPG on Lyme Disease; and was a member of the APPG for Highways Maintenance.
Alex is also Vice-Chair of the APPG for Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees, and Vice-Chair of the APPG for Town and City Centres.
Throughout his time as MP for Cheltenham between 2015-2017, Alex addressed the House of Commons on hundreds of issues affecting both Cheltenham on a local level and the UK as a whole. A full list of all of Alex's appearances in Parliament can be found here.
- Stalking- Increasing the Maximum Sentence
Alex teamed up with neighbouring Gloucester MP, Richard Graham, throughout the 2015-2017 Parliament to see an increase in the maximum sentencing for stalking from five to ten years' imprisonment. You can find our report supporting the call for an increase in sentencing here.
This campaign was a direct result of the conversations Chalk and Graham had with a local GP who had been through a harrowing ordeal in which she was stalked for eight years. Both Chalk and Graham believed that the maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment was too lenient and did not do enough to protect victims of stalking, and was not adequate to successfully rehabilitate stalkers. The campaign was backed by renowned stalking charities Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Paladin and Hollie Gazzard Trust as well as Parliamentarians of both Houses, industry experts and academics, survivors of stalking and family members of victims.
Following a debate in Parliament on stalking, tabled and led by Chalk; a Private Member's Bill on Increasing the Maximum Sentencing for Stalking sponsored by Chalk; meetings with the then Secretary of State for Justice Lord Chancellor Rt Hon Michael Gove MP; talks with the then Minister for Sentencing Dominic Raab MP; discussions with Secretary of State for Justice Lord Chancellor Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP; and conversations with Minister for Sentencing Sam Gyimah MP, Chalk and Graham persuaded the Government to increase the maximum sentence for stalking.
The sentence for stalking was doubled from five to ten years' imprisonment by way of Amendment 134A, introduced to the House of Commons by Home Secretary Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, to the Policing and Crime Bill. The Policing and Crime Bill became The Policing and Crime Act (2017) when it passed into law by Royal Assent on 31st January 2017.
Commenting on the increase in sentencing after the campaign achieved success, Alex wrote:
"I am absolutely delighted that on Tuesday evening the House of Commons voted to double the maximum sentence for stalking from five to ten years. This was the culmination of a sixteen-month campaign which began when I was first contacted in summer 2015 about the injustice that my constituent, a Cheltenham GP, had suffered at the hands of the criminal justice system."
If you have been affected by stalking, please call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 for advice and support.
- European Union
Arguably the defining issue of the 2015-2017 was that of whether to exit the European Union. Chalk voted to remain in the EU in the referendum, but voted for triggering Article 50 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union after the 2016 EU Referendum demonstrated that 51.9% of UK voters wanted to leave the EU. Commenting on the triggering of Article 50 in his weekly column for local newspaper The Gloucestershire Echo, Alex stated:
"Nobody should be under any illusions: the process that we are embarking on is of labyrinthine complexity. Things will get harder before they get easier. But as 64% of respondents agreed in a recent YouGov poll, there is no credible alternative but to respect the referendum result. Doing otherwise would mean far greater chaos and instability. Now is the time to come together as a nation and focus on getting the best deal for our country. Let’s seek out the opportunities too."
- Cyberbullying and Young People's Mental Health
From his experiences as a constituency MP, Alex became concerned about the apparent decline the mental health of children and young people.
This phenomenon felt like a lasting surge, instead of a temporary spike, and so Alex teamed up with The Children's Society and Young Minds in 2017 to set up a cross-party inquiry investigating the role that cyberbullying plays in this drop in mental health.
Over 1,000 young people provided evidence and the inquiry also took evidence from the big social media giants, along with experts and medical professionals in the field. A staggering 83% of young people said that companies should do more to tackle the issue of cyberbullying, and a shocking 68% of the respondents said that they had experienced cyberbullying at one point.
At the report launch in March 2018, Alex called for to stop "Social Media companies marking their own homework". Alex hosted an adjournment debate on the matter, which you can watch here.
You can find out more about the inquiry by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.