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MP asks Secretary of State: What more is left to cut?

Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South)

As Portsmouth schools face further cash slash, MP asks Secretary of State: What more is left to cut?

Funding per-pupil will fall by £242 between 2016-20, with class sizes rising and staff numbers falling

Today in the House of Commons, MP for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, once again challenged the Secretary of State for Education on school cuts in the city.

Mr Morgan asked Damian Hinds, ‘can the Secretary of State tell us where Portsmouth should make savings, as they are already having to do – should they cut teachers? Increase class sizes further? Shorten the school day?’ The Portsmouth MP told the Conservative front bench ‘parents and teachers in my constituency deserve better’.

This is the latest development in Mr Morgan’s campaign for fairer funding for city schools and this weekend he met with local teachers to discuss their concerns, having visited three city schools the day before.

The MP previously raised the issue of school funding directly with the Prime Minister, following several local cases involving teachers paying for basic supplies and pupil’s school meals from their own wages.

New research by the school cuts coalition of unions (NEU, NAHT, ASCL, UNISON, GMB and Unite) shows that 75% of secondary and 56% of primary schools in Portsmouth have seen class sizes increase since 2014. At the same time, they are set to lose over £3million in funding by 2019/20.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

‘Schools in Portsmouth have been doing all they can to shield their pupils from the damage caused by the Government’s decision to cut £2.8 billion from school budgets since 2015. But the lack of investment is really starting to bite.

‘Our city’s schools are set to lose £3.6m by 2020. From my conversations with local teachers and parents, the experience on the ground varies wildly from that expressed at the dispatch box by the Secretary of State this afternoon.

The Government continues to be willing to turn a blind eye to the crisis in our schools.’

Kirkcaldy food bank demand reaches record-high

Lesley Laird (Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath)

A Fife MP has blasted the government for ‘abusing’ third sector groups, after Kirkcaldy Food Bank revealed demand has reached unprecedented levels.

According to figures discussed at the food bank’s board meeting last night (Tuesday), March saw a record number of emergency food parcels (742) issued to a record number of people (1491).

That amounted to 13,419 meals – compared to 4464 meals issued in March 2015.

Joyce Leggate, chairperson of Kirkcaldy Foodbank, said: “Since November last year – with the exception of February – we have at least 100 new clients coming forward each month for support and family numbers are rising.

“During 2018, benefit issues – delay, sanction and change – were the reason given by 55 per cent of clients for the nature of the crisis which led to them contacting us.

“Captured data shows 28 per cent of all clients are experiencing problems with benefit delays and Universal Credit but anecdotal evidence strongly suggests the true figure is much higher.”

Joyce said rising demand was a chronic worry, particularly given the foodbank relies 100 per cent on donations from the public.

In recent months it cost the food bank £4k a month – over and above food donations – to buy enough food to meet demand currently.

That bill rose to £6k last month and is expected to be the same again in April.

“We reached a point last year where we were only six weeks away from closing because of a discrepancy between supply and demand but our call-out for help brought a considerable swell of support from the public,” said Joyce.

“The Kirkcaldy community is so generous, it’s humbling.” 

She added: “However, the reality is that as quick as we can catch-up, we find ourselves catching up again and we can never take our eye off the ball.

“There’s nothing worse than having to turn away a family, saying we have nothing left to hand out.”

Worryingly, the foodbank has for the first time had pensioners come forward for help.

“We’re not sure whether it’s the effect of fuel bills, but we had two pensioners come in one morning recently saying they couldn’t survive on their state pension. It was quite startling,” said Joyce.

Reacting to Kirkcaldy Food Bank’s figures, Lesley Laird MP said it was evident the government was increasingly reliant on using third sector groups to prop up the welfare state and that was unacceptable.

She said:  “Let’s be clear. What we have is a deliberate unpicking by this government of all the progress fought for over decades by our parents and our grandparents. 

“When they survived the Great Depression their enduring mission was to ensure that future generations would never have to go hungry or worry about heating their homes. 

“Sadly, the increasing reality for too many people in our community that is exactly what is happening.”

She added: “With an additional one million children likely to be in poverty and pensioner poverty once again on the rise, this Government is undoing all the measures put in place by my predecessor, Gordon Brown, when Labour lifted a million children out of poverty and pensioner poverty levels dropped to 18 per cent.

“When we reflect that the full impact of Universal Credit is yet to fully hit then little wonder that foodbanks across the country and right here on our doorstep are saying there is a very serious problem. 

“While the Tories are saying ‘No connection. Nothing to see here.'”


The post Kirkcaldy food bank demand reaches record-high appeared first on Lesley Laird.

Preet urges West Midlands Police to take action

Preet Gill (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

Preet Kaur Gill MP has written to the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Dave Thompson, urging him to take action to address the increase in drug related crime in Harborne.

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I will be giving a lecture on public services and the use of the private sector. Please let me know if you would like to attend.

International Workers Memorial Day 2018

Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)

Saturday 28th April 2018 is International Workers Memorial Day.  Barking, Dagenham and Havering Trades Union Council will be planting a tree on the green, opposite Rainham Library highlighting a forgotten tragic event which caused injury to many local people and stole the lives of seven men working at The JC and J Fields Factory, a former soap manufacturer, which had been rented by Rainham Chemical Works and housed several volatile chemicals. 

September 14th 1916, a fire broke out in the factory.  Several large explosions caused considerable damage to nearby factories and buildings.  Those living close by escaped in boats on the river and workers in the factory were evacuated.  Bravely, Romford firefighters rescued many women from the blazing fires. A great number of residents and workers suffered varying degrees of injury, and seven men lost their lives in the fire.  Sadder still, is that none of these men or this tragic event are commemorated locally.  

The firefighters involved in the incident were all volunteers and received OBEs for their bravery.  The incident wasn’t reported at the time because the factory was making munitions. An initial report blamed one of the workers for the fire, however, the report sent to Winston Churchill stated that no workers were to blame.  Clearly the factory was not safe.

With the support of local Councillors and Jon Cruddas MP, Barking Dagenham and Havering Trades Union Council are calling for a permanent stone memorial to be placed locally to remember those men and women who were met with death and injury while at their place of work.

In the meantime, an oak tree will be planted, and a plaque sited on the green opposite Rainham library on Saturday 28th April at 12.00 noon. Jon Cruddas MP will be in attendance along with local campaigners to mark International Workers Memorial Day.

This initiative came from a request made by local trade unionist Sean Connolly, who lives in Rainham and works at the Ford’s Factory.

Local residents are all invited to attend the tree planting this Saturday at 12pm on the green opposite Rainham Library.

The New Turner Free School

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

The educational landscape of Folkestone and Cheriton will change in September with the opening of the new Turner Free School, the successor to Pent Valley Technology College. Last Friday I met with Jo Saxton the chief executive of Turner Schools, who are responsible for the launch of the new free school, as well as running the Folkestone Academy, and Martello and Morehall primaries, to discuss the progress they are making. We were also joined by Kristina Yates, who will be the head of the new school, following a career where she has also held senior positions at both the Folkestone School for Girls, and the Marsh Academy. It is great to see that when the Turner Free School opens its doors in September that it will have filled all of its places for the year seven entry form. This already stands as a remarkable statement of confidence from local families in the new school, and is in stark contrast to the final years of the old. The leadership team for the Free School are clearly excited about what they can deliver and achieve for their future pupils, and I look forward to visiting them when it opens next term.

I was delighted last Friday, to also be invited to open the latest part of the restoration of the Port Lympne mansion. The Moorish Patio, is a decorative open courtyard in the centre of the house, which was inspired by Sir Philip Sassoon’s trips to Spain and Morocco after the First World War. I’m sure this will be a popular feature for visitors to Port Lympne, as well as for people organising events at the mansion. Port Lympne has gone from strength to strength over the last few years in terms of investment in onsite accommodation. This has made it a major local employer the leisure and tourism industry. Its work has been recognised by being shortlisted for national tourism awards, and has attracted more visitors to come and stay in our area; which is good for many more local businesses. I would like to congratulate Bob O’Connor and his team at the Port Lympne on the delivery of another excellent and innovative project.

At the time of writing this column, I would also like to send my best wishes to Folkestone Invicta for their Kent Senior Cup final against Maidstone United, and for their forthcoming Bostik Premier League play off matches. I’m sure as well that Hythe Town will be able to secure their place in the South Division play-offs with a fine result at home against Corinthian Casuals on Saturday. Congratulations are due to both clubs for the excellent seasons they have enjoyed so far.

Finally, I would like to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their son on Monday. What could be more English, than for the newest member of the Royal Family to be delivered on St George’s Day.

The post The New Turner Free School appeared first on Damian Collins.


Martin Docherty (West Dunbartonshire)

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP welcomed Loch Lomond Brewery to the House of Commons this week to showcase the local family firm’s popular craft beer in parliament. The MP for West Dunbartonshire invited the Alexandria-based brewers to parliament after securing a guest spot for its multi-award winning ‘Southern Summit’ pale ale in the Strangers’ Bar. Loch Lomond Brewery’s co-owner Euan MacEachern and sales manager George Wotherspoon were given a tour of the Commons, and presented with a certificate on behalf of the...

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The post TASTE OF WEST DUNBARTONSHIRE COMES TO HOUSE OF COMMONS appeared first on Martin Docherty-Hughes MP.

Westminster Hall Debate on Global Road Deaths

Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield)

Yesterday, I hosted a Westminster Hall Debate on global road deaths. As a committed campaigner against preventable traffic collisions for many years, I called for this important debate because it is crucial that we raise awareness of one of the greatest epidemics of our time.

Emma Reynolds, Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East, is supporting plans for St George’s Day to be made a bank holiday in England. St George’s Day falls on 23 April. St George has been the Patron Saint of England since the fourteenth century. According to legend, St George was a Roman soldier of Greek origin who was executed by the Roman emperor Diocletian after he refused to recant his Christian faith, although today St George is most famous for his mythical victory over a Dragon, a tale that remains very popular with both children and adults.

Emma said “I support the proposal to make St George’s Day a bank holiday in England. St George was someone who stood up to injustice and was prepared to stand up for his beliefs, even when it cost him his life. A sense of fair play and standing up for the underdog are some of our country’s best values, and such shared values should be celebrated by making St George’s Day a national holiday.”

Do you want St George’s Day to be an official bank holiday? I want to hear from you. Please email me at: emma.reynolds.mp@parliament.uk

April 2018


The post Emma supports plans for St George’s Day to be a bank holiday in England appeared first on Emma Reynolds MP.

Figures reveal rising food bank use

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

In recent years, the rise in the number of people requiring the support of food banks has been alarming and the past year has been no different. Figures released yesterday by the Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network, reveal that food banks provided record levels of emergency food supplies last year. The Trust […]

Bank will carry out review on Upton Lloyd’s closure plan

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

Bank bosses have agreed to carry out an urgent review into the plans to close the Lloyd’s Bank in Upton-upon-Severn – the last bank in the town. read more »

If you’ve been watching the news recently you’ll have heard about Orkambi, one of only two drugs to help those suffering from Cystic Fibrosis.  Orkambi is not routinely available on the Welsh NHS and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust has been campaigning to change that. 

Visiting our valuable care homes

Derek Thomas (St Ives)

West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas paid two separate visits to Penzance care homes on Saturday to celebrate National Care Home Open Day.

First stop was St Mary’s Haven where Mr Thomas chatted to residents and their families while being entertained by two local entertainers.

He then made the short trip down to the Old Manor House care home in Regent Square where he was joined by Pensans Morris dancers, local Rotarians and members of the fire service as well as town mayor Dick Cliffe, who had also visited St Mary’s Haven.

The aim of National Care Home Open Day is to strengthen the connections between care homes and their local communities and showcase the excellent care being provided by care staff.

Mr Thomas said he was impressed with the standard of care at both homes and urged more people to take advantage of the annual open day.

“Visiting a local care home on National Care Home Open Day is a very good way of busting myths and finding out exactly what life is like in a care home,” said Mr Thomas.

“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the residents at the Old Manor House and it’s clear that the staff have a very caring and professional approach which makes for a warm and friendly atmosphere for those who live there.”

Alongside site staff and managers, Ruth George MP was joined by Directors from the Casey Group, and inspection staff from the Environment Agency, for a visit to Arden Quarry on Wednesday 11 April.

The party spent two hours on a walking tour of the site to observe operations including deliveries and compacting, leachate control, lining and capping, gas extraction and heat exchange. Photos were taken around the site covering all aspects of operations including the weighbridge, compacting, lining and capping, shafts, piping, leachate tanks and the gas engine.


All waste received at the site is pre-booked with the contents of each delivery fully listed. Lorries are turned away if the paperwork does not match the load. Lorries enter the site via a weighbridge which is always staffed whilst the facility is open.


The waste is mainly from domestic refuse and is non-hazardous. It mainly arrives from Derbyshire County Council transfer sites at Glossop and Waterswallows Lane so has its origin locally.


On delivery, the waste is emptied in to lined cells and compacted down before covering.


Leachate is drawn off and pre-treated before entering the sewage system; there is no leaching into watercourse, the water-table or drains.


Landfill gas is piped into an on-site engine and used to generate power.


Whilst fully acknowledging the need to respond to complaints and to minimise odour from operations, some of the nasty smells experienced in New Mills and Hayfield turn out to be from other sources such as coal fires and silage. For instance, for a period since March this year, a nearby farm has had permission to spread sewage waste on fields starting in and this is bound to release an unpleasant odour when it is taking place.


The Casey Group welcomes visitors at open days and will accommodate groups at other times by arrangement either via the Liaison Group or direct with the Site Manager. The Environment Agency makes unannounced visits each month.

The company has plans to engineer gentler gradients for both operations and roads on site as well as to improve appearance with landscaping.

The post Ruth George MP visits Casey Group Arden Quarry landfill site appeared first on Ruth George MP for High Peak.

In recent weeks and months I’ve been working to visit as many local Primary schools as I can, to see some of the fantastic work they are doing, as well as to hear about the many challenges that they face.
Every Primary has a different challenge, some with academic things like SATs results, others with poor quality buildings or lack of space, or even some who have had beautiful new buildings but don’t have all the equipment they need inside. I’m trying to help in some of these cases where I can, but the most regular challenge I see across our local schools is having the capacity to properly support those children who have additional needs.
As an area statistically we have a lot of health issues, a lot of deprivation, and a lot of social challenges. That can also mean we have more children who need more help to be able to properly engage with school, and to access the basic learning they need for their later life. Helping these kids early in their lives is so vitally important, to make sure that they can lead happy and healthy lives, and of course to make sure that they come out at the end of school with some qualifications too.
I’m pushing the Government to find more help for this early intervention, and to offer Primary schools more support. There are some brilliant examples, like the ‘nurture’ provision at Forest Town Primary, which means so much to so many children and parents for the support it’s given to those families. It’s even won awards, and it’s vital in giving those kids the best possible chance in life.
Government’s mantra is about ‘equality of opportunity’, and I think this needs to play an important part. Ensuring that our children can all get to the point where they are able to learn and be happy at school is so important to their chances in later life, and is the only way to ensure that they are able to compete on a level playing field – to have equal opportunities – in the future. This is one of my key priorities in Parliament to support our schools in Mansfield.

Tracy Brabin MP at Dewsbury and District HospitalBatley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin has slammed Government NHS underfunding after the latest figures revealed that just 81.6% of patients who attended A&E departments at Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust hospitals in March were seen within four hours.

Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust, which runs Dewsbury and District, Pinderfields and Pontefract Hospitals, fell well below the national target of 95% – and saw a significant increase in wait times compared to March 2017 where 92.6% of A&E attendees were seen within four hours.

The latest figures, released by NHS England, show the worst A&E waiting times since records began across the country, with just 84.6% of people visiting A&Es being admitted, treated or discharged within the four hour timeframe.

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin said: “We have doctors, nurses and hospital staff working tirelessly to help people but they are hamstrung by a Government that refuses to acknowledge a crisis of its own making.

“Year after year of underfunding by the Conservative Government has led to this shocking new low and the figures highlight just how desperate the need for proper investment in the NHS has become.

“The NHS is one our nation’s proudest assets, but staff pay freezes, underfunding to health and social care and a recruitment crisis caused by Government policy is putting its future at risk.

“As we have seen through the winter, Pinderfields Hospital is already under incredible pressure, and with the downgrades at Dewsbury District and the reclassification of Pontefract’s emergency department, the picture is not likely to improve.”

“It is time for the Government to face up to what is happening and give the NHS the investment it desperately needs.”

The figures were released in the week that an investigation by the Labour party revealed that thousands of NHS beds have been left unused in ‘ghost’ wards since 2006.

As of 1st September 2017 there were 1,429 beds locked inside ‘ghost’ wards – an 185% increase compared with 1 September 2013.

Notes to editor

The full statistics for Mid Yorks NHS Trust and for across England can be found here https://www.england.nhs.uk/statistics/





Denton and Reddish MP, Andrew Gwynne, has joined health groups and charities in championing the battle to end malaria with this year’s World Malaria Day theme, Ready to Beat Malaria which underscores the collective energy and commitment of the global malaria community in uniting around the common goal of a world free of malaria.

On World Malaria Day 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners are calling on all concerned parties to be ready to end malaria – a disease which can be fatal and which affects millions of people, claiming thousands of lives annually. This year’s World Malaria Day coincides with activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of WHO – over the last 7 decades, WHO has been providing support to countries to fight malaria.

Ready to Beat Malaria is the theme of this year’s day. The theme underscores the collective energy and commitment of the global malaria community in uniting around the common goal of achieving a malaria-free world.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes. Luckily it is a preventable and curable disease, yet the global burden of this disease is very high. According to the latest “World Malaria Report”, released in November 2017, there were 216 million cases of malaria in 2016, up from 211 million cases in 2015. The estimated number of malaria deaths stood at 445 000 in 2016, a similar number to the previous year (446,000).

Andrew Gwynne MP said:

“I join the World Health Organization and their partners in calling for urgent action to get the global fight against malaria back on track.

“After years of progress we are seeing recorded cases of malaria on the rise across the world, but with new prevention methods like insecticide-treated mosquito nets, indoor residual spraying of insecticides & preventive therapies have significantly reduced malaria in certain parts of the world.” 

Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones has signed up to the Department for Work and Pension’s Disability Confident Employer Scheme.

The scheme provides guidance for employees to encourage the recruitment and retention of disabled people and people with long term health conditions by giving them suitable employment opportunities, as well as adequate support in the workplace.

According to the Disability Living Foundation, one in five of the UKs population are disabled. In January 2016, the UK employment rate among working age disabled people was 46.5% compared to 84% of non-disabled people.

Susan Elan Jones MP who spent 15 years working for charities before becoming an MP said: “I’m very proud to sign up to this scheme, which ensures that people living with disability or long-term health conditions are given the respect and support they deserve in the workplace. My first job in the charity sector was for a disability organisation and I have a long-standing interest in how we as a society can ensure all disabled people reach their full potential.”

Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock has once again pressed Prisons Minister Rory Stewart on the Government’s plans for a new prison on the Baglan Industrial Park. The exchange comes after two representatives from Stop NPT Prison group joined Mr Kinnock for a meeting with Rory Stewart in London, and off the back of the latest public meeting held in the Aberavon Beach Hotel.

Policing Visits in the South West

Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley)

Ensuring Fairness in the Housing Sector

Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton)

Yesterday, I opened the Second Reading debate for the government on the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Bill.

Put simply, the Bill does two things.

First, it allows councils to charge double the rate of Council Tax on homes left empty for over 2 years. Currently, local authorities can levy a 50% premium, which has seen the number of long-term empty homes drop by a third since 2010. We now want to go further. This Bill will allow councils to double the amount of council tax on vacant residential properties, to incentivise bringing long-term empty housing back into use.

Second, the Bill reverses the so-called ‘staircase tax’. The staircase tax resulted from a Supreme Court ruling, which changed the way business rates were calculated. It meant that businesses who worked from two linked areas of the same building (but which were separated by a wall or staircase) faced multiple rates assessments, rather than just one. As a result, many hard-pressed businesses faced an unjustified tax hike. We are amending the law to reverse these changes, which will support small businesses and the high street. 

So, the Bill was an important boost for small businesses, and for increasing the supply of residential homes. The Bill passed the House of Commons at Second Reading. You can read my contributions to the debate here, and watch my speech here (from 18:03:45).

Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil is calling on fishing interests to lobby the UK Government in light of the fallout from the Home Office’s hostile campaign.

Mr MacNeil is particularly focussing on The Secretary of State for DEFRA Michael Gove, The Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell, Scotland Office Minister Lord Duncan and The Home Office, who need to take action on the crew shortage in the west coast of Scotland fishing industry and allow non EEA crew to come to work here.


Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“I worry that the fishing industry may have been affected by the hostile ethos once prevalent at The Home Office.  I know people personally who are talking of selling their fishing boats because of the lack of crew and it is time that non EEA skilled seamen were allowed to come to work in the west coast of Scotland.

“Fishing sector and related parties from the west coast of Scotland certainly want to have these seamen working on the fishing boats, which will benefit communities, the catching sector and the processing sector.

“DEFRA and the Home Office need to up their efforts, show some support for the west of Scotland fishing industry and find a solution – it is imperative that this happens sooner rather than later before fishing boats are sold.”


Grant Shapps MP has written to Nick Carver, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s Chief Executive to request a meeting as part of his campaign to improve health services in Welwyn Hatfield.

Since the fateful decision by the last Labour administration to renege on the promise of a Hatfield super-hospital, Welwyn Hatfield has seen a drift of healthcare services outside the area. Not only does a growing and ageing population like Welwyn Hatfield deserve it’s own health services, but also there’s the danger that many residents will be put off accessing medical assistance and an increase in stress caused by having to travel so far from their homes.

Grant is therefore calling on Nick Carver to gather all the relevant people together to discuss what can be done to improve transport options for people of Welwyn Hatfield to access easily much needed health services.

Grant said, “Over the years we’ve seen a steady stream of services moved out of Welwyn Hatfield to areas such as Stevenage. One major problem with this is the distance between residents accessing healthcare services that they need and the difficulty in commuting there. Ultimately, I believe it’s vital that these services are returned to Welwyn Hatfield but in the meantime, I think more must be done to provide better transport and I look forward to discussing this with local health bosses.

To find out more about Grant’s campaign please visit: www.MakeHealthcareLocal.org

Justice Questions 24/04/18 - Prisoner Rehabilitation

Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford)

Today at Justice Questions I asked the minister, Rory Stewart, how many recommendations from the Dame Sally Coates review of education in prison and the Charlie Taylor review of the youth justice system have been delivered by the Government.

He said he would need to check! I look forward to following up with the minister soon.

St George’s Day Parade

Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon)

Jonathan attending the Cromwell District Scouts St George’s Day parade in St Ives.

Update on Chamberlayne College for the Arts

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

We now have this statement from the Leader of the Council “I want to put on record our support for the brilliant new leadership team at Chamberlayne and our intention to back that school with support and investment.” This is very good news for Chamberlayne College for the Arts and means we can all move [...]

The post Update on Chamberlayne College for the Arts appeared first on Royston Smith - At the heart of Southampton.

Green Belt land

Conor McGinn (St Helens North)

I understand the concerns residents have raised about the potential for the Government to weaken protections for Green Belt land. In 2012, the Conservative-Lib Dem Government replaced all existing planning guidance – except on waste – with the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and National Planning Practice Guidance. I believe these reforms weakened the National Brownfield Strategy, promoted in 2003, which actively prioritised building on brownfield sites. The […]

Open letter to President Buhari of Nigeria

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)




Click here if you would like to help Stephen make a difference

Who’s heard of the Blue Belt?

John Penrose (Weston-Super-Mare)

OK pay attention at the back: who’s heard of the Blue Belt? Not the Green Belt. Blue.

I suppose the clue’s in the name, particularly for the millions of us who’ve been glued to David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2, which highlighted the awful damage caused by plastic polluting our seas.

We in Weston are doing our bit already, of course. The Cleaner Coastlines project has seen local folk getting involved in mammoth beach cleans to get rid of plastic and other junk. Weston beach may be sparkling already (natch!) but other bits of local coast need help as well.

But what about the rest of the planet? It’s a global problem, and most of us want to save the whole thing, so our children and grandchildren can enjoy it too.

That’s where the Blue Belt Project comes in. They are trying to create a truly-enormous set of marine nature reserves around British-owned islands like the South Sandwich Islands, Pitcairn Island and others. If it works, it would be the largest marine protected area (a whopping 4 million square kilometres) in the world, protecting a fourth of the world’s penguin population and the largest coral atoll on the planet, not to mention endangered whales and turtles.

The good news is, we don’t need local people to turn out and clean them up, like our beaches here at home. Instead they’ll use the latest satellite technology and new international laws to monitor and protect huge swathes of untouched, pristine ocean and seabed around these tiny specks of British territory.

So we can enjoy not just Weston beach, but save a big chunk of the planet at the same time. Think global, act local, as the saying goes!

Alex voices concerns over Holme House annual report

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North)

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham has called the Annual Report of the Independent Monitoring Board at HMP Holme House ‘damning’ and expresses his concerns that young offenders are being held at Holme House.

The report outlines a number of judgements including staffing levels being a cause for concern through the year, as well as sickness rates impacting negatively on all aspects of prisoners’ lives despite efforts to accommodate this. Easy access to illicit drugs has also impacted on the lives of prisoners and staff, which has resulted in increased levels of violence. Another conclusion of the report are that it is difficult to treat prisoners fairly at all times due to lack of resources.

Areas for development that have been suggested in the report include: asking the Government to address the issue of staffing by saying what plans are in place to improve staff recruitment; getting answers to why there is a proportion of Young Offenders at Holme House when they should be at a Young Offenders Institution.

Discussing the report, Alex Cunningham MP said:

“This report is damning on so many fronts and it is clear that despite the best efforts of the Governor and his team, things don’t appear to have improved. It is quite shocking to see it declare that drugs remain a major and growing issue; staff sickness levels remain very high; there are insufficient staff to ensure prisoners are treated fairly; and that Holme House is seeing more violence towards staff and between prisoners. 

“I’m also concerned to learn that that young offenders are being held at Holme House when they ought to be in Kirklevington.

“I visited the prison last year to discuss the problems with drugs and lack of staff in particular and was assured that a new regime was paying off and staffing levels had increased.  Sadly this report concludes otherwise.

“The failure of the Government to tackle the problems at Holme House which have seen little – if any –  improvement in recent years is deeply disappointing and I will be writing to the Justice Secretary to demand a comprehensive inspection and an action plan to deal with the drugs problem; recruit, retain and support the necessary staff; create a proper regime to educate, support and rehabilitate prisoners; and hold contractors responsible for repairs to account for failing to carry out their contract effectively.”


For more information, contact Alex on 020 7219 7157 or on alex.cunningham.mp@parliament.uk

Newcastle North MP backs Diabetes UK food labelling campaign

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has added her backing to leading charity Diabetes UK’s Food Upfront campaign, which calls for the public to be given clear nutritional information in restaurants, cafés and takeaways, as well as on the front of all pre-packaged food and drinks. Catherine made the pledge at an event she recently hosted … Continue reading Newcastle North MP backs Diabetes UK food labelling campaign

MP speaks up for Autism in House of Commons Debate

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Autism is a subject that is extremely close to my heart, which is borne of personal experience and I was delighted to speak in the debate and my contribution is below;

Adam Afriyie, the MP for Windsor, has welcomed a government review on the impact of technology, in particular social media, on children’s mental health and wellbeing. This review will examine, among other aspects, recent efforts made by companies to with regards to age verification, screen-time limits and cyber bullying.

This follows on from a letter written six months ago by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt MP, challenging social media companies to take voluntary action.

ONS statistics show that 66% of British people over the age of 16 used social media, with the most frequent users being those aged 16-24, of whom 96% used social media.


The MP for the Windsor constituency, Adam Afriyie welcomed the figures:

“Technology has had a profound impact on the way we communicate, relax and keep in contact. This has ultimately changed society for the good, but I am concerned about some of the associated risks that come with this.

“I’m pleased that the Government has asked for voluntary action from the technology sector to start with. My sense is that the Government wishes to enact legislation only use as a last resort and this is the right approach in my view.

“As parents we are always careful to warn our children about threats to their physical health from habits such as smoking and obesity. I want us to protect our children from harm to their good mental health and emotional wellbeing.”



Note to editors

  1. Adam Afriyie is the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana and Guinea.
  2. He has a strong background in science, technology and innovation.
  3. He is currently Chairman of the Fintech APPG, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) and President of the Conservative Science and Technology Forum (CSTF).
  4. He was shadow Minister for Science from 2007-2010 and has a background in the information services and technology sector.

Elections on May 3

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

council cuts graphicI’ve written here before about the savage cuts imposed on Liverpool since 2010 and the impact they are having on people’s lives.

New calculations from Labour show the shocking impact on each and every household in Liverpool. Even I was taken aback by the levels of cuts per household.

It’s not just what’s in the pie, but how it has been cut up. Under the Tories some of the most deprived areas in the country have been hit the hardest, while Tory councils are given a better deal.

On average, Tory councils will have £128 less to spend per household, while Labour councils are hit four times harder – losing £524.

But what about Labour-controlled Liverpool? How hard has every household in our city been hit?

The figure is shocking and you can find it by clicking here and entering your postcode.


That is the price households in Liverpool have had to pay for having a Tory government in Westminster.

Despite the cuts, which will amount to £444 million by 2020, the Labour- council here in Liverpool has protected the most vulnerable, invested in our communities and helped boost our local economy so more money can flow into the city in future years.

For instance, an extra £6 million is going to children’s services and the Labour-led council will spend £12 million on services for people who are homeless and £3.5 million to protect 42,000 people from the full impact of government reductions in council tax support.

That is the sign of a caring council that puts the values we all hold dear at the centre of what it does, despite the pressures loaded on to it by this Tory government.

That is why I am voting Labour in the local elections on Thursday May 3 and why I am inviting you to join me.

Please support our Labour candidates across the constituency – Angela Coleman in Wavertree, Frank Hont in Childwall, Nigel Parsons in Church, Joanne Calvert in Old Swan, Sue Walker in Kensington and Paul Kenyon in Picton.

A vote for Labour on May 3, is a vote to protect our city.

Liz meets Glebelands Primary School pupils

Liz Kendall (Leicester West)

On Friday 20th April I visited Glebelands Primary School I had such a lovely time and would like to thank all the pupils for their brilliant questions – my favourite was: “Do you get nervous making decisions?”

I will continue to do everything I can to support all the fantastic local schools in Leicester West.

The post Liz meets Glebelands Primary School pupils appeared first on Liz Kendall.

(for more news also see my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chrislesliemp)

Ever since I became MP for Nottingham East, the cases most frequently raised with me relate to migration and the rights of individuals to visit or remain in the UK. In fact, I cannot remember a day when I was not wrestling with the creaking bureaucracy of the Home Office on some outstanding visa, asylum or residency situation. So when the ‘Windrush Generation’ scandal hit the headlines this week I was appalled but not surprised that the Government had treated Commonwealth citizens, invited to Britain before the 1960s, with such disregard.

After the Second World War a significant African Caribbean community settled in Nottingham and other towns and cities to help rebuild Britain and contribute to our industries. They didn’t apply for passports because they were granted ‘indefinite leave to remain’ at that time. Yet more recent policy changes requiring proof of residency status for bank accounts, jobs or tenancies were introduced without anyone apparently remembering that such a significant population might suddenly encounter a real burden evidencing their existing – and undisputed – rights.

So my colleague David Lammy and many other MPs were right to highlight the impact that Theresa May’s “hostile environment” policy towards migrants has had on these long-standing residents and quite rightly forced the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to apologise and change tack dramatically this week.

If you or anyone you know may be affected by this situation I would be keen to hear about any difficulties or problems encountered so that I can raise these directly with the new ‘taskforce’ set up in the Home Office to disentangle this saga. This shoddy affair has already done genuine damage to our reputation abroad – especially in the week of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit – and will have done little to reassure anxious EU nationals in Britain about the Home Office’s capacity to competently and compassionately administer their status post-Brexit.


  • Yesterday I visited Nottingham Academy to join their sixth formers and other students to hear Holocaust survivor Simon Winston talk about his experiences evading Nazis during the Second World War and the horrors that can result from antisemitism and discrimination. As a very young boy Simon escaped from a ghetto in what was then Poland and hid for several years in dreadful conditions while his family and community were massacred. This school event was arranged by the Holocaust Educational Trust who aim to provide opportunities for students across the country to learn about this period of history so that it is not forgotten, especially at a time where sadly there are extremists willing to distort or attempt to deny or rewrite this appalling chapter of recent history.
  • The Local Government Boundary Commission for England has released its final proposals for new council wards in Nottingham City. In Nottingham East there will be minor changes to Dales Ward and St Ann’s Wards and more significant changes to Arboretum and Berridge Wards. I am happy that most of the proposals in the Commission’s report broadly reflect strong community links and boundaries in the neighbourhoods within Nottingham East, however, I am concerned that the proposed Hyson Green and Arboretum Ward crosses the strong boundaries of Gregory Boulevard and Alfreton Road to include fragmentary parts of Radford and Bobbers Mill.
  • In May 2019, Nottingham will be jointly hosting a global gathering of UNESCO City of Literatures with Norwich. This week-long programme of cultural events, dubbed ‘Nottwich 2019’ will see cultural leaders from 28 countries come to both cities. Sandeep Mahal, director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, commented: “Nottwich 2019 is a wonderful opportunity to show the rest of the world the things that make Nottingham and Norwich Unesco Cities of Literature”.
  • There has been further recognition of Nottingham’s universities as Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham and have been nominated in several categories for three awards schemes. Nottingham Trent University has received nominations for the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2018 and both universities have been shortlisted for the 2018 The Times Higher Education Leadership & Management Awards and the Guardian University Awards. The University Of Nottingham’s work ‘the Dinosaurs of China’ exhibit was particularly noted in their Nominations for these awards. NTU’s work in outreach with 14-19 year olds from under-represented and disadvantaged backgrounds and their high student satisfaction ratings helped them get their nominations.
  • A former lace mill on Newdigate Street is set to be developed into 56 studio flats for students after plans were approved by councillors. The five-storey Grade II-listed building was built more than 200 years ago and also made camouflage netting during the Second World War. Hilary Silvester, the chair of Nottingham Civic Society, said: “It’s a good reuse for this old building. It’s better than if it dwindled away and crumbled away.” She added: “It seems it’s going to be well-managed. [I hope] they are not going to change the windows too much. I would not want [them] to change the outward appearance because the windows are very important; they are the eyes of buildings”.


  • Last weekend a joint intervention from British, French and American forces pinpointed some of the chemical weapons research and manufacturing facilities in Syria which the Assad regime had been using in recent years to produce the banned gases deployed indiscriminately on his own population. The horrors of the attack in Douma, with the pictures showing children foaming at the mouth, killed in basements where these gases seep in and sink to the lowest levels, provided evidence that past ‘agreements’ between Russia & Syria to ban these weapons were ineffective.

The 1925 Geneva Protocol had agreed that chemical weaponry should never be used, but recently the deployment of chlorine, sarin and of course Novichok nerve agents here in Britain shows that this ‘red line’ is being flouted with regularity. Briefing from the chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, the National Security Adviser and the Royal Air Force on the mission to isolate some of the factors of production in these weapons convinces me that the action was necessary and appropriate. The evidence of helicopter usage by Assad and other intelligence highlighted both the cause and the humanitarian grounds as the legal basis for this action. At present the intelligence suggests that these facilities were degraded with no loss of civilian life because of the action taken away from populous areas in the middle of the night.

On Monday the Prime Minister made a statement to MPs about the chemical weapons facilities. With Russia vetoing action and vetoing independent investigations in Douma it was clear that the diplomatic route at the United Nations Security Council was no longer possible. Faced with that reality, countenancing inaction yet again seemed to me a greater risk to civilian lives in Syria than taking these specific steps to degrade the facilities identified. I respect those who come from a pacifist tradition and believe that all military intervention is always wrong, but on this occasion I disagree. The rules of the international community banning these abhorrent weapons had to be enforced, there wasn’t a viable alternative, and for the sake of protecting the future civilians who would undoubtedly be gassed by Assad if we turned a blind eye, it was in my view the right thing to do. Ultimately, I do not believe we could just turn away and walk on by on the other side, given such atrocities and the ability we had to do something to minimise them in future. While parliamentary approval for limited and specific action like this might have been preferable, this is simply not safe or viable in all circumstances – because sometimes it would be wrong to share intentions widely in advance or put our service personnel at greater risk.

  • On Tuesday afternoon, MPs debated the scourge of antisemitism in Britain today. It was simply heart-breaking to hear several of my Jewish Labour colleagues – Luciana Berger, Ruth Smeeth, Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and others detail the abuse to which they are constantly subjected. While all parties and organisations need to get their houses in order, it is simply impossible to listen to these speeches without acknowledging the fact that the Labour Party is still in need of confronting this problem. We all need to share in the responsibility of rooting out this corrosive evil, and without delay.
  • The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London this week was accompanied by some speculation about the value of this network of 53 nations. It is certainly worthwhile to connect these countries diplomatically and with broadly shared values – and there are benefits to Britain in maintaining these links. But when Liam Fox and other hard Brexiteers suggest that the Commonwealth can somehow substitute for the European Union in economic and trade terms, this is sadly misguided. The Commonwealth accounts for just 9% of our exports, whereas the EU accounts for 43%. Moreover they are typically far-flung countries whose trading priorities aren’t necessarily with the UK. Geography cannot be wished away and we should focus our trade priorities with our nearest neighbouring countries if we are to take a sensible, evidence-led approach.


It was really encouraging that the House of Lords votes so convincingly on Wednesday to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill and call on the Government to negotiate Britain’s participation in a Customs Union. As you will know, this is essential for avoiding queues and checks at ports and borders and the imposition of obstacles that would harm our trade and employment prospects in the UK, not to mention risk a hard border in Ireland. This will now come to the Commons before the summer and I think that Theresa May’s ‘hard Brexit’ approach may not have the numbers in Parliament – but we will have to wait and see.

Last weekend the new ‘People’s Vote’ campaign was launched – and I’d be interested to know your views. Whatever your view before the Brexit referendum, it is now more clear that a vast array of issues are at stake and when the UK and EU propose a final deal, this is so significant that it deserves to be ratified by the public themselves. It is not certain what that deal will look like, and we will know more when the Government and EU Commission publish their proposal in the autumn. Why shouldn’t the public have a say on whether those proposals are right or wrong? Would you sign a bill without checking it first? The idea that this is a ‘done deal’ is completely wrong and there is nothing certain or irrevocable about Brexit. 2018 will be a crucial year of decisions and the People’s Vote campaign is certainly one to watch.


Chris Leslie

Labour & Co-operative Party MP for Nottingham East

Care Home Open Day 2018

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

Rt Hon David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, paid a visit to Parkview Care Home in Bexleyheath over the weekend in support of Care Home Open Day, which took place on 21 April.

Mr Evennett toured the care home with senior staff, and chatted with staff, residents and visitors. He is pictured in the gardens speaking with residents.

Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Westminster Week

Happy St George’s Day!

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

Today is St George’s Day – England’s national day!

Royal wedding invite for life-saving Lynn

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

The driving force behind a life-saving project to install public access defibrillators in Edinburgh has been invited to the Royal Wedding.

I am pleased to hear that Welsh Government has given grant of almost £400,000 to make routes safer in Llanelli West area including roads leading to Furnace Sqaure and Pembrey Rd area.

Thanks to all residents & schools who fed in ideas and in particular to County Council officer Thomas Evans, Delyth from Town Council and Darren from the Rural who worked on the bid. Hope the work can begin soon.

“Mesh operations should be stopped”. Those were the words of Alyn and Deeside MP, Mark Tami, in Parliament yesterday. On the 19/04/18, Labour MP, Emma Hardy, brought forward the debate where MPs from across the floor called upon the Government to ban vaginal mesh operations. Ms Hardy also urged the Government to consider bringing forward […]


Matt Warman (Boston and Skegness)

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has welcomed the “vigorous campaign” calling for a Boston bypass in the Commons today, following it being highlighted by local MP Matt Warman.

Pointing out the Transport Secretary’s personal interest in the project, Matt asked, “Will he join me in commending the excellent campaign being run by my local paper, the Boston Standard, which is gathering evidence from local hauliers, in particular? Does he agree that it bolsters an already compelling case for an application to be made to his bypass fund for this road in due course?”

Chris Grayling, noting his numerous visits to the proposed site of the bypass, responded to say that he will “…shortly be bringing forward the next stage of [government] proposals for what [he has] dubbed the “bypass fund”, and there will be opportunities to build bypasses in the not-too-distant future.”

After Transport Questions, Matt added, “As I said in my question today, the Transport Secretary has taken a personal interest in the Boston bypass, and I am delighted that our local campaign is on his radar. The Government is providing a number of opportunities for local authorities to apply for funding for bypasses, and I look forward to supporting a bid from Boston at the earliest opportunity in the future.” 


Weekly column 19.04.18

Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

In the last few days I have received correspondence from constituents regarding the recent actions taken in Syria. I want to make it clear that I fully support the Prime Minister’s decision to join French and American forces to take action to degrade the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons and deter their use. I think it is disgraceful that some have chosen to label this as following orders from the USA – it is demeaning to our country and our troops.

On April 7, up to 75 people, including many young children, were murdered, with 500 further casualties in a despicable attack in Douma. We cannot allow this barbarism to continue. All indications point to a chemical weapons attack and I, like many others, have been appalled by the graphic photos of civilians lying dead on the ground, having had no means of escape.

Some of the intelligence cannot be made public for security and defence reasons but even open source accounts point to a barrel bomb being used to deliver these chemicals and that a regime helicopter was observed above Douma on April 7.

Just last week Russia vetoed a draft resolution at the UN which would have established an independent investigation into this latest attack, suggesting instead that the attack was ‘staged’ by Britain. This demonstrates that there is no further diplomatic channel available, given these grotesque and absurd claims.

Many constituents have asked me why the Prime Minister did not go to Parliament before launching these strikes. The power to deploy armed forces is a prerogative power exercised on the Sovereign’s behalf by Ministers so a Prime Minister does not need to seek Parliamentary approval.

If time and circumstances allow, then I believe Parliament should debate before action is taken, but this is not always possible like in this case, where action needed to be quick and covert. Upon Parliament’s return from recess, the Prime Minister made a statement and spent three hours 15 minutes answering MPs’ questions. Two emergency debates have been held on the issue to give MPs maximum opportunity to have their voices heard.

Having listened to the Prime Minister, I do believe that her swift response was proportionate and necessary to prevent the brutal use of such weapons again. The strikes were not about regime change and are not about intervening in civil war. It was a limited and effective strike with clear boundaries. Targeted was a chemical weapons facility, a key chemical weapons research centre and a military bunker involved in chemical weapons attacks.

This will significantly degrade the Syrian regime’s ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons. Debating this action beforehand would have given time on the ground to move items and rendered it null and void.

In this instance our actions were lawful, justified and proportionate and I do believe that evil happens when good men do nothing.

The post Weekly column 19.04.18 appeared first on Michelle Donelan MP.

Basingstoke MP Maria Miller has welcomed the announcement that Basingstoke GP practices are working together to strengthen local NHS services by creating a “Primary Care Hub”. Three practices, Camrose, Gillies and Hackwood, have announced that they are considering bringing together some specific services to help more patients receive the care they need at a GP surgery.

DC letter Windrush

Richard Benyon (Newbury)

Dear Constituent Thank you for contacting me about the Windrush Generation. Commonwealth citizens, like the Windrush Generation, are a unique group who have built their lives here and contributed enormously to this country.    There must be no doubt about their right to remain here. The attached letter, from the Home Secretary, sets out clearly what […]

Jesse’s Hereford Times column: Celebrating the RAF

Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire)

The first of April marked one hundred years since the creation of the Royal Air Force—the world’s oldest independent air force—from the merger of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service.

Nottingham Labour has delivered on its 2015 manifesto commitment to introduce a selective licencing scheme to improve the standards of accommodation in the private rented sector of our city.

Most of the standards we are asking landlords to follow are basic safety requirements that anyone would want for their home. These include: 

·         Ensuring that all gas installations and appliances are in a safe condition at all times and that an annual gas safety check is carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

·         Ensuring that electrical appliances made available in the house by them are kept in a safe condition and proper working order at all times.

·         Ensuring that the electrical installation in the house is kept safe and in proper working order at all times.

·         Ensuring that at all times a suitable fire detection and alarm system is installed in the house and is maintained in proper working order. 

·         Ensuring that a carbon monoxide alarm is installed in any room in the house which is used wholly or partly as living accommodation and contains a solid fuel burning combustion appliance.

 Licences will cost landlords with Nottingham Standard accreditation £480, the equivalent of £1.85 a week per property over the five years of the scheme and £780, which equates to £3 a week if they haven’t got accreditation. Under current HMRC rules the licence could be classed as an allowable expense and may therefore reduce the tax liability for some landlords depending upon their individual circumstances.

This means there is no justification for rent increases by landlords and that the vast majority of landlords should absorb the licence fee and the cost of any necessary improvements to properties as part of the day-to-day costs of running of their business. Income from the licence fees will only go towards the cost of setting up, operating and delivering the schemes.

Selective licencing is good news for thousands of Nottingham’s private rented tenants, who will know what is expected of their landlord in terms of property management and standards. Rogue landlords will also be investigated and action taken.  


It is also good news for responsible landlords who are operating legitimately and complying with the law, as Nottingham’s reputation for providing quality housing increases.


Cllr Jane Urquhart
Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Heritage.

The post Final details confirmed for licensing scheme to improve private rented housing in Nottingham appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight is welcoming Government plans for new legislation which will make it illegal to buy and keep offensive weapons. The crackdown, part of new Serious Violence Strategy announced by Home Secretary Amber Rudd, will mean … Continue reading

I was born in Egypt in the last year of the Second World War as Jews were being exterminated in Hitler’s gas chambers in Europe. I grew up thinking that we would never forget the horrors that a culture of anti-Semitism can bring.

Yet here we are, over 70 years later forced to talk about anti-Semitism and in particular consider its presence within our political parties. Anti-Semitism remains far more pervasive in the political cultures of Eastern European countries like Poland and Hungary. Shocking instances of anti-Semitism occur regularly within the Conservative party – look at Nick Timothy’s recent article on George Soros where his rhetoric about a “billionaire” who “broke the Bank of England” and who interferes “in the democracies of several European nations’ – was shockingly anti-Semitic. While all of this is true I never, ever thought that I would experience significant anti-Semitism as a member of the Labour Party. But I have and it has left me feeling an outsider in the party of which I have been a member for over 50 years.

I am a Jew. My upbringing was entirely secular and I have always been an atheist. I have never practised Jewish religious traditions in my home, neither of my two husbands were Jews and I have been a consistent critic of the governments of Israel down the years. But my Jewish heritage is central to my being.

Recently my sisters have trawled through the correspondence and diaries of my grandparents and family who came from Germany and Austria. My grandmother on my mother’s side lived in Vienna when the war broke out. In her early fifties, she thought she was too old to be harmed by the Nazis and chose to stay in her home. We have the last letter she wrote to her son, my uncle, in 1941, nine days before she was forcibly taken to a concentration camp in Lithuania and shot and killed in a trench outside the camp’s gates. (She never even stepped through the gates of the concentration camp.) In that letter she said – twice – “don’t completely forget me.” And in a postscript to the letter (that she clearly thought would be vetted by the Nazis) she wrote: ‘Thinking about you will help me to endure what is coming. I am sceptical that we shall ever meet again. Who knows when I can even write to you again.”

Her husband, my grandfather was one of seven children. Yet my siblings and I are the only surviving branch of that family. The others either died childless or were killed in the concentration camps. My only surviving aunt from that side escaped the gas chambers because she was a doctor in the British army. An uncle on my father’s side spent much of the war in a village in the Ardeche before he was finally captured, deported and killed in Auschwitz. When I visited Auschwitz I walked into the room full of the suitcases of those murdered in the gas chambers and was confronted by a battered brown suitcase with my uncle’s initials on it. Goodness knows whether it was actually his suitcase but that moment was utterly chilling for me.

All of this is part of my heritage. It is what I am today. I can’t forget. It is one reason for my joining the Labour Party in the 1960s. I believed that the Labour Party was the party that fought against racism and intolerance. It was the party that defended the rights of minority communities and fought all bigotry and prejudice. It was the natural home for Jews who had been subject to inhumane acts  for no other reason than their race, their ethnicity and their religion.

In the 2010 General Election I was challenged by Nick Griffin, the Leader of the British National Party in my constituency, Barking. I thought I would face anti-Semitism in that campaign, but surprisingly there was very little evidence of it. The most memorable incident was on Election Day, when a BNP activist at a polling station shouted at me that I should go back to Germany. My retort was that I couldn’t, because they had killed most of my family.

So it has been truly shocking for me to receive a trail of vicious anti-Semitic tweets in the last two years, both from right wing extremists, but also from Labour party members and supporters. I know that my inbox is nothing compared to that of my honourable friends, the members for Liverpool Wavertree, Liverpool Riverside and Stoke-on-Trent North who, unlike me, are all activists in the Jewish community. I also know that social media has facilitated an explosion in utterly despicable stuff coming to all of us with any public profile.But when so many horrible anti-Semitic tweets clearly come from the left, those with the authority to act to stop this should do so  promptly and decisively. When I expressed my views on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party this is what I got:

“Bullshit. Zionists who seek to control UK foreign policy are terribly scared as they don’t own or control Corbyn”

“Anybody else think treacherous cu*t @margarethodge needs deselecting to stand as the terrorist, Zionist Tory party.”

“Jewish lobby losing their grip on Labour. Happy happy days”

“Rather than having a go at Jeremy u should be standing outside the Israeli Embassy calling for the prosecution of Netanyahu for war crimes and the attempted destruction of Palestinian Society. But of course you can’t as you’re a friend of Apartheid Israel.”

It is vile attacks like these that concern us. It was in response to these that we Jewish Labour MPs met to consider what we could do, well before the controversy surrounding the racist mural hit the press. We are experiencing a surge in anti-Semitism on the left. In part it has always been there. There have always been those who see every Jew as a paid-up member of the Netanyahu fan club. People who fail to make the appropriate distinction between being a Jew, voicing support for Israel as a place for Jews to live safely and proclaiming support for the Government in Israel. People who now consider the term Zionist as a term of abuse. People who deny the holocaust and people who simply hate Jews. But something has changed in the last couple of years and anti-Semitism has gained a new, misplaced and dangerous legitimacy on the left.

Maybe it’s in part due to a blinkered response to the financial crash of 2008, with capitalism, the elite and the very rich blamed for the crash and in the same way that historically Jews have been railed against as having control of capital and international banking, that stereotype still holds sway and Jews are depicted as the greedy super rich responsible for the crash and willingly treading on the backs of  the poor. Maybe it’s the very one sided approach the left have to the horribly complex problems confronting the Middle East. Maybe it’s the rhetoric associated with the new populism that was so dangerous in the 1930s and that pits one community against another, be it Jew against Gentile, or white against people of colour.

Certainly for as long as the Conservative Party allows someone to hold the position of Foreign Secretary after he described black people as ‘piccaninnies with ‘watermelon smiles’ or asserted that Barack Obama had an “ancestral dislike’ of Britain, as long as the Conservative party allows that rhetoric to go unpunished, then they lack all legitimacy in attacking Labour for the very real problems we have on anti-Semitism.

My Jewish identity has never defined my politics. My visits to Israel made me a strong critic of the Israeli Government; my secular values have kept me apart from much of the British Jewish community. But I have never felt as nervous and frightened as I feel today at being a Jew. It feels as though my Party has given permission for anti-Semitism to go unchallenged. Anti-Semitism is making me feel an outsider in my Labour Party.

I know that that is not what the Leader of the Labour Party believes in or wants. But his failure to act swiftly and decisively has left him open to the accusation that those who allow anti-Semitic people to peddle their intolerant message are guilty by association. The answer for him must be to properly acknowledge the problem and to act resolutely to stamp out this dangerous, invasive cancer that is infecting our politics. To that I simply say: enough is enough.

Statement on chemical weapon use in Syria

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)

Alec has supported the following statement by the Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Theresa May.
Saturday 14th April 2018.
Last night British, French and American armed forces conducted co-ordinated and targeted strikes to degrade the Syrian Regime’s chemical weapons capability and deter their use.
For the UK’s part, four RAF Tornado GR 4s launched Storm Shadow missiles at a military facility some 15 miles west of Homs, where the regime is assessed to keep chemical weapons in breach of Syria’s obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
While the full assessment of the strike is ongoing, we are confident of its success.
These strikes follow the news from last Saturday that up to 75 people, including young children, were killed in a despicable and barbaric attack in Douma, with as many as 500 further casualties.
We have worked with our allies to establish what happened. All the indications are that this was a chemical weapons attack.
We have seen the harrowing images of men, women and children lying dead with foam in their mouths. These were innocent families who, at the time this chemical weapon was unleashed, were seeking shelter underground, in basements.
First-hand accounts from NGOs and aid workers have detailed the most horrific suffering, including burns to the eyes, suffocation and skin discolouration, with a chlorine-like odour surrounding the victims. And the World Health Organisation has received reports that hundreds of patients arrived at Syrian heath facilities on Saturday night with “signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals.”
We are clear about who was responsible for this atrocity. A significant body of information including intelligence indicates the Syrian Regime is responsible for this latest attack.
While there is some information which I am unable to disclose, I can set out some of the evidence that leads us to this conclusion.
Open source accounts allege that a barrel bomb was used to deliver the chemicals. Multiple open source reports claim that a Regime helicopter was observed above the city of Douma on the evening of 7th April.
The Opposition does not operate helicopters or use barrel bombs. And reliable intelligence indicates that Syrian military officials co-ordinated what appears to be the use of chlorine in Douma on 7th April.
No other group could have carried out this attack. Indeed, Daesh for example does not even have a presence in Douma.
And the fact of this attack should surprise no-one. We know that the Syrian regime has an utterly abhorrent record of using chemical weapons against its own people.
On 21st August 2013 over 800 people were killed and thousands more injured in a chemical attack also in Ghouta. There were 14 further smaller scale chemical attacks prior to that Summer.
At Khan Shaykhun on 4th April last year, the Syrian Regime used sarin against its people killing around 100 with a further 500 casualties.
Based on the Regime’s persistent pattern of behaviour and the cumulative analysis of specific incidents we judge it highly likely both that the Syrian regime has continued to use chemical weapons since then, and will continue to do so.
This must be stopped. We have sought to do so using every possible diplomatic channel but our efforts have been repeatedly thwarted both on the ground and in the UN.
Following the sarin attack in Eastern Damascus back in August 2013, the Syrian Regime committed to dismantle its chemical weapon programme – and Russia promised to ensure that Syria did this, overseen by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
These commitments have not been met. A recent report from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has said that Syria’s declaration of its former Chemical Weapons programme is incomplete. This indicates that it continues to retain undeclared stocks of nerve agent or precursor chemicals – and is likely to be continuing with some chemical weapons production.
The OPCW inspectors have investigated previous attacks and on four occasions decided that the Regime was indeed responsible.
And on each occasion when we have seen every sign of chemical weapons being used, any attempt to hold the perpetrators to account has been blocked by Russia at the UN Security Council, with six such vetoes since the start of 2017. Just this week, the Russians vetoed a draft Resolution that would have established an independent investigation into this latest attack – even making the grotesque and absurd claim that it was “staged” by Britain.
So we have no choice but to conclude that diplomatic action on its own will not be any more effective in the future than it has been in the past.
Over the last week the UK government has been working intensively with our international partners to build the evidence picture, and to consider what action we need to take to prevent and deter future humanitarian catastrophes caused by chemical weapons attacks.
When the Cabinet met on Thursday we considered the advice of the Attorney General, the National Security Adviser and the Chief of Defence Staff – and we were updated on the latest assessment and intelligence picture.
And based on this advice we agreed that it was both right and legal to take military action, together with our closest allies, to alleviate further humanitarian suffering by degrading the Syrian Regime’s Chemical Weapons capability and deterring their use.
This was not about intervening in a civil war. And it was not about regime change.
As I discussed with President Trump and President Macron, it was a limited, targeted and effective strike with clear boundaries that expressly sought to avoid escalation and did everything possible to prevent civilian casualties.
Together we have hit a specific and limited set of targets. They were a chemical weapons storage and production facility, a key chemical weapons research centre and a military bunker involved in chemical weapons attacks.
Hitting these targets with the force that we have deployed will significantly degrade the Syrian Regime’s ability to research, develop and deploy chemical weapons.
A year ago, after the atrocity at Khan Shaykhun, the US conducted a strike on the airfield from which the attack took place. But Assad and his regime hasn’t stopped their use of chemical weapons.
So last night’s strikes by the US, UK and France were significantly larger than the US action a year ago and specifically designed to have a greater impact on the regime’s capability and willingness to use chemical weapons.
And this collective action sends a clear message that the international community will not stand by and tolerate the use of chemical weapons.
I also want to be clear that this military action to deter the use of chemical weapons does not stand alone. We must remain committed to resolving the conflict at large. The best hope for the Syrian people remains a political solution. We need all partners – especially the Regime and its backers – to enable humanitarian access to those in desperate need. And the UK will continue to strive for both.
But these strikes are about deterring the barbaric use of chemical weapons in Syria and beyond.
And so to achieve this there must also be a wider diplomatic effort – including the full range of political and economic levers – to strengthen the global norms prohibiting the use of chemical weapons which have stood for nearly a century.
Although of a much lower order of magnitude, the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK in recent weeks is part of a pattern of disregard for these norms. So while this action is specifically about deterring the Syrian regime, it will also send a clear signal to anyone else who believes they can use chemical weapons with impunity.
There is no graver decision for a Prime Minister than to commit our forces to combat – and this is the first time that I have had to do so.
As always, they have served our country with the greatest professionalism and bravery – and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
We would have preferred an alternative path. But on this occasion there is none.
We cannot allow the use of chemical weapons to become normalised – either within Syria, on the streets of the UK or elsewhere.
We must reinstate the global consensus that chemical weapons cannot be used.
This action is absolutely in Britain’s national interest.
The lesson of history is that when the global rules and standards that keep us safe come under threat – we must take a stand and defend them.
That is what our country has always done. And that is what we will continue to do.

The post Statement on chemical weapon use in Syria appeared first on Alec Shelbrooke MP.

Following the recent rise in violent crime in Tower Hamlets and across London, Bethnal Green and Bow MP, Rushanara Ali, has called on the Prime Minister to give the Met Police more funding and prevent any further budget cuts. 

Small Business Breakfast 2018

Mark Spencer (Sherwood)

Following the success of last years Small Business Breakfast, my office has decided to hold the event again! I am very excited to announce that we will be joined by a Senior Member of the Government, who will give a short speech and then hold a question and answer session for all attendants.
The Breakfast will be held on:
FRIDAY 8th JUNE, 8.30-10.30am at John Godber Centre, Ogle Street, Hucknall, NG15 7FQ.
This is a FREE event, and there will be a breakfast buffet as well.
This will be an exciting and informal opportunity for local firms across the Sherwood Constituency to network, meet and discuss aspects affecting their day to day operating conditions. You will be able to raise any concerns or observations for Westminster's attention, and feedback is welcomed on any plans for investment that local firms might have, as well as difficulties that small businesses might be experiencing with access to finance, apprentices, suitable skilled labour, broadband connectivity, rising inflation costs, Brexit, to name but a few.
For booking information, please contact my office in Hucknall as soon as possible, and they will provide it to you. My office address is:
Under One Roof, 3A Vine Terrace, Hucknall, Nottingham, NG15 7HN
And my email is mark.spencer.mp@parliament.uk
Book quickly, places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis!
Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, visited one of his constituency’s award winning five star holiday and leisure parks during national tourism week. Mr Wiggin, accompanied by Managing Director Glenn Jones of ‘Discover Parks’ and Manager of Pearl Lake Leisure... Continue Reading →

Ian Mearns MP, Gateshead voted in the minority (No).

That this House has considered Parliament’s rights in relation to the approval of military action by British Forces overseas.

“I may not have succeeded in halting the war, but I did secure the right of Parliament to decide on war.”

“once President Trump had announced to the world what he was proposing, a widespread debate was taking place everywhere-including among many Members of Parliament in the media. However, there was no debate in Parliament.”-[Official Report, 16 April 2018; Vol. 639, c. 47.]

“When the Prime Minister called a Cabinet meeting last week, she should have recalled Parliament.”-[Official Report, 16 April 2018; Vol. 639, c. 48.]

“outsourcing that decision to people who do not have the full picture is, I think, quite wrong. And, the convention that was established, I think is very wrong.”

“for stronger safeguards to ensure proper collective consideration by the Cabinet on decisions of vital national importance”-

“In 2011, the Government acknowledged that a convention had developed in Parliament that before troops were committed the House of Commons should have an opportunity to debate the matter and said that it proposed to observe that convention except where there was an emergency and such action would not be appropriate.”

“The exception to the convention is important to ensure that this and future Governments can use their judgment about how best to protect the security and interests of the UK. In observing the convention, we must ensure that the ability of our armed forces to act quickly and decisively, and to maintain the security of their operations, is not compromised…If we were to attempt to clarify more precisely circumstances in which we would consult Parliament before taking military action, we would constrain the operational flexibility of the armed forces and prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of those forces”-[Official Report, 18 April 2016; Vol. 608, c. 10WS.]

“it is important to reserve the right that if there were a critical British national interest at stake or there were the need to act to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, you could act immediately and explain to the House of Commons afterwards.”-[Official Report, 26 September 2014; Vol. 585, c. 1265.]

“once President Trump had announced to the world what he was proposing, a widespread debate was taking place everywhere-including among many Members of Parliament in the media. However, there was no debate in Parliament.”-[Official Report, 16 April 2018; Vol. 639, c. 47.]

“It is now hard to see how any UK Government could undertake significant military action without the support of Parliament, or indeed of the wider public.”

“enshrine in law for the future the necessity of consulting Parliament on military action.”-[Official Report, 21 March 2011; Vol. 525, c. 799.]

“an urgent need for greater clarity on Parliament’s role in decisions to commit British forces to armed conflict abroad”.

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”

“Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.”

“parliament will be given the opportunity to debate the decision to commit troops to armed conflict and, except in emergency situations, that debate would take place before they are committed.”

“the raising or keeping a standing Army within the Kingdome in time of Peace unlesse it be with Consent of Parlyament is against Law.”

“To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.”

“It causes us great pain that this assault comes from powerful countries to which Syria did not cause any harm in any way.”

“enshrine in law for the future the necessity of consulting Parliament on military action.”

The House divided:

Ayes 317, Noes 256.

Debate in Parliament |

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell?
‘+1 tell’ means that in addition one member of that party was a
teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both
aye and no in the same division. The boths
explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against
the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

Party Majority (Aye) Minority (No) Both Turnout
Con 307 (+2 tell) 0 0 97.5%
DUP 10 0 0 100.0%
Green 0 1 0 100.0%
Lab 0 206 (+2 tell) 0 79.4%
LDem 0 12 0 100.0%
PC 0 4 0 100.0%
SNP 0 33 0 94.3%
Total: 317 256 0 90.0%

for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party.
You can see all votes in this division,
or every eligible MP who could have
voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

Name Constituency Party Vote
no rebellions

Update on Shop Direct

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

As I have previously mentioned in my statements on Shop Direct, I am bitterly disappointed that Shop Direct failed to engage with the council, Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, or myself about their plans to move to the East Midlands, including over the 18 months that this was being considered.

The Shop Direct distribution centre in Shaw currently employs 705 Shop Direct employees with 636 agency employees. This is devastating news for the Shop Direct staff and their families and the anticipated redundancies will have a dreadful effect on the local community.

I’ll be working closely with the council, unions and the Mayor’s office to ensure that Shop Direct management are co-ordinating properly with trade union representatives and staff, and that they keep their commitment to support staff impacted by these potential redundancies.

It was essential to bring together all parties affected by the proposed relocation to the East Midlands round the table and we met in the Mayor’s offices on Friday, 13th April. We conveyed our disappointment at the lack of prior notice from the company. Secondly, we put an offer on the table to explore whether there was any possibility that Shop Direct might reconsider its decision, perhaps relocating to sites elsewhere in the city-region. Oldham Council tabled alternative proposals of a site of a similar size, accompanied by a favourable business package, at Broadgreen Park, Chadderton. It was disappointing that there was no willingness from Shop Direct to engage on these proposals.

Given that they appeared to have made their decision, the meeting then looked into getting the best possible support for the workforce, and securing a future for the sites affected.

Many of Shop Direct’s staff have worked for the company in one form or another for many years, in some cases several decades and for a number of generations. The professionalism and commitment from Shop Direct’s employees has been second to none. The Mayor put a proposal to the meeting to establish a taskforce, led by The Growth Company, which was agreed by all parties. We will continue to do all we can to support the 1,992 people affected by this abrupt decision and to maintain jobs on the sites affected, albeit through new employers.

I have also written to the Prime Minister to demand that the Government is fully engaged in the process of supporting constituents through this difficult time. It is imperative that staff and local businesses in the area are provided with focused support by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy including skills and re-training packages, employment advice and financial support. It is imperative that Oldham Council is also given support as part of its ‘Get Oldham Working’ project; given half of its budget has been cut by your Government since 2010, this will put even more pressure on them.

Shop Direct is not in financial trouble. It reported an increase in underlying profits before tax of 10.2% to £160.4m last year. It has seen sales growth increasing over 5 consecutive years. The decisions it has made are purely commercial. The proposed site in the East Midlands will employ fewer staff as Shop Direct moves towards increased automation. Given that automation is likely to lead to huge challenges for the UK labour market as a whole, urgent action is required from the Government. I have therefore also urged the Government to put in place measures to support workers impacted by the ascendance of automation.

I addition I have requested an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss plans to support constituents. It is important that all action is coordinated with all relevant agencies which, unfortunately, has not been the case to date.

Please be assured I am committed to do all I can to ensure constituents are not left to deal with this alone.

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