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John says the Government is absolutely right to focus on consumers and not to bail out energy firms that got things wrong or are too fragile. However, asks the Minister to explain how he is dealing with customers currently on capped tariffs with suppliers that have gone bust?

It is true that Mrs Merkel will soon retire from the office of Chancellor after a signal achievement of winning and keeping such a high office for 16 years. No-one else in her era came anywhere near such an achievement. She not only exercised great authority in Germany but also in the EU, where she was the leader of choice amongst the member states that the EU turned to  to strike deals and find compromises to keep some momentum to the project. Being the Leader of the largest population, the largest national economy and the biggest financial contributor in the EU of course helped in carving out that niche.

Her diminishing numbers of fans and supporters in Germany will mourn her passing. They saw in her stability and calm, a woman who eschewed political gestures and strong arguments. She worked behind the scenes, sought compromises, changed policies when the wind changed and often sat on things for a long time before venturing into the argument. For most of her time Germany grew more prosperous, and unemployment stayed low following the SPD led contentious labour market and benefit reforms at the opening of the century.

Her legacy however should not  be air brushed because she was a survivor. She leaves her party gravely weakened, sitting on around half the vote in recent polls  compared with what she achieved in the Federal elections of 2013 (21% in a recent poll versus 41.5%)  and facing a difficult election. We will see soon how the party has performed in the actual election.

She has undermined the policies and principles of the conservative party she inherited. She led the party from support for nuclear power to a policy of closing it down. She changed policy from controlling migration to welcoming in hundreds of thousands of new  economic migrants. She claimed to represent German conservative principles in  the EU based around low levels of debt and no money printing only to allow or be unable to stop massive Quantitative easing programmes, the issue of EU debt and general large overshoots of the German inspired Maastricht debt and deficit criteria by many countries. She tried to reassure worried Germans that Germany’s wealth and tax revenues would not be used to subsidise high deficit countries elsewhere in the EU, only to permit the build up of over Euro 1 trillion of German deposits at zero interest at the ECB which was lent on at zero interest to the deficit countries. She leaves her successor with difficult issues over the transition to net zero, the requirement to close down the German petrol and diesel vehicle industry and the need to get out of coal whilst ending nuclear.

More importantly, her main legacy in the EU is to have greatly assisted in the unintended exit of the UK from the EU. She led Mr Cameron and Mrs May to think that she had power to settle the EU position, which may have been true, and that she might be the helping hand they needed. Instead she was a hawk denying Mr Cameron any negotiating wins to take home to persuade floating voters to stay with the EU. She offered Mrs May no help to shape a deal which more MPs could have accepted. Her enthusiasm to force the UK into a federal project which a majority of the public were never going to accept sealed the fate of two UK Prime Ministers and allowed Leave to win both the referendum and the 2019 General election.

I often think that in politics that there are two ways of dealing with problems. You can either try and predict them, and plan as best you can so that you have a good chance of managing them. Or you can wait until they happen before confronting them and trying your hardest to get them under control.

This Government seems to prefer the latter option. Despite the calls from academics, charities, opposition politicians, voters and their own back benches, this Government is determined to ignore the warnings and the cost-of-living crisis until it becomes totally unmanageable. In Parliament, I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated at the lack of awareness of just how bad things are getting for people right across the country.

There is a huge amount of pressure piling up on the people of Stockport. You’ve got energy prices shooting up, fuel and food shortages, rising inflation, and increased National Insurance contribution. All coming at the same time as the end of furlough, the suspension of the triple lock and the slashing of the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift (something that will push 500,000 people across the country into poverty overnight).

It is a perilous situation, and the Government must act swiftly to address it. In Stockport, it’s estimated that over 34,000 people are affected by income deprivation, and 25% of children live below the poverty line. Across Greater Manchester that figure is closer to 41%.

Behind each shocking statistic are families and individuals who are terrified about what the future holds and are relying on the Government to help. It’s important to note that income deprivation doesn’t just affect individuals in the present moment, it also heavily impacts the opportunities of families and children for years to come. To put it bluntly – failing to address the cost-of-living crisis now will have long-term effects that scarper the chances of ever effectively ‘levelling-up’.

We are emerging from the worst domestic crisis in the post-war era, and we can get through it, but people in Stockport must be properly supported.  A good welfare safety net, an increased minimum wage, fair taxation, and a grown-up conversation about the possibility of nationalising energy companies are just some of the measures the Government must consider if we are to avoid another 1970s-style winter of discontent. Exceptional times call for exceptional governments, and it’s time that ours stepped up to the plate.

The post The Government is running out of time to address the cost-of-living crisis – my monthly article for the Stockport Express appeared first on Andrew Gwynne MP.

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Weekly Round Up

Karin Smyth (Bristol South)

I was pleased to be on the panel at the launch of the No Place Left Behind report from the Commission on Prosperity and Community Placeholding on Monday, where we discussed the importance of giving communities new powers in efforts to ‘level up’ left behind neighbourhoods. Top-down projects rarely work because their leaders simply cannot understand the specific needs of local communities and cannot implement effective tools to enact change. The importance of local knowledge and lived experience should not be underestimated. I found it striking that the report noted how important it was for people to live within a short distance of good quality shops for groceries and that this can boost the wellbeing of constituents. In order for this to happen, we need to look at business rates and ensure that in poorer parts of the country, we are not hindering growth before it can even begin by placing shop premises financially out of reach for local sellers. I look forward to continuing these discussions.

On Wednesday I was able to put a question to the Home Office Minister on the epidemic we are facing of violence against women and girls. I agreed with the recent police report recommendation that violence against women and girls be treated with the same degree of importance as countering terrorism. Resources are a huge factor in this. We cannot expect police to fight this epidemic with the paltry resources that they currently have at their disposal. If this Government are serious about countering violence against women and girls, then they need to give the police have the tools to do the job. The Home Office must ensure that there is a national programme to tackle this and that local forces are not simply left to deal with this epidemic of violence themselves.

It’s once again been a busy week on the Committee for the Health Bill. We’ve been looking at transparency and independent scrutiny of local services. It is so important that patients can see where money is being spent in their local health services and how decisions about provision are being made. For that to be the case, there must be independent scrutiny with access to the appropriate information and the ability to challenge decisions that are at odds with the needs of the community. The NHS faces many challenges, but more transparency will help us identify areas of difficulty and implement the necessary change to make improvements.

We have also been looking at the important issue of workforce planning and the importance of training local people. Fairly recently, the Government expanded medical training places in parts of the country where there is a low take-up, and to which people are not moving to work. We know that if we train people locally, they stay local and if the Government would like a quick and easy way to level up—however they want to define it—that is it. If we want our young people to stay in their local areas to work, we need to offer them the jobs and training that enable them to do so. It’s not fair that for young people to get a job they have to move away from their homes, their families, and their friends. It’s also not fair on their local communities who lose that talent and youthful enthusiasm! We need healthcare workers within our communities but that only happens when we offer the training and provide the jobs to build that care within the community.

I have introduced an amendment to the Bill on end-of-life care which we discussed this week. As someone with a longstanding interest in this issue, I believe that this Bill must make provision for anyone with a terminal illness diagnosis to be offered a conversation about what the diagnosis means to them and how the health service can support them at the end of their life. At this point, a patient’s needs are not merely medical, so the conversation needs to include support on understanding and deciding on their treatment, on support for their mental wellbeing, financial and practical support to ensure that they are prepared, and support with their social relationships. These conversations are by nature incredibly difficult, but they are also necessary. Healthcare does not stop because medicine can not save us and clear guidance on what this means is vital to ensure that all patients are treated with respect and dignity until the end.

I was pleased to join the Advanced Construction Skills Centre launch today with the Mayor of the West of England, Dan Norris. The £9 million investment in this Skills Centre is a wonderful opportunity for the young people in South Bristol and I am pleased that higher apprenticeship courses will be offered alongside construction courses for trades in wood, brick, and plaster for both young people and those looking to retrain or build on their current qualifications. We need centres like this around the country to develop our vocational capacity, to provide young people with the trades and skills that will help them into well paid jobs, and to show a commitment to ensuring that learning a trade is given the same level of investment and respect as learning in an academic setting. Both are vital for the prosperity of this country and both are needed to help our towns and communities recover from a decade of austerity and the pandemic.

If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing Karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk or by calling 0117 953 3575.

The post Weekly Round Up first appeared on Karin Smyth.

Ambulance response times

Philip Dunne (Ludlow)

24 September 2021
Ambulance response times

We are all now aware that covid has created a substantial backlog in planned and elective treatments in the NHS. In response the Prime Minister this month announced a £36bn investment in health and social care. 

But what is less recognised is the impact covid has had on emergency medicine, including our ambulance services. Just this week, the SNP government has asked the British Army for help to maintain a viable ambulance service north of the border. 

I have been engaging for some time with West Midlands Ambulance Service, to raise issues of concern. The pandemic has caused enormous pressures on the system, with continuing infection control needs limiting capacity in our acute hospitals. This has led to huge pressure on the ambulance services, with long waits to handover patients at A&E. This reduces availability of ambulance crews across the county and places considerable stress on staff, exacerbated by unprecedented demand on the service. Paramedics are telling me they are increasingly working longer shifts to ensure safe handover of patients.

For example, WMAS set a new record for 999 calls on 19th July when they received and answered 6,418 calls in a 24-hour period. Average handover times at Shrewsbury are running this month at over an hour, and at Telford 100 minutes, against the target of 15 minutes.

As part of their response WMAS have proposed closing all the remaining ten community ambulance stations, including the small stations at Bridgnorth and Craven Arms, in order to improve availability of crewed ambulances. They explain the way the ambulance service responds to calls is dynamic, with crews no longer waiting in stations for calls, as they are now despatched from case to case non-stop through their shift. Paramedics rarely return to the station other than for shift change and meal breaks. They are out in the community tending to people in need, with fewer than half of their attendances requiring admission to hospital.

But there is considerable concern about this, not least as it has not been subject to public consultation. which I have raised directly with the Chief Executive. 

Responses to emergency calls from rural South Shropshire are my priority and I have pressed for reassurances that any service model changes must improve access for patients.

In addition paramedics who live near these stations are worried about the impact of being required to travel to and from the large ambulance hubs, such as Shrewsbury and Hereford at the start and end of their increasingly long shifts. 

I shall continue to challenge the WMAS leadership to ensure that both service levels and welfare of staff are not compromised as a result of these changes. 


Constituents Update – 24th September 2021

Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington)

Lib Dems win Kendal North by-elections

Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale)

Phil Walker and Jonathan CornthwaiteLast night, Liberal Democrats won the Kendal North district and town council by-elections.

Jonathan Cornthwaite was elected to serve on South Lakeland District Council.

Jonathan said: "I want to thank everyone who cast their vote for me and Phil yesterday.

"I'm hugely grateful for this opportunity and looking forward to getting things done for local residents."

Meanwhile Phil Walker was elected to serve on Kendal Town Council.

Phil said: "I'm really honoured that local people have put their faith in me as their local councillor - I can't wait to get started!"

Commenting on the by-election victories, local Lib Dem MP Tim Farron said: "I'm absolutely delighted for Jonathan and Phil.

"They are both Kendal through and through and care enormously about the future of our town.

"I know that as councillors they will now work their socks off to tackle speeding on our estates, create safer routes to schools and help me to fight for the future of our local hospitals."

Published and promoted by P Trollope on behalf of T Farron and the Liberal Democrats, all at Yard 2, Stricklandgate, Kendal
Printed (hosted) by Prater Raines Ltd, 98 Sandgate High Street, Folkestone CT20 3BY

Beam Park Station Update

Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)


Following last week’s revelations which highlighted the Government had pulled funding for a new station on the Beam Park development site, Jon Cruddas MP has now learned that the proposed new c2c station was fully funded by the Greater London Authority and developers. In addition to the construction, the GLA and London Mayor’s office had also offered the Department of Transport £10million to protect the Government against the cost of operational deficit for the first 10 years.

Jon Cruddas said: “this discovery blows the whole situation wide open. We now know that the delivery and ongoing cost of a new station poses no financial risk for the Government, yet they have withdrawn approval for the scheme, throwing the development of thousands of new homes into contention. We have also had confirmation from developers that delivery of a new Beam Park station was a condition of planning consent.”

In a letter to the service provider regarding their decision to withdraw approval for the scheme, the Government stated that the project was ‘poor value for money’ and that there would be issues with potential ‘ongoing operational subsidy’. However, Jon Cruddas has argued that the commitment of developers and the Greater London Authority completely undermines this position.

On Monday 27 September the Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham will be meeting online with residents – both tenants and owners from across the development. Jon has pledged to keep the pressure on Government regarding this issue, and is working closely with the Deputy London Mayors for Transport and Housing to hold the Department of Transport to account. The campaign to see Beam Park station has also garnered the support of developers Countryside.

Jon added: “these revelations reinforce our suspicions that despite their talk of ‘levelling up’, the Tories are determined to grind communities like ours to a halt. Government policy is completely out of sync as we see the Tories put more pressure on local authorities to increase housing targets and then pull the plug on the infrastructure needed to support those communities. It just won’t stand, and we will fight this all the way alongside residents.”

In the coming weeks the local MP will be writing out to every household across the south of his Dagenham and Rainham constituency, seeking the views of local people. In the meantime, residents are urged to join the campaign and sign the petition: www.joncruddas.org.uk/beampark

While speaking in Parliament on Wednesday Robin Millar, MP for Aberconwy, paid tribute to al local residents whose hard work has been the driving force in Aberconwy’s impressive economic recovery since most lockdown restrictions were lifted in the summer. Speaking during a debate (in the House of…
Earlier this month, I asked the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport what progress his Department has made on the rollout of gigabit broadband in both Ashfield constituency and Nottinghamshire as a whole. The last year has shown how important it is for houses to be able to…

What is the House of Commons

Brendan Clarke-Smith (Bassetlaw)

Learn about the House of Commons in this animation for 7-11 year olds. Explore the role, work and membership of the Commons and how it holds the government to account.

All tips to go to staff under new government plans

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

The UK Government will introduce legislation to stop unscrupulous businesses from taking tips meant for staff, providing a boost to hospitality workers in the Borders and across the UK. The move will give customers reassurance when tipping that the money will go directly to staff. It is expected…

Chi writes to Minister to finally secure Wylam meeting

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Chi has written to Steve Barclay, who has replaced Michael Gove in the Cabinet Office, to see if he will honour his predecessors commitment to meet with Wylam Brewery regarding their ongoing problems with exporting to the EU.

Letter here: LettertoBarclayWylam brewery

The proposed City Plan 2030 will address Climate change Affordability Providing more homes Providing more jobs How people move around

Transforming social care is the challenge of our generation. This was true even before Covid struck, but the pandemic has exposed, more than ever, the urgent need for reform.

A future Labour government will modernise the welfare state from cradle to grave, investing in social care as part of our ambition to make Britain the best country in which to grow old.

However, the Tories’ plans won’t “fix the crisis in social care”, let alone deliver a proper vision.

In the build-up to Labour Party Annual Conference next week, I’ve written an article for LabourList on Labour’s ambitions for social care, and why a universal, needs-based, nationally funded, locally delivered care system needs to be at the heart of our modern welfare state.

Read the full piece on LabourList.

The post Labour’s ambition for social care is as far reaching as Bevan’s was for the NHS appeared first on Liz Kendall.

Cold Winter Payment Scheme

Joy Morrisey (Beaconsfield)

Joy Morrissey MP spoke about the Cold Winter Payment Scheme in today's urgent question on rising gas prices and the collapse of energy suppliers to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Bury Times Column 23rd September 2021

Christian Wakeford (Bury South)

After many conversations with veterans’ groups, the DWP, Bury Council and the Veterans Minister, Leo Doherty MP, I’ve been working with colleagues behind the scenes to develop a hub for veterans and the wider armed forces community across Bury. It is hoped that the hub will bring together support…

Morley Church of England School visit

George Freeman (Mid Norfolk)

22 September 2021
Morley Church of England School visit

It was a very good opportunity to pick up my regular schedule of constituency school visits again this past Friday – visiting Morley Church of England Primary School to continue the crucial conversations I have been having with Norfolk education leaders, and speak with pupils, as we look to ensure our children are not only able to catch up what they have missed during the pandemic, but are also able to go on to thrive, excel and succeed.

Morley CofE School sign

It was a real delight to chat with the children again, and to engage with them on a variety of topics – all taught by brilliant, dedicated teachers, led by Headteacher Laura Green.

They are also lucky to have a wonderful play and enrichment area, and even some woods to play in!

If YOU are a school in Mid Norfolk that would be interested in having me visit, do get in touch via george.freeman.mp@parliament.uk . I’d be delighted to come and speak with you all.

Morley Primary School
Morley Primary School
Morley Primary School
To mark World Alzheimer’s Month, Catherine McKinnell MP joined Alzheimer’s Research UK at an event in Parliament to show her support for dementia research. In the UK nearly 1 million people are living with dementia, and it is one of the leading causes of death. We all know someone affected by dementia. It has a … Continue reading NEWCASTLE NORTH MP JOINS ALZHEIMER’S RESEARCH UK TO SUPPORT DEMENTIA RESEARCH IN WORLD ALZHEIMER’S MONTH
Over the past year Greg Smith MP has been working with the community in Long Crendon to support ambitions for a new medical centre in the village. This morning (Wednesday 22nd September 2021) he met with Ed Argar MP who is a Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care to fully…

Return of garden waste service

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

Wednesday 22 September 2021 Last Friday I visited Lydd Airport to meet with David Hainsworth, the managing director, and members of his operations team. The airport has been a feature of life on Romney Marsh for over sixty years and is still an important part of the local economy. I was pleased to hear that […]

Adjournment Debate: Cawston Park Hospital

Jerome Mayhew (Broadland)

This evening Jerome brought forward an Adjournment Debate following the findings of the Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board review into Cawston Park Hospital. Gillian Keegan MP, Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) responded to concerns raised during the debate. 

Visiting the Bitterne Local History Society

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

Really lovely to visit Bitterne Local History Society with the Mayor of Southampton as they celebrate their 40th birthday. The society is run by a really dedicated group of volunteers with a wealth of knowledge. Make sure you visit their shop and museum on Peartree Avenue.

The post Visiting the Bitterne Local History Society appeared first on Royston Smith MP.

Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

While we may be returning to some sense of normality, the Prime Minister’s message is that Covid has not gone away, and he is clearly right. Several Covid-related issues have frequented my inbox, graced the floor of the house and hit our front pages. On a positive note, it was announced that we won…

My Weekly Round-up

Christina Rees (Neath)

This week in Westminster there were a series of late night divisions in the House of Commons. On Monday, Labour MPs voted against New Clause 2 of the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill which called for reviving the prerogative powers to dissolve Parliament and to call a new Parliament, in effect giving the Executive (ministers) of the UK Government powers to dissolve Parliament thus not involving MPs, and Labour MPs abstained on 3rd Reading.

On Tuesday Labour MPs voted for the Official Opposition Reasoned Amendment to the Second Reading of the Health and Social Care Levy Bill, which stated that “the UK Government failed to set out a plan to fix the crisis in social care, improve pay and conditions for social care workers, or clear the backlog of NHS waiting lists by the end of this Parliament, while breaking the Prime Minister’s promise that no one will have to sell their home to pay for care because it lacks a guarantee that Parliament will vote on a social care plan before spending the money it raises, and because it breaks the UK Government’s promise not to increase National Insurance, raising taxes on employment that will disproportionately hit working families, young people, those on low and middle incomes and businesses trying to create more jobs in the wider economy whilst leaving income from other sources untouched”  Labour MPs voted against Second Reading. Labour MPs abstained on Amendment 4 tabled by the SNP, voted for New Clause 3, which required the Chancellor to review the revenue of this Act and lay a report before the House after 6 months of the Act being enacted and every 12 months thereafter, voted for New Clause 5 which required the Chancellor to review the equality impact of the Act and lay reports as in the timeframe set out in New Clause 3, and voted against Third Reading. Unfortunately, we lost all votes.

On Wednesday Labour was granted Opposition Day debates. The first called on the UK Government to end its planned cut to Universal Credit and Working Tax Credits which from the end of September 2021 will reduce support for many hard working families by £1040 a year. It is unconscionable that while we are still struggling with the financial effects of the pandemic the Government choose to cut essential support from hard working families up and down the country. It is shameful that the very workers who got us through this crisis are in the firing line for over £1000 cut to their income every year. The £20 uplift in Universal Credit is what enables some families to put food on the table. There is now near-universal opposition to these plans –  the UK Tory Government cannot claim to be supporting working people while they persist with this damaging policy.

The second called for a joint committee of the Lords and Commons for the remainder of the Parliamentary session to consider UK Government policy on Afghanistan from the Doha Agreement signed on February 2020 to the conclusion of Operation Pitting on 27th August 2021. The committee would have powers to investigate the accuracy of intelligence assessments during this period and the consequent decisions made by ministers, plus the eligibility and policy of the ARAP scheme. The committee would be required to publish its report not later than 31st March 2022. Unfortunately, we lost the vote on each debate.

On Tuesday afternoon I chaired a series of debates in Westminster Hall beginning with a 90 minute debate on reducing the fire risk in high rise social housing. The debate was led by Andy Slaughter, Labour MP Hammersmith. Andy spoke about the human tragedy of Grenfell Tower, as the world woke up on the morning of 14th June 2017 to the horrifying images of people being killed in their own homes. Four years later the scale and depth of this tragedy are only now being explored. Interim investigations such as the Hackitt Report have provided some clues, but the UK Government has been slow to legislate. Andy referred to Daniel Hewitt’s distressing documentary “Surviving Squalor: Britain’s Housing Shame” which was on ITV last Sunday night. Andy also focused on the causes of fire in social housing, especially electrical fires, and asked why more is not being done to prevent them. UK Government minister Luke Hall stated that his Government had provided £5 billion grant funding to support remediation of unsafe cladding on high rise buildings over 18 metres high in England. Stephen Doughty, Labour MP Cardiff South and Penarth, asked the minister for clarity on the amount and the date when the Welsh Government will receive the funding Consequentials, because the £5 billion fund was announced in February 2021, and they need to move forward with their plans. Andy wound up the debate by calling for a holistic approach looking at buildings below 18 metres, too; examining other defects in other buildings, schools, care homes, hotels; adequate law and enforcement; and to champion social housing.

The second debate was led by Alexander Stafford, Conservative MP Rother Valley, about decarbonising the UK and the role of shipping emissions, and highlighted that in the year of COP26 the role of shipping carbon dioxide and hydrogen can play in ensuring a prosperous and environmentally sustainable future for British Industry. The Committee on Climate Change advocates more ambition and support for as many potential Carbon Capture Utilisation and Utilisation technologies (CCUS) clusters as possible all over the UK. Alexander mentioned the UK projects. The UK Government minister Michael Tomlinson stated that the debate was timely in that it is London International Shipping Week, and that the UK Government had made huge progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 13% between 2018 and 2019, but must go further to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. He spoke about the UK Government Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy published in March 2021, the launch of phase 1 of CCUS cluster sequencing in May, and the summer publication of the UK’s first ever hydrogen strategy which will put the UK at the forefront of the race to develop low carbon hydrogen, driving innovation, jobs and investment to scale up the technology. The minister recognised the importance of non-pipeline transportation and shipping for decarbonisation of the broader economy and stated that the UK Government is working with devolved Administrations to understand how best to incorporate non-pipeline transportation and shipping within a UK carbon dioxide network.

The last debate was about real fur sales and was led by Christian Wakeford, Conservative MP Bury South, who opened his remarks by stating the huge support for Fur Free Britain campaign, whose petition has been signed by more than 1 million, and led by the Humane Society International UK. In 2000 the House banned fur farming in England, which was enacted by Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2002. More than 100 MPs from across the House (of which I am one) have signed Christian’s letter to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last month calling on the UK Government to ban the import and sale of animal fur. Christian mentioned Tracey Crouch, Conservative MP Chatham and Aylesford, and her Early Day Motion on the same issue, and Tracey intervened to thank Christian for the mention, and stated that 140 MPs signed her EDM during the last session and it has been signed by the highest number in this session. There were over 20 MPs attending the debate in the hope of speaking or intervening in support of this very important matter. Unfortunately, the debate was scheduled for only 60 minutes, but many did succeed in speaking to add their support to ban fur sales.

I am honoured to be part of the team from the Panel of Chairs that has been chosen to oversee the passage of the committee stage of the Elections Bill through the House over the next 6 weeks. Firstly, on Monday, I chaired the Programme Sub-committee, when the UK Government’s minster’s draft resolution – containing the timings and the witnesses which will be invited to give evidence – is debated and accepted. Then on Wednesday and Thursday I chaired the Evidence sessions, when the minister, opposition spokesperson, SNP spokesperson, and the members of the Elections Bill committee, had the opportunity to ask relevant, in scope, scrutinising, questions of each witness who appeared before the committee. We heard from 22 witnesses, during 9 sessions over two days. My thanks to the team of House of Commons clerks, who serve the committee chairs, for all their assistance. Next week the committee will meet again to consider clause by clause scrutiny of the Elections Bill.

As always, if you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch, please do not hesitate to drop us an email on christina.rees.mp@parliament.uk or call us on 01639 630152 – we are here to help.

Weekly round-up #Working4Wycombe

Steven Baker (Wycombe)

What I have been up to this week #Working4Wycombe: Relieved to see Pakistan off the Red List for international travel after making many representations to ministers Argued for the Universal Credit uplift as a Spending Review priority Met the Food Foundation to discuss how to tackle food insecurity Visited Wycombe Heights Golf Centre to support their recovery from lockdowns and restrictions, and to discuss the hospitality sector Heard National Farmers Union representations on seasonal agricultural work and tabled an oral […]

On 17 September, 34 Parliamentarians from across parties are calling on the UK Government to take urgent action against human rights abuses in Egypt


Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

Tory MPs were out in force this weekend to support Boris Johnson’s National Insurance rise and repeat the mantra that the NHS is safe with them while blaming all problems on Covid.

We know the NHS needs an annual increase of around 6% to keep it on track. The last Labour Government recognised this and invested to reduce waiting times.

The result was a vastly improved service with big reductions in the wait for things like hip and knee replacements but that funding plummeted when the Tories returned in 2010. Boris Johnson now says his NI increase will solve the latest difficulties although it sounds like he’s trying to spend it twice by saying it’s for both health and social care.

This PM regularly claims he’s recruiting 50,000 extra nurses but that figure includes 18,500 existing nurses he expects to leave but hopes to retain. Retention is important but hanging on to staff doesn’t mean you can call them new.

The independent Kings Fund says we’re short of 38,000 nurses, so his plan must involve leaving the NHS 6,500 nurses short. There’s also that claim about 40 new hospitals where they’ve been caught out describing a new wing as a hospital. That doesn’t improve credibility.

There’s no argument that the pandemic has placed enormous pressure on ITU beds but by the time of the 2019 election, the NHS had already lost 17,000 hospital beds. That wasn’t down to Covid but nine years of Tory underfunding.

Waiting lists are currently the highest since records began and could reach 13 million. By the time any new money comes on stream, thousands of essential operations will have been cancelled and many will have died while waiting for treatment.

The PM says he’ll improve the NHS and simultaneously fix social care but strangely there’s absolutely no mention of his plans in the Health and Social Care Bill, currently making its way through parliament.

I welcome any extra money although I’d prefer it was raised fairly. The figures, the exaggerations and the downright fibs inevitably make me question whether the NHS is safe in their hands.

First I should apologise for the late return of this column after the summer. It is for the very straightforward reason that I have had Covid. Other people’s symptoms are always boring, so I will restrict myself to saying that I am glad I am fully vaccinated, which meant that despite an unpleasant…

Dolen Teifi Community Transport

Nia Griffith (Llanelli)

Privilege to attend celebration of excellent work by Dolen Teifi in providing community transport including in Llanelli and, with support from John Burns, in Kidwelly & see launch of electric 7-seater vehicles.

Many thanks to all involved, including 900 trained drivers, and to Welsh Government Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Transformation Fund & Community Transport Association.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil this week backed a Parliamentary Motion to cancel the £20 a week cut to Universal Credit – a change that will directly affect more than 1500 island residents.

In an Opposition Day debate in the Houses of Parliament, Mr MacNeil voted along with his SNP colleagues and other parties, while Conservative members abstained.

The results of the vote are non-binding and so the UK Government will now proceed to end the £20 a week uplift which has been a lifeline to 400 families with over 700 children in the Western Isles during the pandemic.

Mr MacNeil has written to the Chancellor the Exchequer Rishi Sunak urging a rethink and is due to meet with Western Isles Citizens Advice Service (WICAS) later this month to discuss this situation further.

He stated: “It is disappointing that although the motion to prevent the end of the Universal Credit uplift was backed, it will not prevent the UK Government from going ahead with the cut.

“Ending the uplift will effectively mean a pay cut for low paid workers and some of the poorest families and vulnerable children are about to have household income slashed.

“I will continue to press the UK Government to rethink and make the uplift permanent to prevent more families being plunged into poverty.”

Surgeries Autumn 2021

Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire)

I hope to re-start in-person surgeries this Autumn; however, in order to comply with Covid protocol, these will not be drop-in surgeries – appointments must be made in advance.

To book, please call 01294 311 160 or email philippa.whitford.mp@parliament.uk

For scheduled dates and times, please see below:

Please note that all surgery dates are subject to change dependent upon Covid guidelines and Parliamentary business.

The post Surgeries Autumn 2021 appeared first on Dr Philippa Whitford.

On 8 September, Bill Wiggin MP was one of over 200 Members of Parliament who came together to support Macmillan Cancer Support’s latest campaign. The charity used its well loved World’s Biggest Coffee Morning reception in Parliament to launch a... Continue Reading →

MP embarks on climate change tour of local schools

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Northumberland MP, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has launched her tour of local schools in advance of the global COP26 climate conference being hosted in Glasgow in November. The MP, who as well as being Energy Minister is the COP Champion for Adaptation and Resilience, has been representing the UK in…

Historic event on Anglo-Sikh history in Parliament

Preet Gill (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

Last night Preet Kaur Gill MP, the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for British Sikhs hosted a parliamentary reception with the kind permission of the Speaker, the Rt. Hon. Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP in Speaker’s House at the Palace of Westminster.

This historic cross-party event was to reflect on Anglo-Sikh history and explore issues connected to British Sikhs today. The Speaker welcomed parliamentarians, prestigious guests and leaders of the Sikh community in the State Rooms in the Speaker’s House.

Preet Kaur Gill MP and Dabinderjit Singh OBE, the principal adviser of the Sikh Federation (UK) reflected on key moments from throughout Anglo-Sikh history over the last 200 years.

Gurpreet Singh Anand, the President of the first Sikh Gurdwara (Central Gurdwara, London) established in 1911 and the current Secretary General of the Sikh Council UK and Balvinder Kaur Saund the Chair of the Sikh Women’s Alliance spoke about issues both connected to and connecting British Sikhs today.

Politicians who spoke at the event also included:

·       Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee

·       Kate Green MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education

·       Joy Morrissey MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

·       Martin Docherty-Hughes MP

·       Pat McFadden MP

Coinciding with Saragarhi Day as well as the 20th anniversary of 9/11, speakers touched on both the present day and historic contributions and challenges facing the Sikh community. Preet Kaur Gill MP reflected on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, for whom British Sikhs have been the target of hate crime and prejudice in the aftermath, as well as the sacrifice of 21 Sikh soldiers in the battle of Saragarhi in 1897. She and Tom Tugendhat MP discussed the Hidden Heroes campaign which they have championed with We Too Built Britain.

MPs both recognised the enormous contribution of Sikhs to Great Britain, as well as the sacrifice and hardship Sikhs have faced over the decades. MPs took the opportunity to celebrate how over the last 200 years, Britain’s military officials and political leaders have appreciated and promoted the Sikh identity.

Preet Kaur Gill MP, the host and Chair of the APPG for British Sikhs said: “It is a great honour to have held this event in Speaker’s House, to gather community leaders and Parliamentarians to celebrate British Sikh heritage and reflect on the issues affecting our communities today.

Sikh history is British history.  To move forward it is important to acknowledge and understand the historic injustices and challenges Sikhs have faced while building on the great successes in Anglo-Sikh history over the past 200 years. That starts with open engagement and an honest reckoning with our country’s past.

Across the globe, Governments should appreciate the enormous contribution Sikhs make to the world, working in collaboration with them to realise their ethos for the betterment of all.”

Standard (Image)

Reforming Social Care

Bob Stewart (Beckenham)

How to reform the funding of social care in this country has bedevilled governments of both main parties for the past two decades.   So I was pleased to support the Prime Minister this week when he unveiled his plans to put social care funding on a long term footing and won a House of Commons vote…

Alongside other Labour Metro Mayors, South Yorkshire Mayor Dan Jarvis has called on the Government to scrap the cut to Universal Credit.

A quarter of families in South Yorkshire will have their incomes cut by more than £1,000 a year, at a time of economic crisis, and a planned increase in National Insurance.

Maria Miller MP visited Biogen with local Councillors Samir Kotecha and Juliet Henderson, to meet the people running the plant and to hear about the changes that have been made in the past 2 years by the new operators to start to tackle odour problems & traffic concerns connected with the plant…

Health and Social Care Levy

Victoria Prentis (Banbury)

It has been clear for some time now that we need to look at how we fund our social care system to support those who need to use it both now and in the future. What was not clear was that we would be faced with a global pandemic which has had a profound impact on our health and social care systems…
Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, chaired a virtual meeting with Sir Greg Knight, MP for East Yorkshire, to follow up on the discussion earlier this year about the economic impact to agriculture caused by flooded farmland and what solutions can be found. They were joined by farmers…

In her latest editorial in the Telegraph & Argus, Judith talks about her recent work on a range of important local and national issues:

I hope that people have managed to get a break during the summer. Over the summer months we saw terrible events unfold in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is an international crisis which the government needs to lead the national response to. The withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan has left many people in fear of their lives from Taliban reprisals. The government has a moral responsibility to play its part in defending those Afghans who are in the greatest danger from the Taliban.

This situation requires a national response; it should not be left up to local authorities across the country to volunteer to support those escaping from the new Afghan regime. The Government must lead a coordinated and well-resourced plan that disperses those seeking refuge from Taliban across the United Kingdom in a fair way. I expect Bradford to play its full part in this. But I also expect every other council to do the same, and for the government to fully fund any resettlement program.

The Government have given us lots of words at present but very little credible action as to how they are going to do this and also how they plan to bring British nationals that are still stranded in Afghanistan home. This must be their immediate priority.

The Government should have acted to improve Social Care over a decade ago. The delaying of taking decisive action has left social care in a crisis with services grossly underfunded and understaffed – something that the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated. However, rather than leading a national debate on what care services should look like in the future, the government is rushing through a manifesto-breaking raise to National Insurance. This is not a plan to tackle the crisis in social care, it is just an unfair tax rise.

We are all in agreement that Social Care needs extra funding, but there are fairer ways that this money can be raised. The government should be considering introducing new income tax brackets that ensure that those with the broadest shoulders pay their fair share of the social care bill, instead the current government proposals will mean that lower paid people across my Bradford South constituency will instead be worse off. Fundamentally, we need a fair and equal plan to fund our Social Care services not one that will seemingly mean that the rich stay rich, but the poor become poorer.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted and increased many of the inequalities and challenges faced by employees such as low-pay, insecure work, and insufficient working hours. As we move forward, we now need to look at addressing these issues as it’s simply not good enough to go back to the pre-Covid ‘normal’ of a deregulated labour market, we need to create a new way of working that is fairer for all.

The government commissioned a report into this issue in 2017, but as is typical of the current Government – it has still has not implemented any of the report.

People in Bradford South, and right across the country, need strong legislation to bolster employment protections in the post-Covid world.  I will be strongly advocating for this as we continue to emerge from the pandemic.

As big national and international issues dominate the headlines, here at home in Bradford there are many local nuisances that gravely impact on people’s lives.

As we approach bonfire night the issue of fireworks disturbances after dark will become an even greater annoyance. Although unfortunately this is an issue that sadly plagues many people all year round.

Using a firework after 11pm is an offence under the Fireworks Act 2003. There are various ways in which police can deal with this and I will be ensuring that the council and the police must make full use of the current powers that they have at their disposal.

However, it is clear to me that the legislation around fireworks needs to be improved and that is why I am planning to call for a debate in Parliament to challenge the government to do more to help my constituents live in a less noisy and safer environment.

Before the summer recess, I challenged the Government in parliament to tackle the issues surrounding quad bike use, with a view to exploring the banning of quad bikes for on–road use. I speak with many local residents who have concerns that quad bikes driving up and down our roads, and sometimes pavements, in an anti-social manner often with face coverings and no licence plates.

As the Government have no current plans to introduce legislation on this serious issue. I will continue to work to ensure this issue gets the attention from Government it deserves. Local people shouldn’t have to put up with this.

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I became aware of the Home Office’s plan to house a significant number of asylum seekers in Blackpool a couple weeks ago. I have extremely strong reservations about this decision, especially in the heart of Blackpool. I have spent the past two weeks expressing these concerns robustly to ministers…


Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne)

Closing Date: 19 September 2021

Job Title: Parliamentary Researcher / Senior Parliamentary Researcher

Working For: Tulip Siddiq MP

Location: London

Salary: In line with IPSA pay scales

Length of Contract: 12 months

Job Details

Tulip Siddiq MP is seeking a Parliamentary Researcher / Senior Parliamentary Researcher (depending on experience) for one year. It will be a fixed-term contract for 12 months to cover absences due to a staff member taking paternity leave.

The position will be based primarily in Tulip’s Parliamentary office in Westminster. We are happy to discuss options for flexible working at any stage including part-time remote working, flexi-time, job shares and other forms of flexibility.

Key responsibilities:

• To write articles, press releases, speeches, parliamentary questions and briefings to support Tulip’s work as MP for Hampstead and Kilburn
• To proactively engage the national, regional and local media with Tulip’s work and reactively handle enquiries from the media
• To write and oversee production of Tulip’s annual report and newsletters.
• To monitor correspondence with constituents
• To undertake research on a wide range of policy areas, in order to inform both new and existing campaigns
• To liaise with Tulip’s constituency office to progress casework and policy work through liaison with local and national bodies, government agencies and others
• To support Tulip in her capacity as Shadow Minister for Children and Early Years
• To show clear competence in using parliamentary procedure to achieve campaign objectives, such as UQs, EDMs, WPQs, PQs, Ministerial Correspondence and FOIs
• To show a clear understanding of the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency and work hard for the communities that shape life in the area

Ideal candidate:

• Will have excellent writing skills and acute attention to detail
• Will demonstrate good communication and people skills and a working knowledge of new media
• Will be sympathetic to the aims and objectives of the Labour Party and be politically aware
• Will have strong time management and able to produce high quality work under pressure
• Will be able to prioritise tasks and manage own workload in a fast moving environment
• Will ensure accurate records are kept and respect the confidentiality of data at all times
• Will have previous experience of working in Parliament or a political environment

Closing Date: 19 September 2021

Interview/Start Dates

Interviews will be held in central London in the week following the closure of the advert on 19th September 2021. This will involve written and in-person exercises.

Application Details

Applicants should email their CV and a one page covering letter to tulip.siddiq.mp@parliament.uk with the subject line ‘Job application – *Full name*’

Due to the high volume of applications, only successful applicants for interview will receive a response.

Help for constituents with family in Afghanistan

Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East)

Operation Pitting

Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

This picture says it all – my respect can not really be put into words for our national heroes. I feel humbled by seeing this image.

Since 14 August 2021, our brave Armed Forces have evacuated over 15,000 British nationals and vulnerable Afghans through Operation PITTING.

16 Air Assault Brigade, the Army’s airborne rapid reaction force, is now returning home to the UK.
I want to say a massive thank for their hard work to save lives.

The post Operation Pitting appeared first on Michelle Donelan MP.

LETTER: Cross Party MPs call for action to protect Afghan Nationals

Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)

A cross-party group of Members of Parliament have written to the Home Secretary asking for urgent action to protect Afghan nationals. The full letter and signatories below:

SENT VIA EMAIL to Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, Secretary of State for the Home Department

19 August 2021

Re: Securing adequate protection for Afghan nationals

Dear Home Secretary,

The whole country has watched in horror the fall of Afghanistan to Taliban forces. The eyes of the world will now be watching how countries with a proud history of welcoming refugees respond, and particularly how they treat people forced to flee. Reports confirm that extrajudicial killings have already begun. Those in particular danger include women and girls, ethnic minorities, LGBTIQ+ people and journalists. In addition, anyone seen to be supportive of the Afghan government or of international organisations is at risk of being targeted.

People currently at risk from the Taliban need to flee immediately and by whatever means necessary. For many, this will be via irregular journeys. A large-scale international resettlement effort is desperately needed to evacuate people from the country and the surrounding region. However, the deadly scramble for safety at Kabul Airport in recent days demonstrates why a resettlement-only approach to refugee protection, as proposed in the Nationality and Borders Bill currently before Parliament, cannot work.

As a matter of urgency, the Government must establish sustainable solutions for those who will seek our protection over the coming weeks and months, as well as Afghans already living in the UK, their families and loved ones.

To achieve this, the Government must urgently take the following steps:

  • Ensure no Afghan national faces removal to any third country under the inadmissibility rules, regardless of how they have travelled to seek protection in the UK. These individuals should instead be offered immediate and sustainable protection
  • Introduce a simplified process to grant immediate protection to some 3000 Afghan nationals currently awaiting a decision on their asylum application and facilitate an expedited application process for those submitting a fresh or new claim going forwards.
  • Ensure no Afghan national is evicted from asylum accommodation while this procedure is being established.
  • Expedite family reunification applications for people from Afghanistan and widen the criteria to include parents and siblings of applicants. Normal procedures requiring applications to take place through embassies must similarly be suspended.
  • Immediately release all Afghan nationals currently held in immigration removal centres, given the impossibility of safely effecting removals.
  • Review and broaden Afghan Locally Employed Staff Relocation schemes to protect people working in all at-risk professions, for instance drivers and security staff who have worked with the UK.
  • Immediately publish new policy guidance reflecting the need for humanitarian protection, and the danger faced by numerous social groups including women and girls, LGBTIQ+ people, men and boys targeted by the Taliban, ethnic and religious minorities, and human rights defenders throughout the country, including Kabul.

As well as presenting an urgent protection challenge, this situation also calls into question the Government’s current approach to refugee protection in general. When people are forced to flee in the middle of the night, there is no queue they can join for resettlement. People whose lives are at risk will be forced to flee by whatever means are available to them, including irregular means.

In light of this crisis, we urge the Government to drop its current inadmissibility rules, and its decision to criminalise refugee journeys that are not undertaken through regulated resettlement routes. Refugees reaching our shores must have their claims assessed based solely on need and never on their method of flight. The provisions in the Nationality and Borders Bill currently before Parliament that would criminalise refugees based on their mode of travel, and introduce a two-tier system of refugee protection, must be withdrawn.

It is within the Government’s gift to mount a world-leading, compassionate response to this crisis. We hereby call on the Government and the Ministers responsible to act urgently to deliver the compassionate response that is so sorely needed.

Yours sincerely,

Drew Hendry MP

Alan Brown MP

Alison Thewliss MP

Alistair Carmichael MP

Allan Dorans MP

Alyn Smith MP

Angela Crawley MP

Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP

Ben Lake MP

Brendan O’Hara MP

Chris Law MP

Christine Jardine MP

Claire Hanna MP

Claudia Webbe MP

Clive Lewis MP

Daisy Cooper MP

Dan Carden MP

Deidre Brock MP

Diane Abbott MP

Gavin Newlands MP

Hannah Bardell MP

Jeremy Corbyn MP

John McDonnell MP

Kenny MacAskill MP

Kirsten Oswald MP

Layla Moran MP

Marion Fellows MP

Mary Kelly Foy MP

Mohammad Yasin MP

Neale Hanvey MP

Owen Thompson MP

Patricia Gibson MP

Patrick Grady MP

Philippa Whitford MP

Richard Thomson MP

Sarah Green MP

Sarah Olney MP

Stephen Farry MP

Stuart McDonald MP

Tommy Sheppard MP

Wendy Chamberlain MP

The post LETTER: Cross Party MPs call for action to protect Afghan Nationals appeared first on Drew Hendry MP.

Statement on Afghanistan

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

Debbie Abrahams MP's Statement on Afghanistan

Many constituents have contacted me about the appalling and deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, after the Taliban took control of the capital city of Kabul on Sunday, August 15.

I share your profound concern and distress about the impact this will have on the lives of Afghan people, particularly women and those who have been working alongside NATO forces, NGOs and many others.

I was in the Chamber today to speak not only as the vice-Chair of the Afghanistan APPG, but also on behalf of my co-worker and dear friend Marzia Babakarkhail. Like so many others, Marzia had to flee her home in Afghanistan after the Taliban tried to assassinate her. You can watch my speech in full here.

The present situation on-ground in Afghanistan is shocking and worsening by the hour. The withdrawal of international forces in the country, especially those of the U.S, has lead to the inevitable fall of the Afghani Government, just two weeks before the U.S. was due to complete its troop withdrawal. I remain extremely concerned about the speed with which the insurgents stormed across the country, capturing all major cities in a matter of days.

We now face the tragic rollback of the gains that UK soldiers, diplomats and NGO workers, and their coalition and Afghan partners made over the last twenty years.

Women and girls will lose the freedoms they gained and those speaking out face real threats to their lives alongside members of the LGBT+ community and religious minorities who were viciously targeted under Taliban rule and now face extermination. This is in part due to the catastrophic miscalculation of the capacity and legitimacy of the Afghan government, and the resilience of Afghan security forces trained and equipped by the U.S. and its allies. That the international community has been caught out in this way is quite shocking and speaks volumes about our priorities and the lack of a human rights focus in our foreign policies.

The international community’s response including the UK’s has been absolutely woeful and far too slow considering the immense danger so many are in as the situation is so fast-changing. This is a shameful dereliction of duty.

The immediate focus must be for the government to accelerate efforts to get UK nationals, support staff and the thousands of Afghans nationals who have served and worked alongside coalition forces out of the country. As well as the women activists who are now in grave danger of Taliban reprisals, many of whom have already faced threats. We have already seen reports of Taliban hit squads hunt down those they see as “collaborating” with coalition forces.

We should help lead that effort by committing to a British Afghanistan Resettlement Programme, to create safe and legal routes so those suffering at the hands of the Taliban can make a new life here in Britain. The Government’s proposal to take just an initial 5,000 refugees followed by only 20,000 over 5 years is not enough. Many of those at the highest risk will not survive waiting for five years to escape the Taliban. This policy must urgently be expanded to ensure people to whom we owe a huge debt are not abandoned because of an arbitrary target. And the promises made by ministers in Parliament must be reflected on the ground.

I support the deployment of troops to Kabul to provide security and capacity to carry out the evacuation. Soldiers and diplomats must be given the resources that they need. But it is increasingly clear there was a failure to plan for a safe and swift evacuation process and ministers have serious questions to answer over the lack of preparedness. Having said that I am also very grateful to Ambassador Bristow who is personally processing applications from Afghan nationals for refuge, and to Lord Tariq Ahmad who has been helping me to get a woman activist under threat and her husband out of Kabul.

Our veterans who served in Afghanistan as well as the families of those who died serving our country must know that their sacrifices were not in vain. The differences they have made to women and girls in particular are immense. What they must be feeling must be overwhelming; we must make sure that they get the resources and support they need.

The Taliban must be judged on what they do, not what they say. There are worrying reports of night raids and arrests of suspects by armed men with a number of local journalists and civil rights workers believed to have been detained. Women face obliteration of their rights, despite the warm words of the Taliban that too many have been willing to entertain. There have been reports of women being sent home from work and told to send their male relatives instead. There are reports of girls as young as ten are being sold off to Taliban fighters, mothers are having their eyes gouged out in front of their children, and reprisals against those who helped coalition forces. According to the UNHCR, women and children make up 80% of those fleeing the conflict.

The role of Pakistan in this conflict is absolutely key. During my speech, I called on the Foreign Secretary to restore specific aid funding to Pakistan in response to the influx of Afghan refugees who are crossing into Pakistan, as 350,000 Afghans are on the move inside the country.

The Pakistani Ambassador to the European Union, Zaheer Aslam Janjua recently disclosed that “Pakistan doesn’t have the capacity or the resources to take any more refugees” as Pakistan is already home to more than 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, according to UN data. However, it is also home to an estimated two million more unregistered Afghan refugees, according to Pakistani government estimates.

Pakistan also has a potential role in moderating the Taliban’s behaviour. I am hopeful that the commitment that Pakistan has expressed to me over human rights in Kashmir will extend across the region – as you know human rights are universal. Pakistan has made clear that they need help from the international community in keeping the region terrorist-free and managing the 1600mile Durand line, which separates Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is something we could do collectively as this porous border poses a threat not just to Pakistan but to us all especially as there are already concerns that the Taliban might begin to question the legitimacy of the border now that it is in power.

The steps that Pakistan now takes will be vitally important as the Taliban’s takeover will affect the country more deeply than any other regional power and it is important that the UK government remains in dialogue with the Pakistani Prime Minister.

In the longer term, global Britain must work with its allies to restore not just our reputation but our role in facilitating a law and rules-based system with human rights across the world.

Please be assured, I will do all I can to continue to highlight the plight of the Afghan people.

Feel strongly about this article?

The post Statement on Afghanistan appeared first on Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

Emma Meets with Tyne Tunnel 2 Executives

Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields)

Last week, I met with the Chief Exec and Operations Manager of Tyne Tunnel 2 to raise concerns following a spike in complaints about the tunnel operators since the introduction of the controversial “pay later” scheme.

I have to agree with many of the complaints, I believe that the payment instructions could be clearer. The ticket states a date and a time however, if you wait until the date shown, it’ll be too late and you’ll incur a £30 fine, I can see how many people are easily misunderstanding what the ticket says.

During the meeting, I asked the Chief Executive, Phill Smith if he could look at other options and suggested changes should be made to the wording on the tickets to make it clearer.

Furthermore, I learnt about plans for the tunnel to remove the barriers completely in a new system called Open Road Tolling.  This would mean that there would be no barriers and payments will need to be made either using an online account or the pay later option. Tyne Tunnel 2 say this would increase tunnel capacity, reduce carbon emissions and mean more a more reliable and quicker journey through the tunnel.

However, I again expressed concern that more drivers may receive fines, as the onus would be on drivers to remember to pay the toll as under the new system, they would not receive a ticket which in many cases acts as a reminder. I also asked what facilities have TT2 put in place to support those drivers who do not have access to the internet, in order to pay their toll charge. It was explained that drivers who do not have smart phones or access to the internet could pay their toll at shops who have a PayPoint facility.

I feel many constituents’ pain and frustration. Many people have told me that the current system of pay later is confusing and lacks clarity, I agree and will continue to seek a resolution to this matter.

Vice President Howard Marriner

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

One of our most long-standing, loyal and hugely respected members, Howard Marriner, sadly passed away on the 6th August 2021 He was both a great Conservative and civic leader. Howard was elected as a Crayford councillor in 2006 and then Barnehurst in 2010 and 2014, he always put his residents first…

Visiting The Watch

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

I was pleased to be able to pop into The Hub at Pelsall Village Centre recently and catch up with Edwin Venables from The Watch – our local neighbourhood watch office that provides crime prevention and safety advice to local residents.

It was particularly interesting to be updated on the work of The Hub, and  how the Rushall, Shelfield, Pelsall and Brownhills Neighbourhood Watch continue to support people throughout the local area. Thank you to Edwin and all our other volunteers at The Watch and in all our Neighbourhood Watch groups who continue to work hard to keep my Aldridge-Brownhills constituents safe.

Covid Ongoing

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

Obviously all our lives have changed for the better as the pandemic recedes and the vaccine rolls out. However it is worth keeping an eye on the rules, regs and guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Coronavrius (COVID-19)

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell)

Dear constituent

I am writing to you with an update about Coronavirus issues and other local matters.

International Travel

Firstly, I have been asked by a number of people about the current rules for travel outside the UK and returning here. To find out what the rules are for entering any other country, you should look at the Foreign Office Travel Advice, which will tell you what the entry requirements are at the moment in each country.

For re-entering the UK, all of the current advice is here.

South Western Railway & Network Rail Timetable Consultation

South Western Railway and Network Rail have launched a consultation about their plans for the post-Pandemic timetable from December 2022 onwards. This consultation is based on an assumption that considerably fewer people will be commuting going forward. The proposals represent a significant downgrading of the pre-pandemic timetable for our line into London Waterloo. They are intending to reduce the number of trains from Ashtead and Epsom in the peak from six trains an hour to four. This would be done by scrapping the services that start at Epsom and making the previous semi-fast service stop at Ewell West and Stoneleigh instead, as well as at all stations further in. At the same time they would make the current reduction in off-peak services permanent.

They will also at the same time introduce the new generation of trains onto our line, which are ten coaches with all of them connected to create an open plan route right through the train. Their argument is that the new trains will have significantly more capacity and will be able to carry as many people as before even with a reduced service. I do not buy that argument. I have met the company to raise my concerns about the plans, and I think it is much too early to judge what passenger numbers will be in nearly eighteen months time. This level of service would have been completely unworkable with pre-pandemic passenger numbers. I would encourage everyone to take part in the consultation and to make your view clear. The details are at here.

Epsom & Ewell Business Awards 2011-2021

This year’s Epsom and Ewell Business Awards have just been launched for online entries and nominations. This will be the tenth year of the awards, and it’s a great opportunity to nominate your favourite local business, perhaps because of what they have done for you during the pandemic or because they just always look after you really well. Details of how to enter or nominate an entry are here. Please do get involved.

Volunteering in the Local Community

I know that many people locally put their names forward to volunteer in the community during the pandemic, and either have now finished that work or did not find the right opportunity to do so. If you are someone who is motivated to get involved or frustrated because your help wasn’t needed, I am planning a volunteering event to match potential volunteers with a small group of local charities who need extra help.

The event will be at St George’s, in Barnett Wood Lane in Ashtead on Friday 10th September from 4 until 6.30pm.

I will be sending out more details a few days before, but if you are interested please make a note in your diary.

I hope that you manage to enjoy something of a break this summer and that the weather improves.

Best wishes

The post Coronavrius (COVID-19) appeared first on Chris Grayling.

Visit my Facebook page

Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield)

Visit my Facebook page for upto date news on my work as your Member of Parliament.

Nigel’s July Newsletter

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley)

  Subscribe to Nigel’s email newsletter here.

Dear Constituent,

Welcome to my July email newsletter. I hope you and your families are staying safe and well during this challenging time, as we start to try to return to normality from the pandemic and enjoy the Summer, whilst still trying to be cautious and sensible with precautions where possible in the face of rising cases. 

It is only right that at this critical juncture in our journey out of lockdown, we take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary sacrifices of the wonderful people who make up our NHS, our key workers, and all those involved in the vaccine rollout. 

Below you’ll find updates on the latest cases and vaccination restrictions, a link to my new online survey and details of what’s been happening in Parliament and around Amber Valley. 

Online Summer Survey – let me know your views:

As we head towards Summer Recess in Parliament, I’m about to start delivering my annual report across Amber Valley – please say hello if you see me out and about.

In the report and online, I’m launching a survey to get your views on local issues and recovering from Covid-19, from health appointments to boosting our economy.

Please take just a couple of minutes to complete my Summer Survey and let me know your views here.

Easing Lockdown Restrictions

On Monday 19th July 2021, the Government lifted all remaining restrictions on social distancing in England. This represents a further step towards normality as we adjust to living with this virus. Although coronavirus cases are continuing to rise nationally, we have not seen the corresponding rise in hospitalisations and deaths that we would expect given the rates of illness we observed last year. It is, therefore, becoming increasingly clear that the link between infections and serious illness is sufficiently broken to enable this further relaxation of restrictions. However, we must remain careful and exercise our own good judgement to keep transmission in our local community to a minimum.

Local Case Rates

The Delta (B.1.617.2) variant continues to spread across the country and Public Health England (PHE) is now confident that it has overtaken the Alpha variant to become the most dominant strain of the virus circulating in the UK. The Delta variant is believed to be around 60% more transmissible than the Alpha variant, which itself is more transmissible than the original strain of coronavirus. Encouragingly however, new analysis by PHE shows that 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta variant.

As predicted in light of this, cases continue to rise nationally, and this trend is no different locally in Amber Valley. You can find the latest case data here. We are now ahead of the England average which highlights the need for us to remain careful. 

Local Vaccines

The Country’s vaccine program continues apace with more than 46.2 million people in the UK having received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine – part of the biggest inoculation programme the country has ever launched.

I was pleased to see the rollout expanded after the Government hit its target of offering a first jab to everyone in the top priority groups – all those over the age of 50, plus those in high-risk categories by mid-April. With every adult in the UK now having been offered their first dose of the vaccine. A terrific effort, nationally and locally.

As of last Saturday 17th July, Amber Valley had successfully given at least one dose of the vaccine to 88% of local adults, with 72.8% having received both jabs. This remains slightly above the average for England which stands at 87.7% of adults having received one jab, and 68% both jabs. These figures are a testament to the exemplary vaccine program here in our constituency.

I will continue to engage with ministers, the public health team, and the local NHS to ensure that this area continues to see the full roll out of vaccines.

Easing of restrictions

As of Monday 19th July, all legal restrictions on social distancing in England have been lifted. This is truly excellent news, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing Amber Valley businesses, organisations, and individuals operating at full capacity without legal restrictions.

The following measures are now in place across England:

– No limits on how many people can meet.

– 1m-plus rule removed (except in some places like hospitals).

– Face coverings no longer required by law.

– Nightclubs can open.

– Pubs and restaurants no longer table service only.

– No limits on guests at weddings and funerals.

– No limits on people attending concerts, theatres or sports events.

– No restrictions on communal worship.

It is important to remember, however, that this easing of restrictions is designed to empower ourselves as individuals to use our common sense to slow the spread of the virus, which is still very present in our communities. Therefore, I implore you to enjoy these new freedoms responsibly.

As ever, to find out more information on what restrictions apply in your area please look here

Supporting our local economy

As we try to re-open, it’s key to support our local economy to bounce back, and provide a boost to local jobs and businesses. Unemployment is Amber Valley is currently at 4.2%, which is below the national average of 5.6% and 150 lower than in May 2021. As the Job Retention Scheme (furlough) starts to wind down, we need to remain cautious, but there are lots of vacancies around and local employers advertising job opportunities, including the Kickstart Scheme to help young people get back into work. I’ll also look to organise a Job Fair, maybe initially virtually, over the next few months – please get in touch if you’d like to be involved in this. 

Borders Bill

I’ve recently welcomed the Government’s New Plan for Immigration, also known as the Borders Bill, into parliament. This legislation intends to:

  • Speed up the removal of failed asylum seekers and dangerous foreign criminals.
  • Introduce maximum life sentences for people smugglers.
  • Empower the Border Force to do more to stop and seize small boats and search containers for hidden migrants.
  • Stop illegal arrivals gaining immediate entry into the asylum system if they have travelled through a safe county (like France).
  • Increase the maximum sentence for illegally entering the UK.
  • Grant resettled refugees indefinite leave to remain.
  • Better integrate refugees who are resettled.

I know constituents want more to be done to reduce illegal immigration. I will, therefore, continue to engage with ministers throughout this Bill’s journey through parliament to ensure the Government delivers on its manifesto commitments of reducing illegal immigration to UK.

In Parliament:

In Parliament this month, I’ve been asking questions on travel restrictions, catch-up education and English Votes for English Laws legislation.

During recent questions to the Secretary of State for Transport, I raised the issue on behalf of constituents of families with children under 18 wanting to travel abroad, but who aren’t eligible for the vaccine as yet. I’m pleased the Secretary of State agreed to look into this issue, and you can find out more on his answer here.

I’ve also asked the Secretary of State for Education about catch-up tutoring for school pupils following the pandemic, and you can find the full debate on this here

And, during Business Questions in the House, I asked about the continuation of English Votes for English Laws legislation, as part of a continued fair settlement of devolution across the UK. You can find more on this here and on my Twitter feed here

You can also find more on my recent parliamentary appearances and questions here

Solar Farm

Locally, I’ve been working with local residents and councillors to help oppose plans to construct a 310-acre solar farm on a vast swathe of green space between Alfreton and Oakerthorpe. The solar farm has been proposed by Kronos Solar and is subject to several planning applications across Amber Valley Borough Council and North East Derbyshire District Council. I think this would destroy our local landscape due it’s scale and extent, so whilst I’m not against renewable energy or solar panels, I think these applications are inappropriate. 

The applications are still awaiting determination by the councils (likely to be in September) so there’s still time to comment or lodge any concerns you may have. 

You can find details of the residents’ objection group, and information on the individual applications and how to comment if you haven’t already, here

Amber Valley Borough Council Local Plan consultation – Have your say!

The new administration at the Borough Council has launched a new consultation on the next stage of preparing Amber Valley’s Local Plan, a development document which will set out and plan future housing growth in the area, and making sure we have the infrastructure improvements to match any new homes. I welcome the planned reduction in the overall number of new homes being proposed, which is part of the consultation. The Council are also consulting on the options for the overall strategy (spatial strategy) of the plan, which include focusing housing growth on the Derby City urban area border, in and around Amber Valley’s four key towns, or in the wider area and villages.  

The consultation on the proposals and headline strategy for the plan so far is open from now until the 30th September 2021. Please do take opportunity to feed in your views to the Council – I know how strongly residents rightly feel over housing in our area, and so this is the most important chance to have your say on making sure we protect our Green Belt and shaping the future of planning in our area. You can find the consultation and how to submit your views on the proposals here.

Street Watch:

As always, if there are any street repairs in your area, such as potholes, pavement repairs or broken street lights, you can report these issues and concerns to me quickly and easily here so I can ask for the repairs to be investigated and addressed.

GDPR and privacy notice:

Data laws changed with the introduction of the new GDPR legislation: you can find my office’s privacy policy here and, if you don’t want to receive these emails anymore, you can unsubscribe here.

Get in Touch!

As always, you can contact me by hitting the ‘reply’ button on this email, or you can ring my office on 01773 744341.

Twitter and Facebook

You can also follow me on Twitter @NigelMills and like me on Facebook here to stay up to date with news and events in Amber Valley throughout the month.

Yours sincerely,

Promoted by Nigel Mills MP, of Unicorn House, Wellington Street, Ripley, Derbyshire, DE5 3EH.

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In response to a question at July Full Council, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources has called on the Government to retain the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credithighlighting how it supports many low paid working people in Nottingham.

There are roughly 35,000 people on Universal Credit in Nottingham and in response to the pandemic in April last year the Government introduced an increase in payments of £20 a week. There is growing speculation that the Government will reverse the uplift later this year resulting in increasing difficulty for many people who are already struggling.

Responding to a question at Full Council on the issue, Cllr Sam Webster said “Universal Credit supports low paid working people in our city, tens of thousands of children in our city and people who are entitled to support with housing costs or have lost their job during the Covid pandemic.”

Cllr Webster commenting on the consequences of the £20 a week uplift being reversed warned that “It will often be felt most acutely by Nottingham children who are growing up in families where there already isn’t much money around, families who are living in poverty.”

In January this year Nottingham City Council passed a motion urging the Government to retain the £20 a week increase to Universal Credit and urging an extension of the payment to claimants of legacy benefits who are currently excluded from the additional support. This was followed up by a letter from the Leader of Nottingham City Council to the Chancellor emphasising the importance of the £20 a week uplift.

Cllr Webster continued his response by saying “Lower paid and lower skilled working people are much more likely to have lost their job, not be able to work from home, have additional childcare needs, have gone through periods of Covid isolation without receiving pay, have lost hours at work….and the list goes on. Reducing Universal Credit now would be big blow to many families who are already struggling to make ends meet.” He also argued that the uplift in Universal Credit should be seen as a litmus test for how seriously the Government is about levelling, saying to not make the uplift permanent would be a case of “levelling down”.

Cllr Webster ended by saying “In the aftermath of the global financial crisis a decade ago it was (and still is) shameful that the poorest people in this country were made to pay the price of mistakes made by the wealthiest. In terms of the policies that our national politicians pursue – this is one of those markers – who will The Conservative Government expect to pay for this latest economic and public debt crisis?  The message from Labour in Nottingham is crystal clear – let it not be the poorest families again.”

The post “Universal Credit uplift should be permanent” says city councillor appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

Welwyn Hatfield MP spent last Friday talking to people and businesses from around Welwyn Hatfield to see how they were getting on as they prepared for Monday, the next stage of the unlock.

After holding a constituents surgery in the morning, Mr Shapps went to the Galleria in Hatfield to visit Potential Kids. There, Grant went to see how they had been doing since the launch of their ‘Learn to Ride’ sessions earlier in April.

Potential Kids is a local charity that provides learning, social and sport opportunities to children who are neurodiverse, as well as their families. Their ‘Learn to Ride’ programme provides 1 on 1 bike riding lessons to children.

Speaking about the visit Angela Gaughan, founder of Potential Kids said: “We were delighted to have the opportunity to talk with the Grant Shapps about the joint project between Hatfields Mens Sheds and Potential Kids.

“Being able to teach children and young people to ride and maintain a bike provides life-long skills that promote independence, mental health and self-esteem, whilst encouraging physical activity and time spent outdoors in the fresh air.

“Grant also had the opportunity to see our Community and Learning Garden project, ‘Potential to Grow’, which has been successfully running over the last 11 months.

“We are so grateful for the support we have received in developing this project. Our continued thanks go to Tim Sterling, Center Director at the Galleria for our Hub and Garden and to Welwyn Hatfield Council for their support to build our new kitchen area. Which will enable us to run fun cooking sessions for neurodiverse children, young people, their siblings, and families in the local area, using healthy ingredients grown in our very own garden.”

Mr Shapps said: “Potential Kids look to be doing brilliant work here. I’ve spent a bit of time talking to the leaders here and learning about their work, and the cycling programme more specifically.

“Cycling is great way to get from A to B- it’s healthy for you, and great for the planet. Learning to ride a bike as a child is something that all kids should experience, and it’s great to see that Potential Kids are helping make sure every child has that opportunity.”

Next stop for Mr Shapps was a meeting with business representatives in Welwyn Garden City, to hear from them about how businesses in WGC have been responding to the lifting of covid restrictions, as well as their plans for the recovery of the town centre. Mr Shapps toured some recent changes in the town centre, including a new outdoor dining area.

 A representative of WGC BID said: “We thank Grant for taking time out of his very busy schedule to come to WGC town centre and hear about the BID renewal and how the businesses in WGC are coping with the impact of the pandemic.

“It has been a tough time for everyone but we are working together to ensure the recovery of our town centre”

Mr Shapps said: “As we are moving away from covid restrictions- thanks in no small part to our amazing vaccination effort- it’s vital that our local businesses can get back on their feet and adapt to life post-covid.

“Visiting the town centre in Welwyn Garden City today and meeting with the local BID group, I’m confident that we’ll be able to spring back and make the most of what life post-covid has to offer.”

Finally, Mr Shapps travelled to Welwyn Village to meet with Off Broadway Travel – a local travel agency.

Mr Shapps- who is also the UK Transport Secretary- met with Tricia and the team at Off Broadway Travel to listen to their experience of international travel in the wake of the COVID pandemic. The meeting came as Mr Shapps recently announced that double vaccinated Brits would no longer have to isolate after travelling to ‘amber list’ countries from 19 July.

Natalie Bennett, a partner at Off Broadway Travel, told Travel Weekly: “He took everything on board, he listened to us, and it went well. He appreciated that travel had been made illegal and said he would talk to the chancellor [about further sector specific support].

Off Broadway Travel tweeted after the visit, saying: “A very productive meeting with @grantshapps today our local MP. Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen & understand out sector….”

Mr Shapps said: “I had a very useful discussion with the team at Off Broadway Travel today. They told me about the challenges they’ve faced as a business  over the past year and a half.

“As we unlock domestically, and take some first steps towards flying internationally again, I want to make sure I’m best representing all parts of the transport sector.”

5 Secrets of the Best Webinars

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

There seems to be a webinar for everything — from cooking an apple pie and setting up your email list to creating a company and making your first million. This form of interaction with the target audience became popular for a good reason. It allows to achieve numerous goals:

  • Selling products
  • Attracting new audience
  • Improving engagement
  • Building and improving brand awareness
  • Creating an image of an expert for yourself or your company
  • Distributing content

And that’s we’ve just scratched the surface. Every person who creates a webinar has their own unique goals in mind. This wide array of benefits is what makes webinars such a great way to promote your brand.

However, there is one issue with them — they’re popular. Ironic, we know. But this popularity makes it hard for new webinars to actually attract the audience because people are already bored of them. That’s why we need to create a truly outstanding webinar to make it stand out, gain the interest of the audience, and be a success everyone will be talking about for a while. Here is how to do it.

Start with the topic

While it seems like an obvious thing — to have a great topic for a webinar — many lecturers miss the whole point of creating one. What might seem like an amazing thing to talk about for you can be hard to understand or useless for your listeners. Topics that don’t get attention from the public are born because the lecturer didn’t think of their audience’s interests hard enough.

So before picking a matter to talk about, determine your target audience. What are its interests, what does it want and need to know? Do your best to put yourself in the shoes of your future listeners and understand what they want to hear during the perfect webinar. This will help you to figure out the best topic your audience will find valuable.

Also, make sure that the topic isn’t too complicated if it’s your first webinar. Start with basics and slowly raise the difficulty of your lectures. This will help you to attract both beginners and advanced specialists gradually thus improving your image and positioning you as a true expert in your field.

Tip: you can test topics in your blog if you have one. Or on some kind of platform such as Medium. It will help you understand if the matter is really interesting to the target audience. Also, you can promote your future webinar in such an article.

Finally, remember about keywords, especially if you plan to keep your webinar uploaded somewhere online for people to watch and rewatch it after the actual stream. By including relevant keywords in the title and the description of your webinar you will increase the chances that users will find your webinar through the search.

Figure out the best date and time

The best day and time for your webinar really depends on your target audience. While some experts say that it’s best to host a lecture on Tuesday through Thursday, and others say that Monday through Friday is fine, too, some listeners might find weekends the best time for a webinar. So before selecting a date, think of your target audience — when they would be able to make time for your lecture? The best solution would be to ask your future listeners when they want to attend your webinar if you have such an opportunity, of course.

Things get especially tricky when your audience is spread around the globe. If you understand that some of your listeners live in a drastically different time zone from other listeners, you should consider holding two streams for these groups.

Another thing you should consider is holidays in different countries — you wouldn’t want to have a webinar when a large part of your audience is busy having a vacation or celebrating.

Invest time in your presentation

Your slides are just as important as whatever you’re telling your audience. Many lecturers treat presentations as just some visual entertainment for their listeners — why pack slides with information if you already tell it verbally? But that’s a false thought. Think of this — your visual presentation can later become a valuable piece of information both for those who attended your webinar and those who just found slides later. Why would you want to lose an opportunity to keep attracting attention to your work even after your stream? Moreover, an informative presentation you send to your attendees after the webinar is another way to show your audience that you care.

So take your time and put enough work into your presentation — it will be worth the effort. If you aren’t sure about your design skills, it will be a good idea to get a designer. The slides should both be informative and look appealing.

Actually, talk about the matter

We all know these webinars that seem to have the sole purpose of promoting some product of a lecturer. And they’re extremely annoying. People listen to a person bragging about their product for an hour and get little to no information from the lecture. That’s something you don’t want to do if you really want to create a useful and popular webinar.

Build your material with useful information and be generous when sharing your knowledge. The bad example would be to start telling about some matter and then say, “I’ve told about it in my book in chapter four — you can read all the info there.” Don’t be greedy — tell your audience at least half of the information, and then follow it with encouraging listeners to get your book if they want to know even more.

Answer questions

Don’t end a webinar once you’re finished with your material. Ask the audience if they have any questions and give as detailed answers as possible. Of course, you should remember about time, too. So it would be a good idea to dedicate, for example, an hour to the lecture itself and then another 30 minutes — to the questions.

Creating and holding a truly outstanding webinar is not an easy task. Yet, if you succeed, you will benefit a lot from your work. Use our tips, and you’ll definitely host a useful and engaging lecture.

The post 5 Secrets of the Best Webinars appeared first on Berger.

England team’s unity and humility help nation dream again

Alistair Burt (North East Bedfordshire)

It is hard to adequately capture the mood in England at present, as the nation contemplates the latter stages of the Euro 2020 football tournament. This is heady territory for football fans here. Despite the modern origins of the game being in England, and the country’s worldwide reputation, the…

Child Poverty in East Newcastle

Nick Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East)

Diana stands up for Britain's Red Arrows

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North)

Diana Johnson stood up for skilled jobs and the red arrows in the House of Commons today.

Diana asked the Minister:

Steve Reed has asked Croydon Council to listen to local people over the future of South Norwood Library.  The library’s future is uncertain because the Conservative Government has cut funding to Croydon by 70% and pushed it into a financial crisis.

Local MP Steve Reed has spoken to residents and campaign groups who are fighting to save the library.  He’s now written to the Council asking them to consider how closing the library will affect the areas poorest residents who may not have access to WiFi or quiet spaces for learning or reading at home.  He’s also asked the Council to fully involve the local community before taking any decisions.

Steve Reed said: “Croydon Council is faced with some really difficult decisions after ten years of Conservative funding cuts.  But they do not have to go it alone. Now more than ever people want a say over what happens in their area. The Council should harness this enthusiasm and work with residents to come up with plan that could protect library services for South Norwood.”

You can see the full letter here.

If you would like to get involved in the campaign to save South Norwood library, email Steve at steve.reed@croydonlabour.org.uk

  • Steve Reed
    Steve Reed Member of Parliment for Croydon North

Steven Reed is Labour MP for Croydon North and Shadow Minister for Children and Families. In 2018 his private member’s bill on reducing violent mental health restraint became law. In June 2019 he launched Labour’s civil society strategy outlining radical plans to empower citizens and communities.

Steve chairs the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network, co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for London, was Leader of Lambeth Council 2006-12 where he led the council’s children’s services to become best-rated in the country and pioneered the public-health approach to tackling violent youth crime. He worked in publishing for 16 years and was an elected trade union branch secretary.

The post Steve Reed calls on Council to work with residents to save South Norwood Library appeared first on Steve Reed MP.

New GP Surgery Back on Track for Shifnal

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)

New GP Surgery Back on Track for Shifnal
Tue, 16/02/2021 - 13:45

The local Clinical Commissioning Group has confirmed that the funding is in place to build a new GP surgery for Shifnal.

Commenting, Mark Pritchard MP said:

"I'm delighted that, in the last 24 hours, the Shropshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group has confirmed to me that the new GP surgery in Shifnal will go ahead this year.  The building plans are well advanced and NHS England has provided the extra funding needed.  Local councillors and Shifnal Matters 2021 have supported me in pushing for this new surgery, and I'm glad that the NHS has listened to local needs."

COVID-19 Advice and Assistance

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)

Alec urges all constituents to book their COVID-19 vaccination or access the NHS Test & Trace system if you have symptoms.


The UK medical regulatory agency has approved a number of vaccines for COVID-19. The Government has organised the largest nationwide vaccination programme in history, with all adults now eligible to book a vaccine. You can book your vaccine online here.


Anybody with symptoms can book a test. To book a test click here.

Help from Alec

If you have a unique issue to raise with Alec that is not covered in the information above, please get in touch at alec.shelbrooke.mp@parliament.uk or via 01937 589 002.

The post COVID-19 Advice and Assistance appeared first on Alec Shelbrooke.

Brexit Deal or No Deal

Ian Mearns (Gateshead)

I wanted to take a moment to explain my reasoning behind abstaining from the vote in Parliament on Wednesday (30/12) as the Governments’ Brexit deal returned to the House of Commons.

From the outset, I have sought to respect the decision of the referendum in 2016 and have been happy to work with colleagues in Parliament to deliver a compromise between those 16 million people who voted to remain in the EU, and the 17 million who voted to leave with the myriad of different options that would entail. It has become clear to me over the last 4 years that many people who voted to leave the EU in Gateshead, did so for very different reasons and with very different expectations of our future relationship ranging from close alignment like Norway, to what has now been termed a hard Brexit, essentially no formal trading relationship with the European Union, operating on basic WTO rules instead. I was re-elected to represent Gateshead at the last General Election on the pledge to respect the result of the referendum and to negotiate a deal that would meet the 6 key tests.

It would seem that successive Conservative Prime Ministers have seem set on rail-roading their respective deals through Parliament without proper scrutiny our accountability, and this week is no different. It appears to be the case that the Government may have sought to hold out for demands within the negotiations that they knew could not be agreed, around fishing quotas as an example, knowing that once these demands were dropped a deal could be agreed between both sides. They have then sought to drop these demands as Parliament goes into recess for the Christmas period, and bring back a deal of some 1200 pages for 5 hours of debate at 3 working days’ notice; 48 hours before the UK would end the transition period with no deal if this was not agreed.

The deal itself does not satisfy the 6 key tests I was elected on, and the way in which the Government appear to have manipulated the Parliamentary calendar to force MP’s into a vote quite literally between this deal or no deal, brings great shame on any type of Parliamentary Sovereignty. What we now have in the UK is Government sovereignty without proper input or scrutiny from democratically elected Members of Parliament.

To this end, I found that while a deal, even this deal, is better than a no deal, I could not in good conscience vote in favour of a deal which did not satisfy the key tests in the manifesto on which I was elected, and in essence to vote to help the Government extricate themselves from a mess entirely of their own making. It is the Government who have sought to negotiate this deal alone, it is they who have forced the timetable for approval and who have removed any Parliamentary Sovereignty and scrutiny from the timetable and it is the Government who must be judged on the success or failure of this deal.

As a local resident of Gateshead for over 40 years, I absolutely hope that this deal goes far enough to safeguard jobs and livelihoods of families across the North East. I also hope that this does not lead to shortage of supplies or price increases. This affects us all, and in many ways I do not wish the Government deal to fail to protect us from any negative consequences of it. However, with the way the whole process has been manipulated to force MP’s into a corner, and with the deal not meeting the 6 key tests set out in the manifesto on which I was elected, I could not see fit to vote in favour.

This is the Conservative Government’s deal, their deliberate mismanagement has brought it to Parliament, on a timetable manufactured by them, with no time for appropriate scrutiny, it’s their deal and they should own it!

I hope this sets out my reasoning, as ever please do get in touch should you have any further questions.

New Hospital in Sutton Confirmed

Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam)

I am delighted to write and tell you that local NHS leaders have confirmed plans for a new hospital to be built in Sutton and to upgrade facilities at St Helier. This represents a £500 MILLION plan that will not only build a brand new state of the art hospital near to the Royal Marsden by 2025, but ALSO invest AT LEAST £80 MILLION into upgrades at St Helier.

The new specialist emergency care hospital, just a few minutes from St Helier, would treat the sickest 15% of patients, those normally arriving by ambulance. This larger specialist team would be available 24 hours a day to diagnose what is wrong with patients more rapidly, start the best treatment faster, and help patients recover more quickly. St Helier and Epsom Hospitals will remain open 24/7, with updated and improved facilities, providing all the other services that they currently do.

My children were born at St. Helier so healthcare provision in Sutton has been an issue that is a very personal one to me. Ever since being a councillor in Carshalton, some 14 years ago, I have been campaigning for a solution that protects the future of St. Helier whilst ensuring that Sutton residents have access to the very best treatment in cutting edge modern healthcare facilities. I believe that this decision can finally put to rest the political arguments so that we can get on with doing what’s best for residents across the whole of the borough of Sutton.

With this plan, the refurbished St Helier Hospital is here to stay providing the majority of local health services, and the sickest patients will get state-of-the-art treatment in the brand-new specialist emergency hospital right here in our area.

You can find out more about the plans, including the answers to some frequently asked questions at the NHS’ website: www.improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk. You can also contact them at hello@improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk, or get in touch with me with any queries.


Why is this being done?

To improve the care that we receive. As St Helier’s buildings continue to age over time, it’s necessary to upgrade our healthcare facilities to improve outcomes. Surviving illness and recovering quickly is the number one priority.

Is St Helier closing?

No, quite the opposite. St Helier is here to stay with a multi-million-pound improvement package.

Is a new hospital being built?

Yes. A new specialist emergency care hospital will be built in Sutton, in addition to improving St Helier hospital.

Is St Helier getting an upgrade?

Yes. At least £80 million of the funding promised will go towards improving the facilities at St Helier hospital.

Who developed these proposals?

For the first time, we have a plan that was developed by local clinicians, not national bureaucrats or politicians. Local healthcare professionals made the case for funding to deliver this improvement, which has been rewarded with a £500 million investment. Sutton Council also supported the proposals last year.

Will I have to travel outside my area for services now?

At the moment, if you have a stroke or heart attack you will be taken past St. Helier to be treated at St. George’s. This plan means that we will still be able to treat people within the local area, not moving more services away from Sutton.

Will we still use St Helier?

Yes. From 2025, Epsom hospital, St Helier hospital and the new hospital at Sutton will all have a 24/7 Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) (which already treats the vast majority of people going to St. Helier in an emergency). Under the plans, 85% of services will remain at St Helier. Both Epsom and St Helier hospitals will still have a 24/7 UTC.

Diagnostic tests, such as MRI, x-ray or ultrasound, the heart problem diagnosis unit, the dialysis unit, Croft Ward (which takes care of patients who are stable but not ready to leave hospital), the eye care unit, the gastroenterology unit, and so many more services are staying put at Epsom and St Helier hospitals.

What about bed numbers?

The NHS have calculated that they will need the same number of beds as they do now.

What about A&E?

Unlike previous plans, which saw A&E diverted away into Tooting, A&E is now staying right here in our Borough at the new hospital. Most of the time you will still use St Helier for matters requiring immediate medical attention like broken limbs or cuts. Major trauma cases needing a blue light ambulance transfer will be treated in Sutton at the new state-of-the-art hospital next to The Royal Marsden.

What about maternity services?

Maternity services have also been protected and kept locally. Post-natal and ante-natal care are staying put at Epsom and St Helier hospitals, and births will take place in the brand-new maternity unit at the new hospital in Sutton built to the very latest healthcare standards. Women need the very best care and facilities when giving birth, and the new plans will provide that.

Where will children services be provided?

Most children will continue to receive care and treatment in the same place as they do now. Care for children who need to stay in hospital overnight – as a result of a serious illness or complex problems – will be treated at the new specialist emergency care hospital. This includes children’s surgery.  

What will happen until the new hospital in Sutton is built?

All services will continue to be carried out at Epsom and St Helier hospitals until such time the new hospital in Sutton is ready for patients.

Where will the new hospital be built?

After consulting residents, patient groups and healthcare professionals, the decision was taken to build a brand-new specialist emergency care hospital in Sutton. This will be combined with the necessary infrastructure and transport links to ensure the site of the new hospital is accessible to all that need to use it.

For more facts, and to find out what this multi-million-pound government investment in our local NHS will mean for you and your family, visit the following website: www.improvinghealthcaretogether.org.uk/faq.

A&E at The Royal Glam

Chris Bryant (Rhondda)

A&E @ the Glam – Strength in Unity

I have said from the very beginning that if we are to ensure a 24 hour A&E Service at RGH then we need to forget about Party Politics, and come together to work cross-party.

We need you to play your part too, by signing the below letter. If you wish to do so then please let me know by filling in the form at the bottom of this page:


The configuration of Emergency NHS services across Cwm Taf Morgannwg has changed over the years – and will continue to change along with medical advances and changes in the local population. We welcome, for instance, the development of the new Major Trauma Centre at UHW, which will almost certainly save lives and we recognise that for some specialist forms of care it will be necessary to travel to a regional centre of excellence such as the Burns Unit at Morriston. We also understand that there is a UK-wide shortage of Emergency Consultants. and that Cwm Taf Morgannwg is not in a unique position with the recruitment challenges it faces,but would note that 5 of the 7 LHBs in Wales have substantially increased emergency consultant numbers over the last 6 years whereas Cwm Taf Morgannwg has not. We would argue that the uncertainty created over the future of the hospital due to the South Wales Programme has itself created a self-fulfilling prophecy about recruitment problems.

Our starting point, however, is that all NHS services should be safe, efficient and delivered as close to people’s homes as is medically and logistically feasible. Time-critical medical interventions can make the difference between life and death in many emergency situations and we are concerned that if the A&E were permanently to close at any one of the three hospitals, significant numbers of patients in some of the most deprived communities would not be able to get to an Emergency Department in time. A&E cannot be seen in isolation from other services such as GP surgeries, local minor injuries units and out-of-hours support. Additional capacity in these services would almost certainly lighten the load in the Emergency Departments, but this must be put in place before any changes to the configuration of Emergency Care is considered, let alone implemented, with evidence that they have substantially reduced the load on Emergency departments required before any changes. Changes to A&E provision at any one of the hospitals would have serious implications for other services within the hospital, including ITU and theatre and might harm the recruitment of other specialists.

There would be significant knock-on effects if the A&E at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital were to be downgraded to a Minor Injuries Unit, as the hospital would almost certainly lose its Intensive Care Unit and operating theatre. This could jeopardise the long-term future of the hospital. The RGH’s Emergency Department is the most used in the area, with roughly 65,000 attendances a year, and ranked the best in terms of viable outcomes.  We fear the two other Emergency Departments would find it impossible to cope with the additional workload and that many patients will travel instead to UHW, which is also already over-stretched. We are also concerned that extra A&E admissions to PCH and POW would put additional pressure on not just their respective A&E depts but onwards and throughout the hospital system. We are determined to work with people of all political parties and trades unions (and none) to get the best possible outcome for the communities we represent. We believe the eventual decision should be informed by clinical best practice and local experience on the ground – and not by any partisan consideration.

We are calling on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board to do the following:
1) Rule out the closure of A&E at the RGH or changing it to a 24-hour Minor Injuries Unit.
2) Reinstate the option of maintaining a full consultant-led A&E at all three hospitals. This would require a serious new attempt at recruiting Emergency Consultants who would have secure full-time permanent posts working across all three hospitals. It would also require at least a ten-year commitment to RGH so that potential staff can apply with confidence.
3) Bring forward proposals to extend the opening hours of the Minor Injuries Unit at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda and Ysbyty Cwm Cynon and make these units more readily accessible for walk-in patients.
4) Bring forward other proposals for community health services, including improvements in the out-of-hours GP service, that might alleviate the pressure on all three A&E departments
and bring services closer to local communities.

In addition, we are calling on the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board to publish the following:
1) A socioeconomic and equality impact assessment of any proposed changes.
2) Detailed analyses of travel-to-hospital times, average ambulance response times and levels of car ownership, for all electoral wards in the area. that analyses such times during periods of poor weather.
3) Detailed statistics for levels of ischemic heart disease, diabetes, stroke and infant and adult mortality for all electoral wards in the area. and how they compare with the Welsh averages/wealthier wards in Wales.
4) An assessment of how many patients from each electoral ward would be affected by a proposal to move to an 8 to 8, and 8 to 10 and an 8 to midnight Emergency Department.
5) An assessment of capacity in the Emergency Departments at POW, PCH, and UHW and how they would cope with additional patients.
6) Statistics for the number of patients who are admitted on towards at each hospital from A&E.
7) An assessment of the impact to the Welsh Ambulance Service, Ambulance response times, handover response times, in terms of waiting times at hospitals, blue light trauma travel times
and non-emergency transport between hospitals.

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Reflecting on Defeat

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

First of all, thank you to everyone who has sent such kind messages to me after last night’s result in Birmingham Northfield. Even though I never took this election – or any election – for granted, it is still a big blow to lose the seat I have represented for 27 years and which is […]

Compensation package for Waspi women

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)

Labour has pledged compensation packages for millions of women hit by state pension age rises imposed by the Tories.

Pay-outs of up to £31,000 will be made, with an average payment of £15,000.

The scheme will be delivered within Labour's first full five year term of government.

Payments will go to women born in the 1950s who had their state pension age hiked.

David Cameron's coalition government presided over a change in the law that increased the women's state pension age to 65 in November 2018 - followed by 66 in October 2020.

Labour will introduce a compensation scheme as rapidly as possible for the 3.7million women hit by the changes, which Cameron's Tory-Lib Dem government imposed in 2011.

It comes after Boris Johnson u-turned on his pledge to help those affected.

He dismissed the concerns of a woman who has lost out on her pension, telling her it’s “not possible” to right the huge wrong she and so many others have suffered.

The next Labour government will compensate women who were unfairly hit by the rise in the state pension age and give them the respect they deserve.

They were not able to prepare and have had to suffer serious financial consequences as a result.

We have a historic debt of honour to them.