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Just before Prime Minister’s Questions this week, I had the chance to call on the Government to make clear its plans to help protect the Rohingya people in Myanmar.

Rohingyas arriving in an area known as Cox’s Bazaar – a district in Bangladesh – say they fled after troops, backed by local Buddhist mobs, responded by burning their villages and attacking and killing civilians.

I want to see the UK maintain its position as a world leader in humanitarian crises and the protection of the Rohingyas is a true test of the Government’s dedication to this cause.

I’ll be holding a constituency advice surgery in The Tarbert Hotel Tarbert on Thursday 9th November at 3.45pm-4.45pm. If you would like an appointment please don’t hesitate to get in touch.                         Related Images: [See image gallery at www.brendanoharamp.scot]

Where is the funding to ensure our tower blocks are safe?

Vicky Foxcroft (Lewisham, Deptford)

After the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, the Government promised funding for councils to ensure every tower block was safe. During the Urgent Question on Grenfell Tower today, I asked Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, why funding from Government still has not appeared. 

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Picture – MPs meeting with Lincolnshire PCC, Marc Jones

(L-R) Matt Warman MP, Nick Boles MP, PCC Marc Jones, Victoria Atkins MP, Sir Edward Leigh MP

A group of Lincolnshire’s Conservative MPs have held a roundtable with the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Marc Jones, to receive an update after his first 18 months in office, and to address key issues including future funding and the changing nature of crime.

Marc Jones PCC highlighted the many positive steps which have been taken since his election, including bringing in sobriety tags to combat alcohol-fuelled crime, a new rural community safety strategy, online crime reporting, and the joint Police and Fire HQ in Nettleham, which the force received £7.6 million of funding from the Home Office to establish.

The group, including Sir Edward Leigh MP, Nick Boles MP, Matt Warman MP and Victoria Atkins MP, also discussed the challenges of policing in a rural, sparsely populated region, and how they can work together for the best possible outcomes for Lincolnshire, both in securing funding and reducing crime.

The meeting follows a recent visit to Lincolnshire’s Police HQ by Policing Minister Nick Hurd MP, at which he heard about the Force’s recent investments and advancements, especially in the use of technology to help frontline officers. The Minister and the PPC also discussed the changing nature of demand on police resources.

After the update meeting, Matt Warman MP commented, “Lincolnshire Police achieve remarkable results with very limited resources, making us the fourth-safest county in the country. Marc Jones has skillfully used reserves and extra grants to make real progress since his election – but I know it would be helpful to see a long-term solution to police funding with a new, Fairer Funding Formula. The Government has delivered this for education and is looking at it for local government. It’s vital for policing too. It was very helpful to meet with Marc to discuss how we can collaborate to get the best possible resources for the police in our county. While Lincolnshire is one of the safest counties to live in, there is always more work to do to protect people from crime and anti-social behaviour. Lincolnshire’s MPs will continue to work together, alongside our PCC, to lobby the Government for the resources that our police force deserve.”

Marc Jones PPC said, “It was a very positive and productive meeting with our local MPs and I’m delighted with the support they have given me.

A great deal of progress has been made by my office in terms of creating efficient and effective force with developments in new technology, clear strategies for tackling rural crime and joint working. The future funding for policing in Lincolnshire is an absolutely crucial issue for the whole county and all the MPs understood and supported the need for a resolution as soon as possible.”

The post NEXT STEPS FOR LINCOLNSHIRE POLICING – LOCAL MPS HOLD ROUNDTABLE WITH POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER appeared first on Matt Warman MP.

Harriett expresses joy at £70m Carrington Road bridge win

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin today celebrated a huge win for county commuters after the Department for Transport confirmed funding for the Carrington Road bridge doubling project. read more »

Liver Disease

Guto Bebb (Aberconwy)

This week in Parliament the Lancet Commission hosted an event to raise awareness of liver disease, one of the most pressing public health concerns of our time.

Lamont welcomes ‘sensible’ changes to Universal Credit roll out

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

A number of recently announced changes to the roll out of Universal Credit have been branded as ‘sensible’ by local MP John Lamont.

Changes include the roll out of a free phone helpline number and new guidance to ensure DWP staff offer up-front advance payments to anyone who needs it. In the next few weeks, all helpline numbers to the Department of Work and Pension will be made free.

Chi speaks out against Universal Credit

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

I’ll vote to #pauseandfix #UniversalCredit to save my constituents from misery & destitution. Will any Tories vote to do the same?

HANSARD

House of Commons

18 October 2017

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)

Newcastle was also a pathfinder constituency. As the local MP, I have seen at first hand the absolute misery and destitution that this system has forced many of my constituents into. Our Newcastle food bank was already the largest in the country, and now it regularly runs out of food as a direct consequence of this system. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Prime Minister’s attitude at ​questions earlier today showed a total lack of understanding of the impact and of the destitution and suffering of so many of her citizens?

http://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-10-18/debates/1AFAAEAD-A28E-4037-A38F-7D4CC41CC049/UniversalCreditRoll-Out#contribution-CA62D461-2150-476C-8DF0-FDBED984CA7A

I was fascinated to read about the 60th anniversary of the Premier Foods factory, known of course to older readers and traditionalists as the Batchelors factory in Kennington. I remember being told when I first visited the plant (I am a reasonably regular visitor) that the origins lay in pea production, as Ashford was ideally situated for the processing of peas.

Derek Thomas MP during the debate on Wednesday

I am often contacted by small business owners who are being hampered by today’s taxation system. 87% of business enterprises in my West Cornwall constituency are classed as “micro businesses ” meaning they employ less than 10 employees and 99% of businesses in my constituency are SMEs  employing under 250 workers. These small, locally run businesses provide the lion’s share of jobs and are the drivers of our local economies.  This is also the case elsewhere in the country which is why understanding how the tax system helps or hinders small businesses is so important and is why I was pleased to be able to hold a Westminster Hall Debate on the subject.

Since being elected in 2015, I have dedicated a considerable amount my time to meet with and understand the issues facing small businesses. In fact, I had a small business of my own up until the time of my election. I believe that the Conservative government recognises the considerable contribution of small businesses and I acknowledge and appreciate the work that has been done to address the tax burden and support these small employers. Many of the 3 million jobs created since 2010 are within small businesses and this in part is a credit to Government policy.

There is no shortage of priorities for the Government, and navigating our way out of the EU will be time consuming to say the least. However, I believe more needs to be done to help small businesses. Now is the time to take a radical approach to the way businesses are taxed. We need to recognise that some aspects of taxation are outdated and have not kept up with the changes that small businesses must contend with.

While reformation will be a challenge, it will undoubtedly yield benefits to our national economy including by improving productivity, driving wage growth, boosting full time employment and spread wealth across all corners of Great Britain.

From my conversations with business owners, I believe that the Government needs to raise the VAT threshold, reform business rates and properly consider the impacts making tax digital before a compulsory roll out.

Businesses are struggling to cope with the financial and administrative burdens of these taxations, whilst operating on an unfair playing field compared to online shops and supermarket home delivery services. A taxation system that discourages small business growth will have reduced employment opportunities, reduced Government tax income, depressed town centre activity and a lack of diversity between enterprises.

By making sure that small business growth is not stifled by out of date and grossly unfair taxation systems the Government will send a clear message that Brexit does not mean that important domestic priorities are not being left on the back burner.

 

You can watch the full debate here: http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/d88cb1dd-c90a-4665-bda6-3af9e6320b72

Gwynne hosts Anticoagulation Achievment Awards 2017

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish)

The inaugural award ceremony for the prestigious Anticoagulation Achievement Awards was hosted by Andrew Gwynne MP and Chair of the All Party Group for Thrombosis, in the House of Commons Terrace Pavilion. Held as part of the celebrations for World Thrombosis Day – a global movement to reduce the leading cause of preventable cardiovascular death. World Thrombosis Day …

Kevan calls for UC rollout to be halted

Kevan Jones (North Durham)

Kevan supported a motion in Parliament calling on the Government to halt the rollout of Universal Credit which is due to begin in Stanley in December and Chester-le-Street in March.

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You can read my most recent response to the ‘Path to Excellence’ consultation here :

Hard copy of Emma’s Response to Pathways to Excellence Consulat

 

 

 

MP continues to tackle homelessness

Ben Bradley (Mansfield)

MP Ben Bradley has been talking to all the different organisations that deal with homelessness to make sure he can see the big picture and pass this onto Government. Ben has been conducting a series of meetings, with the second meeting talking to a group of local charities and housing associations.
Mr Bradley said ‘It was great to be able to talk to the people who work in the charities and see what their demands really are. We have a group of really enthusiastic people who want to make a difference and it was good to listen to their concerns. We’ve identified areas where more needs to be done and I will be working to address these issues.
I am hugely grateful to the people who came to the meeting. We had a constructive discussion about what needs to change and how we can make a difference. We need to work together to really make a difference to the people who are homeless and make sure they are reintegrated into the community and have the support they need.’

Incoherent nonsense

Richard Benyon (Newbury)

In a scene from Harry Potter he visits Gringotts Bank. It is staffed by strange creatures, devoid of humour and who live in a separate world from other people. I imagine the Boundary Commission is rather like that. They exist to adjust constituency boundaries in a way that reflects changing populations. They have just come […]

Keep a step ahead of winter

Christina Rees (Neath)

Christina Rees urges households to ‘Keep a Step Ahead of Winter’

New research from British Gas has highlighted that having no heating or hot water would be the number one disaster for households in Wales this winter. Even so, many people in Neath have not taken action to ensure their homes are winter-ready.

Despite the autumn chill, a national survey* shows that more than a third of households (39%) in Wales have not checked that their central heating is working and four in ten have not prepared their home for winter by getting their boiler serviced. Having an annual boiler service carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer is crucial as it detects problems with the boiler and controls, including whether it is leaking poisonous carbon monoxide.

Keeping homes safe is an important part of winter preparation, yet only a third of people (33%) in Wales have checked that their carbon monoxide alarm is working. Carbon monoxide is known as the ‘silent killer’, because the gas has no odour or taste, and is invisible. Fitting an audible alarm is the second line of defence against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Being energy efficient is particularly important during the winter months, and technology can help with this. Whilst four in ten households in Wales acknowledge that technology could help their home to run more smoothly during winter, just under a third (32%) have smart meters.

Having smart meters installed can help keep household energy in check, as they automatically send readings to the energy supplier.  Smart meters also come with a display that shows you how much energy is being used, in pounds and pence, in near real-time, and identify where savings can be made.

Christina Rees MP said: “It’s really important to keep a step ahead of winter. I want everyone in Neath to understand what help is available for them, and for their family and friends. Being energy efficient and keeping bills under control is really important, so I’d encourage people to get in touch with their energy supplier to find out what support is on offer.”

British Gas engineer Rob Jones, who fixes and repairs boilers in Wales, said: “Winter can be a challenging time for households, but there are some practical steps that you can take, with our help, to make sure that you are prepared:

Get the best deal

We have been working hard to ensure buying energy is simple, transparent and fair for customers – for every customer on a standard variable tariff they will get an Annual Energy Health Check to make sure they’re on the right tariff.  This will highlight other ways we can help our customers save money like replacing old and inefficient boilers or insulating their homes for free.

Get smart meters

Your energy supplier will be able to install smart meters, which mean an end to estimated bills. A smart energy monitor shows how much energy you are using, and what you are spending. British Gas customers are provided with online tools to help them manage their energy usage. Find out more by visiting www.britishgas.co.uk/smartmeters

The British Gas Energy Trust

This independent trust gives face-to-face advice, financial support and grants to help clear energy and household debts. The average grant is around £600 and you don’t have to be a British Gas customer.  Find out more by visiting: www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk.

Bleed your radiators: to make sure they are working properly. If your radiators have cold spots at the top, this means you have air in the system, so you will need to bleed them to get them working efficiently.

  1. To do this, turn the system off and when cool turn the radiator key until the air stops and water runs consistently. Once you have turned the system back on, the problem should be solved.
  2. Cold spots in the bottom or centre of the radiator may be an indication of sludge build up and the need for system flushing.
  3. Bleeding your radiator may result in pressure dropping. If you have a pressure gauge, make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary.

Block the breeze: Make sure all of your windows and doors seal properly to stop warm air escaping. For those that don’t, fitting draught excluders, which you can buy from most DIY stores, is a quick and cheap way to cut down on your energy bills.

Stay safe: It’s vital to have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted and that you test it regularly.

Love your boiler: Check to make sure that your boiler is working properly before winter sets in. The older your boiler, the more inefficient it will be. If you have a pressure gauge, make sure the boiler is at the right pressure and top up as necessary.

Insulate your pipes: Burst pipes are a huge issue during winter months. To help prevent burst pipes, ensure all pipes are properly insulated by using lagging, which can be bought cheaply from most DIY shops.

Maintain your drains: If you’re trying to keep your drains outside well maintained, it’s a good idea to make sure they are clear of debris at the point at which they enter the ground. This involves checking your gullies for autumnal leaves and twigs in order to ensure that they don’t restrict water flow at any point.

Control your heating remotely with Hive Active Heating:  Using Hive Active Heating means you can control your heating and hot water remotely from your smartphone with the Hive app, so you can ensure your home is warm when you need it to be. Find out more: www.britishgas.co.uk/hive

Peace of mind: British Gas has a range of HomeCare products to help keep your home a step ahead of winter with protection for your boiler, heating, electrics and plumbing. With HomeCare you can have your boiler serviced every year for less than 40p a day. Find out more: www.britishgas.co.uk/homecare

 

Prime Minister’s Statement on EU Nationals

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

Important statement from the Prime Minister today. Southampton has a significant European community who I have been supporting in seeking clarity on their future status in the UK. I am very pleased by this announcement that existing European Citizens will now be able to plan for the future with certainty. PM OPEN LETTER As I [...]

The post Prime Minister’s Statement on EU Nationals appeared first on Royston Smith - At the heart of Southampton.

Could you change a child’s future?

Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South)

In National Adoption Week, City MP Stephen Morgan is encouraging local people to consider adoption to help change a child’s life.

Adoption is a lifelong commitment, and one of the most amazing things you can do.  It is about providing a permanent family for children in care who cannot, for whatever reason, return home.

Adopters take on all the rights and responsibilities for the child that birth parents had, offering a child stability, love and security within a family home, throughout their childhood and beyond.

The Portsmouth Adoption Service is a government organisation that recruits adopters from across Hampshire, within 50 miles of Portsmouth city.  They hold regular information sessions twice per month. For anyone thinking of adopting a child or young person, the team try to make the process as quick, clear and seamless as possible.

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, said:

“Last week it was a pleasure to welcome representatives of the city’s adoption team to the House of Commons, to thank them for all they do to help change children’s lives in our city.

Children need a loving, stable home. They need parents who will stick by them through the good times and the bad. They need support and love to help them overcome their troubled backgrounds, make sense of who they are and grow up to be safe and secure.

Adopting a child is a life-changing experience. It’s one of the most important decisions you could make, and there is support to help anyone who may feel are able to make it.

I would urge anyone considering adoption to get in touch with the team”.

For more information about how you can adopt visit http://www.adoption.portsmouth.gov.uk/


Social care and the NHS

John Redwood (Wokingham)

Social care largely delivered by Councils with the help of a range of contractors and service suppliers needs to work smoothly alongside the NHS.

Councils have a vital role to play in helping reduce the burden on NHS hospitals. It is too easy to place elderly and infirm individuals into hospital where they should be safe, even though they do not need hospital treatment. They may go in for tests, only to have to stay because there is no sufficient care package to allow them to go home alone. Hospitals are also open all hours and at week-ends, whereas social care services may be more restricted outside weekday regular hours.

Social care nurses or executives may think it prudent to send someone for tests after an incident even though there are  no signs of harm and even though the patient is saying they are  not in pain or difficulty. It often takes time to assemble a case conference and assessment to upgrade care so an individual can look after themselves with suitable support.

Social care also needs to work well alongside GPs, and with hospitals after the discharge of patients. Elderly and infirm individuals may need help with daily tasks, and need some supervision or assistance with a course of treatment at home. It can be cheaper as well as better to take the care to the patient, but needs organising successfully.

Councils say they need more resource to do their jobs well, whilst hospitals are worried that they are still having to look after people who could manage at home with suitable help. The border disputes between the NHS and social care go back a long way and have happened under a variety of governments. There is no easy solution,  but it would be good if Councils and the NHS can improve their joint working where there currently issues with bed blocking or inadequate medical back up out of hospital.

I would be interested in comments on this matter. I am not raising it as a result of any local complaints which I would handle in another way.

Charles Walker MP speaking in the House of Commons, 18 October 2017

Following an announcement of a consultation on introducing regulation of property agents, Charles Walker calls on the Government to also look at better protecting tenant deposits by letting tenants choose which scheme to use to protect their deposit. [read more] about Charles Walker secures Ministerial meeting to discuss better protection for tenant deposits

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus Brendan MacNeil today met the Minister of State for Transport Legislation and Maritime, John Hayes MP, to discuss concerns about delays in the MCA process of tasking Lifeboats following a distress call.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“Twice this week, I tried to secure a temporary urgent question in Parliament which was unfortunately turned down by the Speaker.  The Department for Transport was made aware and the Maritime Minister, John Hayes MP requested to speak to me today.

“Mr Hayes assured me that he is “all over this like a rash” and that he will be investigating further.

“In the meantime, I am hoping that the coastguard takes action to ensure that delays, as we have seen in various areas around the MCA’s UK coastline, come to an end. The checks, which can be lengthy compared to the urgency of a situation prior to tasking a RNLI lifeboat, can lead to people being left in cold water while waiting for a lifeboat that has yet to be tasked despite the alarm being raised.

“Speaking to RNLI crews, they would much prefer to be called out to false alarms than to be late on the scene at an emergency incident.

“An hour can mean an awful lot of difference to survival and can also result in a larger search area if there has been a tide running and people have been taken by the tide.

“I am optimistic that this issue will be addressed, the frank conversation I had with the Minister heartened me, he is serious about this and understands the gravity of the issue. We are of the one mind that things must improve.

“The Minister is trying to discern the nature of the problem and I hope that we will see improvements in the future, meantime I would hope that the MCA is urgently reviewing procedures and learning from MAIB investigations.”

ENDS

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Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, today attended a special meeting with Prime Minister, Theresa May, alongside members of a group of munitions workers dubbed the ‘Canary Girls’. There was a major Royal Ordnance Filling Factory in Rotherwas in Herefordshire... Continue Reading →

Newcastle MP demands shambolic Universal Credit roll-out is paused  

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has today made an impassioned plea to the Government to pause the roll-out of Universal Credit across the country, until the lessons from the ‘shambles’ of the new benefit’s pilot in Newcastle have been learned. Speaking during an Opposition Day debate in the Commons this afternoon, Catherine outlined the serious … Continue reading Newcastle MP demands shambolic Universal Credit roll-out is paused  

Wear it Pink Day

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

This Friday, it is wear it pink day for Breast Cancer Now, which will see thousands of people adding a splash of pink to their outfits to raise vital funds for the largest breast cancer charity. Anyone can take part in wear it pink day, which brings together schools, workplaces and communities. All you need […]

Council welcomes new apprentices

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

An induction day has been held for 22 new apprentices joining the Council to work in the housing service.

James Cleverly speaking at Prime Minister's QuestionsSpeaking in Prime Minister's Questions, James Cleverly highlights new local training facilities in the manufacturing sector and calls on the Government to support both public and private sector trainers to help improve productivity.

Boundary Commission publish revised proposals

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

The Boundary Commission have published their revised proposals to redraw the parliamentary constituency boundaries but I believe they are still unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable. 

Whilst it is encouraging to see the commissioners have agreed to unite the Saddleworth wards as I lobbied, I believe that the proposals from the Boundary Commission are devastating for Oldham and Saddleworth as it breaks up the constituency and direct links with local authority boundaries.

In my view it is essential that Oldham and Saddleworth has a coherent settlement in the boundary review; something that’s still missing in these proposals. 

As I have previously stated, the proposals are also based on an out-of-date version of the electoral register with nearly two million voters missing. Planning to reduce the democratically elected number of MPs from 650 to 600 at the same time as appointing hundreds of extra Peers to the Lords shows that this review is designed for the Tories’ own political advantage rather what is in the best interests of the country. 

 The recommendations in 2011 left the borough with the ‘left overs’ splitting historic towns and communities, and this one is only a little better. The current number of registered voters easily allows for two whole constituencies within the borough which respect historic towns and community ties. 

Much of the work we have done locally, from the Oldham Fairness Commission to the Oldham Education and Skills Commission, and developing a Dementia Friendly Oldham, is about building strong integrated communities. But these proposals are, once again, an insult to the people of Oldham and Saddleworth and could have a divisive effect on our community’s representation in Parliament.

I will continue to work constructively to try and ensure the final outcome reflects the identity of communities within Oldham and Saddleworth.

Arun Mummalaneni and Sreeni Vavilala, Chair and Trustee of the Basingstoke Multi Cultural Forum joined local MP Maria Miller for a celebration of Diwali on Monday 16th October in Downing Street.  

Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia, it is also the occasion for celebrations by Jains and Sikhs as well as Hindus.

I am grateful to my honourable Friend from Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) for securing this necessary debate and for the vital work that she has done in raising awareness of the persecution of the Rohingya.

Sadly this abuse is not new.

In 1992, my right honourable Friends, the Members for Islington North and Hackney North & Stoke Newington signed an EDM criticising the “systematic extermination” of the Rohingya in Burma.

25 years later, the extermination continues.

In August this year, the Burmese military used attacks on police stations by Rohingya insurgents as a pretext for launching their latest wave of violence.

The most recent UN report contains witness statements detailing shocking acts of violence and humiliation:

  • Children and elderly burnt in their homes.
  • Mass use of gang-rape, including soldiers’, gang-raping girls as young as five.
  • Victims, including children, forced to watch relatives and loved ones tortured and killed.
  • A pregnant woman raped, her stomach cut open , her unborn baby killed, and her nipples cut off.

More than 540,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since August 25th, taking the total now in Bangladesh to over 800,000.

Refugees are arriving malnourished or injured, having travelled for days, crossing rivers, rice fields, and jungles.

Sickeningly, Amnesty International have said that there are indications that Burmese authorities have been deliberately targeting the Rohingya with landmines near to border crossing points.

Once in Bangladesh, the Rohingya face desperate conditions in camps.

UNICEF have warned that, I quote:

“Given the current population density and poor sanitation and hygiene conditions, any outbreak of cholera or acute watery diarrhoea, which are endemic in Bangladesh, could kill thousands.”

UNICEF estimate that nearly 80% of new arrivals are children and women; including new-born babies and pregnant and lactating mothers. Nearly half of the pregnant women have not received medical care and some have now lost their babies.

The Secretary of State for International Development has said that children are at risk of sexual violence and trafficking and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said that there are reports of girls in Rohingya camps being raped or abused when going to the toilet or collecting firewood.

Mr Speaker, there are those that suggest there are two sides to this story.

That paramilitary attacks mean the Rohingya are to blame for the violence.

Mr Speaker, nothing can ever justify the horrors that innocent Rohingya are suffering.

The UN report contains a witness statement of a 12-year-old Rohingya girl.

She told the UN team:

(They) surrounded our house and started to shoot. It was a situation of panic – they shot my sister in front of me, she was only seven years old. She cried and told me to run. I tried to protect her and care for her, but we had no medical assistance on the hillside and she was bleeding so much that after one day she died. I buried her myself.”

A 12-year-old girl, Mr Speaker.

If a proportional response existed, this could never be it.

The UN reports that villages were destroyed in, I quote; “a well-organised, coordinated, and systematic manner”.

This suggest a level of planning that undermines any claim that operations were a spontaneous response to paramilitary attacks.

The UN report also stated that:

“Security forces targeted teachers, the cultural and religious leadership, and other people of influence in the Rohingya community in an effort to diminish Rohingya history, culture and knowledge.”

This is planned, coordinated, ethnic cleansing.

I am pleased and relieved that the Secretary of State has echoed the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights in describing it that way.

Strong language is needed, but we also need strong action.

The Director of the International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) has called ethnic cleansing a “euphemism for genocide”. She adds that genocide is a process that takes place over many years.   In 2015, the organisation described the violence towards Rohingya as “highly organised and genocidal in intent”.

I appreciate that a declaration of genocide is not to be taken lightly as it comes with an obligation on the international community to prevent and punish.

However, the Bangladeshi government has already called this a genocide.

So can I ask the Minister, if the UN finds that genocide or other violations of international law have been committed, will the British government support a referral to the international criminal court?

Over nearly half a century the Rohingya have had their citizenship and their identity systematically stripped from them; they have been forced from their homes, their villages and livelihoods have been destroyed; they have been scapegoated and stigmatised; they have been raped and they have been murdered.

The international community has failed the Rohingya for too long.

Yesterday the Foreign Secretary had the opportunity to lead on this in a meeting of EU Foreign Affairs Council.

Sadly the Foreign Secretary’s eagerness to lead at home is not matched by an eagerness to lead abroad.

The only action from that meeting was the suspension of invitations to senior Burmese military officers to visit the EU.

I agree with Burma Campaign UK that this is absolutely pathetic.

We must do everything in our power to protect the Rohingya and pressure the Burmese government to immediately cease military operations.

We must ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the Annan Commission, particularly on the matter of citizenship rights.

We must listen to aid agencies and ensure that resources are available to distribute food, to reduce the threat of disease, and to help establish protection services for women and children.

We must pressure the Burmese authorities to allow immediate, unimpeded humanitarian access to Rakhine State.

Fundamentally, we must no longer turn a blind eye.

I urge this house to act now, before it is too late.

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South Wales Evening Post

Universal Credit (UC) is supposed to simplify and streamline the benefits system by putting Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Working Tax Credit, into a single registration and payment mechanism.

So far, so good. We have no problem in principle with anything that makes our welfare state and social security more effective and less complicated.

But the proof, as always, is in the pudding. And the fact is that the way in which the UK government has handled the set-up and roll-out of Universal Credit has been a total disaster, from start to finish.

In addition to the regular activities in North Birkenhead and Rock Ferry, The Hive will be contributing for the first time to the Feeding Birkenhead half term programme. Meals will also be available...

On Tuesday 17 October, Victoria Prentis and a number of other Oxfordshire MPs joined together in a Westminster Hall debate called by Witney MP, Robert Courts, to discuss the future of healthcare in Oxfordshire.

Opening the session, Robert Courts raised concerns about GP and maternity services, stroke care and the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s recent consultation. His points were echoed by neighbouring MPs, including Ed Vaizey (Wantage), Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon), John Howell (Henley) and Nadhim Zahawi (Stratford on Avon) . Victoria highlighted issues relating to population growth, safety and communication. Within this, she emphasised problems with the processes followed by health chiefs in the County, particularly in relation to the split nature of the consultation and a lack of real engagement with local people. Towards the end of her speech, Victoria outlined the need for “reasoned and evidence based conversations about the future”, expressing the determination felt locally to protect vital acute services in North Oxfordshire.

After the debate, Victoria commented: “I am very pleased that my neighbour and fellow local MP, Rob Courts, secured such an important debate in Westminster this morning. It is clear that we are united in our frustration with local health providers.The Clinical Commissioning Group must engage and consult local people properly, and across county boundaries, to enable us to move forward safely. The fight for acute services and local health care continues.”

 

The below account is taken from the Official Report from Tuesday 17 October 2017

 

Victoria Prentis (Banbury, Con): It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Roger. I made my first speech about the Horton General Hospital when I was seven. I apologise that many people in this Chamber will have heard it before, but I do not know that you have had that pleasure, so with your permission, I will carry on.

Let us remember what we are talking about. The Horton is not a community hospital. It has been a pleasure to listen to colleagues talk about their community hospitals; we have heard about Wantage and Abingdon, and one rarely meets my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell) without hearing him mention the Townlands, of which he is very proud. I love community hospitals too; my mother helped run Brackley Cottage Hospital for most of my childhood and until recently, and I think that the marvellous hospital in Bicester still has untapped potential. However, the Horton General Hospital, which I will talk about, is quite different.

The Horton has hundreds of beds and treats about 39,000 people in accident and emergency every year—nearly one third of Oxfordshire’s A&E attendances. What happens at the Horton affects all my colleagues, due to the knock-on effects of closure. Our surgeons are among the top five in the UK for neck and femur operations. It is not a community hospital; it is a fully functioning, very busy district general.

We feel beleaguered. For more than 40 years, the John Radcliffe Hospital has viewed us as a smaller and less academic sibling that can be treated with contempt when staffing is short. In 2008—this is not ancient history; it is nine years ago—the Independent Reconfiguration Panel was asked to consider the last proposed downgrade of paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology and the special care baby unit. It conducted, as I hope it will again, a full five-month review and made five excellent recommendations, which I will read once more.

The first recommendation was:

“The IRP considers that the Horton Hospital has an important role for the future in providing local hospital-based care to people in the north of Oxfordshire and surrounding areas. However, it will need to change to ensure its services remain appropriate, safe and sustainable.”

On the proposed downgrades, it said:

“The IRP does not consider that they will provide an accessible or improved service to the people of north Oxfordshire and surrounding areas.”

Other recommendations were:

“The PCT should carry out further work with the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust to set out the arrangements and investment necessary to retain and develop services at the Horton Hospital. Patients, the public and other stakeholders should be fully involved in this work… The PCT must develop a clear vision for children’s and maternity services within an explicit strategy for services for north Oxfordshire as a whole… The ORH must do more to develop clinically integrated practice across the Horton, John Radcliffe and Churchill sites as well as developing wider clinical networks with other hospitals, primary care and the independent sector.”

I am afraid that none of that happened. The recommendations were made nine years ago, but none of them were followed. The only things that changed were that the traffic got worse and the population of the area grew. Our district council, I am proud to say, tops the leader board for house building.

Less than 10 years later, we now have no obstetrics or SCBU. They went in the blink of an eye, without any real attempt to address recruitment issues or work with us to do so, although we offered and offered. Locally, we remain deeply unhappy and frightened. Patients in the later stages of labour are travelling for up to two hours, and emergency gynaecological operations take place in a portakabin in the Radcliffe car park. We have heard stories locally—in fact, they are all people talk about—of babies born in lay-bys and in the back of ambulances. The data that show statistics of complete births—defined by when the placenta has been delivered—tell a different story; they do not register the reality of people’s experience.

I pay tribute to what my hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Robert Courts) said about Google Maps. Locally, the impression is that the CCG and the trust massage the figures and use them when it suits their argument. I conducted a travel survey of nearly 400 people on their real-life experiences of how long it takes to get from our area to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. Sadly, those data were not taken on board in any of the CCG’s reports, although the data set was bigger and better than the CCG’s. The CCG provided real data only when we had harangued, pestered and begged it to do so.

I will not go on about how worried I am; I will focus on what we can do to put the situation right. It is true, as all hon. Members have said, that local health providers do not talk to one another. Health Education England’s decision to remove training accreditation for middle-grade obstetricians was the straw that broke the camel’s back for recruitment, yet it remains aloof and makes decisions in a vacuum. Its recent decision to remove accreditation from certain grades of anaesthetists puts all the acute services provided by the Horton at risk. The dean did not communicate that decision to decision makers at the trust or the CCG; I had to tell them at a meeting in August. I do not think that that is an acceptable way to run a healthcare system.

The trust usually tells the CCG what to do. When it does not agree, there is stalemate. The trust, the clinicians and everyone else locally know that the A&E at the Horton cannot possibly be shut, because the knock-on effects on the rest of Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties would be catastrophic. The CCG, however, is determined to press ahead with its consultation that suggests otherwise. Owing to this impasse, we have ended up with a split consultation that means nothing to any of us. Patients’ needs appear to be an afterthought. South Central Ambulance Service, which bears the brunt of the transfers, is carried along as a consultee with no voice at the table when decisions are taken.

One of the main complaints is that local health decision makers do not listen to us. Our latest consultation report described the “universal concerns” of more than 10,000 people from my area who responded to our consultation. I cannot overemphasise the strength of local feeling. We all feel the same: all the elected representatives, of whatever party; a great campaigning group, Keep the Horton General; and even the local churches, which are praying for sense in the clinical commissioning group’s decision making. [Interruption.] My right hon. Friend the Member for Wantage (Mr Vaizey) laughs, but I am afraid it is impossible to overstate how essential our local hospital is to people in our area. He may think it is funny, but we do not.

Mr Vaizey (Wantage, Con): For the record, I am laughing because I have never heard of a church praying for sense from a clinical commissioning group. That highlights the parlous state that we find ourselves in.

Victoria Prentis (Banbury, Con): Quite.

At our last meeting, the trust’s chief executive told me that my fears about the Horton were “irrational”, but those fears are shared by the IRP—at least they were nine years ago, and I hope they still are—and by about 170,000 people who are served by the Horton. Rather than try to answer my questions, the chief executive simply dismissed them. I do not think that that is an acceptable way to behave.

We still do not know whether a father can transfer with a labouring mother from the midwife-led unit at the Horton. If not, how on earth is he supposed to get to north Oxford while she gives birth? We still do not know—although I have asked more often than I care to remember—whether the static ambulance will be stationed permanently at the Horton while all this is sorted out. As we have heard from all hon. Members, the CCG and the trust do not communicate with us elected representatives or with the general public, and often not even with each other. It has been left to me to organise public meetings locally. NHS Improvement was absolutely appalled when I showed it the pile of unanswered letters that I had written to the CCG and the trust. Hon. Members beyond the county boundary whose constituents use the Horton are completely overlooked.

Local health services may well be devolved to commissioners and providers, but if this is devolution, Minister, it is not working. The chief executive and the clinical lead of the CCG are leaving before the end of the year. I cannot pretend that I am unhappy about that—I have hardly been uncritical of how the CCG runs its affairs—but I have to say that I am not optimistic that the necessary changes will be made. The new clinical lead, whose appointment was announced yesterday, will be the former maternity lead. Although I will work with her, and I hope very much that she will engage with the issues we face, I am not optimistic. The CCG is hellbent on continuing the split consultation, despite various judicial reviews—I can tell it that there will be more to come, if necessary—and three referrals to the IRP, which presumably will not have changed its mind since nine years ago, particularly given the unprecedented growth in the town. Whoever takes on the CCG job is inheriting a poisoned chalice.

I am not going to give up, and nor are the constituents I represent. After all, I do not think that Banbury elected a bereaved mother with a passion for maternal safety, 20 years’ experience of judicial review and a 15-year background of voluntary work for the trust by accident. In 2008, local GPs were pivotal in the fight to save the Horton, but this time, poor leadership and an ever increasing workload—particularly given the town’s growth—have prevented them from being the vocal force that they once were. However, I have found allies in NHS Improvement, which has been investigating the trust, and in the Care Quality Commission, which can prosecute. I look forward to working further with those allies.

If help with recruitment is the answer, we need the Department to step in. Salary supplements for trainee GPs are really welcome, not just for rural or coastal areas but for market towns that face unprecedented growth. The catchment is predicted to increase from 170,000 to 207,000. We really need obstetricians. The district council has made sensible suggestions for developing and improving the Horton site; I just wish the CCG and the trust would look at them. They were included in the response to the consultation—I also made a very extensive response—but when I mentioned them at the last meeting in August, none of this had registered with the decision makers. I do wonder about the depth and quality of the work they do.

I know that the Horton has a future as a provider of acute services. I am sorry to use the language of war, but I welcome the sight of my hon. Friend the Member for Witney defending my right flank, as he so often does. Ever since he was elected, he has been a real ally and friend in this fight. We in Banbury are most grateful to him for all his work and for securing this debate. I also welcome the support of my right hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire (Andrea Leadsom) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kenilworth and Southam (Jeremy Wright), who are both in Cabinet this morning but will be interested in this debate. They both feel as we do about our hospital in Banbury. My hon. Friend the Member for Stratford-on-Avon (Nadhim Zahawi) was present earlier; his district council has been a great ally, has brought one of the judicial reviews, and continues to support us—even though, as far as I can tell, it is not consulted about anything by the Oxfordshire CCG. I really feel that we are beleaguered, so it is lovely to see hon. Members appearing like battalions, with patients and GPs in their wake, to support all of us who use the Horton General Hospital.

We are not irrational, but we are passionate. We want a reasoned and evidence-based conversation about the future. We are very, very determined, so I am afraid everyone in this Chamber will have to listen to this speech many, many more times.

EU Negotiations on BBC News

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

BBCNewsEUNegs

Today, I joined Vicky Young on BBC News to discuss the latest economic news and the EU negotiations. We heard on the Treasury Committee this morning from the Governor of the Bank of England that inflation should now drop back down in the next month or so and about the importance of cooperation on clearing to financial stability on the continent. No side wants to walk away without an agreement and a deal is in our mutual interests.

Steve McCabe MP welcomes news that 27 Bus is saved

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

27 bus, national express, bus
After meeting with Managing Director of National Express UK urging him to save the 27 bus, Steve McCabe MP (Birmingham Selly Oak) has welcomed the news that National Express has listened to the concerns he and his constituents raised and has decided not to withdraw the 27 bus route. 
 
The news was confirmed following a meeting Steve had with Tom Stables, Managing Director of National Express UK.

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Visit to British Sugar

Robert Jenrick (Newark)

On Wednesday September 27th, I had the privilege of visiting British Sugar’s factory in Newark with the Rt Hon Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs. We were there to ce… Read more »

John joins the 1624 Podcast panel to discuss the electricity cap draft bill…

2017 Westminster Trip

Louise Haigh (Sheffield, Heeley)

National Security

Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)

The post National Security appeared first on Drew Hendry MP.

A new report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that poorer families are set to see big cash losses due to a combination of the Conservative Government’s freeze on benefits, including in-work benefits and higher than expected inflation.

The IFS said on their web site:

“The Office for National Statistics announced that inflation in the year to September was 3.0%. Normally the September inflation figure is used to uprate benefit levels and tax thresholds the following April. However, current government policy is to freeze most working-age benefits in cash terms until March 2020. Combined with the latest inflation forecasts, today’s number means that the 4-year freeze is now expected to reduce entitlements in 2019–20 by an average of £450 per year for the 10.5 million households affected.

We can see that Conservative Party policies are having a detrimental impact on the incomes and living standards of millions of families in Britain and this includes thousands of families, with children in Nottingham. Since the Brexit vote last year inflation has been rising, due in part to the weakness of the British pound and this is driving up everyday costs for people. At the same time as process are rising in-work benefits are frozen and so many people are being hit hard in the pocket.

The situation has serious consequences for everyday family finances as well as the wider economic effect of people having less spending power. It’s now urgent that the Government looks again at the real impact their policies are having on Nottingham families.

Cllr Sam Webster

Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills

The post 10.5 million families to be on average £450 worse off per year appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

Alex responds to latest boundary review proposals

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North)

Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has responded to the Boundary Commission’s latest proposals to reduce parliamentary constituencies from 650 to 600.

The announcement, which would need Parliamentary approval in October 2018, would see the North East allocation of seats reduce from 29 to 25. Both Stockton North and Stockton South would be abolished, with Stockton and Yarm, Middlesbrough South and Thornaby, and Billingham and Sedgefield’ proposed to replace them.

Alex said:

The people of Teesside will have fewer MPs to represent them in Parliament as a result of the original proposal to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and that must remain a concern. Whilst I’m saddened to see the Stockton Borough carved three ways, there does at least seem to be some logic to the latest proposals with whole townships contained within respective constituencies.  In the unlikely event that the proposals are approved in October 2018, it will be up to the members of the new constituency parties to select candidates for future elections and I look forward to working with them.

The post Alex responds to latest boundary review proposals appeared first on Alex Cunningham MP.

Knight in Calls for Review on BAE Jobs

Greg Knight (East Yorkshire)

East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight has signed a cross-party letter to the Prime Minister, along with 141 other MPs, urging action to try to save BAE jobs at Brough. Following the announcement by BAE Systems last week of redundancies, … Continue reading

MP welcomes new driving sentencing laws

Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South)

Susan Elan Jones MP has paid tribute to campaigners who worked across party political lines to secure a major commitment from the Ministry of Justice. The Government Department this week announced that it would increase maximum sentences for drivers who cause death by speeding, racing or using a mobile phone. Offenders who cause death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs will also face life sentences, and a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving will be created.

The Clwyd South MP said:

“Nothing we do can ever bring back those people whose lives have been tragically cut short on our nation’s roads – nearly 1,800 of them last year alone. However, I believe that we owe it to their loved ones to do all we can to make sure we have better laws and fewer road accidents.”

Susan Elan Jones MP is a long-standing campaigner on this issue. In 2014, she received the award of Parliamentarian of the Year by road safety charity Brake for campaigning for longer jail terms for drivers who kill or seriously injure.

Ms Jones launched her campaign in conjunction with residents of Overton-on-Dee who had experienced a tragic incident in 2009 when a nine-year-old boy was run over and killed by a driver who had no licence, no insurance and failed to stop when he hit and killed Robert. The driver was given a 22-month prison sentence, of which he served 10 months.

The maximum sentence for causing a death when driving unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured is two years in jail, and the maximum for killing someone and failing to stop and report it is up to six months. This compares to a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison for drivers convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

Susan Elan Jones MP secured cross party support for her Private Member’s Bill, The Driving Offences (Review of Sentencing Guidelines) Bill, which was brought forward under a 10-minute rule bill in January 2014. Since then, she has regularly questioned Government Ministers in Parliament, urging them to do more on the issue.

http://www.roadsafetygb.org.uk/news/3388.html

MP welcomes public inquiry for River Arun

Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs)

Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has welcomed a decision by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to hold a public…

Pressure brings forward Gapton Hall resurfacing

Brandon Lewis (Great Yarmouth)

Today, I’ve received confirmation from Highways England that they will bring forward much needed resurfacing works at the Gapton Hall roundabout, following my request that the work is not delayed. I am delighted that the works will now be completed …

The Post Office are proposing to make changes to the services offered by the Green Lane Post Office (40 Green Lane, Thornton Heath, CR7 8BB) and they would like to hear your views.

This is how the Post Office outline their proposed changes:

  • Post Office services will be offered from the retail counter in a modern, refurbished open-plan branch
  • You’ll have longer opening hours
  • You’ll still have access to the majority of Post Office products and services you’re used to

You can see the full details of the proposals and how to respond here.

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Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero visited Selston’s Tin Hat Centre on Monday to see how it has spent more than £200,000 awarded by the Big Lottery Fund.

The centre is running a three-year long ‘Collective, Community and Cuisine’ project that aims to promote food safety, cooking skills and healthy eating and address isolation in the community.

The £207,166 from the Big Lottery has paid for a training kitchen to be installed at the Tin Hat and refurbishment of the community café.

Thanks to the new facilities, the centre can run courses on weaning for babies, help people learn how to make a meal from the contents of their foodbank parcel and encourage people suffering from loneliness to come and cook and eat with others.

Gloria officially opened the centre on Monday before volunteers and community members enjoyed a buffet lunch.

Gloria said: “It is fantastic news that the Tin Hat Centre has been awarded this money for a project that will make a big difference to the community in Selston.

“It will address so many important issues, such as healthy eating and loneliness, and it shows exactly why projects in areas like Ashfield should apply for their share of lottery cash.

“A big well done to manager Paulette Sturman and the team at the Tin Hat.”

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The post Gloria officially opens Lottery funded project at Selston’s Tin Hat Centre appeared first on Gloria De Piero.

Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Westminster Week

Parliament returned from Party Conference recess this week. We debated amendments to the Finance Bill through the Committee Stage on the floor of the House, and the EU Approvals Bill.   A general debate on the tragedy of baby loss was poignant with so many personal experiences shared.

Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, has called on the Tory UK government to halt the roll-out of its damaging flagship welfare policy in Scotland. The SNP MP has added his backing to demands for the roll-out of Universal Credit to be stopped following damning evidence that the Tory government’s welfare changes are pushing families into financial hardship. Universal Credit replaces several existing benefits including housing benefit, tax credits and unemployment benefit and is currently being introduced in pilot areas...

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Conor McGinn backs bid for St Helens regeneration funding Local MP Conor McGinn has pledged to work with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) and back its bid to secure £40 million in funding – helping communities in St Helens. The Trust supports former coalfield communities and invests in jobs and skills, and St Helens will stand to gain if the funding bid is successful. Four in ten people in St […]

Terror attack in Mogadishu

Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Flag of Somalia

Last Saturday, we witnessed a terrible attack upon the Somali people in Mogadishu, which claimed the lives of over 300 people and injured hundreds more. The scale of the attack makes it one of the most lethal terrorist attacks anywhere in the world for many years.

I was devastated to hear of the loss of so many innocent lives. I know that this attack will have sent reverberations across the Somali community, both abroad and here in our community in the UK, and my thoughts go out to all those affected by the atrocity.

At times such as this, it is important that we remain united in our shared values. This was a simple act of the cowardice, perpetrated by those who would seek to intimidate and inspire fear by attacking innocent civilians. Wherever such acts of cruelty and depravity are committed, terrorists will never prevail.

Beverley and Holderness MP, Graham Stuart, says the community is fully behind his efforts to improve access to life-saving defibrillators after he hosted a summit for local fundraisers and the emergency services.

The MP, who for many years has championed greater awareness and availability of Community Public Access Defibrillators (CPADs) across East Yorkshire, said the conference had helped build a strategy for improving provision and education across the region.

Those who attended the conference included representatives from Yorkshire Ambulance Service, the SMILE Foundation as well a number of local charities and fundraisers.

Graham Stuart said: “I was delighted to host this conference to raise awareness of Community Public Access Defibrillators in our community, and explore how we can get more CPADs across Beverley and Holderness with more people using them.

“There are a number of areas for improvement: from mapping where we currently have CPADs and where still needs them, to widening the availability of training in basic life-saving situations.

“It was fantastic to hear from local fundraisers such as Jordan Moor, who is doing all he can to get more defibrillators in public spaces in the memory of his late step-father, Dr Alan Sykes. Today’s productive conference will help to make sure that people like Jordan are not doing it by themselves, and realise that by working we can build on the achievements we have already.”

Amy Leathley, from the Tickton Defibrillator Campaign, said: “It is brilliant to see our local MP bringing together various organisations to keep this issue in the public eye. Having worked with Graham on the ‘Tour de Tickton’ – where he cycled around various new CPADs across our community – I know how committed he is to this campaign.

“After today’s conference, I am much more confident that fundraisers and providers will maintain a closer relationship with the emergency services, which is so important if we are going to continue saving lives.”

Making a Difference to Tackle Dementia

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

I was delighted to be joined last weekend by residents from across my constituency who signed up to become a ‘Dementia Friend’. The Information Session held at my local Constituency Office, is part of the Alzheimer’s Society campaign to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding around the condition.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, talks and acts about the condition. The charity wants there to be four million Dementia Friends with the know-how to help people with dementia feel understood and included in their community.

With many of us having personal experience of family or friends affected by dementia, I was so pleased to see people showing their support by coming along to the Session and becoming a Dementia Friend. We need to create more communities and businesses that are dementia friendly so that people affected by dementia feel understood and included.

Anyone interested in supporting the campaign should go to www.dementiafriends.org.uk 

My Column on Changes to Dangerous Driving

Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton)

Today, I have written a column for the i Newspaper announcing two key changes to the law on dangerous driving.

First, we will be introducing a maximum life sentence for offenders who kill someone as a result of driving dangerously, or carelessly while under the influence of drink of drugs.

Second, we will create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving to plug a gap in the law, especially for cases where individuals suffer life-changing injuries.

You can read my full column explaining the proposals here.

Penny Mordaunt MP joined local Conservatives across Portsmouth North on Saturday to meet local residents for a series of street surgeries, canvassing and more. 

CreditUnionAwarenessWeek.jpg

Help to free yourself from financial problems #CUAW2017

NEWS AND COMMENT FROM CHRIS LESLIE – Friday 13th October 2017
(for more news also see my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chrislesliemp)

How do you feel our local NHS hospitals are performing? At our regular meeting between local MPs and the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust management team, I raised a number of issues that have been flagged up by local constituents – including access to emergency treatment, the ambulance service, staff morale and pay, and car parking affecting roads near City Hospital.

Peter Homa the current NUH Trust Chief Executive retires this month and so it was good to meet his successor – Tracy Taylor, who has until now been the Chief Exec at Birmingham Community NHS Trust. I’ve always found Peter to be open, accountable and helpful and so in thanking him for his service I wish him very well for the future. We also have a new Chair of the NUH Trust Board, Eric Morton, and so if you have NHS policy issues you would like me to convey please do let me know.

The QMC Emergency Department has been under significant pressure in the past few years as attendances grow and the A&E facilities – designed to see 350 patients a day – typically host 550 or more. The Trust management have put in place new systems to pull up the waiting time back up towards the target of 90% treatment within four hours (it is currently around 80%) and I will be monitoring this closely.

But we need significant capital investment at QMC to make this a truly 21st century world-class emergency department so this will be a priority for me in discussions with the Department for Health.

I’ve also been spending time seeing the fantastic work undertaken in our local NHS and meeting with clinicians – and it was a real education to observe surgical operations in the operating theatres at QMC Treatment Centre; learning about the latest technology available to anaesthetists; hearing how the scale of a teaching hospital helps improve patient care and seeing the array of medical devices that have to be prepared and sterilised by operating department staff (see pictured below).

Financial pressures are not going to go away so we need to integrate our NHS, social care and community services to ensure patients get a joined-up and coherent experience. Nottingham’s NHS will need investment but also strong leadership to maintain the quality of care we all expect.

Operating Theatre Treatment Centre QMC with orthopaedic consultant Ben Gooding October 2017

 

NOTTINGHAM

  • I was pleased to hear from the Minister for Employment that plans to close the Hyson Green Jobcentre have been abandoned. When the announcement was made earlier this year that all 16 staff would be relocated from Hyson Green to the city centre Jobcentre, I demanded in Parliament that the Minister reconsider the closure (watch here). So I’m glad that the DWP have reconsidered their short-sighted decision and that the Hyson Green Jobcentre will continue to provide a valuable service to local people.
  • I was concerned to hear this week about a series of recent deaths of prisoners at HMP Nottingham. It has been reported that four prisoners have died at the prison in the last month. The Prison Service have released a statement saying that they are putting more funding into prison safety and have launched a suicide and self-harm reduction project to address the increase in self-harm and self-inflicted deaths in their prisons. They also note that HMP Nottingham have recently put in place a number of measures to increase staffing levels. This is the latest in a series of reported problems at HMP Nottingham which include violence, drug and staffing issues and I will be asking to meet the prison’s Governor to discuss these challenges.
  • Nottingham Trent University has been named ‘Modern University of the Year’ in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide for 2018. The university scored particularly well on teaching quality and student experience in the Good University Guide’s annual rankings, and has improved in a number of other key performance indicators since last year’s guide. This is a great achievement for the university, and I would like to congratulate the team at NTU on their award.
  • You may well have heard a lot in the news this week about the continued roll out of Universal Credit. MPs, councils and housing associations have raised concerns about the speed at which Universal Credit is being implemented. According to figures from the Citizens Advice Bureau, it is projected that 19,500 families in Nottingham East will be in receipt of Universal Credit by 2022, so any issues with the roll out could potentially impact a huge number of constituents. Data from the DWP shows that 1 in 4 claimants are being left without an income for 6 weeks while they wait for their initial Universal Credit payment. Other problems with Universal Credit include monthly payments, which can be difficult for people who are used to budgeting on a weekly basis, and the fact that payments are automatically made to one person in the household, which could be problematic for people in abusive relationships. It is time for the Government to listen to the concerns being raised and to look again at their handling of the Universal Credit roll out.
  • Last week the East Midlands HS2 Strategic Board launched their East Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy. The strategy lays out plans for an East Midlands Hub Growth Zone in the area around the hub station at Toton. This would involve a new ‘Innovation Campus’ with the potential to create up to 10,000 jobs, community facilities and new housing. The hub station at Toton will be the most connected outside London, serving a catchment of over 2 million people. The strategy also discusses plans for connectivity into Nottingham and other population centres, which is welcome. If you’d like to read more about the report, you can do so on the East Midlands Councils website here.
  • Robin Hood Energy has been announced as the winner of the 2017 Local Public Ownership Awards. The awards are run by campaign group ‘We Own It’ in conjunction with LocalGov, and recognises the most forward-thinking examples of local public ownership from around the UK. Congratulations to Robin Hood Energy and Nottingham City Council on their win, and a special mention as well to Nottingham City Transport, who were awarded second place.

 

NATIONAL & INTERNATIONAL NEWS

  • On Tuesday, the Secretary of State for the Cabinet Office made a statement on the publication of the Government’s race disparity audit. The race disparity audit aims to assess differences between ethnic groups and to identify effective strategies to reduce disparities. It highlighted inequalities across society, including that Asian and black households are most likely to be in persistent poverty and that the proportion of defendants who were remanded in custody was highest for black defendants, and particularly for black males. These figures illustrate the shocking levels of inequality across the UK. The Cabinet Office Secretary said on Tuesday that the Government would take action to address the ethnic disparities highlighted by the audit. However, I am concerned at the length of time it took to publish this report and, of course, whether Government policy will adequately respond now to the scale of the issues revealed.
  • This week the Business Secretary made a statement updating the House of Commons on the trade dispute brought by Boeing against Bombardier. Bombardier is a Canadian aerospace company which employs 4,200 workers in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK. Following a complaint by Boeing, the US Department of Commerce made provisional judgements to impose tariffs of 220% and 80% on Bombardier in relation to alleged subsidies and mis-selling into the US market. A final ruling in the investigation is due in February and would be subject to further appeal if the complaint were upheld. The Business Secretary stated on Tuesday that the Government considered Boeing’s action to be completely unjustified. He said the Government was working closely with Canada and that Ministers had met with US counterparts and Boeing to encourage the American firm to drop its complaint. The Business Secretary emphasised that the Government was working to bring the Bombardier case to a satisfactory resolution. What this case shows is the need for a strong alliance of sensible nations able to come together to fend of ridiculous protectionism like this – which is why I believe the UK would be far better to stay in the customs union with other European countries.
  • On Tuesday, there was a general debate in the House of Commons on Baby Loss Awareness Week, which this year takes place from Monday 9 October to Sunday 15 October 2017. This important event is crucial in helping to raise awareness of the work of the 40 baby loss charities and the support networks for bereaved parents and their families and friends. NHS England offers some of the best neonatal care in the world, along with some exemplary psychological and bereavement support services. However, these services are not equally available to everyone. Last year there was a reported 25% variation in stillbirth rates across England. There is also huge variation in the amount of bereavement training provided to midwives and some maternity hospitals do not have bereavement suites. I welcome the Government’s commitment to reducing the rate of stillbirths, neonatal deaths, maternal deaths and brain injuries that occur during or soon after birth by 50% by 2030.
  • On Thursday, the Business Secretary made a statement about the Government’s draft Energy Price Cap Bill. The draft Energy Price Cap Bill provides for a price cap for domestic energy customers on standard variable tariffs and default tariffs. The Business Secretary said on Thursday that the cap would be set by the energy regulator, Ofgem, and would be temporary, initially lasting until 2020, with the potential for a three year extension if necessary. I have long supported an energy price cap. However, this legislation will not protect the most vulnerable customers this winter. Members on both sides of the House of Commons have been pushing for months for action on this issue, yet owing to the Government’s delays, millions of households could now face another winter of cold homes or astronomical bills. I am also concerned that the Bill does not provide clarity on the parameters of the proposed cap, but instead passes much of the responsibility to Ofgem. Furthermore, the Business Secretary needs to provide greater detail of how and when he will reform the energy market. A price cap, while welcome, is only a sticking plaster until radical reform of the market takes place. There are also some concerns that – if designed inadequately – many energy firms will increase prices up to the level of the ‘cap’ in a similar way that universities have done so with tuition fees. So I shall watch this area of policy develop very closely.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

There’s a general consensus now that the Brexit negotiations with the EU aren’t going as well as could be hoped. I’m being contacted by lots of businesses from across the country voicing worries that – if no transition deal is secured by the end of this year – they may have to reconsider where they are located.

We were expecting by now to be starting the committee stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, the legislation that will formally give powers to the Prime Minister to determine ‘exit day’ and pretty much everything else as well – including the withdrawal agreement treaty.

As you may know, I have tabled quite a few amendments to the Bill (see full details at the link here) and believe strongly that we should be working across the political parties to stand up for what is best for the country as a whole. That’s why I’ve joined forces with Rushcliffe MP Ken Clarke to table an amendment that would enshrine the Prime Minister’s promise of a transitional period in law, because so far this is only a verbal commitment. If we don’t get a transition, we mustn’t crash out with ‘no deal’ – our amendment would ensure that a fresh Act of Parliament would be needed before ‘exit day’ could be appointed.

I realise that there are people who will criticise me for working with MPs of different political parties, but I’m afraid that Brexit is the most pressing issue for our political generation and it is too important to put ideological difference ahead of getting the best outcome for the country. I’d be interested if you have any thoughts on where the negotiations are going – or on any amendments you’d like me to pursue in Parliament on all this.

Senior Communications Officer Vacancy

Karin Smyth (Bristol South)

A vacancy has arisen for a Senior Communications Officer in Karin’s team.

Based in Bristol for 15 hours (2 days) per week, communicating with all media, managing the website, using social media and researching local, regional and national issues to support Karin’s work. The role entails analysing, evaluating and interpreting data to ensure the MP is accurately informed on key issues and is aware of trends, providing briefings for the MP and responding to routine correspondence and enquiries from constituents, the media, lobbyists and pressure groups.

Job Title:                 Senior Communications Officer

Salary Range:         £28,000 – £32,000 (pro rata) depending on experience

Location:                 Bristol

Hours:                    15 hours / 2 days per week (flexible)

Closing date:           Monday 23 October 2017

Interview date:        Friday 27 October 2017

 

Key Responsibilities:

  • monitor media coverage, liaise with media, prepare press releases as required (on constituency, non-party political matters)
  • proactive and reactive communications with all media
  • manage the MP’s website contents
  • publicise the MP’s parliamentary activity on social media
  • follow up on social media queries and comments
  • research local, regional and national issues to support the MP’s work
  • analyse, evaluate and interpret data to ensure the MP is accurately informed on key issues and is aware of trends
  • develop knowledge in specialist areas
  • provide briefings for the MP
  • respond to routine correspondence and enquiries from constituents, the media, lobbyists and pressure groups
  • liaise with government agencies, voluntary sector and others to resolve constituency matters
  • ensure records are kept and information managed confidentially and in line with the Data Protection Act 1998.

 

Person Specification:

  • degree educated, or equivalent relevant experience
  • experience of working with print, broadcast and electronic media in a role such as journalist or press officer
  • Strong news sense and a good knowledge of the needs of local and national media
  • able to influence people and build long-lasting, positive relationships
  • able to take responsibility for tasks and act on own initiative
  • excellent time management skills and the ability to meet tight deadlines
  • excellent written and oral communication skills
  • able to research issues and analyse data
  • able to work with diplomacy, discretion and confidentiality
  • excellent attention to detail and the capacity to work under pressure
  • an interest in politics, social justice and current affairs
  • in sympathy with the aims and values of the Labour Party.

 

If you would like to discuss the role with Karin please call 0117 953 3575.

 

If you are interested in applying please send a CV and covering letter setting out your experience to karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk.

 

My visit to Battersea Cats and Dogs home this week allowed me to meet the staff and volunteers who truly are doing a sterling job in caring for all these animals that have been abandoned or abused by their owners.

I was greeted by some boisterous (and rather noisy) dogs all keen for my attention and some rather nonchalant cats. From huge brooding hounds to tiny, yappy puppies, it was quite a cacophony. I was even surprised to see a little greying terrier making quite a racket over to the left-side of the kennels. I was hoping his name would have been Jeremy or Jezza, but that was perhaps too much political parody to hope for.

With nearly 7,000 animals cared for here every year, it is such a delight to be invited by Peter Laurie, their Deputy CEO and a constituent from East Surrey, to see first-hand the fantastic work this charity has been doing. I was also really interested to hear about the work they were doing in local communities and even across the prison estate – we’ve been taking in stray dogs to train to be placed across different locations.

As I was taken on a tour of the centre I learnt a great deal about what happens when animals arrive here, how they are processed and assessed, the kind of treatment they receive and even the training they get. While walking around we ran into Barney, a big and bubbly Labrador recovering from an operation on his leg and Olympia, a cat that was quite shy but slowly opened up after a quick stroke. It really was quite moving to hear about some of the stories behind how these animals ended up here, but they couldn’t have hoped for more caring and attentive staff.

We’ve always been tough on animal cruelty in this country and the recent announcement at the Conservative Party Conference of a potential reinforcing of the laws adds to this.

This combined with a near total ban on the ivory trade really makes a statement that cruelty to, and the exploitation of, animals like this will not be tolerated under this government.

Thank you, Peter, the staff and volunteers at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and the animals themselves for a fantastic afternoon.

Dave Cross / Thursday 19 October 2017 21:23