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Graham Presses Broadband Pole Concerns on Minister

Graham Stuart (Beverley and Holderness)

Graham has written to Julia Lopez, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, to put the demands of residents forward.    Graham laid out five demands regarding the ‘ugly and unnecessary’ telegraph poles, which have blighted Hedon since September and Beverley since December, with poles erected by MS3 and…

Lapse that saw women suffer

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

Back in 1995, the Tory government legislated to equalise the state pension age by progressively raising the age at which women would qualify to 66. The changes didn’t come into effect until 15 years later. Unfortunately, the Dept of Works and Pensions failed to formally notify, as required by law, many of those affected. This gave rise to the Waspi Campaign (Women Against State Pension Inequality.) I’ve met them many times over the years. Last week in parliament, I met with them again.

There’s about 3.6million women, born in the 1950s, who have lost out. At least 4,540 live in my Selly Oak constituency. They don’t object to equalising the pension age, but to that failure to advise those who would be affected, resulting in adverse financial consequences, damaging the health of many and in some cases the loss of their home. Many of these women are now approaching old age amid a cost-of-living crisis and substantially reduced circumstances.

The Ombudsman has upheld their complaint but is still to make recommendations about compensation. The government is not legally obliged to accept his proposals. It could choose to ignore him and has shown little interest so far. About 270,000 women have died since the campaign was launched 9 years ago. With one dying every 13 minutes, there is a pressing need for the government to act quickly but it could well be left for an incoming government after the next election. It might cost around £36 billion, not the kind of money you find down the back of the settee and I bet the Chancellor won’t be setting anything aside for it in next month’s budget.

These women deserve to be compensated. I hope my colleagues in the shadow Treasury and DWP teams will sit down with them soon and, at least, agree a system of phased payments so that we get help, in the first instance, to those who need it most. Perhaps, based on factors like age, health, income, and levels of loss.

Waspi women deserve justice, but I suspect it’s just one more mess Labour will need to clear up.

LBBD Christian Voice Appreciation Event | Jon Cruddas MP Andrew

My kind of green

John Redwood (Wokingham)

I have always been a lover of the countryside. I admire the fields and woods of England. I have argued for less development of greenfields and for more kindness to animals.

I have campaigned for lower migration as I cannot see how and where we will build  three cities the size of Southampton each year to provide homes, shops and roads for 750,000 extra people. I look forward to this government tightening the rules further to cut the numbers more.

Reducing growth in population is essential to bring housing supply and demand into better balance. It is crucial to bringing UK CO 2 output down. If you want net zero emissions net zero migration would be a good start. It is central to keeping more balance between town and countryside. It is crucial to improving our local food production as we need to keep the farms we have.

I favour planting more trees. Time was when we grew our own timber. Now we  import vast quantities from places where softwoods grow more slowly and use large amounts of energy to be brought here. Our new mixed woodlands should be for timber as well as enhancements for our countryside.

I favour more reservoirs. A few extra lakes can enhance the landscape and offer recreation . We are short of water if we get longer hot dry spells. We have not expanded water stores as the population  has grown.

I favour much more investment in modern agriculture. Fruit and vegetables can be grown in bigger quantities with modern protection against the weather and good control of water and fertiliser.


Councillors agree next stage of addressing housing emergency

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

Councillors in Edinburgh have approved an action plan as they work towards tackling the severe shortage of suitable housing in the capital.

Sholing Junior School visits Parliament

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

Fantastic to welcome students from Sholing Junior School to Parliament on Monday. Following a tour of the the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the students asked me some great questions about my job and how Parliament works. As always, the kids from Sholing Junior School are so well behaved and polite, as [...]

The post Sholing Junior School visits Parliament appeared first on Royston Smith MP.

Exceptional Financial Support

Alex Norris (Nottingham North)

Nottingham City Council’s request for Exceptional Financial Support (EFS) has been agreed in principle by the government.

This does not mean that we are being bailed out by the government or that the government is granting us extra funding. It merely is permission to use our own money in a different way. It will allow us to use the money raised by selling off property and assets, to cover the day to day running costs of the council.

While this will help achieve a balanced budget for this year and next year, it is not a long-term solution. More importantly it does not address the fundamental underfunding of local government by the Conservative Government.

The £66.1 million over two years we’ll receive via EFS is still less than the money we have lost each year in government funding since 2013/14, which is £100 million less than it was a decade ago; Tens of millions of pounds of funding for services has been lost under this Conservative Government.

Since 2010/11 the number of cuts in local government have disproportionately affected the poorest areas. Nottingham has lost the equivalent of £950 per resident from cuts, Oxfordshire only £96, nearly ten times less.

The Conservative Government has decimated local communities, cities, and regions across the country. They have brought local government to the brink of total collapse. EFS, while providing a brief relief simply will not work long term.

We need reform for local government financing. We have and will continue to lobby government and speak publicly about the need for this.

What the country needs the most is a Labour Government that can change the country for the better and work to correct the damage caused by successive Conservative Governments.

Under this current government and under a future Labour Government we will continue to be ambitious for Nottingham.

We will continue to create more jobs and build more houses. We will continue to support our vulnerable children and adults and house those who are homeless.

We will continue to represent the people who elected us and ensure that their voices are listened to.

What we won’t do is stop making sure that everyone knows that blame for the crisis in local government funding lies at the feet of the Conservative Government and their decade long programme of strangling the life out of local government.

29 February 2024
Dunne supports campaign for Global Ocean Treaty

South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne is backing efforts for the UK to ratify a Global Ocean Treaty to protect the world’s oceans.

The Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity (Ratification of Treaty) Bill is a Private Members Bill from Kevin Foster MP, presented in March, which will enable the government to swiftly ratify this Treaty in this Parliamentary session. Delaying ratification until after a General Election makes it unlikely the UK will be among the 60 countries needed to bring this treaty into force, and might put the UK’s strong legacy on global ocean protection at risk.

The UK government played a powerful role throughout the Global Ocean Treaty's negotiations and was one of the first countries to sign the treaty when it opened for signatures at the UN.

After the Bill receives Royal Assent, the government can use its prerogative powers to immediately complete ratification by depositing an instrument of ratification with the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Mr Dunne said:

“I am pleased to support this Bill to ensure the UK ratifies the Global Ocean Treaty as swiftly as possible.  

“We can still meet the globally-agreed goal of protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, and the UK ratifying this treaty will send a powerful signal about how committed we are to protecting the ocean environment. 

“This would build on the very welcome announcement this week, from the UK government in partnership with government of South Georgia & the Sandwich Islands, that an additional 166,000km2 of ‘No Take Zones’ will protect an area in the South Atlantic 8 times the size of Wales from dangerous fishing activity.”

Photo: Philip Dunne MP with Kevin Foster MP, who is sponsoring the Private Members Bill 

Update on Planned Closure of Boots North Kenton

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)



RE: Planned Closure of Boots North Kenton

Dear Sebastian James, I am writing to you with deep concern following recent news that 300 Boots stores will close; among these will be the branch in North Kenton in my constituency, whose closure is planned for the 2nd of March.

This Boots pharmacy plays a vital role in the provision of healthcare for the community in North Kenton, providing localised access for residents to collect their prescriptions and access to medicines.

As a child growing up in North Kenton, my family and I relied on the pharmacy at this location. If this planned closure goes ahead, the nearest pharmacies for North Kenton residents will be over a mile away, on Gosforth High Street and in Fawdon. Many who rely on the pharmacy today will find it difficult to walk so far and transport costs are high, especially in a cost of living crisis.

This closure will disproportionally affect older and disabled residents who depend on the pharmacy, they will face extreme anxieties and difficult decisions about how to obtain medications essential to their health.

I visited the North Kenton Boots on 16/02/2024 and the staff informed me that despite the store closing within just a few weeks, they were still administering over 100 prescriptions. Several patients attended during my relatively short visit to collect their prescriptions. Surely this attests to the continued importance of this branch.

I would urge you to rethink the closure of this store and to take into consideration the devastating impact this will have on the health and wellbeing of many of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Sadly many large high street retailers have been impacted by 14 years of economic mismanagement by the Conservative government. Despite empty shopfronts becoming the norm, the government have presented no ideas to revive our decimated high streets.

In contrast to this, Labour will support business to thrive on high streets with an overhaul of the current Business Rates system, replacing this with a new system of business taxation that would better balance the burden between our high streets and the biggest online and digital firms. Labour will also act to attract shoppers and footfall back to the high street by giving councils new powers to take over empty shops and reopen them without consent from the property’s owners.

Yours sincerely,

Chi Onwurah

Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central
Shadow Minister for Science, Research and Innovation

On behalf of Sebastian James

Dear Ms Onwurah,

Thank you for the letter dated 23rd February regarding the Boots pharmacy at Halewood Avenue, North Kenton, in your constituency.

We are grateful to you for sharing your constituent’s feedback and I absolutely recognise the strength of feeling in the local community about the pharmacy closure.

However, I can assure you that Boots has considered this decision very carefully and assessed all relevant operational, financial and property information. Unfortunately, this process has concluded that the store is no longer viable, and consequently we are unable to rethink our plans at this stage which means the closure will proceed as planned in March.

We recognise that you and your constituents will be disappointed, but we are working closely with local GP surgeries to support patients to transfer their care and prescriptions to alternative pharmacies so there is continuity in access to medicines and the provision of healthcare services and advice in the local community.

Whilst we accept that we are asking local residents to travel further to visit nearby branches, the Boots store at the Kingston Park Centre is approximately 1 mile away and our pharmacy on Gosforth High Street is 1.5 miles away.

We hope that many customers will choose to stay with Boots, although we recognise that it may be more convenient for some patients to transfer to an alternative pharmacy closer to where they live depending on their circumstances. Delivery of NHS prescriptions is also available when customers sign up to use the Boots Online Prescriptions Service which may be an option for some local residents to consider.

We understand that you will remain disappointed by the closure, but I hope this response provides you with more insight regarding the decision and reassures you that Boots is committed to supporting the healthcare needs of the local community in Kenton and across Newcastle Central more broadly.

Thank you again for the letter and please contact me if you require any further information.

Best regards,

Sebastian James

Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Boots UK & ROI

Walgreens Boots Alliance – Retail Pharmacy International

D90, 1 Thane Road, Beeston, Nottingham, NG90 1BS

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund II will deliver a £400m commitment of new funding for smaller businesses The fund will build on the success of the first Midlands Engine Investment Fund and support access to early-stage finance 739 smaller business have already been supported by the Midlands…
Greg Smith MP enjoyed visiting the Haddenham & Waddesdon Community Board Green Living Fair at Buckinghamshire Railway Centre this afternoon, in particular formally opening the I'd Like To Borrow initiative. The project has taken over a year of planning and organisation. It is commissioned and…

This article was written by Charlie Cooper and published on Politico.

“There are an awful lot of questions that need to be answered before we go for this,” says one Conservative MP.

LONDON — Claire Coutinho has promised to cut your energy bills. But she could end up hiking your neighbor’s in the process.

The U.K. energy secretary is mulling sweeping reforms to the electricity market which, advocates say, could reduce bills by billions of pounds over the next 15 years.

But critics warn the proposals could also create a politically toxic “postcode lottery” — with voters and businesses in England and Wales hit with higher bills than in Scotland.

And ministers have been warned about how the public might react to different models currently being considered by the government, potentially including the creation of hundreds or even thousands of different, hyper-local wholesale electricity prices all over the country.

A delayed consultation on the plans is now due before Easter, with backbench Conservative MPs urging Coutinho to find a way to fix the U.K.’s creaking energy system without doing “profound” damage to local economies.

Dare to REMA

It is all part of little-known reforms — the catchily-titled Review of Electricity Market Arrangements (REMA) — which Whitehall officials have been working on quietly for two years.

At the heart of the sprawling package is a proposal to ditch Britain’s single national wholesale electricity price in favor of so-called locational marginal pricing (LMP).

A local approach, experts say, would better reflect the mounting cost of moving electricity across the country through the power grid, from where it is generated (often in remote Scottish offshore wind farms) to where it is used (chiefly big cities and industrial hubs in England.) 

The government’s latest consultation was originally promised before Christmas. Ministers missed that deadline and the paper is now expected after the Budget and before Easter. The energy industry is watching nervously to see whether locational pricing is still on the table.

Uncertainty ahead

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero insists that any decision will include safeguards to “protect consumers.” But delivering such a huge shake-up, while ensuring households are not unfairly penalized, poses challenges both practical and political.

“There are an awful lot of questions that need to be answered before we go for this,” Conservative MP Mark Garnier, a member of the House of Commons Energy Security and Net Zero Committee, told POLITICO.

“I’m uncertain how we would answer all these questions — and you could go down a path that has profound economic impacts on certain areas of the U.K. if it’s not done properly.”

The hated postcode lottery

Advocates for locational pricing — already used in New Zealand and parts of Europe, the U.S., and Canada — say it encourages developers to build new power sources like wind farms or solar parks closer to big demand centers like cities or industrial areas. That reduces the costs of moving electricity around the country and leads to cheaper bills for everyone.

Power-hungry businesses like data centers or factories might also end up building closer to clean energy sources to benefit from cheap electricity — or so the business case goes.

There are already some differences in energy bills between different parts of the U.K., usually reflecting the cost of running local power networks.

But if locational pricing were introduced and the wholesale price — the biggest part of any electricity bill — was passed directly onto consumers, it could lead to much bigger regional variation in energy bills, potentially of hundreds of pounds.  

And this is where the political trouble could start. Consumers really dislike existing differences in energy bills between regions, said Kate Mulvany, principal consultant at Cornwall Insight.

“There’s a sense of unfairness,” she said. “People live where they live. They weren’t involved in the decision of where to put Sizewell C [a nuclear energy plant], or the geography of the North Sea shelf, which happens to be amazing for offshore wind. It’s out of their control.”

Winners and losers

Most experts say that households could be shielded from a postcode lottery on bills so long as the wholesale price was not passed directly onto domestic consumers. But precisely how you do this would be a “political challenge” for Coutinho and her advisers, says Josh Buckland, a former Number 10 energy adviser and now a partner at Flint Global.

This includes questions over whether protecting households and small businesses from higher prices would mean the impact of the reforms fell on “high demand users” — like factories — and on power generators themselves, who could face varying regional prices for their electricity, Buckland says.

“It’s not just a theoretical change, it’s a real and material change. And from the work I’ve done in politics, it’s the losers who tend to shout the loudest, even if the change has a strong economic rationale,” he added.

Long grass

The scale of the reform means that the imminent consultation may do little more than narrow down the government’s options. The big decisions could be left to whoever is in charge after the general election, expected this fall.

“The political realities of what this means could potentially bite on a Labour government,” said Buckland. “I haven’t seen them say a huge amount on this area because of the level of political risk that exists.”

A Department for Energy Security and Net Zero spokesperson said that “affordability” would be “at the heart of any reform to the market.”

“We are considering a range of options to ensure a fairer deal for households and businesses across the U.K.,” they added. 

“While no decision has been taken on whether to introduce locational pricing, there are a number of ways this model can be implemented to protect consumers and better match where energy is generated and used.”

To tinker or not to tinker

But the government will have to make its mind up sooner or later, other experts warn. Years more tinkering with the market could put off green investors and force up the cost of power projects, just when the U.K. needs them to help deliver net zero.

And if higher capital costs for green projects end up being passed onto energy bills, some developers say, that would undermine the whole purpose of locational pricing.  

“Injecting further volatility and uncertainty into our energy market would have very real and very negative consequences for billpayers,” says Nick Hibberd, market policy analyst at RenewableUK, a trade body for clean energy developers.

“If locational marginal pricing were to be implemented, it wouldn’t only increase costs across our whole energy system, but it would also create a bizarre regional or local postcode lottery of prices for consumers, inflating bills in England especially.”

On the other side of the debate, modeling commissioned by the regulator Ofgem concluded that a switch to locational pricing would lower energy bills across the board. “Net consumer benefits” of different forms of local pricing (compared to doing nothing) range from £15 billion to £51 billion between 2025 and 2040, the research found, with energy bills £56 a year lower on average thanks to the reform.

Changing clunky rules

“Our energy bills are stuffed with extra costs because of clunky old rules about how power is treated on its journey from the place it is generated to the homes and businesses where it is used,” said John Penrose, a Conservative MP.

Penrose played a key role in designing another big recent energy market reform — the price cap. He now thinks locational pricing is the way to modernize Britain’s creaking power system.

“[E]veryone’s energy will be cheaper without a postcode lottery on prices” if the reforms are carried out properly, he said.

“Taxpayer subsidies will be lower, British manufacturing will be more competitive, and we will reach net zero via the cheapest possible route. So it’s a no-brainer, and I only wish we’d move even faster to get it done.”

But others sound a note of caution.

“In principle, it’s a good idea to look at it,” said Penrose’s Conservative colleague Mark Garnier. “But you’re presenting an extraordinarily large number of uncertainties and questions about what the economic impact is going to be on a particular region or an area.

“If we’re going to have 2,000 different nodes, I’m going to have three in my constituency.

“It’s going to be quite tricky.”

29 February 2024
Meeting with Chancellor – Rural Energy and Fuel Costs Campaign

Rural counties like Norfolk have always suffered from disproportionately high energy and fuel costs compared to urban areas – a fact seldom reflected in the Whitehall funding formulas.

However, the sudden energy price inflation caused by Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine has led to a massive increase in fuel and energy costs over the last two years which has significantly added to those pressures and now means we are facing the perfect storm.

On Wednesday, I met with the Chancellor to discuss my letter to him and directly ask that he include in his Budget measures to help tackle the crippling impact of disproportionately high energy costs on rural communities.

(See my letter below)

I am determined to do all I can to be Mid Norfolk’s strongest voice on these key issues – and am working with other rural MPs to emphasise the importance of additional targeted assistance for rural communities.

To stay up to date with my campaign progress, please click here

My questions to the Minister in today's Urgent Question on public confidence in the Post Office board and governance following the serious revelations at yesterday’s Business and Trade select committee.

“I am delighted that four of North Herefordshire’s local businesses have progressed to the regional final of the Countryside Alliance Awards. D. T. Waller & Sons, The Moody Cow, Kington Village Shop and The Royal George are fantastic local businesses and this news is a testament to the services they provide to their local communities. …
Catherine spoke in the House of Commons of the urgent need to ensure a future for the UK Armed Forces’ training of Ukrainian Armed Forces as part of the UK’s Operation Interflex.   Questioning the Minister for Defence Procurement, James Cartlidge, Catherine said: “Can I take this opportunity to reiterate how proud we are of […]

Standing with Ukraine

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish)

Last weekend marked the second anniversary of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, showing frank disregard for international law and causing immense suffering to the Ukrainian people.

This anniversary gives us chance to reflect on the immense sacrifices made by the people of Ukraine in defence of their country and thank the charities and local organisations across the UK who have opened their homes up to Ukrainians and worked to support those displaced by conflict.

Parliament has not been shown at its best recently, but the UK’s complete resolve to stand unwaveringly with the people of Ukraine is one issue where the House has always spoken with one voice.

Whilst there may be, and I hope there will be, a change of government this year, there will be no change in Britain’s commitment to stand with Ukraine, confront Russian aggression, and pursue Putin for his war crimes.

I recently attended the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in Vienna where Ukraine, as a member of the OSCE, were able to play a full part in proceedings because of Russia’s absence.

The message from my Ukrainian colleagues was clear, they would not have gotten this far without the support of the UK and other allies.

Our backing of Ukraine isn’t just a principle, it is helping stem the tide of Russia’s illegal invasion and provides Ukraine vital military support.

Labour has backed the government consistently on Ukraine when we believe they are getting it right.

We fully support all the military aid provided to Ukraine, including the £2.5 billion pledged for 2024.

We back the British Armed Forces’ training programme for Ukrainian troops in the UK, and strongly welcome allies supporting these programmes with additional troops.

But we have also been candid and constructive when we believe they need to go further.

For example, Labour put a motion before the House last summer which would have brought about the sequestration, seizure, and repurposing of Russian state-owned assets for the purpose of rebuilding Ukraine.

Labour would reconnect Britain and make sure that the UK’s singular diplomatic role is utilised to bolster global support for Ukraine, working with allies to further isolate Russia and ensure the global rules-based order is adhered to.

It is a relentless determination to do whatever it takes, and one I wholeheartedly support.

Labour, and the country, will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes to win.

The post Standing with Ukraine appeared first on Andrew Gwynne MP.

Llanelli Labour MP, Nia Griffith, has issued a call on Conservative UK Government Ministers to be up front about the long-term future of the Tata Steel packaging plant in Trostre following the recent announcement of the proposed closure of the company’s blast furnaces in Port Talbot.

In a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament that the MP had secured on the future of the Welsh Steel industry, she urged the Prime Minister and his government to urgently look again at the terms of the planned deal and reassure workers at the Trostre plant in her Llanelli constituency that they had been properly considered during negotiations.

Speaking during the debate, she said:

“The news that we have had over the past few months has been devastating. We stand today at a real crossroads for the steel industry in Wales and the UK. We have the opportunity to be at the forefront of the new green industrial revolution, or to allow ourselves to slide into a second-rate position to be left behind as the only country in the G20 that does not have primary steelmaking facilities.”

Focussing in on jobs in her own constituency, the MP added:

“Trostre currently receives its steel from Port Talbot, just 20 miles down the railway track. That makes good economic and environmental sense. Tata tells us that when it closes the blast furnaces at Port Talbot in the short term before the electric arc furnace is built, it will import steel to supply the Trostre plant. That will be imported steel made in blast furnaces abroad, so there will not be any saving in carbon emissions—quite the opposite.”

“Workers at Trostre are very anxious to know that deals for supplies of quality steel have all been sorted out before anyone even thinks about switching off the blast furnace in Port Talbot. What talks has the Minister had with bosses at Tata about where they will be sourcing the imported steel for Trostre, what guarantees they can give that the quality will satisfy all the requirements at Trostre, when they expect the first shipments to arrive, and what risk assessments and contingency plans they have drawn up to cope with challenges such as price fluctuations or a tightening of the market if other countries want to prioritise their own needs?

Concluding her contribution to the discussions, Dame Nia then went on to quiz the UK Government on financial details of the agreement and how it risked making Trostre less competitive.

“The Government have promised half a billion pounds for Tata to develop an electric arc furnace. Will the Minister tell us whether there is any conditionality attached to that loan in respect of Trostre? In other words, is its availability to Tata contingent not just on building an electric arc furnace but on securing short-term supplies for Trostre—and, indeed, Shotton—and safe- guarding jobs there? If those supplies are not there, downstream businesses could go out of business, causing huge job losses.”

“It would be catastrophic for us in Llanelli to lose Trostre.”

“We can see why when steel and high-energy industries make decisions, they cannot rely on limping from package to another but need long-term security with low energy prices, We in Llanelli look across at IJmuiden in the Netherlands, where Tata has a tin plant works similar to ours. However, in close proximity to IJmuiden, Tata will keep a blast furnace open and develop a direct reduced iron facility. This is the reality we are facing: greater investment for the future going elsewhere. The UK Government need to ask themselves why.”

With the continuing lack of clarity from the UK Government on the issues she raised, Dame Nia pledged to use every opportunity to hold Ministers to account and to work with local steelworkers, trade unions, political colleagues and others to campaign for Tata Steel to reconsider their decisions and think again on future plans for steelmaking in Wales.


Alex Cunningham Calls for Help Battling Drugs Gangs

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North)

Evennett urges for action on tackling obesity

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, held a Westminster Hall debate yesterday (27 February) to raise the importance of tackling obesity. Sir David commented that “obesity is a major public health problem and a global concern” and that “tackling obesity requires a cross-party…

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)

John's defib tax campaign makes national news

John Healey's campaign to put a stop to VAT being charged on the sale of defibrillators made national news as it featured on BBC Breakfast.
John launched the national campaign alongside Wath based defibrillator distributor Martek Lifecare and the British Healthcare Trades Association last year.
Under current regulations local groups, sports clubs and charities face a 20% VAT charge when they buy the lifesaving machines.
John Healey said: “This extra cost on defibrillators is a tax on saving lives.
“At present, only defibrillators purchased by or donated to local authorities and the NHS are exempt from the tax. This cost can deter individuals, businesses, and community groups from buying the potentially lifesaving equipment.
“Defibrillators bought for use by community groups, charities and sports clubs should be VAT exempt to make them more affordable and help save more lives across the country.”
Early defibrillation with a patient in cardiac arrest greatly improves survival rates. Figures from the British Heart Foundation show there are currently over 30,000 cases of out of hospital suspected cardiac arrests every year with fewer than 1 in 10 people surviving.
You can watch the piece on BBC Breakfast below.

Another Lovely Post Box Topper

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

Great to spot this wonderful new spring-inspired Post Box Topper pop up in Pelsall.
Huge thanks to Nikki for crafting another lovely topper for us all to enjoy.

Hardwick Primary School

Victoria Prentis (Banbury)

It was lovely to visit Hardwick Primary School on Friday. I was delighted to be asked to present pupils with certificates at their Celebration Assembly after a tour of the school. I also had the chance to sit down with a group of KS2 children to discuss life at school. It is clear to me that…
The Conservative Government is sticking with the plan to reallocate £36 billion of HS2 funding into long-term local transport improvements – benefitting more people, in more places, more quickly. The £4.7 billion Local Transport Fund is the latest part of this plan being delivered. £120,824,000 is…


Martin Docherty (West Dunbartonshire)

On the second anniversary of the unprovoked Russian invasion, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP says the UK’s resolve in support for Ukraine must not falter.

In recent weeks Ukraine has faced increasing challenges from a renewed Russian offensive and delays in Western deliveries of aid leading to ammunition and artillery shortages on the battlefield.

Calling for a complete seizure of Russian assets in the UK, and an increase in the delivery of lethal aid to Ukraine, SNP Defence Spokesperson Martin Docherty-Hughes MP warned the current situation in Ukraine is critical, and that efforts to support the besieged nation must be doubled to ensure a Russian defeat.

Criticising the UK government for a reluctance to fully seize Russian assets and for their ending of the Ukraine Family Visa Scheme, Dochety-Hughes said the UK had a long way to go before it could claim leadership in the global fight against Russian aggression and in support for Ukraine’s struggle.

Commenting, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:

“Two years is too long, but Ukrainians know all too well that this war has been raging for ten, forcing immense suffering and bloodshed on an innocent population.

“Brave Ukrainians are laying down their lives, not just in defence of their own freedom and values, but ours too. That’s why it’s crucial we back them with everything we have and that our resolve never falters.

“The delays in the delivery of vital aid brought about by the US Congress and GOP are incredibly worrying and are only increasing the suffering and death toll for Ukraine – in absence of US leadership we should be stepping up to the plate, but we’re far from there.

“The UK’s reluctance to properly seize, and redistribute to Ukraine, the Russian assets that have given London its ‘Londongrad’ moniker is proof of that, so too is the UK government’s ending of the Ukraine Family Visa Scheme.

“In light of recent threats to the security and stability of the West, and a Russian counter offensive which has already seen Avdiivka fall, we must be united in the face of President Putin’s aggression, and the coordinated solidarity shown for Ukraine must and cannot waiver.

“The UK government must work to strengthen our resolve, increase the supply of lethal aid to Ukraine, enforce a complete seizure on Russian assets, and do everything possible to take Putin’s regime to task for their unprovoked brutal invasion and oppression of Ukraine.”

Weekly Round-Up #Working4Wycombe

Steven Baker (Wycombe)

Here’s what I’ve been up to this week #Wycombe #Working4Wycombe:

Please take a moment to let me know what you think here
Sign up to my newsletter and click here if you would like to help me make a difference

My Civil Nuclear Roadmap Debate

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

On Thursday 22 February I organised a debate in the House of Commons focused on the future of nuclear energy in the UK, and in particular the important role that can be played by sites like Dungeness as locations for investment in new nuclear technologies. This is probably the biggest moment for the civil nuclear […]

New Funding for Farmers

Damian Green (Ashford)

Good news! The Government will introduce a £15 million fund to help farmers redistribute surplus food, preventing millions of meals worth of edible food from going to waste. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the National Farmers Union (NFU) Conference, as part of a…

Scottish Conservatives win Jedburgh by-election

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

The Scottish Conservatives have defeated the SNP in the Jedburgh and St Boswells by-election. Scottish Conservative & Unionist candidate John Bathgate won with 58.5% of the vote. Mr Bathgate secured his victory in the first round of the vote count.   The Scottish Conservative vote share…
Maria said,   ‘’I welcome the response to the Public Affairs Committee report re-confirming the Government commitment to every hospital on the New Hospitals programme, which includes the brand-new hospital for Basingstoke. The report specifically says that ‘’the government remains committed to all…
Yesterday, I asked the Ministry of Defence what steps they are taking to tackle recruitment challenges in the armed forces.   As well as things like apprenticeship opportunities and pay, the quality of forces accommodation is also an important factor in both recruitment and retention. I am pleased…

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Chris Leslie (Nottingham East)

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The post Bocoran Slot Gacor Gampang JP Hanya Di Fire138 appeared first on Chrisleslie.

Lee Anderson MP's Weekly Column

Lee Anderson (Ashfield)

On Monday, I was hosted a live Facebook discussion with Enlighten the Shadows to discuss men’s mental health. I was joined by Steve and Rory in their new office in Kirkby. Enlighten the Shadows is a male support group, that have been doing amazing work saving lives each week. I’ve been helping to…

Live or distance learning: what to choose

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

In the rapidly evolving landscape of education, the debate between live (in-person) and distance learning has taken center stage, prompting students, educators, and parents alike to reevaluate the most effective ways to impart and acquire knowledge. This article delves into the nuanced advantages and challenges of both learning modalities, offering insights into how technological advancements, personalization of education, and the importance of social interaction play pivotal roles in shaping the future of education. As we navigate through the complexities of choosing the most suitable learning environment, we aim to provide a comprehensive guide that helps learners make informed decisions based on their individual needs, preferences, and goals.

The Pros and Cons of In-Person Learning

The debate between in-person and online education has become increasingly relevant in today’s educational landscape. As we navigate through the complexities of learning methodologies, it’s essential to examine the advantages and disadvantages of traditional, in-person learning environments. This analysis aims to shed light on how face-to-face education impacts students’ academic experiences, social interactions, and overall development.

Advantages of In-Person Learning

  1. Enhanced Engagement: In-person classes often foster a more engaging learning environment. The physical presence of both the teacher and students in the same room can lead to more dynamic discussions, immediate feedback, and personalized instruction. This direct interaction is crucial for subjects that require hands-on activities, such as laboratory work, physical education, and fine arts.
  2. Social Interaction: One of the most significant benefits of in-person learning is the opportunity for social development. Students learn to communicate, collaborate, and interact with their peers and instructors in a way that cannot be fully replicated online. These interactions are vital for building interpersonal skills, understanding diverse perspectives, and developing a sense of community and belonging.
  3. Structured Learning Environment: Traditional classrooms offer a structured routine that can be beneficial for students’ time management and discipline. The physical separation of school from home helps students focus on their studies without the distractions that can come with online learning. Additionally, this structure provides a sense of normalcy and routine, which is particularly important for younger students.

Disadvantages of In-Person Learning

  1. Lack of Flexibility: Unlike online education, in-person learning offers less flexibility in terms of scheduling. Students are required to attend classes at specific times and locations, which can be challenging for those who have other commitments or prefer to study at their own pace.
  2. Accessibility Issues: For some students, getting to school can be a significant challenge due to geographical distances, physical disabilities, or financial constraints. In-person learning necessitates physical attendance, which can exclude or disadvantage those who are unable to regularly commute to a school building.
  3. Potential for Distractions: While classrooms are designed to be conducive to learning, they can sometimes introduce their own set of distractions. Social dynamics, classroom management issues, and environmental factors can all detract from the learning experience.

In conclusion, in-person learning offers a unique set of advantages that contribute to students’ academic and social development. However, it also presents challenges that may not suit every student’s needs. As education continues to evolve, it’s vital to consider these factors to ensure that all students have access to learning environments that best suit their preferences, lifestyles, and learning styles. Balancing the benefits of direct interaction with the flexibility of online education might be the key to providing a comprehensive, inclusive educational experience.

Technologies and Innovations in Distance Learning

The realm of distance learning has seen a significant transformation with the advent of new technologies and innovations. This shift towards online education platforms has not only made learning more accessible but has also introduced a range of tools and methods designed to enhance the educational experience. Here, we explore how these technological advancements have reshaped distance learning, making it a viable and often preferred alternative to traditional in-person education.

Advancements in Learning Technologies

  1. Interactive Platforms: Modern online learning platforms offer interactive courses that can include multimedia presentations, real-time discussions, and interactive assignments. These platforms, such as Coursera, Udemy, and Khan Academy, utilize technology to create a more engaging and dynamic learning environment that can adapt to individual learning styles.
  2. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR): VR and AR technologies are revolutionizing the way subjects can be taught by providing immersive learning experiences. For example, medical students can practice surgeries in a controlled, virtual environment, while history students can explore ancient civilizations in 3D. These technologies make learning more interactive and can improve understanding and retention of information.
  3. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Personalized Learning: AI technologies are being used to create personalized learning experiences for students. Algorithms can analyze a student’s learning habits, strengths, and weaknesses to provide customized content, recommendations, and assessments. This level of personalization ensures that students receive support tailored to their needs, making learning more efficient.

Challenges and Solutions

Despite the benefits, distance learning faces challenges such as ensuring engagement, maintaining academic integrity, and providing equal access to technology. Innovative solutions, such as gamification to increase engagement, proctoring software for secure exams, and initiatives to provide devices and internet access to underprivileged students, are being implemented to address these issues.

The Impact of Innovations on Accessibility and Flexibility

One of the most significant advantages of distance learning is its accessibility. Students from any geographical location, with any schedule, can access high-quality education as long as they have internet access. This flexibility allows for a more inclusive educational environment, accommodating learners who might be excluded from traditional education due to physical, financial, or time constraints.

Social Interaction and Adaptation in Learning Environments

The dynamic between social interaction and adaptation plays a crucial role in both in-person and distance learning environments. This aspect of education influences not only academic success but also the development of essential life skills such as communication, teamwork, and empathy. As we delve into this theme, we explore how different learning modalities impact the social aspects of education and the adaptive skills students gain through their educational journeys.

Social Interaction in In-Person Learning

In traditional classroom settings, the daily interactions between students and teachers, as well as among students themselves, are fundamental to the learning experience. These interactions are not just about the exchange of academic knowledge; they also involve the development of social skills, such as negotiation, conflict resolution, and the ability to work in teams. Physical classrooms offer a platform for spontaneous conversation, group projects, and social activities that contribute to a student’s overall personal growth and emotional intelligence.

Challenges and Opportunities in Distance Learning

Distance learning, while providing flexibility and access to a wide range of resources, presents challenges in replicating the social dynamics of a traditional classroom. The lack of face-to-face interaction can lead to feelings of isolation and reduce opportunities for students to develop interpersonal skills through direct engagement. However, this modality also offers unique opportunities for social interaction and adaptation:

  1. Digital Communication Skills: Online learning environments require students to hone their digital communication skills, including writing clearly in forums, emails, and chat groups, as well as engaging effectively in video conferences. These skills are increasingly important in a world that relies heavily on digital forms of communication.
  2. Global Connectivity: Distance learning can connect students from diverse cultural backgrounds, broadening their perspectives and fostering global awareness. Participating in discussions with peers from around the world can enhance cultural competence and empathy.
  3. Adaptive Learning Strategies: The online learning environment demands a higher degree of self-motivation and discipline. Students learn to adapt by managing their time effectively, setting goals, and developing strategies to stay engaged with the material. These adaptive skills are invaluable, preparing students for the challenges of the modern workforce.

Enhancing Social Interaction and Adaptation

Educators and institutions are exploring innovative ways to enhance social interaction and adaptation in both in-person and online settings. Strategies include integrating group projects that require collaboration, using discussion boards and social media to foster community, and organizing virtual meetups and study groups. Furthermore, incorporating elements of gamification and interactive simulations can make learning more engaging and socially interactive.

The post Live or distance learning: what to choose appeared first on Berger.

Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP, Angus MacNeil has seized on newspaper reports today where the Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar has said that he will stand up to Sir Keir Starmer for Scotland.

Commenting Angus MacNeil said:

“Labour have never been very good at standing up for Scotland.  Indeed, Labour are not even standing up for Gaza at the moment despite the murder and genocide of 27,000 people, 15,000 of whom are children. 

“The fact that Mr Sarwar is now saying that he will stand up to Starmer for Scotland indicates that Starmer will not be good for Scotland at all.  This is a departure because whenever I see Mr Sarwar, he is usually following on behind Sir Starmer. 

“The problem for Labour is that they know they take orders from Westminster and whether it is Labour locally or Labour at Holyrood level they don’t stand up for Scotland.  On Wednesday, the few Labour MPs from Scotland can at least stand up for those still alive in Gaza suffering starvation disease and likely Israeli caused famine, by voting for a ceasefire.

“Standing up for Scotland or standing up for anybody clearly is not in Labour’s DNA.”


Monthly Column – February 2024

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

Over a quarter of our local businesses are in retail and hospitality, but we have many other exciting industries here in North Northumberland. One in six is in manufacturing, construction, or utilities, with a further one in seven in professional, technical, IT or financial services – meaning a…

Standing up for Dorney

Joy Morrisey (Beaconsfield)

Fantastic morning out with Parish Councillors in Dorney today talking about important local issues - from speeding to planning!  I’m pleased the Council has put an Enforcement Notice in place to clear Orchard Herbs.  However with an appeal now being lodged, I have written to the Planning…

Long-awaited figures from the Office for National Statistics were published today, with our employment rate every lower than previously thought and at least 200,000 more people out of work due to long-term sickness (now 2.8 million people).

In the House of Commons, I questioned the Secretary of State on the figures and how much his Government’s failure is costing taxpayers every single year.

I then called on him to adopt Labour’s plan to cut waits, roll out breakfast clubs, overhaul jobcentres and get Britain working again.

You can watch my questions below:

The post Liz questions Secretary of State on latest employment figures appeared first on Liz Kendall.

From the famous Barnsley Markets to our award-winning parks and green spaces, I find myself continually captivated by the unique character of our Town and the beauty it contains. Yet, among the many characteristics that contribute to Barnsley’s charm, often overlooked are the diverse dialects that colour our conversations.

Last Friday Robin supported a new Private Members Bill to increase protections for livestock from worrying by dogs. The bill, with Robin's name on it, creates new, separate offences of worrying and attacking, gives authorities extra powers to seize and detain dogs and also means to trace owners.…

Nigel’s February Newsletter

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley)


Dear Constituent,

Welcome to my latest email newsletter to provide you with some updates on what’s been happening both in Parliament and around Amber Valley over the last month since the start of the new year. 

It’s been an eventful couple of months in Parliament, with the passage of the next stage of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill through the House of Commons taking place, which I supported. Locally, in addition to meeting constituents and businesses, one of the key pieces of good news was a visit to Alfreton Station to see the start of step-free access at the station at last!

Alfreton Station step-free access success – work started!

As many constituents know, I’ve long campaigned for the installation of step-free access at Alfreton Station to provide an alternative to the steep steps over the track which are currently the only option for passengers.

After several frustrating delays which I’ve strongly challenged over recent years, I’m really pleased that work has finally started on the installation of the ‘Access for All’ improvement works at the station. This will install two new lifts at the station as well as refurb the existing bridge, and work is set to be complete by 2025. 

A few weeks ago, I met with Network Rail and the project managers at the Station to go through the final plans and designs, but it is now good to see work actually starting. I’ll kep you updated on the project progress over the coming months. 

This is very welcome news, but I know improvements are also needed at Langley Mill Station in this regard, which I will continue to push for. But a positive step for now!

Immigration update – Stop the Boats:

I have understandably received lots of emails from constituents about illegal immigration. This is a concern I wholeheartedly share: there were 52,230 irregular migrants entering the UK last year, 85% of which were via small boats.

The Rwanda asylum plan was introduced by this Government to deter and prevent unlawful migration and in particular migration by illegal routes. Although that plan was temporarily scuppered by the UK Supreme Court, the Government introduced emergency legislation, in the form of the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill, so that the plan could be put into effect legally. Indeed, the Bill provides that Rwanda is a safe country, notwithstanding UK law or any interpretation of international law.

While I supported the Bill through the House of Commons, I believed that the legislation could have gone further. For this reason, I supported the removal of the ability of individuals to block their own deportation through suspensive legal claims. I also voted for an amendment that would have allowed Ministers to ignore European Court of Human Rights injunctions that may prevent an individual being removed from the UK.

In any case, I am pleased that the Bill has been passed through the House of Commons. It is now up to the House of Lords to pass the Bill. I hope that the Lords respect this and pass the Bill quickly, so that the Government can deliver on its policy of stopping the boats.

Recent tax changes:

I welcome the rises in benefits and the state pension, as well as the National Insurance cuts. 

As part of the debate into this, I suggested a policy to make these changes automatic, rather than the need for a bill to come through the House each time. I will continue to support this, and you can read the full debate and my speech in full here

Launch of Property Flood Resilience Grants for residents & businesses affected by Storm Babet:

For residents and businesses who sadly experienced flooding as a result of Storm Babet in October, the Government funded Property Flood Resilience Grant Scheme has now been launched and is being run by the County Council.

This is a grant of up to £5000 for properties for flood-hit homes and businesses to be able to install either flood resilience or adaptation measures. 

You can find out more about the scheme and register for it if you were impacted here

New pharmacy services:

I welcome the launch of the Pharmacy First services, where pharmacists will now be able to provide treatment for severn common conditions without the need for a GP prescription. This includes sinusitis, shingles and earache. In Derby and Derbyshire, 196 pharmacies are included in this, and you can find more details here.

I spoke on this issue in Parliament, and you can find the full debate and my contributions here.

New social housing reforms:

The Government has also announced new measures to crack down on anti-social behaviour by reforming social housing and allocation policies. Proposals include a ban of 5 years for tenants committing anti-social behaviour and new measures to prioritise households with local connections. A consultation into these changes is now open and you can find out more here

APPG for East Midlands update:

The APPG has previously discussed the future of infrastructure in the East Midlands, and the need for investment in this area. Indeed, as Co-Chair of the East Midlands APPG, we conducted an inquiry into the social and economic benefits and opportunities of regional infrastructure investment in the region, which led to us publishing our cross-party report, which can be found here.

I am therefore proud to be sponsoring an event in February that seeks to bring together leaders from local authorities and businesses across the East Midlands along with MPs to discuss these opportunities and next steps. Electrification of the Midland Mainline has also been highlighted as the top rail priority by Transport for the East Midlands (TfEM) which has called on the Government to name the date when work will start on the competing the project, following the publication of their report: The Future’s Electric!

I will update you on the discussions in the coming months.

In the House, I’ve also raised the issue of investment zones. I asked Gareth Davies, a Minister in the Treasury, about the East Midlands Investment Zone, which will provide an economic boost to Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. I was pleased to hear that, in addition to the £9.3 million anchor investment, the Zone will leverage £323 million in private investment and support 4,000 jobs.

BBC East Midlands Politics:

This weekend, on Sunday, I will be on BBC East Midlands Politics talking about a few big issues, including county lines and modern slavery and community pubs. You can watch this on Sunday morning, or catch it afterwards on iPlayer. 

Amber Valley planning/Local Plan update:

Towards the end of last year, Amber Valley Borough Council received a 12 week direction from the Secretary of State due to the Council’s failure to get an adopted and up to date Local Plan in place, which would set planning policy for the area over the coming years and also provide protection from speculative applications and unwanted development.

Amber Valley were named as one of 7 councils nationally who are under-performing in relation to keeping their planning policies up to date. 

It’s disappointing for communities and residents that the Borough Council haven’t made more progress on this, and I raised this in the House with the Minister, which you can find the full details on here. It’s important the Borough Council get a Local Plan in place as soon as possible, which will help protect our area from proposals such as the current controversial application to build 185 new homes off Alfreton hill. I will keep pushing them to make progress on this. 

Finance Bill and Work & Pensions update:

As part of a recent debat on the Finance Bill, I welcomed the Bill’s anti-avoidance clauses, which rightly extend punishments to those who fraudulently or recklessly promote tax avoidance schemes. You can find my full speech here.

I’ve also asked Mel Stride, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps he was taking to reduce levels of fraud and error in the welfare system. Fraud in our welfare system is unacceptable, and I know that constituents are concerned about this issue. I was glad to hear that fraud and error fell by 10% in 2022-23 and the Government is seeking to prevent £2.4 billion of fraud and error by 2024-25. You can watch my question to the Secretary of State 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.

You’re receiving this newsletter because you subscribed to my mailing list.

Would you like to unsubscribe? Unsubscribe from this Newsletter here.

The post Nigel’s February Newsletter appeared first on Nigel Mills MP.

  • The pandemic put huge pressure on the NHS, but the Conservative Government has made good progress on its priority to cut waiting lists, virtually eliminating waits of over two years and cutting 18 month waits by over 90 per cent from their peak – but there is more to do.
  •  That is why Matt has welcomed the Pharmacy First approach, meaning 108 pharmacies across Lincolnshire will be able to treat common health conditions without patients needing to see a GP, freeing up to 10 million GP appointments a year as part of the Conservative Government’s Primary Care Recovery Plan.
  •  By sticking to the plan, the Conservative Government will continue to make progress on improving access to primary care and cutting NHS waiting lists, helping patients to receive the treatment they need more quickly.


Matt Warman MP has welcomed the launch of the Conservative Government’s Pharmacy First approach, helping patients across Boston & Skegness to receive care more quickly through better use of our community pharmacies.

108 pharmacies in Lincolnshire have signed up to Pharmacy First so far, which enables pharmacists to utilise more of their medical skills and training. This will mean that patients across Boston & Skegness can receive treatment for seven common health conditions from their local pharmacy without the need to visit a GP or have a prescription.

Their pharmacist will be able to help with conditions including sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women. Following the assessment, the pharmacist can then supply the prescription-only medicines, including antibiotics and antivirals, to treat the problem.

The new Pharmacy First approach will not only speed up access to essential care for patients, but also help to reduce pressure on local GP services by directing people to more appropriate places to be treated. Backed by up to £645 million, 95 per cent of pharmacies across England have opted-in so far, meaning that patients will be able to receive care more quickly without the need to wait for a GP appointment.

The Pharmacy First approach builds on the other measures outlined in the Primary Care Recovery Plan last spring, including tackling the 8am rush by giving GPs new digital tools and providing more GP staff and more appointments.

In combination, the Primary Care Recovery Plan aims to free up 10 million GP appointments a year by next winter, and give the public more choice in where and how they access care.

The Conservative Government has made strong progress on improving access to primary care including meeting its manifesto pledge to deliver 50 million additional GP appointments since 2019 and recruiting record numbers of doctors and nurses for the NHS.

By sticking to the plan, the Government is delivering on the Prime Minister’s pledge to cut NHS waiting lists, delivering more care in the community and ensuring that patients receive the care they need, when they need it.


Commenting, Matt Warman MP said:

“The pandemic put huge pressure on our NHS services here in Boston & Skegness and as we continue with our recovery, it is essential that patients receive the care they need quickly and easily.

“That is why I am delighted that the Conservative Government has launched the Pharmacy First approach, using the skills of our pharmacists to treat more people in the community without the need for a GP appointment – speeding up their own care as well as reducing pressure on local GP services.

“At least 108  pharmacies have signed up to Pharmacy First across Lincolnshire ensuring that the local people can access care.

“We are sticking with the plan to improve access to care and cut NHS waiting lists, delivering on the Prime Minister’s priority so that that everyone can access the treatment they need.”


Health and Social Care Secretary, Victoria Atkins MP said:

“I’m determined to deliver faster, simpler, fairer access to care for patients, and the expansion of Pharmacy First will mean patients can get treatment for common conditions without needing to see their GP first.

“This is good news for patients and good news for the NHS. It will free up millions of GP appointments per year and mean that patients can get quick and effective treatment from their local pharmacy.

“As four in five people live within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy, for many seeing their local pharmacist will be the easiest option – so this initiative will have real benefits for patients and help cut NHS waiting lists.”

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell)

Dear constituent

I am writing to give you an update about a couple of local matters.

Epsom and Ewell Local Plan

First some detail about what is happening with the local plan in Epsom and Ewell, which the Council is putting together as a blueprint for development in the area over the next fifteen years.

The Council’s original draft plan contained proposals for around 6,000 new homes in the Borough, much of which was to be built on green belt land – particularly  on a large area of farmland, Horton Farm, to the west of Epsom next to Chantilly Way and Hook Road, and on land at Ewell East station.

The plan process was halted ahead of last year’s local elections, and remained paused until shortly before Christmas.

The Council has now decided to press ahead with its plans, and while details of the updated proposals remain confidential, I understand from Councillors in the ruling group that they continue to include substantial green belt development in the area. This is despite the fact that existing brownfield sites can deliver most of what is needed.

The Government has now changed national planning guidelines which allow Councils to exclude green belt land from their local plans, and I do not yet know the rationale behind the Council’s decision not to take this into account and to go ahead with green belt development.

Formal public consultation on the proposals will not begin until later this year, but decisions about the detail of the way forward are being taken much sooner than this.

So I wanted to make you aware of where the Borough has reached in the process. I know there are different views locally about the right way forward, but now is an important moment to make your views known. For those in Epsom and Ewell, you can do so directly with your elected Borough Councillors.

The contact details are at www.epsom-ewell.gov.uk.

You can also contact your local Residents Association. Its councillors form the ruling group on the Council and are the overall decision makers on this.

The contacts are at https://epsomewellra.org.uk

For those of you who live in Ashtead or in Nork and Tattenhams but have views about the future of Epsom, you can make those views known directly to the Council at contactus@epsom-ewell.gov.uk.

Energy Support Scheme

This winter’s appeal for support to help those struggling with high energy bills locally is now well under way. It is being organised through Citizens Advice Epsom and The Good Company, which runs the Food Bank. If you would like to contribute, or perhaps do not need this year’s winter fuel allowance, you can do so via www.justgiving.com/campaign/epsomewellenergysupportscheme

I’d also like to extend my thanks to both Wickes and B&Q, both of whom have made generous contributions of insulating materials to the campaign, which are being used to improve energy efficiency for those people struggling with bills.

Town Twining Fund Raising

Finally the local town twinning Association has started a programme of fund raising events for this year, to continue the close relationship with Chantilly in France. If you would like to be part of their work or attend one of their upcoming events, please contact donna@epsomtwinning.com

I hope this is helpful.

Best wishes


The post appeared first on Chris Grayling.

Anne Marie Morris MP has welcomed the launch of the Conservative Government’s Pharmacy First approach, helping patients across Newton Abbot to receive care more quickly through better use of our community pharmacies. 202 pharmacies in Devon have signed up to Pharmacy First so far, which enables…

Highland Energy Rebate Launch

Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)

In Defence of Our Chalk Streams

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

I spent a fascinating morning at Sparsholt College talking all things chalk streams with locals, experts and scientists, all of whom are focussed on our precious rivers. Convened by the Vitacress Conservation Trust, this annual event is an important forum for us to examine progress on the health of these world renowned waterways. Sadly we were told that the Trust is to be wound up as Vitacress cuts back its funding – which is a big blow. I am in discussion with the Chair to see what can be done to save it.

My team and I have done a lot of work on our local rivers and their ongoing protection. The Anton, Test, Pilhill Brook, Bourne Rivulet have all been on our work schedule and I’m pleased to say progress has been made. There is of course still lots to do, but given how globally significant they are, I will make sure their welfare is a priority concern.

My Weekly Round-up

Christina Rees (Neath)

I attended the National Marine Parks (NMP) Parliamentary launch event. The Blue Marine Foundation (BMF) and 12 partners launched a National Framework and Guidance to support the evaluation of NMPs which offers a common purpose, objectives, and principles, for NMPs to evolve in Britain. The BMF partnership’s vision for NMPs is that they could fulfil a role in re-connecting people with sea and deliver more coherent conservation to benefit nature and coastal communities. Over 80% of people across England, Scotland, and Wales believe it is crucial to protect our ocean, but over 50% perceive the health of the marine environment as poor. The BMF partnership has scoped areas across Britain and found there is an appetite to explore introducing NMPs from Dorset, Argyll, to Pembrokeshire. Read the reports here.

I attended the APPG for Christians in Parliament Chapel service with my dear friend Baroness Anita Gale, which is open to all parliamentarians and staff. The Reading was Psalm 130, and Reverend Mark Harris delivered his interpretation of this Psalm.

As vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coalfields Communities, I attended the meeting to welcome the Minister for Levelling Up, Dehenna Davison MP, so that members of the APPG could ask her questions on our APPG Report “Next Steps in Levelling Up the Former Coalfields”, which we launched in Parliament on 12th June 2023. Specifically, recommendations 1, 2, 9, 10, and 12, which you can read here. The Minister confirmed that the next round of Levelling Up funds would be round 3, reflecting previous rounds, and application bids should be shelf ready to go with no conflict in community input and vision. Representatives pointed out that the round 2 bidding process was very complicated with lots of forms to complete, and it should be simplified. Round 2 had built up expectations in councils that their bids would be approved, councils had spent lots of money to formulate bids, which were rarely granted, and there was a lack of private sector support. Also, when a bid was successful it has to be spent in 18 months, which I pointed out is a very short timeframe compared with former European funding which allowed 7 years, with the option of a 3-year extension. And the financial settlement provided to Wales is not enough to level up the coalfield communities in Wales. The APPG was very well attended by MPs and Peers, plus representatives from Coalfields Communities, including: Trade Unions; Councillors; and the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

As vice-chair of the Climate Change APPG, I attended the roundtable discussion with Dr Steve Pye, Associate Professor at UCL, who spoke about what climate science says about phasing out oil and gas production and his research focusing on net zero pathways, energy system decarbonisation and securing UK energy independence; Tessa Khan, CEO Uplift, provided an overview of the state of UK oil and gas policy, and how transitioning away from oil and gas production can also tackle issues around energy security, and the cost of living crisis; Louise Borrows, Climate and Energy Lead For the Beyond Oil and Gas Coalition (BOGA), who was on a secondment to the Cabinet Office for COP 26 and was joint head of the energy campaign for the UK’s COP Presidency Year. She led the delivery of multiple projects including ending fossil finance, no new coal, methane, and directing the Presidency’s approach to gas, and she successfully cemented and led the “Glasgow Statement” signatories as a government coalition for change; and Darren Proctor, National Secretary of RMT Union, spoke about worker’s views on moving away from oil and gas and how a just transition can happen. See upliftuk.org

The APPG for Steel and Related Metal Industries received an update on the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) from TRA officials: Edward Smith, Investigator; Timothy Sharp, Lead Investigator; and Katherine Newton-McGee, Head of Investigations. The members of the APPG questioned the TRA officials on: how the TRA is reviewing the safeguards, what are they doing and how can steel producers and users contribute to the review; and what are the timelines for the review. The TRA has instigated the review regarding the extension of the UK steel safeguards beyond 30 June 2024 covering the 15 product categories that are currently subject to the measure. The maximum they can be extended is another two years to June 2026, and it is vital that this will be the outcome of the review. UK Steel will be presenting evidence to the TRA, and engaging with the relevant stakeholders to ensure the best outcome is achieved. The TRA preliminary determination will be published in February 2024, and the Secretary of State for Business and Trade will make the final decision by 30 June 2024 on whether to maintain the safeguards for another two years. MPs asked the TRA officers how the economic injury would be assessed, in the context of EU safeguards and whilst US S232 tariffs remains in place. Removing UK safeguards would lead to a huge influx of diverted imports from countries that face much lower energy costs, and benefit from subsidies and other unfair competitive advantages.

Alzheimer’s Research UK is the leading dementia research charity in the UK working to revolutionise the way we treat, diagnose, and prevent dementia. Almost 1 million people are living with dementia in the UK today. One in two of us will be directly affected in our lifetime, either by caring for someone with the condition, developing it ourselves, or both. We are at tipping point. New ways of diagnosing the diseases that cause dementia earlier and more accurately like blood tests for Alzheimer’s disease are showing promise. New treatments that can affect the course of Alzheimer’s disease could be available in the UK in just a few months’ time. New insights are showing how we can reduce the prevalence of dementia in the first place by addressing factors that affect our brain health. I support the charity’s recommendations: to set up a UK cross-governmental strategy for the prevention of ill health to address the health and lifestyle factors that affect our risk of developing dementia; invest in the current diagnostic pathway to make it fit for purpose and fit for the future; ensure new dementia treatments are available on the NHS as soon as possible; and establish the UK as a world leader in dementia research. Contact Alzheimersresearchuk.org 

Western Gateway held a Parliamentary reception to celebrate the launch of its Western Gateway 2050 Rail Vision published earlier this year. The Vision is transformational – connecting local communities at risk of being left behind; deliverable – building on a pipeline of schemes already underway; investable – ready for the public and private sector to enhance communities and add at least £34bn to the UK economy by 2030. The Western Gateway APPG co-chairs Jess Morden MP and the Rt Hon Sir Robert Buckland MP introduced and closed the event. Katherine Bennett CBE, Chair of the Western Gateway, said that the vision is not about asking the UK Government for instant investment, or building a new high speed trainline, it’s a long-term vision supported by cross-party leaders and the Western Gateway APPG, because the region has huge potential to deliver the UK’s sustainable and net zero future economy and unlock a greener, fairer, future. We heard from guest speakers: my dear friend Baroness Debbie Wilcox, who as the former Leader of Newport Council and former leader of the Welsh Local Government Authority who was instrumental in setting up Western Gateway; Huw Merriman MP, UK Government Rail Minister; Louise Haigh MP, Labour Shadow Transport Secretary; Stephen Morgan MP, Labour Shadow Rail Minister; Council Leaders within the Western Gateway Region; and representatives from Transport for Wales, Network Rail, and GWR. Read the vision report here.

I was honoured to deliver the second reading at the annual Service of Thanksgiving for Victory in The Battle of Britain in St David’s Church Neath, which was organised by Neath & Swansea Branches of the Royal Air Force Association (Neath 617 Branch). The first reading was delivered by Louise Fleet CStJ, JP, the Lord Lieutenant of West Glamorgan and the congregation listened to the usual, thought-provoking sermon by our wonderful Avon Nedd Ministry Area Leader, The Reverend Canon Lynda Newman. After the service, we gathered at the Memorial Gates, Gnoll Grounds, to place wreaths in memory of those service people who gave their lives to achieve peace in the world, and play the Last Post, before a minutes’ silence, and Reveille. We Will Remember Them.

As vice-chair of the APPG on Restorative Justice (RJ) I was honoured to be at the launch of our APPG Investigation: Implementing restorative practices in education, health, and social care report authored by our Advisory Board. The report was introduced by the Advisory Board Chairman, and CEO of the Restorative Justice Council, Jim Simon. The investigation focused on the current implementation and impact of restorative practice in non-judicial settings across the UK. The findings and subsequent recommendations are based on the reported experience of restorative practitioners working in education, health, and social care who embraced the opportunity to contribute evidence of their successes and pointed out improvements that could be made. The APPG calls on UK Government to use this report and its recommendations to shape future public policy and develop a cohesive strategy for the long-term implementation of restorative justice. Read the report here. Jim and our APPG chair Elliot Colburn MP will be meeting the UK Government Justice Minister, Ed Argar MP, on 12th September to discuss our report, the benefits of implementing restorative justice, and the Victims and Prisoners Bill. After the meeting they will fully brief the members of the APPG on the outcome of the meeting. Jim outlined details of the first annual Northern Ireland RJC Conference in Belfast on 14/15th September on which he will report back to the next APPG in October. There will also be an APPG Parliamentary Drop In event on 30th October in the Thames Pavilion which will highlight the work of RJC in education, health, social care, and the devolved nations.

I joined the online meeting of the APPG for Child Maintenance Service (CMS) to hear evidence from voluntary organisations, including: Gingerbread; women who have been let down by the CMS; and MPs who receive so much casework from constituents who are suffering because the child maintenance payments that have been agreed following the split up of partners in a relationship, are not being paid by the relevant partner towards the upkeep of the children. The children, and parent who has custody of the children, are struggling to survive without the maintenance payments that they are owed. The CMS was set up by the UK Government in December 2012. There is a £20 application fee, unless the parent or child is a victim of domestic abuse, or the applicant parent is under 19 years old. There are two methods of payment: Direct Pay which can be chosen by either parent with agreement of the other, there is no collection fee; Collect and Pay, whereby the CMS calculates the amount of maintenance due and collects it from the paying parent, and pays it to the receiving parent, but there is a 20% fee for the paying parent on top of the maintenance payments and 4% is taken off the maintenance paid to the receiving parent. In the interests of fairness, the DWP should consider removing the 4% charge from receiving parents. Since set up in 2012 there is £547.9 million in unpaid arrears, i.e 8%. In the last quarter, to March 2023, of UK Government statistics, £237 million was due by Direct Pay, but the DWP does not measure how much of this is unpaid. £72 million was due by Collect and Pay of which £22.9 million was unpaid. In my Neath constituency my excellent and diligent staff have resolved many CMS cases, mostly where the paying parent has disputed the amount of maintenance they have been asked to pay, stating that they can’t afford the payments, and so lapse into arrears, and are not able to make up the arrears amount. The receiving parent raises this with the CMS, and the paying parent is placed on direct payments taken from their wages, but this is not possible if they are paid in cash. If the paying parent receives a below 25% wage increase the CMS will not trigger a change of circumstances to increase the payments. Also, if the paying parent is receiving benefits, they are obliged to only pay the CMS minimum of £7 per week.

I was pleased to support the WI Week of River Action Parliamentary launch event, which kicked off their new Clean Rivers campaign which seeks to tackle river pollution and to promote the designation of more bathing waters. The WI will endeavour to raise awareness of the ecological state of the UK’s rivers and draw public attention to the importance of clean rivers for people and for wildlife in their communities.

I attended another APPG Christians in Parliament Chapel service with my friend Baroness Anita Gale. The Reading was from Mark 1:14-15, and there was a talk by Paul Woolley, CEO of The London Institute of Contemporary Christianity, entitled “Growing confidence: Recovering the Gospel as Good News”.

I supported UNICEF’s launch calling on the UK Government for a Baby and Toddler Guarantee as part of its Early Moments Matter campaign to support families with young children to ensure that babies and toddlers have the best start in life across the UK. UNICEF’s latest research reveals the pressures families with young children are under and how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting children. YouGov polled parents and guardians of at least one child aged 0-4 years old living in Great Britain. Poll findings for Wales (National average in brackets): 79% said the cost of living has negatively impacted their family lives (78%); 65% have struggled with their mental health (61%); 67% believe it’s harder to be a parent now than their parents’ generation (70%); 66% are worried about their child’s future life chances (66%); 55% can’t afford to give their child the life they want (50%); 44% had less time to read, play, cook healthy meals than last year (37%).

I dropped into the ABTA The Travel Association and UK inbound event on potential solutions to improve youth mobility between the UK and Europe. Tourism is a vitally important soft power and a global success story for the UK and youth mobility whether for education, work or travel, makes a significant contribution to both the UK economy and in Neath where in 2019, over 241 jobs were supported by the inbound tourism sector and over 300 jobs were supported by the outbound tourism sector. The youth and student travel market sees 25 million travellers per year; young travellers support over 265,00 jobs in the education sector; and the outward-bound travel industry is worth more than £37.1 billion a year to the UK economy, 1.8% of GDP, supporting 526,000 jobs across the UK. Therefore, it is important for the UK Government to work with the UK tourism industry to reinvigorate youth mobility through expansion of the Youth Mobility Scheme, development of collective passports, and digitisation.

As a vice-chair of the Show Racism the Red Card APPG, it was an honour to attend a meeting with parliamentarians, to promote the 9th annual Wear Red Day #WRD23 which will be held on Friday 20th October 2023, organised by the wonderful Ged Grebby, Founder of Show Racim the Red Card, who works full time to stamp out racism at all levels of society. Racism is abhorrent and I was proud to wear my Show Racism the Red Card red t-shirt and stand in solidarity with campaigners.

As a former chair of the APPG for Sport I supported my dear friend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, the chair of Sport Wales, who hosted a parliamentary event to strive to make the UK the most active nation in Europe. The event was organised by Active Partnerships; CIMSPA; Sport for Development Coalition; Sport Recreation Alliance; Local Government Association; UK Active and the Youth Sport Trust. Currently, the UK is the 11th most inactive nation, and the 3rd highest spenders on healthcare costs associated with inactivity. The sport, recreation, and physical activity sectors’ leading bodies are urgently calling on political parties to commit to making it easier for people to play, move, and be active in any way they choose by ensuring that sport, recreation, and physical activity is accessible and affordable to everyone. We can build a future where: all children are given the best possible start, gaining habits and skills to manage their physical and mental wellbeing, living longer and healthier lives; preventing and improving community health leads to significantly less pressure on NHS and other public services; our streets and communities will be safer, happier, and greener places to be; our economy will be boosted by a healthier workforce that increases productivity and lengthens people’s employment. Turning this vision into reality will not be easy, and will take time, but we believe it can and must be done. We urge the current and future governments to put sport, recreation, and physical activity at the heart of national policy making working closely with the sector and devolved governments of all the Home Nations on a programme of reforms including: building a common evidence base of the benefits to drive better funding; more and better targeting investment to create modern sustainable places and spaces to be active to drive up participation unlocking the power of sport for social good. It was a lovely surprise to meet Emily Reynolds, National Programmes Director, Youth Sport Trust, who is from Glynneath and the daughter of my dear friend Gerry Reynolds. Emily has worked for Youth Sport Trust for over 8 years and was deputising at the event for her CEO, Ali Oliver, who unfortunately couldn’t attend, otherwise our paths may never have crossed, and I would not have had the wonderful opportunity to meet Emily, who I am sure will become a close friend too. Read “Unlocking the Potential” 

I attended the Asthma + Lung UK transport policy Parliamentary event called “putting the brakes on toxic air” and received a briefing on the Cleaner Travel Access Fund (CTAF). We heard that polluting vehicles are fuelling toxic air and the climate crisis, and millions of people are breathing unsafe levels of air pollution. 97% of the UK’s 33 million cars still run on petrol and diesel, releasing pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide into the air. Road transport is responsible for nearly 50% of all nitrogen oxide air pollution. There is no safe level of air pollution but tens of millions across the UK are breathing levels of air pollution that are against the law. Babies, children, pregnant women, older people, and those with existing lung conditions are more vulnerable. Air pollution is costing the NHS and Social Care services millions every year and contributes to up to 43,000 early UK deaths every year. The least responsible for air pollution are often the most exposed. The poorest people live nearest busy roads and worst air pollution levels are in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods, but there is less car ownership in these groups. The CTAF is a scrappage scheme of £777 million aimed at people on low incomes and those whose mobility is affected by long term health conditions to swap their polluting vehicles in exchange for a £3000 grant per household to use public transport, buy active travel, or put towards an electric vehicle.

I attended the Parliamentary launch of a report by the Women’s Budget Group, funded by the Community Justice Fund entitled Gender Gaps in Access to Civil Legal Justice. We listened to guest speakers: Rt Hon Emily Thornberry MP, Labour Shadow Attorney General; Dr Zubaida Haque report author; Isabel Langdale, Project Manager Women’s Homelessness, Homeless Link; and Pamela Fitzpatrick, Director of Harris Law Centre, discuss the findings of the report and what needs to happen to close the gender civil justice gap. The report drew on survey data collected from 115 organisations and services across England and Wales, and explores the gender disparities in accessing civil legal justice, and the pressing needs, barriers, and adverse impacts faced by women. The discussion focused on the types of civil law issues women seek help for, from employment law to family and immigration law, the consequences of the changes in scope including the LASPO Act 2012, and the solutions to help women from all backgrounds. Key findings from respondents include: 85% said vulnerable women are unable to access civil legal aid, 77% said a major consequence of the legal aid changes is women reaching crisis point of problems escalating before they receive legal help or advice, 48% reported domestic violence as a key issue, the most widespread employment law issue is pregnancy/maternity discrimination, and the reduced scope of what is covered by legal aid plus the reduced amount of legal aid available disproportionately affects women. The report’s recommendations included: more research into the impact of LASPO 2012; improving access to legal aid for employment law, thresholds and time limits should be increased; intervene with support sooner to avoid litigation and keep cases out of tribunals; better legal training for solicitors, and embed this in GPs/housing/homelessness/services, and food banks; improve general public legal education at a local level; and more cross-sector collaboration to build on expertise and knowledge and facilitate referrals to legal advisers. Read the report www.wbg.org.uk

I attended a very important event organised by One Million LivesR;ipple, and Make A Difference Media, held during Suicide Prevention Week. One Million Lives is a free mental health check to help you understand how you are currently coping and provide suggestions for building resilience. Checking is important even if you feel well because the sooner you check the earlier you can make changes to stay well. Alice Henry lost her brother Josh in November 2020 to suicide. Josh had been searching for suicide techniques on the internet. Alice set up R;ipple which is a free digital resource for parents, schools, and charities that discreetly intercepts harmful internet searches and signposts to 24/7 free mental health support. Make A Difference Media provides a global learning space for employers looking to embed preventive strategies that will have a sustainable impact on workplace wellbeing, culture, and environment. We learned how vital language matters to avoid perpetuating negative stereotypes about suicide. For example: we must not say commit or committing suicide, because this implies it’s a sin or a crime, rather we should say died by suicide or lost their life to suicide. We must not say you’re not going to do anything silly are you, because you want to show you are not dismissing or making fun of how they are feeling, rather we should say have you been thinking of killing yourself. We must not say successful or unsuccessful suicide, because this implies that suicide is an achievement or something positive, rather we should say lived through a suicide attempt.

I was privileged to be granted a Westminster Hall Debate about Sepsis by Mr Speaker on 13th September which is World Sepsis Day. I began my speech with a tribute to Dame Cheryl Gillan, who tragically died in April 2021. I was extremely surprised and honoured to be asked by Dame Cheryl to take over from her as chair of the Sepsis APPG when she stood down in March 2021. It was a shock to me and most parliamentarians when Dame Cheryl died only a month after I took over as chair. Why did Dame Cheryl choose me? It could be that when I became a member of the APPG in 2017, Dame Cheryl and I had a cup of tea because she wanted to listen to my Sepsis story. I am one of the very fortunate people who contracted Sepsis (in August 2013), and survived. I owe my life to my friend Jen Smith who kept taking me back to the NHS when I didn’t improve after many weeks of not being diagnosed with Sepsis, and the consultant surgeon at the Heath Hospital, Dr John Jones, who correctly identified Sepsis and operated immediately to save my life. I have done my very best to chair the APPG but I have had enormous help from Sarah Hamilton-Fairly and Dr Ron Daniels of the UK Sepsis Trust. Sepsis is a global health concern, and it occurs when the body’s responses to infection causes injury to its tissues and organs. It is not known why some people develop Sepsis in response to infections, whereas others do not. My source of Sepsis remains a mystery. Sepsis is often referred to as the “silent killer” because of its ability to strike swiftly and unexpectedly. In the UK 245,000 cases are reported every year, leading to over 48,000 deaths, and the leading cause of avoidable deaths – more than breast, bowel, and prostate cancer combined. Around 40% of people who develop Sepsis are estimated to suffer physical, cognitive and/or psychological after-effects. Most recover after a few weeks but others develop Post Sepsis Syndrome. One of the biggest challenges is early diagnosis because Sepsis can mimic other common illnesses, with similar symptoms, such as fever, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, confusion, and extreme pain. I suffered with most of these symptoms plus a swollen face, so I was diagnosed with toothache and mouth abscesses. The UK Sepsis Trust has worked tirelessly to educate health care providers and the public to improve early detection. Their “Sepsis Six” care and treatment pathway has been implemented in 96% of hospitals across the UK and in 37 other countries to ensure rapid and effective treatment. But there is confusion amongst clinicians because the Sepsis NICE Guideline NG 51 has not been updated since 2016, despite being scheduled for updated publication in June 2023, and which now conflicts with the position statement from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. I asked the UK Government Under Secretary of State for Heath and Social Care , Maria Caulfield MP, who was responding to my debate, to tell the House: the publication date for the updated NG 51; the model and implementation date for Martha’s Rule, which would give families a right to a second diagnosis, advocated by Martha’s grieving parents because Martha tragically died from Sepsis; if her UK Government would replicate the 10 million Swiss Francs (£9 million) of state funding announced by the Swiss Government for implementing Sepsis improvement over a 5 year period; and would she meet with me, Dr Ron Daniels, and Sarah Hamilton-Fairly to discuss setting up a National Sepsis Register, because unlike data for heart attacks, strokes and cancer, Sepsis data is imprecise, and relies on coded administrative data, rather than granular, clinical, data of patient level registries. The Under Secretary said that The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care was meeting Martha’s family later that day, and she will update members on the outcome and how Martha’s Rule will be implemented; since 2017 the National Institute of Health and Social Care has funded 14 Sepsis research projects with a combined value of £27 million but stressed that further applications would be welcomed; and that she will meet me and anyone I want to bring with me. Before being elected to Parliament in 2015, the Under Secretary was an NHS nurse for twenty years, specialising in cancer research, and I am optimistic that she really understands the issues surrounding Sepsis. On World Sepsis Day we remember those who have lost their lives, and those whose lives have been affected by Sepsis.

I attended the APPG for Drugs, Alcohol and Justice to discuss the role of the voluntary sector in drug and alcohol treatment and recovery. The meeting was so well attended that we need to find a bigger room in Parliament to hold future meetings. We heard from guest speakers: Jess Mullen, CEO, Collective Voice; Dr Roya Vaziri, Medical Director, Humankind; and Michelle Foster, Founder and CEO, The Basement Recovery Project. All speakers described the treatment and recovery projects they have been successfully running, and the parliamentarians and stakeholders had the opportunity to make comments or question the speakers.

MP Marks Wellbeing Week

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Marks Wellbeing Week

Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Debbie Abrahams marked World Wellbeing Week this week by calling for people’s wellbeing to be a key objective of Government, and not just economic growth.

The theme of 2023’s world wellbeing week is anxiety.

Before being elected as the MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, Ms Abrahams was a public health consultant focusing on health inequalities and Chair of an NHS Trust.

Debbie Abrahams MP said:

“World Wellbeing Week is a chance for policymakers to reflect on the centrality of wellbeing in policy decision-making. For too long, policies have chased economic growth at all costs, without considering the importance of the wellbeing of people. Most importantly, we must focus on the equity of this wellbeing – being working 3 jobs while still being poor, cold and hungry will clearly not contribute to people’s wellbeing.

“This year’s theme is anxiety, which is particularly relevant given last week’s rise in interest rates. Constituents across Oldham East and Saddleworth have been in touch with me to express their anxiety about the impact of this on their household finances, and how for many this has increased their anxiety.

“The World Wellbeing Movement has set a challenge to Governments but also local authorities, businesses, schools and individuals to think ‘beyond GDP’ as a success measure, and to look at what gives us fulfilment and enjoyment – our relationships, our green spaces and so on. I hope you can join this movement to a greater enjoyment and fulfilment.”

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Member of Parliament for Beckenham, Bob Stewart, has welcomed the Government’s £48 million investment through the Skills Investment Fund, boosting the rollout of Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) and equipping students from all backgrounds with the high-quality, higher-level skills needed to…

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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.

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 […]

Stephen Metcalfe (South Basildon and East Thurrock)

This website is discontinued. Please visit my new website: StephenMetcalfe.org.uk 

MP meets South Downs farmers

Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs)

Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert met South Downs farmers on Friday (19 January) to discuss the challenges they face as Britain leaves the EU and…

Mhairi Black to Young People: Don’t let the Tories leave you behind

Mhairi Black (Paisley and Renfrewshire South)

A vote for the SNP is a vote to stand up for young people against the Tories, Mhairi Black has said, she urged young voters to use their voice in this Thursday’s election.
In government, the SNP has protected and expanded the Education Maintenance Allowance which has been scrapped south of the border, and has abolished university tuition fees in Scotland while the Tories have increased them to £27,000.

The SNP has also increased the number of Modern Apprenticeships, with a target of 30,000 new starts by the end of this Parliament.

The SNP manifesto commits to a real Living Wage – projected to be just over £10 by the end of the parliament for all workers aged 18 and above – creating a new single adult rate.

SNP MPs will also support a ban on exploitative zero-hours contracts and will support votes at 16 at all elections.

Commenting, Mhairi Black said:

“A vote for the SNP is a vote for a strong team of MPs who’ll stand up for young people – calling for a fair and equal minimum wage, protecting rights in the workplace and votes at 16 in all elections.

“The SNP are already delivering for Scotland’s young people, delivering free university education and with youth unemployment at the lowest level on record – while the Tory vision is just cut after cut.

“The Tories think they can do anything they want to young people and get away with it – from hiking tuition fees to slashing housing benefit for young people and much more.

“That’s why it’s so important that young people turn up and vote – don’t let the Tory government leave you behind.

“Any Tory MPs elected in Scotland will simply rubberstamp whatever the Tory government does to young people, and Labour can’t win this election in Scotland – meaning that voting Labour risks letting Tory MPs in by the back door.

“Now more than ever, it is vital to have strong SNP voices standing up for Scotland. Only then can we protect Scotland from the dangers of an unopposed Tory government at Westminster.”


Here’s how strong SNP voices will stand up for young people at Westminster.

– SNP MPs won’t let the Tories trade away Scottish jobs in the Brexit negotiations – we will work to protect Scotland’s place in the Single Market.

– We will back a transition over the next parliamentary term towards payment of the real Living wage for all adults above the age of 18. This will mean a new single adult rate and will see the UK minimum wage to rise to the real Living Wage, projected to be just over £10.

– We will guarantee the continuation of free university education in Scotland, protecting students in Scotland from paying up to £27,000 of fees.

– In Scotland, we are mitigating the Tory decision to withdraw housing support from 18 to 21 year olds. We will fight for the restoration of this support across the UK, alongside scrapping the Bedroom Tax.

– SNP MPs will look to introduce our own legislative proposals to give 16 and 17 year olds a vote in all elections.

– In Scotland, youth unemployment is already at the lowest level on record. SNP MPs will support the devolution of employment and employability powers so we can extend our successful approach on youth employment.

– To help businesses create jobs, we will propose a doubling of the Employment Allowance – the discount businesses receive on National Insurance when they create jobs.

– We will press the UK government to ban exploitative zero-hours contracts, and to ensure that workers have appropriate rights and protections, including holiday and sick pay. And we will work to ensure that the rights and protections currently safeguarded by EU membership are not diminished.

– We will work to protect opportunities for young people to study and train in other European countries through the ERASMUS+ scheme.

– We will continue to work with Scotland’s universities and institutions to seek clarity from the UK government on what will replace EU research funding for Scotland’s universities.

On being a woman in politics

Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central)

A few things have recently been rattling around in my head which concern women in politics; I've been trying to gather some ideas as to why there aren't more of us, and how I might encourage female candidates to come forward. At the same time, I noticed that the launch of the Counting Women In campaign, couldn't miss the outrageous attack on Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP, and I've been enjoying Winnie Ewing's very readable autobiography. I've also been out on the doorsteps for Ken Andrew in Hillhead.

All of these together really say: the culture of politics in the UK is what's at fault. Women don't think it's for them and just disengage. 

Now, obviously that's a generalisation. I'm a woman, and I'm very engaged in politics. I'm prepared to accept I'm a bit odd.

I chapped on a door the other week while canvassing. I had Alexander with me in the pram. A woman answered, I politely introduced myself and my purpose on her doorstep - she shook her head and told me she wasn't interested. I asked why. She firmly asserted that all politicians are just the same. I asked her if anyone from any political party had ever come to see her with a baby in a pram. She thought briefly, admitted that'd never happened, and sent me on my way. 

I'm not sure whether that experience tells me whether I ought to a) leave the wee man at home or b) work on my doorstep pizzaz, but I bet that woman had opinions on all kinds of things. I don't think she believes them to be particularly political - provision of care services, or bin collection, say - but in the end they're determined by politicians. I want women like her to tell me what she wants and why it matters. More than that, I want women who care about issues to join political parties to further that cause. There are all kinds of causes promoted within the SNP, and I will most likely welcome you in.

I'm sure I've said before that I've always felt welcomed as a woman in the SNP, and that remains true. I'm not sure how Labour men treat women in general (not great by some accounts, which appear to be no barrier to reselection), but they're certainly not great at giving SNP women the respect they are due.

I recalled hearing when Winnie's book came out that she had been bullied while at Westminster. The Scotsman's 2007 interview put it thus:

As the lone SNP member in the Commons - at best an intimidating place for an inexperienced politician - she found herself without friends, without party colleagues, without any supporting structures. She was completely alone. She was hundreds of miles from her husband and her children in an excessively macho and very hostile environment. "I was treated as the enemy, I was shunned and despised. It's a peculiar experience to suddenly find yourself hated. At times I did feel terribly lonely, close to despair." 

Reading the autobiography, you really get a vivid picture of the pressure Winnie Ewing was under as an MP on her own. Her every action was scrutinised; if she didn't attend a debate, the other parties would ensure it got in the papers. The nuances of what said were taken apart. She was under political and personal attack from all sides and, even more sinister, stalked by another MP. Interventions by others had some impact, but it must have been a great emotional strain.

What I didn't know was that when Winnie was appointed as an MEP (pre-democratic elections to Europe), the bad behaviour of two particular Labour bullies continued in the European Parliament when she was alone again, deliberately working to ridicule and undermine her for over a year. By the account in the autobiography, this only ended when the President of the Parliament intervened, threatening to have them withdrawn as being "not fit to represent their country and Parliament in Europe".

You might think that, around forty years later, a female SNP MP might expect some kind of change to have occurred in attitudes, as with wider society. Women are accepted in a range of jobs, universities are gaining majorities of female students, there are innumerable opportunities and directions for careers. And then, there's Ian Davidson MP.

Eilidh has written a revealing article in the Scotland on Sunday - I'd urge you to read the full article, but I think this small quote does illustrate the point perfectly:

"It does not matter that all I had done was disagree with the committee. In fact what inspired Mr Davidson’s remark is utterly irrelevant. There is no action, no misbehaviour that justifies the threat or act of “a doing”. We hear too often of women being told they were “asking for it” in justification for intimidation or violence. I never expected to hear that from an MP in Parliament.

But this is not simply an issue of aggression towards woman; it’s about a culture of intimidation and bullying affecting men and women that seems to flourish with impunity in the Westminster world."

The tragedy is that it's primarily through this Westminster lens that the viewing population sees politics and politicians. They see argument, they see confrontation; they see crowds of boorish suits moaning a weary "hear hear". And they switch off. They say "that's not for me".

They don't see a politician arguing the case with a housing association, trying to help a vulnerable tenant. They don't see someone working on a committee, trying to improve a policy that will help improve children's health. They don't see the joy that is presenting prizes to year groups of school students, with the hope that you can encourage them in that tiny second as you shake their hand. They don't know what a privilege it is to be invited into so many lives and homes, to meet with groups and organisations and offer what help you can.

The work of politics should never be that yah boo nonsense that men excel at and so many women hate. More women should be in politics for the fantastic difference they can make every day.

Made by @davorg / Last built: Friday 01 March 2024 12:36