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Why does government cost so much?

John Redwood (Wokingham)

The costs of running government have escalated whilst the crucial outputs of more and better service have  not risen as we would like. I will look at why in a number of  articles.

One of the reasons is the escalation of the overhead, with more and more management and administration being recruited. Two trends this century that have spurred this process are the moves to so called independent bodies to carry out what remain as government functions, and the overlay of an increasing  number of additional objectives to meeting service needs from net zero targets through diversity targets to behavioural requirements.  These may be desirable in themselves but can become a conflicting overload or impediment to service delivery if not well managed. Carbon reduction targets for example can conflict with the policy need to maintain national energy security and to have more contract gas and electricity at affordable prices from reliable domestic suppliers.  Wanting more legal migrants to fill jobs with a more diverse workforce can lead to greater pressures on social housing and NHS services as the population grows.

The danger of the new models of government are that you can end up with three different managements all running the same bit of service. If we take the  case of NHS England, the Ministers and officials in the Department of Health have a large paybill as if they were running the service, yet they are merely monitoring and supplying resource to the large management cadres of NHS England and the other  national Health quangos. These in turn seek to influence or control the management teams of the NHS Hospital and GP trusts that actually run the service day to day. So there are three public sector layers of senior management. The NHS then contracts in a lot of its needs from the private sector, so taxpayers also end up paying for the management of drug companies, staffing agencies, private care   and pharmacies who provide some of the service.

I have  no issue with sensible buying in and contracting out for drugs, catering services, cleaning and other matters that are well established under Labour and Conservative governments and where the result is better quality and value. I do have an issue with three or four layers of management within the public sector and the contractors, increasing the costs of dealing with each other and increasing the likelihood of blurred accountability.

The idea that a quango like NHS England is an independent body free of Ministerial involvement is not even accepted by its advocates. As soon as anything goes wrong the Minister is called in and is usually blamed. The Minister is rightly held to account in Parliament for the scale of resource , the aims of the service and the success or failure in using the resource well. Rarely does Parliament summon the CEO of the quango and hold her to blame for failure to use resources well, failure to manage staff well or failure to deliver sufficient quality and quantity of care. It is so much easier for all concerned to blame the Minister and blame a lack of money, which of course suits the Opposition in Parliament . As a result we do not get the alleged advantages of independent management, but we do get plenty of extra cost from pretending some of the time that we have this independence  and  that it is better than the people in the department doing the job.

Small Business Saturday

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Today is SmallBizSaturday and I wanted to celebrate some of the fantastic small businesses that make Newcastle so great! I’ve visited many small businesses; all of them offer our city something vibrant and exciting. Make sure you go out and shop independent today!


I spoke to WDL North East, based in Kenton, who offer building and property maintenance services.It was great to hear that 33% of their apprentices this year are women! Need some maintenance help?

 Check them out here: https://wdlnortheast.co.uk


I also visited The Magic Hat Cafe, a Community Interest Company (CIC ) in the City Centre who promote ways to tackle food waste with our schools. They run a cafe with some wonderful looking cakes. They are looking for volunteers to help them in the kitchen and with their outreach programmes.



And off to Blakelaw to visit Mrs T’s Cafe: Mrs T is a Blakelaw legend and her cafe at The Blakelaw Centre is a brilliant small business, serving affordable, nutritious food. It was great to visit them on #SmallBizSaturday!



A massive congratulations to TrilliansRock who have won NewcastleCC‘s Best Small Business People’s Choice award! They’re a really friendly, city centre bar with regular music and a loyal following.



Grainger Market is home to Matthew’s Cheese, a brilliant cheesemonger. I paid a special visit on SmallBizSatUK. They have great cheese and great service.



Leicester West MP Liz Kendall has said that Labour is on the side of small businesses and supporting our high streets during the tenth anniversary of Small Business Saturday.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, SMEs make up 99% of the business population in the UK and create 16 million jobs. Now in its tenth year, Small Business Saturday celebrates this success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and to support businesses in their communities.

Small businesses are facing huge challenges with their business rates, a struggling economy, soaring energy costs and supply chain issues.

Labour have said they recognise the support that small businesses need not only to survive but to thrive. The party has pledged to cut and eventually entirely scrap business rates, replacing them with a new form of business taxation fit for the 21st Century.

After visiting Crosscut, an award-winning creative video agency based at the Innovation Centre at De-Montfort University, Liz Kendall said:

“It’s great to support this tenth anniversary year of Small Business Saturday. Small businesses in Leicester West do so much to enrich our community, providing jobs, training and driving economic growth.

Innovative businesses like Crosscut have great potential to grow and create more jobs but the last few years have been incredibly tough on small businesses and now they are being clobbered with unfair business rates, supply chain issues and soaring energy costs.

Labour understands the support that small businesses in Leicester need, and this is why Labour will make online giants pay their fair share of tax and introduce an annual business rates revaluation, with savings passed on to small businesses immediately.

We will carry out the biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation, supporting our small businesses while balancing the playing field between bricks and mortar businesses and online giants.

We will also support the self-employed, who are a crucial part of our pro-worker, pro-business agenda, by extending protections including the right to sick pay.

Local businesses like Crosscut in Leicester West want a reliable partner in government that will listen to their concerns and take real, practical steps to help them thrive. Labour has a plan that will make a real difference for business owners looking to get on, both immediately and in the long-term.”

Duncan MacLeod, Joint Director of Crosscut, said “Crosscut has recovered well since the pandemic, increasing our staff numbers and turnover despite the squeeze on the economy.

“The main challenge facing us is competing with larger tech companies. It would be good to see small businesses based entirely in the UK get some tax-relief towards investing in equipment and staff training as we usually find that the East Midlands is overlooked for any sort of technology support. The film and TV talent of the East Midlands need to be championed more.”

Leicester West MP Liz Kendall has said that Labour is on the side of small businesses and supporting our high streets during the tenth anniversary of Small Business Saturday.    

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, SMEs make up 99% of the business population in the UK and create 16 million jobs.  Now in its tenth year, Small Business Saturday celebrates this success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and to support businesses in their communities.  

 Small businesses are facing huge challenges with their business rates, a struggling economy, soaring energy costs and supply chain issues.  

Labour have said they recognise the support that small businesses need not only to survive but to thrive. The party has pledged to cut and eventually entirely scrap business rates, replacing them with a new form of business taxation fit for the 21st Century.  

After visiting Crosscut, an award-winning creative video agency based at the Innovation Centre at De-Montfort University, Liz Kendall said:  

“It’s great to support this tenth anniversary year of Small Business Saturday. Small businesses in Leicester West do so much to enrich our community, providing jobs, training and driving economic growth. 

Innovative businesses like Crosscut have great potential to grow and create more jobs but the last few years have been incredibly tough on small businesses and now they are being clobbered with unfair business rates, supply chain issues and soaring energy costs.  

Labour understands the support that small businesses in Leicester need, and this is why Labour will make online giants pay their fair share of tax and introduce an annual business rates revaluation, with savings passed on to small businesses immediately. 

We will carry out the biggest overhaul of business taxation in a generation, supporting our small businesses while balancing the playing field between bricks and mortar businesses and online giants.  

We will also support the self-employed, who are a crucial part of our pro-worker, pro-business agenda, by extending protections including the right to sick pay.  

Local businesses like Crosscut in Leicester West want a reliable partner in government that will listen to their concerns and take real, practical steps to help them thrive. Labour has a plan that will make a real difference for business owners looking to get on, both immediately and in the long-term.”   

Duncan MacLeod, Joint Director of Crosscut, said “Crosscut has recovered well since the pandemic, increasing our staff numbers and turnover despite the squeeze on the economy.   

“The main challenge facing us is competing with larger tech companies. It would be good to see small businesses based entirely in the UK get some tax-relief towards investing in equipment and staff training as we usually find that the East Midlands is overlooked for any sort of technology support. The film and TV talent of the East Midlands need to be championed more.”  

The post Labour sets out stall to support small business in Leicester this Small Business Saturday appeared first on Liz Kendall.

2 December 2022
Dunne Encourages Early Post for Christmas

South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne has urged local residents to post gifts and cards early this Christmas in response to planned industrial action by postal workers.

As a result of CWU strikes, Royal Mail have brought forward its Latest Recommended Posting Dates to help manage the expected impact over the festive period. The CWU intends to take further industrial action on 9, 11, 14, 15, 23 and 24 December.

The changes to Latest Recommended Posting Dates are designed to help the Company keep mail moving in the run up to the Christmas period when mail volumes are higher.

With the threat of more planned CWU strike action across the UK, Royal Mail continues to deploy a range of contingency plans to keep communities, businesses and the country connected throughout the CWU’s ongoing industrial action.

Philip Dunne said, “Christmas is a busy time with many planning to send Christmas cards and presents to friends and family by post. To ensure they arrive in time for Christmas Day, please ensure you take note of the new Latest Recommended Posting Dates below”.


Old Date

New Date

2nd Class

2nd Class Signed For

Royal Mail 48

Monday 19 December

Monday 12 December

1st Class

1st Class Signed For

Royal Mail 24

Tracked 48


Wednesday 21 December

Friday 16 December

Royal Mail Tracked 24

Thursday 22 December

Monday 19 December

Special Delivery Guaranteed

Friday 23 December

Wednesday 21 December




Greece, Eastern Europe  (except Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia) and Turkey


Friday 9 December

Saturday 3 December

Czech Republic, Finland,  Italy, Poland, Sweden, USA and Canada


Saturday 10 December

Monday 5 December

Austria, Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland  

Monday 12 December 

Wednesday 7 December

Belgium, France, Luxembourg

Wednesday 14 December

Friday 9 December


Attleborough and Snetterton Business Forum

George Freeman (Mid Norfolk)

2 December 2022
Attleborough and Snetterton Business Forum

Gutted as Duty Minister in the House not to be able to join the Attleborough and Snetterton Business Forum breakfast event this morning at Banham Zoological Gardens in person – but great to join by video link to talk to local SMES about the economy.

Local businesses, particularly SMEs, are the real engine of the Norfolk, and national, economy – and, having had a fifteen year career as an entrepreneur myself helping small businesses grow before coming to Parliament, and now being in my third stint as a minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, I have always been deeply committed to speaking up for this key sector and representing their views and concerns in Parliament.

On the day before Small Business Saturday, it was fantastic to have a Q+A with those in attendance and I look forward to following up and staying in touch with many of them in the weeks and months ahead.

To find out more about how I ‘Back Local Business’, please visit my website here.

The City of Edinburgh Council Leader Cammy Day has officially opened a revolutionary new City Operations Centre.
Royal Mail is asking its customers to post earlier than usual for Christmas this year The Company is bringing forward its Latest Recommended Posting Dates to help manage any impact from planned strike action by the CWU during the festive season Royal Mail continues to deploy contingency plans to…
I know that there has been considerable discussion over the past week about the use of hotels in Banbury for asylum seekers. The Home Office is required by law to provide accommodation for asylum seekers who would otherwise be homeless. They have a statutory duty to make sure it is decent, safe and…

My weekly 🎥 update 👇

Maria Miller (Basingstoke)

Record numbers of NHS doctors and nurses

Brendan Clarke-Smith (Bassetlaw)

Brendan Clarke-Smith MP welcomes 2,415 new doctors and nurses for NHS in East Midlands Press Release Date: 02/11/2022 Recently released figures show that a record number of doctors and nurses are now working in the NHS in England – with the Conservative Government on track to deliver on its…
Graham Stuart, Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, planted a tree today at Beverley St Nicholas Primary School as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy. The Queen’s Green Canopy is a new Government initiative which launches today with a commitment to provide almost half a million pounds to…

IT’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Christmas. 

Every year, I look forward to Christmas lights going up, digging tinsel out of the cupboard, and spending time with friends and family (oh, and mince pies…).

One of the best parts of being a Member of Parliament is getting to go along to the various Christmas events which pop up every year right across Tameside.

Last weekend, I went along to Christmas Fairs being held at Victoria Park Community Centre and St Mary’s church and was given the honour of leading the Christmas Tree switch-on on the Civic Square.

I also went over to St George’s Community Centre in Dane Bank and helped Lyle make his lantern for the children’s lantern parade to Denton West End Community Library.

It was a fantastic weekend and I’d like to say a huge thanks to everyone who played a part in organising these events. Your work is really appreciated and brings so much joy to local people.

Even Scrooge himself would be struggling not to crack a smile at the Christmas spirit currently on display in Tameside.

I’m not just talking about decorations and festive fairs. I’m also talking about the inspiring local people looking after those in need over the Christmas and winter months.

For many families, Christmas will feel a little different this year. I know that the impact of the cost-of-living crisis is being felt acutely here in Tameside, and many people are really worried about what the future holds.

With that in mind, it’s fantastic to see volunteers manning food banks and community pantries across Tameside, as well as helping with annual initiatives like the Tameside Toy Appeal.

If you feel like you need support over the winter months, please visit https://www.tameside.gov.uk/healthyeatingandnutrition/foodbanks

The post The power of community at Christmas – my article for the Tameside Correspondent appeared first on Andrew Gwynne MP.

North Aldridge Neighbourhood Watch Article

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

I am delighted to be able to contribute to this edition of the Aldridge North Neighbourhood Watch Magazine.

Since I last wrote for the magazine at the beginning of March we have indeed been living through unprecedented times.   Covid-19 has brought many challenges to us as individuals, as families and as communities and we have endured some of the most draconian measures as a nation in peacetime as we seek to fight the battle against this virus.

I know that for many people the lockdown brought hardship and social isolation. Our natural instinct as human beings is to socialise and mix with our friends and family, and yet a major requirement in the battle to flatten the peak of the pandemic required us all to stay at home so that we could protect our precious NHS, and the lives of our loved ones, friends and neighbours.

However, if I were to take one thing from the lockdown it is the increased sense of neighbourliness we have seen, whether it was the Thursday night ‘Clap for Carers’ or the extra mile so many have gone to, in supporting others with either a friendly word, a phone call or a helping hand.

Right across my constituency I have been touched by the generosity of so many people who have helped others, and not least the on-going work of the Neighbourhood Watch in supporting its members and the wider community. Thank you to you all.

And now, at the point of writing this article, the rate of infection for Covid-19 has regrettably increased and new measures including the ‘Rule of 6’ have now been implemented in law to ensure that we protect ourselves and the wider community from this indiscriminate disease.   My message to everyone is to continue to follow the rules and the guidance, and stay safe.

Turning to other local matters, it was regrettable that during lockdown in Aldridge we had a number of Unauthorised Traveller Encampments. Several constituents contacted me and I worked closely with Walsall Council to ensure that the encampments were removed and the sites cleared at the earliest opportunity.  As a result of these latest Unauthorised Encampments I wrote to the Home Secretary, the Rt. Honourable Priti Patel MP to request an update on the Government’s consultation to strengthen the law to deal with this issue. I have been assured that the Government remain committed to action on this issue.

I am also very aware that throughout lockdown and the broader Covid-19 response, our local Police have been at the forefront of dealing with the pandemic, and they deserve our sincere thanks.   This has further reinforced my belief in the importance of local Neighbourhood policing, and that our local Police force need to retain a local base in our area. I have therefore once again written to the Police and Crime Commissioner about his plans to close Aldridge Police Station.

Whilst I have been assured that no decision to close Aldridge Police Station will be taken before next year’s Police and Crime Commissioner election, I will be continuing to follow this very closely.  I remain firmly of the belief that no decision should be taken without a full and proper consultation, and furthermore, that there must be a continued base for our local officers.   Local police stations are at the very heart of responsive community policing, and that includes here in Aldridge.

I once again want to reiterate my sincere thanks to everyone involved with the Aldridge North Neighbourhood Watch for all that you do to help keep our local community safe.  Take care and stay safe.

Fed Up with Footie Politics

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

The World Cup is our greatest sporting event after the Olympics. It’s usually played in May/June and often an excuse for a few days off work or last-minute purchases of giant TVs.

This year it’s in a very hot Qatar just before Christmas, but the weather’s not the only problem. The tournament’s mired in controversy with major sponsors Budweiser banned from selling their beer outside stadiums just before it started, and Harry Kane prevented from wearing his One Love armband.

My Tory colleague, Solihull MP Julian Knight, has criticised Gary Lineker for being woke, which used to mean being alert to racism but now seems to mean any view not supported by right-wing commentators or politicians.

The Iranians are demanding Jurgen Klinsmann’s head for accusing them of cheating and Qatar’s no place to show support for the LGBT+ community.

It’s hard to focus on football with all this happening but England got off to a flier with a 6-2 thrashing of Iran. Wales put in a decent shift against USA to earn a draw but then collapsed to Iran while England struggled against a more able American side than was expected. They looked far better when a certain Jack Grealish came on.

By the time you read this Wales and England will both have had their fates determined by meeting in their final group game and the USA and Iran will be hoping football rather than diplomatic incidents made the news.

Birmingham is well represented at this World Cup with four Villa players, including Martinez and Cash, and two Blues stars, Bielik and Mejbri. In fact, there are 26 players from across the English Championship which probably says something about the strength of that league.

I wouldn’t have given Qatar the World Cup but even I’m fed up with the politics and would settle for some good old-fashioned footie that would allow me to cheer, spill my beer and shout at the telly. Come to think of it the Lionesses could teach these guys a thing or two.

Keynote Speech - European Data Summit 2022

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

0935hrs (CET) Friday 2 December 2022, At the Representation of the European Commission in Germany, Unter den Linden 78, Berlin. Thank you to Dr Pencho Kuzev and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation for inviting me to speak at this European Data Summit. I have been pleased to attend numerous meetings organised by the Foundation in my […]

Potential heart attack and stroke victims in South Lakeland are waiting an average of 29 minutes and 3 seconds for an ambulance to arrive, shocking new figures have revealed.

The data was obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the Liberal Democrats, who are calling for urgent action to tackle local ambulance delays.

The figures show that the NHS target of 18 minutes for Category 2 ambulance calls, which covers urgent incidents like strokes and potential heart attacks, is being badly missed in South Lakeland.

Ambulance delays have also significantly worsened in recent years, with the average response time increasing by 44% for Category 2 calls since 2019.

The average response time for Category 1 calls, which are the most urgent and life-threatening, was 11 minutes and 54 seconds, up 25.93% since 2019.

Tim is backing the Liberal Democrat's five point plan to support local ambulance services, which would see a paramedic recruitment campaign and improvements in social care to reduce pressures on hospital beds.

Tim said: "Behind these figures are devastating stories of pensioners left stranded for hours, or families in the South Lakes watching a loved one die before a paramedic could reach them.

"Paramedics on the frontline do an incredible job day in day out, looking after people in their time of need. But our overstretched local NHS services are collapsing under the strain of years of neglect under this Conservative government.

"The Liberal Democrats have provided a clear plan to tackle these shocking delays and make sure ambulances reach people on time in an emergency. That means addressing workforce shortages, fixing the social care crisis and ending the shortage of hospital beds, all of which are leaving patients in ambulances stuck outside A&E for hours."


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

My Weekly Round-up

Christina Rees (Neath)

There were many Urgent Oral Questions (UQs) and UK Government Ministerial Oral Statements in the Chamber.

UQs included: Migration Update; Iran Treatment of Protesters, and Statements included: UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali; Missile Incident in Poland; Social Housing Standards; G20 Summit in Indonesia; and The Autumn Statement: Chancellor of the Exchequer.

I also attended many events outside the chamber. I dropped into “Bringing Tomorrow’s Science to today’s NHS: Cell and Gene Therapies” which advocated keeping the UK at the forefront of global access to revolutionary cell and gene therapies. These are transformative types of medical treatments which may aim to restore the normal function of missing or faulty sets of cells and genes. And treat the root cause of diseases and disorders by augmenting, repairing, replacing, or regenerating organs, tissues, cells, genes, and metabolic processes in the body. These revolutionary treatments can have life changing and life saving potential for patients with previously incurable diseases, for example, severe combined immunodeficiency disorder, spinal muscular atrophy, and lymphomas. I support the call for the UK Government to bring different parts of the system together and ensure patients gain the earliest possible access to forthcoming cell and gene therapies.

I attended the “Famine in East Africa Cannot Wait” event hosted by 12 charities. Over 21 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia face acute hunger, more than double the number who experienced acute hunger in the 2011 drought, when more than a quarter of a million died. Currently, 1.8 million children in the region are severely malnourished due to ongoing drought. Climate change shocks have contributed to people already facing poverty, conflict, weak social protections, destroyed food and income sources, so food is hard to find and money to buy food is minimal. But are responsible for a mere 0.1% of global emissions. The UK Government should commit funding to local communities, in advance of anticipated crises, deliver UK climate change targets, support a financial facility to address loss and damage.

The EGM of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Sport elected Kim Leadbeater as chair, and I was elected vice chair, along with my dear friends, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Lord Addington, and Baroness Amanda Sater. Molly Hartill represented the Sport and Recreation Alliance who continue as secretariat for the APPG.

As vice chair of the APPG for the Environment I supported its event to launch its first published report, “The 10 point plan for climate and nature“, which is a cross-cutting report providing UK Government with a menu of policies to reach net zero by 2050 and to restore nature by 2030.

I dropped into the Law Commission’s launch of its report “Celebrating Marriage: A New Weddings Law” hosted by the Association of Independent Celebrants Ltd (AOIC), which proposes a move to an officiant-based system for marriage ceremonies in England and Wales. The report calls for regulation of the officiant not the venue, and universal rules for all weddings. The AOIC wants to provide celebrants with the support, Continuous Professional Development, and resources they need to create truly special ceremonies for every one of their clients. The UK Government has 6 months to provide an interim response and a full response within 12 months. If the UK Government accepts the Law Commission proposals, it will introduce a Bill to make it law.

I attended the Bhopal Gas Disaster event hosted by my friend Navendu Mishra MP to raise awareness of the tragedy that took place 38 years ago and was the worst industrial catastrophe in history, when 25,000 people were killed in the event or later of their injuries, and 120,000 remain seriously ill with no hope of being cured. I pledged my support to the “Action for Bhopal” groups who have been campaigning for justice for the victims of the tragedy.

I joined the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) Justice meeting for updates from the Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers (POA); His Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) Common Platform; Police Federation; the National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO); and University and College Union (UCU). The POA is campaigning for MPs to support its call for a Royal Commission on Prisons and the Wider Criminal Justice System. The UK Government promised this in its 2019 manifesto and Queen’s Speech but have not yet delivered. It is needed now more than ever because prisons have changed from being places of support and rehabilitation to engines of criminality and have not recovered from 12 years of Tory austerity. The POA plan to publish a series of documents looking at different parts of the prison system and will highlight previously transformative accepted recommendations that have not been implemented. The HMCTS roll out of the Common Platform (CP) courts case management system has been a disaster, causing high levels of staff stress, impacting on the timeliness and quality of delivery of justice. The roll out was paused by the Senior Presiding Judge in August 2021 and this was followed by a 10 week testing phase in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, and Hertfordshire. The CP is supposed to be a shared interface between all criminal justice process users where all details of a case can be entered, recorded and accessed as appropriate by each agency. PCS warned from the start of the roll out in September 2020, that the CP is flawed because it is unfeasible for Legal Advisors and Court Associates to digitally record the outcome of cases in real time without the assistance of administrative staff, and all criminal courts are not the same. Crown courts are different from Magistrates courts, where for legal reasons, charges and indictments are drafted in different ways. The PCS maintain that the CP is not fit for purpose, for example, last week in Cardiff Crown Court, Judge Jeremy Jenkins stated he was unable to proceed with a case after he and a prosecuting barrister could not work out from the CP which offences a defendant had pleaded guilty to and which he had asked to be taken into consideration. The judged told the court it was the fault of the IT system, which is supposed to assist not do the opposite. The CPS are now using their own case management system in preference to the CP, and the Lord Chief Justice has admitted the CP has a lot of technical problems. The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) launched a campaign #SimplifyDG6 last August after the Attorney General’s Review of Disclosure was made public. The Review, published in May, recognised some of the shortcomings in the CPS Disclosure Guidance 2021 leading to significant pressure on police officers regarding submission of police files to the CPS for charging decisions, but failed to make recommendations to mitigate.

The campaign resulted in the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) engaging quickly with PFEW, and produced revised Joint Principles for Redaction, plus the inclusion of Ben Hudson, chair of Police Federation National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF) on the National Disclosure Improvement Board. However, even though the revised guidance will reduce the redaction burden on police officers whilst complying with the legal framework, the current requirement for personal data needs amending so that the police can share data with the CPS, and remove the requirement for redaction until after cases have been charged, freeing up thousands of police officers hours, allowing them to be in their communities.

The National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) updated us about the continuing staffing and workload crisis in the Probation Service. A decade ago officers were on the equivalent salary of a Police Sergeant but today it’s comparable to a Constable. Stress related absences are at a record high of 40%, with many suffering severe mental health issues. This poses a direct risk to public safety, with a recent HMIP report warning that very little meaningful rehabilitation taking place with clients.

The University and College Union (UCU) Prison Educators updated us on the negotiations between the four main prison education providers: Novus, Milton Keynes, People Plus and Weston College. Novus staff balloted to strike in October, but after talks at ACAS, accepted the improved pay and conditions offer where the lowest paid receive 8.4% and most members receiving 5-6%, and the pay review will move from November to April 2023. Milton Keynes staff accepted a pay increase of £1500 for staff up to £33,000, £1000 for staff over £33,000, capped above £66,000, backdated to 1st July 2022. People Plus staff accepted an improved offer of £4.5%. Weston College agreed a pay deal averaging 3.5%. But the Prison Education Service should set unified pay scales for all its staff.

I was very honoured that my Shark Fins Private Members’ Bill, which will ban the import and export of shark fins which have been cut off sharks whilst they are still alive, and the sharks are then thrown back into the sea to die a horrendous death, passed through its Committee Stage with a unanimous vote. My Bill now progresses through the House of Commons to its Report Stage, which will be held on Friday 20th January 2023. It was wonderful to have cross party support from all members of the Committee. There were some excellent interventions from Tracey Couch MP, Kevin Foster MP, Virginia Crosby MP, and Peter Dowd MP. The opposition spokesperson for the SNP, John McNally MP, and the official opposition spokesperson, Alex Sobel MP, extolled the very positive progress that my bill will make to improve marine animal welfare. And the Under Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rebecca Pow, pledged UK Government support for my Bill at Committee Stage and at the forthcoming Report Stage. She said that her UK Government are determined to get banning the import of shark finning into and from the UK into law.

I was among many MPs and Peers who supported the PCS “Care 4 Calais – Safe passage for refugees: humane alternative to the Rwanda policy” report launch chaired by Olivia Blake MP with guest speakers including Lord Alf Dubs. The UK Government announced in April 2022 that they intended to send asylum seekers to Rwanda in an attempt to deter people from making the journey across the English Channel, and since this was announced the numbers have hit an all time high. The policy’s legality is being challenged in the courts. The report sets out the case for a Safe Passage Visa which would allow people a travel visa so they can cross the channel safely and so wouldn’t risk their lives, and break the traffic smugglers’ business model. On arrival in the UK they would seek asylum under the normal asylum procedure and if they fail to satisfy the requirements their claims would fail. A similar system was set up in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and there has been no case of a Ukrainian crossing the Channel in a small boat or drowning. The PCS has called for a quicker and more efficient asylum application system process that would reduce the expense of refugees staying in UK hotels and rented accommodation at taxpayers expense. This could be spent on a better system. The report also calls for reform of immigration detention centres.

I dropped into the “Tackling Gambling Stigma” project which highlighted the feelings of guilt and shame that stop people seeking help for difficulties through gambling, which is made worse by the way gambling harm is seen by the public, media, and policy makers, who often hold negative stereotypes about it. This stigma leads to discrimination in how gambling is dealt with in regulations, financial services, health services, and the justice system. The project is an online resource of the stories of those affected by gambling harm, which is a multi-media website to help others understand through reading, listening, and watching people share their life experiences.

As a vice chair of the APPG for Music, it was a pleasure to support my friend Kevin Brennan MP, who is the chair, at the “Establishing meaningful change in the UK music industry” session delivered by Roger and Cherise of Black Lives in Music (BLIM). Roger told us he has been involved in teaching music for 32 years and the barriers to progression for black and diverse people are still the same today. BLIM has 85 partners in the UK and been collating data. The evidence is that the problem is endemic, including lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem. Paulette representing the Music Industry, said that black people are often stereotyped into music that the record companies think they ought to be performing e.g. Reggae. And some have had to change the type of music they want to play in order to get a contract, which causes mental health issues. BLIM want to move from talking to action. Shingy of the Noisettes spoke eloquently about her journey as a diverse artist. She has written the official anthem for the Africa World Cup team.

The PM made a Statement on the G20 Summit in Indonesia, but started by saying that Russia once again has shown its barbarity by launching over 80 missiles at innocent people and infrastructure in Ukraine, and he will stand with Ukraine in the face of Russian criminal aggression. Almost all G20 members declared “today’s era must not be one of war”, and will uphold International Law, and the global economy. Two thirds of Ukraine wheat goes to developing countries, and Russia must not stand in its way.

The Chancellor presented his Autumn Budget. I’ll concentrate on his pledge to provide £1.2 million in Barnet Consequentials to Welsh Government, and what this really means. After 12 years of UK Conservative Government and a decade of austerity, the UK is in deep recession and households are facing the biggest fall in living standards on record. The Autumn Statement was a missed opportunity to give hard-working public sector workers a much-needed inflation-matching pay rise. Additional funding for the Welsh Government of £1.2bn over two years will not fill the gaps. Wales’ settlement over the three year spending review 2022-23 to 2024-25 is still lower than expected in real terms. The impact of inflation means it is £3bn lower in real terms and up to £12bn lower next year. As a result of UK Government post-EU funding arrangements Wales has a £1.1bn shortfall for structural and rural funds. Working-age benefits will be uprated by inflation next year but will still be below real value by 6% of pre pandemic levels, £500 per year for an average out of work claimant, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies. The Resolution Foundation claims that had wages grown at the same rate before the financial crisis of 2008, they would be £15,000 higher now. The Welsh Government will work through social partnership structures and bring together trade unions, employers, and deliver the best possible outcomes within the funding it has available.

I attended the Young People & The Future of Cooperation in Europe Conference organised by Cwmpas held in the Norwegian Church and Techniquest, Cardiff. The two day conference brought together young cooperators from all over the world to discuss themes including: exploring cooperative perspectives; inspiring a new generation to cooperate; young people and entrepreneurship through a cooperative lens; cooperative solutions for the energy crisis and green transition; Cooperatives Europe Strategy Workshop; and Cwmpas Showcase. Derek Walker, Chair of Cwmpas welcomed all cooperative delegates. Speakers included: Dawn Bowden MS, Deputy Minister for Arts, Sports & Chief Whip; Susan Westhausen, President of Cooperatives Europe; Huw Thomas, Leader of Cardiff Council; Ana Aguirre, President of ICA Youth Committee; Rose Marley, Co-ops UK; George Kokkinidis and Peter Bloom, Essex University; Pete Westall and Amelia Crews, Mid-Counties Cooperative; Lesley Williams, Welsh ICE; Elsa Brander and Emma Pedersen, Kooperationen project Orexund. The President of Co-op France, Jean-Louis Bancel, spoke about the future challenges facing world cooperators. Cwmpas was showcased by Derek Walker, Glenn Bowen, Martin Downes, Catherine Evans, and other staff who made this conference a wonderful experience for all delegates and guest speakers.

It was a privilege to speak with the Cubs of Clydach – 2nd Swansea Valley Scout Group about being a Member of Parliament and how this fits in with different levels of government in Wales. The 16 cubs were very knowledgeable about democracy and asked me some very probing questions. I described Oral Questions and debates in the Chamber; Westminster Hall debates; APPGs; drop-in events; and Committees. We also discussed wide ranging topics from climate change to animal welfare, tax and welfare benefits, and Veganism. My thanks to Neath’s Finest Cub Scout Leader Noel Davies for arranging my visit which was thoroughly enjoyable and I’m pleased that all Cubs received their Democracy Badges.

I joined the University and College Union (UCU) Rising “Enough is Enough” Picket Line at Swansea Bay University. Striking is always a last resort and UCU members do not want to harm student’s education, but management have left them with no choice but to defend pay, pensions and conditions. They are striking because pay has been cut by 25% since 2009; employers have offered just 3%, which a massive cut relative to inflation; USS pensions have been cut by 35%, despite the scheme being in surplus; overwork, insecurity and poor pay impact student’s learning. They are asking for a fair pay deal; closing equality pay gaps; elimination of casualisation; action on workloads; restoration of USS pension benefits; and a new valuation of USS pension scheme. Employers ended 2020-21 with £2.4bn more in the bank than they started with, but have not invested in staff, and the people running universities are paid more than £500,000 plus expenses each. There was massive support on the picket line from staff and students, despite the poor weather.

I joined the Royal Mail Picket Line at Neath Sorting Office. The Royal Mail Group (RMG) made record profits of £758m in May 2022, but allege they are losing £1m per day. Dave Ward, General Secretary of CWU, says that the RMG CEO and its Board have not acted with transparency nor integrity in dealings with the CWU since the beginning of 2022, and are not interested in building a sustainable Royal Mail that serves our communities. Careless mistakes and an unwillingness to listen to the workforce has led directly to the RMG announcing 10,000 job losses, which the CWU can’t accept and would be disastrous for the service. The RMG has not explained: why it walked away from the “Pathway to Change” agreement dealing with the decline in parcel volume and expanding the role of postal workers; prioritising handing £567m to shareholders rather than supporting its workers; why they pressed on with unagreed and unacceptable changes which inevitably led to a national dispute; renaming the Royal Mail company “International Distributions Services PLC”. RMG may be considering approaching the UK Government to end 6 day deliveries. Postal workers and Royal Mail connect communities in a way no other service does, and are part of the social fabric of the UK, serving 32 million addresses on a daily basis. Royal Mail can continue to be a major contributor to the British economy and provide secure well paid jobs whilst modernising, but this can only happen if the Board agree an alternative business approach that can leverage the unique competitive advantage afforded to Royal Mail alongside diversification of new services and products.

I dropped in to the Vale of Neath Trussell Trust Foodbank at Peniel Church Glynneath and met the wonderful volunteers who work tirelessly and compassionately to help those families facing the cost of living crisis. My sincere thanks to Phil and his dedicated volunteers.

On White Ribbon Day, I continued to campaign to end violence against women and girls. We must work together to make sure that this horrific evil ends. Everyday we have a duty to stand up and ensure women and girls are protected against mental and physical abuse.

As a member of St Davids Church Neath congregation, I was proud to attend the amazing Christmas Market church fundraiser. There were many stalls which offered an opportunity to buy some superb homemade Christmas decorations and gifts. Lots of raffles, delicious refreshments, and festive spirit. It was so good to meet up with many old friends and make some new ones.

My Christmas Card Competition is open to all constituents in Neath. I will be using the winner as my 2022 Christmas Card. Please send a photograph or a scan of your design to my email address: christina.rees.mp@parliament.uk. Closing date 9th December 2022. We have received some fantastic designs, but there’s still time to send yours in.

West Dunbartonshire’s MP Martin Docherty-Hughes is calling on residents to check whether they or older family members are eligible for Pension Credit, to help with the rising cost-of-living.

Pension Credit is a benefit payment which helps low-income pensioners with their living costs, providing more than £3,300 per year on average. It is also a ‘passporting benefit’ which can give eligible claimants access to schemes such as the free TV-licence, and support with council tax and heating bills.

According to the House of Commons Library, only around 66% of those eligible for Pension Credit are currently claiming it – with an estimated 123,000 households in Scotland missing out on payments they are entitled to.

Local MP Martin Docherty-Hughes has signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) in parliament pressing the UK government to give additional support to the Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) so that new claims for Pension Credit are processed as quickly as possible.

Pension Credit can be claimed by people of state pension age whose weekly income is less than £182.60 if single, or £278.70 for couples.

Successful claims for Pension Credit made by 18th December 2022 can be backdated three months which will also entitle the claimant to an additional one-off payment of £324 to help with the cost-of-living.

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP said:

“Many of my constituents are finding things difficult just now due to the UK’s cost-of-living crisis. It’s vital that households ensure they’re receiving every penny of support they’re entitled to.

“I’d urge residents to check whether they or older family members are entitled to Pension Credit, which can give a financial boost to pensioner households of over £3,300 per year. Those who apply successfully by the 18th December deadline can also receive an additional one-off cost-of-living payment of £324.

“There are thousands of people of pension age in West Dunbartonshire and across Scotland missing out on these payments. It only takes a few minutes to check eligibility.

“I work closely with local money advice organisations and my constituency office is on hand to help anyone needing assistance with completing their Pension Credit application form.”

To check eligibility for Pension Credit, visit the government website at www.gov.uk/pension-credit or call the helpline on 0800 99 1234.

Some plans take a long time to come to fruition, so I very much enjoyed a visit to Mersham Sports Club. It is the best part of ten years since they approached me about buying some land from the Church Commissioners to extend their facilities, which are in great demand. Finally last week I was able…

Cost of Living Fact Sheet

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

The Government and I recognise that we are living through a tough period. That is why the Government has provided support to all households across the UK. Below is a fact sheet which outlines all of the support available during the current cost of living increase.

This Saturday, local businesses throughout Llanelli will be marking Small Business Saturday.

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, SMEs make up 99% of the business population in the UK and create 16 million jobs. Now in its tenth year, Small Business Saturday celebrates this success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and to support businesses in their own communities.

Small businesses are facing many difficulties including a crashed economy, soaring energy costs and supply chain issues. The Tory Government’s Autumn Statement with its high tax, low growth agenda will leave even less money in people’s pockets making things even harder. They need our support not only to survive but to thrive. 

Small businesses do much to enrich our lives and our communities, providing jobs, training and driving economic growth.  For them to succeed, they need a UK Government that is pro-worker and pro-business and one that is a strong and effective partner, bringing stability and practical support.  The current Tory chaos cannot provide that.

Only a change of government at a UK level can deliver the change that small businesses need.

Labour already has a plan that will help business owners looking to get on, both immediately and in the long-term. 

Our industrial strategy will set out a long-term framework for business policy, ensuring certainty, stability and no unexpected changes.  A UK Labour Government would keep energy bills down for good, with a credible strategy to increase the availability of cheap, clean, home-grown sources of power.  Support for the self-employed is also part of the equation and a UK Labour Government will extend the protections for self-employed workers including the right to sick pay.

This weekend, I will be supporting local small businesses in my constituency at every opportunity.  I hope that you will be able to too.

Following Government support with energy bills that has been offered to residential and commercial properties across the UK, there has been a delay in the rolling out of the £200 one-off payment to households who cannot be automatically identified through their energy suppliers. This includes…
Greg Smith MP has questioned Business Secretary Grant Shapps about his efforts to support UK pioneers in synthetic fuels—fuels Greg enthusiastically believes will play a huge part in our path to decarbonisation. Companies like Zero Petroleum are world leaders in synthetics manufactured using green…

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Beam Park Station Update Nov 22

Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)

Beam Park Station Update Nov 22 Andrew Wed, 11/30/2022 - 10:29

 Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil has warned that the UK Government is forcing struggling families into destitution.

 Figures, obtained from the DWP, revealed the amount clawed back from struggling households by the Department for Work and Pensions through their benefits sanctions regime.

In August 2022 alone, the DWP took £2.3 million away from claimants in Scotland, with £2000 taken from households in the islands at an average of £223 per month for every sanctioned household.

Angus MacNeil MP said the approach highlighted the UK government’s cruelty, warning UK social security policy undermined the positive work carried out by the Scottish Government to tackle poverty and assist households through the Tory-made cost of living crisis.

Commenting, Mr MacNeil said:

“The Tories are taking an average of £223 per month from struggling households in Na h-Eileanan an Iar during a cost-of-living crisis – a damning statement on how little the Tories care about the struggles of ordinary people.

“These figures show the devastating impact of the Tory government’s existing regime on people’s ability to feed themselves and fend off destitution.

“The cruelty of the DWP under this Tory government is on full show, hammering and leaving households destitute through a cost-of-living crisis with unnecessary sanctions.

“In Scotland we’ve taken a much different, more progressive approach, opposing Westminster austerity by uprating benefits in line with inflation and increasing the Scottish Child Payment – work the Tories would do well to learn from.

“The sad reality is though that all that work remains at risk and is ever-undermined while we remain attached to the broken Westminster system at the mercy of the callous Conservative Party – demonstrating once again why households desperately need independence.”


Internet use amongst children continues to rise, but unregulated social media has presented risks for too long – so the Conservative Government is taking action. The improved Online Safety Bill will return to Parliament with measures including criminalising the encouragement of self-harm, requiring…

Anne Marie’s Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

The reaction to last week’s Autumn Statement was still the main theme of business this week in the House. We spent two days debating the resolutions the Chancellor had put forward to help address the government’s debt while providing support to individuals and businesses in these challenging times…

Surgeries December 2022

Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire)

My next constituency surgery will take place on Friday 2nd December.

Please note, however, in order to comply with both Covid and security protocol, these will not be drop-in surgeries – appointments must be made in advance.

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

For scheduled dates and times, please see below:

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

The post Surgeries December 2022 appeared first on Dr Philippa Whitford.

Weekly Round-Up: 25 November 2022

Karin Smyth (Bristol South)

The Autumn Statement is the fourth Budget we’ve had this year from the Tory Government. If you needed any evidence that they have lost control of the economy this is it. It was a Budget designed to take the ‘tough decisions’, but what we got was can kicking, procrastination and empty promises on the issues that matter most.

As you all know, my background in the NHS means I watch the Government like a hawk on all thing’s health and social care. Snuck out in the statement was a U-turn on promised improvements to social care funding. This will be a huge blow for anyone who was planning their care package for loved ones. Another example of a government that has run out of ideas. I spoke in the Autumn Statement debate and I pressured the Government to say whether the Treasury had made any assessment of the waste of money across local government since they made announcements about implementing the reforms and systems have been put in place. Or whether the Treasury had considered who is going to deliver these magical packages of care without a workforce plan. In my extensive experience of delivering such projects, what will happen is that we will see tents in car parks again, new hotels being registered for spaces, and agency staff supporting the care packages on higher wages, thus costing the system more.

Young people starting out in life have also been undermined by the Tory Government. They have experienced a decline in school and FE funding and now they face low wages, a recession, high rents and a government bereft of ideas and hope to encourage them into the future. It might be thought that the Government would want to help people back into the productive workforce, but adult education has been particularly badly hit. Again, the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that total spending on adult education and apprenticeships will be 25% lower in 2024-25 compared with 2010-11.

Every year, I bring together employers, Bristol City Council, apprenticeship providers and young people at an annual apprenticeship fair, and I will continue to do so. It is the best way to support young people into a productive career, and I still strongly believe in the ladder of opportunity, but significant issues remain unresolved on the levy and the wider supply chain to get people into the apprenticeships that are needed. The Government need to sort it out.

Indeed, Keir Starmer’s speech to the CBI demonstrated what a huge difference Labour would make in government to support businesses to grow. He set out clearly that without a government that wants to build bridges between itself, business, trade unions and civic society we cannot grow the economy. His vision is one derived from collaboration, which will unlock the potential of our young people with apprenticeships and skills businesses need to thrive. Every business in Bristol, and across the UK, has a strategy for growth. It’s about time the government did too.

There was an Urgent Question this week on the tragic murders of Khaola Saleem, 49, and her daughter Raneem Oudeh, 22, in August 2018 committed by Ms Oudeh’s estranged husband. I commend my own local force and the chief constable for leading good work in Avon and Somerset. I asked the Minister whether she would tell us how many forces are still not providing domestic abuse training to officers. The figure was recently nine, but I wanted to know whether that had gone up or down and what more could be done to ensure that forces are given domestic abuse training. While the Government keep talking about their strategy for tackling abuse, domestic abuse incidents are on the rise while prosecutions are falling.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) met this week to discuss the role of devolved administrations from Scotland and Wales in negotiations and scrutiny of international treaties entered into by the UK Government, especially considering the recent comments by former UK Environment Secretary, George Eustice MP, that the UK-Australia trade deal was “actually not that good.” It was pointed out there is plenty of expertise in the devolved administrations and we should be pulling together to scrutinise trade deals so that we know at that stage how this will affect devolved administrations.

Workplace sexual harassment remains widespread, underreported and poorly enforced. This is only compounded by the glaring loophole in the Equality Act. This week I joined the Bill Committee which would close this loophole and it will ensure we are progressing women’s rights in the workplace, making the law work for working people and safeguarding future generations from abuse.

I was also able to speak during the Urgent Question on the Supreme Court’s decision around Scottish referendum legislation. The ruling from the court is a welcome step forward. It’s clear from my work on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee that unless the UK Government acts to drastically improve the flows of scrutiny, engagement and respect between all our parliaments and assemblies the union will struggle to work.

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

The post Weekly Round-Up: 25 November 2022 first appeared on Karin Smyth.
This country has led the world in addressing climate change. However, buildings and construction are hardly accounted for and yet contribute 25% of UK carbon emissions.  My Carbon Emissions (Buildings) Bill, which had its Second Reading in the House of Commons today, takes the first step in…

Christmas Card Competition 2022

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

Over the last few weeks, schools across the Scottish Borders have been taking part in a Christmas Card Competition run by Rachael Hamilton MSP and I. Now it's your chance to pick the winner. We received hundreds of fantastic designs and have now whittled them down to 12 finalists. You can see each…

Local Update – Local Plan

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell)

Dear constituent

I am writing to share with you my contribution to the debate about the Epsom and Ewell Local Plan which is now beginning its formal process. I expect the Borough Council to publish its initial thinking about the plan shortly.

Epsom and Ewell Borough Council is currently in the process of publishing and developing its local plan for the area for the next 10-15 years. Every local authority is obliged to do this, and to explain how it will meet housing need, look after its local economy and protect its local environment.

Each council has also prepared an assessment of local housing need, based on national guidance of how to do this.

We clearly have a need for new homes locally. There are too many young people who grow up or are educated here but cannot afford to remain in the area. And we have a serious shortage of social housing.

The housing assessment for Epsom and Ewell is though impossibly high, and I have been clear both nationally and locally that we need to use the provisions in the National Planning Policy Framework that limit what is expected from a local council. Very probably this involves a battle with national planning inspectors, but I am ready to fight that battle for our area.

But we do need to do all we can to meet the housing need, and I have proposed a comprehensive redevelopment of the Kiln Lane and Longmead areas of Epsom to achieve this without building all over our green belt.

Since that time I have had several conversations with the Borough, and also organised the preparation of a draft masterplan by a firm of architects with local connections.

The picture below gives an overview of the plan:

The plan involves the construction of a mixed use area of development, with retail and offices on the lower floors and flats above, with some terraced housing on the site as well. This kind of mix is typical of what is being done elsewhere. The buildings would be no higher than those already in and around the town centre.

The scheme provides a comparable amount of commercial space to the present plus nearly 5,000 homes. The plan would be to have car showrooms and parking areas built upwards rather than across large areas of parking as at present. But over time I would expect the commercial space to attract more creative businesses, given the presence in Epsom of the University of the Creative Arts which is now one of the country’s leading institutions of its kind. It would also aim to provide more homes for younger people rather than simply building more executive homes on open land. My worry is that developing the green belt is an easy option for the Council. It is always more complicated to reorganise what has already been developed than to build on a green field, but in our area it is much better to take the more difficult approach.

I hope this plan serves as a route for Epsom and Ewell Borough Council to plot a different way forward and protect our open spaces.

Epsom and Ewell Energy Efficiency Scheme

And just a couple of updates about the Energy Crisis locally.

Firstly a reminder that if you do not need your £400 rebate from the Government and are happy to use it to support the Epsom and Ewell Energy Efficiency Scheme, being organised with the Foodbank and Citizens Advice in Epsom to help those struggling with their bills, you can do so via this link.


Both organisations cover a wider area including Epsom Downs, Ashtead and Leatherhead, and so if you are based there your contribution will also be a big help.

Warm Space Schemes

In addition two local churches have also asked me to let you know that they are running Warm Spaces schemes – where when the weather is colder those worried about their bills can spend a few hours in the warm.

Ruxley Church is launching their Warm Welcome, Warm Space on Thursday 24th November from 11.30am to 2.30pm. As well as a warm welcome, people will be able to enjoy complimentary hot drinks, soup and a roll, read a newspaper or book, play a game, chat with others or simply sit quietly.

The church is in Ruxley Lane, KT19 0AF. People are welcome to drop in on any Thursday between now and the end of March 2023.

And the café at St George’s Church in Barnett Wood Lane in Ashtead is also joining the scheme. People are welcome to come and be in the café for a while or all day…….if they can buy one hot drink the team there will then offer them coffee/tea for free.

With best wishes


The post Local Update – Local Plan appeared first on Chris Grayling.

Southampton Jobs Fair

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

Please share with friends and family. Southampton Jobs Fair on Wednesday, 10:00-13:00, at St Mary's Stadium.

The post Southampton Jobs Fair appeared first on Royston Smith MP.


Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne)

Dear Constituent,

Welcome to my November email newsletter. The focus is on yesterday’s Autumn Statement delivered by the Chancellor, with details on what this means for you, but there are also updates on local campaigns and on the ongoing issue of the Channel Crossings. 

Autumn Statement:

Yesterday, the Chancellor delivered the Government’s highly anticipated Autumn Statement. In which he detailed how the Government intends to restore economic stability and tackle inflation.

Like many countries around the world, the UK is facing profound economic challenges. Supply disruption caused by the world’s economies emerging from lockdown has been compounded by Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and deliberate interference with Europe’s energy supply to create massive increases in the cost of energy. This has led to high inflation and high interest rates across many of the world’s major economies, and the UK is no different.

I welcome the proposals in the Autumn Statement. To achieve long-term, sustainable growth we need to grip inflation, balance the books, and get debt falling as a share of GDP. The plan presented by the Chancellor yesterday takes the tough decisions to face up to this situation without passing the buck onto future generations. What’s more, it protects the hard-working majority by enacting no headline tax increases, and protects the most vulnerable by maintaining the pensions triple lock and raising benefits in line with inflation – something I have personally been campaigning for. All while protecting and maintaining public spending for the next two years at the levels set out in 2021.

The plan involves a roughly equal split between tax rises and spending cuts, with the greatest burden falling on those who can afford it most. Specifically, the plan:

Increases taxpayer funding for our NHS and schools by an extra £11 billion over the next two years.

– The Government will provide £4 billion in additional funding to schools and £7.7 billion in additional funding to the NHS and social care sector over the next two years. Prioritising the public services that matter most.

– £2–3 billion in additional funding for the NHS in each of the next two years so we can bring down ambulance waiting times, tackle the Covid backlog, and improve access to GPs. Also providing £2.8 billion next year and £4.7 billion the year after for adult social care, which aims to double the number of people leaving hospitals on time and into care by 2024, addressing unmet needs and boosting low pay in the sector.

– £4 billion in additional funding for schools over the next two years. We are increasing the schools budget by £2 billion this year and £2 billion next year to help schools with rising costs as a result of inflation. Which is more than Labour has pledged to give schools.

Introduces no headline tax increases.

– The Autumn Statement raises £25 billion in additional taxes over the forecast period but there are no increases in the headline rates of tax. By targeting tax rises toward businesses, wealthier households, and the oil and gas industry, the Government has ensured that it can honour its manifesto commitment not to increase Income Tax, National Insurance, or VAT.

– Instead of raising rates, the Government is freezing personal tax thresholds for a further two years. There are also reforms to the Additional Rate threshold, so that a taxpayer who earns more than £150,000 will pay £1,200 more in tax per year.

– It is only fair that companies who have made genuine windfall profits as a result of the war in Ukraine make an additional contribution to pay for the support we have outlined. So from 2023, the Energy Profits Levy rate will rise from 25per cent to 35per cent and will continue until the end of March 2028. A 45per cent Levy will be applied to extraordinary returns made by electricity generators. In total these windfall taxes will raise £52 billion over six years. This is more ambitious than Labour’s proposal.

Protecting and maintaining public spending.

– For the next two years public spending will remain at the levels set out in 2021 and then increase by one per cent in real terms each year until 2027–28.

Supporting every household with their energy bills.

– The Energy Price Guarantee will continue to support everyone for another year. This winter, the price households pay for the energy they use will be capped, so that a typical household will pay £2,500. From April 2023, the price cap will rise so that a typical household will pay £3,000. The Energy Price Guarantee will then end in April 2024.

Supporting the most vulnerable through maintaining the pensions triple lock and raising benefits in line with inflation.

– I have been publicly campaigning for benefits and pensions to be increased in line with inflation for some time now, and so was very pleased to see the Chancellor yesterday confirm that this would be part of the Government’s plan.

– To protect the most vulnerable, benefits will now be increased in line with inflation for 2023–24. More than 10 million households in receipt of working-age and disability benefits will see an increase in their benefit payments.

– The pensions triple lock will also be protected. Because of the difficult but necessary decisions the Government has taken elsewhere, the triple lock for pensions will be protected in full. This means that in April, the State Pension will increase in line with inflation, which is the biggest cash increase in the State Pension ever.

Additional support for the most vulnerable. 

– Over £12 billion of additional targeted support is assigned to help the most vulnerable households. The Government will continue providing this year’s cost of living payments and next year it will provide extra one-off payments of £900 for the 8 million households on means-tested benefits, £300 to pensioners, and £150 for disability benefit recipients. The Government is also providing £1 billion of extra funding by extending the Household Support Fund for another year.

The OBR has confirmed that these plans will restore the public finances to a sustainable position and help reduce inflation and unemployment. And I look forward to engaging with my ministerial colleagues as these policies are rolled out.  

Remembrance Sunday:

This year for Remembrance Sunday on 13th November, I was honoured to lay wreaths in Ripley and Kilburn in memory of those who have served our county, and in honour of those who are still serving. There are a multitude of remembrance services held across our constituency every year, so it is unfortunately impossible for me to attend all of them. However, every year I try to rotate which services I attend. This year it was a memorial service at Ripley War Memorial in the morning and another in Kilburn in the afternoon.

This has been a particularly important period of remembrance as we mark 40 years since the end of the Falkland’s war, and we commemorate the 255 British personnel who lost their lives in defence of the islands. Their courage and sacrifice must never be forgotten. Thank you to everyone who organised or supported the remembrance services and parades across Amber Valley. 

Alfreton Solar Farm Update:

On 21st October, I spoke at the public inquiry into plans from Kronos Solar to build a 50-megawatt solar farm between Alfreton and Oakerthorpe. Many of you will remember that Amber Valley Borough Council’s (AVBC) planning authorities rejected the proposal last December, stating that the project’s scale and impact on the landscape outweighed any environmental benefits the site would provide. However, Kronos Solar have since filed an appeal to overturn the decision of AVBC and get the site approved, resulting in this enquiry.

I have been opposing the project on behalf of local residents and businesses throughout the process, a great many of whom have contacted me about the proposals. I very much support the expansion of our clean energy network, and in the right place a solar farm would be an asset. However, there are good reasons why this site was refused planning permission. We all want renewable energy expansion but not at any cost.

To begin with, much of the land is north facing, which means the site would need to be overly large. The impact on the amenity of local residents, the impact on the countryside area, and the impact on the various heritage assets is just too great. And that is before we consider Alfreton Park and Alfreton Park Community School, which looks after children with the very highest level of need, very close in the vicinity.

It is clear to me that this is a totally unsuitable site for this intensity of development. Frankly, I believe this proposal was not based on a thorough search for suitable land for a solar farm, instead, it looks to me to be based on a search for a suitable sub-station, with the proposal then trying to force some land to suit.

I will continue to keep residents updated on any developments. And at present, a decision is expected at some point in the next few months.

Pollution and our waterways:

I have recently welcomed the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) plans to raise the civil penalty for water companies who pollute our environment by one thousand times, from £250,000 up to £250 million. I am hopeful that increasing the penalties the Environment Agency can enforce without a lengthy and costly court process will enable swifter and stronger action to be taken against water companies that illegally pollute our environment.

Many residents have contacted me about pollution and the use of storm drains in our sewage system. There has also been a great deal of misinformation circulating on social media regarding the Government’s campaign to address these issues.

Last year, the Government introduced the Environment Act 2021 which was a bill designed to tackle this problem and reduce sewage pollution ignored by previous Governments. When the Environment Act was going through Parliament the Duke of Wellington, a hereditary peer, introduced an amendment that would legislate the complete elimination of storm drains and therefore of storm overflow sewage into our waterways. This of course sounds admirable, and indeed is something I support in principle. However, this amendment came without a plan for how it could be delivered and how such a vast project could be funded.

Initial assessments suggested elimination would cost between £150 – £650 billion. To put those figures in perspective, £150 billion was more than the entire schools, policing, and defence budgets put together. Therefore, the Government did not support the amendment, and I did not vote for it. In my view, the last thing people wanted was for their water bill to go through the roof.

Twitter mis-informers seized this opportunity and claimed we had all voted in favour of water companies dumping raw sewage into our rivers. Which was totally false, and ironically punished the Government for actually trying to do something about the problem ignored by previous Governments.

With this most recent announcement by DEFRA, I am glad to see the Government continuing the campaign to improve the quality of our waterways. To hold water companies to account, and ensure any polluter pays for the environmental harm they cause, the Environment Agency must take advantage of these new powers.

Illegal crossings over the Channel:

Many of you have contacted me about the number of small boats illegally crossing the English Channel in recent months. I appreciate the strength of feeling on this alarming issue and want to outline my position to you and explain some of the challenges we face in tackling this problem.

The number of illegal entries into the United Kingdom via small boats crossing the English Channel is too high. It endangers the lives of those making the journey, puts money into the pockets of ruthless and brutal people smuggling gangs, and puts undue pressure on our existing asylum system as well as our public services. I remain committed to an immigration policy that welcomes people to the UK through safe and legal routes, and an immigration policy that allows us to provide asylum to those in genuine need. However, it is clear many of those arriving in small boats are not here in genuine need of asylum, and as a result, the current situation cannot go on.

One reason for small boat crossings increasing in frequency is the success the Government has had in tackling other forms of illegal immigration. Such as increased checks and security for lorries and freight crossing the channel, effectively reducing the number of illegal entries into the UK through these means, and increasing the number of people turning to small boats as a way to enter the UK. The problem that now presents itself is how to police and secure hundreds of miles of coastline 24/7.

Earlier this year, Parliament passed the Nationality and Borders Act which overhauled our approach to asylum and illegal migration. The legislation includes fairness towards those who need our help, and in welcoming people through safe and legal routes, but firmness in tackling abuse of the system and expediting the removal of those who have no legitimate claim for protection. It is worth noting that Labour opposed this Act designed to toughen our immigration system.

Further to changing the law in this country, the Government has recently signed a joint UK-France arrangement on tackling small boat crossings in the Channel which includes a 40% increase in the number of UK-funded officers patrolling French beaches. The new agreement lays the foundations for deeper UK-French co-operation to tackle illegal migration. The arrangement means, for the first time, specialist UK officers will be able to observe French officials at work in control rooms and on the ground patrolling the coastline.

It is clear, however, that big challenges still lie ahead, and that the number of small boats currently crossing the channel is unacceptable. The Prime Minister speaking recently on GB News said that tackling illegal immigration was a huge priority for his Government, and that while the recent joint UK -France arrangement was a big step in the right direction there was more that needs to be done. I share the Prime Minister’s view, and will continue engaging with my ministerial and Parliamentary colleagues to make the case for further measures to reduce cross channel migration.  

Street Watch – report it:

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.

The post Nigel’s November Newsletter & Autumn Statement update appeared first on Nigel Mills MP.

Nothing new for a country in crisis

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

Responding to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, commented: “Families are grappling with the biggest wage squeeze in a generation. Twelve years of Conservative failure exacerbated by twelve weeks of mini budget chaos has left our economy stagnant, borrowing costs up, prices skyrocketing, and ordinary people unable to meet their most basic … Continue reading Nothing new for a country in crisis

Kind Fest: Compassion in Politics?

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

Kind Fest Compassion in Politics?

It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you today as the co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Compassionate Politics. For those of you not familiar with our Parliamentary system, APPGs consist of members from different parties and from both Houses. We aim to work collaboratively together to address specific issues; in this case we want to shift the culture of politics to one that’s more compassionate.


My co-Chair Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and I convened the APPG on Compassionate Politics with the support of Matt & Jennifer and the Compassion in Politics team back in 2019 as we shared the same concerns, as did many of our colleagues, about the increased divisiveness in politics which had steadily grown since 2016.

Many of us recognised that the division and discord being played out in Parliament, and also in some local authorities, was negatively impacting on our communities and how people were treating each other. A climate of fear, hostility and blame has been emanating from our politics. There was another effect: an escalating lack of trust in politics and politicians. A recent CiP poll showed that 7 in 10 people don’t trust anything politicians say. 9 in 10 don’t think politicians have their interests at heart and 2 in 3 feel completely powerless over the decisions being made at Westminster. This incredibly disturbing for the health of our democracy.

However, as much as there are kindred spirits across the political spectrum, we’ve had a party-political system for centuries in this country which has been largely based on tribalism and narrow party rivalries, on making the electorate believe that each party has the answers to make their life better/fairer/safer for them and, unfortunately, negative campaigning has been seen by some to be part of that.

Negative campaigning has been successfully aided by a negative and partisan media, again, over many years. But over the last 16 years or so we’ve had another dimension: the wild west that is social media, where there is little policing of unlawful content by either the platforms or law enforcement agencies, let alone disinformation or misinformation; even legal but harmful content which includes platforms pushing information on suicide to school-age children is apparently off limits. Collectively, these exponentially ramp up the negativity, and even the hate.


Many of you will already know that as human beings we have an immense and innate capacity for compassion & kindness: it’s what drives us to care for our family, look out for our friends, and help our neighbours. Within our communities, it can be nurtured and enabled, or it can be stifled and suppressed. The key to cultivating this compassion and kindness is leadership: leadership in our schools, leadership at work and, fundamentally leadership by politicians.

Again, as many of you will also know, ‘Compassion’ as defined by psychologists, involves an awareness of suffering with a commitment to alleviate and prevent it. Compassion is built on empathy, sympathy, and understanding – a tuning into the experience of self and others. Secondly, it requires commitment. Compassion doesn’t zero-in on the distress of others only to turn away, castigate, or blame. It seeks to understand and learn. Thirdly, it requires action – and action not only to alleviate the symptoms of suffering but to uproot their cause.

The recent pledges from the new Prime Minister and Chancellor for compassion and compassionate Conservatism are welcome but what do they mean?

To govern effectively through compassion will require a commitment to not only help those who are suffering today but also create conditions in which everyone can thrive tomorrow. Those instincts need to be activated and championed because, right now, we live according to quite alternate values. Refugees, social security users, and others are being decried, vilified, and shamed. This approach not only weakens us as a society, but it is also injurious to political engagement, to our very democracy.

A compassionate Government would recognise our common humanity, and that all human beings are equal. And within this, a compassionate immigration system in a country which upholds the rule of law, would abide by our obligations under the UN Refugee Convention which the UK is not only a signatory to, but helped to develop, after the horrors of the Holocaust.

As a Labour politician I would argue that the market doesn’t have all the answers to the economic crisis millions are facing, and that the immediate compassionate response to this crisis would be to recognise and address the fact that the richest 1% of individuals pay 12.5% of their income in tax compared with the 50% lowest earners who pay 25.5% of their income in tax. Similarly, I would argue that the tax from corporations has flatlined over the last 12 years at about 2% and that some companies, for example, energy companies like BP have reported their highest quarterly profits for 14 years. Their figures are eclipsed by Shell who delivered second quarter profits of over £9bn.

I have argued that a compassionate Government would reflect this in their Autumn Statement next week.

There’s so much more policy-wise that could reflect compassion in the Government’s response to these very real issues and hardships so many in our country face.

But hand-in-hand with this, is an effort to reform the culture of our politics. Good policies can only come from good politics and if our government is truly committed to a compassionate future, it needs to create the right environment for such a future to grow and prosper. That has to start with the conduct of those in high office. We need to put the Ministerial and Members’ codes on a statutory footing so that they can be universally read and be properly enforced. The Prime Minister needs to appoint and then empower the government ethics advisor to launch independent investigations into ministerial conduct and strengthen the rules to prevent politicians from wilfully lying to the public.

Compassionate governance also means working alongside those we seek to serve, not dictating policies from the centre. We need to look at how we can reconnect politicians to the people we serve by shifting power away from Westminster. Establishing citizen and constituency assemblies as part of developing active and empowered citizens would be an important start.

Finally, this crisis in politics is not just a UK phenomenon; democracies across the world are facing the same issues. The last year’s insurrection at the Capitol is just one example of this. I would urge the like-minded to work together internationally for a new and compassionate politics.

Feel strongly about this article?

The post Kind Fest: Compassion in Politics? appeared first on Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

On Monday, Sir Bill Wiggin MP planted a wooden cross to pay tribute to service personnel from his constituency of North Herefordshire who have died in service to our country.  The Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle... Continue Reading →
Following pressure from Member of Parliament Bob Stewart, jointly with local Councillor Michael Tickner and London Assembly Member Peter Fortune; Network Rail have set out the timetable to replace the footbridge at Beckenham Junction.    Bob, Michael and Peter wrote to Network Rail in October to…

Berry Bros & Rudd New Warehouse in Andover

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

It was fascinating to visit the vast new Berry Bros warehouse in Andover recently. This family owned business is one of the world’s oldest and biggest wine merchants and they have just opened a spanking new multi million pound facility on the Andover Business Park.

While much of their business is selling wine, most of it is helping wine buyers and collectors look after their stock, and the warehouse is where it is all stored. As I was shown round, I marvelled at the famous names on the shelves: Lafitte, Latour, Petrus etc.

The Warehouse is chilled to 12 degrees throughout, but happily due to solar panels on the roof, will be carbon neutral.

It’s a great vote of confidence in Andover and in the UK wine industry which I hope will continue to lead the world, with possibly the biggest collection of fine wines on the planet, here in North West Hampshire.

  • In response to a debate called in Westminster Hall on Wednesday 2nd November, the Home Office agreed to look at how restrictions can be eased on international GPs working for the NHS.
    • To deliver on this mission, the Minister for Immigration pledged to focus on ‘creative ways to resolve this challenge’, for example working with the sector to explore umbrella sponsors for international GPs and holding meetings with the sector to encourage more GP surgeries to become visa sponsoring practices.

On Wednesday (2nd November), a Westminster Hall debate took place in which the House
considered visas for international doctors.

Matt Warman MP raised the point that under current legislation, GPs who have come from abroad to train in the UK are in a position whereby it is difficult to obtain employment after they graduate. This is mainly because, in order for a General Practice to hire an international graduate, they must be registered as a ‘sponsoring practice’. This requires a large amount of complicated engagement with the Home Office, both on the international GP’s behalf and that of the practice hoping to sponsor them.

Following a discussion of members from different parties, the Minister for Immigration, Robert
Jenrick MP, acknowledged the issues raised and agreed to look at ways to make this process easier. The Minister assured that the Home Office will ‘reflect carefully on the points raised’ and stated that he will ‘task Home Office officials to work with stakeholders in the sector to give greater consideration to the central question of whether there is a simpler way in which GP practices can apply for relevant visas.’

The Minister for Immigration also pledged to ‘ask my officials to work with the sector to see whether there is a way forward to create umbrella bodies, if there is mutual support on both sides’, as well as agreeing to run further engagement events with the sector to discuss the process of becoming a sponsor.

Commenting on the positive outcome of this debate, Matt Warman said: ‘The Minister has
demonstrated more progress on this important issue in the commitment that he has made to us
today than we have seen in some years … I am immensely grateful to all Members who have brought the issue to life, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Minister on the outcome of the review, which will make a real difference to our constituents, and to doctors up and down the country.’

Matt will continue to liaise with the Home Office, the NHS and the Royal Colleges in order to turn this promise into action as quickly as possible.

Local MP Grant Shapps recently visited the hazardous Swanland Road-Dixon’s Hill Junction after a spate of traffic incidents over previous months prompted concern from residents.

The Welwyn Hatfield MP discussed the incidents with Councillor Teresa Travell who joined him on the visit.

Mr Shapps and Cllr Travell agreed on the need for Hertfordshire County Council Highways to step up and rectify the issue – whether that be by installing clearer signage, or reducing the speed limit in the vicinity of the junction.

On the matter, when contacted by Mr Shapps’ office, Hertfordshire County Council previously said that the “junction was identified as a hazardous site in the 2021-2022 annual review” but “no further investigation was undertaken as the most recent collision record appears to be on a downward trend.”

It added, “at present, Hertfordshire County Council have no proposed casualty reduction or speed compliance schemes at the Dixons Hill Road/ Swanland Road junction.

“However, if collision numbers begin to increase at this location, the site will be identified as part of the annual collision investigation reviews that are undertaken.”

Of the visit, Mr Shapps said, “the county council and highways need to act now to reduce the likelihood of another serious incident in the future.”

“Residents are concerned for a reason. When there is a risk to life and limb it is best to be proactive not reactive”.

“I will be monitoring the Swanland Road-Dixon’s Hill Junction very carefully, and working with Teresa to make sure residents’ concerns are addressed.”

Cllr Travell followed up Mr Shapps’ comments by saying, “I’m grateful to Grant for coming to take a look at the junction today.

“His help will be invaluable in getting this issue resolved. I’m sure that his involvement will go some way to alleviating residents’ concerns.” 

From January 2016, when previous engineering works at the junction were completed, to December 2017, there were two slight and two serious personal injury collisions recorded at the junction. 

Two collisions occurred in December 2019 and another in 2021.

This data does not include incidents that were not reported to the police. 

North Mymms Parish Council has challenged the speed limit in the vicinity of the junction on a number of occasions but has been unsuccessful in getting it reduced.

The junction is situated close to a bend in the road over a bridge crossing the A1 and is not well marked.

The post Welwyn Hatfield MP inspects hazardous junction following residents’ concern appeared first on The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP.

ARTICLE: We need to get Scotland away from the horror show

Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)

Halloween is a time when scary things are supposed to happen. Ghosts, zombies, and ghouls are the order of the day. Westminster, however, hasn’t waited and has been playing out its own real-life horror stories within the crumbling walls of the Palace. Like some ghastly rickety fanfare, we’ve seen frightening and dangerous things unfold for years, picking up speed in the past weeks and months as breathless newscasters break the news of more dark intrigue and betrayal. Make no mistake, this may look like a rollercoaster ride, but it is a dirty old carousel with the same old dangerously unfit horses going round and round in ever-decreasing circles.

Of course, seeing the first Asian Hindu take office is truly welcome, but this isn’t a new broom with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The Tories have been in office for over 12 years. He’s the ‘Party gate Chancellor” who broke his own laws. He isn’t going to make things better; he’s continuing their long-running austerity programme, degrading public services and growing food bank dependency. As a Brexiteer, he happily wedded us all to the deeply toxic Brexit ideology harming our businesses, starving them of vital staff and turbocharging inflation – especially basic food items, now running at up to 60% more.

Westminster’s hall of mirrors also shows Labour wedded to “make Brexit work”. It’s a nonsensical stance that, hand in hand with their stated belief that the Tories are not deporting enough people quickly enough is a chilling reflection.

And just when you thought that one of the most frightening apparitions had been removed, it is back where it was. Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, whose dream is *not* of a brighter future for families, or a reduced skills shortage or even an end to people trafficking. No, it is her stated “dream and obsession” to see a flight take asylum seekers to Rwanda. Sacked only 6 days earlier having broken the ministerial code, she is back in the job tasked with upholding law and order and breached national security. She is back alongside colleagues at the helm of the ghostly pirate ship that is the Tory Government.

It’s a horror show we should be done with. The UK is substantially poorer than independent counties comparable to Scotland, with wider inequality, higher child and pensioner poverty and lower productivity. It is time for Scotland to choose a better path.

The post ARTICLE: We need to get Scotland away from the horror show appeared first on .

Bill of Rights Bill

Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East)

Judith Cummins MP has called on the government to use the power of sport as a ‘force for good’ to bring investment into Bradford.

Speaking in a debate on the contribution of the Rugby League world cup to culture and sport in the UK, Judith highlighted how sport is at the heart of local communities in her Bradford South constituency:

“Week in, week out, local communities come together to support their clubs, their local kids’ teams and young players.”

“However, levels of investment and opportunities haven’t always matched the pride we feel in our towns and cities, but it’s moments like the world cup that will give communities the opportunities to stand tall and showcase where they live to the world.”

“A compelling levelling-up bid has been submitted to government for a world-class stadium and training complex for elite sports with a Rugby League Skills, Training and Education centre in Odsal to serve the people of Yorkshire and the North. I can’t wait to host the world cup again in a decade’s time and be standing in our very own Odsal stadium in Bradford cheering England on!”

Responding to Judith’s invitation to visit Odsal, Sports Minister Stuart Andrew MP said: “If I’m still in post by the end of the week I’ll still come but, if not, I’ll leave a note to my successor that their first trip needs to be to Bradford!”

The 2022 Cup’s world-leading social impact programme has invested more than £26 million in equipment and facilities, volunteering, mental health, culture and education, to transform clubs into hubs for their communities. And, for the first time, the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments will be held concurrently.

A study from the Sheffield Hallam University shows that investment in sport and physical activity gives back four times the investment in social value, equivalent to around £72 billion each year across the UK, improving people’s health and wellbeing, creating jobs and stimulating local economic growth.

Judith is fighting for Bradford to have its share:

“When the competition is over and the winning teams raise their trophies, it is only the start of the story for communities, not the end. With the Rugby League world cup in full swing, Bradford’s year as capital of culture in 2025, and Bradford’s bid for a world-class stadium and sports complex that will bring over a billion pounds of benefits to Bradford, now is the time to ensure that people of Bradford benefit from this legacy.”

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Dan Jarvis MP: Statement Regarding Sentencing

Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central)

I was deeply concerned to read the decision taken by the Court in this case.

Given the very serious nature of the crimes committed, and that the perpetrator pleaded guilty to all 10 offences, I find it very difficult to understand how he was not deemed a serious threat to the public and remanded in custody.

I will be urgently raising these concerns with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Attorney General’s office.

Zahawi guests at Conservative Annual Dinner

David Evennett (Bexleyheath and Crayford)

Nadhim Zahawi, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister for Intergovernmental Relations and Minister for Equalities, was the guest speaker at the Bexleyheath and Crayford Conservative Association on Thursday evening (13 October) held at Stuzzichini restaurant in Bexleyheath. In the Chair was…
This morning the Prime Minister set out our Conservative vision for the future. A country focussed on growth, aspiration and enterprise. Turning away from those who say much and do little, the anti-growth coalition we are so used to seeing on our screens and in the hall today.

September 2022 Newsletter

Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Click here to view my newsletter for September 2022.

Bust Budget

Alex Norris (Nottingham North)

On Friday the new Chancellor of the Exchequer announced what he described as a mini-budget to help deal with the cost of living crisis. The only thing mini about it was the amount of support it provides to the average family and individual in Britain. This completely un-costed budget, will give out the largest tax cuts since 1972, most of which are aimed at the wealthiest in society. That budget in 1972 lead to a short-lived boom, and a much longer bust, with the infamous three-day week and the failure of key services.

The tax cuts in this mini budget, are mainly for the super wealthy, for corporations and for the bankers. The top tax rate of 45p (%) has been completely removed, which is great news for those lucky few that earn over £150,000 a year. Corporation tax increases have been discarded, and the cap on bankers’ bonuses brought in after the financial crisis of 2008 have been scrapped.

But the Tories aren’t content with just giving handouts to the rich, they have also increased the number of Universal Credit recipients who have to actively search for work and attend weekly or fortnightly job centre appointments, if they are working up to 15 hours a week. If they don’t then their benefits will be reduced. Unsurprisingly the mini-budget also attacks trade union rights further, making it harder for working people to strike for the pay and conditions they deserve.

While they have suspended National Insurance increases and cut stamp duty, this support is minute compare to the support for those best off in society. Even in terms of energy bill support, prices being frozen where they are now, simply means they are only twice what they were last year, at the same time that the price for everything else from food to transport is increasing, while wages and benefits remain completely stagnant.

This budget does not serve the needs of the people of Nottingham, it does not help those who need help the most. People earning £20,000 will only save £167 a year. What it will do is drive Britain into an inflationary spiral. It will cause the prices of the goods that residents need to survive to increase further, at a time where benefits and wages are not rising. This will wipe out any gains that residents in the city see from this mini-budget.

the Tory mini-budget will only give most people small change

The Tories say their budget will stimulate growth; it remains to be seen if it will. What is certain though is that growth in the economy is pointless if it does not lead to increased wages for the average person, if people are not supported to re-skill and obtain jobs in growing sectors, and if people do not have access to suitable affordable housing, whether that’s via home ownership or renting.

The mini budget does nothing to help achieve these aims, Nottingham Labour strongly believe that the budget will not help the people of Nottingham, it will only help a tiny minority of people. A Labour government is needed nationally to give the people of this country and of Nottingham the support and help that they need, and that they deserve.

Mum’s Here With Us, Yet Already Gone

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon)

As an MP since 2010, I am used to having abuse hurled at me. Every Member of Parliament gets used to it, often from our time as candidates. To an extent, facing anger is part of being what one pillar of our community described as being the safety valve on the pressure cooker that is society. But things daily go too far. Apart from several threats of death and grievous assault, vicious abuse under my posts on social media has […]

Guide to Google Classroom distance learning in 2022

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

Google Classroom is a good idea. It’s going to help teachers create better lessons, keep students engaged and reach out to parents more. The real question is whether it’s worth the price of admission.

Google Classroom

The availability of free education is a gift, but only if it can come with high quality. Google Classroom has given students in classrooms around the country an online option to supplement their learning. A potential downside to these options is the inability to meet with professors and apply classroom learning. As a part of the University of Washington system, we have found the use of Google Classroom during the quarter distance courses produced good results for both parties. Distance learning is here to stay and has only grown over time. If you want to make sure you aren’t left behind in a digital world, you may want to consider your options and how they will help or hurt your future professional prospects.

Google Classroom is a reliable one-stop-shop for managing all of your coursework and communication. It is definitely worth checking out if you are in a distance learning program, or even just want to streamline some of your everyday communication tasks.

Benefits and Drawbacks

There are several other features that set Google Classroom apart from the competition. It is a free tool and it works on computers and mobile devices through the GAFE platform. The discussion features of Google Classroom do an excellent job at encouraging interaction between students and teachers, making it a very effective tool for working with groups of all sizes. The major drawback to Google Classroom is that it is a relatively new tool, so it does not work with iPads, Android tablets or Kindle Fires. The lessons created within Google Docs can be exported directly into Google Classroom on the computer, but in order to view or edit those documents or upload them onto the iPad tablet, students will have to use other third-party tools such as Documents 5 and iBooks Author.


If you are using Google Classroom for your teaching and learning, it is important to note that it does require integration with Google Apps for Education. This means that you are using Gmail along with Calendar and Drive (Docs, Sheets, Slides) etc., so the other school faculty members need to have access to all of these tools. The obvious way to do this is through the use of a domain. It is required that you have a domain in order to use Google Classroom or any other GAFE tool/application.

By going through a step by step process, one can easily move one’s entire digital repository into Google Classroom for easy organization and management; therefore, allowing access to all student work without having to worry about losing any data or files that are not needed for a current class engagement.

Google Classroom Future Prospects

According to the Scholastic Parent & Child list of the most popular educational apps , in 2015 Classroom wasn’t one of them, indicating that this tool is still relatively new and also relatively unknown. While the design is nothing particularly innovative, the new Google Classroom 2022 is a promising step towards more effective and efficient learning, especially in a classroom setting. Though it appears to be geared towards teachers, students will benefit from having access to Google Classroom, whether they’re in an online or a traditional classroom. With that said, it should be noted that it may take some time before this update fully penetrates into secondary schools and universities. But nonetheless, Google Classroom is off on the right foot, leaning further into an online world which we’ll all have to face sooner or later.

Bottom Line

Google Classroom has made a huge impact in the world of educational technology, especially for teachers who don’t have face-to-face access to students. It’s a powerful tool that will likely continue to be developed and improved upon, as educators keep gravitating towards it.

In the end, there is no one best way to teach and learn, but instead many valid options. Whether you are interested in the low-cost education of a MOOC or the high-end technology of Sketchfab virtual reality tours, it’s exciting to see that educational technology is progressing at a rapid rate. Let’s hope that as more schools begin to adopt innovative techniques like Google Classroom, we will continue to see positive changes in how students learn around the world.

The post Guide to Google Classroom distance learning in 2022 appeared first on Berger.


Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South)



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Climate and Environment Emergency: WWF Earth Hour

Nick Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East)

Keuntungan Saat Memainkan Situs Judi Slot Online

Chris Leslie (Nottingham East)

Keuntungan Saat Memainkan Situs Judi Slot Online – Internet memiliki dampak luar biasa pada berbagai industri meskipun mungkin industri perjudian yang paling banyak mengalami perubahan. Perjudian online yang sederhana, dengan cepat menjadi industri multi-miliar dolar.

Ada sejumlah situs judi online yang menyediakan layanan hiburan dan perjudian kepada pengguna dari setiap bagian dunia. Di sini kita melihat manfaat utama yang bisa Anda dapatkan dari perjudian online.

Mari kita ulas bersama tentang keuntungan yang akan di dapatkan saat memainkan situs judi slot online ini yaitu;

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Baca artikel lainnya di: Link Situs Judi Bola Terpercaya Alternatif, Solusi Paling Tepat Bermain

The post Keuntungan Saat Memainkan Situs Judi Slot Online appeared first on Chrisleslie.

Backbench Business Committee

Ian Mearns (Gateshead)

My article in House Magazine

Constituents Update – 10th November 2021

Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington)

End Fire and Rehire

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North)

End Fire and Rehire Anonymous (not verified) Fri, 10/22/2021 - 16:02

Visit my Facebook page

Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield)

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

New GP Surgery Back on Track for Shifnal

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)

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

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

Commenting, Mark Pritchard MP said:

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

New Hospital in Sutton Confirmed

Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam)

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

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

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

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

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


Why is this being done?

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

Is St Helier closing?

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

Is a new hospital being built?

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

Is St Helier getting an upgrade?

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

Who developed these proposals?

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

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

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

Will we still use St Helier?

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

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

What about bed numbers?

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

What about A&E?

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

What about maternity services?

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

Where will children services be provided?

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

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

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

Where will the new hospital be built?

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

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

A&E at The Royal Glam

Chris Bryant (Rhondda)

A&E @ the Glam – Strength in Unity

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Please wait...

The post A&E at The Royal Glam appeared first on Chris Bryant.

Reflecting on Defeat

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

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

Compensation package for Waspi women

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have a historic debt of honour to them.

Lisa reselected by Wigan Labour

Lisa Nandy (Wigan)

Lisa Nandy MP

Wigan Constituency Labour Party have reselected Lisa Nandy MP as their candidate for the next General Election.

At meetings held over the last fortnight, members in all of the branches that make up Wigan Labour Party voted overwhelmingly to reselect Lisa. All affiliated organisations, including Unite the Union, the Communication Workers’ Union, GMB, Unison and Usdaw, also voted to reselect.

Lisa said:

“I’m grateful to Labour members in Wigan for choosing to reselect me so overwhelmingly. Being the Member of Parliament for Wigan is the privilege of my life, and I couldn’t do it without the members who turn up year in, year out and in all weathers to campaign for the Labour Party. With a General Election looking likely, we will be out once again fighting for every vote and to put an end to the damage inflicted on Wigan by this reckless Conservative government.”

Wigan Constituency Labour Party said:

“We’re delighted to have reselected Lisa Nandy as our candidate for the next General Election. For 10 years Lisa has worked tirelessly to represent Wigan in Parliament, fighting for constituents hit hardest by this Conservative government’s brutal cuts and ensuring that Wigan’s voice is heard on the national stage. The overwhelming level of support Lisa received from local party members is testament to that work. We’re proud to have Lisa as our MP and we’re ready to fight and win the next General Election together.”

The post Lisa reselected by Wigan Labour first appeared on Lisa Nandy MP.

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.

The refugee crisis

Matthew Pennycook (Greenwich and Woolwich)

Over recent days I’ve received hundreds of emails from local residents about the refugee crisis. It’s extremely heartening to know that so many of you not only share my anguish at the human cost of the crisis but agree with me that more needs to be done to help those seeking sanctuary from civil war, sectarian violence and authoritarian regimes.

The crisis is one of the biggest humanitarian challenges that Europe has faced since the Second World War. It is therefore shameful that so far the Government’s ‘Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation (VPR) scheme,’ begun in March 2014, has only assisted 216 Syrian refugees.

As a result of concerted public pressure the Prime Minister reluctantly agreed to welcome more Syrian refugees to Britain. In my view his Government is right to prioritise the most vulnerable Syrians – victims of sexual violence, elderly and disabled people, and victims of torture living in camps across the Middle East – for resettlement and to argue that we need to redouble efforts to help tackle the traffickers and people smugglers who prey on people’s fear and desperation. However, given the scale and immediacy of the present crisis the pledge the Prime Minister gave the House of Commons on Monday, to receive only 20,000 Syrian refugees over the course of the next five years, is woefully inadequate.

The Government should think again about taking more refugees – both directly from Syria and from Southern European countries who are bearing the brunt of this crisis. The Prime Minister should also engage with EU leaders to agree a process for dealing with this crisis at Europe’s borders and work with local authority leaders across the UK to see what more can be done in our local communities to support refugees and asylum seekers.
Please rest assured that I will continue to press the Government on this issue while also supporting local efforts by the council, community groups and individual residents to help those in need.

With Northern Ireland once again in politcial crisis and continuing divisions within unionism, we need to consider carefully the consequences, both for the Union itself and for efforts to create a shared future here.

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: Sunday 04 December 2022 21:26