One of the main arguments between socialists and conservatives is over the main aim of economic policy. Conservatives want to raise living standards, to help people be better off. Socialists usually want to lower or remove inequality.
These two varying aims require different policy responses and achieve different results. Of course all sensible socialists would also want higher living standards, and all democratic conservatives agree the tax and benefit system should remove some of the inequalities market economies generate. Nonetheless deciding based around a primary aim of betterment for the many or a primary aim of cutting inequality produces different results.
Mr Osborne adopted more of the socialist preoccupation in his budgets, worrying about measures of inequality more than about sluggish rises in average real incomes. He worked out how to administer a bigger tax hit to the wealthy and how to get rich people out of the country or to stay out of the country. One of the easiest ways to cut inequality is to offshore the richest people by having a hostile tax regime towards them. This may then reduce investment and job creation for everyone else as these people live and invest in a more friendly climate elsewhere. Both France and Italy are now wooing the rich with a better tax deal for that reason.
A test of which motivation predominates in a policy maker is that of the Laffer curve. If a Chancellor insists on imposing a tax at a rate that reduces the tax take, we can assume he does so to create more equality at the cost of less income and lower living standards. The decision of Mr Hammond and Mr Osborne to levy Stamp duties that cut the revenue must be based on this, and their persistence with a 45% higher rate of income tax which also lowers revenue.
I want a policy based on a more rapid reduction in low incomes and no incomes. That requires a policy which allows entrepreneurs, footballers and great entertainers to keep more of their earnings so they stay here and pay tax here. They then also buy more things here, invest more here and employ more people here. Jealousy is a nasty emotion, and not a good policy. It makes us all worse off, with less money to spend on public services. As you achieve more growth you can then also lower tax rates on the rest of us, where lowering the rate cuts the revenue for any given level of economic output.
On Wednesday, I attended ONE Campaign’s Health Heroes Parliamentary Reception to introduce Vreni Oleram. Vreni runs the Esher College Africa Trust, which raises funds to support the Dope School in rural Zimbabwe to help pay school fees for children whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS. The money also helps buy necessities, such as pencils, and even shoes in some cases, as many of them walk miles to and from school every day.
Vreni has always had a passionate interest in Development and during her early years as economics teacher at Esher College, she established a link with the Dope School in Zimbabwe, and has been helping children there for over twenty years.
The Health Heroes Parliamentary Reception highlighted the work of five ‘Health Heroes’ who are campaigning, working against or personally affected by global health issues. I was humbled and honoured to introduce Vreni and highlight the amazing work that she’s done.
East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight is one of the sponsors of a cross-party Parliamentary motion calling on Britain’s banks to stop the scrapping of free cash machines from our high streets.
The motion reveals that nearly 1,700 machines started charging for withdrawals in the first three months of 2019 and that if this trend continues it will have a disproportionate impact on rural communities and people with modest incomes.
Sir Greg said: “Whilst there are many ways to pay for goods and services cash is still a vital part of our everyday life especially in rural communities.”
“Although it may suit banks to nudge consumers towards using cards for every transaction because they charge the retailer a fee, it doesn’t suit all their customers and neither does it suit a good number of small businesses in rural areas.”
“One day there may be a case for dispensing with cash, but that day is a long way down the line. I am urging banks to put these plans on hold.”
Sir Greg argues that before seeking to phase out, or charge for the use of cash machines banks should at least consult widely including with MPs, business groups and Age UK on the possible local social impact.
Andrew Gwynne MP, has voiced his support his support for the work of the RSPCA after new statistics reveal the level of convictions achieved in 2018.
The new findings reveal that in Stockport, the RSPCA dealt with 585 complaints which resulted in 1 conviction; and in Tameside, 552 complaints were received leading to 9 convictions.
Since being founded in 1824, the RSPCA has established itself as the leading organisation on animal welfare in England and Wales and its influence has spread world-wide. Their work encompasses companion animals, farm animals, wildlife and animals used in research, and includes education and campaigning, as well as enforcement, rescue and rehabilitation.
Andrew Gwynne said:
“I’m proud to support the RSPCA and the work that their inspectors do to protect animals on the ground across the Denton and Reddish constituency.
“I know how important animal welfare issues are to my constituents and it is an issue that I continue to take up on their behalf in this Parliament.
“I am looking forward to working with the RSPCA to ensure that animal welfare and the protection of the idea that animals are sentient beings continues to be enshrined in UK law after we leave the EU.”
On 14 May, Beverley and Holderness MP Graham Stuart, and Emma Hardy, MP for Hull West and Hessle, launched the Primary Futures Parliament programme with the Education Secretary, the Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP.
Primary Futures is an exciting initiative pioneered by the charity Education and Employers and the National Association of Headteachers. The programme helps inspire children by connecting primary schools with local role models through an innovative online service. Volunteers from apprentices to CEOs, architects to zoologists, then give an hour a year to go into schools and chat informally to children about their work.
Graham commented: “The aim of the Primary Futures Parliament event was to encourage MPs to promote Primary Futures in their constituencies. I was pleased to see so many of my colleagues from all parties at the event, and the Secretary of State for Education’s speech was extremely supportive.
“Children’s career aspirations are formed at a young age and influenced overwhelmingly by who they know. Quality teaching about the world of work can play a huge part in opening a child’s eyes to what’s possible in their future while meeting people from wide-ranging careers can spark curiosity and make all jobs seem accessible.
“Emma and I may represent different parties, but we launched the Parliament programme together as we share the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to a fulfilling career that is not limited by their background. We also agree that Primary Futures is an excellent means through which to achieve this.”
Video: Graham Stuart and Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education
Emma Hardy, MP for Hull West and Hessle, commented: “I was pleased to launch the Primary Futures Parliament programme with Graham. Graham and I have both focussed on improving opportunity through our involvement in the Education Select Committee. It’s also significant that as regional MPs we’re working together. Our combined efforts to boost volunteer sign-ups across the region will hopefully benefit schools in our constituencies by broadening the range of volunteers available to inspire local children. As a former primary school teacher, I certainly would have loved to have something like Primary Futures for the students that I taught.”
Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, commented: “We need as many MPs as possible to sign up as we know that volunteers visiting schools spark curiosity amongst children. It is also really important for them to understand how what they are learning at school can have relevance to a successful future.”
Graham added: “I’m looking forward to championing Primary Futures in Beverley and Holderness as it could raise the aspirations of local children. A lack of information about the world of work can be a serious disadvantage, and Primary Futures addresses this by boosting careers events in primary schools.
“It’s excellent that 15 schools in my constituency have already registered for the initiative. However, I’m contacting all local primary school Headteachers to raise awareness about the merits of Primary Futures and to urge them to sign-up. I am also writing to regional business, charity, and public-sector leaders encouraging them to volunteer and spread the word about this programme in their professional networks.”
Primary schools are seeking volunteers from diverse careers. If you’d like to inspire children in your local community, sign-up to Primary Futures here. If you represent a primary school that you’re interested in registering, find further information here.
If you have any questions about Primary Futures, please email Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: (1) Graham Stuart MP and Emma Hardy MP (2) Graham Stuart MP and Barham Primary School pupils
Alec and local councillors in Wetherby continue to fight proposals to build on green land around Wetherby.
In October 2018, Alec raised the matter in the House of Commons and subsequently wrote to the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government formally asking for a planning application for houses on the Stockeld Park Estate to be ‘called-in’.
Last week the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government replied to Alec to outline why this application wouldn’t be called in. In reply, Alec and Cllr Alan Lamb has sent the following letter:
Dear Mr Brokenshire,
Re: Planning application 17/01897/OUTMAJ
I write with regard to the decision to not to intervene in the application to Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) for 210 dwellings on Harrogate Road, Stockeld, Wetherby, North Yorkshire.
I feel that your officials have rather missed the point somewhat in the call-in being requested. In most cases it is best for decisions to be taken locally, but in this case the exact reverse has happened and that is the key point that seems to have been missed. I feel compelled to write and make you aware of the level of frustration and disappointment locally with this decision.
The uniqueness of the geography of this site has been overlooked when making the non-intervention decision. Whilst the Spofforth Hill site does geographically sit within the HBC boundary, I would like to draw your attention to its proximity to Wetherby and the isolation from the rest of HBC’s settlements.
To illustrate this point succinctly, overleaf are two images.
The first is taken from HBC themselves showing a close-up of the site and the proximity to Wetherby. The Local Authority boundary abuts the eastern side of the WB1 (Spofforth Hill) site. It is clearly evident from this diagram, the juxtaposition of this development will mean that future residents will use the facilities of Wetherby for their everyday business.
The second image is taken from Google. The red circle in the lower right corner denotes the development site, with Wetherby south-east of this position. It is clearly evident from this aerial view that there are no Harrogate-controlled settlements of any note within miles of the proposed site.
I wish to reiterate that the residents of the Spofforth development will, through no fault of their own but in parasitic fashion, devour the resources of Wetherby, yet contribute nothing toward their upkeep. Likewise, such residents will have no representation from Wetherby Councillors as they will not be within the ward boundary, so will in effect be disenfranchised from their elected representatives who have a say in how services are delivered in Wetherby. That alone goes against every fundamental principle of democracy.
My secondary concern is that this now sets a dangerous precedent for developers and neighbouring Local Authorities up and down the land. I fear a Pandora’s Box may have been opened where one authority can effectively ‘dump’ a settlement on a neighbouring one with scant regard as to the implications that will have.
I am therefore asking you to reconsider your decision not to intervene on this occasion as I do believe the individual merits and circumstances of this case deserve full consideration.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
Cllr Alan Lamb – Leeds City Council for Wetherby Ward
Alec Shelbrooke MP – Member of Parliament for Elmet & Rothwell
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Liam Byrne will today say the Tory Mayor of the West Midlands has missed a huge opportunity to declare a Climate Emergency and put in place a Green New Deal to tackle spiralling youth unemployment.
The Tory mayor, Andy Street, today launches his local industrial strategy – without any timetable to deliver a carbon neutral region and no plan to tackle youth unemployment which has soared by 18% in the last year.
Speaking with young people at the Birmingham Jobs Fair, Liam Byrne will welcome the success of Labour’s local leaders in Coventry and Birmingham in convincing ministers to agree new funding for electric vehicle technology. But he will also publish new figures from the House of Commons library revealing the moral emergency of youth unemployment which has soared by 18% in the last year.
Byrne will today publish the results of the first West Midlands Citizen Assembly which he helped convene last week to plan a route-map to becoming a zero-carbon region – and underline his commitment to bringing a Green New Deal to the West Midlands.
Liam Byrne will say:
‘Our Labour leaders have worked miracles to convince the Government to invest in our electric vehicles revolution.
‘But it’s clear good people across our region want a far bolder plan to become Britain’s first zero-carbon city-region, with a blueprint to create careers for young people and lift 300,000 families out of fuel poverty.
‘Frankly the Tory Mayor should have started by insisting ministers hand over the £209 million they promised us to build new homes. We could be using that money today to give our young people jobs in building green homes with zero energy bills for local families’.
‘Instead, youth unemployment in the West Midlands has soared, with 16,000 of our young people now out of work. This is a moral emergency that requires radical action.’
‘We are the region that sparked the Carbon Revolution
three centuries ago and led Britain into the Jet Age. Today, we should be
leading the Zero Carbon Revolution. If we step up to this challenge now, we
could be creating jobs for our young people and lifting families out of fuel
Notes to Editors
Contact: Harry Kind, 0207 219 6727, email@example.com.
The post Mayor’s Local Industrial Strategy A Missed Opportunity for West Midlands Green New Deal appeared first on Liam Byrne MP.
Brexit continued to dominate headlines and Parliamentary time until this week’s local election gave some insight into voting intentions. In Newcastle the results were mixed with Labour losing one seat to the Liberal Democrats and one seat to Independents (Newcastle First). Across the region the picture was worse for Labour with losses in Sunderland, Darlington and Hartlepool, but Labour won a significant victory as the people of North of Tyne chose Jamie Driscoll to be our first Mayor.
Scotswood Community Garden
Brexit was a big issue during the local elections, everyone is tired and frustrated with the lack of progress. That includes MPs like me! Parliament sat an extra week over Easter as the Government and Labour Party discussed options for a Brexit deal.. Theresa May spent over two and a half years arguing with her party about Brexit and still couldn’t produce something her own party could agree on. It is important that Labour works with the Government to see if we can agree something which is in the interests of our country. But as the Prime Minister refuses to move on any of their red lines which would be so detrimental to the North East economy, workers rights and the environment, a deal seems unlikely. I signed a letter organised by the Love Socialism Hate Brexit grouping arguing that a Confirmatory Vote should be Labour Party policy for any Brexit deal and made clear that is my position.
Projects4ChangeUK – Geordie role models
Tourism Week in Newcastle
Our London Living Wage paid intern, Lois, left us and will be much missed.
Quoted in national and local media including BILD Interview, Women Engineer photo, Newcastle United Documentary, ESRC Equity in STEM Education, Hope Not Hate, Celebrating Women of Colour Interview
St Anne’s College promoting Oxford University applications at St James’ Park
Macmillan Cancer Supports’ Health Inequalities Event, Celebrate the Tourism Industry, Mountfield Primary School visit, NUFC V Crystal Palace, FCO & DTI Welcome Reception STEM the GAP delegation, Nigel Tully – National Youth Jazz Orchestra, NESTA Dinner, Keith Magee, British Council Paris visit: Higher Education Leaders, Research & Mobility Connections in Higher Education, Visit to Theatre du Chatelet, English Teaching & Exams, Meeting with French Deputies, Meeting with Ambassador –International Opportunities for emerging Artists, R&D Drug Pricing, Hydrogen Showcase drop-in, Energy UK, Roundtable Robert Jenrick MP by PICTFOR, Single Launch of Let Nature Sing, Shelter, Training and Awareness on Trans Issues, Politico, Huawei Technologies, Celebration of Farm Africa’s, Briefing Dinner on Information Operations, Foundation for Science & Technology debate on two cultures, Trussle Trust, Writing: Making Your Mark, New Chief Supt Ged Noble, Shelter visit, Family Blossom Day at Scotswood Garden, Where Do We Belong performance at Northern Stage, Philip Lynagh – Giants on Quayside development, Sir Jim McDonald of Caesar, NoteMachine, Lotteries Council, APPG on Cycling, The Prince’s Trust; Centrepoint and the Children’s Society joint report launch, The Half God of Rainfall at Kiln Theatre, Projects4Change Parliamentary Visit, National Association of Retired Police Officer’s Survivors Pension Inequality drop-in, “Making Conservation Happen – The People’s Manifesto for Wildlife”, Small Island at National Theatre, Kilfrost Reception, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Alliance Healthcare Pharmaceutical Wholesale Service Centre Visit Turning Points – Live Theatre’s 21st Birthday, Turban Awareness Day with Sikh Channel, APPG on Mozambique meeting, Parliamentary Launch: Delivering Net Zero Carbon Buildings
The Young Company Northern Stage
Unison FE Conference, Labour Energy Forum, In Our Space event, BEIS Select Committee CCS Report, Host AFBE Advisory Board Meeting, NE Rwandan Association 25th Anniversary, Introduce Crackle. Dust. Women of the North Project, Debate on Facial Recognition and the Biometrics Strategy, Heathrow’s North East Business Summit, St Anne’s & Trinity Oxford event
West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin joined a Malvern company celebrating apprentices working at the cutting edge of the aerospace, security and defence sector. read more »
Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, attended a Christian Aid Parliamentary reception in Westminster Hall earlier today (15 May), to show his support for Christian Aid Week 2019, which is an annual door-to-door fundraising drive by the charity Christian Aid. It is held each year in Britain during the second week of May, when thousands of volunteers post red collection envelopes to households around the country.
As a backbench MP in 2016 I was pleased to support a Private Members Bill calling for a ban on wild animals performing in circuses. I was very pleased therefore to see this return as Government legislation last week, and begin its journey through the House of Commons.
The Wild Animals in Circuses Bill means that circus operators in England will no longer be able to use wild animals as part of a travelling circus. This builds on other measures the Government have taken to strengthen animal protections, including banning ivory sales to protect elephants and delivering Finn’s Law to strengthen the protection of service animals.
There is a duty on us all to leave our planet in a better state for our children, and this means also including stronger protection for animal welfare. As a nation of animal lovers this new law makes common sense. Campaign groups such as the RSPCA have welcomed us bringing forward this legislation. Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals in the 21st century and I am pleased we are taking action to end this cruel practice.
To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture Media and Sport on the effect of freedom of movement on the (a) livelihoods of UK musicians and (b) UK (i) creative sector and (ii) overall economy.
The post Free Movement of People: Musicians | Department for Exiting the European Union | Written Answers appeared first on Stephen Morgan.
Martin Docherty-Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire, has hit out at the UK Tory government for cuts to pension credit eligibility which could see older people in Scotland out of pocket by up to £7,000 per year. From today (15th May), … Continue reading
The post DOCHERTY-HUGHES MP: TORIES CAN’T BE TRUSTED TO LOOK AFTER OUR PENSIONERS appeared first on Martin Docherty-Hughes MP.
I have today, Wednesday, called on the Government to take urgent action after new figures were released that show over 40 per cent of children in Leicester are growing up in poverty – which is a rise of almost three per cent in the last year. Here in Leicester West we have over 11,600 children living in poverty.
These shameful figures lay bare this Government’s failure to tackle child poverty, harming their life chances and our country’s future success.
Children living in poverty are more likely to start school months behind children from better off backgrounds. They are also less likely to do well at school, go onto further education, earn the same salaries as their better off peers and therefore find a way out of the poverty trap.
Poverty doesn’t just affect families on benefits, it’s also working parents who are increasingly finding themselves and their children trapped in poverty. The shambolic introduction of Universal Credit and the rise in zero hours contacts alongside increasing rents and the rising cost of living mean more and more families across Leicester are struggling.
I believe that no child should be growing up in poverty. The Government must wake up to this crisis and take urgent action to ensure every child has an equal chance in life.
The post Liz reacts over shocking figures showing number of children living in poverty in Leicester appeared first on Liz Kendall.
Earlier this week the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers (NARIO) welcomed Emma Lewell-Buck MP as a valued addition to their list of patrons, joining other high profile patrons such as; Sir Vince cable MP, The Earl of Listowel and June Thoburn CBE.
Following her appointment Emma said “I am delighted that NARIO have asked me to become a patron. Having worked for many years as a Child Protection Social Worker, I know all too well the vital work carried out Independent Reviewing Officers. They are empowered to act on a child’s behalf in challenging the local authority and are often a voice for the voiceless. I look forward to working closely with NAIRO and doing all I can to ensure vulnerable and looked after children are given the best possible support”
The NARIO is a registered charity that represents Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO) in their role in ensuring that care plans for children in care are legally compliant and in the child’s best interest. IROs do vital work in ensuring that looked after and vulnerable children’s needs are adequately met.
Upon welcoming Emma as their latest patron, Jon Fayle Co-Chair of NAIRO said “We at NAIRO are delighted to welcome Emma to our list of impressive patrons. Emma’s wealth of experience in the sector, first as a Child Protection Social Worker and also as a former Shadow Minister for Children and Families will be vital in supporting Independent Reviewing Officers and will help us to ensure vulnerable children and looked after children will get the best support available.”
Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus MacNeil is urging island parents to ensure their children receive lifesaving vaccinations.
Vaccinations such as the MMR are the biggest health successes of the last century and are the only way to protect your child against some serious diseases.
Mr MacNeil asked NHS Western Isles for statistics on the uptake of the MMR vaccine locally with reports of reduced uptake worldwide.
He said: “I was pleased to hear from NHS Western Isles that uptake of the MMR first dose in the Western Isles is back above the target of 95% despite a drop in uptake in 2017.
“Overall 98.1% of Western Isles children have received at least one MMR vaccination by the age of 6, compared to 96.3% for Scotland.
“The development of effective vaccines has led to a huge decrease in childhood deaths and I would urge parents to help maintain high levels of uptake by ensuring children receive the vaccine.”
When your child is immunised they’re helping to protect the health of the whole community.
When enough people are immunised against an infection, it’s more difficult for it to be spread to those who are not immunised. This is called ‘herd immunity’ or ‘population protection’.
This is important because children with some severe medical conditions and allergies can’t have certain vaccines.
Grant Shapps MP met last week with Crohn’s and Colitis UK at their Hatfield office to witness the judging of a fundraising competition, and to learn about the charity’s operation and find out what can be done to raise awareness of IBD.
Grant arranged to meet with the charity’s Chief Executive of the UK’s leading Inflammatory Bowel Disease charity, Sarah Sleet, after noticing a Welwyn Hatfield Times story about how the signs on the toilet facilities at the Galleria have changed as a result of a national campaign led by Crohn’s and Colitis UK.
The signs have also been changed across the toilet facilities at the Houses of Parliament.
The new signs show the symbol for wheelchair users alongside the male and female symbols for able-bodied users, above the message “Accessible Toilet – not every disability is visible”.
The idea is to allow people with IBD to access disabled toilet facilities without being challenged, after a survey conducted by Crohn’s and Colitis UK found that 49% of people with IBD have been challenged when using a disabled toilet.
Speaking of his visit, Grant said “I was very pleased to visit Crohn’s and Colitis UK. The work they do to raise awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease is hugely important. I am proud and eager to support them in any way I can as the local MP.
“It is great to see that they’ve been successful in getting the signage changed at the toilets in the Galleria, and I am particularly pleased that many of the toilets in the Houses of Parliament now feature these new signs too! I am keen to see that other public toilet facilities across Welwyn Hatfield and indeed the entire country join them in accommodating this change.”
After Grant’s visit, CEO Sarah Steele said: “We are delighted to have welcomed Grant Shapps to our offices to discuss in more detail the work we carry out to help people with Crohn’s and Colitis. Having the support of our local MP is significant and we are grateful to Grant for having taken time out of his busy schedule to meet members of the charity and some of inspirational supporters who were in on the day to judge our Alex Demain Award for young fundraisers.”.
To learn more about Crohn’s and Colitis UK’s work, visit https://www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk/.
The flames have subsided but public sentiment towards Mossmorran after its latest flaring episode has definitely not.
While nearly a year had passed since the previous incident, the volume of smoke emitted for two hours on the first day and the intensity of the flaring over the week was highly unusual.
It was hardly surprising, therefore, that local residents, scunnered by a series of events in 2017/18, picked up their phones or wrote to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to complain. Over 900 of you – a record high number.
The plant and SEPA both maintain the flaring, while fierce, posed no health risk and while the public is yet to be convinced on that fact, the appalling impact by way of light, noise and vibration pollution was incontrovertible.
After I was elected I was determined to tackle this issue and set up the Mossmorran Working Group to bring the ExxonMobil, Shell, safety authorities, elected and community representatives together for the first time.
Progress was made on the back of that breakthrough. Communication from the plant improved, parties became more accountable, a significant air monitoring exercise had begun.
It was highly ironic and hugely disappointing, therefore, that a Best Available Techniques (BAT) report which had been months in the making, was issued in the midst of that flaring; a report designed to review the entire plant’s structure and processes with the aim of preventing or minimising unplanned flaring.
This latest episode was caused by a cable which developed a sudden fault and an investigation has been launched by SEPA, who issued the Mossmorran a final written warning last year.
As things stand now, I believe this is no longer just a reputational issue for the companies concerned but also a reputational issue for SEPA and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
There are too many open questions for communities and calls for a full independent enquiry comes out of sheer frustration at ongoing safety and health concerns simply not being seen to be adequately addressed.
A Public Meeting is due to take place at Lochgelly Town Hall this Friday (May 17) at 7pm and I’ll be there as a member of the panel, alongside representatives from the Mossmorran Action Group (MAG) and SEPA.
Communities will have an opportunity to air their views and seek some answers.
One question the community will no doubt want answered in the short-term is: what decisive action are the regulatory authorities going to take now?
SEPA’s investigation process is far too long, and in the eyes of the public has not delivered an outcome that addresses the very real concerns they have.
SEPA and HSE must now show they are on the side of the public and be prepared to deliver some tangible outcomes. Nothing less will do.
The government has been in talks with the Labour Party to see if a route forward can be agreed that enables us to leave the EU. I am told the talks have been detailed, but are yet to reach a successful conclusion.
It seems unlikely, but not impossible that they will reach an agreement – few in Labour want to deliver Brexit and their primary objective is to bring about a general election – and in the event that they do reach agreement, I will be very concerned if that is a permanent customs union, which I consider to be a bad outcome for the country.
My view remains that if Parliament cannot agree to an orderly exit with a deal, we should leave without one as soon as possible. This outcome is not my preference, but it is preferable to the referendum result being overturned or the U.K. being stuck in debilitating limbo for very much longer. Unfortunately, I am in a minority in Parliament in this respect. Only 140 MPs voted to leave on 29 March regardless of a deal.
If there is a change in leader in the Conservative Party, one of my tests will be their willingness to support leaving without a deal if required to increase the likelihood of a genuine negotiation with the EU.
Nonetheless, he or she will have to find agreement in Parliament for doing so, or call a general election and seek a mandate in the country. An election would clearly be a risky gambit.
Brexit is a process that will take time, but I know that a majority of my constituents want us to get on with it, leave and return to all the other important issues.
John Penrose has welcomed new Government cash to tackle homelessness. A letter to John from the Communities Secretary, James Brokenshire MP, says over £74,000 will be given to North Somerset forspecialist support to help rough sleepers turn their lives around. This is on top of the £25,000 pledged by the Town Council to support Weston’s Night Shelter.
John said, “Weston’s Night Shelter does vital work providing shelter for homeless people. But we’ve also got to address the really difficult and varying underlying problems that put people on the streets in the first place, like addiction, mental illness or a relationship breaking down. Fixing those problems means tailored, individual help to get lives back on track, which is exactly what this cash is supposed to do. I’m delighted Ministers have listened to what I and many other people have been saying about this for a while. It won’t fix everything in one go, but it’s an absolutely essential step in the right direction.”
Notes To Editors
In August 2018, the government unveiled its Rough Sleeping Strategy, which set out the next steps towards achieving the aim of supporting everyone off the streets and into a home and to end rough sleeping for good by 2027.
John was invited to open Weston’s Night Shelter in December 2018: https://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/news/weston-night-assessment-centre-officially-opens-1-5800934
When government ministers talk about the UK’s strengths, they usually mention our universities. And rightly so. When it comes to higher education, the line so beloved of the speechwriters about Britain punching above our weight is undoubtedly true.
But as we grapple with Brexit, these fine words are in danger of sounding hollow. Our universities are suffering as a result. Domestically, an immigration policy that treats overseas students and researchers as a problem to be managed, rather than a boon for our economy and intellectual firepower, is self-defeating.
Including students in the migration cap, setting too high a salary threshold for admitting academic staff and limiting post-study work opportunities puts UK universities at a competitive disadvantage.
The debate around the current review into higher education, led by Philip Augar, suggests a zero-sum game between universities, which are global as well as local institutions, and further education’s technical and vocational courses.
This simplistic idea of competing interests can only harm the sector. Internationally, failing to associate fully with EU programmes such as Horizon Europe, for science, and Erasmus, for student exchanges — nor come to sensible arrangements on EU student fees — will also worsen the outlook. I know from my time as a minister that no one in government ever took a decision deliberately to undermine the competitive position of our universities.
In the big debate of our time, on being “open versus closed”, no one has decided that the UK will be closed. That’s not how the process works. Instead, you get a barely noticeable process of de-prioritisation, in which strategic decisions follow the path of least resistance. And in the current anti-elitist climate it is unfashionable to defend universities. Even in a successful sector you need to keep swimming to stay afloat — we assume our universities will continue to do well because they have always done so.
This is alarming. Our rivals in international education and research do not share this relaxed attitude: Australia, Canada and Germany, among others, work hard to recruit overseas students, build international research partnerships and show foreign researchers they are valued.
Michael Müller, the Mayor of Berlin, planned to make his city an international research hub. Unsurprisingly, Oxford has set up a joint programme with four Berlin universities. The Wellcome Trust is opening an office there. Once Britain is outside the EU, the Netherlands will have most of the English speaking universities in the bloc.
This competition means we need to think very hard before starting again at ground zero. Scrapping institutions or relationships for a utopian promise of something better is essentially un-Conservative. It takes significant amount of time, money and state capacity to replicate a well-established programme. Meanwhile, the rest of the world will be exploiting the gaps we’ve left.
Brexit’s most sophisticated advocates promised that leaving the EU would make the UK smarter in its engagement with the world. It is time we made good on this idea, rather than sleepwalking into the decline of one of the things our country excels at.
This means engaging with our closest neighbours. If we are serious about making our way in the world, with or without Brexit, we have to become more adept at global outreach and, crucially, play the long game. For the UK, this means recognising how fortunate we are that the English language is the lingua franca of law, business and culture; it is in our strategic interest to maintain this advantage.
There is nothing inevitable about our falling behind. We must act, plan and evolve to maintain our natural lead as English-speakers as the world changes. This means programmes like Erasmus must be evaluated in the round; yes, more EU students come to the UK than the other way around, but the soft power we gain from that is enormous.
If we want Global Britain to be more than a bumper sticker, we have to match our ambition with action. Ministers need to look decades ahead because that is what other countries are doing. A piecemeal, reactive approach will not do — we need a confident and considered long-term plan.
This means a strategy that brings together migration policy with export opportunities, the potential for young Britons to live and study abroad and moves tomake it easier for our universities to expand overseas. Our reputation as an educational superpower is based on attracting the talented and the entrepreneurial.
Whether you are a Leaver or Remainer, if we are to succeed as a country that lives by its wits and stands at the forefront of science, technology and learning, then a world class university sector must lie at the heart of a positive vision of Britain’s future.
The running sore that is the continuation of Operation Brock of the M20, restricting the London-bound carriageway to two lanes, is going to continue until November at least, I am sorry to report.
The European Elections are going to be crucial. Far more than choosing the representatives who will take their seats in the European Parliament, this election is a battle of hearts and minds. Our country is at a crossroads, and only Labour can provide the progressive voice we need.
Over the past few months, my inbox has been flooded with concern about the climate crisis, about the injustices that ravage our continent and the Government’s calamitous handling of Brexit.
It is only the Labour candidates in London who combine the promise of radical reform in Europe and who pledge to support a second referendum. As someone who voted against triggering Article 50 and who has been passionately in favour of a second referendum, I wouldn’t consider giving my vote to any party but the Labour Party.
With nationalism and division rampant, our London Labour MEP candidates will provide a powerful antidote. Tommy Robinson and Nigel Farage claim to speak for the people, but all they offer is a toxic concoction of bigotry and isolationism which will make us all less safe and poorer. This election is your opportunity to vote to unite the country and set about creating a more equal future for all. Only Labour can provide this.
At this election, I hope that you can see fit to support our London Labour candidates:
If you have any further questions about our candidates then get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org
I met with the new rail franchise provider for the Midlands Mainline train services – a Dutch company called ‘Abellio’ – who were confirmed to take on services for the next eight years by the Transport Minister this week.
They have made a number of commitments on train services and quality which I will try to hold them to account on. In particular I’m worried about the continued ‘slam door’ trains where passengers have to lean outside to open the door, because this makes the service inaccessible for many people with mobility difficulties.
Meanwhile, legal action has been launched by Stagecoach against the Department for Transport after the company was excluded from the bidding process for the East Midlands rail franchise due to a ‘non-compliant’ bid due to the Department’s concerns about its pension commitments.
According to Stagecoach, bidding parties for franchises have been asked to bear a full long-term funding risk. The Pensions Regulator has estimated that, to address the pensions shortfall, the UK rail industry needs an additional £5-6bn.
Stagecoach has also been barred from South Eastern’s and West Coast Partnership’s bidding process.
I do not often write about military matters because there are no MOD bases in my constituency. But I want to do so now to highlight a military matter which I believe we ignore at our peril.
This latest news from Tata means yet more uncertainty for steelworkers. Their announcement about keeping Port Talbot is a start, but now we need real commitment from Tata on Trostre. We need close cooperation from the company with the Trade Unions.
Lee Waters AM and I will be urging UK Government to follow Welsh Government in doing everything possible to secure the future of our steel industry.
Aberavon AM David Rees and Stephen Kinnock MP seek urgent meeting with Tata following the
suspension of the Joint Venture with Thyssenkrupp AG.
Following today’s announcement of the suspension of the joint venture between Tata Steel and Thyssenkrupp AG, David Rees, Assembly Member for Aberavon, and Stephen Kinnock Member of Parliament for Aberavon have spoken to Tata Steel UK to arrange an urgent meeting to discuss the future of steel making in Wales, in particular the future of steel making at Tata’s Port Talbot plant.
Port Talbot is the largest steel making site in the UK and over the last several turbulent years, Steel workers across Wales have given their whole hearted commitment to the steel industry, including an agreement to reduce their pension benefits, and they are now, once again, concerned over the future of the Port Talbot works. The announcement today that the merger with Thyssenkrupp AG has been suspended comes following many years of instability over the future of the plant at Port Talbot. It was hoped that the JV would bring stability to the sector here in Wales, however, today’s announcement (Friday 10th May 2019) extends the rollercoaster that steel workers, their families, their communities, and the supply chain have been experiencing. Unions and Aberavon Labour politicians are now calling on Tata Steel to ensure the workforce that the future of the plant is not at risk.
Local MP Maria Miller met with the Basingstoke Business and Enterprise Forum to update them on Business in Basingstoke . She then answered questions from attendees.
The Basingstoke Business & Enterprise Forum(BBEF) is an organisation providing an independent middle ground where businesses can meet, build rapport and give a viewpoint to their MP Maria Miller and Government Ministers. Members include FTSE 100 companies, SMEs and established local businesses.
The Llandudno Bible Week was formed following the 400th Anniversary of the King James VI bible. It attracts visitors from all over North Wales and NW England. This year it is moving to the beautifully refurbished Gloddaeth Church in the centre of town. Gloddaeth Street (Llandudno Presbyterian Chapel) was built in 1880 and rebuilt in 1891.
Jonathan with Shailesh Vara MP and Daniel Zeichner MP meeting the Chief Constable and the Police & Crime Commissioner to discuss County policing matters.
Tracy Brabin MP addressed school leaders at the National Association of Head Teachers conference over the weekend where she spoke about government failures and the importance of getting early years education right.
During her speech the Batley and Spen MP covered Labour’s offer of properly funded 30 hours of free childcare for all 2-4 years olds, Sure Start centres, exciting plans for a National Education Service and much more.
Tracy Brabin MP’s speech in full:
It’s an absolute pleasure to be with you all here in Telford – a place that just put its faith in Labour to run its council once again – and to be among some of the most passionate, and excellent educational leaders our country has to offer.
During my time with you today I’d like to tell you a bit about me and where my passion for education comes from, explain where I feel the current government needs to do better and what education will look like under the next Labour Government.
As mentioned in the introduction, my name is Tracy Brabin and I’m the MP for Batley and Spen.
Before becoming a Member of Parliament I worked as an actor, in Coronation Street and EastEnders, then as a writer, working on shows such as Hollyoaks, Shameless and Tracy Beaker.
Then in 2016 on the eve of the Referendum on our membership of European Union, Jo Cox was killed in the very village I grew up in.
I stood as the Labour candidate in the by-election that followed and during my first spell in parliament I joined the Women and Equalities Select Committee.
Focusing on important issues such as equality in the workplace, getting women back into work and highlighting issues surrounding maternity discrimination.
Then 2017, Theresa May called the general election and I was honoured to be re-elected.
Jeremy Corbyn asked me to join his front bench – working on Early Years in Angela Rayner’s shadow education team.
It felt like a natural fit, so I said yes, and haven’t looked back since.
From acting, writing and now a politician – it has been a varied and excited career. And one I feel lucky to have had.
But I know full well that I would not be here today, and I wouldn’t have walked on that fabled, cobbled, Corrie Street if it wasn’t for the education I received.
It is the foundation that my life has been built on.
From a working class family, I received state education and it was of high quality and supported me.
And more than that, something that is very important to me, is that there was creativity – drama, music and self-expression.
When I look around my constituency in West Yorkshire today – I sadly don’t see the same opportunities for children as the ones I had.
You won’t be surprised to hear that I believe the record of the Conservative Party over the last nine years in government has been poor.
As the Shadow Minister for Early Years, I want to focus on this area. Not least because it is the most important.
Just last week we saw the damning evidence from the Government’s own Social Mobility Commission that showed Inequality will remain entrenched in the UK “from birth to work” unless the government takes urgent action.
It found that about a half (52%) of disadvantaged teenagers leave school without basic qualifications and many get stuck in low-paid work.
If we don’t get the gap down – the one that too often exists between the disadvantaged children their better off peers by the time they show up at the school gates – we’re so often playing a loosing game of catch up.
This is why I’m so passionate about policy in the early years and also why I so often feel completely deflated at where we are now.
First of all, let’s look at the big one – the 30 hours of free childcare – a Conservative pledge at the 2015 general election.
It came into effect during the summer of 2017 and was an incredible opportunity. One that could have transformed our early education system – put to bed once and for all the idea that state responsibility for education starts with school.
But the reality was quite different. Nearly as soon as the policy was announced there were rumblings that the funding levels weren’t enough – and those rumblings have got louder and louder.
Settings, to trade union, think-tanks, local authorities, Members of Parliament, maintained Nursery Schools and even two House of Commons select committees have sought more money for the policy – but so far nothing from the Government.
Recent NDNA researched showed –
As a result we have seen outstanding and experienced providers closing their doors for good.
And as I travel up and down the country, even in nurseries that aren’t at direct risk of closure – far too often the attention of the leaders in those nurseries has been moved from what’s going on in the soft play area to what the spreadsheets are saying.
That’s not what we want for our children.
The funding levels as we’ve just discussed – and we also had the chaos of a sign-up system for parents that didn’t work, remember that?
They also wanted to exclude fostered children from the policy for no other reason than they were fostered – only reversing this after we mounted a campaign.
But despite all of that – there is one element I find truly unforgivable.
If we accept that high quality early years education can change the life of a child – and I think we all agreed that it can –
And if we believe the overwhelming evidence that there is a gap between the rich and poor on the first day of school –
Then why on earth have the Conservatives only permitted children whose parents work to benefit for 30 hours of free childcare?
By it’s very nature this is a policy that every single day is locking the poorest children in the country out.
And I believe in years to come we will find that it has had a negative impact on social mobility.
But don’t worry too much – we’ve got big plans to change that – which I’ll come onto.
Before that though, I want to discuss the disadvantaged two-year-olds funded hours.
The poorest two-year olds are eligible for 15 hours of free childcare every week yet consistently 3 out of 10 are missing out.
We must do better than that – and the Government need to invest in a public awareness campaign. It’s not good enough to simply create it and expect it to be found.
And an issue I know is important to many of you is Maintained Nursery Schools.
So often the crème de la crème of early years education –
Usually based in areas of disadvantage – a qualified teacher in every classroom – strong leadership – linked in with other local services – overwhelmingly well rated with Ofsted
This is a successful model with a track record to be proud of.
But they have been treated so badly in recent years.
Many have disappeared and we’re years into a campaign for fairer funding to secure the future of Maintained Nursery Schools.
I know there was some stopgap funding announced recently – but come on…..
Planning year by year or even month by month isn’t fair and we shouldn’t ask school leaders to do it.
So – what are we going to do instead –
Well this is the part I’m most enthusiastic about.
When in Government, I’ll make sure that our early years and childcare sector is treated with the respect that it deserves.
I want to put quality right at the heart of our Early Years Plan. And talk boldly about Early Education as well as childcare.
And as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn laid out at our annual conference –
We’re going to provide 30 hours of funded childcare and early education hours to all 2-4 year olds, and it’s going to be available universally so the poorest – and those children who would benefit most – don’t miss out.
I know that this may sound like more of the same, but crucially Labour would use capital expenditure to make sure the funding rates are high enough.
The funding rate is going to be £7.35 per hour by the end of our first term in government.
We’ll deliver this significant investment into early years because we appreciate that quality comes at a cost and that it’s the best for future generations.
And I want to work hand in hand with the sector – including the NAHT – to help raise and maintain the standards of childcare across the board.
This week we revealed a 10-year plan to shift to a graduate-led workforce and improve the pay and skills of childcare staff with a new national pay scale for all early years workers starting at £10 an hour.
Because you all know that our incredible practitioners deserve a pay rise.
When I visit settings and see the dedication and enthusiasm for the job I’m saddened that early years and childcare is one of lowest paid sectors of the economy.
Early years professionals earn less than half the median wage of qualified teachers.
Nurseries and childminders provide a vital public service and we’re going to make sure they’re paid properly to reflect that – attracting the best and brightest to the sector too.
And I want more men in the sector – something I know we agree on.
With more pay and training opportunities I hope we’ll be able to end the recruitment crisis facing so many of our settings.
I’m delighted that Jeremy Corbyn also laid out further details of some of our other exciting policies.
Because we realise that 30 hours may not be enough for all parents, we would introduce subsidised childcare, on a tiered basis which would mean the lowest earners get the most help accessing the care they need.
And those at the upper end of the household income will pay up to £4 per hour.
In order to avoid overburdening parents and settings with different support schemes we’re going to do away with Tax-Free childcare.
It has proved unpopular with parents – the take up has been vastly less than expected. (£800m less in the first year). It’s also regressive in that it helps those with the deepest pockets the most.
And I can’t discuss our plans without mentioning Sure Start, a service that has been decimated by the current Government.
So we will ring-fence funding for Sure Start meaning that children, no matter where they live, will have access to services. Ending the current post code lottery.
Which has got to be our mission, if we truly want to be a country of social mobility it means not standing by and watching as children fall behind.
And we’ll improve what happens behind those school gates too –
The current academy system is over-centralised, inefficient, undemocratic, and does not improve standards in our schools or outcomes for pupils.
Parents, communities, and teachers are shut out of decisions about schools and vulnerable children are being let down by the system.
Our schools have had their budgets cut year after year, we are facing a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention. They’ve cut 2.7 billion pounds from school budgets in England
And you, our school leaders are being forced to ask parents for money for even the most basic provisions to teach their students.
Meanwhile, the leaders of some multi-academy trusts are earning fat cat salaries from taxpayers’ money while financial mismanagement and scandals grow.
Under Angela Rayner Labour in Government would end the fragmentation of our school system, giving power back to communities so that our schools are run by and accountable to the people who know them best – parents, teachers, and local communities.
We will return significant powers to local government, including making them responsible for all school admissions in their areas, and giving them the powers they need to open and commission new schools to create the places their communities need.
We’ll end the current free schools and academies programme, moving towards a new system, integrated in our National Education Service, where all schools follow the same rules, and schools are meaningfully accountable to the parents and communities they serve.
And we’ll invest again in schools.
6.87 billion extra a year, for free school meals, an arts Pupil Premium and an improved funding formula.
This is our vision for education through out National Education System and I hope every single one of you in this room are as excited as I am because you all have a large part to play.
And let me finish by saying from the bottom of heart – thank you for everything that you do for children.
When I visit nurseries, primaries and secondaries – despite all of the clear challenges that you face – I am constantly assured that children will thrive under the leadership of their schools. I hope we can make your life easier soon.
On Thursday I attended one of the Wiltshire Council public meetings to discuss the future about our special schools. I am deeply concerned about the plans and believe we save St Nicholas school in Chippenham but move it to a new site to cater for more children. The Council’s intention is to improve and expand our special school provision locally which I agree with but I do not agree the ‘one school’ vision will do that especially given parent concerns over travel times.
Whilst Larkrise is just outside my constituency I have many constituents who send their children there – the school has a fantastic reception amongst parents and closing it would be quite short sighted. This consultation has been extended until 5pm tomorrow so do send in your thoughts:
One of the greatest joys of Herefordshire is the amazing range and quality of its music.
I was reminded of how true this is last Saturday, when I went to hear the recitals of the Hereford Police Choir music bursary competition at Holy Trinity Church.
Local community projects, Double Impact and Unplugged Recycling, were today praised by Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness, for the great work they do to support people with learning disabilities and those recovering from addictions.
The MP described the groups’ work as ‘excellent’ when he visited them today (Friday 3 May) to meet local volunteers and people who have benefited from the projects.
Drug and alcohol recovery charity, Double Impact, received almost £420,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, last year to deliver its Boston Recovery Pathways project over a four year period.
During his visit, Matt Warman MP learned how Double Impact is putting this money to good use in helping people experiencing drug and alcohol problems to break the cycle of addiction and support them to live independently. People are supported on a one to one basis and connected to resources that can help them achieve their recovery and life goals. Additionally, the project will be holding peer support sessions and training for family members, so they are in a better informed position to support their loved one.
Steve Youdell, Operations Director at Double Impact, said: “The National Lottery funding has been a complete game changer – we wouldn’t be able to do what we do in Boston without it. It’s helping us reach more people who need this specific support in order to build self-esteem and self-belief. Local organisations in Boston have welcomed our new project and referral pathways into the project have been established. With the grant, we’ve been able to recruit two new members of staff, one of whom is multi-lingual, enabling us to help people who don’t speak English and connect them with others who have similar backgrounds and experiences.
“It was a pleasure to host Matt Warman MP to share our achievements and how we continue to support people with addictions and break down the stigma around drug and alcohol problems. If anyone is interested in finding out more about Boston Recovery Pathways or accessing our services please email email@example.com or call 01205 205028.”
Unplugged Recycling, based in Boston, was awarded over £320,000 of National Lottery funding in 2015 to provide volunteering opportunities to people with learning disabilities in recycling and refurbishing electrical goods like kettles and washing machines, reducing the amount of waste going to landfill. Matt Warman MP heard how these items are then passed on to local people in need, such as those who have been homeless in the past, in return for a small donation. A pick-up truck has also been purchased with the money so that the materials and goods can be transported.
Sophie Mann, Director at Unplugged Recycling said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to support around 50 people with learning disabilities every year to learn new skills, with most going on to secure paid employment. The funding also helps us to transport them to and from our unit in Boston, as many live in rural areas with little or no public transport. It was great to be able to show Matt Warman MP the work we carry out in the local community and how this benefits people in Boston and the surrounding area.”
Matt Warman MP said: “It’s fantastic to hear that thousands of pounds of National Lottery funding has gone to projects in Boston and Skegness – including Double Impact and Unplugged Recycling that are serving the local community. I was impressed to hear about the excellent work that goes on to empower people with learning disabilities to learn new skills, as well as the support on offer for people who are experiencing alcohol and drug addictions, and their families.”
Matt Poole, Senior Head of Regional Funding for the Midlands at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “We’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across the UK. Great projects like Double Impact and Unplugged Recycling are bringing people together to boost their wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence. People know what’s needed in their communities better than anyone else – our funding supports them to help their communities thrive.”
The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded over half a billion pounds and supported over 11,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes, with 90% of the grants under £10,000. To find out more visit www.TNLCommunityFund.org.uk
The St Michael & All Angels Church in Brimington is trying to raise £100k to pay for a new heating system and to make the church more accessible for disabled and elderly church goers.
Chesterfield MP, Toby Perkins, recently visited the Church to meet with Reverend Daniel Cooke and has now given his support to the fundraising campaign.
Toby said, “the heating system at the Church is older than Reverend Cooke himself and it can get almost unbearably cold. The building is a great space that could be utilised more by the community if the heating system was replaced and a refurbishment completed to make it more accessible and usable”.
As well as replacing the heating system, the Church is planning to remove the old pews, which are inaccessible for many disabled and elderly people, and introduce more flexible seating that will allow access for wheelchairs and pushchairs, and make the building more suitable for community activities and events. The Church has already raised £20k of their £100k target, and is now being supported to apply for a grant by Toby Perkins and other groups.
Toby added, “There are other churches in the Chesterfield area that have modernised and become more accessible, and they have become real community hubs. Hopefully, the St Michael & All Angels Church can do the same and I would urge people to donate what they can.”
Donations can be made via the Church’s Justgiving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stmichaelsheatingandseating
It is always an honour to be asked to speak and to lay a wreath at the Workers’ Day Memorial Service held in Saltwell Park’s rose garden.
I was joined by a number of people, including the Mayor of Gateshead and Leader of Gateshead Council, in paying our respects to those who have already suffered as a result of injury or illness caused by the workplace. As always, it is a reminder that we must remember the dead, and continue to fight for the living.
High Peak MP Ruth George is swapping the polished halls of Westminster for the muddy terrain of the Peak District this weekend as she takes part in this year’s Bog Commander event in aid of Blythe House Hospice.
Ruth takes up the story: “Last year I promised I’d help Blythe House Hospice to raise funds by doing Bog Commander – 6.3km of mud, hills and obstacles – not what MPs are supposed to do!
“After hearing that Blythe House is losing its Lottery funding for Children’s Bereavement Counselling – and having met some of the children who’ve suffered the loss of a loved one and been helped by this service, I wanted to help.
“Losing someone we love is never easy, but for children the pain and grief can be overwhelming. Blythe House Hospice’s Bereavement Counselling has supported countless local children through personal tragedy and the Lottery funding cannot be easily replaced.
“I’ve had a chest infection, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to compete in this tough local event, but thanks to our great local NHS my asthma is back in its box and I’m raring to go on Saturday! Please feel free to come and cheer all the competitors on Saturday from 10am, more details at: on the Bog Commander website.
“Please sponsor me to see your MP as you’ve never seen me before – and to help Blythe House continue to support local children who need their kindness, are and professional skills. Thank you!”
You can sponsor Ruth via her Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ruth-george8
More details on the Bog Commander website: http://www.bogcommander.co.uk
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Bristol South MP Karin Smyth is pleased to be chairing the inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Trailer and Towing Safety in Westminster on Tuesday 30 April 2019.
The creation of this cross-party group is a significant step forward in the campaign to improve trailer safety. As part of the meeting, The National Towing Working Group, chaired by Highways England, will be launching their first ever Safety Framework, with the aim of reducing towing-related incidents, both business and leisure related, across the GB road network.
It follows two Trailer Safety Summits, which Karin hosted in her Bristol South constituency in 2017 and 2018, an amendment to the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act requiring the government to collect data on trailer related incidents and ongoing talks with the government’s Road Safety Minister Jesse Norman MP over further potential changes to legislation.
Karin first spoke about the issue in Parliament in 2016 after meeting with constituents Donna and Scott Hussey – who lost their 3-year-old son Freddie when he was hit by a trailer that had come loose from a vehicle in Bedminster in 2014.
Thanks to Karin’s work with the Hussey family, the DVSA went on to release new guidelines for towing safety and launched the #TowSafe4Freddie campaign to help raise awareness among drivers. Karin has since teamed up with the National Trailer and Towing Association (NTTA) to promote free roadside safety checks for trailers, but believes more is needed to protect road users and pedestrians – which is why she has launched the new APPG.
The APPG brings together MPs from the main political parties, industry representatives and consumer groups to explore the issue of trailer and towing safety. The group, for which the National Caravan Council (NCC) is the secretariat, will discuss a programme of work for the future and will, this summer, discuss the Department for Transport’s Trailer Safety Report, which will be published in July as a result of Karin’s intervention last year (2018).
Karin said: “Working with the Hussey family, I’ve been able to bring this important issue to Westminster. We’ve come a long way since I first spoke about the issue in Parliament and, with the launch of the APPG, I’m pleased to see the concerns we have getting the attention they need. It paves the way for the changes needed in the area of towing safety over the coming months and years.
“These incidents are far too common and what has become clear during this ongoing campaign is that drivers are often unaware just how dangerous towing without the correct safety measures can be. That needs to change and thanks to our ongoing campaign and work with the likes of the NCC and NTTA, it will. I don’t want to see other families suffer in the way that young Freddie’s family has.”
Freddie’s mum Donna said: “While it has always been difficult for us to comprehend what happened to Freddie, we made a promise to each other and to Freddie that we would do all we could to make sure this issue is given the serious consideration it deserves.
“I did not realise it was an issue before it happened, but afterwards I started to look into it and saw that there were 2-3 incidents a week. We realised then that it was a real problem. In our case, if that trailer had been serviced they would’ve known that the hitch was not secured correctly. Had the driver realised there was a problem, he might not have gone out that day. People need to know that going out without the correct safety checks, you’re taking a big risk.
“We are really pleased that Karin has supported us and, thanks to her efforts, all parties are now working together to make the necessary changes happen and hopefully prevent similar tragedies. We couldn’t have done it without her. If our hard work saves one life, then it is worth it. No family should go through what we have been through. We are determined to see this through in memory of Freddie.”
“We are really pleased that Karin has supported us and, thanks to her efforts, all parties are now working together to make the necessary changes happen and hopefully prevent similar tragedies. We couldn’t have done it without her. If our hard work saves one life, then it is worth it. No family should go through what we have been through. We are determined to see this through in memory of Freddie.”
Alicia Dunne of the NCC said they were pleased to be taking a key role in this new APPG, adding: “The NCC has consistently been an advocate of trailer safety education and awareness, and we look forward to helping Karin and the group develop practical, proportionate and effective measures aimed at improving trailer and towing safety for all UK road users.”
REPORT FINDS UKG WILL NOT MEET CLIMATE CHANGE TARGETS IF IT DOES NOT INVEST
SNP MP Drew Hendry has called on the UK Government to “quit stalling and start delivering” on a Carbon Capture and Underground Storage (CCUS) scheme or devolve the powers to Holyrood so the Scottish Government can.
A “watershed” report published today by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee concludes that the UK will not be able to meet its Paris Agreement climate change targets without deploying CCUS.
The report states that failure to deploy CCUS would mean “the UK could not credibly adopt a ‘net zero emissions’ target in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C aspiration” and demands that the UK government “move away from vague and ambiguous targets and give a clear policy direction to ensure the UK seizes the industrial and decarbonisation benefits of carbon capture usage and storage.”
In 2015 the Tory Government axed the £1 billion grant to establish a CCS scheme in Peterhead – which would have created 600 jobs and made Scotland a global leader in clean energy technology – despite their 2015 manifesto promise to provide this funding.
Commenting, Drew Hendry MP said:
“The Tories must quit stalling and start delivering on a Carbon Capture and Underground Storage (CCUS) scheme to meet its climate change targets and play its part in the climate crisis fight. If it will not, it must devolve the powers to Holyrood so the Scottish Government can.
“Scotland already leads the world on engineering expertise in the energy sector but we want to go further and use these skills and infrastructure to lead the world in carbon capture and undersea storage – creating thousands of jobs and developing new technology whilst working towards meeting our ambitious climate change targets.
“The SNP are striving to create a socially just Carbon Transition that delivers for all in society. A CCUS scheme would give us the opportunity to secure energy supplies and protect manufacturing jobs whilst ensuring carbon is safely stored undersea instead of contributing to climate change.
“Today’s watershed report puts beyond doubt that the UK government must invest in CCUS if the UK is to meet its international obligations on climate change – and it must start with the investment it promised to Peterhead.
“If the UK Government continues to dither, the only option will be to place the future of Scotland’s energy entirely in Scotland’s hands.”
BEIS Committee response on CCUS: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/business-energy-industrial-strategy/news-parliament-2017/carbon-capture-report-published-17-19/
BEIS Committee Report: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmbeis/1094/109402.htm
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As the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Brunei I was concerned to read about the next level of the Sharia Penal Code that has been recently introduced in Brunei. I visited the country last November meeting the Sultan and a number of ministers and key advisers to discuss existing and developing trading links that date back for many years. The recent additions to the Penal Code had not come into force at that point.
Both Jeremy Hunt as Foreign Secretary and Penny Mordaunt as Secretary of State for Women & Equalities have taken a strong line on this matter with the Foreign Secretary tweeting after a meeting with his Bruneian counterpart: “Just had the Bruneian foreign minister to my office to drive home the UK’s shock at new Sharia law. We work well together on many issues, but profoundly disagree on this. His suggestion that Sharia prosecutions are in practice unlikely is not acceptable: everyone should be free to be who they are and love who they want.”
I share these concerns wholeheartedly and know that we will all continue to speak out at every level of government. Some petitioners have suggested that we seek to expel Brunei from the Commonwealth, some that we refuse to trade with them. However in my experience, I have found that engagement works better than boycotts, sanctions and megaphone diplomacy. As Commonwealth members we must respect one another’s cultures and traditions, but we must do so in a manner consistent with our common value of equality. We need to be at the heart of influencing countries, not on their overall governance, but on their approach to human rights.