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Keeping the lights on and homes warm

John Redwood (Wokingham)

Over the next few years we will face a reduction in nuclear power as older stations are closed, well before a new large nuclear power station comes on line. We will experience growing demands for electrical power as more people switch to electric cars and electric heating, and as the economy and the population continues to grow creating more need. There will be a further major increase in wind power, which will cover the days when there is the right level of wind to maximise turbine output without needing to shut them down through too high a wind speed. The question remains, what is the back up plan for days of high demand when the wind does not blow and when solar output is also low?

In the short term the government has brought three coal power plants back on stream to deal with shortages. These have to be kept, and perhaps could be converted to biomass to make them more reliable and popular contributors to our power output. The country relies heavily on its remaining combined cycle gas stations which produce less carbon dioxide than the coal stations per unit of output. It would be a good idea to bring several old retired gas stations back into a state of readiness to be available to produce power when the wind drops. These are matters which our managed system of generation can commission by offering capacity payments to the owners to make the facilities available.

The government should also look at how it can increase domestic gas output. Currently half the gas we use is imported. Some of this is dependent on paying high and wildly fluctuating spot market prices. Some of it is shipped long distance on tankers. If we produced more domestic gas this could pass to users via pipeline and could be purchased under contract at more stable and lower average prices. Immediately the government could allow Shell to progress the Jackdaw field, which can use the existing Shearwater platform and the existing gas and liquids pipes into St Fergus/Cruden Bay for onward distribution by the existing pipe network. This would be a greener method of supplying gas than the imports and provide us with more national resilience in energy provision. The government should review its other options for producing more UK gas as a transition fuel whilst it puts in place much more reliable renewable electricity and better storage for variable wind power.

20 October 2021
Dunne backs Lords Amendment to the Environment Bill on sewage discharge into rivers

Speaking in a debate on the Lords Amendments to the Environment Bill, Philip Dunne welcomes the addition of the primary clause from his Private Member’s Bill on sewage discharge into rivers but raises concerns that the Government's proposed drainage and sewerage management plans are not enforceable and calls for a provision in statute to compel water companies to address the issue.

Philip Dunne (Ludlow) (Con)

It is a great pleasure to be in the Chamber physically to discuss the Environment Bill, which the Select Committee I am privileged to chair considered in pre-legislative scrutiny. I share the pleasure of the Minister and the House that, at last, this Bill is at the point of concluding its passage.

I will confine my remarks to Lords amendment 45 and Government amendment (a) thereto. I do so because the origins of much of the work, as the Minister has been generous to admit—the Government amendments and amendment 45—stem from the private Member’s Bill I was fortunate to be able to introduce to this House before covid struck.

6.15pm

As a consequence of the pandemic and its impact on the parliamentary schedule, this is the first opportunity I have had since February 2020 to discuss the subject of that Bill, because we never got to Second Reading. Therefore, it is of immense pleasure to see many of the points raised by me. I had support across the House. 

Some 135 MPs were kind enough to express support for the campaign that non-governmental organisations got together to support my Bill. We had the support of about 20 different campaigning groups, which helped to craft the Bill and to gain support from members of the public. We had close to 95,000 people at the most recent count, but at the time of the Bill about 45,000 people expressed support for it.

One thing that happened during covid was the enforced extra leisure time that people up and down the country had. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard), who speaks for the Opposition, described his own joy of wild swimming. It was a new-found joy for many people, including members of my family, during lockdown. They were finding the rivers and waterways of our country a suitable place for recreation. They would not have expected them to be as adversely polluted as they have been. This has been a result of many factors, but, in particular, sewage over the past decade or so.

I did not come into politics to stand up and talk about crap. I am not going to use that word again, but I have become something of an expert on dealing with human effluent in this country. It is not a particularly comfortable place for me and I do not want to have to do it for the rest of my life, but at the moment I am finding that there is a great deal of interest, inside and outside this place, in how we ensure that we do not treat the arteries of nature, which is what our rivers are, as the cesspit of humanity. The measures that the Minister has taken up with alacrity from my Bill are all moving in the right direction to take steps to reduce the discharge of sewage into our rivers and thence into our oceans.

I wish to start my specific remarks by paying tribute to the Minister for the work she has done in picking up my Bill, persuading her officials that this was important to her and therefore making progress when the Bill got to the Lords in the way that she has described to us this evening. She wanted to support my private Member’s Bill when it was first introduced, but at that point in the parliamentary cycle the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had a legislative load of unprecedented scale. It had the Agriculture Bill, the Fisheries Bill, the Environment Bill and all the Brexit statutory instrument legislation, and said that that was the reason why it could not at that time get behind my Bill. The Minister has personally delivered these changes, and I want to acknowledge that and thank her for doing so.

Equally, I wish to put on the record my thanks to members of the other place who have also grappled with this issue closely, particularly the Duke of Wellington. I am pleased to tell the Chamber that it is the Duke of Wellington and not the Duke of Westminster, as he is frequently referred to in that place in these debates, who picked up the primary clause of my Bill, the duty on water companies not to discharge sewage and to progressively reduce harm and improve the sewerage system. That is the amendment he put before the House and the Lords decided to bring back to this House. I accept, having discussed this at considerable length with him and with the Minister, that that amendment is not perfect and things could be done to improve it, but it does reflect the core of my private Member’s Bill. Although I agree with everything else in Lords amendment 45 and will vote for it, I am not in a position to vote for Government amendment (a) to the Lords amendment because, as others in the House have expressed quite well, we need to ensure that water companies feel that provision is there in statute to compel them to pay attention to the issue. The water management plans are a good idea, but they do not have statutory force and could be changed. I do not think this Minister would do anything other than bear down on water companies in respect of this issue, but it may have less priority under another Minister.

John Redwood 

Is there a possible compromise? The Minister said that the regulator could set and enforce targets and extract penalties; would that be a way forward? Could we get the Minister to come up with some tough regulatory targets that fall short of the absolute guarantee of a legal statement?

Philip Dunne 

There will be targets—there are water-quality targets in the Bill anyway—and the Minister referred to the guidance that she is on the point of finalising for the next pricing review period for Ofwat. My Committee, the Environmental Audit Committee, is currently conducting an inquiry into water quality, and we will make some recommendations to strengthen that guidance, so there are tools that can be used. That does not, though, get away from the fact that in my view there should be a primary legislative duty on water companies, to persuade them to treat this issue with sufficient seriousness.

People, including my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Sir Bernard Jenkin), have quite reasonably asked what the proposal would cost. Last week, our Committee heard evidence from Thames Water, which is currently investing in the largest capital treatment-works programme in our lifetime. It is a £4.6 billion investment, the purpose of which is to take away 37 million tonnes of sewage, out of a total of 39 million tonnes spilt legally into the Thames by Thames Water. It will have a huge impact on the reduction of the amount of sewage that is legally spilt into the Thames. The cost will be an increase of £19 per household in the bills of Thames Water’s water-rates payers in London. That illustrates quite well that, although the costs of improving the network are going to be significant —possibly huge: the Minister gave a range that is even bigger than the amount the Government have spent to combat covid—it will take decades.

When we asked the Secretary of State about this issue last year, when he appeared before our Committee for a different inquiry, he acknowledged that we will not deal with the problem of exceptional spillages out of water-treatment plants until such a time as the drainage system completely separates surface water from foul water. There are something like 200,000 km of combined sewers underneath our streets and fields. While they are combined, it provides the opportunity for water-treatment plants to be overwhelmed by excessive rainfall. The Opposition spokesman, the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, made the point that it is meant to happen only on an exceptional basis, but it absolutely is happening routinely. We discovered that information after the Government put pressure on the water companies to introduce event-duration monitors, which they have now done across almost all the network. That is giving rise to the information that The Guardian is collating that shows that the completely unacceptable spillage of sewage into rivers is routine. It has to stop. That was the intention behind my private Member’s Bill and is the reason why I continue to talk about this subject ad nauseum. I am much looking forward to the day when this Bill receives Royal Assent and I can get on to other matters.

Hansard

Artificial Intelligence

George Freeman (Mid Norfolk)

20 October 2021
Artificial Intelligence

George Freeman, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, responds to a Westminster Hall debate on the future impact of artificial intelligence on the economy and society.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (George Freeman)

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Davies; to be back on the Front Bench to make the case for science and technology in this country; and to respond to my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Nick Fletcher), who has done his constituency and constituents a service by raising these important issues, and in exactly the spirit of our late and lamented colleague, Sir David Amess. We need in this place constituency MPs who speak for the fears, worries, anxieties and concerns of their constituencies, as my hon. Friend eloquently has. I hope to address some, if not all, of the points he made. I reassure him that they were well made and well heard and are important to the Government as we set out our plans for the UK to be an AI powerhouse.

I am framing my new role as Minister for Science, Research and Innovation around two key projects. First is the mission to be a science superpower. In many ways we already are, but we need to maintain that to be able to grow a modern, innovative, prosperous and high-skilled economy. Secondly, crucially, is to ensure that, off the back of the pandemic, the opportunities created by Brexit and debt challenges owing to the global financial crisis and the pandemic itself, we build a much more innovative, productive, high-skilled and competitive economy by harnessing technology and innovation, to make the UK an innovation nation.

Fundamental to my mission is to make sure that the benefits currently enjoyed—not only, but heavily—in the golden triangle are spread so that we can build clusters of new sectors, new jobs, new companies and new technologies all around this country. That means not only in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, strengthening the Union, but in constituencies such as mine, which is not 40 miles from Cambridge but feels 100 years away, and like my hon. Friend’s, which hear of this technology revolution but do not see the opportunities on their own doorstep. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for so fluently raising these issues.

Of course, we already use AI across whole rafts of our society and economy to huge public benefit. I have seen, through my own career and as the former Minister for Life Sciences, the incredible power of AI software in looking at genomic and phenotypic records and very quickly—in a way that no number of scientists on their own could—identifying opportunities for new drug discovery or targeting drugs at the right patients, which has huge benefits for patient safety. In cyber-security, AI is right on the frontline of our ability to counter some quite mischievous and dark forces, in terms of both national security and economic fraud. AI already plays a crucial role for the environment. For example, in agritech, using AI with satellite data helps to identify where to apply chemicals in isolated parts of a field; rather than spraying a whole crop or field, AI identifies, by field patterns and visual optics, where chemicals need to be applied. In fact, the use of AI in plant genomics allows us to develop a whole raft of drought and disease-resistant crops, helping sustainable development.

In air traffic control, thankfully, huge computing power is applied to ensure that planes never bump into each other; it is important to have pilots when there is an emergency, but actually the AI at the heart of our electronic air traffic control system is keeping us all safe. AI is also used in other ways, including in the gaming sector, which is a huge driver of innovation and opportunities in this country, often rather below the horizon. I dare say that there is probably a cluster of games entrepreneurs in Don Valley. The gaming industry in this country is huge and drives a lot of innovation in AI that then has applications in healthcare and broader industry.

My hon. Friend raises an important point about public trust and confidence. I am positive about the importance of this technology for creating opportunities and jobs but, crucially, the public must be with us, and they must have confidence in our regulatory framework. I am glad that he referred to the report of the taskforce on innovation, growth and regulatory reform, which I led with my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith). In that report, we argue that leaving the EU presents an opportunity for the UK not to race to the bottom but actually to race to the top: to set values-based regulation for innovation that reflects the values of the people of this country.

In a whole raft of new technology sectors, the world is grappling with how to regulate: AI, autonomous vehicles, nutraceuticals, functional foods, clinical trials and digital health. We are respected internationally as a setter of standards. As my hon. Friend made clear, standards must be embedded in the values that go with the Union Jack around the world. If we can regulate with values in a way that supports innovation, I am very confident that his constituents will benefit.

That goes right to the heart of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor’s historic commitment—it is the first time in my life that I have heard such a strong commitment from Conservative leaders—to end the low-wage economy that is reliant on overseas labour. The only way to do that is by harnessing innovation to create a more productive, more competitive economy. That is the way to raise the living standards of all of our constituents—my hon. Friend’s and mine. Having heard the Chancellor and the Prime Minister announce that groundbreaking commitment at party conference, I am not sure that it has yet sunk in: that the Conservative party is absolutely determined to raise the living standards of people around the country, to raise wages and to move on from a 40 or 50-year cycle of economic boom based on very cheap labour. That is good news for my hon. Friend’s constituents as well as mine.

The computing revolution led to huge fears that we would see the automation of everything and mass redundancy, but in fact the UK has become a huge global software and computing power, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. I am confident that, if we deal with the issues that my hon. Friend raised and get the regulation and skills environment right, we will similarly become a powerhouse for new AI industries.

I will deal with the important points that my hon. Friend raised on skills, public trust, levelling up and ensuring that these technologies create jobs all around the country, values and security. In fact, I will go this afternoon to the Pacific Future Forum in Portsmouth to join leaders from the economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. There I will highlight the UK’s commitment, through our global science superpower mission, to an international framework for the safe use of AI and to using our collective liberal democratic economic heft and values to ensure that the west is developing these technologies without inadvertently leaving ourselves open to dark forces.

I will summarise where we stand and why this is such an opportunity. At the moment, the UK ranks—believe it or not—third in the world in terms of the development and deployment of AI technologies, behind only the USA and China. That is an extraordinary global advantage. AI is going to be as transformational as computing, and we are currently in bronze position in the Olympic medal table. We have a huge lead. It is important that we do not drop that lead, and that we build on it to create a prosperous economy. A third of Europe’s AI companies are here in the UK, which is twice as many as any other European country. We are also third in the world for AI investment, behind only the US and China, attracting twice as much venture capital investment into AI companies as France or Germany. We are in a very strong place in the global race to harness AI.

I turn to the points my hon. Friend made on skills, because they are very important and the Government take them seriously. Since the AI sector deal that we launched in 2018, we have been making concerted efforts to improve the skills pipeline, not just to ensure that those vital high-technology skills are there for industry but to ensure that all—his constituents and mine—have an opportunity to participate in this economy. That is why we have increasingly focused on reskilling and upskilling: so that, where there is a level of displacement, there is redeployment rather than unemployment.

That is why, through the Office for Artificial Intelligence and the Office for Students, we have funded 2,500 more postgraduate conversion courses. Those include courses particularly for students with a background not in science, technology, engineering or maths and students with a near-STEM background. There are also 1,000 scholarships for people from under-represented backgrounds, particularly women, black and disabled students. Those courses are available across the UK and, as my hon. Friend referenced, Sheffield Hallam University within the Sheffield city region is leading in this, and is one of the universities delivering those courses, which are hugely popular with students. I see that no Opposition Members are present, but Government Members will be pleased to remember that at the recent Conservative party conference the Chancellor announced that the programme will be doubled, creating 2,000 more scholarships.

South Yorkshire is quite a powerhouse in AI, with Sheffield University. There are 16 sectors for doctoral training in AI across the country, of which Sheffield is one, training 1,000 more PhDs. There is the Sheffield centre specialising in speech and language technologies—an area where the university has long pre-eminence. Like so much of the UK, South Yorkshire is in the process of reinventing itself and its economy, and I have every confidence that it will do it as well as everywhere else, not least because of Sheffield Robotics, a leading company and employer in that region.

Sheffield’s advanced manufacturing research centre currently offers more than 300 apprenticeship places to local jobseekers in the AI sector, so there is a lot to be proud of and confident of in the region. We are also seeing applications of AI at the Centre for Child Health Technology in Sheffield as part of the Olympic Legacy Park, where AI is being put to use to assist clinicians in identifying tumours via scanning. In the national AI strategy, the Government committed to supporting the National Centre for Computing Education to ensure that there is a wider reach and access to AI courses for people all around the country.

My hon. Friend mentioned the importance of the Government gripping this matter strategically, and I want to reassure him on that. The Council for Science and Technology wrote to the then Prime Minister in 2013 to advise on what it called the coming age of algorithms and the need for new research to look into these matters. The Government created the Alan Turing Institute, which is now the national hub of expertise on AI and data science. Following the independent AI review in 2017, we created the Office for AI and now the independent AI Council.

We also announced at the time the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, which is really important and goes to the heart of some of my hon. Friend’s concerns. If we are to lead in harnessing these new technologies we need to lead in regulation based on values and ethics, and reflect them as he did in his speech. I am very pleased that the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation was a recommendation from the Royal Society and the British Academy in their separate data governance report. Earlier this year, to improve public discourse on AI the CDEI engaged widely with the public and published its findings in June. We are committed to trying to grow that conversation. It recommended that the Government develop a standard for transparency on algorithms in the public sector, which I am delighted to say is work now close to completion. We have to lead this through the public sector as well as the private. That, again, speaks to the importance of values.

The international dimension is vital. I reassure my hon. Friend that in my first four weeks I have already chaired meetings with other western democracies on the importance of research security, because AI can be used for industrial espionage and intellectual property theft. It is an issue that we take very seriously, and I am jointly responsible with the Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon South (Chris Philp), for the Office for AI, which develops a cross-Government approach. As my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley referenced, the national AI strategy sets all that out.

We have required regulators such as the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Competition and Markets Authority, the Financial Conduct Authority and Ofcom to specifically consider the risks and benefits of AI within their sectors. Earlier this year, through the CDEI and the Office for Artificial Intelligence we set out with other regulators a project to remedy skills gaps in terms of knowledge of AI in the regulatory landscape. Every regulator will need to think about how it uses AI, and the risks of AI in its sector. Internationally, we have set up the Global Partnership on AI, the first multi-lateral forum, and we co-chair the data working group. The UK is playing a leading role in international discussions on AI ethics and potential regulations, including at the Council of Europe, UNESCO and the OECD, which is partly why I am going to the Pacific Future Forum this afternoon.

Time is against me, but I hope that I have addressed some of my hon. Friend’s points, and reassured him that we take them very seriously. We will harness the benefits of the technology to create those hundreds of thousands of jobs only if we bring the public with us, which we are committed to doing.

Hansard

CATHERINE STEPS UP SUPPORT FOR FOOD ON PLATE CAMPAIGN  

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell has joined a cross party group of MPs calling on the Prime Minister to take urgent action on food waste.    Two million tonnes of fresh, unsold food is wasted in the UK every year. Funding to help farmers and food producers get this food to frontline charities has now … Continue reading CATHERINE STEPS UP SUPPORT FOR FOOD ON PLATE CAMPAIGN  

Last week Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, spoke at the Festival of the Future City event in Bristol on how the city should respond to COP26. Ms Smyth has long campaigned on green matters, including the creation of green jobs and energy efficient homes, and spoke about the key issues facing Bristol in the fight against climate change such as the implications of poor housing on health as weather continues to become more extreme.

Ms Smyth also discussed what action against climate change is being taken in the constituency and spoke about the importance of community based action, highlighting local successes in food and allotments over the last few decades in areas such as Millennium Green in Hartcliffe which features a community garden and orchard.

Ms Smyth raised grave concerns about the Government’s handling of reducing our CO2 emissions. The UK is currently far off track to meeting it’s legally binding net zero target, and has no ambitious plans for green stimulus packages. Whilst other major economies such as Germany and France are pouring tens of billions of euros into low-carbon initiatives, the UK Government’s 10-Point Plan promised just £4 billion of new funding, and risks undermining the credibility of the UK’s COP presidency.

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, said:

“This decade is a crucial time in the fight against the climate crisis. The Government likes to talk big on green, yet not only is the UK way off track to meet our legally binding net-zero target, we’re not even on track to meet the less ambitious target preceding it. As hosts of COP26, the UK should be setting the pace in greening post-pandemic economies, but instead we are falling behind other major economies.

“A Labour UK Government would tackle climate change head on, with the retrofitting of insulation and other energy saving measures in housing key to fighting this challenge. Grants would be provided to low-income households, while those who can afford it will receive low-interest loans. 24% of properties in Bristol are social housing, and these homes would be the perfect buildings for Bristol City Council to start looking at retrofitting. We need warmer homes to keep energy usage down.

“The Green sector will also be vital in putting climate measures in place and levelling up skills in Bristol. 75,000 green jobs have been lost under the Conservatives in just five years, but Labour is calling for £30bn of planned investment to be brought forward as part of a green recovery stimulus package to support up to 400,000 new, clean jobs in manufacturing and low-carbon industries, including the retrofitting of houses with energy efficient technology.”

The post Karin Smyth MP highlights importance of local, community action in fight against climate change at Bristol Festival of the Future City event first appeared on Karin Smyth.

Alex responds to East Coast Cluster announcement

Alex Cunningham (Stockton North)


Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, is asking residents across Denton and Reddish to take part in Canal & River Trust’s ‘Science of Scenic Beauty’ study. People are being encouraged to ‘rate this scene’ or to upload their own pictures of local canals for others to judge. This will help provide valuable information for Canal & River Trust’s study, the ‘Science of Scenic Beauty’.

The ‘Science of Scenic Beauty’ study, undertaken in partnership with the University of Warwick, will help to determine what makes waterway spaces so scenic. The study will then inform the Canal & River Trust’s future planning, to ensure that local residents can get maximum enjoyment out of their local canals.

In Denton and Reddish, the Ashton Canal runs through Audenshaw; the lower Peak Forest Canal runs through Dukinfield and then close to both Denton and Haughton Green through the Tame Valley. There was a Stockport Branch Canal through Reddish, but this was infilled back in the 1960s – although a number of original structures still remain.

Urging local people to take part in the study, Gwynne said:

“This is great way of highlighting some of the beautiful canals we have access to across Denton and Reddish. Importantly, It’ll also help the Canal & River Trust better plan for the future and help make our waterways even more enjoyable.

 

I know from my work as Secretary of Friends of the Tame Valley just how important our local environment is, and how vital it is that as a community we all play a part in it, I’d urge anyone who’s interested to get involved!”

GP and best-selling author, Dr Amir Khan, known for his regular appearances on Good Morning Britain and Lorraine, said:

“The Canal & River Trust’s canals provide vital blue and green outdoor space, particularly in some of the nation’s most built-up and deprived communities. Spending time in these precious spaces can provide benefits gained from exercise, more sunlight, cleaner air, and the regenerative power that comes from being close to nature.”

Richard Parry, chief executive of Canal & River Trust, continued:

“Throughout the pandemic, canals have been an on-the-doorstep lifeline for millions, including many of the one in eight residents in the UK who do not have a garden. Government methodologies show that the Trust’s canals provide around £1bn in savings to the NHS each year through physical health and wellbeing benefits associated with active visits.

 

That is why we are asking people to join the Science of Scenic Beauty study, so we can better understand what makes canals so impactful on people’s health and wellbeing.”

People up and down the country are being asked to participate in the Science of Scenic Beauty study by rating images of canals and rivers online, to create hard data defining the key elements, or science behind scenic beauty. Scenery, not just greenery, has been shown to be key to better health and wellbeing. A previous study by the University of Warwick found people feel healthier when they spend time in more scenic areas, and that canals make the biggest contribution to scenic beauty in towns and cities.

More information about the study and how to take part can be found here

The post Gwynne asks local residents to help shape the future of canals appeared first on Andrew Gwynne MP.

Finalised proposals for a Low Emission Zone in Edinburgh

Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith)

A final proposed Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for Edinburgh has been published for approval ahead of its planned introduction in spring 2022.

Debbie Abrahams MP makes case for Oldham ahead of Budget

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

Debbie Abrahams MP makes case for Oldham in forthcoming Budget

Ahead of the Chancellor’s presenting the Budget and Spending Review to the Commons next week, I have written to him to make the case for Oldham.

The letter can be read in full below.

 

Dear Chancellor

AUTUMN BUDGET 2021

I am writing to you to make the case for Oldham in your forthcoming Budget.

The Conservative Government has made a commitment to ‘level up’ across the country. I welcome this.

I believe that given the challenges the people of Oldham are currently facing and have been facing over the last decade or so, Oldham should be a high priority for you.

For example, over the last 11 years while the Conservatives have been in power, life expectancy for Oldham women has decreased to 80.5 years, and life expectancy for men has barely changed at 77.17 years. This compares with the average life expectancy of a woman in England of 83.1 years and for a man of 79.4 years. 

As you know, our life expectancy is an outcome of our socio-economic circumstances; these health inequalities – the difference in how long we’re going to live and live in good health – are not inevitable; they are driven by the political choices that are made, including in your Budget.

The Prime Minister has pledged to support Professor Sir Michael Marmot’s recommendations to Build Back Fairer after his Covid Review last December revealed the UK’s high and unequal Covid death toll was driven by structural inequalities and austerity. As such I urge you to ensure that ‘health and wellbeing’ is at the heart of your economic strategy, including this autumn’s Budget. This means that ‘levelling up’ is woven into all policies and investment decisions and is not just a casual add-on to various pet projects. To do this, you must assess the impacts of your policies on tackling inequality as they are being developed and most certainly, before they are implemented. 

The second key principle is that you must decentralise power and control away from Westminster to our local communities, not just through local and regional elected representatives, but also directly.  An example of this is listening to local communities about their views on planning. Local people and Oldham Council have consistently told the Government that the level of housing development that the Government wants is unrealistic and doesn’t reflect the needs of our population now or in the future. I’ve consistently said that when new homes are built, they must be on Brownfield sites first. To do this, the Government needs to increase the funding to help clean up any contaminated land.

Thirdly, investment must go to where it’s needed. This applies to all public spending. The last 11 years have seen a shameful disinvestment in funding for local authorities like Oldham by successive Conservative-Liberal Democrat and Conservative Governments. Oldham Council has had to make savings of more than £200m from their Budget over the last decade or so, halving its budget. Over the next two financial years, it is looking at having to cut another £30m in further budget savings. This austerity has seen local services cut or reduced as a direct result of these cuts to local authority funding. And yet analysis from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the Centre for Cities reveals that it is metropolitan councils like Oldham that experience the biggest funding gaps. There’s also strong evidence showing a link between these cuts and declining life expectancy in areas like Oldham.

This must be recognised in the Budget and ensure that those areas with the most need are appropriately funded. You must not repeat the mistakes of last year by largely predicating any increase in local authority budgets on an assumption of a rise in council tax and the social care precept. In the current circumstances as my constituents face significant cost of living increases, including fuel, energy and food prices as well as the NICs increase, a Council Tax/social care precept increase for Oldhamers would be highly inappropriate.

Similarly, the NHS’ resource allocations must better reflect the health needs of our communities. The King’s Fund estimate that people in deprived areas are likely to wait twice as long for NHS treatments compared with people in more affluent areas; couple that with the unmet need that has plagued our system and the inequality in healthcare access is perpetuated. Despite being hugely let down by this Government’s lack of emergency preparedness, our public health teams have been magnificent during the Covid pandemic. In addition to infectious disease control their work covers disease prevention and health improvement. But their budgets are already 24% lower than 2015. With Covid infections at such high levels, it is a matter of time before another variant of concern, potentially resistant to the vaccinations, emerges. If the Government has learned from their mistakes over the last 20 months, if they are serious about protecting our citizens and protecting our most vulnerable, to ‘levelling up’ this must be addressed. Related to this, the Contain Outbreak Management Fund is due to come to an end in March. Discontinuing this funding would further expose not just Oldham but the country to future Covid outbreaks. It would be wholly irresponsible of the Government.  

I share the Government’s vision for a high skill, high pay economy. However, areas like Oldham are further away from this reality than others. This requires appropriate investment within our education and training systems in recognition of this. But 11 years on, your Government’s pre-pandemic action to address Oldham’s educational challenges and the inequalities that our children and young people face has been woefully inadequate. As we emerge from the Pandemic, you must listen to our educators about the catch-up support that they need, reflecting the higher numbers of teaching days lost as a result of additional local Covid restrictions. Similarly, the failure to fully fund Oldham schools the pupil premium for those pupils who had become eligible for free school meals as a result of the pandemic is reprehensible. Over a thousand Oldham children missed out on this extra support worth £1,249,575. This must be rectified.

Oldham’s economy reflects our industrial heritage. Our future success will depend on: investment in ‘green’ industries and technologies, increased business investment in the workforce and infrastructure, retraining/reskilling Oldhamers for new work and increased physical and virtual connectivity. We welcome the £24.4m in Town Funding for Oldham town centre; however, this predominantly capital funding barely scratches the surface in tackling the needs of our borough.

Climate action must start at home. By investing £28bn every year until 2030 to tackle the climate crisis, we can protect the planet and create good quality, secure jobs in Oldham and across the UK.  As COP hosts, the UK should be leading the way, but while the USA is pressing on with a $1 trillion green infrastructure plan and Germany and France are pouring tens of billions of euros into low-carbon initiatives, the Government’s 10-Point Plan entailed just £4 billion of new funding, £1 billion of which was then scrapped alongside the disastrous Green Homes Grant scheme. It doesn’t come close to matching the scale of the jobs crisis or the climate emergency we face, and it is undermining the credibility of our COP Presidency.

I have been campaigning for several years to address the abuse of late payments to small businesses where 45% of UK workers are employed.  Late payments are a key issue for small businesses and currently stand at £50bn.  I urge you to implement my Project Bank Account Bill to protect small businesses not only from late payments but also bankruptcy should Tier 1 supplier companies collapse, as we saw with Carillion. Ironically, my late payment campaign started because an Oldham haulier was going out of business because of these late payments.

In the meantime, while Oldham businesses invest to increase their productivity and Oldhamers upskill to get better paid jobs, the 11,000 currently in low paid work and reliant on Universal Credit and their 22,500 children, must be adequately supported. The Budget must reinstate £20 per week for Universal Credit or provide equivalent social security support. They must not be allowed to fall into debt, rent arrears and worse or they will struggle to recover leaving another generation in the cycle of poverty too many experience.

I urge you to support the Greater Manchester Mayor’s ‘Levelling Up Deal’ which is a serious, positive offer to Government to deliver a London-style transport network with affordable London-level fares, accelerating Greater Manchester’s plans for a net zero future with better, greener homes and communities, as well as better jobs and skills. It can’t be right that a single bus fare is £1.50 in London but £4.40 across Greater Manchester, including areas of multiple deprivation.

Finally, I urge you to address the systemic issues in our society which sees two women a week die at the hands of their partners or ex-partners. Violence against women and girls, including sexual exploitation, has remained hidden and unchallenged for too long. That has to change now. It requires leadership and we hope you can demonstrate this in your Budget.

I look forward to your response.

This letter will be put in the public domain.

Yours sincerely

Debbie Abrahams MP                                

Oldham East and Saddleworth    

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The post Debbie Abrahams MP makes case for Oldham ahead of Budget appeared first on Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

Robin Millar, MP for Aberconwy, has welcomed the opportunities for North Wales of Airbus UK’s ambitious recruitment drive. The company is recruiting for 436 new Early Careers participants in September 2022 across their Broughton and Filton sites. Speaking about the announcement Robin said: “I am…
I recently wrote to the Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, expressing my full support for the Horton General Hospital to be a part of the Health Infrastructure Plan. Read my letter below.
Basingstoke’s MP Maria Miller has congratulated Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and especially dog warden Laura Yeates on bagging the prestigious RSPCA Gold Stray Dog PawPrint Award for the seventh year in a row. The award recognises Laura’s fantastic work, together with the environmental…

Talk Radio with Mike Graham on MPs Safety

Brendan Clarke-Smith (Bassetlaw)

Please watch my interview with Talk Radio host Mike Graham on MPs safety. 
The Government has today announced that the East Coast Cluster, including climate projects in Beverley and Holderness, has been selected as one of the UK’s first two carbon capture projects to be given support to deploy by the mid-2020s. The project, which has been selected alongside a cluster…

ARTICLE: Government In Denial About Brexit

Drew Hendry (Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey)

Even those most fervent in their support for Brexit will find it hard to justify pigs and piglets being slaughtered and burned on farms rather than going into food production. A horrible image amongst punch ups over petrol shortages, rising fuel and food bills and, of course, the cut to the lifeline of Universal Credit was the backdrop to a cheering Tory party conference.

In a recent BBC interview, Pig farmer, Vicky Scott said: “It’s a complete and utter waste, it’s a disgrace…the Government knew how reliant we were on EU workers…and have allowed us to carry on rearing pigs, it’s a disgrace”. Meanwhile, The National Farmer’s Union Scotland President recently said the “The Government is in denial about Brexit”.

The pig crisis is yet another example of a UK Government that hasn’t listened, learned or acted. Instead of taking heed of all the warnings from industries, the Tories have been governing by slogan, “getting Brexit done, build back better, taking the tough decisions”.

We are all feeling the impact of the Brexit shambles, but it’s those already struggling or barely scraping by who are hit the hardest. Thanks to an ever-worsening supply chain crisis, prices are going up for all kinds of goods; reduced availability creates scarcity, which drives up costs.

Retailers in Inverness, like everywhere else, are already running their stores with empty or emptier shelves than in previous years as they prepare for Christmas. One local retailer nervously joked to me that, at this rate, by the time they get supplies, they’ll be going straight into the January sales.

Two years ago, the UK had 44,000 EU HGV drivers. They’re gone, as are the butchers, pickers, nurses, care workers and more. As job vacancies increase, there just aren’t local workers to fill them.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson says this is all part of a clever ruse to move to a “higher wage economy” and “boost productivity” – more sound bites with no substance. This is from the same Prime Minister that refuses to implement a Real Living Wage and continues to squeeze those on the lowest wages. The Tories have been in power for over 11 years – they have been the protectors of the gig economy and big business – nobody is fooled by the Prime Minister’s newest attempts at spin.

Higher prices, reduced household incomes, and staff shortages strangling productivity; it’s no wonder a new poll shows 75% of Scots think Boris Johnson is bad for our economy.

The post ARTICLE: Government In Denial About Brexit appeared first on Drew Hendry MP.

Sir David Amess MP

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

Wednesday 20 October 2021 Last Friday, like so many other people, I was stunned to hear the news of the murder of my parliamentary colleague Sir David Amess. On Monday this week I attended the memorial service for members of the House of Commons and House of Lords at St Margaret’s church in Westminster, to […]

Toby Perkins Becomes a Hedgerow Hero

Toby Perkins (Chesterfield)

Today, the House of Commons will vote on whether to renew the remaining temporary provisions of the Coronavirus Act 2020, required every six months under the terms of the Act.   In each renewal vote so far, no amendments have been accepted by the Speaker due to the wording of the motion.   The Coronavirus Act gave the Government sweeping powers to introduce measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic such as closing businesses, schools and restricting gatherings. The powers to do these things under the Coronavirus Act […]

East End Women's Museum

Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)

This week, Jon Cruddas MP was contacted by the newly opened East End Women’s Museum. Whilst talks are still underway in relation to the ultimate design of the interior of the museum, the organisers have already opened the doors to the public. This means the museum can now be visited, free of charge. It is the only dedicated “women’s museum” in the entirety of England.

Upcoming Events

There are several upcoming events at the Women’s Museum which is located in the APO at 1 Barking Wharf Square, Barking IG11 7ZQ. This is in a housing estate, in line with the aim of being a working-class museum.

Coffee Morning, Friday 22nd October 2021: “East End Women’s Museum is coming to Barking. Join us at our coffee morning to find out more about the museum, take a look at our designs with some coffee, tea and sweet treats. Share your own memories and tell us what you would like to see and do in the new museum.” 10AM-12PM

Black Women in East London Family Day, Monday 25th October 2021: “Join us for a family friendly day of talks and activities. Discover fascinating Black women from East London, such as Phillis Wheatley, the first published Black woman and poet, and Annie Brewster, one of the earliest identified nurses of African descent working in London, and share your own stories with us.” 10AM-4PM

How to get involved

The museum will be displaying a range of exhibitions on loan from time to time from other major museums. More information about the East Ends Women’s Museum can be found on their website at: East End Women's Museum (eastendwomensmuseum.org)

To book a free ticket for the coffee morning, please visit the following link: East End Women's Museum Coffee Morning Tickets, Fri 22 Oct 2021 at 10:00 | Eventbrite

To book a free ticket for the Black Women in East London Family Day, please visit the following link: Black women in East London Tickets, Mon 25 Oct 2021 at 11:00 | Eventbrite

Sir David Amess

Liz Kendall (Leicester West)

The appalling murder of Sir David Amess while he was holding a constituency surgery in Southend has shocked me and my team to the core.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with his family, friends, and all those who knew and loved him.

I joined the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and other MPs in the tributes to Sir David in Parliament this week. You can read these powerful and moving tributes here.

This is the second time a Member of Parliament has been murdered in the last five years.  It is absolutely vital that we take the security of MPs and their staff seriously, so we will be reviewing all of our security arrangements with the local police, just as we did after Jo Cox’s murder. However, it is also really important that I remain accessible and in close contact with constituents and the wider community and I think it would be impossible to entirely remove risk from the work I do. You can read my comments on this issue in the Leicester Mercury here.

Thank you to all of my constituents who have taken the time to write to my office about what has happened and to offer their support. We are all extremely grateful.

The post Sir David Amess appeared first on Liz Kendall.

Lee Anderson MP's Weekly Column

Lee Anderson (Ashfield)

There is no formal training involved when you become an MP. I was elected on a Friday and told to turn up at the House of Commons in three days’ time at 8am. We were given a laptop, a rucksack, and a locker to put our coat in. My first office was a shared office with up to 20 other MPs in and we…

Sir David Amess MP

Conor McGinn (St Helens North)

Grant Shapps MP- Tribute to Sir David Amess MP

Grant Shapps (Welwyn Hatfield)

I was shocked and upset when I received the news about Sir David Amess. He was a dedicated, thoughtful man and a true Parliamentarian and a tremendous colleague. My memories of him will always be of him as a positive, friendly, and unendingly helpful at guiding new MPs- as he did with me more than once when I was first elected.

No-one deserves to have their life taken like this. David was murdered doing what he always saw as his number 1 priority- helping his constituents. The fact that he always conducted his surgeries so openly is testament to his belief in being accessible to his electors, and makes it all the more shocking that he was the target of this heinous crime.

I will always remember David as a true gent, who fought for what he believed in and the people he represented with conviction and determination. He will be missed dearly by everyone in the House of Commons, regardless of political party or background- above all, because he represented the very best of the meaning of public service.

Since David’s murder, there have rightly been questions asked about the safety of MPs and surgeries. Whilst we always keep our measures under review, we have to ensure that this does not alter the fundamental right that constituents have to be able to access their MP. I had the privilege of serving in parliament with Sir David Amess and am absolutely certain that the last thing he would want from this tragedy would be more distance between MPs and their constituents. Whatever the outcome, I am committed that people will always be able to contact me for help, regardless of how they vote. That is what is so special about our system of representative democracy. It is not all that common, even in other democracies, and we owe it to David to maintain the tradition.

-Grant Shapps MP

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Sir David Amess MP

Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)

I am devastated to hear the news that my friend David Amess has been murdered. David was a colleague of mine for as long as I have been an MP, and I am struggling to imagine Parliament without him. I... Continue Reading →

Wrong to shift responsibility on to victims

Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak)

There are many questions and some quite astonishing proposals following the life sentence given to the evil murderer of Sarah Everard.

The Met Police said any woman who feels threatened should try to flag down a bus.

There were the unbelievable remarks, of the Tory Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, that women need to get a bit more streetwise if they wish to avoid being kidnapped, raped and murdered.

I’ve also seen a suggestion that the police only be allowed to arrest in pairs. Not sure how that could work numberswise, at a time when the PM has failed to replace even half the 21,000 officers the Tories cut.

I thought I’d heard it all but now our Home Secretary Priti Patel, the woman responsible for keeping the streets safe, employing enough police and ensuring we can trust them, has suggested that the answer is a phone tracking system.

All any law-abiding woman will be required to do is report her plans for the evening.

She can then be monitored, in the same way tagged criminals are tracked, and if she fails to reach her destination an alert will be raised.

That wouldn’t have done much for poor Sarah Everard.

Even worse, this whole system is designed to rely on a triple 8 phone number.

After the fiasco of the NHS App or the experiences of those trying to contact the police on 101, this sounds like yet another dud in the making.

It also has a rather sinister element, it subtlety shifts responsibility to the victim.

She becomes responsible for her safety, rather than the Home Secretary having to answer awkward questions.

I’m not sure our daughters and granddaughters should be forced into a battery of elaborate precautions before they can enjoy a night out.

I want to know why are there so few police?

Why are our streets so unsafe? And what kind of country have we become where a young woman can be raped and murdered by a police officer who’s been vetted for the diplomatic protection service and authorised to carry a gun?

Protect student choice

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North)

Protect student choice carolineb Fri, 10/15/2021 - 08:56

Weston’s MP has said that a spike in energy prices could not have come at a worse time following the Covid pandemic and has pledged to push for a more affordable energy price cap to help reduce fuel poverty.

As part of its #ThereWithYouThisWinter campaign, the Mercury recently published figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) which shows 10 per cent of Weston residents were in fuel poverty pre-pandemic.

Fuel poverty is defined as being when a household is pushed below the poverty line by housing costs and the energy bills needed to have a warm, well-lit home.

John Penrose said: “Money is tight for everyone after the pandemic, so spiking international gas prices couldn’t have come at a worse time.

“The good news is that there are more job vacancies than ever before, but some people will still need help, which is why the new £500million Household Support Fund is welcome, on top of the Warm Home Discount Scheme, Cold Weather Payment, and Winter Fuel Payment schemes too.”

The Household Support Scheme is a fund available to councils across the country to provide small grants for food, clothing and utilities.

Recently, North Somerset Council’s deputy leader, Cllr Mike Bell, estimated that 13,000 residents across the district would be worse off, and potentially in fuel poverty, due to the end of a £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift on October 6.

There were 5,145 out of 51,059 Weston homes (10.1 per cent) in fuel poverty in the year before the Covid pandemic, the DBEIS is yet to release up-to-date figures.

Mr Penrose added that the energy crisis could also be eased through better-insulated homes and further reductions to the Energy Price Cap, the maximum amount that energy suppliers are permitted to charge per kWh of gas and electricity per year.

He said: “The simplest and greenest route to lower heating bills is to use less gas through better-insulated homes, which is where the Green Homes Grant, Home Upgrade Grants and ratcheting up the energy efficiency ratings of rented housing are all helping.

“But in the short term, the Energy Price Cap is sheltering millions of homes from the worst of the international gas price spike.

“I am arguing it needs an upgrade so it works even better for customers, and I am pushing ministers and regulators to consider an overhaul as soon as possible.”

Asthma – COVID-19 Booster Jab

Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East)

One of the most welcome new additions to the town’s facilities is the Ashford Youth Hub, which was set up over the summer and is now fully operational. It brings together the Job Centre, the Borough Council and East Kent College to give tailored support to young people for up to six months. I…

Berwick MP attends G20 Trade Ministers meeting

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

On Tuesday and Wednesday Anne-Marie was in Italy to attend the G20 Trade Ministers Meeting 2021.  She said of the trip: "It was fantastic to meet my counterparts from across the globe, face to face for the first time. Together we represented 80% of the world's trading nations." You can read their…

Bury Times Column 14th October 2021

Christian Wakeford (Bury South)

Last week the Conservative Party was in town for our annual Party Conference. Whilst many left with sore heads after reunions and late night receptions there is also a serious element to party conferences where policy and its impact will be discussed in fringe meetings often with charities and…

Dear Newcastle October 2021

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Parliament returned to a series of critical debates on very important subjects. The Elections Bill is an attempt by the Conservative Government to make it harder for people to vote, just as we should be making it easier!  They Tories also rushed through a vote on the funding of the Prime Minister’s so called Social Care Plan, even though there was no detail on who would be funded to do what, and the rise in National Insurance Contributions would hit some of the poorest hardest. And Labour forced a vote on the Tories   huge cut to Universal Credit payments – the Tories did not have the courage of their supposed convictions to vote against it, but are still refusing to scrap the cut. At the same time, many constituents continue to contact me on behalf of relatives under threat in Afghanistan. The Foreign Office has been forced to apologise for not responding to MP enquiries. This is a desperate time for many UK citizens with connections to Afghanistan and Government is once more showing it is unable to meet basic levels of competence.

Proud to join the Fusiliers on the day they were granted the Freedom of the City

And then of course the country was hit by a series of supply chain crisis which has left some supermarket shelves bare and had drivers queuing for hours to get petrol as well as an energy crisis which has seen energy companies (including in Newcastle) go bust and consumers facing huge energy price hikes.   These crises are entirely made in Whitehall, a combination of incompetence, lack of preparation, arrogance and being out of touch. The petrol shortage is a particularly frustrating example.

There has been a shortage of HGV drivers for years but the Government refused to take action to address it, preferring to leave it to the market. Brexit meant that many foreign drivers left, Covid and the stress of complex tariff rules meant that more left, and yet Government did not see that coming. I shared the example of a constituent who sought help to train as a HGV driver six years ago, with the Minister promising the market would sort it (https://chionwurahmp.com/2021/09/hgv-driver-shortages-since-2015/)

But it is the cost of living pressures which will be the most devastating for constituents, energy price rises, food price rises, a cut to universal credit of £20 per week. This will cause real hardship in the constituency.

Small business visit  Brew & Bite on Ashburton Road

In that context the Labour party Conference in Brighton was an opportunity to show that we were concentrating on the issues that matter to people facing huge challenges. Whilst the media reporting tried to exaggerate divisions in the party, overall there were many positive reports particularly on our announcements  on mental health and education. I spoke at thirteen events, including two dinners, and there was an overwhelmingly positive atmosphere and reception from attendees for the engagement around my briefs.

Backbench and Constituency Role

Progress

  • It has been a real pleasure to return to in person visits. I was particular moved by my meeting with victims of domestic violence who have found refuge in Newcastle. I also met with businesses and community groups across the constituency, and spoke at the re-opening of the reinvigorated Lit and Phil.
  • We have made progress on a partial return to the office. Thanks to Carol Stanners for her Covid secure rota we will have a presence in the Newcastle office each day.
  • A Newcastle based green energy company, Green, unfortunately went bankrupt as a consequence of the Government’s incompetence. The Business Secretary called them a ‘failing’ company. I highlighted his many failings.
  • I was proud to march with the 5th Fusiliers through the streets of Newcastle as they were granted the Freedom of the City by Newcastle City Council.
  • We were successful in recruiting  a new Parliamentary Assistant. Maddy Eagan has already started work. She is North Shields woman with strong local background and great experience including working for Andy Burnham.
  • Maria has agreed to rejoin the team on a temporary basis to support Carol on administrative duties whilst we seek a longer time solution to the changes in apprentice training which means we cannot take an admin apprentice.
  • I continue to engage with the Prime Minister, Ministers, Government Agencies and others regarding issues and demands for support for constituents and businesses, on support for businesses exporting to the the EU, on the problem of pigeons damaging the war memorial in Eldon Square.

Meeting with Unison to discuss tech & the public sector

  • I will be following up with Ministers on correspondence regarding a meeting with Wylam brewery, which we have still yet to get a commitment on.

Shadow Ministerial and PES Role

  • Keir’s Leader’s speech had significant digital and technology content:

“A focus on the long-term will allow for better investments. Labour will make Britain a world leader in science and research and development. We will set a target to invest a minimum of 3 percent of GDP.”

“A scientific revolution is happening around us but if we don’t have a government ready to remake the nation the opportunity will pass us by.”

 

  • Although I sought to limit my appearances this year and was only there for two days, Conference required a huge amount of preparation for 13 appearances  talking about elements of my brief. I think overall it was a great success with much positive feedback.
  • Kanishka also left us sadly and we are looking for additional support on the digital front as the Online Safety Bill continues through pre-legislative scrutiny with the formation of a committee of both houses to look at it. We worked to produce a briefing on the Bill and our key aims.
  • I met with a number of stakeholders on the continuing issues of algorithmic surveillance of workers and algorithmic bias.

Discussing the role out of City Fibre

Parliamentary Activity

Parliamentary business  6th Sept 4th Oct

Spoken from the back bench: four  times

Justice Topical: Reoffending rates (14th Sept),  AUKUS  (16th Sept), Levelling-up (23rd Sept), Gas Prices and Energy Suppliers (23rd Sept)

Spoken from the front bench: four time

Gigabit Broadband (16th Sept),  Automotive Battery Manufacturer (21st Sept),

Help to Grow: Digital  (20th Sept), Subsidy Control Bill (22nd Sept),

Written Questions: 42 questions

Coronavirus: Mental Health and Suicide (14th Sept), Courier Services: Fees and Charges (8th Sept), Help to Grow Scheme (13th Sept), Help to Grow Scheme: Marketing (13th Sept), Help to Grow Scheme (13th Sept), Help to Grow Scheme (13th Sept), Students: Finance (14th Sept), Help to Grow Scheme: Digital Technology (14th Sept), Post Office: Pay (14th Sept), Made Smarter: North East (14th Sept), Medical Records: Data Protection (14th Sept), Coronavirus: Vaccination (15th Sept), Medical Records: Data Protection (14th Sept), Coronavirus: Vaccination (15th Sept), Sept), Students: Loans (14TH Sept), Refugees: Afghanistan (14th Sept), Biometrics: Equality (14th Sept), Biometrics: Equality (14th Sept), Social Security Benefits: Broadband (14th Sept), Education: Digital Technology (14th Sept), Free School Meals (14th Sept), Help to Grow Scheme (14th Sept), Artificial Intelligence: Competition and Consumers (14th Sept), Asylum: Afghanistan (15th  Asylum: Afghanistan (15th Sept), Facebook: Advertising (16th Sept),  Courier Services: Fees and Charges (20th Sept), Delivery Services: Fees and Charges (20th Sept), Green: Prices (20th Sept), Energy Supply: Prices (20th Sept), Made Smarter: North East  (14th Sept), Broadband: Low Incomes (15th Sept),

Kenton Family Fun day

Afghanistan: Repatriation (15th Sept), Students: Finance (15th Sept), Afghanistan: Immigration (15th Sept), Oneweb: Satellites (15th Sept), Asylum: Afghanistan (15th Sept), Mental Health: Young People (14th Sept), Mental Health Services: Children and Young People (14th Sept), Mental Health Services: Children and Young People (14th Sept) Green: Insolvency (22nd Sep), Green: Redundancy (22nd Sept), Green: Insolvency (22nd Sept), Google: Conditions of Employment (23rd Sept),

Media

Quoted in national and local media including Tyne Tees on the demise of Green Energy, local Radio on Universal Credit, Channel TV

Top tweet

#Newcastle is the best place in the UK – lets make it official! twitter.com/altweet_pet/st…

8  40  221

” – 115k Impressions, 41 Retweets, 221Likes

NIDAS supporting victims of domestic violence in Newcastle

Meetings

Duncan McCann & Mathew Lawrence, NIDAS, GCSE pod, BAPG , Disabled Children’s Partnership, Changing Lives, Fusiliers Freedom of the City Of Newcastle Parade, Kenton Family Fun Day, GD Multicultural Food event, Great North Run, CACI analytics & data, IPT COP26, Parliamentary & Scientific Committee Mathematical algorithms & modelling, Westminster Africa Business, National youth jazz orchestra, Afrobarometer, Beating the Retreat Tower of London, Kelkoo, Sky Arts Salon, Newcastle Gateshead CCG, City Fibre site visit, John Marley Heritage Centre, Kiddical Mass cycle, US Embassy, Big Brother Watch, Italian Embassy Order of Merit Mariana Mazzucato, Regional Schools Commissioner for the North, Speed up Britain, Petersen, Kenton Litter pick, Forces in Mind, LSE, Sky,

Unison, Global Britain Mandelson dinner, Legal & General, Julia Wong Guardian, Oliver Theatre, Common Room, Newcastle University Business School Dr Karen Elliott, Live Theatre, Blakelaw Litter Pick, Evening Standard/Netflix Stories event, Friends of Leazes Park, BBC World Service, Delegation of the EU to the UK,

Common Room – the refurbished Miners Institute on Neville Street

Speaking

Lit & Phil reopening, UK-Ireland Planning Research Conference, APPG Creative Diversity Report Launch, North East Chamber Commerce Digital Connectivity, Happold Lecture (read out), TEDI opening, COP26 March, Search conference (video), Catapult Network,  Tyneside Irish Festival Desert Island Disks, Tyneside Irish Cultural Festival Opening

CONFERENCE: Labour Business Forum, Policy Exchange – Tech for Growth, Institute for Government/Imperial/Royal Society-  Preparing for Future Challenges, Royal Academy of Engineering – Becoming a Science Superpower, Tech Reception, Institute for Government – The impact of Technological change on public services, Online Harms Technology & national security, IPPR/Microsoft – Technology, Democracy & Trust, New Statesman – A better digital future, Progressive Britain – The dignity of Labour at the heart of a new economic settlement.

Black Country Plan – my submission

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

Here you will find my response submitted to the Black Country Plan as part of their consultation. Once again, thank you to everyone who signed the petition and fed their views into the consultation.

Response from Wendy Morton MP

Blackpool Council is set to get more than £500,000 funding as part of a £23m boost to make UK streets safer.  This extra funding is part of a multi-million-pound package to help women and girls feel safer on the streets.  Police forces and local authorities across England and Wales will get a share…

Local MP Tim Farron is demanding ministers invest in GP services after the number of doctors in Cumbria and North Lancashire has fallen by over 18% during the past six years.

Figures from the House of Commons Library show that the number of GPs in Cumbria and North Lancashire has plummeted from 404 in September 2015 to 331 in June 2021.

It comes as many people are struggling to book an appointment with their GP, with services increasingly under pressure from rising demand.

Further analysis by the British Medical Association (BMA) shows a dismal picture overall for GPs, with there being the equivalent of over 1,900 fewer fully qualified, full-time GPs now than there were in 2015.

Tim said: "The worsening GP shortage has given rise to a postcode lottery, with our hard-working doctors overstretched and people left waiting too long for treatment or even an appointment.

"Having worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic and to roll out the life-saving vaccines, GPs now find themselves being subjected to shameful abuse with no support from ministers.

"Rather than slagging off our hard-working GPs in the press, the Government should be investing in training up more doctors, to ensure patients get the fair deal they deserve."

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

A government in chaos, a country in crisis

Judith Cummins (Bradford South)

Judith’s latest op-ed for the Telegraph & Argus Weds 13 October 2021:

With winter almost upon us, we see the Government of our country in chaos and our country teetering on the brink of crisis with queues at the forecourts; empty shelves and energy prices skyrocketing. A basic principle of government is to insulate the country from external shocks, but a lack of planning, a Prime Minister seemingly absent from duty and soaking up the Marbella sun and cabinet ministers squabbling is in fact risking turning crises into disasters.

Over the past week we’ve seen denials from the Treasury that the claims of the Secretary of State for Business, Kwasi Kwarteng MP, that he is speaking to the Chancellor about urgent support for firms struggling with fast-rising energy prices are untrue – who are we meant to believe? But more importantly, the question I ask is why the Chancellor and the Business Secretary are not talking to each other to avert a fast-approaching crisis.

A crisis where millions of families are set to be squeezed by a triple whammy of rising energy prices, an increase in national insurance, and the cut to Universal Credit. This will be felt by families not only in my Bradford South constituency and the wider Bradford District, but right across the country. Recent statistics show that the decisions of the Government will leave the average working family over £1700 worse off by April 2022.

The Government must change course and protect working families whilst they still have the chance. By cancelling the Universal Credit cut, dropping the tax rises on working people and businesses, and urgently exploring further measures to help households alleviate the cost of rising bills.

Turning now to Northern Powerhouse Rail, reports are rife that the government is expected to block the inclusion of Bradford on the route in a bid to save money. Whilst for the current government spending money on Transport infrastructure in the South East is seen as an investment it appears that once again, spending money in the North is non-existent. This is just not acceptable.

It’s time for the Prime Minister to put his money where his mouth is and deliver action on his levelling-up agenda, starting with a Bradford stop on the Northern Powerhouse rail route.

As well as delivering on improved infrastructure and opportunity for the North, the Prime Minister and his Government must work to urgently address backlogs in the DVLA. This coupled with the HGV driver shortage has left motorists struggling to fill up their cars and shops unable to fill the shelves to their usual capacity. Over the past few months, I’ve had many Bradford South constituents contact me to say that their license renewal has been pending for weeks; they are unable to contact the DVLA to progress or check the status of their application and some have even approached me to say that their employment is at risk because of DVLA delays. This cannot continue. We need the DVLA backlog to be resolved sooner rather than later. The government needs to get a grip.

As well as issues with the DVLA, my mailbox has recently seen an increase in constituents contacting me who are struggling to get a face-to-face appointment with their GP. Whilst I and many others appreciate that for some people digital and remote consultations with their GP will be welcomed, it is imperative that face to face appointments continue to be commonplace and that all GP Practices are open and operational. Access to GP services is vital and I know that our GPs are trying their best in difficult circumstances, but they need better support from the Government to be able to triage and treat patients in way that works for all. That is why I have previously and will continue to raise access to GPs both locally with the Bradford District and Craven CCG and nationally with the Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Care to try and secure a better deal for both GPs and patients alike.  On a final note, next week parliament will return from the conference recess and there will be an important adjournment debate on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) within Bradford. I’m clear that we need to reflect and learn lessons from the past and ensure that such acts cannot happen again. But I also feel just as strongly that we need to ensure that this debate looks at the ways in which agencies and individuals can all work together to make Bradford not only safer but the safest place in the country for children to grow up in. We’ve seen first-hand in our city what can happen when we don’t get this right, we cannot afford to let that happen again.

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Today Preet Kaur Gill MP has called on Government to reverse its decision to cut funding by 75% for the removal of land mines and unexploded bombs.  

The Government recently announced that funding which would see deadly explosive devices cleared, has been reduced from £100 million to just £25 million over three years. 

People in South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, Iraq, Lebanon and Vietnam will no longer receive any UK support for their efforts to rid communities of the peril of landmines and other remnants of war. This follows the efforts of many overseas activists and volunteers who supported UK’s efforts to demine the British overseas territory of the Falkland Islands, over the last two years. 

Landmines and unexploded bombs affect 60 million people in the world today, with 15 people killed or injured every day. UK aid for mine clearance means children can go back to school safely, communities can grow crops on their land, and families can return to their homes. 

Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Edgbaston in Birmingham said, “Not only will this risk lives and have a devastating impact to millions of people around the world, but it will do further damage to the UK’s global reputation. We have stood shoulder to shoulder with our friends and allies across the world to ensure that British territories are declared mine free. Now, when the time has come to repay the favour, this Government has made the cowardly decision to back away.” 

This catastrophic decision has been met with outrage by those on both sides of the political aisle as well as charities throughout the sector. 

The British charity the Halo Trust, which was very publicly supported by Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997, as she walked through a minefield in Angola, said the decision was “staggering” and would lead to a huge decline of its operations in countries such as Zimbabwe and Myanmar. 

Retired Major General James Cowan, former commander of British troops in Afghanistan and now Halo’s CEO, said the reduction in the funding had come as a “huge shock”. 

“This is going to be devastating to our work around the world. We are operating now without any British money in Afghanistan and yet we are a British charity. It is a great British success story and yet it is not being funded by the British.” 

Darren Cormack, CEO of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), said the funding reduction represented a “catastrophic collapse in support that will harm the lives of vulnerable people across the world and do immeasurable harm to Britain’s global standing”. 

Standard (Image)
Image stating: Preet calls for a reversal to the 75% cut to charities for landmine clearance

Newcastle United Football Club Update

Nick Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East)

Building the Food Innovation Centre

Jerome Mayhew (Broadland)

It was great to be out this morning with Trevor Holden, Cllr Shaun Vincent and Cllr Jo Copplestone - ‘helping’ to pour the concrete for the new Food Innovation Centre at Easton! This will house 13 food hygiene ready units for startups and growth businesses to keep the added value of innovative…

Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

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John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

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The addition of the vessel, MV Utne, to the Calmac fleet is a step in the right direction, says Isles MP Angus MacNeil.

“This is a welcome step in the right direction.”

Mr MacNeil welcomed the news that a deal has been reached to purchase a ferry for deployment on the Clyde and Hebrides network – a move that should relieve some of the current pressures on the network.

Deployment details will be confirmed by CalMac in due course, subject to the vessel achieving MCA certification and the completion of crew training and sea trials.  Engagement work is now underway with key stakeholders to develop detailed deployment, cascade and related timetables for the 2022 summer season.

Mr MacNeil said: “This is a welcome step in the right direction. The islands are popular and demand will keep growing but we also need a booking management system that gives different time-length opportunities for booking.”

The MV Utne has been earmarked for the Oban-Craignure route, and communities in Skye and the Western Isles will also benefit as a result of the cascade of vessels elsewhere on the network.

CONFERENCE 2021

Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne)

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Bob Stewart (Beckenham)

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Catch up

Graham Jones (Hyndburn)

My Weekly Round-up

Christina Rees (Neath)

In the House of Commons Chamber on Monday evening the UK Government proposed an “Instruction Motion” to amend the Elections Bill which is at its Committee Stage of the House of Commons. The amendment would broaden the scope of the Elections Bill to include provision for a simple majority voting system for the following elections: the Mayor of London; an elected Mayor in England Local Authorities; a Mayor in a Combined Authority; and Police and Crime Commissioners. The Minister who was taking this Bill through the House has been promoted in the PM’s recent reshuffle, so the Minister of State for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Local Communities Christopher Pincher moved the motion and set out the reasons for amending the scope of the Bill. He said that the Conservative Manifesto had committed to first past the post and was the majority view (67%) of the British people in the 2011 Referendum. The Labour Spokesperson Cat Smith MP, Leicester and Fleetwood, stated that the Bill had already started, Second Reading has debated the merits or otherwise of the contents of the Bill, and the Committee has already finished taking evidence. As a member of the Panel of Chairs I chaired the evidence sessions, and Cat Smith raised a Point of Order at the final evidence session last week when she saw the Instruction Motion had been added to this week’s Order Paper. Cat asked me whether we could take evidence on electoral systems at that session and I was clear that it was out of the scope of the existing Bill. But should the Instruction be accepted and the scope of the Bill widened, then extra evidence sessions would not be a matter for the Chair, because matters such as this are decided through the usual channels (Government and Opposition Whips). Cat also asked Mr Pincher during the debate why the UK Government had not put this in the Bill from the start, allowing members to scrutinise it on Second Reading and in Committee. Cat also stated that it was in the UK Government’s Conservative 2017 Manifesto but not in the 2019 version, and that the Bill started under the Cabinet Office, but it has been moved to the newly renamed “Department for Levelling Up”. Cat said that the motion stinks of gerrymandering and Labour will be voting against it. The UK Government won the division by 309 to 186 votes. As a chair of the Bill, I am not permitted to vote on the Bill, but I would certainly have voted against the U.K. Government Instruction for the reasons set out by Cat.

Later that evening I attended a celebration in the House of Lords for the GB athletes who had taken part in the Olympics and Paralympics. Parliamentarians had the opportunity to meet the athletes and congratulate them on their wonderful performances at the Tokyo Olympic Games. I met my old friend Tanni Grey-Thompson who was speaking at the event and we had a chance to catch up on various aspects of UK sport, because we haven’t seen one another since pre-pandemic times. Tanni and I share a passion for sport. My dear friend Sue’s grandson Owain Lloyd-Hughes aged 19, was there. Owain is a 100/200 metres runner and a member of Neath Harriers Amateur Athletic Club, and is aiming to be part of the Commonwealth Games Relay Team, but has been suffering with an injury. We wish him a speedy recovery in time for the indoor athletic season.

On Tuesday, I chaired the first joint meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Sport and the APPG for the Olympics and Paralympics, of which I am a Vice-Chair. The title of the meeting was “Beyond Tokyo – Securing a Sustainable Future for Local Sport and Leisure Facilities”, hosted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the secretariat for the APPG Sport, with guest speakers: Lord Colin Moynihan, Co-chair of APPG Olympics and Paralympics, Vice-chair of APPG Sport, Chair of the British Olympic Association 2005-12, and former rowing Olympic silver medalist at Moscow 1980; Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson Liberal Democrat Leader of Portsmouth Council, Chair of Local Government Association Culture, Tourism and Sport Board; and Huw Edwards, Chief Executive Officer Ukactive since 2019, Leisure Sector Champion 2017, and worked for the Olympic Delivery Authority for the London Olympics. Over 35 sport sector agencies joined in the Zoom event and had the opportunity to question the speakers. The speakers found common ground on the need to have increased funding, updated leisure facilities because most Local Authority centres were built in the 1970’s, and that the health and well-being of participating in sport and leisure activities is known to prevent physical and mental illness. Also that the lack of statutory provision for leisure at local government level means that in these times of UK Government cuts, the delivery of social services and looked-after children services would always be ahead of leisure in local government. And that women, people on low income, and ethnic minorities are reluctant to take part in leisure, which is a challenge to everyone involved in delivering leisure facilities at whatever level. But grassroots sport is so important in that it encourages participation and forms the base of the pyramid for international participation. Lord Moynihan was concerned at the lack of joined up thinking across UK Government departments because leisure straddles sport, health, education, local government and there should be a common strategy, and the Lords often succeed in implementing change because they work on a cross-party basis, whereas in the Commons, the UK Government has such a large majority that it is able to implement its legislation without amendments. The opposition can provide scrutiny but is unable to prevent U.K. Government proposals becoming legislation.

Later on Tuesday the UK Government granted Labour an Opposition Day debate, and we laid a motion entitled “Finances of Working People: Government Policy”. Labour Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson MP, Houghton and Sunderland South, spoke about the growing squeeze on living standards caused by the £1040 per year reduction to Universal Credit, the rise in National Insurance Contributions for low and middle income workers, the freezing of the personal income tax allowance from April 2022, the increasing cost of household energy bills, the highest petrol prices since 2013 with the potential for the highest rail fare increase in a decade, the fastest rise in private rental costs since 2008, successive above inflation increases in childcare costs, and rising prices resulting from the supply chain disruptions caused by worker and supply shortages, and she called on the UK Government to change its direction on its policies, because they have created an avoidable and unacceptable burden on working people. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Mims Davies MP, Eastleigh, responded by stating that during the pandemic the UK Government stepped in to pay the wages of millions of workers, investing over £400 billion in jobs packages, protecting jobs and safeguarding livelihoods, including kickstart, restart, doubling work coaches, job entry support, job finding support, sector-based work academy programmes, an enhanced youth offer, expansion of the job centre network, assisting claimants with benefits, and harnessing skills in a new way. She said that measures were temporary and now public health restrictions have been relaxed, this support must end. Her message to everyone in the chamber and beyond was “if you want to progress in the jobs market, whoever you are, wherever you are – at any age or any stage – we are here for you. We will get behind you.” I’m sorry, but I don’t think the UK Government live in the real world. Unfortunately we lost the vote on our motion by 222 to 300 votes.

On Wednesday morning as Vice-Chair of the APPG for Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) I joined an officers meeting convened by the chair, Chris Bryant MP, Rhondda, to discuss his Private Members’ Bill (PMB) on Acquired Brain Injury scheduled for Friday 3rd December. Chris has been campaigning to raise awareness of ABI for many years, and has cross Party support for this very important condition. However, as with nearly every opposition PMB, it will require UK Government support to make it to the next stage. Our APPG has written many letters to UK Government Ministers and the Prime Minister seeking support, but to date, we have only received warm words. But we shall keep fighting for justice for ABI sufferers.

Boris Johnson was in the US, so this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions was between the Deputy PM, Dominic Raab, and our own Deputy Leader Angela Rayner, who began by raising the lack of progress being made by the PM n Washington before testing the Deputy PM’s fuse by asking him whether he still thinks that British workers are “the worst idlers in the world”. Angela asked how many days a minimum-wage worker would have to work to afford one night in a luxury hotel in Crete, somewhere not unfamiliar to Mr Raab. The answer is 50 days, but this is without the financial burdens already imposed on working families due to the UK Government policies of £1040 cut to Universal Credit, rising rent costs, soaring food prices, tax increases and the impending energy crisis. Families are faced with choosing to put food on the table, or heat their homes. Angela asked the UK Tory Government to cancel its cut to Universal Credit. I bobbed from the back benches throughout PMQs in the hope that Mr Speaker would call me to ask a question, but alas it didn’t happen.

On Friday morning I joined the regular update Zoom call with SBUHB for Swansea Region MPs/MSs to listen to the latest report of the pandemic situation in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot. I can not imagine the extreme pressure that NHS and social care staff must be under. NPT has the highest rates of coronavirus in the UK. The rates of infection are increasing, hospital admissions are increasing, there are very high rates in schools, pupils are taking it home and it is spreading throughout the community. The vaccination programme has been successful and it is this that has prevented the rates being much higher. But people who have been double jabbed are still at risk of being infected because the Delta variant is so infectious, so other mitigating actions, such as social distancing and mask wearing indoors, regular hand washing, sanitising, must be maintained. SBUHB are rolling out the booster vaccination programme and flu jabs, plus vaccinations for 12-15 year olds have started. I thank all the NHS staff and volunteers from the bottom of my heart for working tirelessly to keep us safe.

Later that morning I hosted a McMillan Coffee Morning in Dove Workshop, Banwen, and I want to thank Lesley, Julie and Ellie for all their support organising it, and for Lesley’s wonderful homemade cheese scones! The event was well-attended and I’m pleased to say we raised a fantastic £86 for the Macmillan charity. It was fantastic to be out and about once more in the community and to be chatting with people face to face. Macmillan Coffee Mornings are such a wonderful idea – not only do they raise awareness of the realities of cancer and raise money for the cancer nurses whose work is so vital, but they also allow people the chance to really talk about cancer and any concerns they themselves may have – memories of family and friends who have been ill with cancer and the impact that cancer has on a wide network of people. Thank you so much to everyone who came, to Dove Workshop for hosting us, and to Macmillan for the sterling work that they do day in, day out.

I also met lots of residents at the McMillan Coffee Morning organised by Sacha, Hannah, and Maerdy Youth, hosted by Cllr Sonia Reynolds which took place in Canolfan Maerdy, Tairgwaith, which was also visited by former MS Gwenda Thomas and Cllr Arwyn Woolcock.

As part of the Great Big Green Week celebrations I dropped in to the Friends and Neighbours Community Alliance (FAN) event. FAN was started by Emma Knight when she moved to live in Ethel Street in 2008, and organised a fancy dress Halloween Street Party. Over 50 people turned up and enjoyed themselves so much that FAN was formed by volunteers for the benefit of the community. There is also a junior arm called Mini FANS. Events such as fitness for the elderly, drumming workshops, circus groups, street cleans, and raffles have taken place. FAN has created a community garden growing herbs, vegetables and fruit, with a greenhouse made from plastic bottles. FAN has also organised WWF Earth Hour, Fair-trade events, and is committed to going green, zero carbon, and other climate change measures, for our next generation.

I know that there are many constituents who are concerned about the threat of a rise in energy prices. A basic duty of government is to ensure secure and affordable energy supplies for households and businesses. But millions of families are now set to be squeezed by a triple whammy of rising energy prices, an increase in national insurance, and the cut to Universal Credit. This UK Tory Government has no idea what it is like for working people outside of their bubble where they’ve never had to worry about paying the rent, or meeting the cost of a new school year’s uniform, or watching the forecast to try to ration out heating. Hard-working families are being punished by this UK Government after a decade of austerity and a decade of a complete lack of interest in or care about those struggling to get by on the lowest of pay. That is why Labour is calling for the Government to change course and cancel the cut, drop the jobs tax hike on working people and businesses, and urgently explore further measures to help households alleviate the cost of rising bills, including the option of making automatic and extending the Warm Homes Discount. Pushing more people into poverty, widening health inequalities with ill-heated homes and not enough money for good food is not going to help the economy recover; it will simply mean greater pressures on the NHS and greater pressures on social services.

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

Cold Winter Payment Scheme

Joy Morrisey (Beaconsfield)

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

Funding Sources

Below is an updated list of funding for Voluntary Organisations and Charities as of 17th September 2021.

External Funding Newsletter as at 10th September 2021

External Funding Newsletter as at 17th September 2021

The post Funding Opportunities for Voluntary Organisations & Charities appeared first on Dr Philippa Whitford.

The Westminster parliament has been back just a few weeks, but Boris Johnson’s Tory government has wasted no time in pushing through cuts and tax rises which are set to have a devasting impact here in Scotland. Tory manifesto pledges have been ripped up – the UK government has scrapped the triple lock on pensions …

The post COMMENT: TORY UK GOVT RISKS PUSHING THOUSANDS OF SCOTS FAMILIES INTO POVERTY appeared first on Martin Docherty-Hughes MP.

Visiting the Bitterne Local History Society

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

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

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

Dolen Teifi Community Transport

Nia Griffith (Llanelli)

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

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

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

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

Closing Date: 19 September 2021

Job Title: Parliamentary Researcher / Senior Parliamentary Researcher

Working For: Tulip Siddiq MP

Location: London

Salary: In line with IPSA pay scales

Length of Contract: 12 months

Job Details

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

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

Key responsibilities:

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

Ideal candidate:

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

Closing Date: 19 September 2021

Interview/Start Dates

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

Application Details

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

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

  • Boston & Skegness will benefit from a £499 million investment to build 9,775 new affordable homes across the East Midlands.
  • This funding has been allocated through the Conservative Government’s £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme, the largest single investment in affordable housing in a decade.
  • Nearly 120,000 new homes will be built for young people and families – supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs and helping more first-time buyers into home ownership to level up communities.

Matt Warman MP has welcomed the £499m investment to deliver 9,775 new affordable homes across the East Midlands through the Conservative Government’s Affordable Homes Programme.

The total £8.6 billion investment across England will help to build 119,000 new affordable homes, including 57,000 for ownership, 29,600 for social rent and 6,250 affordable rural homes.

The new affordable homes available for ownership will help more young people and families to get a foot on the housing ladder, building on other schemes from the Conservative Government to help first-time buyers into homeownership, including First Homes – offering new homes at a 30 per cent discount on the open market value – and the 95 per cent mortgage guarantee scheme – which helps first-time buyers secure a mortgage with just a 5 per cent deposit.

The nearly 30,000 homes for Social Rent – which are typically 50 to 60 per cent of market prices – will provide secure, affordable housing to people who need it most. It will also deliver new supported housing for some of the most vulnerable, providing much needed homes for older or disabled people with support needs.

This investment is expected to support up to 370,000 construction jobs across the country for the home building industry including SME developers, major housebuilders and infrastructure specialists as well as the wider local economies – expecting to generate up to £26 billion of wider private and public investment.

Since 2010, the Conservative Government has delivered over 542,400 new affordable homes – and this investment marks an important step towards meeting its promise to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Commenting, Matt Warman said:

“Owning your own home should not be the privilege of a few, but an affordable possibility for young people and families across Boston & Skegness and around the country.

“I am delighted thousands of people across the East Midlands will now have their dream of home ownership realised through the Affordable Homes Programme, with 9,775 homes delivered thanks to the Conservative Government’s £499million investment.

“By helping more people and their families buy a home in their local area, we are levelling up opportunity across the country – while creating good skilled jobs as we build back better from the pandemic.”

Commenting, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said:

“Creating more opportunities for home ownership is central to this government. This £9 billion funding is a landmark moment for our Affordable Homes Programme and will ensure good quality housing for all as we build back better after the pandemic.

“This huge funding package will make the ambition of owning a home a reality for families by making it realistic and affordable.

“We are also ensuring tens of thousands of new homes for rent are built in the years ahead, including social rent, so those on the lowest incomes can enjoy good quality, secure rented homes, built and managed by reputable providers.”

 

Notes to Editors:

  • Launching our £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme to provide 180,000 new homes across the country, helping extend the dream of homeownership to as many people as possible. Delivering over 5 years from 2021 to 2026, our £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme will provide up to 180,000 new homes across the country, should economic conditions allow. The programme will also unlock a further £38 billion in public and private investment in affordable housing, with new homes being made available from next year (MHCLG, Press Release, 8 September 2020).
  • Providing £8.5 billion to build 119,000 new affordable homes across England, the single largest investment in affordable housing for a decade. We are making £8.5 billion available through our £11.5 billion Affordable Homes Programme to every region across England, which will help deliver 119,000 new affordable homes – building on the over 542,400 new affordable homes we have delivered since 2010 (MHCLG, Press Release, 31 August 2021).

This builds on our efforts to deliver the homes our communities need by:

  • Increasing total government investment in new housing to almost £20 billion. The £7.1 billion National Home Building Fund will deliver our long-term housing strategy by unlocking 860,000 homes over the next four years – this sits alongside the £11.5 billion we are making available through the Affordable Homes Programme between 2021 and 2026 (HMT, Spending Review 2020, 25 November 2020).
  • Building the highest number of new homes in over 20 years, helping more people get onto the property ladder. There were nearly 50,000 completed homes in the first quarter of 2021 – the highest figure in over 20 years and a 4 per cent increase compared to the last three months of 2020. During the same period, over 46,000 home builds were started, the highest number in nearly 15 years and a 7 per cent increase on the previous quarter (MHCLG, Press Release, 1 July 2021).
  • Delivering over 1.8 million homes since 2010, as we oversee a seventh consecutive year that the number of homes built has increased. In 2019-20, we delivered 243,770 homes – the highest number in a single year since 1978 – representing the seventh consecutive year in a row that the number of homes delivered has increased. With 90 per cent comprising of new builds, this takes the total number of homes we have delivered to 1.8 million since 2010 (Buy Association, 4 December 2020).

Operation Pitting

Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

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

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

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

The post Operation Pitting appeared first on Michelle Donelan MP.

Emma Meets with Tyne Tunnel 2 Executives

Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Covid Ongoing

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

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

Coronavrius (COVID-19)

Chris Grayling (Epsom and Ewell)

Dear constituent

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

International Travel

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

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

South Western Railway & Network Rail Timetable Consultation

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

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

Epsom & Ewell Business Awards 2011-2021

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

Volunteering in the Local Community

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

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

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

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

Best wishes
Chris

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

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Nigel’s July Newsletter

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley)

  Subscribe to Nigel’s email newsletter here.

Dear Constituent,

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

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

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

Online Summer Survey – let me know your views:

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

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

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

Easing Lockdown Restrictions

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

Local Case Rates

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

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

Local Vaccines

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

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

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

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

Easing of restrictions

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

The following measures are now in place across England:

– No limits on how many people can meet.

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

– Face coverings no longer required by law.

– Nightclubs can open.

– Pubs and restaurants no longer table service only.

– No limits on guests at weddings and funerals.

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

– No restrictions on communal worship.

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

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

Supporting our local economy

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

Borders Bill

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

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

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

In Parliament:

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

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

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

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

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

Solar Farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Street Watch:

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

GDPR and privacy notice:

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

Get in Touch!

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

Twitter and Facebook

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

Yours sincerely,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Secrets of the Best Webinars

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

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

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

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

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

Start with the topic

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

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

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

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

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

Figure out the best date and time

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

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

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

Invest time in your presentation

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

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

Actually, talk about the matter

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

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

Answer questions

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

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

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

England team’s unity and humility help nation dream again

Alistair Burt (North East Bedfordshire)

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

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

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

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

You can see the full letter here.

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

  • Steve Reed
    Steve Reed Member of Parliment for Croydon North

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

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

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

New GP Surgery Back on Track for Shifnal

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin)

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

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

Commenting, Mark Pritchard MP said:

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

COVID-19 Advice and Assistance

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)

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

Vaccine

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

Testing

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

Help from Alec

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

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

Brexit Deal or No Deal

Ian Mearns (Gateshead)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Hospital in Sutton Confirmed

Paul Scully (Sutton and Cheam)

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

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

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

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

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

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT THESE PROPOSALS

Why is this being done?

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

Is St Helier closing?

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

Is a new hospital being built?

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

Is St Helier getting an upgrade?

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

Who developed these proposals?

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

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

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

Will we still use St Helier?

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

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

What about bed numbers?

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

What about A&E?

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

What about maternity services?

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

Where will children services be provided?

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

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

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

Where will the new hospital be built?

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

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

A&E at The Royal Glam

Chris Bryant (Rhondda)

A&E @ the Glam – Strength in Unity

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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Reflecting on Defeat

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

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

Compensation package for Waspi women

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We have a historic debt of honour to them.