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Spending and value for money

John Redwood (Wokingham)

I have always stressed when saying we can afford to borrow to offset the damage done by anti pandemic policies to the economy that we should not waste money or undertake spending the private sector can cover as it did pre pandemic.

The Business Department budget shows that it should be possible to reduce future outgoings whilst still doing a good job for the UK economy and business sector.

The Business department has a massive £175 bn of accumulated liabilities. Many of these are possible future payments to close down nuclear power plants and to subsidise wind and solar power. The Accounts  may understate the possible outturn on contract for differences power costs, which are  currently priced at £89.6bn by the Department compared to the more modest  £16.5bn liability on the balance sheet.

All this needs managing to get value for money and to control outgoings.

1. Safety should of course be an absolute  override, but it would repay study to examine the pace of the nuclear closure programme and the speed and incidence of remedial and recovery work               thereafter. They currently assume 7 stations close 2023-30.

2.The Smart meter programme is costing a massive £20.1bn and is very unpopular with many users. Could this be rephased?

3. International contributions to climate change projects are in at £11.6bn. So far the public sector has contributed more than the private. Maybe it is  time to demand greater leverage from the private sector? Surely emerging countries would prefer profitable projects?

4. £85.3bn of accumulated business support for CV 1 9  was  necessary spending. As there are £69.1bn  of loans, what is being assumed about repayment schedules once we have a proper economic recovery post vaccination? It is important the government makes sensible phased arrangements for recovery or for the transfer of these loans to banking sector.

5. CFD payments for renewable power . It is time for a value for money review of options as this is becoming a large contingent liability, particularly for new nuclear.

The Business Department budget is a reminder of just what a complicated nexus of subsidies, regulations and interventions there are  now are to keep the lights on and the factories turning.

 

Today Holocaust Memorial Day

Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central)

Today, #HolocaustMemorialDay

, I will light a candle and safely place it in my window at 8pm to remember all those who were murdered for who they were, & to stand against prejudice, hostility and division in the world today. #LightTheDarkness

 

MP votes to improve UK’s air quality targets

Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale)

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has voted in favour of increasing the UK's air quality targets to clean up the country's air and protect people's health.

The amendment would have pledged the UK to meet the World Health Organisation's air quality standards by 2030 at the latest.

However the move was voted down by the Government by 227 votes to 354.

Speaking during a debate in Parliament last night, Tim said: "On the air quality amendments, the targets in this Bill do not even meet those recommended by the World Health Organisation, as has been said by other Members.

"That should rightly alarm all of us, especially given that the UK has such a terrible track record in recent years.

"When we were a member of the EU, it fined us regularly for failing to meet the targets set at that point.

"Air quality standards are of the utmost importance, and for the Government to under aim and be under-ambitious here is deeply troubling."

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

Gwynne slams Environment Bill backtrack

Andrew Gwynne (Denton and Reddish)

Andrew Gwynne, MP for Denton and Reddish, has criticised the Government for delaying the Environment Bill and for rejecting a Labour amendment to keep the ban on bee-killing pesticides.

The Government have changed the timetable for the law’s introduction, delaying the introduction of the measures in the legislation until at least the autumn.

When the Bill becomes law, it will set targets and set out plans for improving the environment. The Bill would also create the Office for Environmental Protection, a new, independent statutory body with the principal objective of contributing to environmental protection and the improvement of the natural environment.

Yesterday in Parliament, the Government voted down a series of amendments to the Bill, including Labour amendments which would have required the Government to meet World Health Organisation targets on air quality by 2030 and kept the ban on bee-killing pesticides.

Andrew Gwynne said:

“We are in the middle of a climate crisis and it’s vital that we act now, but instead the Government keep on kicking the can down the road when it comes to passing the Environment Bill.

 

“Their rejection of key amendments yesterday protecting the quality of air and the bee population ring warning bells for me about how serious they are about the environment.”

The post Gwynne slams Environment Bill backtrack appeared first on Andrew Gwynne MP.

"Pragmatic" one-year balanced Council budget planned for Edinburgh as Covid crisis continues

Please find below a link to Swansea Bay University Health Board’s latest edition of their Stakeholder Update Newsletter on the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

SBUHB Newsletter

Liz commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day 2021

Liz Kendall (Leicester West)

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day, a day where we commemorate and honour the six million Jewish men, women and children who were murdered under the Nazi regime. We also remember the victims of genocides that have taken place since – Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

This year’s theme is ‘Be the Light in the Darkness’ – and we must use this time to reflect on the ways individuals and communities have resisted hatred and prejudice in the past, and how we can continue to do so today.

While we cannot come together as we usually would to remember this important day, Leicester City Council has put together a programme of virtual events for you to take part in – find out more on their website.

Image from January 2020.

 

The post Liz commemorates Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 appeared first on Liz Kendall.

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Last week, Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, virtually met the Headteacher, Scott Wilson, and Chair of Governors, Steve Gallant, of Holderness Academy and Sixth Form College to hear about the challenges the school has experienced with remote learning.

The Headteacher said significant improvements have been made to their online teaching provision since the first lockdown and they continue to strive to ensure their students have the right equipment and access. The school has overcome challenges and is now in a better position to deliver a high quality of online teaching through a blended learning approach, providing both live and pre-recorded lessons. The school is in regular contact with parents and students and they welcome feedback on how they can improve their delivery of lessons.

Graham said, “I was delighted to have the opportunity to hear from Scott and Steve about how they have dealt with, and overcome, the challenges of online learning and ensuring they have a sufficient number of laptops to provide to their students. I hope their progress continues.”

Scott said, “I am pleased Graham took the time to listen to us about our journey to roll out our online learning provision, we are happy with the approach we have taken and we will continue to strive for further progress.”

Steve said, “It was great to have a catch up with Graham to discuss the challenges Holderness Academy and Sixth Form College have overcome and our positive outlook on the way forward.”

LIGHT THE DARKNESS URGES MP ON HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY 2021

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North)

Catherine McKinnell, Member of Parliament for Newcastle North and Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism has marked Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 by urging all to stand together against hatred and division. Each year on the 27th January, people and communities around the world come together in a spirit of remembrance and solidarity to … Continue reading LIGHT THE DARKNESS URGES MP ON HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY 2021

“Although this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day event has to take place virtually, and we are unable to be together in person, we will be together in spirit.

Four COVID vaccine centres

Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe)

On 26 January the first mass vaccination centre in Kent for COVID-19 opened its doors in Folkestone town centre. This is based in the building known as Folca, which was formerly the Debenhams department store. Last week I visited the building along with the Leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council, Cllr David Monk, to […]
26 January 2021
Government and Opposition front benches both confirm support for aims of Dunne’s Bill to start process to end sewage pollution

Philip Dunne welcomes the Government's indication of support for the aims of the campaign to improve water quality by reducing sewage pollution to our rivers and calls on the Government to use the delay in the Environment Bill as a chance to adopt many of the measures in his Private Member's Bill.

Philip Dunne [V] 

It is a pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell). I thank him for his support for my private Member’s Bill, which I will touch on briefly. But my thanks primarily go to the Minister, who was generous while talking about my campaigning efforts to improve the water quality of our rivers, which I wish to talk about under part 5 and, in particular, in support of amendment 3 to clause 82 and amendment 42 to clause 78.

It has been clear to me for many years, but particularly this year as I have been campaigning to improve water quality by reducing sewage pollution to our rivers, how significant this issue has tragically become. Many people have been in touch with me through campaigning groups, all urging the Government to get behind my Bill.

I was delighted on Friday, when I was unable to be in the Chamber to debate my private Member’s Bill because sittings had been suspended, that as something of a consolation prize the Minister announced the Government’s support for the aims of my Bill. I look forward to a second consolation from the unfortunate development today—we hear that the Environment Bill will be deferred until the next parliamentary Session. I invite the Minister to use that time to work with me to bring into the appropriate legislative and regulatory space the many measures in my Bill that have significant support: they have support from 135 Members of this House today, on both sides of the House. I hope that, when she responds to the debate, she will give some encouraging noises to give me hope that that will happen. I am also grateful to her for establishing the storm overflows taskforce, which is the mechanism through which she is seeking to get advice from industry and campaigning groups to try to identify the measures that need to be undertaken.

Through the Environmental Audit Committee, we have launched an inquiry into water quality and we will be providing recommendations to the Government. The delay may mean that we are in a position to provide some recommendations through that Committee prior to the Bill appearing in the other place. I very much hope that the Minister will be able to use this time to introduce relevant amendments to the Bill as it passes through the Lords. We also hope to provide some help in assessing what the suitable water targets are under the Bill, which are so welcome, through the drainage and wastewater management plans laid out in the Bill.

I support the measures that I am sure my hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne (Sir Charles Walker) will talk about shortly. I also support the initiative of my right hon. Friend the Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling), whose new clause 4 is widely supported by my constituents, not least members of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, which is based in my constituency. It acknowledged the inclusion in July last year of the hedgehog in the red list of endangered British mammals.

Hansard

Minister applauds Philip's efforts on water quality

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Rebecca Pow)

...

Before I talk about the water section of the Bill, I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Philip Dunne) for his dedicated work on water issues and for being a dogged and determined advocate for our precious rivers.

Our climate is becoming less predictable, and we need to manage our water sources better to ensure resilience to future floods and droughts. The water measures in the Bill will help achieve the goals set out in our 25-year environment plan for clean and plentiful water and to reduce the risks of harm from environmental hazards. Water companies will have to produce drainage and sewerage management plans, which will set out how environmental risks, including sewage outflows into rivers, must be managed. Reforms to the abstraction licensing system will mean that less water is taken from our environment when it causes damage or harm.

I know that the health of our rivers, in terms of both flow levels and reducing sewage outflows, is of great concern to many Members; I have met so many of them to discuss this. My hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne (Sir Charles Walker) has tabled amendment 42, and I look forward to hearing what I am sure will be an impassioned speech from him. However, I am pleased to inform the House that the Bill already delivers the outcomes he is seeking: less water taken where it damages our environment and less sewage spilling into our precious waterways. Water companies will be able to produce joint water resource management plans for the first time, enabling water transfers from areas with plentiful water to water-stressed areas. We will reform the system of internal drainage boards, ensuring that our water management system is fit for the future. Technical Government amendment 8 will update clause 91, as it currently refers to the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which has now been superseded by the Sentencing Act 2020.

Hansard

Opposition front bench confirms support for Private Member's Bill

Ruth Jones (Shadow Minister) 

The Minister is right: we all want strong, effective management of our water; we want clean water; and we want to mitigate the impact of hazardous waste in our waters. I am pleased that the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, the right hon. Member for Ludlow (Philip Dunne), spoke earlier in the debate. He knows from the shadow Minister for water, my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley East (Stephanie Peacock), that Her Majesty’s Opposition support his private Member’s Bill. Water quality is so important. That is why, when preparing for the debate, I was shocked to find that in Camborne and Redruth—the Secretary of State’s seat—all 10 rivers that pass through the constituency have failed to meet the standards of chemical pollution set by the Environment Agency. Simply put, the Government’s inaction has seen contaminated water not just across the country but in the Secretary of State’s own backyard. I hope that that will focus the Minister’s mind.

Hansard

Worcester will benefit from 50 new highly skilled, well paid jobs following a government announcement today. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told local MP Robin Walker they would be locating their new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) in his constituency.

The watchdog will be responsible for holding the government to account on environmental law, report on the progress of government Environmental Impact Plans, and investigate complaints on alleged breaches of environmental law by public authorities. It will therefore be recruiting scientists, lawyers and environmental experts.

The OEP is being set up as part of the Conservative Party’s commitment to make the UK a world leader in environmental standards following the country’s departure from the European Union. It is a key part of the Environment Bill that is currently making its way through Parliament. The bill states that the OEP must act objectively and impartially.

Although an exact site is yet to be found for the office, DEFRA Minister Rebecca Pow said Worcester had been selected in a competitive process as it provided the department a high quality location.

Robin Walker has welcomed the announcement which is part of wider Government plans to deliver levelling up across the country by ensuring that key public sector jobs are located outside London and the South East. Worcester has a history of hosting DEFRA or MAFF officials and a former campus near Spetchley road has recently been converted into housing but the decision to locate the new Environmental Protection Agency in the city is a major vote of confidence in its central location and highly skilled workforce.

Announcing the decision Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said

“For such an important new body with a crucial role in holding Governments to account for their environmental performance we wanted a high quality location and I am delighted that after a competitive process, Worcester has been chosen as that location.”

Robin said: “DEFRA were looking for a high quality location for their new office and locations don’t come any higher quality than Worcester. We are well connected, central and it’s a great place to live and work. Winning this competitive process is a real vote of confidence in Worcester by the Government.”

“The OEP will be an important part of ensuring the UK has the highest possible environmental standards. They will employ experts in environmental law, scientists and policy analysts as well as people with experience in regulation and enforcement. I understand that the office will be set up between now and Christmas and will seek to employ around 50 highly qualified people – a significant long term boost to our local economy.”

“I am delighted to see this announcement and proud as the son of the UK’s first Environment secretary that our city is keeping up its place as a centre for environmental expertise. I will now liaise with my colleagues at Worcester City Council to ensure that an office is picked which brings the most benefits to Worcester residents.”

On 26 January, 31 Central East Metropolitan Police officers have been fined £200 fixed penalty notice after breaching Covid-19 regulations to get haircuts at Bethnal Green police station while on duty.

 

 

Unemployed Claimant Count December 2020

Jon Cruddas (Dagenham and Rainham)

 

The number of unemployed claimants in Dagenham and Rainham constituency in December 2020 was 6,585. This represents a rate of 9.4% of the economically active population aged 16 to 64. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 6.3%.

There are 3,850 more claimants than in March 2020 before the UK lockdown began and 205 more claimants than November 2020. There are currently 13,510 individuals in Dagenham and Rainham on Universal Credit.

Figures are not seasonally adjusted and are rounded to the nearest five.

Long term trends            

The unadjusted claimant count is currently not a good indicator of long- term trends in the number of people looking for work. It does however provide us with a measure of how the number of claimants has changed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The adjusted alternative claimant count is updated on a quarterly basis.

The ongoing impact of coronavirus on Universal Credit

Under Universal Credit, a broader spectrum of people are required to look for work than under Jobseeker’s Allowance. This has the effect of increasing the number of unemployed claimants. In addition to this, as part of the government’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19), a number of enhancements were introduced to Universal Credit. Consequently, whilst some of the increase in the unemployed claimant count will be due to people who have become unemployed, some will also be due to employed people who have become eligible for Universal Credit as part of the government response to Coronavirus.

The Government recently announced that there are plans to remove the additional £20 Universal Credit payment which was put in place to further support those claiming during the lockdown period. The removal of this money has been met with fierce public and parliamentary opposition. The Government will take the decision on whether to keep this payment in place or remove it in April over the coming days.

Jon Cruddas MP: "The Government must do the right thing and stop the planned £20 a week cut to Universal Credit, which will hit over 13,000 of the most vulnerable people living in Dagenham and Rainham. The pandemic is ongoing, pulling more and more families into financial hardship. This £20 is what enables some families to put food on the table at the end of the week. I will continue lobbying from the opposition benches to ensure that my constituents get the support they need."

Statement from Toby Perkins MP

Toby Perkins (Chesterfield)

Borders club joins campaign to Save Scottish Bingo

John Lamont (Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk)

The only bingo club left in the Scottish Borders has joined the campaign to Save Scottish Bingo. The independent, family owned, Border Bingo, usually operates from the Pavilion in Galashiels The Bingo Association in Scotland has launched a campaign to save Scottish bingo after warning that local…

MP highlights winter support measures in cold snap

Harriett Baldwin (West Worcestershire)

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin has urged local people to access support if they are struggling to deal with extra fuel costs during the cold snap. read more »

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, has voted to protect holiday pay entitlements and safe working limits following the Government’s admission that employment protections are being reviewed to see which to scrap and which to keep.

The Government will be consulting on changes to employment rights that could result in the ending of inclusion of overtime in how holiday pay is calculated, leaving workers hundreds of pounds out of pocket; a longer working week with no legal cap on the number of hours employers can make their employees work; and the end to the legal right to rest breaks at work.

The Government refused to support Labour’s motion which called on the Government to specifically rule out any changes to the 48-hour working week, rest breaks at work, or holiday entitlements, and to outlaw fire and rehire tactics.

Karin Smyth, MP for Bristol South, said:

“This last year has seen workers facing great hardship and businesses struggling to stay afloat, yet the Government have been consulting on changes to workers’ rights which would leave families in Bristol South even worse off by losing out on holiday pay and working longer hours.

“Scrapping rules that will reduce the pay workers are entitled to whilst on holiday is no way to thank our key workers for all of the sacrifices they have made during the pandemic.  It is clear that the Government’s priorities couldn’t be further from those of workers and their families.

“The Government should be focusing on securing the economy and rebuilding the country, not ripping up worker’s rights. Conservative MP’s must think again and keep their promise to maintain employment rights.”

The post Karin Smyth MP votes to protect holiday pay and 48-hour weekly working limit first appeared on Karin Smyth.

Benbecula Airport - Wikipedia

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP Angus MacNeil is writing again to Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson, to discuss Mr Matheson’s refusal to meet regarding the airport situation in Stornoway and Benbecula where crucial island jobs are in the balance. 

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“I am disappointed by the response from Michael Matheson, he was the longest to respond to the request to meet, a full month after Prospect Union, who responded within a day. Clearly at the moment we don’t need him to travel to the islands but just to meet with us virtually about these important island jobs.

“On day one of this process I told HIAL that they had an agenda of centralising and empire building around their office in Inverness. HIAL are an out-of-control department who are damaging the islands.  Most of their airports are in the Islands yet their HQ is on the mainland. They should either have their HQ moved to the islands or be broken up. From the very beginning it was clear that they were wanting to centralise in Inverness, I challenged them on this at the start and I told them if they were going to centralise things to hub them in Benbecula or Stornoway. Clearly, they are wanting to empire build at their own head office. 

“When there was an issue around the coastguard stations, the UK Government’s then Maritime Minister, Mike Penning MP, and accepted my invite to travel from London to Stornoway and didn’t leave it to his Government’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency, but instead took responsibility for government agency actions. He also met with concerned parties in London to discuss the issue too. It is now imperative that the Scottish Government intervene on this vital issue.

“In our islands, our ferry company, our airlines and even our Gaelic bodies, as well as in this case HIAL, are headquartered in the mainland. It is galling that some of the few, high quality, island jobs are about to be removed by an arm of the Scottish Government. 

“If the Islands Act isn’t pointless, at the very least, it should be protecting these jobs. HIAL are damaging the islands, and this is not a good enough response from the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary who should be overseeing their actions. The purpose of a virtual meeting is so we can all agree on the sets of facts surrounding this.

“I implore Michael Matheson to think again and to get around the table with the Civil Aviation Authority, Prospect Union, HIAL, the employees and elected representatives from the area, to make sure island jobs are not sold short.” 

ENDS

Network Rail Event

Robin Millar (Aberconwy)

INVITATION If you are interested in railways, engineering, beautiful scenery or the power of nature, you may be interested in joining ROBIN and NETWORK RAIL  29th January 2021 At 7pm – on ZOOM The Conwy Valley Railway line was damaged again during the floods of late 2019/early 2020. Network Rail…

Anne Marie's Weekly Column

Anne Marie Morris (Newton Abbot)

Given the recent conversation around ‘Opposition Days’ in Parliament and whether they have any impact, I though it would be useful to set out what they and my position on recent votes. Firstly, what exactly are ‘Opposition day’ debates? Opposition days are days allocated in the House of Commons for…

Preet calls on the PM to scrap council tax rise

Preet Gill (Birmingham, Edgbaston)

Preet Kaur Gill MP has called on the Prime Minister to scrap a planned 5% council tax rise that will add £71.65 to annual household council tax bills for the average Band D home in Birmingham after the House of Commons voted against the Government’s plans to make families pay for a £100 million hole in Birmingham’s council budget. 

The vote follows an appeal from Labour leader Keir Starmer to stop the council tax rise and provide certainty to millions of struggling families who face additional blows to their household incomes from frozen pay and a cut to Universal Credit. 

Under the Government’s proposals, households living in Band D will face, on average, a rise of over £90 next year under plans set out in the Comprehensive Spending Review. It means council tax will have risen by approximately 33% under the Conservatives. 

In December, the government promised that local authorities would have £2.2bn more money in 2021/22. However, 85% of that promised money was dependant on council’s increasing council tax by up to 4.99%

Birmingham now faces a funding gap because of income lost during the pandemic and the additional costs of keeping communities safe from Covid-19. 

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said councils would be funded to do “whatever it takes” to support their communities but later backtracked and suggested councils should share the burden of their lost income.

Commenting Preet Kaur Gill MP, said: “This council tax rise will hit families right at the very time millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will get through the next few months.

“This Government should not be making families pay for their mishandling of the coronavirus crisis and their broken promises to support councils. 

“The Prime Minister must scrap this economically illiterate council tax rise – and if he doesn’t, Conservative MPs need to do the right thing and vote with Labour to protect families’ incomes and help secure our economy.”

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Vaccine Roll Out Report

Bob Stewart (Beckenham)

I do not have overall local figures of the numbers of people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19  but I thought constituents might like to see how the overall deployment across the country is going as I do have them.  The Department of Health and Social Care has just announced that over 5.8…

Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps has virtual tour of Busy Bees Nursery in Shire Park, WGC.

Busy Bees Nurseries, the UKs largest nursery group, recently hosted Mr Shapps for a ‘virtual tour’ of their nursery in Welwyn Garden City.

Busy Bees, founded 37 years ago, operate 357 nurseries in the UK and 231 nurseries overseas including Singapore, Australia, Canada, Italy Ireland and the USA.

Founder Marg Randles led the meeting as they discussed the business and their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr Shapps had been invited to tour the nursery in person. However, due to the new strain of the virus and national lockdown, it was decided that the tour should take place virtually.

Mr Shapps was shown the nursery’s facilities with a video which highlighted how the staff get children prepared for learning at school.

As part of their efforts to make their environment COVID-secure during lockdown, parents have to drop their children off at the front door. However, they can receive regular updates about their child throughout the day via an app called ParentZone.

In addition, the Busy Bees use a digital learning programme which parents can use with their children at home.

Remarking on his virtual tour, Grant Shapps said: “I was given a really polished virtual tour of the nursery. The facilities look great for the kids and are a testament to the interest that Marg and all the team have in the children’s positive development.

“The nursery looked incredibly welcoming- lots of rooms for different activities and age groups, with plenty of outdoor space. It’s great to see how well they’ve managed to adapt to the disruptive effect that COVID has had…It’s no wonder that they won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise a few years ago.

“I look forward to visiting in-person someday in the reasonably near future!”

Weekly round-up #Working4Wycombe

Steven Baker (Wycombe)

What I have been up to this week #Working4Wycombe: Supported Samaritans’ #BrewMonday to encourage people to have a virtual cup of tea (or coffee!) together to keep in touch with friends and family. You can find this here: https://twitter.com/SteveBakerHW/status/1351135030442135557 Helped raise awareness for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week. You can find this here: https://twitter.com/SteveBakerHW/status/1351543698996269056/photo/1 Highlighted serious human rights abuses in Kashmir & asked the FCDO for a coordinated international effort to have UN human rights officials on both sides of the […]
The Government is updating the Violence Against Women and Girls strategy and has launched a nationwide Call for Evidence in order to ensure that those who have lived experiences of abuse and violence, and the views of members of the public are at the heart of plans to stop these harmful crimes. The…

Vaccination priority

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

A lot of people have asked questions about local vaccine supply and who we are prioritising. Anne-Marie's statement on that is below:   First, I want to praise the incredible efforts of our local teams of GPs, nurses, healthcare assistants, support staff and volunteers who have been working so hard…

Martin Docherty-Hughes MP has tabled a motion in the House of Commons marking the upcoming 50th anniversary of the 1971-1972 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (UCS) work-in. The parliamentary motion recalls the UCS industrial action taken in response to the then Conservative UK … Continue reading

The post 50th ANNIVERSARY OF UPPER CLYDE SHIPBUILDERS WORK-IN MARKED IN PARLIAMENT appeared first on Martin Docherty-Hughes MP.

Vaccine Rollout Continues!

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills)

The vaccination centre at Oak Park has now been up and running for over a week and I would like to commend the work of all those who are directly involved, or supporting this remarkable roll out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
At the same time Millennium Point in Birmingham is now also up and running creating extra vaccination capacity.
Over 756,433 vaccines have now been administered across the Midlands as we lead the way in the vaccination programme.
We are making terrific progress, and whilst there is still a long way to go, we should be pleased with the current progress. Thank you again to everyone involved!
I appreciate that people want to receive their vaccinations but please do remember, it is really important that as residents you wait until you are contacted by your GP practice or by the NHS.

Our Man - Re-building our economy

Damian Green (Ashford)

This last year has been the worst period for Kent business in memory, even worse than after the financial crash of 2008. Yet beneath the surface it is clear that some sectors, at least, are proving surprisingly resilient, which is of course hugely welcome for jobs and future prosperity. Last week I…

Pfizer/ BioNtech Covid-19 FAQs

Steve Reed (Croydon North)

Vaccines save lives. Yet there is a lot of disinformation online deterring people from getting the vaccine. Below I have shared a frequently asked questions briefing I received from the British Society for Immunology . It provides a host of questions and answers about the Pfizer/ BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Please note that the answers to the following questions apply only in relation to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and many will be different for other COVID-19 vaccines as they become available.

Please note that the answers to the following questions apply only in relation to the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and many will be different for other COVID-19 vaccines as they become available.

Rollout

Who is eligible to receive the vaccine?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has prioritised people for vaccination based on their risk of serious COVID-19 disease after SARS-CoV-2 infection. The priority order, confirmed on 2nd December and subject to logistical challenges in rollout, is as follows:

1.       Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers

2.       All those 80 years of age and over; frontline health and social care workers

3.       All those 75 years of age and over

4.       All those 70 years of age and over; clinically extremely vulnerable individuals

5.       All those 65 years of age and over

6.       All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality

7.       All those 60 years of age and over

8.       All those 55 years of age and over

9.       All those 50 years of age and over

As more vaccine becomes available, it will be rolled out to those in each descending group.

Why are older people being prioritised over younger people who are out of the house working?
The priorities are based on reducing risk of harm. The immune system of older people differs from that of younger people and whilst the younger, working population are just as likely to become infected they are much, much less likely to become severely ill. An older person becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2 is more likely to result in severe COVID-19 disease. The biggest risk of mortality from COVID-19 comes with age, even more so than underlying conditions such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, for example, or being male or being in BAME groups. Each older generation has approximately 10 times the risk of dying from COVID-19 than the generation below it. When a vaccine has been shown to be effective in preventing disease in older people, then they should be the first to receive it as they are most at risk.

Do I need to get the vaccine if I have contracted COVID-19 and recovered?
Yes. There is a lot of uncertainty about how much immunity a person gains after natural infection. The levels of immunity that we can measure so far show a lot of individual variation – some people have very few antibodies after infection but these antibodies can be boosted by vaccination. We can’t assume that everyone who has had COVID-19 would have enough immunity to protect them. It is likely that, in a significant proportion of the population, the vaccine will induce more effective and longer lasting immunity than that induced by infection. Hence it is recommended that everyone take the vaccine so that, if your immunity after disease is absent or low, it can be boosted.

Why should a young person take the vaccine when the risk of COVID-19 mortality is so low?
There is a huge variability in the symptoms and severity of COVID-19 disease between different people; from an infection with SARS-CoV-2 that doesn’t have any symptoms (asymptomatic infection) to severe COVID-19 disease resulting in hospitalisation and in some cases death. While younger people are usually at the less severe end of the spectrum this does not mean that the illness is not harmful to their health. In fact, there are many instances of long COVID that have blighted the lives of young people.

In addition, although we don’t yet have a lot of evidence to support this, having the vaccine might stop you being able to be part of the chain of infection that spreads the virus. So, an added benefit might be to help reduce spread of the virus for everybody.

There is COVID-19 at my child’s school. Why aren’t my children being given the vaccine?
Initial vaccine testing was not done on children. Children are at extremely low risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19 – they are at higher risk of being involved in a serious traffic accident than they are of ending up in hospital with Covid-19. So the benefits of vaccinating children are not yet clear. If the vaccine stops people from passing the infection to others, then vaccinating children in order to stop the spread of the virus will make a lot of sense.

 

Safety

Does the vaccine being developed so quickly mean that it is less safe than other vaccines?
No, it doesn’t. The reasons that this was developed so quickly do not include cutting corners on safety. There are a few reasons that enabled the speed in 2020:

1.       Technology. These mRNA vaccines (in common with many of the approaches used for the other vaccine candidates) could be rapidly deployed for development and testing once the SARS-CoV-2 sequence became known, but this was actually done on the back of 10 years prior research using this platform.

2.       Scientists. A LOT of scientists contributed to this, working extra long hours to make it work and to assess the results.

3.       Money. Normally raising money to develop a vaccine takes a long time. At each stage you have to stop and apply for more funding to carry out the next stage. Funding applications take a year or more. In 2020 for SARS-CoV-2, rapid investment of a lot of taxpayers’ money in many countries meant there weren’t the normal financial obstacles.

4.       Environment. Sometimes you can develop a vaccine but can’t test it until there is an epidemic in progress. There was no problem in this regard.

5.       Luck. Sometimes the target that is picked for vaccine studies, which is usually something seen on the outside of the virus, is not a good candidate for raising an immune response. The S protein target on SARS-CoV-2 that most vaccine companies picked to work with turns out to be an excellent target for activating the immune response.

6.       Volunteer test subjects. Last but definitely not least. Tens of thousands of volunteers took part in the safety trials and the randomised control trials so recruiting volunteers was not an issue as it may be under normal circumstances.

Are there any side effects from the vaccine?
Yes, but these are generally mild. As with all vaccines, because you are stimulating the immune system you may experience some mild flu-like symptoms, but these are temporary. The most common reactions are fatigue, headache and pain at the injection site. Some people might also get chills, joint pain or fever. Younger people are more likely to get these reactions than older people.

Should people with allergies take the vaccine?
There are varying degrees of allergy. Some allergies, such as hay fever, are mild and do not pose a risk. Others are more dangerous and can lead to immediate anaphylactic shock. The vaccine should not be given to people who have a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to a vaccine, medicine or food. If you carry an EpiPen in case of allergic reaction, you have a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis and so should discuss this with your doctor before getting the vaccine. All people who are vaccinated are asked not to leave immediately so that the health care professionals can check there is no anaphylaxis.

Who should not get the vaccine? (I’m immunocompromised/pregnant etc.)
The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has not yet been tested on pregnant women or children so these groups should not be vaccinated, unless a child is at high risk of severe disease for some other reason.

Immunocompromised people are at high risk so should get the vaccine. However, because their immune systems may not be able to make a response to vaccine they should still take other precautions against the disease.

Who was the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine tested on?
There were 43,448 people in the phase 3 clinical trial, 21,720 of whom had the COVID-19 vaccine and the rest were given a placebo injection.

Of the COVID-19 vaccine recipients, 58% were aged between 16 and 55, 42% were aged over 55 (the oldest being 89). 35% were classified as obese, 17% were BAME, 51% were male. Volunteers were from Argentina (15%), Brazil (6%), South Africa (2%) and USA (77%). People characterised as high risk due to underlying conditions (e.g. autoimmunity, hypertension; diabetes; asthma; pulmonary, liver, or kidney disease) or due to high risk occupations were included.

Are there risks that might have been missed in the trials, but will become apparent in the longer term?
All known risks have been checked, but there may be unknown risks. Reactions to vaccines usually happen very soon after vaccination – if you have the vaccine, you are asked to wait for a few minutes as a precaution. All the initial phase 1 safety trial volunteers have been followed up for at least 4 months and no major concerns have been raised. Safety monitoring, known as pharmacovigilance, is to be continued for 2 years after the vaccine is released – in the UK, this is carried out by the MHRA.

How are long term side effects tested/monitored?
Safety monitoring is to be continued for 2 years after the vaccine is released. There is a system in place to monitor and report adverse events immediately in a process known as pharmacovigilance. In the UK, this is carried out by the MHRA.

Has the vaccine been tested on people of different ethnicities?
Yes, of the 21,720 volunteers who had the COVID-19 vaccine, 17% were BAME.

Effectiveness

Does immunity from the vaccine last longer than immunity after getting COVID-19?
We do not know the answer to this question yet because people have only been followed up for a maximum of 6 months after vaccination so far. We suspect that in some cases (e.g. mild or asymptomatic infection), the immunity elicited by the vaccine would be better than that elicited by the natural infection but we do not know for sure. But, from the concentrations of antibodies induced by the vaccine, and the rate at which these antibodies decline over time, it is looking very promising that immunity induced by the vaccine will last at least as long as the immunity induced by infection and in all likelihood it will last much longer.

Do I still need to wear a mask or observe social distancing after receiving the vaccine?
Yes. We know the vaccine can protect people from getting sick from the disease COVID-19 that is caused by the viral infection. However, we do not yet know if it will stop you getting the viral infection so you could be an asymptomatic carrier who could pass the infection onto others who may be vulnerable.

Also, you will not be fully protected against the disease until the second dose of vaccine.

Other

How do mRNA vaccines, such as the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, work?
The vaccine contains a segment of the SARS-CoV-2 virus genetic material that codes for a specific protein from the virus. In the case of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the specific code is for the spike protein from the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The genetic material in the vaccine is mRNA, which is used as instructions for the cell to make proteins. When the vaccine is given, our cells at the site of injection take up the mRNA and make the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The mRNA is subsequently destroyed by the body. The spike protein is then recognised by the immune system and triggers a response. This response builds immune memory so your body can fight off SARS-CoV-2 immediately if you come across it in future. Please also see this infographic.

Will the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine still provide protection against the new strain of Coronavirus in the UK?
We think it will, but we don’t yet know this for a fact. Scientists are currently carrying out tests in the lab to check this out. We expect to find out more about this in the coming weeks.

  • 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 Pfizer/ BioNtech Covid-19 FAQs appeared first on Steve Reed MP.

One of the actions of Nottingham City Council’s Carbon Neutral Action Plan is to campaign for divestment and move the Nottinghamshire Local Government Pension Scheme away from fossil fuels investments. This is why ahead of their Annual General Meeting tomorrow I submitted a question on behalf of City members of the scheme, and urged the Fund to commit to consult with its members on a divestment strategy and timeline before their next AGM. This is essential to ensure the long term sustainability of the Fund and to play it’s part in the prevention of catastrophic climate change.

The Pension Fund covers over 300 members including Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, the District Councils and many other organisations who are generally non-profit making, or are undertaking a service which was, or could be carried out by the Local Authority. It is controlled by County Councillors and the City Council has no voting rights on the Pension Fund.  

I know that the primary responsibility of the Pension Fund is to protect the financial benefits of the scheme, and now that there is growing evidence that fossil fuel investments are performing less well than comparators it is the time to grasp the divestment nettle. Currently Nottinghamshire Pension Fund holds at least £170m in fossil fuel company shares and has no investments in sustainable, low carbon or renewable energy equity funds.

Given over 1300 institutions worldwide have already committed to divestment, including at least 10 UK local government pension funds and a large number of UK universities and faith organisations, it is time for Nottinghamshire to catch up and  do its bit for a sustainable future.

You can watch the Nottinghamshire Pension Fund AGM live on Youtube from tomorrow at 10:30am. Further information about the agenda of the meeting and those in attendance can be found on the Nottinghamshire County Council website.

The post Nottingham Pension Fund Must Divest from Fossil Fuels appeared first on Nottingham Labour.

Universal credit: Covid responsible for over 50% of claimants

Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth)

In a House of Commons speech, I revealed that over half of the 14,633 Universal Credit (UC) claimants in my constituency are on social security since the start of the pandemic. I then urged the Government to keep the £20 ‘uplift’ for people claiming Universal Credit.

You can read my speech in full below:

Universal Credit (UC) has never been fit for purpose.

When introduced in 2012, it had a number of design flaws including the original 6-week wait for the first payment, a single payment to a household, usually the man, setting women’s independence back a generation, and a monthly payment period creating all sorts of problems for many who were paid weekly, fortnightly and 4-weekly.

But these were made even worse in 2015 when the then Chancellor did a hatchet job on social security spending. With the cuts to the taper rate and work allowance, the freeze on ‘benefit uprating’, the abolition of disability premiums, and more, by the start of the Covid pandemic approximately £33bn of support had been cut for working age people.  

Although for some people, UC is more slightly generous than legacy benefits, all the analysis I have seen has shown that UC is far less generous to single parent families and to disabled people.

UC claimants have been driven into debt, rent arrears and the increase in foodbank demand is attributed to UC’s introduction.

The associated negative impacts on UC claimants’ health and wellbeing is also now increasingly being understood. For example, a peer-reviewed report published in the Lancet last March showed people who moved onto Universal Credit experienced clinically significant psychological distress as a direct result. Another report from the BMJ showed that the ‘hostile and demeaning’ Universal Credit system worsened physical and mental health.  And the Health in all Policies All Party Parliamentary Group which I chair undertook an inquiry into the impacts of the changes to UC in the 2016 Welfare Reform and Work Bill, predicting an increase in child poverty and a subsequent deterioration in child health; sadly, the follow analysis is showing how accurate these predictions were.

Indeed, the discriminatory and punitive nature of UC has even been successfully challenged in the courts.

Fast forward to the start of the Covid pandemic, when we saw the number of UC claimants increase from over 3 million in March to over 5.6 million in July. As the crisis hit, not everyone could work from home and it was the low paid in vulnerable sectors such as hospitality and leisure who’ve been most affected. We know that this health crisis is far from over, and neither are impacts on the economy and jobs. People need reassurance, that in their time of need, like the NHS, an adequate safety net is there for them. 

In my Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency more than half of the 14,633 claimants are now claiming UC as a result of the pandemic.

The response I have had from constituents about the debate in Parliament calling for the uplift to be extended has been phenomenal! And it wasn’t just those relying on UC who have written to me reflecting the Health Foundation/IPSOS Mori poll that showed 74% of the public support the increase in UC and want to see it extended beyond March.  

The UC APPG which I chair held an inquiry into the impact of Covid on claimants last spring and we wrote to the Chancellor with our recommendations last November. We urged him to:

  • Retain the £20 per week uplift to standard allowance beyond April
  • Extend the £20 per week uplift to legacy benefits
  • Offer new UC claimants an initial non-repayable starter payment instead of making them wait 5 weeks for their first payment, as recommended by the Work and Pensions Select Committee

Unfortunately, I am still waiting for a reply to this letter.

Save The Children found that parents who were given the uplift predominantly used it to buy food, followed by paying the rent, bills, and essential items needed for school. They estimate that withdrawing this uplift will increase those living in poverty by half a million including 200,000 children. By 2024, the Resolution Foundation estimate that relative poverty will have increased to 23% with an additional 730,000 children living in poverty.

Even with this uplift people living on UC are struggling to manage. In November, Turn2Us examined the financial resilience of households on different social security support and found that 1 in 5 on UC ‘always’ run out of money compared with only 8% for people not reliant on UC.

Citizens’ Advice estimate that since the start of the pandemic half a million people have accrued rent arrears with an average of £730 debt. And of course, the ban on evictions also runs out at the end of March. The implications for homelessness are self-evident.

Mr Speaker, as Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Poverty report has shown, before Covid, there were 14.5 m people living in poverty, that’s 1 in 5 people, and this was escalating in spite of the high employment rate and an increase in the living wage. Work, seen by many as the route out of poverty was failing to deliver, with over 8 million working people living in poverty. 7 out of 10 of the 4m children living in poverty come from working families. Covid saw those already struggling to stay afloat bear the brunt of the economic and the health burden.

We cannot, we must not let them down. We must extend the UC and Working Tax Credit uplift, and ensure those on legacy benefits also receive the uplift.  

Feel strongly about this article?

The post Universal credit: Covid responsible for over 50% of claimants appeared first on Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.

Jonathan Djanogly supports an amendment that would mean trade deals must be approved by Parliament before being signed by the Government as is the case in the US, EU and Japan.  read more »

Yesterday evening (18 January), Rt Hon Sir David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford and Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party, participated virtually in the House of Commons debate on Remote Education and Free School Meals. During his speech, he praised the incredibly hard work of the…

O hell, here comes another one.

No one wanted to start 2021 with a third lockdown but, as the new and more-infectious strain of Covid spread, it proved too strong for the local tier system.

And with the NHS starting to fill up under the strain, even though covid treatments are getting better and the vaccine rollout is picking up speed, here we are again.

A lot of us (me included) had been hoping we could just ‘ride it out’ by keeping elderly and vulnerable people safe while everybody else carried on fairly normally.

But last autumn showed that, no matter how careful they’ve been, sooner or later grandparents catch it too, particularly with the new and more-infectious strain of the disease.

For a retirement town like Weston with plenty of elderly folk, but where lots of local jobs depend on hard-hit hospitality and tourism too, it’s a no-win dilemma.   

So it’s a rubbish start to 2021. But even though a full-scale lockdown is only a temporary ‘reset’ rather than a long-term answer to the problem, this time is different because there’s hope.

The vaccines mean there’s a decent chance of normality returning in a few months.  

The challenge is getting through until then: keeping jobs and firms alive, and not letting up on ‘hands, face, space’ in the meantime.

The most difficult stretch of all will be the few weeks after we’ve each been vaccinated, before our immune systems are fully booted up.

The temptation to go back to normal before we’re really safe will be super-strong, but we’ll all have to resist it.

It would be awful to catch Covid right at the end of the pandemic, after we’d stayed safe for so long. Roll on the jabs, and then perhaps we can have a normal summer!

Weston MP John Penrose

New Testing Site

Kit Malthouse (North West Hampshire)

A Coronavirus Testing Site has been opened at Shepherd’s Spring Lane Car Park to bolster the local Test and Trace service. This is great news and the location was determined after much consideration of the needs of local communities.

Across the UK, testing capacity has been expanded to more than 800,000 tests a day. Anyone experiencing a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste – should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus, by calling 119, or using the NHS Covid-19 app.

Fishing Export Chaos post-Brexit

Philippa Whitford (Central Ayrshire)

Following the chaos that has hit our fishing industry when trying to export since the start of the year, this week in Parliament I raised the problems experienced by the local fishing communities in my constituency suffering as a result of the new EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement.

85% of the seafood caught by my local fishing fleet is sold into the EU. Bureaucratic chaos resulting from Brexit means they have been unable to sell to their usual markets and their boats are currently tied up. Logistics firms will not accept any more catch because of the current customs chaos. The situation is similar across much of Scotland and the UK.

During this week’s Committee for the Future Relationship with the EU public evidence session, I highlighted these issues to representatives from relevant stakeholders: Make UK, the British Retail Consortium and the Food and Drink Federation.

You can watch my full contribution to the Committee for the Future Relationship with the EU Select Committee here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnIDwBTE0no

I also asked the UK Secretary of State for Environmental, Farming and Rural Affairs what financial support the UK Government would provide to this struggling industry and how he planned to the resolve issues he previously described as ‘teething problems’.

You can watch my full contribution to the urgent question session here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yu1mAcf-YqE

Far from promises of a ‘sea of opportunity’ and ‘taking back control’, the stark realities of Brexit are being felt hard by fishing communities in Central Ayrshire and beyond.

Dr Philippa Whitford MP

Eight-five per cent. of the seafood caught by my local fishing fleet goes to customers in the EU. Along with boats right across the UK, they are currently tied up, as logistics firms will not accept any more produce due to the current customs chaos.

Can the Secretary of State explain how he plans to resolve what he dismisses as “teething problems” and clarify what the Prime Minister meant when he talked about financial compensation for their losses?

George Eustice

We are working closely with the industry and DFDS to identify what we can do to address some of the problems that have been encountered.

I am aware that late last week, DFDS suspended the groupage service that it was offering to smaller consignments and has focused on single larger consignments, particularly of Scottish salmon. I understand that it believes it has sorted out some of those problems and intends next week to resume some of those groupage consignments.

There is a challenge here: in a group of several consignments, maybe three people would have got the paperwork right, but if one person has not, that can cause issues for everybody. We need people to pay attention to the detail and to get that paperwork right. We are working closely with the industry so that it can acclimatise itself to this administrative process.

The post Fishing Export Chaos post-Brexit appeared first on Dr Philippa Whitford.

I wish you all a good and perhaps most importantly, a healthy New Year. This year begins with a shared goal; for us, all to get through it safely together. As with every new year, it is also a time to think ahead to what we want for the future.

We know our villages, towns and the city centre will be different and that now is the time to reflect on how we want to live and treat people locally in the future. The world has changed, and although the fabric that holds our communities together is stronger than ever, we have learned that what was paramount yesterday could now be a barrier to progress. While there are new and exciting endeavours that need our support, existing challenges outside the pandemic bubble remain pressing – globally, nationally and locally.

There is still a climate emergency, and we still need to provide a place fit for people of all ages, for the 21st Century. Finding a way to bring all of this together into a cohesive plan involving the most impacted people has to be a collective, local priority. I am already reaching out to businesses, community groups, charities and a wide range of organisations to work towards this common goal.

The new, more contagious strain of the virus has pushed back many people’s hopes and expectations for the early months of 2021. Of course, this is hard to take, especially for those whose jobs or livelihoods are affected directly by the lockdown. My team and I continue to support hundreds of families and businesses going through extreme hardship; for them right now, it’s hard to see any light at the end of the tunnel.

While this new strain is a setback, it is not the virus winning; we can get through this—rapid deployment of the vaccine underway. As hard as it is, we need to keep the faith, hunker down, stay home, go out for only essential purposes or exercise and keep out of other homes unless included in a specifically identified exemption.

It is true that because of our efforts to follow the rules, rates of infection here have been lower, but we also now face rising numbers of infections fuelled by mixing over the festive period. A reminder of just how vulnerable we all are and how quickly our fortunes can change. Please keep staying at home.


Keep up to date with new articles at www.drewhendrymp.scot

Find out more about my work in parliament at www.theyworkforyou.com

The post As with every new year, it is also a time to think ahead to what we want for the future. appeared first on Drew Hendry MP.

My letter to the Leader of Wiltshire Council

Michelle Donelan (Chippenham)

Update on Free School Food Parcels

Royston Smith (Southampton, Itchen)

Images have been circulating online of some unacceptable food parcels which have been given to students entitled for free school meals but are not able to attend school. Some were claiming that the food parcels were supposed to feed children for two weeks and were costing the taxpayer £30. Both of these claims are not [...]

The post Update on Free School Food Parcels appeared first on Royston Smith - At the heart of Southampton.

Column: Failure on vaccine rollout is not an option

Judith Cummins (Bradford South)

In this week’s Telegraph & Argus, Judith speaks on the importance of getting the coronavirus vaccination programme right, and calls on the Government to do more to support people with the economic effects of the pandemic. 

You can read here article by clicking here to go the Telegraph & Argus website.

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VACCINE CENTRE VISIT

Angela Rayner (Ashton-under-Lyne)

COVID-19 Advice and Assistance

Alec Shelbrooke (Elmet and Rothwell)

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.

Alec is advising all constituents to follow Public Health England advice for their own safety and the safety of others.

Please read, share and regularly check the Government guidance as the situation and the response to it is changing daily.

Read the regulations here: FAQs- what you can and can’t do.

Testing

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

Vaccine

The UK medical regulatory agency has approved two vaccines for COVID-19. The Government has begun the largest nationwide vaccination programme in history, starting with key clinically vulnerable groups. Your GP will contact you directly with a date to get your vaccine.

Volunteer Support

Alec is working with local Leeds City Councillors to best co-ordinate volunteer efforts in our community. If you’re able to offer help please go to www.doinggoodleeds.org.uk

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. In line with national guidance, Alec and his team are working remotely but are working hard to get back to constituents as soon as possible.

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.

UK-EU Trade deal press release

Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire)

‘I am currently reading through the 1246 pages of the new UK-EU Trade Deal, announced by the Prime Minister on Christmas Eve. I believe this deal makes good on the promises that were made, by the Prime Minister, myself and... Continue Reading →
From sending Boris Johnson into isolation, to being trolled on social media, dealing with coronavirus and Brexit, it’s been a busy year for former miner Lee Anderson who has clocked up one year representing his home turf as Ashfield MP. The married dad of two, raised in Huthwaite, is the area’s…

Nigel’s December Newsletter

Nigel Mills (Amber Valley)

Subscribe to my future newsletters here

Dear Constituent,

Welcome to my December email newsletter. I know this year has been incredibly difficult for many families, and will continue to be very challenging, especially given the new variant of Covid, but the rollout of vaccines and community testing, which are gathering pace in Derbyshire, gives some hope for the new year. I’m sure, like me, you particularly welcome today’s announcement of the approval of the Oxford vaccine for rollout in our communities. Under these challenging circumstances, I nevertheless wish you a very safe and happy new year in 2021.

Heanor Future High Streets Fund bid success – £8.5 million:

Following Heanor’s bid towards the Government’s £830 million Future High Streets Fund, I’m delighted that Heanor has been successful and has been awarded over £8.5 million to help transform its town centre and recover from the pandemic. You can find the full details of the Borough Council’s bid here, which focuses on plans to regenerate the Market Place and Grammar School site. The Council now have a few months to confirm the final version of their plans, and I look forward to continuing to support and work with them to ensure we can maximise this funding.

Brexit deal latest:

On Christmas Eve, the Prime Minister reached a deal with the EU regarding our future relationship after the end of the transition period, from the 1st January 2021. Parliament has been recalled today, on the 30th December, to consider the deal and vote on it. You can read the deal here and the legislation enabling it here. The select committee on the Future Relationship with the EU on which I serve has published a report on the deal this morning, which you can read here.

I can confirm I will be supporting the deal when it comes to a vote later.

Many constituents have contacted me throughout the negotiation period, and I think this deal delivers on the key areas whilst also providing certainty and security for businesses and residents already impacted by Covid-19.

This deal delivers on Brexit, the referendum and last year’s election result by taking back control of our laws, borders, money, trade and fisheries.

– there is no role for the European Court of Justice and no requirement for the UK to follow EU law, so regaining parliamentary sovereignty;

– we will trade with the EU on the basis of zero tariffs and zero quotas, which will allow businesses to be able to trade smoothly and continue to access EU markets;

– Allows us to introduce our own modern subsidy system. This new subsidies system will operate in a that best suits the interests of UK industries – outside the EU State Aid regime.

- offers streamlined co-operation on law enforcement, ensuring we continue to effectively tackle serious organised crime and counter terrorism, protecting the public, and bringing criminals to justice. It also provides for future cooperation between the UK and EU on emerging security challenges, such as cyber and health security, including continuing to work together on tackling the spread of Covid-19.

- Recognises UK sovereignty over our fishing waters and puts us in a position to rebuild our fishing fleet and increase quotas, overturning the inequity that British fishermen have faced for over four decades. By the end of the five year transition we will have full control of our waters and the amount of fish available to UK fishermen will have risen from half to two-thirds.

- Provides for the UK’s participation in certain EU programmes, furthering our commitment to making the UK a science and research superpower. This deal will fulfil our manifesto commitment to participate in the Horizon Europe programme, but also the Euratom Research and Training programme, and the space programme, Copernicus.

The deal also includes arrangements for airlines and hauliers that provides them with certainty, and gives people the ability to travel to and from the EU easily for work and holidays; a social security agreement that has practical benefits for UK citizens including accessing healthcare when travelling in the EU; and agreements on energy which will benefit consumers by helping to keep prices down.

As I set out in previous newsletters, compromises were necessary to achieve a deal, especially on fishing and the level playing field. Having been through the deal I am satisfied that these compromises are acceptable in the context of the importance of tariff free access to the EU market. This is a good deal achieved at great speed and gives us the best possible platform to make a success of Brexit.

Coronavirus guidance latest:

Following the last review of the tier restrictions on 16 December, Amber Valley and all of Derbyshire remained in the tier 3 restrictions. The next review takes place today. Amber Valley currently has a high case rate, of 332 cases per 100k, which is one of the highest in Derbyshire, and up 44% on the previous week. This is a very concerning situation and may lead to further restrictions being out in place locally.

On the positive side, mass testing has started in Swadlincote in the south of the County and will spread further in the county, including to Amber Valley early in the new year. This programme, along with similar roll outs in health, care and school settings will help identify cases earlier and slow the spread.

Vaccines are also now starting to be rolled out across the County, and I’m pleased that Ripley is one of the first primary care centres to begin rolling out the vaccine, which you can read more about here. Now that the Oxford vaccine has been approved for us, the roll out of vaccination should increase rapidly at dedicated centres as well as local GPs and pharmacies. Please do wait to be contacted about the vaccine though rather than asking your GP.

We are now at a critical point in this pandemic with cases rising rapidly and the problems of 2 new variants. But the end is in sight now we can rapidly vaccinate the most vulnerable. At this time we all need to show as much caution as possible to reduce the number of cases and minimise the new restrictions needed. We’ve got this far, let’s not ease off now.

I will continue to engage with ministers, the public health team and the local NHS to ensure that this area sees the full roll out of the vaccines and mass testing as soon as possible and that support is in place for those who can’t work and those businesses forced to close as a result of the tier measures.

You can read my contributions in Parliament here including on highlighting the need to roll out the vaccine to people who are unable to leave their homes as soon as logistics allow here and about consideration of more localised geography for tier restrictions here.

As always, you can find the latest Covid-19 guidance, and support available, here.

Coronavirus – support for local businesses & high streets:

In Parliament, I’ve continued to highlight the difficulties faces by our local businesses, such as the events industry and conference centres (you can read my question to the Secretary of State for Business on this here), and supporting local high streets (which you can read more on here).

I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement of the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of April 2021, and the extension of the business loan schemes until the end of March. You can find more information on the support and grants available for you or your business 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 have recently 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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I can’t vote for a ‘deal’ that undermines our farmers, fishermen and future opportunities for young people Tomorrow (Wednesday) I will vote against Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit EU trade deal. I will do so because the deal we are being asked to support is woefully deficient, as it undermines our farmers, our fishing communities and the […]

Emma Speaks Up for Traveling Showmen and Women

Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields)

Last week I spoke in the Westminster Hall debate entitled Future of fairs and Showgrounds. I wanted to support those showmen and women here in South Shields which has a long history of welcoming traveling showmen and women that dates back almost 100 years. It is imperative that the Government stops ignoring the fairground and showmen community and steps in to provide vital support before it is too late. As a longstanding supporter and advocate for show people and a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Fairs and Showgrounds, I will continue to be a voice for this community and press the Government at every opportunity for better support and recognition.   

At the outset of the pandemic, many fairs were either cancelled or postponed – from summer fetes to Christmas Markets. As a result of the closures and postponing of fairs, many show people suffered huge financial loss, plunging them into financial insecurity.

The heart of the issue is that the financial support offered to the tourism industry during COVID-19 continually excluded the fairground community. Showmen and women also did not qualify for the assistance announced in the recent budget for retail, leisure and hospitality firms relating to business rates in the coming year, due to the way that the Show people operate, which falls outside the scope of static leisure providers.

Show people across the UK and particularly those here in South Shields, now face losing their businesses and livelihoods if the UK Government does not step in.

You can read my speech by clicking here.

How to write a script for an e-course

Luciana Berger (Liverpool, Wavertree)

Easy level: information courses. The main goal is to inform employees and tell how to use the acquired knowledge in work. For example, to get acquainted with a new product of the company. There may not be a hero and a plot. Therefore, in the scenario it is enough to describe on which slide what to tell: for example, on the first – about the main characteristics of the product, on the second – about the advantages over competitors.

Intermediate level: motivational courses. The main goal is to motivate employees to change their approach to work or attitude to something. For example, staff do not follow fire safety rules in the workplace, and you need to motivate employees.

In such courses, the character works well – involves in training. In the material about fire safety, a fire instructor will look logical. He will tell you what the neglect of the rules leads to and how to avoid an emergency. It is also important to add more practical assignments.

Difficult level: training course. The main goal is to pump up an old skill or develop a new one. There must be a history. Here it is important to think about the plot, the conflict, the place and time of the action, the main character and more.

Below I will tell you how to write a script for a training course. If you take this height, it is easy to handle tasks easier.

The results of the step: you have determined what type of course will best solve the tasks.

Statement on Tata Steel Group Announcement

Stephen Kinnock (Aberavon)

Remembrance Day

Nick Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East)

Questioning the Health Secretary about a Covid vaccine

Tulip Siddiq (Hampstead and Kilburn)

Today in Parliament I pressed the Health Secretary Matt Hancock for answers on how the roll-out of an approved COVID-19 vaccine is likely to affect our lives and when it might be completed.

I will continue to intervene in debates to ensure the government carefully review the progress of the vaccine, and we can look safely towards an end to social distancing.

https://www.thearticle.com/this-us-election-is-a-warning-to-us-all?fbcl…

None of us wanted these new restrictions, and the Government has done everything in its power to avoid them.

As the Prime Minister said on Saturday night, we understand the huge impact further restrictions have on jobs, on livelihoods and on people’s mental health.

Throughout this pandemic we have sought to protect our businesses and limit the intrusions on personal liberty as much as possible. For those of us who came into politics to help hardworking people and small businesses to thrive, it is heartbreaking to place these burdens upon them. For those of us who value personal freedom deeply, it pains us to inhibit it in this way.

But the data left us with no choice, but to take this course of action and introduce new restrictions until 2nd December.

As Local Government Secretary, I strongly believe that we were right in pursuing a local and regional approach to tackling this virus. I want to thank the millions who have put up with local restrictions and the local leaders who have stepped up to deliver this approach. Councils and local leaders have done wonderful work to help tackle the virus in their areas, and I firmly believe that in the longer term that is the approach that works best.

That’s why after we ease restrictions on 2nd December we are planning to continue with a local approach according to the latest data and trends.

But for now, the stark reality is that infections, hospitalisations and deaths continue to double, meaning that the virus is now a national problem.

The NHS and its workforce is weeks from being placed in an impossible situation. And those concerns are shared by our NHS colleagues from rural Cornwall to Nottingham to Newcastle. And a significantly higher death toll than the first wave is now predicted without taking further restrictions. We owe it to the country to act, and to act swiftly.

The Prime Minister made a decision that any responsible leader would make when presented with the new medical evidence last week and will set out his plans to parliament ahead of a vote on Wednesday.

Non-Covid healthcare can continue as normal – so that you can continue to use the NHS for your treatments, appointments and scans.

And the furlough scheme has been extended for a further month, covering 80% of employees’ wages. The Prime Minister and Chancellor have always been clear that we will do whatever it takes to protect businesses and their employees.

These are tough national measures, but they are different from those in the Spring. Our schools, colleges and universities remain open and we should resist those who would close them. As a parent I know there is simply no substitute for face to face teaching and our children’s education must not be set back again.

Unlimited exercise outdoor is permitted and single person households can form a support bubble. Children under school age who are with their parents will not count towards the limit on two people meeting outside, meaning that a parent can see a friend or family member with their baby or young children, and children and adults who are dependent on round-the-clock care, such as those with severe disabilities, will also be included in this exemption. Churches and places of worship will remain open,  providing solace and comfort for people, albeit for private prayer rather than communal worship.

If you can work from home you should, but if not, you can and should go to work, following the relevant guidance for your workplace. Too many jobs and businesses have been lost already, with all the harm that comes with that, so we must do everything we can to keep working and we in Government will do all we can to support you.

As Housing Secretary, I can confirm that the housing market will remain open throughout this period as will construction sites, building the homes and sustaining the jobs we desperately need. Tradespeople like plumbers and electricians can come into your home as long as they follow social distancing guidance.

Those we previously asked to stay at home and shield, the clinically extremely vulnerable, will be given new guidance shortly that will be less restrictive. But nonetheless they should continue to be cautious.

These changes are important to protect our way of life and our livelihoods, but I am under no illusion that the things people really want to do are hug their grandchildren, finally have the postponed wedding or simply share a cup of tea with old friends. But it is by taking these tough decisions now that we will get through this together.

Members of the public have shown incredible forbearance, patience and dignity in responding to this unique situation, and shown the character that has always been present in this country at moments of great challenge.

Amidst this winter gloom, there are rays of light piercing through and raising our eyes to the horizon. We know more about this virus with every day that passes and there are ever better medicine and therapies, along with the realistic chance of a vaccine being available for those that need it most in the first quarter of next year.

We expect to have quick turnaround tests that will tell you whether or not you have the virus very soon – with a massive expansion of these planned in the coming weeks.

These are reasons for optimism – but there is no denying that there are hard days ahead of us.

But by acting now, it is our hope that families across the country can be together for Christmas.

So, from Thursday: rejoin in a further national effort to protect the NHS, save lives and move forward together.

Rubbish dumping survey

Liam Byrne (Birmingham, Hodge Hill)



The post Rubbish dumping survey appeared first on Liam Byrne MP.

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.

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to enable the early resumption of shooting after the covid-19 outbreak.

Hull MP reacts to the Budget

Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North)

Diana Johnson spoke in the Commons debate on the Chancellor's Budget Statement.
 
The Hull North MP's remarks ranged across several key issues for Hull North, including support for workers over the Coronavirus, the NHS and public health, flood resilience and devolution for the Humber.

Raise the Rate debate

Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield)

A&E at The Royal Glam

Chris Bryant (Rhondda)

A&E @ the Glam – Strength in Unity

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Please wait...

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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.