Monday, 23 December 2013

My Recent Activities in Parliament.

Let me wish you all a very Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.

I have decided to publish a quarterly newsletter of my activities in Parliament and in the local community.
These are just some of my main speeches in Parliament since I returned in September after my illness. It doesn't include the numerous questions and other interventions I have also made. If you would like to receive my newsletter by email directly please drop me an email and I will make sure that you do.

In addition to these speeches, last week I also challenged the Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Question Time about his past statements opposing Heathrow Airport Expansion and his commissioning of the Davies Report, which has recommended potentially two new runways at Heathrow. I reminded him that many local people supported him at the last election because of his statement "No ifs, no buts, there will be no third runway at Heathrow airport" but that now as a result of his Davies Report many felt that they had lost faith in him as someone who kept his word. Needless to say, I received a fairly meaningless reply.

I am extremely concerned at the risk to our community and have convened a public meeting on Thursday 16th January at 7pm at William Byrd School in Harlington to discuss this threat and what we as local residents can do about it. Please do come along.

These are the other main speeches I have made in Parliament since the new session started.

29th: Commons vote on Military Intervention in Syria
I spoke in the Chamber to make it clear that I would not support any motion that, in principle, supports military interventions in Syria that can only do more harm than good. I questioned the Prime Minister as to why Great Britain, as a sovereign independent state, should automatically fall in line with American foreign policy.
I called on colleagues to learn from the Experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan, to remember that military intervention does not just cost lives but undermines the credibility of peace settlements, international institutions we look to secure peace in the world, and to focus on conflict prevention and resolution rather than military aggression.
I spoke extensively during second reading, report stage and third reading and strongly opposed the gagging bill for its attempt to block community organisations campaigining and its biased prejudice against trade unions and trade unionism.
22nd: Immigration Bill
When the Home Secretary made her first statement to the Commons on this Bill I questioned her on the practicalities and the deeply concerning and xenophobic implications of this Bill.  When asked what sanctions, fines or prison sentence would be given to a doctor or nurse whom treats, or a vicar who marries, a disqualified adult, the Home Secretary was unable to provide an adequate response.
22nd: Anti Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill
At the report stage of this Bill I supported amendments to strip it of its most draconian powers that would inevitable lead to injustice. The Bill gave provisions for the Police to prosecute someone on the basis that they could commit a crime in the future. That is a burden of judgment placed on a police officer or others that is almost impossible to determine. I spoke out in favour of the right to protest and called on the House to ensure people have the right to express their views. I fear that this Bill if made law will result in injustice.
28th: Local Audit and Accountability Bill
At second reading I addressed three issues: The first was the Bill’s failure to acknowledge the fears about corruption and lack of probity in local government, the second, its failure to address the structural and procedural breakdown of accountability of councillors and council officers and the third, the new code of practice for council newspapers to prevent councils campaigning on issues of local concern.
 29th: Pensions Bill
I tried to use this Bill to protect the pensions of workers whose jobs had been privatised and their pensions cut. I reminded MPs that they have a moral responsibility that is separate from government. When Governments give promises to people, Parliament has a role in ensuring that they are adhered to. I tabled a new clause to urge the government to recognise that railway workers whose jobs had been privatised had lost pension benefits depite all the promises of previous Governments.I called on the government to send out a message that Governments had a responsibility to abide by its commitment to protect people’s pensions.
31st High Speed Rail Preparation Bill
I tabled amendment 23 on the link between the network and Heathrow, an issue I raised on behalf of my constituents in each debate we have had on High Speed 2.
My background is in supporting rail expansion and investment. In Hayes and Harlington we have a railway estate and a large number of railway workers and, in addition, I chair the RMT trade union group in Parliament. When the idea of high-speed rail was first proposed it was welcomed in our constituency for a number of reasons. One was that if we could get railway journeys below four hours, that would take pressure off Heathrow airport and reduce the need short-haul flights into Heathrow. That assisted in our campaign against the expansion of Heathrow.
However when the route was published, every Member south of Birmingham could assess its impact on their constituency, except me, because the link to Heathrow was not included. The route of the link to Old Oak Common was published, but then we were told that there would be a direct link at some stage, the options would be published, there would be a consultation, a preferred option would be considered, compensation arrangements for those affected would be discussed and then this House would made a considered decision. I raised my concerns in the Commons chamber that constituents now have no idea what impact the route will have on them because, following the introduction of the Davies commission, the whole timetable and consultation process for the link to Heathrow have been deferred until after the next election.
11th Offender Rehabilitation Bill
I made it clear in this debate that I am deeply worried about the privatisation of the probation service. I have no confidence that private companies will be able to supervise effetively ex offenders who have committed a range of serious crimes. i believe that the general public will be put at risk. I threatened ministers if any of my constituents are hurt by probation privatisation I will do all I can to stop them holding public office again

20th Regulation of Refractive Eye Surgery
I introduced a Bill to regulate refractive eye surgery, including laser eye surgery. The purpose of the bill is to tackle current failings within the industry. There are too many stories of people having their eyesight damaged as a result of this surgery and too many reports of high pressure sales tactics used by companies to persuade people to buy laser eye surgery without enough explanation of the risks involved and then not enough aftercare when things go wrong.

20th Defence Reform Bill
I spoke out against ideologically motivated and unworkable Tory plans to privatise defence procurement. I challenged the Secretary of State that surely the concept of competition is stretched to absurdity when there is only one bidder. We risk demoralising the staff we employ at the moment.
On the 10th of December the Defence Secretary was forced to abandon his dangerous plans to privatise procurement, which I welcomed but explained in the Commons chamber that there are 16,000 workers whose futures are still vulnerable following the Secretary of State’s statement.

16th Care Bill
I spoke on a number issues that have been raised with me by constituents. The first concern raised centred on the regulation of carers who are recruited as a result of direct payments. In our constituency, the borough has moved progressively towards direct payments, where the individual recruits carers on the open market. I raised the concern that these carers are included in the regulation system of the Care Quality Commission, which is not currently the case. Secondly I brought up the issue that the Bill should cover the whole range of abuse by carers should be covered by the Bill.  Thirdly I raised the issue of assessment and reassessment drawing on the extreme difficulties some in our community face during the process of assessment.
The social care services in our areas are under intense stress and, as a result, people with substantial needs are not being addressed—those with moderate needs, which are still significant and should be within the system, are being ignored completely.
17th Local Audit and Accountability Bill
At report stage I tabled new clauses to the Bill to draw attention to some of the issues raised by the Transparency International report surrounding corruption in local government. It is critical that we maintain the confidence of the general public in the administration of local government. I think that Transparency International has helped us greatly. Given the lack of data on corruption in local government collected at national level or any other level, Transparency International looks at the systems implemented to make sure that corruption does not take place.
23rd General PreRecess Debate
I raised a number of issues including Heathrow expansion, the cuts to local Policing and the Fire Fighters strike planned for Christmas Eve. I appealed to Ministers to meet with the Fire Brigades Union to negotiate a settlement to this dispute.


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