|Over the last two weeks, Parliament has paused for the Easter holidays. I thought this would be a good time to update you on some of my recent work.|
Of course, Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine remains the most substantial, tragic and urgent crisis that we face as a country and as a global community. I continue to be proud of Labour’s response to the crisis and I remain in awe of the courage of President Zelensky and people across Ukraine, from Mariupol to Lviv in their brave resistance to Putin’s illegal and unjustifiable war of aggression. The tactics which we are witnessing being deployed by Putin’s armed forces undeniably amount to war crimes; the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, the forced deportation of people into Russia, bombast of military tribunals against civilians, the deliberate limiting of humanitarian corridors and the cutting off of aid.
On the 12th of March, I attended a Ukrainian fundraiser at the Sikh Leisure Centre, where we came together as a community to raise money for the people of Ukraine. I have been in contact with many people in relation to the ongoing invasion. Many people have reached out to me and my team seeking support in relation to the Visa scheme, the settlement programme, and other areas. The Government’s response to this crisis has been undoubtedly haphazard and patently unclear and Labour continues to call for an end to overcomplicated bureaucracy. People fleeing warzones do not have the capacity to obtain their utility bills; the Government’s approach lacks common sense, and we will continue to push them on this to improve the quality of provision to Ukrainians fleeing this brutal war.
I have also been contacted by those on the ground in Ukraine. One of our residents, Richard Dass, has driven to the country’s eastern regions to provide medical equipment to doctors and healthcare providers on the frontlines. He urgently requires vacuum therapy apparatus for healing bomb-related injuries and cast tape for broken bones. He has established a ‘GoFundMe’ page which I have donated to which sets out his plight. If you know anyone who can spare some money to further this campaign for medical equipment, please do pass on the link below. I have also written to the secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development of Affairs, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Minister of State for Europe and North America. I have also raised Richard’s work to the Leader of the House of Commons on two occasions to ensure that the hospitals gets the equipment they need. He also seeks to assist the evacuation of refugees and house them. I will continue to support Richard however and wherever I can.
I am also assisting several constituents who have family members that have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and are in the process of applying to come to the UK. Please see Richard Dass’ fundraising page here and my statement to the Leader of the House, here. The situation in Ukraine is truly dire. Before the recess, I attempted to secure an Urgent Question on the humanitarian catastrophe in Mariupol where around 90% of buildings are expected to be either damaged or destroyed as the Russian aggressors continue to commit war crimes against the Ukrainian people. Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful, but you can see my parliamentary comments on the situation in Ukraine to the Government by following the links below.
– The Secretary of State for International Trade
– The Home Affairs Team
– The Leader of the House of Commons
Beyond the situation in Ukraine, we face a cost-of-living crisis here at home, which Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement did absolutely nothing to remedy. The Government might well blame the economic outlook entirely on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the fact is, under the Tories’ watch, cost of living and inflation have been rising for years. It is a symptom of their mismanagement, and it is beyond any doubt at this point, that they cannot be trusted with our economy, the finances of working people and the wellbeing of families across the country. Rishi Sunak has been proven to be, time and again, the most incompetent Chancellor that I can remember who has allowed fraud to go unchecked, cronyism to run rampant and for our national finances to be squandered – all to the detriment of working people, many of whom will be pushed further into financial difficulty and in many cases, poverty.
Rachel Reeves, our excellent shadow Chancellor, gave a spirited and meticulous overview of the realities of the Spring Statement and demonstrated how Labour would turn things around for the economy and for working people. For too long, the scales have been tipped against working people who are carrying the burden of our broken national finances whilst oil and gas giants generate ludicrous profits.
My other actions in Westminster this past month:
In March, we saw the appalling behaviour of P&O Ferries, who sacked 800 workers with no notice. This, in 2022, is a disgrace. The Tories have presided over an erosion of workers’ rights nationwide and have time and again failed to shore up these rights by outlawing, once and for all, the egregious practice of fire and rehire. I spoke in Shadow Transport Secretary, Louise Haigh’s speech on this on Labour’s Opposition Day.
I raised in the chamber, to the Leader of the House, the need for an urgent debate on teacher’s pensions. Pensions remain a real issue of concern for so many people across the public sector and it’s about time that the Government got a grip and made right this historic wrong.
On numerous occasions, I have raised the issue of the Sub-Postmasters Horizon IT scandal. This is one of the most severe and impactful miscarriages of justice in our country’s history and I am elated that finally, the Government has devised a means to compensate those countless postmasters who had their lives ruined and had to live with the consequences for years and years. You can view these interventions here , here and here .
I raised with the Health Secretary the need to assess the quality of management in our health service to ensure a high standard of patient care across the entire country and to make certain hospitals in every part of the United Kingdom deliver for those in need.
I urged the Government to invest in Huddersfield to bring about and encourage green start up, green business and to facilitate the obtaining of ‘green skills’ for young people in our vibrant university town.
This month, the Government’s Economic Crime Bill passed the Commons. I was of the view, alongside my Labour colleagues, that the Bill should go much further. The Government have dragged their feet on stopping dirty money filtering into our politics and our economy for too long. Putin’s cronies’ ill-gotten gains have been left in the shadows and we must reform Companies House, expand the scope of the Bill to include pre-1999 property purchases and ensure foreign entities notify changes to beneficial ownership within 14 days. You can watch here.
I was in the chamber for the ‘unveiling’ of the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ agenda. The Prime Minister’s major domestic agenda is nothing more, like Northern Powerhouse, than pie in the sky which does nothing to correct and reverse the cuts to local services made in the last decade. We would love to level up. But this Government has yet to do anything to meet its own targets. You can review my comments here .
Water pollution is a growing challenge in the UK. Not a single river in Britain is clean enough to swim in. This month, I raised with the Defra ministerial team the need to mitigate levels of water pollution in our streams, rivers and canals.
As part of my work with the Westminster Autism Commission, I have supported the publishing of its major report on ‘Support Surrounding Diagnosis’ for neurodiverse people. I raised issue of waiting times and the need for greater investment into SEN services to ensure that young people and children get the assessment necessary to see their needs met.
I am also campaigning on several issues affecting my constituents, including pressing the Government to maintain people’s access to cash following a continual reduction in the numbers of cash machines in Huddersfield. This is a real problem in some of our outlying villages and communities. Two years ago, the Chancellor told us he would introduce legislation to protect people’s access to cash; it still hasn’t been done. I am also raising with ministers the impact of their welfare policies. In Huddersfield, the benefits cap is affecting 135 families, who are seeing a real-terms loss of over £190 a month. In the wider country, there are 123,000 families affected. The Government must act to prevent further strain being taken up by the poorest families in our constituency.
I hope that this has given you small idea of what I’m working on in Parliament. As Parliament returns next week, I look forward to getting back to the work of holding the Government to account and standing up for the people of Huddersfield. If any constituent has any need, please do contact me at email@example.com.