Parliamentary Update will be a new feature of the website, and after Parliament returns on the 11th April will be posted each week.
Ian has been standing up for Wansbeck in Parliament, and has been active in submitting written questions to ministers and questioning them in the Chamber. A link to these questions is provided at the end of the document, along with answers from the relevant department.
The budget has dominated headlines recently, and with good reason. The government may talk in the language of social justice and fairness, but it remains a Conservative government, blue in tooth and claw. The instincts of Cameron and Osborne are to ensure that society remains weighted in favour of the well off. The victory over the cuts to Personal Independence Payments is a reminder that the government can be beaten. However, the fact that the cuts were even proposed, a heartless and callous manoeuvre that caused unnecessary stress to those who rely on them shows that the government remains out of touch. Their willingness to cut taxes for the rich even in a period of ‘austerity’ shows that one thing is essential to the future health and life chances of the nation: the election of a Labour government at the earliest possible opportunity. Iain Duncan Smith might have found his conscience at a politically convenient time, but this won’t prevent the next damaging cut, wherever it comes from.
In his brief as Shadow Minister for Trade Unions and Civil Society, Ian has submitted questions to four separate departments, which will be of interest in their implications for the constituency and for the country. In all, ten written questions were submitted, five to the Cabinet Office, two each to the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and one to the Department of Health. A majority of the questions concern flooding, an issue that has affected Morpeth and Hepscott in the recent past.
Ian also raised the issue of floods at oral questions with Rory Stewart, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs on the 19th of March:
In Morpeth in my constituency, we have a Rolls-Royce flood defence system, but we also have a problem with insurance companies still quoting exceedingly high premiums. They blame the Environment Agency for not updating the data. What can the Minister do to resolve this unacceptable situation?
There are two issues here which we will be meeting shortly to discuss. First, the introduction of Flood Re will ensure affordable flood insurance underwritten by a national scheme, meaning that lower-rate taxpayers’ premiums and excesses will be £250. Secondly, on businesses, we had a meeting yesterday with the British Insurance Brokers Association, which has now prepared a new package, with more specialised and precise mapping, to ensure that affordable flood insurance is available not just to households but to businesses.
Flood Re is a long term project aimed at keeping premiums affordable for households with high premiums.
Ian raised the issue of voter registration and online voting during the debate on the Overseas Voters Bill on the 26th February. He argued that limiting the debate to simply modernising the system for Overseas Voters did not adequately cover the challenges facing modern British democracy, and that voters across the nation need to be engaged in as many ways as possible, with radical solutions being considered. A full video of the debate is available at http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/3658fdc1-cdff-46f4-b859-64e6b55bad68?in=09:50:46.
Finally, Ian raised the issue of Free School Meals with Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education on the 7th of March. He argued that local authorities in possession of the data to register all those eligible for them should have an obligation to do so, as otherwise many families would be at a disadvantage.
Written Questions submitted by Ian Lavery MP: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-questions-answers/?page=1&max=20&questiontype=AllQuestions&house=commons&use-dates=True&answered-from=2016-03-14&answered-to=2016-03-24&member=4139
If there are any issues that you are passionate about, or you are experiencing difficulty relating to central government, then please do contact Ian’s office by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone (01670 852494) or post (7 Esther Court, Ashington, NE63 8QZ)