This week in Parliament, Ian has been representing Wansbeck in Westminster, championing constituents inside and outside of the debate chamber. Events in Westminster have been in the headlines, and Ian and the Labour Party have been standing up for ordinary people in Wansbeck and beyond.
Parliament has been dominated this week by the EU referendum. The Conservatives have been utterly paralysed, and have given up even the pretence of unity. Although some valued friends and colleagues are campaigning to leave the EU, the vast majority of MPs are concerned with protecting rights at work and the economic security of ordinary people. To leave the EU would seriously damage the economy and disadvantage already hard hit communities.
A major bill that was discussed this week was the Investigatory Powers bill. We had initially opposed the bill as it had the potential to be a bad law. In particular, I am pleased that the government has made a specific consideration for the activities of trade unions. The right of unions to organise and to protect their members has been attacked for too long. The idea that legitimate activities of trade unions could be monitored by the state, and was initially backed by the Conservative Party is chilling.
The specific exemption for trade unions relates directly to the continuing pressure for an inquiry into police violence at Orgreave should be accompanied by a full and honest assessment of the role of the police and security services during the Miner’s Strike. The ‘Battle of Orgreave’ has become a symbol of the period, but the strike is best understood as a thousand smaller Orgreaves. The full power and machinery of the state was turned against communities & although there have been numerous reports detailing the monitoring of communications of union leaders and MPs during the strike, there has never been a full inquiry. I would therefore demand on behalf of the communities that were devastated by the Thatcher government that the inquiry is widened to include these activities.
I also spoke in the Westminster Hall debate on the statutory duty of the Fire Service. The government has hugely demoralised public sector workers like firefighters, who fulfil an absolutely vital role in our societies and it is incredibly important that the Labour Party and the Labour movement fight to ensure they are well supplied. A statutory duty on flood resilience and defence would mean that there was an undeniable argument that the Fire Service was fully resourced to deal with flooding. There already exists a duty in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and it seems to me that what applies there ought to apply to all the British Isles. Our constituency has seen devastating flooding, and we know that flood defences and proper response from emergency services are of key importance.
On Friday, I was able to visit Cambois primary school and take part in a question and answer session with students who had been to London during the week. Although the students had been on a long journey, they had enjoyed themselves and seen a great variety of landmarks around the capital. I was delighted to hear that they had beaten a Tottenham school at football in the park, a fact I’m certainly going to remind David Lammy of when I next see him in the Commons! The school is an absolutely fantastic community asset
The Parliamentary Update is going out on Monday this week as it has been an incredibly important weekend in Wansbeck constituency with many civic events taking place.
On Saturday, I had the honour of speaking at the Northumberland Miners’ Picnic in the centenary year of the Woodhorn Disaster. In memory of the thirteen men who lost their lives that day, I read a poem by Matthew Tate that had been published in the Blyth and Wansbeck Telegraph the week after the disaster. Commemorating the past of our community is just as important as working to build a better future. Speaking at the event is always a privilege, and is one of the highlights of my year.
Also this weekend, I was in Morpeth for the annual fair. Despite the weather, it was a fantastic occasion, and I was especially thrilled to see the FA Vase winners given the hero’s welcome they deserved.
Following the fair, I was in Newbiggin to take part in the festivities for the Queen’s official birthday. After a lovely service in Saint Bartholomew’s Church, there was a march of the Newbiggin branch of the Royal British Legion.
Representing Wansbeck is a fantastic job to have, and although the weather could have improved, it was wonderful to be able to visit so much of our fantastic constituency in one weekend.
Are you a constituent experiencing difficulty or do you have a cause you wish to raise? You can email email@example.com, call 01670852494 or write to Ian Lavery MP, 7 Esther Court, Wansbeck Business Park, Ashington, NE63 8QZ