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.
This week’s main event was the Queen’s Speech. Instead of a programme for government, David Cameron announced a programme of party management designed to preserve his status as Prime Minister.
Already, Cameron has had to give ground to a Labour backed amendment to avoid being the first Prime Minister to lose a vote on the Queen’s Speech since 1924. This wasn’t a Queen’s Speech that had energy, it wasn’t a programme of a government that Labour might disagree with but that has direction. It was a Queen’s Speech for a government that is already in decline.
The centrepiece of the Speech was the reform of prisons. Even this was a barely reheated idea that has been talked about for a decade in the Conservative Party. What prison staff, their families and the public need is investment to end the staffing crisis, violence and overcrowding that is undermining confidence in the national prison system. A prison service that rehabilitates prisoners and allows them to reintegrate back into society ought to be a national priority. Distracting debates about autonomy of governors take attention away from the real issue at play. Only 6% of prisoners will be affected by these reforms. They do not properly address the urgent issues facing the prison system in Britain.
As a part of Ian’s Cabinet Office brief, he will be scrutinising the proposals to create a statutory framework for the National Citizen Service and require that schools promote it to young people and their parents. Although the aims of the service are supported by Labour, the party is concerned that the first reductions in school budgets for 20 years mean that this will add further strain to the school system. As such, these proposals require careful scrutiny. The other bill that was announced that falls under Ian’s brief was the announcement that the Gift Aid scheme is fulfilling the objectives set with respect to smaller charities. Labour will contribute to the consultation and study the proposals clearly.
Ian was in Stroud this week, launching Labour’s Workplace 2020 project. This is an ambitious listening exercise aiming to build policies for the 2020 General Election that can be enacted when the party returns to government. The aim is to hear from as diverse a range of voices as possible so that Labour can recognise good employers, support employees and reach out to those who have perhaps never considered themselves political.
Labour has always been the party of the workers. However, since the foundation of the party the world of work has changed beyond recognition. The intention is to ensure that everyone doesn’t just receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, but that they are secure enough in their work to enjoy life with their friends, family and community. The vicious attacks on worker’s rights from this government show that they want to weaken rights at work, while Labour want to strengthen them. The trade union movement is absolutely vital in that; but our party seeks to represent people from every trade union and from none, as well as employers and business across the country.
You can contribute to Workplace 2020 here: http://www.workplace2020.org.uk/
Are you a constituent experiencing difficulty or do you have a cause you wish to raise? You can email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01670852494 or write to Ian Lavery MP, 7 Esther Court, Wansbeck Business Park, Ashington, NE63 8QZ