Wansbeck in Westminster 25/04 to 29/04

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 has seen one of the most devastating crises in the history of the National Health Service. It is a crisis that his

One of the stories of the week was the ‘Dubs Amendment’. The government opposed this measure, one that would have given refuge, safety and shelter to 3,000 children who are currently alone on a strange continent, vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. As David Cameron later made clear at Prime Minister’s Questions, the government have decided that these children are already ‘safe’. They are not safe. The Lords have voted to send an adjusted bill back to the Commons, and Ian will be voting to help these vulnerable children who are far from home and deserve much better.

Due to the needlessly combative approach that Jeremy Hunt chose to take in negotiating with the BMA, the first ever all out strike in the history of the NHS took place this week. As previously indicated, those on strike had the full support of Ian and the wider Labour family. The genuinely cross party proposal rejected by Mr Hunt would have allowed those on strike to return to work and would have allowed the flaws in this junior contract to be ironed out before national implementation. The opinions of healthcare professionals on the impact of the contract on patient safety should surely carry more weight than Jeremy Hunt. An expanded service with no new investment, coupled with damage already inflicted such as the conversion of student nurses’ bursaries to leans, could lead to chaos. The junior doctors clearly did not take action lightly, and Labour will continue to back a solution that can command the confidence of the medical profession.

As Shadow Minister with responsibility for Trade Unions, Ian has made his position on the Trade Union Bill abundantly clear. It is an unnecessary bill, vindictively targeting the political opponents of the Conservatives and further driving the law in favour of employers over workers. Although the government has made a number of concessions, one aspect that remains is particularly injurious. The combined imposition of a turnout threshold for strike action (which could lead to an 80% endorsement of strike action being necessary in some cases) and the refusal of the government to allow online balloting is as hypocritical as it is Luddite. If online balloting is good enough for the Conservatives, for national elections in countries such as Estonia and in many other voluntary organisations, then the Trade Union movement should be able to use it to engage members and ensure increased turnout. To gain a greater understanding of this, Ian met with Smartmatic, a leading firm in the field of online voting. Online voting would not only allow a genuine expansion of democratic engagement, but represents a safe and secure method of balloting and is in many cases more secure than postal voting.  

Ian opposed this bill, as even with modifications made, the bill still represents an unnecessary attack on basic rights to organise, will have devastating consequences for workplace democracy across the country and continues to threaten the very existence of the Trade Union Movement.

On Tuesday, the government’s proposals to change policing were debated in the commons. Ian supported Labour measures to prevent the government compensating for cuts to the police by drafting in volunteers to deal with potentially sensitive or lethal scenarios. If we want a modern, effective police force, a model that relies on volunteers taking over duties from police officers is not the solution.  That the government are seeking to give volunteers access to CS gas and PAVA spray should be of deep concern. These tools should only be in the hands of trained officers who are aware of the exact guidelines on their use. Volunteers should not be put in a position where they need to use them.

Last week, Ian received two answers from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Department of Transport, Mr Robert Goodwill, to written questions he submitted, both of which relate to the SMaRT (Support for Martime Training) budget. The SMaRT budget supports the training of officers, officer cadets and ratings and ensures that the maritime knowledge, experience & expertise of the nation is maintained at a high level. The questions concerned the training of new ratings and the conversion to officers of current ratings. Both questions dealt with the amount of funding available, the amount claimed and the proportion of the budget this represented. Links to both questions are provided below.

http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-questions-answers/?page=1&max=100&questiontype=QuestionsWithAnswersOnly&house=commons&use-dates=True&answered-from=2016-04-22&answered-to=2016-04-27&member=4139

Finally, twenty seven years too late, the families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster obtained justice. They have been a shining example for this country, and it is to the shame of every member of the establishment that it has taken this long for them to obtain justice. Had South Yorkshire Police officers and higher officials been made accountable for their actions at Orgreave, then that terrible day in Sheffield could have been very different. Andy Burnham’s dedication in leading the fight for truth and justice has been incredible. To be in the chamber for his speech will be the highlight of many a political career. Ian will continue to support the Hillsborough campaign to ensure the justice is served in every conceivable way.

Are you a constituent experiencing difficulty or do you have a cause you wish to raise? You can email ian.lavery.mp@parliament.uk, call 01670852494 or write to Ian Lavery MP, 7 Esther Court, Wansbeck Business Park, Ashington, NE63 8QZ