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- 18 January 2018
Brilliant to hear that the Government is bringing the Agent of Change principle into planning law to protect small venues! This will come as a big reward to music campaigners who have been fighting for this for years, such as the Music Venue Trust and Chris Sharp from The Fleece Bristol. There are other challenges facing small music venues, and I will continue to campaign on those, but this is a very welcome move.
- 18 January 2018
Last Friday I visited Colston’s School in Stapleton. I was also joined by Sangeetha, who has been shadowing my Parliamentary work through Operation Black Vote. We were given a tour of the school, and then met with the School Council to talk about what it means to be an elected representative. After lunch I then spoke to pupils about gender and power, both in politics and in society more generally. It was a pleasure to talk to so many enthusiastic young people, who were keen to know what they could do to make our society more equal.I was also asked about other issues, such as protecting the environment and, of course, Brexit. Thanks to everyone at the school for welcoming me.
- 17 January 2018
Our local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are holding a consultation on proposals to improve services. The changes would affect breast reconstruction services, access to homeopathy treatments and prescription of gluten free foods. To find out more about the proposed changes and to share your views please go to the CCG websites. The consultation is open from 22nd January to 15th April 2018. www.bristolccg.nhs.uk/get-involved www.northsomersetccg.nhs.uk/get-involved www.southgloucestershireccg.nhs.uk/get-involved
- 17 January 2018
As of this week, new EU rules on payment services apply which will: - prohibit additional charges for payments with credit or debit cards, both in shops or online - introduce strict security requirements for e-payments - enhance consumers' rights This is what 28 European Countries working together can deliver for consumers, but something which a single state working on its own will struggle to do. In fact, although it’s now trying to claim credit for this, the truth is, the UK Government played an obstructive role during negotiations, having been ‘got at’ by business interests. If our Government had had its way, these changes wouldn’t have happened. Many of our country’s problems can only be solved by countries coming together and working collaboratively on these issues whether it’s tackling tax havens, combating terrorism, or developing technology and new cross-border businesses, which is why Brexit is such a tragedy.
- 17 January 2018
It’s great to see Forbes reporting on Plamil - the UK’s longest running vegan business, and the first in Europe to make products like soya milk and dairy free chocolate. Plamil’s philosophy of ethical business that includes not just veganism, but also making ethical banking decisions and paying all staff a living wage, was ground breaking, and sadly, is still the exception rather than the norm. Plamil was also an industry-leader in catering to those with severe food allergies. If it wasn’t for Plamil’s innovative thinking that started way back in the 1920’s (!) then there probably wouldn’t be the interest in veganism and vegan products that we have today. It’s exciting to see businesses operating like this, and hopefully many more businesses will follow Plamil’s lead.
- 16 January 2018
While yesterday may have been ‘the most depressing day of the year’ according to some formulae, we must not forget that for many people the stigma of mental health issues affects their lives all year round. In order to highlight the everyday occurrence of mental health issues amongst different types of people and across various age groups, Royal Mail - in collaboration with Action for Children, Mind and Mental Health UK – has launched the following film called “Everyday People”. I hope you will watch this video and share it widely to help tackle the stigma of mental health.
- 16 January 2018
I wasn’t able to make the Commons statement on Carillion yesterday, due to other commitments, but I agree entirely with my fellow Bristol Labour MP Darren Jones MP, that the Government should take this opportunity to bring the contracts back into public ownership. It is good to hear reassurances that jobs, pensions and services at Southmead hospital are safe until a new contractor is found, but we need to ensure that such a catastrophe can never happen again.
- 16 January 2018
We are expecting to hear soon of the appointment of a number of new peers. Names such as Eric Pickles have been mentioned. I have consistently called for, and voted for, an elected House of Lords. When I spent time in the US Congress last year, they were amazed to hear that in the 21st century, in a supposedly democratic country, we still appoint our upper house through a system of patronage. Until we can agree on House of Lords reform, and a basis for elections, we should at the very least take steps to reduce the size of the bloated Second Chamber, which is the second largest in the world. Peers should be working peers, and be required to do a proper day’s work, not just turn up as and when it suits them, and their terms should be limited.
- 15 January 2018
I will be in Parliament this Friday to support Karen Buck’s Private Members’ Bill, to strengthen tenants rights and put a duty on landlords to ensure the homes they rent out are fit for people to live in. When Karen first put her Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill to Parliament in 2015 it was blocked by the Tories, as was a Labour amendment to the Housing Bill. It’s good news that, post-Grenfell, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary has now indicated his support for the Bill, although shocking that in this day and age there should be any doubt about it. We now need to make sure there is proper help and advice for tenants who need to enforce their rights, and tough action against revenge evictions by landlords.
- 13 January 2018
When I was first elected in 2005 I set up the All-Party Group on Somaliland with Alun Michael MP. Alun’s successor as MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, Stephen Doughty, hosted a meeting in Parliament this week with Somaliland’s Foreign Minister, Dr Saad Ali Shire. As well as getting an update on the recent election there we also discussed economic development, infrastructure and overseas aid. It was a constructive meeting, with several points for the APPG to follow up on as part of our continued efforts to support Somaliland and the case for recognition.
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