Hello everyone. Here is a roundup of just some of the things I have been doing in Parliament and in the constituency since my last post. I like to try and keep in touch as much as I can! I’ll try and do these fortnightly from now on.
On Monday 15th June I met with Tata Steel in Parliament to talk about their plans to create a separate business for their Long Products division. There were also Education Questions that day on a range of issues from protecting Sure Starts to providing more apprenticeships.
In Treasury Questions on Tuesday 16th I asked George Osborne if he has assessed the impact of EU withdrawal on the North East economy and the Northern Powerhouse. Our region is a net beneficiary for EU investment and many of our manufacturers like Nissan and Hitachi depend on easy access to European markets – despite this the Northern Powerhouse Minister has said he would vote to leave, playing fast and loose with economic growth in our region!
Later I met Linda and Sonia, constituents who have both sadly lost loved ones to Motor Neurone Disease to hear about their experiences. Ensuring sufferers of the condition get the right care is so important, as is supporting their families and carers.
Wednesday 17th I attended the AGM of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Steel. Here we got an overview of the current market conditions for steel and what steps the government should be taking to support British steel-making. I then headed out to Nuneaton for the Question Time debate on the Labour Leadership. Unfortunately this meant I missed a reception about the protection of bees from pesticides, but my commitment is just as strong! Thursday there was a debate and votes on the European Referendum Bill.
Friday 19th I spent most of the day interviewing for office staff. I’m delighted to say I have my whole team ready now – I’ll do another post introducing everyone soon.
I then met Ensus who operate one of Europe’s largest bioethanol plants at Wilton but who are struggling due to adverse conditions across Europe, and our government’s failure to implement amendments to the EU Renewable Energy Directive.
In the evening I went to the wonderful Grenfell Club in Redcar to join them on in learning disability week for disco, karaoke and pool – what a fun night!
Saturday I was at Redcar Central Library supporting constituents with a wide range of individual problems at one of my regular advice surgeries.
Monday 22nd I was in the Chamber for DWP Questions. It felt like a parallel universe because Ian Duncan Smith was claiming that the Tories have protected the most vulnerable in welfare reform, despite the fact that we have seen in our own area that the most vulnerable have been hit hardest by things like the Bedroom Tax. He still refused to give any indication of where the Tories £12billion welfare cuts will fall.
Later I attended a reception with the Federation of Small Business to hear about their priorities and concerns and met some local business representatives from our area.
On Tuesday 23rd, it was interesting to meet doctors doing research funded by the British Heart Foundation to help fight heart disease. It is vital the government and the public continue to support our brilliant scientists with funding and donations.
I also met York Potash to hear about the plans for the forthcoming potash mine near Whitby that will have a processing factory on Wilton, export from Teesport and will provide over 1000 jobs to our area.
Wednesday 24th I was in the chamber most of the day. In an NHS debate it was highlighted that 1.4 million people were waiting more than 4 hours in A&E. The Tories are trying to scrap the weekly target bec
ause they have missed it 100 weeks in a row!
Later I asked the Home Secretary Theresa May to call a halt to all front line redundancies in UK Border Force given that we are seeing redundancies at Teesport at a time when there is increased pressure on border security.
Friday 26th I started the day at Wilton, speaking to protestors at the gate about their Pay The Rate campaign – we need to stop nationally agreed pay rates and terms and conditions being undercut. I intend to take this issue further so that we can ensure proper rates are paid.
I then went to Sacred Heart school to present the Ushakov medal, one of the highest Russian state awards for bravery and courage, to constituent John Ramsey for his service in the Arctic Convoys during WW2.
The next stop was New Marske Primary where I spoke to KS2 pupils as part of their careers week. They asked some great questions and there were definitely a few budding politicians in the room.
The final visit of the day was to St Peter’s in South Bank whose students made it to the national final of a prestigious mock trial competition. I was delighted to visit the school and congratulate the team for their hard work.
Last Saturday I attended the Armed Forces Day event in Redcar High Street where everyone looked resplendent with their flags and medals. Thanks to servicemen and women past and present for your bravery and sacrifice.
On Monday I was in the chamber for Communities & Local Government Questions. I asked the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government about the Troubled Families programme, whether there has been an increase in the number of families on the programme and if an assessment has been made of the impact of welfare and local authority funding cuts on disadvantaged families.
On Tuesday I had my question called in the ballot for Business, Innovation & Skills Questions. After the Secretary of State had answered my 'tabled' question about the effectiveness of the Government’s strategic support for industries and sectors, I took the opportunity to ask a supplementary about the undercutting of nationally agreed terms and conditions on industrial sites in the constituency.
Wednesday I was at the launch of plans by Teesside Collective for a carbon capture and storage facility on Teesside. The scheme will create thousands of jobs on Teesside and reduce the carbon footprint of our industries too.
Again I had put in for the ballot for Prime Ministers Questions, but no luck in the draw yet. I will keep trying every week! As usual David Cameron was his slippery self, and deeply offensive when he referenced the Jurassic World movie when replying to proud Labour veteran Denis Skinner MP.
I later attended the debates on child poverty where Labour challenged the Tories’ attempt to hide their failure on reducing child poverty behind changing the way figures are collected. That was followed by a debate on Equal Pay for women. In Redcar half of women are on less than a living wage.
On Thursday I found out that I have been successful in getting elected to the Home Affairs Select Committee which will hold the government to account through inquiries and reports on issues relating to the work of the Home Office, including crime and policing, immigration and counter-terrorism.
Sorry it is quite a long post but I wanted to keep you updated on some of the work I have been doing over the last few weeks. Busy times! Please do let me know your issues of interest and things you would like me to raise in Parliament, campaign on either nationally or locally, events you would like me to attend, or problems I can help you with.