The humanitarian situation in many parts of Yemen is dire. The UN has estimated that over 18 million people are in need of humanitarian or protection assistance and over 3 million people have been internally displaced.
I share the strong concerns that have been raised about reports of potential breaches of international humanitarian law (IHL) in Yemen and these must be investigated. The Government has been pressed on this issue in Parliament on numerous occasions.
In my view, there is sufficient evidence to constitute a serious risk that UK-provided arms may be used in violations of international humanitarian law. I am therefore of the view that the Government should support an independent inquiry into alleged violations of international humanitarian law in Yemen and immediately suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia until this has concluded. I believe any perception that the Government is failing in its responsibility to apply its own criteria on arms sales would seriously undermine Britain in the eyes of the world.
An end to the crisis in Yemen will only be brought about by peace talks and a negotiated settlement, and this must be the priority for everyone. I hope the Government will continue to encourage all parties to work towards this to bring peace to the people of Yemen who have suffered so much throughout this conflict.
The humanitarian situation in many parts of Yemen is dire. The UN has estimated that over 18 million people are in need of humanitarian or protection assistance and over 3...
The beer and pub industry is important to the UK. The pub is a long-established part of British life and the industry employs 850,000 people, mainly in the local pubs that form the hub of many communities. I believe we must do everything we can to ensure that pubs continue to enjoy the important role that they do in British life.
A number of organisations, including the British Beer and Pub Association and the Campaign for Real Ale, have called for the Government to cut beer duty at the 2017 Budget in March. I note that the Conservative Government has stated in response to questions on beer duty that it keeps all taxes under review.
CAMRA and others have called for Government action on business rates for pubs. I believe that the Government's business rates revaluation leaves many businesses at risk of closing due to large rate increases and this could have a significant impact on the pub industry. Recent reports, for example, state that the revaluation could cost pubs £421 million over the next five years and add 30p to the cost of a pint of beer.
Business rates are an issue that unites all stakeholders in the sector and they are one of the potential barriers we need to focus on if we are to ensure a thriving pub industry. The Government has provided a relief package for those affected by the increase but I do not believe it goes nearly far enough, given the other burdens facing small businesses such as quarterly tax reporting. I therefore support an overhaul of business rates.
The beer and pub industry is important to the UK. The pub is a long-established part of British life and the industry employs 850,000 people, mainly in the local pubs...
It was reported in January 2017 that a Trident II D5 missile had malfunctioned during a test in June, shortly before Parliament was asked to vote on the Government's plans for the renewal of the UK's nuclear deterrent. This report of a failed Trident missile test is clearly a very serious matter, and we need to know exactly what happened. I am aware that CND is calling for an urgent inquiry into this matter.
On 23 January, the Defence Secretary was made to come to the House of Commons to make a statement in response to an Urgent Question about this issue. He confirmed that the Royal Navy conducted an operation in June last year designed to certify HMS Vengeance, a nuclear submarine, and her crew prior to their return to the operation cycle. This included a routine unarmed Trident missile test launch, which is reported to have gone off course.
The Conservative Government has said that it does not comment on the detail of submarine operations. However, it insists that it has absolute confidence in our independent nuclear deterrent.
While I do not expect the Government to disclose sensitive or inappropriate details, I believe that transparency and clarity are very important. Downing Street has admitted the Prime Minister was made aware of this test when she took office. However, she did not mention it in July when the Commons voted to renew our independent nuclear deterrent.
I believe the public deserves to know the facts on a matter as important as our nuclear deterrent, and to hear those facts from their Prime Minister, not from a Sunday newspaper. There is a worrying lack of transparency at the heart of this issue and the British public deserves better.
It was reported in January 2017 that a Trident II D5 missile had malfunctioned during a test in June, shortly before Parliament was asked to vote on the Government's plans...
I know that high fuel prices are having a serious impact on household budgets and businesses in Worsley & Eccles South and across the country. In December 2016 the cost of filling an average 55-litre petrol car was £8 more expensive than in January 2016 and a tank of diesel fuel was £10 dearer.
The online petition calling for a new 'Pump-Watch' regulator to monitor and regulate vehicle fuel pricing has attracted significant support. I know the petition's supporters will be disappointed that the Conservative Government has said it is against the idea. However, should the petition reach 100,000 signatures it will be considered for debate in Parliament.
It is important to ensure competition is working and that falls in the price of oil are reflected in the price we pay at the pump. I know this is a cause of real frustration for motorists and I believe that further action is needed and that a review of how to best stabilise fuel pricing would be sensible.
I appreciate the ongoing concerns there are about the general state of the road network, the backlog of repairs and the cost of bringing these up to standard. The UK has been ranked behind 26 other countries on road quality. I am concerned that very little of this work has been started, despite Government promises of investment in our major roads.
At the last election I stood on a manifesto which pledged to support long-term investment in strategic roads and to address the neglect of local roads. I will continue to support efforts to hold the Government to account on these priorities.
I know that high fuel prices are having a serious impact on household budgets and businesses in Worsley & Eccles South and across the country. In December 2016 the cost...
I share my constituents’ concerns about the environmental impact of microbeads.
It is alarming that only 5% of our plastics are recycled and another 40% end up in landfill, while a third is never collected and ends up clogging up our sewers and polluting our ecosystems. As a result, globally, about 8 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year. I am concerned that current Government policy in the UK has failed to provide the right framework for stopping litter from reaching the sea or indeed to prevent it at source.
This is very damaging to our marine animals and ecosystems. It is estimated that 90% of birds have plastic in their stomachs and serious concerns have also been raised about small plastics, such as microbeads, entering the human food chain. I share these concerns.
I support a ban on microbeads in cosmetic products and I welcome the Government's commitment to legislate for this ban in October 2017. The Government is currently consulting on a ban of microplastics for cosmetics and personal care products. I know that Greenpeace in particular has expressed concern that the consultation does not cover all products that contain microplastic ingredients.
It is worth noting that the Government has said that it will gather evidence on the environmental impacts of microbeads found in other products, including those for domestic use, before it considers what more can be done to tackle other plastics, such as microfibers, which affect the marine environment. The consultation closed on 28 February 2017 and I will continue to follow developments on this issue.
To reduce marine litter and plastic pollution more widely, I believe that we need to rethink the way we manage resources and in particular, to transform how plastics travel through our economy. I believe that the Government's commitment to ban microbeads in cosmetic products is an important first step but that further action is still required.
I share my constituents’ concerns about the environmental impact of microbeads. It is alarming that only 5% of our plastics are recycled and another 40% end up in landfill, while...
I believe that we need a total ban on the domestic ivory trade in the UK.
Although the international community has made considerable progress, I share concerns about the serious threat that endangered species continue to face. In 2015, 20,000 elephants were killed in Africa for their tusks.
It is estimated that between 1979 and 1989, over 50% of Africa's elephants were poached for their ivory. While international trade in ivory has been banned since 1989, I appreciate the concerns that have been raised about the legal ivory markets which continue in some countries, including the UK.
The UK already has a ban on trade in raw tusks, or 'unworked' ivory, of any age. In September 2016, the Government announced plans for a ban on sales of modern day ivory in the UK - this would cover the sale of items containing ivory dated between 1947 and the present day.
I am concerned that the Conservative Government's proposals are too limited because they do not include older ivory products. There are concerns that illegal modern ivory can be falsely claimed to be old ivory as only carbon dating can provide the necessary identification. The charity Action for Elephants UK has said that the existence of a legal ivory trade serves as a cover for illegal sales of ivory.
I am pleased that Parliament has recently been given two opportunities to debate this issue in which the Government has said it will consult on its plans for a ban on modern ivory "shortly". However, I believe that the time for consultation is over: it is now time for action. 85% of people in the UK think that buying and selling ivory should be banned. China, which has the biggest ivory market in the world, has announced a ban on all ivory trade and processing activities by the end of 2017.
I will continue to press the UK Government for a total ban on ivory sales in the UK and make progress towards stopping the poaching of elephants and other endangered species.
I believe that we need a total ban on the domestic ivory trade in the UK. Although the international community has made considerable progress, I share concerns about the serious...
Our country has a proud history of helping those fleeing conflict and persecution and, as we face the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War it is right that we continue to play our part.
I acknowledge the Government's work in helping those refugees who have stayed in camps in the region, but I believe that there is more we could do to reunite refugees with family in the UK and to help unaccompanied children in Europe.
I am very disappointed that the Government recently announced the Dubs scheme will end after resettling only 350 unaccompanied children. 350 children is far short of what was expected when Parliament debated and accepted the Dubs amendment last year the frequently mentioned number was 3,000.
Unaccompanied child refugees are highly vulnerable to trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse. I am therefore of the view that the Government should recommit to meeting the obligations of the Dubs amendment, restore this scheme, and accept some of the most vulnerable children in the world.
I also believe it is important that we continue to meet our obligations under the Dublin Regulation for reuniting families.
As this crisis continues the Government must fulfil not only its legal but also its moral obligations. I will continue to follow this matter very carefully and press the Government on the UK's response.
Our country has a proud history of helping those fleeing conflict and persecution and, as we face the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War it is right that...
I believe that having access to good quality childcare and early years education is vital for families in Worsley & Eccles South and across the country.
All children, whatever their background or gender, should be ready for school by the age of five. However, in the last decade, 500,000 poorer children were not school-ready by the age of five.
I believe that investment in early years is a good way to close the attainment gap between the most disadvantaged children and their better-off peers. I know that Save the Children has campaigned on childcare with a particular emphasis on ensuring that nurseries have access to, and can afford, well qualified staff.
There are currently a range of pressures on the early years sector including severe recruitment problems and a nationwide shortage of trained nursery teachers. Additionally, over 800 Sure Start centres have closed since 2010, around 45,000 childcare places have been lost and 1,000 childcare providers have closed in the last five years. I know that concerns have been raised by childcare providers that there is not sufficient funding in place to support the expansion of the free childcare entitlement to 30 hours from September.
I strongly support high quality teaching, and I believe the pressures created by the GCSE requirement for career progression in nurseries could be alleviated by investing in professional development programmes and creating opportunities for on-the-job development.
I hope the Conservative Government will listen to Save the Children and reflect carefully on all the evidence on this issue. I will continue to press for the funds and resources needed to support the world-class early years provision our area deserves.
I believe that having access to good quality childcare and early years education is vital for families in Worsley & Eccles South and across the country. All children, whatever their...
Football clubs are an important part of many people's lives and of the identity of local communities. I agree that football clubs are more than just businesses and I have long believed that supporters should have a genuine voice in their club.
I share concerns about the governance structure of the Football Association (FA) and I agree that the FA needs to reform. I believe the FA should be the champion of football at all levels, from Sunday League to Premier League.
There is a worrying lack of diversity at the boardroom level, which must be tackled to ensure that the FA is truly representative and independent. On 9 February 2017 the House of Commons agreed a motion of no confidence in the FA's ability to reform itself.
The FA has been given until April this year to outline plans for reform in order to continue to receive public funding. I believe we must give the FA the opportunity to reform itself and should only introduce legislation as a last resort. Nevertheless, the FA must be made aware that this is its last opportunity. If, in April, the FA's plans for reform are insufficient, the Government should then step in.
I will follow any proposals the FA brings forward and, if there is insufficient progress made towards levelling out the playing field when it comes to diversity on both the board and the council, I will press for action to be taken against the FA.
Football clubs are an important part of many people's lives and of the identity of local communities. I agree that football clubs are more than just businesses and I have...
I believe that support for widowed parents and their children is absolutely crucial. I share concerns about cuts to this vital benefit.
The Conservative Government announced in January that the current three-tier system of support for bereaved families would be replaced with a Bereavement Support Payment, effective from April 2017. The payment will consist of an initial lump sum of £3,500 for people with children and £2,500 for those without children, and a further 18 monthly instalments payable to the surviving spouse or civil partner of £350 for those with children and £100 for those without.
Organisations like the Childhood Bereavement Network have raised concerns about the changes. They are particularly concerned that instead of parents receiving support until their youngest child leaves school, or for a maximum period of 20 years, they will receive financial help for just 18 months. The Childhood Bereavement Network has said that the average working widowed parent will lose out on over £12,000.
These changes represent a new low in policy, and I am particularly concerned about the impact they will have on the four million children currently living in poverty. The majority of bereaved families will lose out financially and this will only compound the grief families are already feeling and limit the ability of parents to comfort their children. It is also the case that the proposed changes are not going to be uprated with inflation.
I oppose these plans and I will press the Conservative Government to discuss these changes in Parliament, and ultimately to reverse them.
I believe that support for widowed parents and their children is absolutely crucial. I share concerns about cuts to this vital benefit. The Conservative Government announced in January that the...