Leaving the European Union must not lead to any watering down of the existing standards on animal welfare. I believe we have a moral duty to treat the animals we share our planet with in a humane and compassionate way and this should be enshrined in our laws.
Currently, Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union protects the legal status of animals as sentient beings. The Conservative Government has made assurances that its Great Repeal Bill will convert these existing EU environmental and animal welfare laws into UK law when the UK leaves the EU.
However, despite indicating that the Repeal Bill would incorporate Article 13, the Bill as currently drafted, will not ensure its preservation in UK law. I am concerned about this and I know there is widespread support from British farmers and animal welfare organisations for proposals to ensure the provisions are preserved in UK law after exit day.
On 15 November, during consideration of the Bill in a Committee of the whole House of Commons, Labour supported New Clause 30 which sought to retain the rights and obligations contained in Article 13. Unfortunately, it was rejected by the Conservative Government and defeated by their votes.
Nevertheless, as the Bill continues to be scrutinised, I will support Amendment 350, which has been tabled by the Labour Party and which seeks to ensure that the UK Government is held to the animal welfare standards enshrined in Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
As the Repeal Bill progresses through Parliament, Labour will support amendments that aim to ensure there is no weakening of EU-derived rights - including on environmental protections and animal welfare standards - as a result of Brexit.
I and my Labour colleagues will continue to press for existing standards on animal welfare to be transposed into British law and strengthened where necessary.
Leaving the European Union must not lead to any watering down of the existing standards on animal welfare. I believe we have a moral duty to treat the animals we...
I sympathise profoundly with anyone who has been affected by cancer and I pay tribute to Breast Cancer Now (BCN) for the work it does in funding research, championing improved access to medicines, and in providing support to affected individuals and their families.
I believe we should set an ambition for the NHS to have the best cancer survival rates in Europe. Key to this will be improving early diagnosis, public awareness and screening programmes, as well as ensuring that GPs have the training, resources and support they need to identify symptoms and refer patients quickly.
The Breast Cancer Now report highlights a number of areas which are key to improving cancer outcomes and experiences. The report also highlights the charity’s concerns that the funding of new and innovative drugs is increasingly becoming based on cost-effectiveness rather than on clinical need.
I support the full implementation of the Cancer Strategy. The Cancer Strategy contains proposals that could go a long way towards helping some of the estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer. I am pleased that the Government has now accepted all 96 recommendations of the strategy and implementation is being led by NHS England's National Cancer Transformation Board.
However, I remain concerned that the Conservative Government has repeatedly missed the national cancer target since January 2014. In the past year, waiting lists have topped 4 million; the number of patients spending more than 4 hours in A&E has risen 250%; and the Royal College of Nursing has warned of a 40,000 shortfall of nursing staff in the NHS.
As a Shadow Minister in Labour’s Health Team, I am committed to our plan to invest over £30 billion extra in the NHS to give patients the modern, well-resourced services they need. Labour’s Shadow Health Team will be challenging the Conservative Government to give careful consideration to the recommendations outlined by Breast Cancer Now. The manifesto I stood on at the General Election also promised to guarantee access to treatment within 18 weeks and to take one million people off NHS waiting lists by the end of the next parliament.
I sympathise profoundly with anyone who has been affected by cancer and I pay tribute to Breast Cancer Now (BCN) for the work it does in funding research, championing improved...
Air Passenger Duty is currently charged on all passenger flights from airports in the UK except in Northern Ireland. Air Passenger Duty was introduced in 1993 and came into effect on 1 November 1994, but powers to set Air Passenger Duty have now been devolved to Northern Ireland and Scotland. The Scottish Government has consulted on proposals for a tax to replace Air Passenger Duty in Scotland from April 2018.
I share the concerns of the ‘Fair Tax on Flying’ campaign about Air Passenger Duty in the UK. The Conservative Government must do more to support regional English airports if they are to compete with airports in devolved nations.
Ahead of the Scotland Act 2016, which devolved powers over Air Passenger Duty to Scotland, the Labour Party urged the Government to ensure that English airports are not disadvantaged after Scotland and Northern Ireland set their own levels of Air Passenger Duty. The Conservative Government has provided three possible options for tackling the issue: devolving Air Passenger Duty in England; varying Air Passenger Duty rates in England; or providing aid to regional airports. I am concerned that none of these options resolves the situation, nor do they assist our regional airports in competing with airports in devolved nations.
The Government has been consulting on the future of air travel in the UK, particularly the impact of taxation on competitiveness, and it is expected to publish a White Paper by the end of 2018. The Treasury has said it will continue to keep Air Passenger Duty under review and return to it once the UK leaves the European Union. It has been confirmed that Air Passenger Duty rates for 2018-19 will be up-rated in line with the Retail Price Index and that rates for 2019-20 will be set at the forthcoming Autumn Budget.
I am concerned that we now have many aviation challenges and while a strategy is certainly needed on Air Passenger Duty we also need a strategy to improve road and rail access to all international gateways, to modernise airspace, to tackle noise, to promote biofuels and to deliver on climate change commitments. I know that my Labour colleagues in the Shadow Treasury team will continue to put pressure on Conservative Ministers to take regional inequality seriously.
Air Passenger Duty is currently charged on all passenger flights from airports in the UK except in Northern Ireland. Air Passenger Duty was introduced in 1993 and came into effect...
Football clubs play a fundamental role in preserving and representing the identity of their local communities. I believe that the Football Association (FA) has a duty to ensure that all clubs, regardless of their league position, are well maintained both on and off the pitch.
Football clubs are more than just businesses. I share the concerns raised by organisations such as the Fans not Numbers Campaign about the governance structure of the Football Association. Due to pressure from supporters groups and organisations, in May 2017 the FA ratified new corporate governance proposals.
The reforms included the addition of 11 members to the FA council to ensure it reflects the inclusive and diverse nature of English football better. It also brought an end to the appointments of senior vice presidents and life vice presidents of the FA council. However, I believe that The FA should be the champion of football at all levels, from the Sunday league to the Premier League. I would like to see more representation for the EFL League 2, the National League, and Women’s Football on the FA Board. I support groups such as SKINs and Supporters Direct who are calling for further reform of the Football Association.
I share the concerns voiced by lower League club owners at the lack of investment in grassroots football. This reduction in funding has occurred during a period within which the Premier League has a revenue of £8.3 billion from broadcasting rights alone. Despite lucrative domestic and international TV deals, the grassroots game has not seen the funding it deserves over recent years. I believe the Conservative Government should ensure that 5% of the income from Premier League's television rights is diverted to the grassroots game.
The Labour Party’s Manifesto commits to giving football supporters the opportunity to have a greater say in how their clubs are run. It pledges to legislate for accredited supporters trusts to be able to appoint and remove at least two club directors and to purchase shares when clubs change hands.
Football clubs play a fundamental role in preserving and representing the identity of their local communities. I believe that the Football Association (FA) has a duty to ensure that all...
I believe that the humane treatment of all animals should be a benchmark for any civilised society and it is important that we send out a strong and powerful message that animal cruelty must stop.
I am pleased that, following pressure from the Labour Party and organisations based outside of Parliament, the Conservative Government recently announced that it will bring forward new legislation to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to five years in prison.
During the last Parliament, my Labour colleague Anna Turley MP secured a Private Members Bill on this issue. She tabled new legislation to increase the maximum sentences available to the court for animal cruelty offences. The Bill was scheduled to be debated in Parliament on Friday 24th February 2017 but earlier bills in the session were talked out by Conservative backbench MPs, leaving no time for Anna's bill to be heard.
Following the General Election in June 2017, Conservative Ministers have decided to act upon the Bill originally presented by Anna Turley MP. They have adopted Anna’s pledge to "increase the maximum sentences available to the court for specified offences related to animal cruelty” and have agreed to act on the issue of animal cruelty.
The Environment Secretary, Michael Gove MP, has agreed with the Labour policy that animal abusers who commit the most heinous crimes should face up to five years in prison. It was pledged that the Government "will announce plans to bring forward new legislation that will increase that tenfold, sending a clear signal to any potential offenders that there is no place for animal cruelty in England". It was claimed that "the new legislation will also enable courts to deal more effectively with ruthless gangs involved in organised dog fights".
The draft legislation is due to be published for consultation next year and I will continue to press the Conservative Government to implement this policy.
I believe that the humane treatment of all animals should be a benchmark for any civilised society and it is important that we send out a strong and powerful message...
In my role as the Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, I responded to a Westminster debate on the issue of waiting times for autism diagnosis. The debate was well attended by my Labour colleagues and altogether a total of 22 MPs plus the Minister, SNP spokesperson and me spoke in the debate, which was led by my colleague Bambos Charalambous MP.
Securing an early formal diagnosis is fundamental to ensuring that people with autism, and their families, can access the right support. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Guideline specifies that an autism diagnosis should be started within three months of the referral from the patient’s GP. However, this is just a guideline and there is evidence that waiting times can be much longer. At the debate, I asked the Health Minister what plans the Government had to speed up the diagnosis process.
Getting a formal diagnosis for autism is the first hurdle towards accessing support such as speech and language therapists, health specialists and welfare support. We heard in the debate that patients can be forced to ‘wait to wait’ for treatments. ‘Waiting to wait’ is a distressing and frustrating process for patients to go through and the delays it causes can lead to the development of other issues. This is not acceptable and I urged the Health Minister who replied to the debate to address this issue.
During the debate I also raised the issue of the shortage of professionals within the NHS, which causes long waiting times for assessments. This is not just an issue for children and young people who have autistic spectrum disorder, but it matters to adults who seek to be diagnosed later in life. We now have the first generation of people reaching middle age who were not able to get a formal diagnosis of autism when they were younger and we must take account of this in planning services for autistic people.
In my speech in the debate, I asked the Health Minister a number of other questions related to the Government’s strategy on autism. I urged her to consider the proposal made by the National Autism Society to implement an ‘Autism Register’ in order to gather useful statistics about the treatment of people with autism. I also asked the Government to commit to adding the data about autism diagnosis waiting times to the Mental Health Statistics published by Government.
The debate was a good opportunity to raise a number of issue with the Health Minister and I will continue to press the Government for action to reduce the waiting times for an autism diagnosis.
You can read my speech online at https://goo.gl/rXV6QS
In my role as the Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health, I responded to a Westminster debate on the issue of waiting times for autism diagnosis. The debate was well...
The levels of taxation on beer and pubs is an important issue in Worsley and Eccles South. Pubs in the UK create one million jobs nationally and make £80,000 on average for their local economy each year. Pubs are also hubs for the community. I believe that we must take action to ensure their long-term future.
The pubs in Worsley and Eccles South play an important historical, cultural and community role and I share the concerns of publicans and their customers about the future of the industry and concerns about the level of beer duty.
At the 2017 Spring Budget, the Conservative Government increased the level of beer duty by retail price index inflation. This added 2p to the cost of a pint of beer and, together with increases in other alcohol duties, will cost pubs £125 million this year. I believe this was the wrong decision as it poses a risk to pubs, particularly alongside increasing inflation and higher business rates.
The Conservative Government announced in March 2017 that it would be providing a £1,000 rates discount for pubs with a rateable value up to £100,000. I agree with the comments made by CAMRA when they requested that Conservative Ministers go further in providing relief. I am concerned that the current relief represents only a temporary respite rather than long-term support.
There remain serious questions over how pubs will afford to stay open after the rates discount ends in 2018. I believe we need a fundamental review of business rates, alongside a number of other reforms, including switching from RPI to consumer price index inflation.
The levels of taxation on beer and pubs is an important issue in Worsley and Eccles South. Pubs in the UK create one million jobs nationally and make £80,000 on...
The Grenfell Tower fire is one of the most horrific and tragic events of our age. Our first priority must be to ensure that those people affected by the fire are given the support that they need now and in the years ahead. It will be important that people affected by the fire can access mental and physical healthcare immediately as well as counselling support for as long as it is required by each individual. Our approach to this issue should centre on rebuilding this shattered community.
I am pleased that the Conservative Government has now committed to some help for this community. My Labour colleagues and I will be monitoring progress closely in the period ahead to ensure that all those people who have lost everything in this tragedy are not let down again.
I welcome the fact that the Queen's Speech on 21 June confirmed there will be a public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower. It also included a commitment to publish interim findings. However, there is still significantly more that must be done. I believe that the initial findings of the inquiry must be published to allow action to begin on any emerging recommendations as swiftly as possible.
Locally, I have been in contact with representatives of Salford City Council and City West Housing Trust about fire safety measures in high rise blocks in Salford. I have been assured that this issue is being dealt with as a priority in Salford and Greater Manchester and I will be keeping up to date with any developments.
The Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, has set up a task force to review fire safety residential tower blocks across Greater Manchester. Andy Burnham has asked Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, to lead the taskforce which is liaising with the fire service, councils and landlords. City Mayor, Paul Dennett, tells me that the advice he has received from the Department of Communities and Local Government on issues of fire safety and cladding has been confused. Paul Dennett has asked Sajid Javid MP, the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government, to clarify the advice given to councils and to clarify what funding the Conservative Government will make available to councils like Salford.
I agree with Paul Dennett’s comments that residents have the right to be reassured about the safety of where they live. I will continue to work with Andy Burnham, Paul Dennett and housing providers on tackling this issue.
The Grenfell Tower fire is one of the most horrific and tragic events of our age. Our first priority must be to ensure that those people affected by the fire...
Factory Farming is in need of review and reform if we are serious about creating a sustainable food chain. The Conservative Government must listen to the concerns of British farmers and implement a farming policy that reflects modern demands.
The United Kingdom has a proud history of high quality farming. I support British farming and want it to be economically viable and environmentally sustainable. I believe that we should be working to lead the world in animal welfare standards.
At the recent election, Labour’s Manifesto pledged to promote cruelty-free animal husbandry and to consult on ways to ensure agreed standards are better enforced. The Labour Party Manifesto had strong and clear pledges on animal welfare. Labour’s vision is for the UK to lead the world with high animal welfare standards in the wild, in farming and for domestic animals. Labour also pledged to increase the maximum sentence for those convicted of committing animal cruelty. All of these pledges are fundamental to promoting cruelty-free animal husbandry and consult on ways to ensure better enforcement of agreed standards.
I would like to see a growth in the trade and export of meat rather than live animals. British produce is market leading and I believe we should be encouraging farmers to use local butchers to slaughter their animals as close as possible to where they are reared. The current Conservative Government has promised to examine the future of live animal exports. I will await any proposals that the Government brings forward on this element of farming standards.
We must prioritise a sustainable, long-term future for our farming, fishing and food industries. We cannot allow our exit of the European Union to be used as an excuse for food standards to be reduced or to allow cheap and inferior produce to flood the UK market. I believe we should reconfigure funds for farming to promote sustainable practices so that the industry can thrive and succeed while benefitting local communities.
Factory Farming is in need of review and reform if we are serious about creating a sustainable food chain. The Conservative Government must listen to the concerns of British farmers...
The number of dogs being imported into the UK as pets from abroad is on the rise. Both the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA have categorised this type of smuggling as ‘puppy trafficking’.
I share the concerns of the Dogs Trust that there has been such a rapid increase in the number of dogs being imported into the UK. It is particularly concerning that these puppies are being identified as dogs from countries where rabies has been reported and where the health and condition of the dogs is unknown. It is also often the case that these imported dogs have not been properly micro-chipped or vaccinated.
I know that the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust have both released detailed reports outlining these problems and calling for urgent action to prevent illegal puppy trading and the potential spread of disease. I hope that the Conservative Government listen and respond to these reports. Conservative Ministers should be encouraging specialist training in order to help Border Agency staff to identify and handle animals that may be subject to trafficking. The Conservative Government also need to take steps to ensure that ferry operators do not inadvertently contribute to this illegal and dangerous trade.
The EU Pets Travel Scheme was introduced on 29 December 2014 and was intended to lead to stronger measures on compliance. I would like to see this Travel Scheme maintained as we exit from the European Union. I also appreciate that the RSPCA has warned that this scheme needs to be accompanied by significant improvements in enforcement and wider steps to prevent the risk of serious disease being reintroduced into the UK.
I hope the Conservative Government will work with organisations such as the RSPCA and the Dogs Trust on this. I also believe that there should be a comprehensive review of standards in the breeding and sale of puppies and kittens based on the principles of the Animal Welfare Act that was introduced in 2006 by the previous Labour Government.
I have now attached the Government's response to a letter that I sent to Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, about this issue.
The number of dogs being imported into the UK as pets from abroad is on the rise. Both the Dogs Trust and the RSPCA have categorised this type of smuggling...