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- 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.
- 12 January 2018
If you’re in Bristol city centre this weekend I encourage you to stop by this outdoor exhibition by photography Rory Carnegie, commissioned by the National Crime Agency, which aims to shed light on the victims of modern slavery. Home Office figures predict that there are currently some 13,000 modern slaves in the UK, but the true figure is believed to be much higher. As Bristol-based anti-slavery charity Unseen have demonstrated with their #LetsNailIt campaign, raising public awareness is a crucial step toward tackling this hidden crime. Invisible People is on show on the Centre Promenade, Broad Quay, 13/14 January.
- 12 January 2018
This morning I met with the Mayor, Marvin Rees, and Councillor Nicola Beech, who leads on Strategic Planning and City Design in the Mayor’s Cabinet, to talk about what more we can to protect our night-time economy and music venues. Music venues are a crucial part of what makes Bristol a great place to live, and small venues in particular are really important in nurturing new talent. The Council is very keen to protect our grassroots music venues, but needs to be given the powers to do so, as we saw when the Council tried to protect the Fleece from developers, but was overruled by the Planning Inspectorate. The Agent of Change Bill currently going through Parliament, and embedding this principle in Bristol’s Local Plan will play an important part in this.
- 11 January 2018
I was shocked to find out that 1/3 of slaughterhouses have failed their audit in the past 7 years, and that 15% have failed multiple consecutive audits – but only 1 slaughterhouse has been forced to stop sending out their product! It’s also a big cause for concern that a slaughterhouse is allowed to continue operating for several months after receiving an unsatisfactory audit result. I recently submitted several Parliamentary Questions on standards across the slaughterhouse sector. It’s the public’s health and the welfare of animals at risk here, and I will be submitting more Questions to better understand the issue and to hold the Government to account on these failings.
- 11 January 2018
The Government’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment was finally published today. It’s disappointing it was not formally presented to Parliament today to give MPs an opportunity to respond. Unfortunately it really lacks the substance and concrete policy action to deliver on its aspirations and deal with the very serious environmental issues facing us, from plastic waste to air pollution. This may be because some of the concrete actions and policies that would actually deliver the environmental vision in the strategy are under consultation – from deposit return schemes, to a “call for evidence” on potential taxes or other charges on single-use plastics. On waste, I very much welcome the PM’s pledge to eliminate all plastic waste in the UK within 25 years, but this won’t be achieved by the Plan’s two headline policies of extending the 5p carrier bag charge to small retailers (which has long been the case in Scotland and Wales) or by encouraging supermarkets to introduce plastic-fre
- 10 January 2018
China, on January 1st, introduced a wide-ranging ban on the import of several types ofpaper and plastic waste. This has huge ramifications for the UK as we export 3.7 million tonnes of paper waste and 0.4 million tonnes of plastic to China every year. A written statement released by the Government yesterday states that Ministers have been working on a solution since China announced the ban back in July. But if this is true, why is it that when I questioned Gove in November during an Environmental Audit Select Committee hearing, did he say that he hadn’t given the issue ‘sufficient thought’. And why then has The Guardian found that paper and plastic rubbish is already building up across the UK with nowhere to go? This just shows that the Government was unprepared for the ban and has not invested adequately in improving the UK’s recycling infrastructure – and unfortunately it’s local councils and the public who will be bearing the brunt of the impact.
- 10 January 2018
I'm in Parliament alongside numerous other MPs in support Music Venues today. I hope we can get the Agent of Change principle, which would protect venues from nearby developments, into law soon.
- 09 January 2018
It’s good that Toby Young has gone. This follows an Urgent Question in Parliament yesterday where MPs across the political divide called for his resignation. This is deeply embarrassing for the Prime Minister who appointed him to the Office for Students and backed him to stay only 2 days ago.
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