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- 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.
- 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.
- 09 January 2018
It was a pleasure to spend two days at the Oxford Real Farming Conference during recess last week, launching the APPG Agroecology’s report on trade post-Brexit. Michael Gove became the first Tory ERA Secretary to speak at the Conference, as well as appearing at the more traditional Oxford Farming Conference down the road. Here’s me and Patrick Holden from the Sustainable Food Trust on Radio 4 (33.50) discussing what we thought of Gove’s performance and, in particular, his welcome commitment to ‘public money for public goods’ – ie using farming subsidies to reward those who farm responsibility and sustainably, as opposed to (mostly) just rewarding land ownership under the Common Agricultural Policy. Despite welcoming this. I make the point on the programme that UK food and farming will still be hit hard by Brexit, if we leave the single market and customs union, and if standards are forced down in future trade deals.
- 08 January 2018
Today MPs are debating and voting on the Second Reading of the Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill, which looks at customs arrangements post-Brexit. Labour's reasoned amendment sets out why we will not be supporting this bill - https://publications.parliament.uk/…/cm201719/cmagenda/OP18… (Page 5/6) The front page story from yesterday’s Observer also highlights what the mess that will result, with many firms being hit hard by being required for the first time to pay upfront VAT on goods imported from the EU. This yet again shows how ill-prepared the Government is for Brexit, and why they should have carried out genuine impact assessments.
- 05 January 2018
I was recently interviewed by Sky News on the use of animal fur. I called for, initially, better labelling when a product includes fur, and ultimately a ban on the import and sale of all real fur. A lack of clear labelling – and even wrong labelling – is unfortunately widespread. Just last year Humane Society International conducted research that found that many consumers accidentally buy real fur whilst thinking that they’re buying fake. Even worse, it was found that the majority of fur is mislabelled, with real fur being found in products advertised as fake in shops including TK Maxx, Debenhams and House of Fraser – all of which have fur free policies. It’s important to check the label carefully (products with real fur are often confusingly labelled ‘100% acrylic’), and if in doubt contact the store or try to avoid buying items which include fur that could be real or fake. You can watch my interview below
- 05 January 2018
People are rightly concerned, and upset, that John Worboys, who was convicted of 19 charges of rape and sexual assault, and responsible for many more offences, has been released from jail. Myself and 56 other MPs have signed Stella Creasy's letter to the Justice Secretary to request that he investigates the John Worboys parole decision.
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