My first 100 days as your MP

This weekend marked 100 days since I became your MP. It’s an honour to have been elected as your representative in Parliament and as I said from day one: my focus will always be on Colne Valley and what is important to local people.

Looking back over these first 3 months I wanted to share with you a few of the things I’ve been doing on your behalf:

My office has dealt with nearly 1000 individual pieces of casework and policy for local residents.

I have written 17 letters to Government departments on issues that constituents have contacted me about, ranging from puppy smuggling to teacher retention.

I shared with you how my first advice surgery (where I meet 1-on-1 with constituents to discuss their issues) was the best thing I’d done since becoming an MP, and I am pleased to be running these regularly and helping people face to face with life changing problems.

The campaign to save Huddersfield Royal Infirmary goes from strength to strength and I have held meetings with both main campaign groups. In Parliament I had a joint meeting with Paula Sherriff (MP for Dewsbury), Barry Sheerman (MP for Huddersfield), Tracy Brabin (MP for Batley and Spen) and Jonathan Ashworth (Shadow Secretary of State for Health). Mr Ashworth pledged his support for the campaign and reiterated Labour’s policy of halting all proposed hospital closures.

I have applied for a parliamentary debate on HRI, and attended the Scrutiny committee on 21st July. I am pleased that the committee voted in favour of sending the issue to Jeremy Hunt (Secretary of State for Health) and I hope that he will take the side of local campaigners and reject the plans for downgrading.

I had a productive meeting with Chief Superintendent Steve Cotter, of West Yorkshire Police, to highlight concerns about rural crime which many people have contacted me about.

I have lobbied transport providers about the often poor provision of transport to our local area, something I know affects many of you on a daily basis. I will continue to raise this issue and push for action – I have written to Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) along with other Yorkshire MPs to express our disappointment at the lack of investment to the North. I have also written directly to Chris Grayling to share constituents’ concerns about the cancellation of electrification plans.

I was delighted to be elected to the Education Select Committee, where I can bring 30 years of teaching experience to such an influential group in Parliament. I have also joined APPGs on State Pension Inequality and Fairtrade – both matters that I know are of great concern to Colne Valley residents.

Although I am in Westminster Monday to Thursday, each week when I’m back in Colne Valley I enjoy visiting schools, mosques, and community groups, speaking to residents and keeping in touch with their concerns. Many thanks to all who have invited me.

As ever, if you have any problems or issues you would like to speak to me about, then please do get in touch.

Teacher retention

I have confronted Nick Gibb the Minister for Schools, over his failure to address the retention of teachers in reply to a very clear question.

In the last year over 50,000 teachers left the state sector, which is one in ten! Over 100,000 newly qualified teachers have never taught, and the government’s own figures showed that a third, A WHOLE THIRD of teachers joining the profession since 2010 have quit.

Speaking to teachers locally, time and time again morale comes up as an issue for those leaving the profession. Our education system needs happy and supported teachers that feel secure in their positions.

The government cannot ignore these warning signs much longer without causing huge, long-lasting damage to the teaching profession and our children’s education, which could take several generations to repair.

Vote on the EU Repeal Bill

My vote last night on the EU Repeal Bill was a vote against this weakened government taking power away from our elected Parliament.

Labour respects the result of the referendum; we voted to trigger Article 50, and support a jobs-first Brexit with full access to the lucrative EU single market.

Far from bringing back control and democracy, this bill gives unaccountable power to the Government, while by-passing Parliament. It gives Tory ministers total control over the 20,000 pieces of EU law which are to become British law as we leave the EU. Freedom to change, or drop altogether, as they see fit.

Labour’s proposals are sensible, flexible, and prioritise what is best for the country, rather than for hard-line Tory backbenchers.

This is a process that we must not allow to divide us – we are united in our aim for a relationship with the EU that prioritises jobs and the economy. We are leaving the EU, but we must do so in a considered way.

My full statement is below.

Letter – Jeremy Hunt invitation to visit HRI

Following the decision referring plans to downgrade HRI to Jeremy Hunt, I have written to the minister inviting him to visit our area to see how important the hospital is to us all.

I look forward to meeting with him, alongside residents, to press upon him how unsafe and inappropriate the current proposals are.

I will share his response with you all.

Government U-turn on privatisation

Good news today, the Tories have U-turned on their plan to sell off ‘NHS Professionals’ following a widespread campaign against the short-sighted idea.

‘NHS Professionals’ supplies short-term staff to NHS trusts as an alternative to private agencies, saving the NHS over £70M a year. It has been successful since its formation in 2002 and I cannot fathom why anyone who wants our NHS to succeed would want to see it lost.

I signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament opposing these plans along with many other MP’s in July. Congratulations to #WeOwnIt for their campaign, and thank you to every one who signed the petition.

Tory plans to privatise our NHS by stealth will not go unnoticed, however much they try it on!

RCN protest outside Parliament

On the day that Theresa May dismissed public sector workers as “this, that and the other”, the hard-working and underpaid nurses of the Royal College of Nursing were protesting outside Parliament.

I spoke with them to listen to their concerns and show my support for the campaign to #ScrapTheCap.

It’s totally unacceptable for nurses to be £3000 a year worse off today, compared to 2010. We have nurses visiting foodbanks, and a government that simply does not care. Half the country voted for an end to this austerity, and it’s time for the Tories to act.

Legal Aid for unaccompanied children

Legal Aid cuts imposed by the Tories are yet another destructive and ideological attack, in the name of austerity, on the weakest and most vulnerable in our society.

Today in Parliament I urged the Secretary of State for Justice to act on the recent Children’s Society’s report “Cut off from Justice”, which shows a 56% drop in availability of legal aid among unaccompanied migrant children in Yorkshire.