Please find below a report of my work during October and November. Please get in touch if you have a case you wish me to raise or would like to let me know your views. Surgery dates are listed on my website www.jessicamorden.com and my contact details are listed below. For updates on my work please follow me on twitter @jessicamordenmp or facebook.
Recent business in Parliament has been dominated by the EU Withdrawal Bill, which will continue in the Commons during December. I am closely involved with the Commons stages as the Labour Whip on the Shadow Brexit team.
Whilst I voted and campaigned to remain in the European Union, I respect the outcome of the vote in 2016 and accept that Britain is leaving the EU. However, Labour is clear that Brexit must not lead to any drop in rights and protections – including workplace rights, consumer rights, human rights and environmental standards – and that power should be brought back to Parliament and local communities.
In its current form the Bill would side-line Parliament on major decisions and put crucial rights and protections at risk. Labour has tabled amendments to the Bill to restrict the use of executive powers, and to safeguard workplace, consumer and environmental rights. We will continue to push the government on these issues over the coming weeks, as well as the impact of the Bill on the devolved nations.
Since the Government’s introduction of Universal Credit which replaces six existing benefits, the reports from around the UK have shown that it is pushing people into poverty, rent arrears, and to food banks. In October I spoke on behalf of constituents and local organisations to urge the Government to halt the roll-out of Universal Credit and make much needed changes to the system. While some important changes were later made in the Budget, the Government did not go nearly far enough in making it better or to help those it is supposed to support.
November 22nd was Budget Day and once again we saw little from the Tory government for constituents in Newport East. Here’s my response to the budget amongst other issues I will continue to press the Minister on behalf of the 3,000 public sector workers in our area who have not received a pay rise since 2010, something I raised here.
Train overcrowding and electrification
This month I called on the Secretary of State for Transport to prioritise real action and improvements on rail services between Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol. I have received many complaints from commuters about overcrowding on services and will continue to vigorously raise this with Ministers and GWR. Here’s my recent question to the Secretary of State for Transport.
I would be grateful if you could share your experiences of local rail services with me, and I would encourage rail users to take part in the Government consultation on the future of the Great Western Franchise online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/great-western-rail-franchise The consultation closes on February 21st 2018.
At Welsh Questions I stood in for the Shadow Welsh Minister and challenged the UK Government over its decision to cancel the electrification of the mainline to Swansea which will have a negative impact on the South Wales economy - https://goo.gl/uVKknk
Legal Aid in Wales
This Government has brought in cuts over the last few years with the intention of reducing the legal aid budget by £450 million a year. On behalf of constituents affected, I highlighted at Justice Questions that Wales has seen one of the largest drops in legal aid providers over the last five years - a decrease of 29% - particularly in the housing sector. I asked if the Government’s belated review into its deep cuts to legal aid would specifically look at the impact of this. Here is a link to my question.
The plight of the Rohingya
As Foreign and Commonwealth Questions I questioned Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on the plight of the Rohingya people following the shocking reports we have seen since the Myanmar Government’s military offensive in August. Thank you to the many constituents who have raised this issue with me – I know there has been a lot of concern about the situation in the local community. It’s important that the UK Government plays a role in international efforts to pursue peace in Myanmar.
Protect the protectors
I have also pledged my support for Rhondda MP, Chris Bryant’s Private members bill that would make attacks on emergency workers a specific aggravated offence. The bill received its second reading on the 20th October and here’s a link to my contribution and the campaign here.
At Business Energy and Industrial Strategy Questions I also questioned the Government who are dragging their feet over the decision on whether or not to support the tidal lagoon project in Swansea – a project which could pave the way for further projects, including in Newport.
Also in Parliament
In October and November I’ve hosted a meeting for Newport East’s Liberty steel, welcomed the Rainbow Group from Newport and attended meetings held by a number of Trade Unions including GMB, Unison and USDAW. I have also supported campaign events by organisations such as Parkinson's UK, Community Housing Cymru, Dogs Trust, Cat Protection League, RSPCA amongst many others.
In the constituency, my office has helped constituents with issues ranging from Universal Credit, Police issues, Immigration, PIPs and more. I have held advice surgeries in Newport and Caldicot, organised meetings with the Police and attended many events across the area. These include:
- Advice surgeries in Caldicot and Newport
- Meeting with taxi drivers, councillors and Police
- Attended Remembrance Day in Newport and Caldicot, and the Merchant Navy Memorial Day
- Meeting with unions from Llanwern and Orb
- Meeting at Orb works with TATA steel managers
- Attended the Over-50s Information Day and a Community Information Fair at St Julians Baptist Church
- Meeting with the Police and Crime Commissioner
- Reading at the Chartist Commemoration
- Meetings with Newport Council Leader, Councillor Debbie Wilcox
- Meeting at Severn Power Station
- Met with the Bengali community to discuss the plight of the Rohinyga
- Attended Milton Court Macmillan Coffee Morning and Gwent Cruse fundraiser at Ringland Labour Club
- Draig Dwr event at Newport International Sports Village
- Presented an award at Love Live Music Awards
- Newport Male Voice Choir Concert
- Caldicot CAB meeting
- Visited HMS Severn
- Met with the Turkish Community
- Awareness day out with RSPCA inspectors
You can always find my advice surgery dates on my website. Please call if you'd like an appointment.
Alternatively you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Please find below a report of my work during October and November. Please get in touch if you have a case you wish me to raise or would like to let me...
On Postal Workers Day we say a big thank you to all postal workers in Newport East and beyond who provide such an important service at Christmas and throughout the year.
I was pleased to show my support for our postal workers with colleagues in the Opposition Whips team and Labour's Shadow Minister for Postal Services Gill Furniss.
On Postal Workers Day we say a big thank you to all postal workers in Newport East and beyond who provide such an important service at Christmas and throughout the...
I was pleased to attend a Parliamentary reception in support of Cats Protection, the UK’s leading feline welfare charity.
Cats Protection help around 190,000 cats each year through its national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres.
Our local branch - Cats Protection Gwent - are based in Newport, and can be contacted via their website (https://www.cats.org.uk/gwent-branch/contact-us-page) or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatsProtectionGwent.
I was pleased to attend a Parliamentary reception in support of Cats Protection, the UK’s leading feline welfare charity. Cats Protection help around 190,000 cats each year through its national...
I’m supporting the Dogs Trust campaign to put a stop to puppy smuggling.
Dogs Trust has been investigating the problem since 2014, and through three undercover investigations has found that unscrupulous breeders take advantage of, and profit from issues with the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). As a result, underage puppies are being illegally imported into Great Britain from Central and Eastern Europe, and sold to unsuspecting members of the public.
Over the last few months, nearly 100 dogs were seized by APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency) at the borders, as dealers take advantage of the increased demand for puppies in the run up to Christmas. Dogs Trust has found that of the puppies who do survive the appalling conditions they are forced to travel in, many require emergency treatment – with dehydration and malnutrition among the horrific conditions they suffer from as a result of travelling for thousands of miles in cramped conditions, with no food or water.
Thanks to quick intervention and expert care from the Puppy Pilot scheme, Dogs Trust has been able to save 94% of the puppies coming into care. 6% sadly passed away. Dogs Trust has also seen examples of heavily pregnant dogs coming into Great Britain, showing that breeders are stooping even lower to flout the system, with no regard for the welfare of the mum or her puppies.
Dogs Trust has warned that although there is a rise in puppies illegally imported during the festive season, illegally imported puppies is a huge issue all year round.
This week MPs were invited to take part in a photo opportunity showcasing the horrendous conditions puppies are smuggled in, with Dogs Trust reporting extreme cases of puppies smuggled in baskets covered with cling-film and crammed in suitcases.
I’m very pleased to support Dogs Trust in raising awareness of the plight of illegally imported puppies, who suffer the most harrowing of journeys at the hands of these unscrupulous dealers. It’s imperative that the Government takes immediate action by enforcing proper checks at the ports and on-the-spot fines to deter these breeders and dealers, as well as introducing revised legislation as a priority when the UK leaves the EU. We really hope this will help to effectively regulate pet travel.”
Adrian Burder, Dogs Trust CEO, said: “It’s a shame that we still have to remind people of our slogan, ‘A dog is for Life, not just for Christmas’ nearly 40 years on from its creation. We always encourage responsible rehoming, but as we’ve seen, dealers will go to great lengths to dupe innocent people, making it increasingly difficult for people to spot an illegally smuggled puppy. Over the next 12 months, we will continue to push for proper enforcement at UK borders.
“We will also continue our Puppy Pilot scheme, which rescues puppies seized at borders, funds their quarantine and rehomes them responsibly. So far, this scheme has saved more than 600 puppies.”
I’m supporting the Dogs Trust campaign to put a stop to puppy smuggling. Dogs Trust has been investigating the problem since 2014, and through three undercover investigations has found that...
The UK Government needs to review its strategy on police funding as a matter of urgency.
Gwent Police has been forced to deliver around £49 million of efficiency savings between 2008/09 and 2017/18, and has seen its budget reduced by 40% in real terms since the start of the UK Government’s austerity programme in 2010/11.
Since 2010, over 20,000 police officers, 30,000 police staff and 6,000 community support officers across the UK have been axed despite a promise to protect the frontline. In Wales alone, there has been a 14% drop in the number of officers on our streets over the last seven years. At the same time there has been an increase in recorded crime, with more complex crimes being committed – including new forms of crime online – and an increasing need to safeguard the most vulnerable in society. All of these factors place ever greater pressures on police time and resources, which makes the Government’s refusal to invest in our police absolutely indefensible.
Last week’s budget had nothing to say for our Police, and a lack of investment from the UK Government leaves local Police and Crime Commissioners with little choice other than to increase precepts to make up for the shortfall in funding. Indeed, if a reduction in funding from the UK Government continues over the next three years, around 50% of the budget for Gwent Police would have to come from the precept, compared to around 30% in 2008.
The Government must urgently review its policy on police funding – dedicated police officers and staff in Gwent and across the country deserve far better than they are getting from Ministers in Whitehall.
The UK Government needs to review its strategy on police funding as a matter of urgency. Gwent Police has been forced to deliver around £49 million of efficiency savings between...
Today I called on the Secretary of State for Transport to prioritise real action and improvements on rail services between Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol.
This morning the UK Government announced it would be looking to extend the current Great Western franchise from April 2019 to March 2020, and would commence discussions with current franchise operators GWR to allow them to continue operating the franchise for a further two years, until March 2022. In a letter sent to MPs this morning, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling also announced the launch of a Government consultation on splitting the current franchise which covers routes between London, the south east, the South West and South Wales.
Speaking in the Commons chamber today, I said “There appeared to be little reference to Wales in the Secretary of State’s letter to all members on the Great Western rail franchise consultation today, yet some key routes run through my constituency. Just this morning commuters from Severn Tunnel Junction to Bristol and beyond have yet again had to highlight the chronic lack of capacity on services as demand grows. Can the Secretary of State tell my constituents when they will see real action and improvements?”
I am continuing to raise the concerns of commuters on services to Bristol with train operators, and would encourage rail users to take part in the Government consultation online at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/rail-franchising#great-westernfranchise.
The consultation closes on February 21st 2018.
Today I called on the Secretary of State for Transport to prioritise real action and improvements on rail services between Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Bristol. This morning the UK...
LAST week was budget week and once again we saw little from the Tory government for constituents in Newport East.
There was little meaningful action to deliver a much needed increase in public sector pay for the millions of workers affected by the government’s pay cap, including the 3,000 public sector workers in Newport East.
The government also failed to commit to a real living wage of £10 an hour – compounding a situation where housing costs and energy bills are rising while pay packets are lower now than they were in 2010.
On Universal Credit, the government made some concessions – reducing the initial claimant wait time from six to five weeks – but crucially the roll-out has still not been paused.
There were hardly any mentions of Wales in Phillip Hammond’s budget speech, and the government has still not committed to the Swansea Bay Lagoon project which has future potential for Newport – a further blow for south Wales after the scrapping of electrification to Swansea.
Recent business in Parliament has been dominated by the EU Withdrawal Bill, which will come back before the Commons in December.
In its current form the bill would side-line Parliament on major decisions and put crucial rights and protections at risk. Labour has tabled amendments to the bill to restrict the use of executive powers, and to safeguard workplace, consumer and environmental rights.
We will continue to push the government on these issues over the coming weeks, as well as the impact of the bill on the devolved nations.
Last week I had an opportunity to raise the ongoing plight of the Rohingya people of Myanmar with the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.
Myanmar’s government have initiated a military offensive against the Rohingya since August, causing an estimated 620,000 refugees to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh – often taking dangerous risks in the process.
I’ve received a lot of correspondence on this issue from constituents, particularly from the Bengali community in Newport East. There is a consensus among those who have contacted me that the UK Government must play a leading role in international efforts to help in the region.
Thanks to all those constituents who have raised the issue of severe overcrowding on rail services between Bristol Temple Meads and Cardiff Central. I am pursuing this vigorously with the train operators and hope to get the opportunity to raise this issue again in the House of Commons.
Please do let me know of your experiences travelling from Newport, Severn Tunnel Junction and Caldicot.
Remembrance Weekend was impeccably observed across Gwent this month, and I was honoured to attend remembrance services in Newport and Caldicot.
And a week later Merchant Navy veterans were joined by younger sailors from Newport Sea Cadets in paying tribute to the sacrifices of the Merchant Navy during times of conflict with wreaths laid at the Newport Seamen’s Memorial at Mariner’s Green
LAST week was budget week and once again we saw little from the Tory government for constituents in Newport East. There was little meaningful action to deliver a much needed...
This Saturday 2nd December is Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday, now in its fifth year, is a grassroots national campaign which aims to highlight the positive impact small businesses have on local communities, and to encourage consumers to ‘shop local’ at independent stores.
I’d encourage everyone in Newport East to shop local this Saturday and give a boost to small businesses which play such a vital role in our local economy.
This Saturday 2nd December is Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday, now in its fifth year, is a grassroots national campaign which aims to highlight the positive impact small businesses...
Great to be at the Caldicot Christmas Lights switch on last Friday with John Griffiths AM, Cllr Oliver Edwards and Father Christmas! Thanks to Caldicot Town Council and all who helped organise.
Great to be at the Caldicot Christmas Lights switch on last Friday with John Griffiths AM, Cllr Oliver Edwards and Father Christmas! Thanks to Caldicot Town Council and all who...
Well done to Liberty House Group, who were highly commended at the National Responsible Business Champion awards 2017.
The awards, promoted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Corporate Responsibility, aim to celebrate companies that nurture the health and wellbeing of their employees and support diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Liberty House were the only business to receive cross-party nominations – from myself and neighbouring Monmouth MP David Davies.
I look forward to seeing Liberty continue going from strength to strength in Newport East, and maintaining their reputation as a responsible and inclusive employer.
Well done to Liberty House Group, who were highly commended at the National Responsible Business Champion awards 2017. The awards, promoted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Corporate Responsibility, aim...