My work in Parliament has reflected the interests and issues the people of Newport East speak to me about. Here are some of my recent reports highlighting my work for you locally, written before the dissolution of Parliament.
February & March Report -; published 7/4/17
On March 29th, a week on from the attack in Westminster, tributes were held for those who tragically lost their lives and were injured. Thousands of people of all faiths and backgrounds gathered where it happened to pay their respects, with Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge filled with flowers. Although Parliament and our democracy carries on, we will never forget those caught up in this tragic event including PC Keith Palmer. On behalf of constituents of Newport East, I passed on our condolences, thoughts and love through the books of remembrance placed in the Library of the House of Commons.
Brexit – In February, Parliament voted to allow the Prime Minister to trigger Brexit. The Bill was passed without Labour’s proposed amendments which would have ensured better scrutiny of the process, and the rights of EU nationals living in the UK. As someone who campaigned to remain I supported these amendments, but in respecting the result of the referendum I also voted for the Government to be able to trigger the process which happened on the 29th March. A white paper on the Great Repeal Bill was published on Thursday 30th March which you can read about here. Labour’s Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union set out recently the key tests the Government will be judged on as they begin negotiations which you can read here.
The Budget – The Spring Budget did little to help build a fair economy for all and deal with the living standards crisis. An ill-thought-out National Insurance hike for the self-employed saw a quick U-turn that has left the Government with a £2bn blackhole in the public finances. It was especially disappointing, with a budget that fell on International Women’s Day, that no help was forthcoming for the WASPI women, an issue I raised in the chamber. There was also no mention of support for my colleague Carolyn Harris’ campaign on funding child burials, although I am pleased to say the Welsh Government has since announced it will scrap child burial fees in Wales.
St David’s Day debate – I had the opportunity during the annual St David’s Day debate to talk about positive developments in Newport and Severnside, including the new life in our city centre thanks to the hard work of Newport City Council. The Friars Walk development, which had 8 million people walk through it in 2016, has brought 1,500 new jobs, and attracted £120 million into the city centre. I also raised the issue that as the population grows in the areas of Caldicot, Rogiet, Undy and Magor, it is crucial that we have the infrastructure in place including a new station in Magor, for which a bid has been put in, and better capacity for the commuter services to Bristol and Cardiff. Here’s a link to my speech in which I also talked about Police cuts, the impact of which is raised by many constituents.
Personal Independence Payments – Constituents have also been in touch with their experiences of the PIP process. I have raised this in debate here and in a debate by my neighbour Nick Thomas-Symonds about early onset Parkinsons. I was also keen to talk in a debate on Universal Credit on behalf of people who had contacted me, but it has been rescheduled until after Easter as it was due to take place on the day of the terrorist attack. Please do get in touch if you want to discuss how the Universal Credit changes or the PIP process has affected you.
AB Inbev – I co-hosted an event in Parliament for AB InBev, a major employer in Magor who as well as brewing Becks, Stella, Boddingtons and Corona in our constituency are also developing new lower strength beers such as Bud Light. I spoke about their campaign in a Beer duty debate here.
Animal welfare – This month I supported my neighbour Paul Flynn’s debate on Badger culling pointing out the more humane and more effective approach of the Welsh Government and a debate on the Ivory trade. You can read more here and here.
Other debates and questions
Amongst the contributions and questions I have raised are maternity discrimination, defence and reservists, praised the IPO Newport office staff, and spoken up for the WASPI women. I have tabled written questions on subjects ranging from the use of UK Steel in procurement, to the Severn crossing, foreign affairs, and supported events hosted by Fair Trade Wales, Marie Curie, and World Cancer Day.
In the constituency
I have attended local community events such as the Lliswerry Primary School Eisteddfod, Newport Rugby Club Hall of Fame Awards, Newport & district youth football, and County in the Community activity days. I’ve also visited local businesses including Llanwern steel works; supported a meeting discussing rail issues in Caldicot; attended church services and a mosque open day, and held a number of surgeries across the constituency including Magor, Caldicot and Lliswerry in addition to my regular surgeries in Clarence House.
2016 Annual Report -; published 9/1/17
2016 was an eventful year in politics and a busy year in Parliament. As always, it’s a huge privilege to represent you in the House of Commons, a responsibility I do not take lightly. My thanks to my hardworking team who support my work in speaking up for you; over 2,185 constituents have contacted my office during the past year. As well as speaking up for you in debates and questions, and scrutinising Government Ministers on your behalf, I continue to serve in the Opposition Whips’ Office as senior whip with responsibility for Brexit, Wales, Women and Equalities, and PMQs.
On behalf of Newport East these are some of the issues I’ve campaigned on and raised in Parliament:
Brexit and Newport East
Many constituents have contacted me about Brexit. Whilst I campaigned to remain, the result was clearly to leave and Labour accepts and respects the referendum result. However, I believe it is hugely important we hold the Government to account on their plans, which we have yet to see.
As an active member and Vice Chair of the All Party Steel Group, I’ve contributed to numerous debates and parliamentary question sessions in this difficult time for the industry. I have spoken about Llanwern, Orb, and Liberty Steel, all based in Newport East. Here’s my latest contribution.
I’ve drawn attention to the cost, overcrowding, and improvements needed for commuter services, and have worked alongside local groups like STAG and MAGOR Rail to call for better services, and a new station at Magor.
Whilst I welcome the Government commitment to cut the tolls in half when the Bridges return to public ownership, this is not enough for hard pressed commuters and businesses who have paid through the nose over the years. This message came across loud and clear in the first Severn Bridges Summit which I organised in Parliament in June. Here’s my latest update.
I will continue to question Ministers on their future plans, for those who use the bridges, and those who work on them.
Trade Union Bill
I was proud to serve as the whip on the Trade Union Bill and proud of the team on the Bill committee, who won key concessions from the Government.
Concentrix and benefit cuts
I continue to speak up in Parliamentary debates for those affected by Government cuts and policies, including most recently the failings of HMRC and Concentrix – the company they contracted to investigate tax credit claims. The debates added to the pressure, culminating in the company’s contract being ended early. Here’s my latest contribution.
Women and Pensions
I strongly support the women born in the 1950s who face hardship through the acceleration of the state pension age. They have a very effective campaign known as WASPI. I have spoken in debates about this issue, which affects 3,100 women who live in Newport East. Here’s a link to the recent debate.
Police cuts and numbers
I also contributed to a recent debate in the Chamber on the impact of cuts on Police Officer numbers and the quantity of assaults police officers are experiencing.
Sadly, 33,000 elephants are still killed every year for their tusks-a death rate of one every quarter of an hour. It is vital that the UK leads the way and help to secure a future for wild elephants while supporting the local communities that live alongside these extraordinary creatures. I spoke in the recent debate and called for a complete ban on the domestic ivory trade in the UK.
At a time when we desperately need clean, secure, predictable and year-round energy, tidal lagoon technology is one of the ways of delivering a low-carbon energy future in Wales. We have to grasp that opportunity. I spoke in a debate which called for the Swansea Bay Lagoon to be built, leading to one in Newport further down the line which would bring construction jobs and the chance to use Welsh steel.
Amongst other issues I raised in 2016 are Civil Service job cuts in Newport and the impact of scams on elderly and vulnerable people. I have also campaigned for those who have been victims of sheep dip poison and the contaminated blood scandal.
Visits to Parliament
It’s been a great pleasure to welcome groups from the constituency to visit including St Julians School, Newport Mind and Glan Usk Primary School.
In Newport East
I live with my family in Newport East, and the views of constituents are at the heart of everything I do. Over the last year I have visited many people and groups right across the constituency. There are too many to mention them all, but here are few examples:
- Held regular surgeries and door knocking, taking up cases for over 2,185 constituents
- Visited local businesses including Llanwern, Orb, Liberty Steel, ABInbev, and Bisley
- Represented Newport East at Remembrance events in Newport and Caldicot, including Merchant Navy events
- Visited schools including the new Caldicot school site
- Gave talks on my role to local community groups
- Supported major local events like the Maindee Festival, Caldicot Christmas lights and Macmillan coffee mornings
- Visited churches and mosques