Please find below a report of my work during the last month. Please do get in touch if you have a case you wish me to raise or would like to let me know your views. My contact details are listed below. Please ring or email for details of my advice surgeries. For updates on my work please follow me on twitter @jessicamordenmp or facebook.
Labour’s successful climate emergency motion
Last week the UK Parliament passed Labour’s motion declaring an environment and climate emergency. Many constituents, including lots of school children, have written to me asking me to speak in the debate and I was pleased to be able to do that. A time limit of 3 minutes was put on speeches due to the number of MPs who wanted to speak. In my speech, I highlighted how climate change is wreaking havoc on our wildlife and habitats and called for a rapid and large scale response from the UK Government. I also praised the Welsh Government for its work on decarbonisation and called on decision-makers to harness the passion of young activists. You can read my contribution here
I opposed the Government’s Brexit plan when it came before Parliament at the end of March. This was the third time the Government has tried to force the deal through Parliament, and voting for the Withdrawal Agreement would have meant waving it through without any certainty over our future relationship with the EU. It is clear that the Prime Minister should now drop her failed deal and find a consensus on a different way forward that can protect jobs, rights and the economy.
Last month there were a series of further indicative votes on Brexit. You can read more about how I voted here.
Talks between the Labour and Government frontbenches are ongoing. Labour will continue to make the case for a comprehensive EU customs union and a confirmatory public vote on a Brexit deal as options to break the impasse.
Wales must have a voice in trade negotiations
Last week in Parliament I called for Wales to have a voice in the development of post-Brexit trade deals.
Speaking in International Trade questions, I said “Does the Minister accept that devolved administrations must be fully involved in developing both the negotiating mandate and the negotiations themselves when the international trade negotiations will impact on devolved competencies?”
So far we have seen little evidence that the Government is properly involving and acknowledging Wales in its approach to trade deals post-Brexit. This is why I supported Labour amendments to the Trade Bill which would have ensured the devolved authorities, including the Welsh Government, were fully and formally engaged in advance of trade agreements being conducted.
Standing up for Steel
In Parliament I warned ministers against neglecting the steel industry, and called on the UK Government to sign up to the UK Steel Charter.
The charter – which has been developed by UK Steel, the trade association representing steel manufacturers in Britain – encourages the industry and government bodies to target procurement policies towards the use of UK-produced steel. The Welsh Government, Scottish Government, Transport for Wales, Renewable UK, the National Association of Construction Frameworks and UK Onshore Oil and Gas have already confirmed they will sign the charter.
Speaking in questions to the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, I said: “The Government’s Industrial strategy has drawn criticism recently for neglecting steel. Will Ministers attend the launch of the UK Steel Charter on 20th May and sign up to the Charter on behalf of the department in order to maximise opportunities for UK steel in uncertain times?”
If adopted, the UK Steel Charter will provide clear benefits for the steel industry, the wider manufacturing sector and the UK economy as a whole. The Government have dragged their heels on steel for far too long, and the time for vague warm words from Ministers has passed. It’s time for this Government to commit to signing the Charter – as a number of national governments, businesses and organisations have already done – and give the industry the firm vote of confidence it needs.
Go Girls campaign supported in Parliament
In Women & Equalities questions I called on the Government to address injustices in the Universal Credit system which result in young parents losing out.
The issue has been raised by Go Girls, a campaigning group of local women aged between 15-25 who are housing tenants or members of local youth organisations. The group, which meets once a fortnight to discuss topics including safer relationships and women’s equality, is supported by Charter Housing and Bron Afon.
In Women & Equalities questions I said: “On behalf of the Go Girls, a group of young parents in Newport, can I raise with the Minister one of the injustices of the Universal Credit system? This is where under-25 year old lone parents get paid a lower rate than they would have received under tax credits. This is causing great hardship to young parents and children. Will the Minister help me lobby the Department for Work and Pensions on this?”
The Minister responded by offering to meet with me and members of the group to discuss the issue further. I went to visit the Go Girls group on Thursday to tell them the good news and they will be coming to Parliament to meet the Minister.
I called on the Government to act to reduce eye-watering rail fares for commuters.
The 3.1% rail fare increase in January was a blow for passengers across the country, including for many of my constituents who commute from Newport and Severn Tunnel Junction to Bristol. One constituent told me this week that she feels the costs of a return ticket from Newport to Bristol for work has actively forced her into using her car. Ministers in Whitehall have talked the talk on cutting harmful emissions, but as things stand they are failing to give people an incentive to use public transport.
Settled Status Faults
In Parliament last week I highlighted problems faced by those making online applications for Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme.
The EU settlement scheme is open for EU, EEA or Swiss citizens who can apply to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. It’s free to apply to the scheme and those who are successful get either settled or pre-settled status.
But many have found when making this important application that the language is unclear, there is little help available and documents of up to 30 years old are required but not always obtainable.
If you know anyone locally who has experienced problems with any aspects of the application please ask them to email me on Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Supporting World Parkinson’s Day
- Supporting Royal British Legion’s Stop the Service Charge campaign
- Hosted National Autistic Society drop-in for Welsh MPs in Parliament
- Attended launch of RSPB ‘Let Nature Sing’ campaign
- Spoke out in press about growth in food bank use in Gwent
- Met with Magor’s Budweiser Brewing Group in Parliament
- Supported Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
These are a few examples of events and meetings I have recently attended in Newport East
- Newport World Women’s Day of Prayer event at St Paul’s Church
- Visit my Mosque Day at Iqra Community Centre and subsequent visit to Newport Mosques to show solidarity after Christchurch attack
- Visit to Budweiser Brewing Group’s Magor Brewery as part of National Apprenticeships Week
- Commonwealth Day service in Magor
- Newport RFC Hall of Fame Dinner
- Newport Dementia Walk
- Caldicot Male Voice Choir Concert
- Meeting with USDAW Newport and District Branch
- Gwent Youth Orchestra concert
- British Transplant Games presentation at Newport County v Lincoln City
- Visit to Newport Wetlands
- Community litter pick in Somerton with ward Councillors
- Forget Me Not Chorus concert at Lysaght Institute
- Families Love Newport event with Newport Parent Network
- International Women’s Day Event at the Riverfront
- Took part in Women of Newport photo exhibition by Kamila Jarczak
- Meeting with Rogiet campaigner Georgia Titley to discuss work on suicide prevention and mental health
- Newport Live showcase at Riverfront Theatre