Jo Stevens

A strong voice for Cardiff Central

News

Together with over 120 MPs I've written to David Davis, the Brexit Secretary asking him to publish the findings of an analysis the government has carried out on what the impacts of leaving the European Union will be on 50 sectors of the economy. 

 

Despite numerous questions from MPs and repeated Freedom of Information requests the Government has refused to release them. With the parlous state of the negotiations between the UK and the European Union, the likelihood of us leaving the EU in March 2019 without any deal and little or no information about what it is expected this will mean for our economy, jobs and future seems more probable.

 

We need to know and understand the risks we imminently face. By withholding the information, the Tory government is unnecessarily adding to peoples' uncertainty and worry about what is ahead of us. This government secrecy also gives the Tory hard Brexiteers free reign to spread their claims about life post Brexit uncontested by proper evidence.  

 

We need to know what risks the Government knows it is running, and the sooner we know the better. The clock is ticking.

 

The letter is reproduced below; 

 

 

MPs Demand an End to Government Secrecy on Brexit Papers

Together with over 120 MPs I've written to David Davis, the Brexit Secretary asking him to publish the findings of an analysis the government has carried out on what the...

Yes, fight to save your library, but don't forget the real reason why it's under threat.

Since the start of the 2010 Lib Dem Tory coalition government,  libraries across the country have been faced with closure.

This Libraries Week I'm celebrating our local libraries in Cardiff Central.

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Libraries Week: Why Your Library is Under Threat

Yes, fight to save your library, but don't forget the real reason why it's under threat. Since the start of the 2010 Lib Dem Tory coalition government,  libraries across the... Read more

 

Pressure from activists and Labour MPs has forced the Government into another u-turn. In the face of massive public support for a full ban on the ivory trade the Government has said it will launch a consultation on banning the ivory trade in antiques in the UK. It has repeatedly promised this before, but caved into to pressure from the antiques lobby before the June election and removed the pledge from its manifesto.

 

This zombie Government has once again been forced into a u-turn by Labour backed by the support of the public. As with the contaminated blood scandal inquiry, trying to deal with the housing shortage and tackling tuition fees, the Tories are trying to play catch up with Labour’s manifesto which pledged a total ban on the ivory trade.

 

 

An ivory trade ban has huge public support, with 95% of respondents polled in a YouGov survey (April 2017) saying they had no interest in buying antique ivory. This is in response the hundreds of thousands of elephants that are poached for their ivory, over 144,000 elephants were killed between 2009 and 2016. This is an ongoing massacre of the largest land mammal in the world. Yet, the poachers need a method of sale, this is often on the black market but the UKs legal market in antique ivory is another option. The antiques market in the UK is riddled with ivory that has been artificially aged to look antique and proper testing is prohibitively expensive, making it exceedingly difficult to reveal fraud. The existence of the legal market in antiques also provides cover to the black market as traders can discourage further investigation by claiming that they only deal in legal antique ivory. We can only eliminated the black market in ivory by removing this cover.

 

This past weekend marked the fourth annual Global March for Elephants and Rhinos, with people in over 100 cities across the world uniting in the call to save these endangered iconic species and to ban all trade in their tusks and horns. Unless we put a stop to such trade across the globe, the poaching of these animals will continue until they disappear altogether from the wild. I will, together with Labour colleagues and activists, keep up the pressure to ensure the Government follows up on this consultation with clear and comprehensive legislation. I have signed a joint letter to the Prime Minister to ask that she move to ban the domestic trade in ivory in the United Kingdom.

 

A ban would not be directed at pre-existing pieces in museums and family heirlooms of personal value, but at ending the legal commercial trade in ivory in the UK. The UK is the largest exporter of legal ivory in the world, servicing large markets in China and Hong Kong and providing a back door route to those markets now they have committed to closing their domestic ivory markets.

 

I hope that together we will be able to make this change a reality.

Pressure from Activists and MPs Force UK Government U-Turn on Ivory Trade

  Pressure from activists and Labour MPs has forced the Government into another u-turn. In the face of massive public support for a full ban on the ivory trade the...

As has been widely reported, the Iranian Government have brought new charges against Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, which could extend her stay in Iranian jail by up to 16 years. My Labour colleague Tulip Siddiq MP has described these charges as 'an outrage and must not be allowed to stand.'

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard have subjected Nazanin to illegal arbitrary detention for the best part of 18 months, and the new spurious charges against her underline their callous disregard for her human rights.

These developments are particularly cruel at a time when her family had increasingly hoped that she would be granted temporary release. With the possibility of 16 years being added to her sentence, I urge the Foreign Secretary to intervene properly and ensure Nazanin is brought home.

There is a clear pattern of Iran treating British dual nationals in this way, and the Government’s approach to the Iranian Authorities seems to be doing little to improve their plight.

I urge Foreign Secretary to formally call for Nazanin's timely release. The Government's lack of progress in securing Nazanin's release has been extremely frustrating, I know there are campaigners up and down the country calling for her release.

Update: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

As has been widely reported, the Iranian Government have brought new charges against Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, which could extend her stay in Iranian jail by up to 16 years. My...

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Recently I received an email from the Managing Director of Great Western Railway explaining the need for extra engineering works in the Reading area in preparation for further electrification of the line due to take place on the weekend of the 14th and 15th of October. Trains therefore will not be running into London Paddington during this time. He has stressed that unfortunately it is not possible to divert trains to another main line station in London so a bus replacement service will be in operation between Reading and London Paddington. Alternatively trains will be running from Reading to London Waterloo, however some trains will not be running and other journeys will take longer. Customers are advised to factor these delays into their journey time.

A broad outline of all services affected can be found on the GWR website by clicking here or visiting www.gwr.com/reading2017.

Customers should note that online journey planners have not yet been updated with revised train times. Network Rail hope to complete this early next week. GWR will update their Reading 2017 page when that process has been completed.

Rail Disruption - 14/15 October

Recently I received an email from the Managing Director of Great Western Railway explaining the need for extra engineering works in the Reading area in preparation for further electrification of...

Last week we heard that the planning application to build a block of flats next to Clwb Ifor Bach on Womanby Street has been withdrawn.

This was music to the ears of the Save Womanby Street campaign.

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Such a development would have been completely unsuitable for Womanby Street, which is a centre for grassroots live music and performance venues.

 

Victory for Womanby Street Campaigners

Last week we heard that the planning application to build a block of flats next to Clwb Ifor Bach on Womanby Street has been withdrawn. This was music to the... Read more

Last week I joined Guide Dogs UK at Labour Party Conference to find out about their campaign to make sure everyone with an assistance dog can access taxis.

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It is against the law for any taxi or minicab driver to refuse to take an assistance dog or charge extra for carrying it. Unfortunately, Guide Dogs found that 42% of assistance dog owners have been turned away by taxis or minicabs in a one-year period. Theei research also found that 38% of assistance dog owners had been asked to pay extra.

Guide Dogs UK - Making Taxis Accessible

Last week I joined Guide Dogs UK at Labour Party Conference to find out about their campaign to make sure everyone with an assistance dog can access taxis. It is... Read more

Dates for advice surgeries in October have now been confirmed.

Thursday October 12th 1pm - 2pm Adamsdown
St German’s Church Hall, Star Street, Adamsdown CF24 1LA

Friday October 20th 2pm - 3pm Cyncoed
Rhydypennau Library, Llandennis Road, CF23 6EG

Saturday 21st October 10am - 11am Roath
Penylan Library, Penylan Road, CF23 5HW

Saturday 21st October 11am - 12 noon Cathays
Cathays Library, Fairoak Road CF24 4PW

Friday 27th October 4pm - 6pm Roath
Constituency Office, 116 Albany Road, Cardiff CF24 3RU

You can view future advice surgery dates by clicking here.

Advice Surgeries in October

Dates for advice surgeries in October have now been confirmed. Thursday October 12th 1pm - 2pm AdamsdownSt German’s Church Hall, Star Street, Adamsdown CF24 1LA Friday October 20th 2pm -... Read more

 

 

In her speech to Labour Party conference this week, my colleague, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry MP made the very welcome announcement that the next Labour Government will completely reform the legal and regulatory framework governing the export of arms from the UK to foreign governments. 

All over the world the place you are most likely to find “Made in Britain” is stamped on a weapon.

The UK supplies 12.8% of the world’s global arms market at a value of around £7.7 billion per annum. Around 58% of these sales are to countries in the Middle East, often to very repressive regimes. For instance kit supplied by Britain is very important to the Kingdom of Bahrain which used British weapons to put down Shi’a protests during the Arab Spring and afterwards. More recently British made bombs have pounded Yemen, contributing to a staggering humanitarian crisis.

Labour has demanded that arms sales to Saudi be suspended and steps taken to encourage a dialogue between both sides in Yemen's civil war to end the fighting. But, we also need to think and act strategically and ensure reform of the current systems we have for regulating the UK arms trade. The Government’s export licensing process does little to impede the trade. It is supposed to take human rights, conflict and other concerns into account, but with, for example, military goods going to Israel whilst it was bombing Gaza in 2014, the licencing process clearly needs reform.

The UK has an international obligation to ensure its weapons are not used in human rights violations but arms export decisions made by Tory Ministers are entirely subjective assessments, taken without proper parliamentary scrutiny, without listening to independent, expert advice. Instead they listen far too much to lobbyists for the arms trade and repressive foreign regimes. This is a process that leads to ridiculous double standards where the Government can decide far too late that selling arms to Myanmar is wrong, but immediately increase its sales to Saudi.

A Labour Government will profoundly reform the arms trade in this country. A wholesale reform of the legal and regulatory framework fully implementing the International Arms Trade Treaty with clear rules, tests and criteria for decision-making, based on independent, expert advice and the objective assessment of evidence. A new system, that will prevent the misuse or abuse of licences and adhere to the principles of transparency, true parliamentary accountability and freedom from undue influence.

When the UK sells weapons to other countries, the UK owns the consequences of their use and the suffering they cause. As Emily Thornberry MP said; we must set an entirely new standard for Britain and a shining example to the world. And if that sounds like setting our ambitions high, well you’re damn right it is and we should not apologise for that.

Time is Long overdue for Reform of Weapons Export Rules

    In her speech to Labour Party conference this week, my colleague, Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry MP made the very welcome announcement that the next Labour Government will...

 

 

The Universal Credit roll out will happen in Cardiff in February 2018 despite major and widespread concerns about its impact on recipients so far. I have written, with other MPs, to the Conservative Minister asking for the roll out to be paused.

 

Intended to replace six means tested benefits, Universal Credit has left many people in dire need. They have found their existing financial entitlement replaced with nothing at all and the bureaucracy surrounding Universal Credit has increased rather than decreased, which was one of the improvements the government claimed would happen. The system is clearly not fit for purpose and I am really concerned about the impact it will have for people in Cardiff Central unless these problems are quickly resolved.

 

Universal Credit has been a broken project from the start. Implementation has been delayed 7 times and the project has cost the taxpayer £16 billion. It has been reset, rethought and even some Tory MPs have publicly admitted that its purpose is to cover cuts in social security payments.

 

The net result of all this effort and cost has been a system that is collapsing. Universal Credit has been piloted in a number of areas before the increased rollout later this year, and the results have been dreadful. Even on a best case scenario, families are required to go 6 weeks without any payments at all when they go from their current entitlements to Universal Credit. A quarter of people using the system are not receiving any payment even within those 6 weeks, 40% of people cannot access the Verify portal that is meant to be a cornerstone of the new approach and payment delays of 12-13 weeks are not uncommon. Under this scheme, a family might have to wait a whole school term for a single penny. A quarter of claimants are falling into rent arrears, threatening homes up and down the country.

 

Bizarrely, the Government’s response has been to view the pilots as a success and they are accelerating the roll out. Citizens Advice have said that this will be a “disaster” if it goes ahead. The system cannot cope with the numbers it has to deal with at the moment on the pilots. Adding more claimants may cause the system to crash entirely, leaving thousands of people stuck with no way of getting support and trapped in a spiral of debt that will end in foodbanks, eviction and misery.

 

I am challenging the Secretary of State to listen to the concerns raised in my letter and hit the brakes rather than the accelerator on the Universal Credit roll out.

 

I call for a Brake on Universal Credit Rollout

    The Universal Credit roll out will happen in Cardiff in February 2018 despite major and widespread concerns about its impact on recipients so far. I have written, with other...

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