Jo Stevens

A strong voice for Cardiff Central

News

The festive season can be a very difficult time for people in uncertain circumstances. 

For the last two years I've taken part in a collection of shoebox donations for women and children in refuges and shelters. It's not where anyone wants to be over Christmas, and many families arrive there having had to leave their possessions behind.

This year Cardiff Central resident Jess Martyn is co-ordinating the appeal, and I'm offering my office once again as a collection point for donations which will be distributed to organisations in the south Wales area including Cardiff Women's Aid, Bawso and Hafan Cymru.

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Shoebox Appeal for Women's Refuges

The festive season can be a very difficult time for people in uncertain circumstances.  For the last two years I've taken part in a collection of shoebox donations for women... Read more

Voting for the people who represent you is one of the fundamental rights of citizens in a democracy. There is, however, a problem with our current system. Millions of people are missing out on having their say.

Within the current procedure for voter registration, all eligible voters must pro-actively register with their local electoral registration office, and then re-register if they move address, even if it's within the same electoral area.

Along with making it hard for individuals, the system also relies on already over-stretched and underfunded local authorities to track down and chase missing voters in their area.

Evidence has shown that a large percentage of the people not on the register are younger or from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Clearly, this is not acceptable. The already marginalised are getting less of a say at the ballot box.

Fortunately, there's a better way. Today I proposed a Bill in the House of Commons that would require the government to register voters automatically.

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This would happen when people are issued with a National Insurance Number or, for people already over 16, using data held by government departments like HMRC and the DVLA.

Using this existing, trusted data is the practical solution we need to fully enfranchise every eligible voter so they can have their say.

We're living in an age of big data and 'digital by default' so it seems counterintuitive for the government not to make use of the solutions available to make sure the electoral register is complete.

Around the world there are many successful examples of automatic voter registration systems, for example in Canada where electoral information is continually updated from records held by government agencies, and in Chile where a recent change added over 4.5million voters to the register, many of them under the age of 30.

Closer to home Denmark, Germany, Italy and Sweden all use a version of automatic registration.

I think it's about time we caught up here in the UK and moved to an automatic voter registration system.

Automatic Voter Registration - My Bill

Voting for the people who represent you is one of the fundamental rights of citizens in a democracy. There is, however, a problem with our current system. Millions of people... Read more

 

The Tories launched their Brexit Trade Bill last week. This is the legislation that will govern our trading relationship with other countries once we leave the European Union. This Bill would allow the Trade Secretary Liam Fox, to sign new trade deals, copy old ones and favour industries without having to put any of those deals before Parliament for them to be scrutinised and voted on. I agree with the assessment of Frances O’Grady the TUC General Secretary that it will allow the Government to “push through dodgy deals and undermine worker’s rights.”

 

Our trading relationship with the 27 EU member states, the 50 countries the EU has a trade agreement with and the 72 countries the EU is currently negotiating with, will have to be completely reworked. This covers 85% of our trade with foreign countries. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in Wales depend on us getting this right. So we should be carefully scrutinising each Bill and rejecting those which do not meet our standards, or might damage parts of our economy. It is imperative that we get this right.

 

Trade deals also need to be handled very carefully for other reasons, because without regulation foreign imports can quickly overrun domestic industries. For instance, a trade deal with New Zealand would seem pretty low risk, but cheap New Zealand lamb could quickly make Welsh sheep farming unsustainable and ruin the Welsh rural economy. Issues like this won’t even be considered if a trade deal with New Zealand doesn’t have to go through the scrutiny of primary legislation. That’s before we get on to the chlorinated chicken that the US is so eager to sell us.

 

This Bill shows that the Government is not interested in good deals struck to benefit the whole of the UK but fast and dirty deals that will give Liam Fox cheap personal wins. Having failed to do any of the trade deals that he so ridiculously promised would be so easy to do. Workers’ rights should also be an important part of our trade policy. It’s all too easy to see how, after we leave the EU, the government will argue that to be able to compete, we need less regulation in the workplace and fewer protections for workers. We’ll be well on our way to a bargain basement economy. This cannot be allowed to happen.

 

We need to make sure that the government is properly accountable and does not use Brexit as an opportunity to sell British industry to the lowest bidder. 

Trade Bill Published

  The Tories launched their Brexit Trade Bill last week. This is the legislation that will govern our trading relationship with other countries once we leave the European Union. This Bill...

 

 

I’ve had lots of e-mails about my Labour colleague Jim McMahon’s Votes at 16 Private Members Bill. I know many constituents watched the debate on the television and one 17 year old constituent, came to Parliament to watch the debate from the gallery. I also know that a lot of people were concerned that MPs did not vote on the Bill. We may have the opportunity to debate the Bill again on the 1st December, but that isn’t guaranteed.

 

Most Bills that go through Parliament come from the Government and almost all of the Bills that become law, come from the Government because they have a majority (normally) and can order their MPs to vote down anything they don’t like. At the start of each Parliament, a small number of MPs are drawn at random and invited to bring forward a Bill of their own. These are called Private Members Bills. They are timetabled for debate on a Friday. Most MPs will be working in their constituencies on a Friday, holding advice surgeries, meetings and doing visits. If there is a particular Bill they are interested in then they will be in Parliament on that particular Friday.

 

However, there are a number of Conservative MPs who stay in Parliament on most Fridays whose sole mission is to stop Private Members Bills succeeding. Their tactic is talking. Talking about the wine list in their favourite clubs, allowing long interruptions from their colleagues who talk in endless circles. Talking on and on. There are very few restrictions for how long an MP can speak for, or on the number of interventions (where you interrupt a speech to ask a question or make a point). The sitting must finish at 2.30pm and so they talk and talk with the deliberate intention of running down the clock. Very often they succeed and a vote does not take place at all. This cabal of Tory MPs have “talked out” a whole variety of good Bills including transposing all EU workers’ rights legislation into UK law in advance of Brexit and allowing the use of off-patent medicines to treat terminal illnesses.  

 

So on the day of the Votes at 16 Bill, those Tory MPs and some more of their colleagues began playing these games from the start of the day during an earlier debate and we ran out of time. Because there were still many MPs who wanted to speak in the debate and hadn’t been able to, no vote took place. It will come back on 1st December – but again with no guarantees about whether it will be debated or a vote will be held.

 

This all demeans a serious debate about a serious issue. It undermines Parliament and makes it look ridiculous. If the Tories do not want to vote against a Bill then they should let it pass. If they do not, they should be clear and vote against it.

 

We need to overhaul the system so that good Bills and political reforms are not blocked by a small group of people who appear to have nothing better to do on a Friday than play wrecking tactics and talk for a very, very long time.

 

A piece of crumbling masonry fell off Parliament the other week and smashed someone’s car. Thank goodness no-one was in it at the time. But I cannot think of a better metaphor for how Parliament’s archaic procedures are unfit for a 21st century legislature. Whilst everyone agrees that the building needs renovation, it’s clear that the procedures do too.

Why We Didnt Vote

    I’ve had lots of e-mails about my Labour colleague Jim McMahon’s Votes at 16 Private Members Bill. I know many constituents watched the debate on the television and one 17 year old constituent, came...

Ofcom has today announced that broadband and landline customers will get money back from their providers when things go wrong, without having to claim it.

Many people are not getting the standard they expect, or being adequately compensated when their service falls short.Waiting too long for  a landline or broadband service to be fixed is frustrating enough, without having to fight for compensation.


So, earlier this year, Ofcom set out plans for people to be compensated automatically by providers for slow repairs, missed appointments and delayed installations. This means credit on a customer’s account – without having to ask. 

As a result, BT, Sky, Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Zen Internet – who together serve around 90% of landline and broadband customers in the UK – have agreed to introduce automatic compensation, which will reflect the harm consumers suffer when things go wrong.

Ofcom Announces Automatic Compensation for Landline and Broadband Customers

Ofcom has today announced that broadband and landline customers will get money back from their providers when things go wrong, without having to claim it. Many people are not getting... Read more

Natural Resources Wales will be hosting a community drop in session in St Edwards Church Hall on Wednesday 15th November 2017 from 3pm until 6:30pm (located on Westville Road, at the junction with Blenheim Road). NRW staff will be on hand to answer any questions, discuss progress to date and future works.

I would also recommend any constituents with concerns about the works sign up to the Natural Resources Wales newsletter, which is specific to the Waterloo Gardens works. To sign up, please email Roath@NaturalResourcesWales.gov.uk. 

Roath Flood Defence Scheme: Drop-in event with NRW

Natural Resources Wales will be hosting a community drop in session in St Edwards Church Hall on Wednesday 15th November 2017 from 3pm until 6:30pm (located on Westville Road, at...

Please note:

The planned advice surgery on Friday 17th November (at St German's Church, Adamsdown) will now run from 12 noon - 1pm, instead of 1pm - 2pm as previously advertised.

If you can no longer attend the new time slot, please call 02921 329736 and an alternative can be arranged. 

TIME CHANGE: Adamsdown Advice Surgery, 17th November

Please note: The planned advice surgery on Friday 17th November (at St German's Church, Adamsdown) will now run from 12 noon - 1pm, instead of 1pm - 2pm as previously...

As the nights get colder and darker, the chances of severe weather increase. Storms, floods and other extreme conditions can cause damage to network infrastructure and disrupt your energy supply. 

That’s why the UK’s gas and electricity network companies have come together to launch the Be Winter Ready campaign. The campaign aims to help the public better-prepare for power cuts and gas emergencies that may result from bad winter weather.

To Be Winter Ready, you should:

  • Know your free emergency numbers - in a power cut dial 105 or, for a gas emergency, dial 0800 111999.
  • Prepare your home – keep a torch handy and get your appliances serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Vulnerable households can get extra support by signing up to the Priority Services Register. Contact your gas or electricity network to find out more. Visit www.energynetworks.org to find out who your network operator is.
  • Keep your eyes open – keep an eye on the weather forecast and, if you have a power cut or a gas emergency, check on your neighbours.

In recent years the chances of unplanned problems with electricity and gas supply have reduced dramatically. Since 1990, network companies have invested £80bn in improving the reliability of local energy networks in the UK. As a result, on average, electricity customers have a power cut just once every two years and gas distribution customers will have their gas supply interrupted without advance notice just once every 40 years.

Despite this, our gas and electricity networks can be affected by natural events, with severe winter weather potentially causing significant damage. The gas and electricity network operators are urging the public to Be Winter Ready. Make sure you’re prepared in case you have a power cut or gas emergency. 

'Be Winter Ready' Campaign

As the nights get colder and darker, the chances of severe weather increase. Storms, floods and other extreme conditions can cause damage to network infrastructure and disrupt your energy supply. ...

Each year, as part of the Made in Roath festival, Albany Primary School's year 6 pupils learn about their school's history as a military hospital.

When the First World War broke out in 1914 the school was temporarily converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers and was used for this purpose throughout the war.

The pupils spend the first part of the autumn term finding out about the history of the school, and create an exhibition to share their discoveries with the local community.

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Albany Primary School's Military Hospital

Each year, as part of the Made in Roath festival, Albany Primary School's year 6 pupils learn about their school's history as a military hospital. When the First World War... Read more

This morning I joined Mohammed Mirzo and his father Ali, along with Jonathan Cox from Citizens UK, to present a 31,000 plus signature petition to the Home Office.

The petition, signed by people in Cardiff Central and across the UK, is addressed to Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP, asking that she intervenes to stop Mohammed from being taken from his family in Cardiff and forcibly removed from the UK to Bulgaria.

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Presenting Mohammed Mirzo Petition to the Home Office

This morning I joined Mohammed Mirzo and his father Ali, along with Jonathan Cox from Citizens UK, to present a 31,000 plus signature petition to the Home Office. The petition,... Read more

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