This week in Parliament I joined the Musicians' Union, Equity and Creative Unions campaign to back performers to get the best possible deal from Brexit.
Musicians and actors are concerned that the Brexit process may lead to the introduction of individual member state work permits and/or visas for British performers touring and working across Europe. Most professional musicians, actors and performers rely on touring and travelling fo their careers and livelihoods, and gigs are often organised at short notice.
As some performers can be working in several different European countries over the course of a few days, the possible introduction of country-by-country work permits and visas for British musicians and performers could be extremely detrimental.
This week in Parliament I joined the Musicians' Union, Equity and Creative Unions campaign to back performers to get the best possible deal from Brexit. Musicians and actors are concerned... Read more
Following the change to Individual Electoral Registration, there are a large number of people still missing from the electoral register. While the numbers increased during the recent General Election campaign, with record numbers of people signing up to have their say, the registration system means that many of those will fall off the register when they move house in the next few months.
This obviously has a particularly large effect on student voter registration. Students and young people made a big difference in the recent election, and I was thrilled to see so many young people in Cardiff Central not just interested but engaged, involved, campaigning and voting.
In order to make it easier for students to register to vote, Labour pushed for an amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill which put an obligation on universities to co-operate with electoral registration officers in local councils. The government, however, still will not let universities block register students during the enrolment process.
Following the change to Individual Electoral Registration, there are a large number of people still missing from the electoral register. While the numbers increased during the recent General Election campaign,... Read more
On Friday I met with the Programme Manager for Network Rail's electrification programme for the main line between London and Cardiff.
The electrification programme will lead to improvements of the track and service between London and Cardiff but does mean that during the adaptation there will be some disruption, particularly due to bridge closures between Adamsdown and Splott.
Closures of the Windsor Road and Beresford Road bridges have now been completed and the forthcoming closure of Splott Road bridge in August is currently being prepared.
On Friday I met with the Programme Manager for Network Rail's electrification programme for the main line between London and Cardiff. The electrification programme will lead to improvements of the... Read more
My monthly newsletter for June is now available, featuring a roundup of my work in Parliament and the constituency over the last month.
My monthly newsletter for June is now available, featuring a roundup of my work in Parliament and the constituency over the last month. Click here to read.
This morning I raised the case of Bashir Naderi again in Parliament.
Bashir came to the UK as a child refugee over 10 years ago and has made his life in Cardiff, attending school and college here.
I first met Bashir when his family came to me for help in November 2016. The Home Office were attempting to forcibly remove him from the UK, and have tried to do the same this year.
Bashir is a Cardiffian. He's been educated here and is ready to use his skills to make a contribution to the city he loves.
Along with Bashir and his family I presented a 14,000 signature petition to the Home Secretary. I have also made representations on his behalf directly to the Home Office and in the House of Commons but I have, as yet, had no response from the Home Secretary.
That's why I pressed the government today on their policy on child refugees. I believe it is inhumane and unfair and I want to see it changed.
I asked in Business Questions in the House of Commons for a debate on the government's current policy so that MPs can debate the issue and push for changes.
This morning I raised the case of Bashir Naderi again in Parliament. Bashir came to the UK as a child refugee over 10 years ago and has made his life... Read more
Following the recent tragic Grenfell Tower fire, there is understandably a lot of concern about other high rise flats around the country. Cardiff Council has put together the most up to date information about fire safety in their Council high rise buildings, and it is available below.
Cardiff Council has 9 high rise blocks of flats:
• Lydstep Flats, Gabalfa (3 blocks)
• Beech House & Sycamore House, Holybush Estate Whitchurch
• Loudoun and Nelson House, Butetown
• Channel View, Grangetown
• The Maelfa, Llanedeyrn
The highest block that the Council has is 16 storeys, with most being 11 storeys high.
A Fire Safety Management Plan is in place and, in accordance with this plan, fire risk assessments are carried out on all Council high rise blocks annually and these assessments are reviewed every 6 months. All fire risk assessments are carried out by properly qualified staff.
Caretakers carry out fire safety checks on a daily basis. All communal areas are kept “sterile” clear of any objects which could catch fire or help a fire to spread and any tenants’ belongings in the communal areas are also removed. These actions are designed to help prevent the spread of fire.
Each high rise block is built to be fire proof and able to contain a fire within the individual flat where fire breaks out. Extensive checks take place each time high rise flats become vacant to ensure the compartmentation between flats is suitable and sufficient to stop fire spreading between flats.
All flats have smoke detectors fitted and these are checked annually. A gas safety check is also carried out annually. Where tenants do not allow access, court orders are sought to gain access to the property and carry out checks.
The Compliance Team have a good working relationship with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and have carried out training exercises at most of the high rise flats.
The Fire Service has advised that the safest place for residents during a fire is their own home, unless their property is directly affected by the fire. They will arrange evacuation if needed. Since recent events Cardiff Council officers have made contact with the Fire Service and they have confirmed that their advice remains the same. A letter will be sent to all tenants to reassure them and to further clarify the safety measures in place and evacuation arrangements.
Council high rise have sprinklers in the bin chutes which are a particular risk, but not elsewhere in the building. The need for sprinklers will be discussed further with the Fire Service.
All fire safety procedures will of course be reviewed in the light of the tragic events at Grenfell tower and lessons learnt will be monitored as more information becomes available.
Following the recent tragic Grenfell Tower fire, there is understandably a lot of concern about other high rise flats around the country. Cardiff Council has put together the most up... Read more
Following the Grenfell Tower fire, I raised the issue of legal aid availability in Parliament with the Government's Solicitor General. The Government has announced that it will appoint a Public Independent Advocate to support the victims and families of deceased victims after disasters. We don't yet know whether the Advocate will simply be a referral point for advice, or whether the Advocate will legally represent victims and victims' families and that this representation will be provided through legal aid. I also wanted to know whether the many people who live in high rise buildings that don't comply with building regulations and fire safety regulations and who want to bring legal action against landlords, would be granted legal aid to do so.
“Thank you Mr Speaker, can the Solicitor General confirm that if families that live in highrise,
for example but obviously have thankfully not suffered the same disaster that Grenfell has,
wish to bring any legal action on health and safety grounds that they will be entitled to legal aid?”
You can find the Solicitor General's reply in the video below;
Amnesty International found that in the first year after the introduction of the legal aid cuts that the number of cases where assistance had been granted had fallen 46%. This has led to a surge of cases where applicants are representing themselves, or going into debt to afford legal representation. As it stands Legal Aid can only be applied for in cases where a landlord has allowed a rented property to fall into a state of “disrepair”, so it would not have covered a decision to install unsafe material or not provide sprinkler systems for example.
Following the Grenfell Tower fire, I raised the issue of legal aid availability in Parliament with the Government's Solicitor General. The Government has announced that it will appoint a...
Today I got my chance to ask the Prime Minister a question in the House of Commons. I asked her about what plans her Government had to deal with problem gambling and the Fixed Odds Betting Machines that are now in all of our bookies.
"I know the Prime Minister is well aware of the misery and suffering caused by reckless gambling.
Following her own recent experience of reckless gambling and the turmoil this had led to for her friends and colleagues,
will she now commit to legislating against Fixed Odds Betting Terminals, the cause of so much hardship in our communities?
For the Prime Minister's answer, see below;
British gamblers lost a total of £13.8 billion last year, £1.8 billion of this was lost on B2 betting machines, these Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) are essentially casino machines that are calculated to pay out in certain ratios. The betting shops set these ratios. This means you are guarenteed to lose out if you use these machines regularly.
The amount lost betting on these machines rose by £57 million last year. Overall the amount lost on these machines has increased 73% since 2009, despite their number only increasing 9%.
An analysis of the location of these FOBTs found that they are clustered in areas of high deprivation. It also found that problem gamblers and the unemployed were the most likely to bet the maximum stake of £100. Study of playing patterns also found that individual players were losing up to £13,777, over half the average UK wage, in just 10 months of gambling.
Today I got my chance to ask the Prime Minister a question in the House of Commons. I asked her about what plans her Government had to deal...
Following the Queen’s Speech earlier this week, I am supporting the call for the UK to remain a member of the customs union. I have signed a parliamentary motion (Early Day Motion) to that effect. There will be a huge number of issues arising out of the decision to leave the EU, but the issues of the single market and the customs union, along with the rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK to remain here, are in my view the most critical.
Almost two-thirds of Welsh goods are exported to the European Union free of any tariffs. So if tariffs (charges) are applied to those goods we export when we leave the EU, the impact on Welsh business will be devastating. This problem is even more acute in Cardiff. Of all the cities in the United Kingdom, Cardiff is the fifth most reliant on EU exports, with 61% of everything we sell going to the European Union.
For all the hot air and reassuring noises we hear from the Tory Government on life post Brexit, those statistics clearly demonstrate that any disruption to our trading links with the EU could put jobs in Cardiff Central at risk.
Being outside the Customs Union would mean that there would have to customs checks for all freight of a certain size entering Welsh ports, and that Welsh goods going to Europe would be subject to significantly greater checks and documentation requirements to be allowed through to Europe. All this makes our businesses and the goods we sell less competitive and less attractive to buyers.
Early Day Motions represent a chance for backbench MPs from any party to support statements that might not make it to the floor of the House of Commons to be formally debated. Whilst the Government does not have to formally respond to them, they can put pressure on the Government. For instance, over 200 MPs signed the Early Day Motion in the last Parliament condemning the proposed state visit to the UK by Donald Trump. There was no mention of the visit in this week’s Queen’s Speech.
You can read the full Motion below;
This House notes the benefits of UK membership of the European Union (EU) Customs Union which removes costly and time-consuming customs processes and red tape for trade with other EU member states, allows the operation of a soft Northern Ireland-Republic of Ireland border that would be in jeopardy were the UK to leave, and allows the UK to fully benefit from 56 existing trade agreements signed with external countries which by leaving could result in less preferential terms under any other bilateral trade re-negotiations; and further notes that the terms of UK membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) are currently governed by its membership of the EU Customs Union, and that by leaving in order to become an independent member of the WTO the UK’s existing WTO commitments would need to be renegotiated; and calls on the Government to negotiate for the UK to remain a member of the EU Customs Union following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
Following the Queen’s Speech earlier this week, I am supporting the call for the UK to remain a member of the customs union. I have signed a parliamentary motion (Early...
If we needed anything to confirm that Theresa May is in Government but not in power, this Queen’s Speech was it.
A thin, measly script that wouldn’t be fit for one year of parliamentary business never mind the two it will cover. Labour voters can be proud that through their votes they have stripped the Tory manifesto to its bare bones eliminating the majority of its flagship pledges; the possible repeal of the fox hunting ban; scrapping the triple lock and winter fuel allowance for pensioners; the dementia tax; grammar schools in England; scrapping school meals and a possible change of emphasis on the approach to Brexit negotiations. We’ll no longer be having the “Great Repeal Bill” instead, the “Repeal Bill.” Maybe Theresa May has finally realised leaving the EU isn't such a "great" idea after all?
So what are we left with? Having already failed to secure the deal they want with the DUP this zombie Government looks anything but strong and stable. Is legislating against allegedly bogus whiplash claims to boost insurance company profits above the already eye watering £8 billion a year really the government's priority?
Public sector pay will remain frozen whilst our public services and the loyal workforce that keeps them going will be asked to do even more for less. UK growth is at the bottom of the G7 tables, our productivity levels remain stubbornly low and the Government is still refusing to tell us where it wants to go as we lurch towards exit from the European Union.
In complete contrast, the Labour Party's manifesto would move quickly to address the deep seated problems in our economy; investing to boost jobs and infrastructure; introducing a national education service and ending tuition fees; bringing in 10,000 extra police officers and working to end the long squeeze on wages and people’s pockets.
It was the top rate tax cuts and the endless slashing of public service budgets that so angered people, and took away May’s majority, but they remain in place. Students will remain burdened with astronomical debt, the cost of using our railways will continue to increase on the back of public subsidy that ends up in the hands of the German, French and Dutch governments because Tories legislated to prevent public owenship of our railways. Far too many of the very real problems that we have will not be addressed by any of the measures brought forward in this Queen’s Speech. The people have spoken, but once again it seems that the Prime Minister has not listened.
If we needed anything to confirm that Theresa May is in Government but not in power, this Queen’s Speech was it. A thin, measly script that wouldn’t...