I have recieved many emails from constituents regarding neonicotinoids and bees. I am in no doubt about the importance of pollinators to our food supply, biodiversity and economy and I have a deep concern about declining bee numbers and the role of neonicotinoid insecticides in that reduction. Currently, as part of the EU the UK has a ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, as a last resort a farmer can petition the UK to ask the European Commission for a waiver for their use, 3 of these were granted across the whole of the UK last year. This ban will not necessarily continue after we leave the EU.
I believe that the UK policy on pesticides should be based on science and be open and transparent. The research published in the Nature Communications journal and by Sussex University last year - which emphasises the risk of neonicotinoids to bees cannot be ignored.
The Government is at least paying lip service to this ideal. In answer to a Parliamentary Question the Government spokesperson Lord Gardiner would not directly commit to continuing the restrictions. But, he did said that “decisions on the use of neonicotinoids and other pesticides should be based on a careful scientific assessment of the risks. Pesticides that carry unacceptable risks to bees, other pollinators and the environment should not be authorised.”
The position of the Labour Party is clear: The Government should continue to abide by the current EU-wide restrictions after we leave the European Union. We cannot afford to engage in a race to the bottom and damage our environment and wildlife in the name of cutting commercial corners. Wherever applications have been made to waive the ban we need to ensure that it really is a last resort and elminating their use entirely has to be an option.
Until the UK does leave the EU, EU law will still have effect in the UK, and the Government has said that current arrangements for our environment - including in relation to the ban on neonicotinoids - will remain in place until we leave.
The Government needs to set out its strategy for the future and how it will protect the environment, including our bees. It is also vital to take a science-led approach to pesticide use and to consider how best to support farmers, protect wildlife and reverse the decline of pollinators.
Neonicotinoids and Bees I have recieved many emails from constituents regarding neonicotinoids and bees. I am in no doubt about the importance of pollinators to our food supply, biodiversity and...
Ban Sale of UK Arms to Saudi Arabia
As Cardiff is an outward looking city I receive a lot of emails from my constituents about international affairs. One urgent issue that I have received a lot of correspondence on is the role of UK arms sold to Saudi Arabia in the civil war in Yemen.
I am a long-time opponent of arms sales to Saudi Arabia and have participated in debates to challenge the Government on inadequate arms export controls. I have grave concerns about human rights abuses in Saudi and the UK Government's approach. Labour has consistently challenged the Government on arms sales to Saudi and on the situation in Yemen. We have demanded the following action in an attempt to secure a route to bring an end to the conflict in Yemen:
- The immediate halting of the sales of UK arms to Saudi Arabia
- The backing of a ceasefire resolution at the United Nations to end the killing and bring both sides to the negotiating table
- Support for an independent investigation into the possibility that both sides have committed war crimes
If these steps are taken then both sides can be brought to the negotiating table. This would give aid agencies the time and space to prevent the unfolding humanitarian crisis.
According to the United Nations 70% of the population is in need of aid and 4,773 civilians have been killed, 2 million people have been displaced and 14.4 million left without access to safe water or sanitation. A ceasefire is the best hope of delivering aid to people who very desperately need it.
The failure of Theresa May to place the Yemen crisis and Saudi Arabia’s serial human rights abuses (as documented by the United Nations Human Rights Council and Amnesty International) at the heart of her recent talks with Saudi Arabia shows the priorities of this Government. Under the Conservatives the UK has downgraded human rights in favour of an approach of securing any trade deal, with anyone, anywhere. In the long run this is a bad deal not only for vulnerable people across the globe but for the UK.
We have had a backbench debate in the House of Commons on Yemen in which we strongly argued for a change in Government policy. I will continue to hold the Government to account and press for action for the people of Yemen.
Ban Sale of UK Arms to Saudi Arabia As Cardiff is an outward looking city I receive a lot of emails from my constituents about international affairs. One urgent...
Battersea Dog and Cats Home Campaign for Longer Sentences for Animal Cruelty
I have received many emails from constituents regarding the proposal to increase the maximum sentence for animal cruelty to 5 years. This proposal has been backed by the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home campaign on the issue, and they have put out a report detailing how UK law stands in relation to animal protection law in other countries. Their report makes clear that as it stands the UK has one of the lowest maximum sentences for animal cruelty, (12 – 26 weeks custody). in Europe. The full report can be found here.
The report makes for very interesting, though disturbing, reading. I fully stand behind the aims of the Battersea campaign. It is very clear that many other countries have gone much further in allowing extended sentences for extreme cases of animal cruelty. Cases of animal cruelty often seem to present the very worst of human nature, as owners or their friends horrifically abuse animals that they were meant to provide care for. By capping the maximum sentence at 6 months the law ties the hands of judges when they are faced with the most extreme cases of animal abuse and cruelty.
I supported Anna Turley MP's private member's bill on animal cruelty which I discussed with Anna before the bill was drafted. Unfortunately due to time constraints the bill was not heard before the House. However, the fight to ensure animal safety and curb animal cruelty in our country continues and I stand fully behind it.
The Labour Party has a proud record of standing up for animal rights, in Government we delivered the Animal Welfare Act in 2006, that made animal welfare law much more proactive in protecting animals, rather than simply waiting for animals to be harmed. At the time we led the world in animal rights legislation. But, the Battersea Report has shown that the world has moved on and we need to make Britain one of the strongest defenders of animal rights in the world again. Therefore I back the increasing of sentences for animal cruelty to 5 years.
Battersea Dog and Cats Home Campaign for Longer Sentences for Animal Cruelty I have received many emails from constituents regarding the proposal to increase the maximum sentence for animal...
I received a very large amount of correspondence from constituents about the Assisted Dying (No. 2) Private Members' Bill and I wanted to take time to consider all the correspondence properly, together with all of the issues that it raises, before reaching an informed conclusion about the Bill, which was debated on 11th September. MPs were given a free vote on the Bill.
I received a very large amount of correspondence from constituents about the Assisted Dying (No. 2) Private Members' Bill and I wanted to take time to consider all the correspondence properly,... Read more