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I am delighted that Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council have successfully bid for £500,000 of funding to assess how to implement a Clean Air Zone in the city.

Bristol wins grant for Clean Air Zone study

I am delighted that Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council have successfully bid for £500,000 of funding to assess how to implement a Clean Air Zone in the city. Read more

Today (Friday 17 February) I’m supporting Fuel Poverty Awareness Day – the national campaign, organised by charity National Energy Action (NEA), to highlight the problem of fuel poverty.

It’s a scandal that, in Bristol West alone, 8983 households (15.9 per cent) live in fuel poverty, according to the government’s own data. And, nationwide, over four million households are unable to afford the energy they need to stay warm and healthy in their homes. It’s obviously a particular problem for those on low incomes who live in energy-inefficient homes that are expensive to heat.

Living in a cold, damp home can lead to very poor health – especially in those who are vulnerable, such as older people, young children, and those with disabilities. This also places a huge strain on our already stretched health services. According to the NEA, cold-related ill health costs the NHS £1.35 billion each year. Even worse, in the year 2014/5 there were 43,000 excess winter deaths, with at least 14,000 of these attributable to cold homes. Without proper interventions, these figures are set to get worse.

Eradicating fuel poverty is, in fact, a statutory target to be met by the government. But it’s failing to achieve this target because it won’t commit to proper funding. Year on year, it has actually cut funding. In the last Parliament, major energy efficiency measures installed in homes declined by 80 per cent, and it’s estimated there will be a further decline of 73 per cent this Parliament. The total level of investment has declined by 53 per cent between 2010 and 2015.  

Clearly much more needs to be done nationally. We should, for example, make energy efficiency a major infrastructure priority; insulate more homes; build new carbon-neutral homes; require landlords to ensure their properties meet minimum standards of energy efficiency.  However, I do know there is good work going on in my constituency and across the UK to tackle the problem. This morning, for example, I visited an excellent development of well insulated, energy-efficient homes, 20 per cent of which are owned by a housing association. In the next development they're planning to increase this proportion. 

I’ll continue to work alongside others in the community to help raise awareness, and continue to press the government to make ending fuel poverty a priority, so that nobody is forced to live in a cold home.  


 

More information

For more information on National Energy Action visit www.nea.org.uk

Latest government statistics indicate that there are over 4 million UK households in fuel poverty. Fuel poverty is caused by a combination of low incomes, high energy prices and poor quality energy-inefficient housing. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fuel-poverty-statistics

Statistics for each constituency are available at http://www.fpeeg.org.uk/

Fuel Poverty Awareness Day is coordinated by NEA and supported by many organisations across the UK. For more information visit http://www.nea.org.uk/campaigns-policy/fuel-poverty-awareness-day/

It’s time to end the ‘cold homes crisis’

Today (Friday 17 February) I’m supporting Fuel Poverty Awareness Day – the national campaign, organised by charity National Energy Action (NEA), to highlight the problem of fuel poverty. It’s a...

Only a few months after the government agreed to take unaccompanied child refugees from Europe, the Minister for Immigration tried to announce quietly this week that the scheme would end in March. 

It's a shameful decision, and you can see my intervention in today's urgent debate.  


 

The government's U-turn on child refugees

Only a few months after the government agreed to take unaccompanied child refugees from Europe, the Minister for Immigration tried to announce quietly this week that the scheme would end in... Read more

New_Mems_Meeting_cropped_Jan_17.jpgYesterday on 1st February 2017 I voted against the second reading of the Bill to give the government the power to trigger Article 50 and start the process of the UK leaving the EU. I did this because I cannot support the Tory Brexit we are being presented with, when there are other viable alternatives which have been rejected at the start.

Update on Article 50: 2nd February

Yesterday on 1st February 2017 I voted against the second reading of the Bill to give the government the power to trigger Article 50 and start the process of the... Read more

I am angry for all of us, Muslim and non-Muslim, that this dreadful man is daring to try to spread his hate around the world.

On Friday it was Holocaust Memorial Day. I signed the book of remembrance for the Holocaust the previous week in Parliament because it is essential all politicians show leadership against the hatred and bigotry which led to the Holocaust. For every time a non-Jew turned away from the discrimination against Jews this helped build the path towards the extermination of six million Jews and hundreds of thousands of Gypsies and gay people.

Trump is saying that people from selected Muslim countries (but by no means all) aren't welcome in the US. He is behaving as if women are lesser beings. He is building walls, when bridges are what this world needs.

I don't agree with banning him from our country – that's stooping to his level.

But there should be no state visit while this ban is in force. And if he decides to visit we must show him what we think of him.

I therefore join other parliamentarians in calling for the state visit to be postponed.

I will be in Parliament today so I can't be here for the demo in Bristol. But be assured if the state visit does go ahead and he turns up to address Parliament, my colleagues and I will show him what we think of his vile ideology.

I hope the demo goes well and I will be with you all in spirit.

Thank you all for being Bristol. We love, not hate.

No state visit from President Trump while this ban is in force – a message to Bristol West

I am angry for all of us, Muslim and non-Muslim, that this dreadful man is daring to try to spread his hate around the world. On Friday it was Holocaust...

Signing Book of Commitment

Today, Friday 27 January, is Holocaust Memorial Day. It marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

A few days ago I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, as a way to honour those who were murdered during the Holocaust as well as to pay tribute to the extraordinary survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people.

Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on the tragic events of the Holocaust. And I’m glad that many commemorative events have been arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations across the country. The theme for this year’s commemorations is ‘How can life go on?’


 

About Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day was established following an MP’s visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau with the Holocaust Educational Trust. Moved by his visit, Andrew Dismore MP proposed a bill, ‘to introduce a day to learn and remember the Holocaust’ on 30 June 1999.

About the Holocaust Educational Trust

The Holocaust Educational Trust was established in 1988. Its aim is to educate young people about the Holocaust and the important lessons to be learned for today. The Trust works in schools, universities and in the community to raise awareness and understanding of the Holocaust, providing teacher training, an outreach programme for schools, teaching aids and resource material. One of its earliest achievements was ensuring that the Holocaust formed part of the National Curriculum for History. 

Holocaust Memorial Day

Today, Friday 27 January, is Holocaust Memorial Day. It marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder...

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I would like everyone to know that I intend to vote against the Bill to give the government the power to invoke Article 50 to trigger the process of the UK leaving the EU.

This vote takes place next week and there will be further votes and debates the following week.

This decision was taken after very careful consideration of all viewpoints, consulting widely including an online survey of constituents' views on this, doing a great deal of research, speaking in House of Commons debates, putting down oral and written questions to the government about the detail of how they plan to build new relationships with the EU and other countries (and getting very poor replies) and much thought.

I respect the result of the referendum just as I respect the result of the General Election, but that does not mean I need to vote with the view of the 52% of voters who voted leave, any more than it means I should vote with the Tories regularly because they won the 2015 General Election.

I understand that many of my colleagues represent constituencies that voted overwhelmingly to leave and that they are supporting their constituents.

People in Bristol West voted overwhelmingly to remain. I have conducted an online survey over the past fortnight to see what they are feeling now and the overwhelming majority of the 1,500 or so Bristol West voters taking part want me to oppose Article 50.

Consulting people is important but it is one consideration amongst many. I am in Parliament to use my judgement and to make sure it is as well informed as possible. I am doing just that.

I have consulted the employers in my constituency such as the university, hospital, creative and digital industries, aerospace and finance, between them accounting for thousands of good jobs, now and hopefully in the future. They have all told me about the benefits they currently get from full membership of the EU and Single European Market and the risks of leaving these. I was prepared to consider the UK leaving the EU if we could remain a member of the Single European Market. The Prime Minister has now ruled this out. A majority of the people who voted have voted to leave, but they did not vote to lose their jobs. This position puts millions of jobs, the running of our hospitals, the research in our universities and the trading by our industries, all at great risk.

I respect hugely how Keir Starmer and my colleagues on the front bench are working and trying to build a consensus around which we can as Labour MPs represent some of the most leave-voting as well as some of the most remain-voting constituencies.

If, as seems likely, the Article 50 vote goes through, I will be supporting amendments Keir puts down for Labour to protect workers' rights, environmental protection etc now and in the passage of the Great Repeal Bill.

I continue to collect views of constituents on my online survey until 7pm on Tuesday 31 January 2017.http://www.debbonaire.co.uk/how_should_i_vote_on_article_50

Thank you all for your advice, challenges and support.

My Vote on Article 50

I would like everyone to know that I intend to vote against the Bill to give the government the power to invoke Article 50 to trigger the process of the...

There’s a rumour going around Westminster that the Government is planning to make Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) compulsory in the New Year…

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Of course, there are rumours going around Westminster all the time, and very few of them actually amount to anything. But I am particularly excited about this one, as I have been campaigning for compulsory SRE for years.

It's time to make Sex and Relationships Education compulsory

There’s a rumour going around Westminster that the Government is planning to make Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) compulsory in the New Year…   Of course, there are rumours going around... Read more

Last week I was pleased to show my support for women with ovarian cancer by attending the launch of Target Ovarian Cancer’s Pathfinder 2016 study in Parliament.

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all the gynaecological cancers. Every year 7,300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK, and 4,100 die from the disease. In fact 15 per cent of women die within two months of being diagnosed, and only a third survive 10 years after their diagnosis.

Women with ovarian cancer are left stranded without vital support at every turn, from diagnostic tests to access to nurses, according to the Pathfinder study.

Pathfinder 2016 found that:

  • just one in five UK women (20 per cent) could name bloating as a major symptom of ovarian cancer – an alarmingly low rate of awareness;
  • almost half of women (41 per cent) visited their GP three times or more before being referred for ovarian cancer tests, risking a delayed diagnosis; and
  • less than half of cancer nurses (46 per cent) think that their cancer unit has enough nurses to care for all the women being treated there.

With over 100 other MPs and healthcare professionals I joined Target Ovarian Cancer, UK’s leading ovarian cancer charity, to call on the government and health bodies to improve services. I want to ensure that all women with ovarian cancer get the care, support and new treatments that are needed, so that women’s lives are transformed, now and in future.

Pathfinder 2016 is the most-comprehensive study of its kind into the lives of people living and working with ovarian cancer in the UK. It surveyed women in the general population, women with ovarian cancer, GPs, nurses, friends and family to provide a comprehensive assessment of how lives can be saved and improvements made. To find out more, visit www.targetovariancancer.org.uk/Pathfinder2016


Symptoms of ovarian cancer

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are frequent (they usually happen more than 12 times a month) and persistent, and include:

  • increased abdominal size/persistent bloating;
  • difficulty eating/feeling full;
  • pelvic or abdominal pain; and
  • needing to urinate more urgently or more often.

Other symptoms can include unexpected weight loss, change in bowel habits, and extreme fatigue.

If you regularly experience any of these symptoms, which are not normal for you, it is important that you see your GP. It is unlikely that your symptoms are caused by a serious problem, but it is important to be checked out.

Women with ovarian cancer need better support

Last week I was pleased to show my support for women with ovarian cancer by attending the launch of Target Ovarian Cancer’s Pathfinder 2016 study in Parliament. Ovarian cancer is...

Although the Chancellor avoided acknowledging it, there’s no escaping the truth: the Autumn Statement announced some seriously bad news. Growth is down, wage growth is down, productivity is down, and business investment is down. Britain faces a £122bn black hole in our finances (with £59bn attributable to Brexit alone), and the government’s cluelessness on Brexit is causing uncertainty we can’t afford. 

 

The reality is that the country desperately needs investment in infrastructure and skills, if we are to compete either inside or outside the European Union in the 21st century. This statement showed the government’s scattergun approach to infrastructure and didn’t even mention skills. Instead of a ‘National Infrastructure Commission’, Labour would establish national and regional investment banks, to unlock £500bn. This would give more power to regions and means money is spent more appropriately.

 

A good example of the government’s disconnect from the regions is its nonsensical promise of a new line for Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes, while shelving our electrification projects. The government needs to finish what it has started and put Great Western electrification back on track.

 

I’ve trawled through the Autumn Statement and accompanying documents in detail and there is just one mention of money for the South West infrastructure – just £191m for the whole region, when there are nine projects all ready to go, just needing the funding – including £195 million for local authority schemes, £983m for highways maintenance – that £191 million is not going to cover these. The South West also received significantly less than every other region other than East of England.

 

Furthermore, there is nothing in the Autumn Statement to reassure the businesses in Bristol West that the government has a plan for industrial strategy for the coming decades. Labour would investment in skills, infrastructure and research and development, as we did when we were in government. Sensible, strategic investment would prepare the country for the demands of the 21st century, rather than setting us back further. 

 

Worse still, the Chancellor made it clear that he has no plan for Brexit. Having no plan for Brexit is a disaster for us in Bristol West. The University, the aerospace industry and Bristol’s financial services sector all need to be able to plan during these uncertain times. A shady deal has been given to Nissan in Sunderland, but our industries need reassurance too. People are worried about their jobs and futures, so it is irresponsible for the government to leave us in the dark.

 

However, I was very pleased to hear that letting agency fees will be banned. I have campaigned against them for years, and believe that they are deeply exploitative. I know the renters of Bristol will have been overjoyed to hear the news that they will no longer have to pay hundreds of pounds to sign documents that it took their letting agent ten seconds to print off.

 

So, Labour would have done this in government, but there is a more to be done to make renting in Bristol affordable. We need to extend standard tenancies to slow the rate at which rent can be increased, and we need to make it harder for tenants to be evicted. And most importantly, we need to build more homes, affordable and socially owned homes.

 

A Labour government would have been building thousands of new homes each year, whereas this government has presided over the lowest levels of house building since the 1920s. Young people are left with a non-choice of exorbitantly high rents or waiting for years to be able to buy.

 

This once again demonstrates the government’s total lack of a plan. One moment they’re naming themselves the champions of something, the next the idea is consigned to the dustbin. Where was the mention of the crisis in the NHS or social care? What did the government have to say on the environment or climate change? The chancellor was silent on some of the biggest challenges of our time – all to try and paper over broken Tory promises, the shambles they’re making out of Brexit, and the widening hole in the nation’s finances. 

My response to the Autumn Statement

Although the Chancellor avoided acknowledging it, there’s no escaping the truth: the Autumn Statement announced some seriously bad news. Growth is down, wage growth is down, productivity is down, and...

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