Monday, 23 December 2013

My Recent Activities in Parliament.

Let me wish you all a very Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.

I have decided to publish a quarterly newsletter of my activities in Parliament and in the local community.
These are just some of my main speeches in Parliament since I returned in September after my illness. It doesn't include the numerous questions and other interventions I have also made. If you would like to receive my newsletter by email directly please drop me an email and I will make sure that you do.

In addition to these speeches, last week I also challenged the Prime Minister at Prime Minister's Question Time about his past statements opposing Heathrow Airport Expansion and his commissioning of the Davies Report, which has recommended potentially two new runways at Heathrow. I reminded him that many local people supported him at the last election because of his statement "No ifs, no buts, there will be no third runway at Heathrow airport" but that now as a result of his Davies Report many felt that they had lost faith in him as someone who kept his word. Needless to say, I received a fairly meaningless reply.

I am extremely concerned at the risk to our community and have convened a public meeting on Thursday 16th January at 7pm at William Byrd School in Harlington to discuss this threat and what we as local residents can do about it. Please do come along.

These are the other main speeches I have made in Parliament since the new session started.

29th: Commons vote on Military Intervention in Syria
I spoke in the Chamber to make it clear that I would not support any motion that, in principle, supports military interventions in Syria that can only do more harm than good. I questioned the Prime Minister as to why Great Britain, as a sovereign independent state, should automatically fall in line with American foreign policy.
I called on colleagues to learn from the Experiences of Iraq and Afghanistan, to remember that military intervention does not just cost lives but undermines the credibility of peace settlements, international institutions we look to secure peace in the world, and to focus on conflict prevention and resolution rather than military aggression.
I spoke extensively during second reading, report stage and third reading and strongly opposed the gagging bill for its attempt to block community organisations campaigining and its biased prejudice against trade unions and trade unionism.
22nd: Immigration Bill
When the Home Secretary made her first statement to the Commons on this Bill I questioned her on the practicalities and the deeply concerning and xenophobic implications of this Bill.  When asked what sanctions, fines or prison sentence would be given to a doctor or nurse whom treats, or a vicar who marries, a disqualified adult, the Home Secretary was unable to provide an adequate response.
22nd: Anti Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Bill
At the report stage of this Bill I supported amendments to strip it of its most draconian powers that would inevitable lead to injustice. The Bill gave provisions for the Police to prosecute someone on the basis that they could commit a crime in the future. That is a burden of judgment placed on a police officer or others that is almost impossible to determine. I spoke out in favour of the right to protest and called on the House to ensure people have the right to express their views. I fear that this Bill if made law will result in injustice.
28th: Local Audit and Accountability Bill
At second reading I addressed three issues: The first was the Bill’s failure to acknowledge the fears about corruption and lack of probity in local government, the second, its failure to address the structural and procedural breakdown of accountability of councillors and council officers and the third, the new code of practice for council newspapers to prevent councils campaigning on issues of local concern.
 29th: Pensions Bill
I tried to use this Bill to protect the pensions of workers whose jobs had been privatised and their pensions cut. I reminded MPs that they have a moral responsibility that is separate from government. When Governments give promises to people, Parliament has a role in ensuring that they are adhered to. I tabled a new clause to urge the government to recognise that railway workers whose jobs had been privatised had lost pension benefits depite all the promises of previous Governments.I called on the government to send out a message that Governments had a responsibility to abide by its commitment to protect people’s pensions.
31st High Speed Rail Preparation Bill
I tabled amendment 23 on the link between the network and Heathrow, an issue I raised on behalf of my constituents in each debate we have had on High Speed 2.
My background is in supporting rail expansion and investment. In Hayes and Harlington we have a railway estate and a large number of railway workers and, in addition, I chair the RMT trade union group in Parliament. When the idea of high-speed rail was first proposed it was welcomed in our constituency for a number of reasons. One was that if we could get railway journeys below four hours, that would take pressure off Heathrow airport and reduce the need short-haul flights into Heathrow. That assisted in our campaign against the expansion of Heathrow.
However when the route was published, every Member south of Birmingham could assess its impact on their constituency, except me, because the link to Heathrow was not included. The route of the link to Old Oak Common was published, but then we were told that there would be a direct link at some stage, the options would be published, there would be a consultation, a preferred option would be considered, compensation arrangements for those affected would be discussed and then this House would made a considered decision. I raised my concerns in the Commons chamber that constituents now have no idea what impact the route will have on them because, following the introduction of the Davies commission, the whole timetable and consultation process for the link to Heathrow have been deferred until after the next election.
11th Offender Rehabilitation Bill
I made it clear in this debate that I am deeply worried about the privatisation of the probation service. I have no confidence that private companies will be able to supervise effetively ex offenders who have committed a range of serious crimes. i believe that the general public will be put at risk. I threatened ministers if any of my constituents are hurt by probation privatisation I will do all I can to stop them holding public office again

20th Regulation of Refractive Eye Surgery
I introduced a Bill to regulate refractive eye surgery, including laser eye surgery. The purpose of the bill is to tackle current failings within the industry. There are too many stories of people having their eyesight damaged as a result of this surgery and too many reports of high pressure sales tactics used by companies to persuade people to buy laser eye surgery without enough explanation of the risks involved and then not enough aftercare when things go wrong.

20th Defence Reform Bill
I spoke out against ideologically motivated and unworkable Tory plans to privatise defence procurement. I challenged the Secretary of State that surely the concept of competition is stretched to absurdity when there is only one bidder. We risk demoralising the staff we employ at the moment.
On the 10th of December the Defence Secretary was forced to abandon his dangerous plans to privatise procurement, which I welcomed but explained in the Commons chamber that there are 16,000 workers whose futures are still vulnerable following the Secretary of State’s statement.

16th Care Bill
I spoke on a number issues that have been raised with me by constituents. The first concern raised centred on the regulation of carers who are recruited as a result of direct payments. In our constituency, the borough has moved progressively towards direct payments, where the individual recruits carers on the open market. I raised the concern that these carers are included in the regulation system of the Care Quality Commission, which is not currently the case. Secondly I brought up the issue that the Bill should cover the whole range of abuse by carers should be covered by the Bill.  Thirdly I raised the issue of assessment and reassessment drawing on the extreme difficulties some in our community face during the process of assessment.
The social care services in our areas are under intense stress and, as a result, people with substantial needs are not being addressed—those with moderate needs, which are still significant and should be within the system, are being ignored completely.
17th Local Audit and Accountability Bill
At report stage I tabled new clauses to the Bill to draw attention to some of the issues raised by the Transparency International report surrounding corruption in local government. It is critical that we maintain the confidence of the general public in the administration of local government. I think that Transparency International has helped us greatly. Given the lack of data on corruption in local government collected at national level or any other level, Transparency International looks at the systems implemented to make sure that corruption does not take place.
23rd General PreRecess Debate
I raised a number of issues including Heathrow expansion, the cuts to local Policing and the Fire Fighters strike planned for Christmas Eve. I appealed to Ministers to meet with the Fire Brigades Union to negotiate a settlement to this dispute.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Chancellor's Autumn Statement

I raised with the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement yesterday the issue of the return of the bonus culture in the City of London. I am worried that Bankers' pay has risen by 35% in the last year whilst most people have had their pay cut, frozen or at best a 1% increase, not even matching inflation. We appear to be returing to the casino economy practices in the City that caused the economic crisis. 

John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab): Whatever one’s view of the past, there are worrying signs that the bonus culture is returning to the City, with large payouts, share distributions and high dividend payments disguising what were formerly bonuses. Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer make it clear that the Government stand ready to introduce further measures to control the bonus culture? I believe that they would have the support of the whole House in doing so.
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Mr Osborne: I find myself in agreement with the hon. Gentleman. He put his question in a very measured way. We do not want to see a return to the uncontrolled bonus culture. We now have a much tougher regime in respect of the transparency of bonuses and clawback, which means that if things go wrong in trades or for a bank, they can get the money back that they have paid people in bonuses. We will take measures to tackle things such as dual contracts, as I mentioned briefly in my statement and as is set out in the document. People who work in the financial industry often split their contract so that they can claim that they are only working for part of the time in the UK to avoid tax. Where there is egregious tax avoidance, we will take steps. I agree with him that the banking system as a whole must be cognisant of the times in which it lives.

Powerday Planning Application for Tavistock Road, West Drayton

I spoke at last night's packed public meeting in St Matthews Church in West Drayton organised by the local residents' association to oppose the planning application by Powerday for a massive recycling operation on Tavistock Road.

Over 150 people attended and expressed their worries about the impact of this development so close to a residential area. People's main concerns were the increase in heavy traffic in an already congested road network, a worsening of air pollution in one of the most air polluted areas in the country and the increase in noise and dust from the site.

All the local councillors, John Randall the MP for Uxbridge and I confirmed our opposition to this planning application. It was reported that a contract had just been signed by the West London Waste Authority to transport local waste by rail to a recycling centre in Bristol.

Local residents have submitted a petition of over 3000 signatures and over 200 letters to the council opposing the planning application. I have expressed my opposition as well.

The Council's Planning Committee meets on Tuesday 11th December at 8pm at the Civic Centre in Uxbridge. Local residents are urged to attend to show their opposition to this proposal.

If the Council rejects this application it will go the the Mayor for London for his views and if Powerday appeals it will go to the Secretary of State for him to set up a planning appeal inquiry.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Hayes FM – on the lookout for volunteers

- Would you like to present a radio show to over 3000 people?
- Are you interested in joining a team of experts who will help you learn the ropes?
- Are you looking for more experience in radio production?

- Do you want to take part in trainings to develop your research, production and presentation skills?

Hayes FM, our major West London local community radio station, is re-launching at its brand new studios at Rosedale College in Hayes in February next year and we're on the hunt for volunteers to help run it.

To prepare for the re-launch we are looking for more volunteers to help in researching, producing and presenting programmes as well as helping sell advertising and raise funds.

Could you consider volunteering or is there anyone you know who could be interested?

There is training provided for all the roles we need volunteers to fill and support as people go on air for the first time.

Also would you or an organisation you know be interested in broadcasting its own programme on Hayes FM?

We particularly need presenters for daytime shows and programmes for daytime broadcasting. There are opportunities for pre-recording programmes as well in order to suit the times you or your group could be available.

If you are interested in joining us at Hayes FM, please drop me an email and I will arrange for Hayes FM to contact you to discuss how you can become part of our team.

Hayes FM is not just a community radio station, it provides training and opportunities for many young people to gain the confidence and experience to gain employment or go on to further training.

Best wishes,

John McDonnell MP and Chair of Hayes FM