This week marks the first anniversary of David Cameron’s re-election as Prime Minister, this time with a Conservative majority government. It has been a year characterised by unprecedented parliamentary about-turns.
In my last newsletter I wrote about my opposition to Government plans to force all primary and secondary schools to become academies by 2020. Since then, the Education Secretary has watered down these plans, which is welcome news to many parents, teachers and governors. Academy status is right for some schools and not others, but in Tameside, where local authority maintained schools currently outperform academies, forcing all schools into multi-academy trusts overnight could have jeopardised children’s attainment, schools’ accountability and local government finances.
Last week also saw the Government climb down from their opposition to rehoming our share of child refugees from the Syrian war in Britain, just days after they had voted against it in the Commons. These are children who have seen unimaginable horrors far too early in life, and who are now without their parents. I was stunned by the cold-hearted approach from the Government when we debated this, and am gladdened that they have had conceded they were wrong.
These U-turns follow earlier flip-flopping on proposed cuts to disability support benefit and family tax credits, both of which could have forced people into poverty. I think it is right that we re-examine our welfare system, but by going after working parents and vulnerable adults, the Government has revealed its desire to pinch pennies whatever the human cost.
Mrs Thatcher may have been a lady “not for turning”, but it seems Cameron and Osborne find themselves in a spin at every junction. As we approach the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, I hope the Government will give greater forethought to their policies. A second year of handbrake turns could be very damaging for our country.
This week marks the first anniversary of David Cameron’s re-election as Prime Minister, this time with a Conservative majority government. It has been a year characterised by unprecedented parliamentary about-turns....
This week in Parliament we had an excellent debate about Autism Spectrum Conditions, to celebrate National Austism Awareness Week. I spoke in the debate, alongside many colleagues, but in preparing my speech, I realised I wanted to tell a fuller story about my personal experience of autism than the time limits in parliament would allow. So, I have made a video, sharing my testimony about my eldest son’s diagnosis and journey. Please share, and help us deepen public understanding of this much misunderstood condition.
To see the full video, you can follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESZ-m5QLKuk&feature=youtu.be
This week in Parliament we had an excellent debate about Autism Spectrum Conditions, to celebrate National Austism Awareness Week. I spoke in the debate, alongside many colleagues, but in preparing... Read more
Photo by epSos.de (Creative Commons)
The revelations contained in the so-called ‘Panama Papers’, which have come to light following a leak from just one law firm in one overseas jurisdiction, have rightly caused public outrage and indignation. My inbox has been divulged with people asking the fair and obvious question: ‘If I pay all my taxes fairly, at source, then why should things be different for anyone else?’.
The level and number of senior figures named is deeply disheartening. They include close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, Iceland's now former prime minister, as well as Barcelona striker Lionel Messi.
So what can be done against this outrageous abuse? Parliament discussed this on Wednesday, and the answer is quite a lot. I voted for an immediate public inquiry into the revelations in the Panama Papers, for HMRC to be properly resourced to investigate tax avoidance and evasion, for greater public sector transparency to ensure foreign companies wanting to tender for public sector contracts publicly list their beneficial owners, and for consultation on proposals for foreign companies wanting to own UK property to have their beneficial owners listed publicly.
We also need to see the swift implementation of full public country-by-country reporting as well as ensuring robust protection for whistle blowers. Crucially we must ensure stricter standards of transparency over company and trust ownership for Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.
The Government didn't agree, and I think they risk failing to appreciate the scale of public anger over this matter. Everyone must contribute fairly to the Exchequer that funds our schools, our health service and our armed forces. At a time when government austerity measures are hitting those on lowest incomes so harshly, it is all the more imperative that everyone with high levels of personal wealth pay their fair share.
You can read the full debate here and see what you think.
Photo by epSos.de (Creative Commons) The revelations contained in the so-called ‘Panama Papers’, which have come to light following a leak from just one law firm in one overseas...
The news that the British steel industry is on the brink, with the immediate potential loss of 40,000 jobs from the TATA group, is a hammer blow for the communities involved and for those of us who believe that the UK can and must retain a significant manufacturing sector. A petition has been launched to recall Parliament and urging the Government to act. I have signed the petition and am ready to go.
For many of you, like me, this will be grimly familiar with the closure of industries like mining and shipbuilding in previous decades. But steel is far from being a sunset industry - steel is essential to a modern economy and we would be the first major nation to lose our sovereign steel production. As a major military power this would be especially significant.
The overwhelming problem facing Western steel production is the huge amount of cheap Chinese steel which has come onto the world market very recently. I am no protectionist, but if countries are unfairly dumping products at under the cost of production then surely we have to act to ensure a level-playing field? Frustratingly, being a part of the EU gives us the capability to stand up to the size of China, but it has been the UK Government which has prevented stronger action being taken in the EU. There are advantages to this - cheap steel brings down costs elsewhere in our economy, but for me this is an extremely short-sighted view. It also ignores the real problems parts of the UK have experienced when whole industries have gone under.
I do believe this requires a much greater moment of national consideration, and action, than what we've seen so far. So as much as I'm enjoying working at home this week, please consider signing this petition to recall Parliament: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/126128
The news that the British steel industry is on the brink, with the immediate potential loss of 40,000 jobs from the TATA group, is a hammer blow for...
I have written to the North West lead for Ofsted, Chris Russell, calling for a Greater Manchester coalition for ambition on educational attainment. We all need to demand more for our children’s future.
I have written to the North West lead for Ofsted, Chris Russell, calling for a Greater Manchester coalition for ambition on educational attainment. We all need to demand more... Read more
I've talked many times about how good quality transport is essential to our area, and in this Roundup I have three significant projects to update you on.
Firstly, just a few weeks ago the Longdendale councillors and I hosted a visit by Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP to Hollingworth to discuss the Longdendale Bypass. I was very grateful for all the local residents who turned out to put our case firmly but fairly too. The present situation is that the Mottram leg of the Bypass has been approved, and work should start in 2018/2019. The formal route consultation is set to begin in 2017, but I have requested it commence this year. In addition, I wanted to show the Minister the need for the Bypass to also cover Hollingworth, and ask when will a decision on this part be made? I am looking forward to the Minister's formal response, but I think he enjoyed his visit.
Secondly, my long-term aspiration to see a new tunnel built under the Pennines received a major boost this week when it became a key proposal in Transport for the North's plans. Frankly, people used to think I was joking when I said we should explore this. But a major tunnel under the Pennines connecting Greater Manchester with South Yorkshire would be an incredible stimulus to our area. Yes it’s ambitious - but I say we're worthy of that ambition. London and the South East get this kind of funding, and so should we.
Finally, I have just finished a stint on the Public Bill Committee for the first phase of HS2. The first phase connects London and Birmingham, then it will be extended to Crewe, before the final stage ps of the 'Y axis' is built to Manchester Airport and Manchester City Centre (on our side). HS2 is about providing sufficient capacity on our railways (not shorter journey times, though that's a plus), and I am convinced it is essential. For once in the UK, we are actually sorting out an infrastructure problem before it becomes acute. I see a future whereby HS2 in Manchester intersects with a High speed rail line running from Liverpool to Hull, through Tameside and under our new tunnel to then connect with HS2 in South Yorkshire.
Tameside would then be at the heart of an incredible transport network - just where we belong.
I've talked many times about how good quality transport is essential to our area, and in this Roundup I have three significant projects to update you on. Firstly, just...
This morning I met with the Member of Parliament for High Peak - Andrew Bingham and the Minister for Transport - Andrew Jones, to discuss the progress of the long awaited and much needed Longdendale by pass.
I believe that one of the most important decisions in the previous Parliament was the decision to proceed with the Mottram By-pass, something I have constantly campaigned for since being elected as MP in 2010, and as a councillor for Longdendale before that.
The By-pass will be of huge benefit to local residents and the local economy, and so I am glad the Minister took the time to visit today. Hopefully now he has seen first-hand the backlog of traffic and unacceptable congestion that residents and commuters suffer with every day he is fully aware of the need for the Mottram By-pass, and I will continue to press the Government to ensure it happens.
This morning I met with the Member of Parliament for High Peak - Andrew Bingham and the Minister for Transport - Andrew Jones, to discuss the progress of the...
Hyde Town Team has received 'Special Recognition' in the Great British High Street Awards 2015. This is a team that has worked tirelessly throughout 2015, and I am so proud to see all their efforts recognised. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who has been involved.
Marcus Roberts, the Minister for Local Government wrote and Simon Roberts, Executive Vice President of Walgreens Boots Alliance and President of Boots, wrote to the Town Team as Co-Chairs of the Future High Street Forum. They praised "the tireless work of the town team, in resisting negativity, changing attitudes and working with the community to improve the town environment".
I look forward to another year of fantastic events throughout 2016 as the Hyde Town Team continues to play a huge role in the future of our town. To see all the latest news from the team and information on how to get involve in future events, please follow the link here.
Hyde Town Team has received 'Special Recognition' in the Great British High Street Awards 2015. This is a team that has worked tirelessly throughout 2015, and I am so...
Today I have written to Tameside Hospital to discuss the waiting time statistics for their Accident and Emergency Department. Tameside Hospital is on a continued journey of improvement, which is not helped by the lack of substantial funding due to decisions by central Government. To see a full version of the letter I sent please visit my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JonathanreynoldsMP/
Today I have written to Tameside Hospital to discuss the waiting time statistics for their Accident and Emergency Department. Tameside Hospital is on a continued journey of improvement, which is...
You will be aware that there has been a reshuffle of the Labour frontbench underway since the beginning of the week. Following the announcements made at midnight on Tuesday, I decided that it would be best for me to resign from the frontbench and work for the Party from the backbenches.
This is principally because I want the freedom to be able to do and say things beyond the remit of my brief as shadow transport minister. I have been anxious recently as to whether devoting the necessary time to being the shadow rail minister gave me sufficient scope to do all the other things I want to do, particularly in light of the forthcoming EU referendum and the continuing Tory cuts that are affecting our local area. In my resignation statement I therefore wanted to make clear my respect and personal regard for Jeremy, who I have got on well with in the role given our shared love of public transport. I am explicitly not calling into question Jeremy's role or mandate as leader, but rather deciding that it is not the best use of my time or talents to be on the frontbench at this time. One of the things I like about Jeremy, even when I disagree with him, is his authenticity and honesty. We surely need more of it in politics.
Over the last few months there have been a number of issues where I haven't been entirely happy with our frontbench position, including on the Devolution Bill which has a direct relevance to Greater Manchester. I also did a speech and presented a bill on reforming our voting system, which strictly speaking isn't permitted of a frontbencher. So when I saw the announcements late on Tuesday night, particularly regarding the sacking of Pat McFadden for reasons which I could not agree with, I felt the principled thing to do was to leave. I am obviously aware there have since been other resignations, with people giving their own reasons. This is entirely a matter for those individuals - the only person who I made aware of my intentions was Claire.
I hope people will recognise through the wording of my letter, which you can find on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/JonathanReynoldsMP), that I have tried to act with dignity and integrity at this time, and also agree that it was best to leave as part of a proper reshuffle rather than resign at another time.
You will be aware that there has been a reshuffle of the Labour frontbench underway since the beginning of the week. Following the announcements made at midnight on Tuesday, I...