IMMINENT ANNOUNCMENT ON THE RE-PRIVATISATION OF THE EAST COAST MAINLINE

Durham Train StationAs rumours grow that the Government is about to name the winner of the franchise to run the East Coast Mainline, possibly as early as tomorrow (Wednesday 25 November) morning Grahame Morris, MP for Easington in County Durham has made the following comments.

“This public-run rail franchise has generated over a billion pounds for the Treasury. If this is what a publicly run train operating franchise can deliver, at a time when every penny counts, we should be looking at ways to bring privately run railways back into public ownership not the other way round. If all the UKs private rail operators returned money back to the public purse like this we would have billions of pounds to invest in our rail network and to reduce tickets prices.”

“This is right wing Tory dogma being put ahead of the best interests of the service, consideration for passengers and the public finances. The public-run East Coast Mainline franchise has consistently been the best performing franchise when it comes to passenger and staff satisfaction, fares and profitability. The passengers want it to remain in public control, the staff want it to remain in public control and UK taxpayers want it to remain in public control.But the heirs of Margaret Thatcher running the Tory party don’t care about any of these things. To them public is bad and private is good, regardless of the price paid by passengers and tax payers” 

“Countries in Europe and around the world have the good sense to see the need for publicly owned and managed national rail networks. Yet this government seems blinded by political ideology to the detriment of UK passengers and taxpayers.David Cameron is happy to let foreign state owned national rail networks acquire our railways and run them as private companies. He is against the UK state having any involvement in our own railways. This means British rail users and taxpayers are subsidising German and French commuters and we have higher rail fares and worse trains. This is sheer madness” 

Bill to Save the NHS from Privatisation passes Second Reading

I am delighted the Private Members Bill by my Parliamentary colleague Clive Efford MP to repeal key parts of the government’s 2012 Health and Social Care Act passed it’s Second Reading by an overwhelming majority.

As a member of the Health Select Committee, and a campaigner to save our NHS, I wanted to make a contribution during the debate but was not called by the Speaker.

These are the comments I wanted to make as part of the debate

National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill: Second Reading

Save the NHS“We have been the dreamers, we have been the sufferers, now we are the builders”.

This was the vison set out prior to the 1945 General Election by Nye Bevan. Within three years of making this statement, and despite post-war austerity as well as opposition from the BMA and the Conservative Party, the NHS was born.

The respect and appreciation for the NHS quickly grew to such an extent the Conservative Party had no option but to promise to keep it in 1950, by the time of the last election many could have been forgiven in thinking the Conservatives had been fully reformed with David Cameron summing up his priorities in three letters – N…H…S.

However, this was nothing more than a smokescreen, as the Conservative Party could not go into an election stating their true intentions for the NHS.

The promise of no more top down reorganisations has led to the biggest overhaul of the NHS in its entire history, forced through without any democratic mandate and against overwhelming opposition from the public and health professionals.

In a time of Government imposed austerity, they have squandered £3 billion through NHS reforms, resources which should have been used on frontline services and helping to face the financial challenges presented by demographic changes.

The Government’s solution has been to put the NHS on to the path of privatisation, competition and fragmentation.

A policy which has been described as their biggest mistake by one senior Conservative, and has been rejected by the Lib Dem members calling for the Bill to be repealed during this year’s conference.

Today, my right hon friend for Eltham (Clive Efford) has given the Coalition a choice.

A final chance to correct your mistakes – to safeguard and restore the NHS, or to go into the next election defending this failed policy.

I congratulate my right hon friend for Eltham (Clive Efford) for bringing forward this important Bill that would restore real democratic accountability to our health service, scrap the competition framework, and ensure patients and not profits are the priority in the NHS.

Vote 2 Save NHSThe Health and Social Care Act promised to empower patients like never before, giving them a say over local health services. However, these promises never materialised, and it is my experience that patients are being side-lined by commissioners’.

In my constituency, patient groups are fighting against proposed changes to walk-in and GP services, as well as fighting to safeguard the future of community health services such as Healthworks in Easington.

I hold the Secretary of State for Health, and certainly his predecessor who forced through the health reforms, responsible and I believe they have a duty to respond to patients concerns.

However, the historic political link of accountability for the NHS was broken through the health reforms, the Health Secretary can now point to a plethora of organisations for failures in the NHS.

I can see why removing the Secretary of State’s accountability is desirable, because he has a lot to answer for:

A perpetual A&E crisis, patients waiting longer not only in A&E but for GP appointments, for cancer treatment, operation waiting lists are rising, there is a crisis in our ambulance service, none more so than in the North East, with patients left for hours waiting for assistance, which has also led to the growing use of private ambulances at a cost of nearly £2.9 million last year (2013/14).

The Government’s only defence time and time again is to say they have increased funding to the NHS, but where is this money being spent.

Sir David Nicholson, Chief Executive of the NHS, summed up the situation last year:

You’ve got competition lawyers all over the place, causing enormous difficulty…We are getting, in my view, bogged down in a morass of competition law which is causing . . . significant cost in the system”.

There are the millions spent by commissioners putting services out to tender, FoI requests have shown NHS hospitals are spending in excess of £60 million per year on tendering exercises and assessing bids.

NHS hospitals are also spending in excess of £20 million per year navigating the Government’s competition laws, and Monitor’s Annual Plan shows that organisations are spent £4.9m on monitoring and enforcing competition in 2013/14 with costs expected to increase to £6.3 m by 2014/15.

Once a contract is awarded – private healthcare companies then seek to make at least an eight per cent profit from NHS contracts.

Money that could be spent on patient care is being squandered on unnecessary bureaucracy, management consultants, tendering, procurement, debt interest and dividends.

The Government’s Health Reforms should have come as no surprise, the Health Secretary has been clear what his goals are.

In a book he co-authored in 2005, the Health Secretary states:

“Our ambition should be to break down the barriers between private and public provision, in effect denationalising the provision of health care in Britain”

He goes on to describe the NHS as a “broken machine” and that “We should fund patients, either through the tax system or by way of universal insurance, to purchase health care from the provider of their choice.” an insurance based scheme, a step short from a top up two tier health service.

The Health and Social Care Act, and the subsequent outsourcing of services has seen the Government remain true to the belief of “denationalisation”.

On Wednesday, the Prime Minister said to my hon friend for Eltham “At least we now know who is paying for the hon. Gentleman’s Bill”, in yet another feeble attack on Trade Unions.

I am proud to stand here today in solidarity representing the millions of working men and women in the trade unions and the public who use the NHS and are opposed to the privatisation.

They have the right to ask the same question.

Who does the Prime Minister represent?

Who paid for his Health and Social Care Act?

Is it the private healthcare companies that are pouring money into the Tory Party, who have coincidently won NHS contracts worth £1.5 billion over the last two years?

The Health and Social Care Act is living on borrowed time.

vote 4 NHSI hope we can resolve this matter today, but if the Coalition insist on keeping this failed policy, the public should remember the words of Bevan “now we are the builders”.

The Labour Party created the NHS, we saved the NHS in 1997 after 18 years of Tory neglect, and we will once again build and safeguard the NHS from the policies of fragmentation and privatisation supported by the parties opposite.

Only a Labour government will stop NHS privatisation by repealing his Health and Social Care Act.

Easington MP backs national Road Safety Week campaign urging road users to look out for each other to save lives

RSW 2014Easington MP Grahame Morris is backing a national campaign by road safety charity Brake, calling on road users to look out for each other to help stop the five deaths and 61 serious injuries that happen every day on UK roads, and particularly to protect people on foot and bike.

The call comes during Road Safety Week, coordinated by Brake, involving thousands of schools, employers and community groups raising awareness about road safety.

The look out for each other campaign is all about everyone, especially drivers, showing patience, consideration and responsibility towards other road users, especially the most vulnerable. To help avoid tragedy, Brake is particularly urging drivers to protect people on foot and bike by slowing down to 20mph in communities, looking longer and taking it slow at junctions and bends, and giving people plenty of room. People on foot and bike are also being encouraged not to take chances, and make sure they can be seen.

Easington MP Grahame Morris said:

“I am delighted to support this important campaign. Everyone is affected by road danger, and it is important that we look out for each other, particularly for vulnerable road users.

We all use the roads whether as pedestrians, cyclists or motorists and we must respect each other.

Road crashes are devastating and preventable events. We all have a responsibility to do everything we can to stop them.”

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “When drivers use roads without care for others the consequences can be tragic and horrific.

We’re asking all road users to look out for and protect each other, particularly the most vulnerable – that means drivers sticking to 20 or below in towns and villages, looking carefully at junctions, and being considerate. Ultimately, we’re all just human beings trying to get around, with equal right to use the roads, not competing tribes.”

Small Business Bill: New Clause 2

House of Commons
Small Business Bill: New Clause 2
Tuesday 18 November

HoCGrahame M. Morris: I do not know whether I can take on one of the characters from “The Lord of the Rings” and better that finish from the hon. Member for Bedford (Richard Fuller).

I want to speak in support of new clause 2, and I declare an interest as vice-chair of the all-party save the pub group. I pay tribute to my fellow officers, the hon. Member for Northampton South (Mr Binley), the hon. Member for Leeds North West (Greg Mulholland), who has done such a sterling job of researching new clause 2, and the hon. Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes). Like other Members, I acknowledge the important role played by Fair Deal for Your Local, the Campaign for Real Ale, the Fair Pint campaign, my union Unite, the GMB, various support groups for tenants and the Punch tenants’ network.

New clause 2 is about stopping exploitation by large pubcos of pub landlords up and down the country. The situation has not come out of the blue. We have been discussing the issue for some years now, and it has been known about for a long time. The hon. Member for Burton (Andrew Griffiths) gave an example from his constituency, and the point I sought to make, although there was not time for me to do so during his speech, was that I can think of many cases in my constituency where a tenant of one of the large pubcos has effectively invested their life savings, and often their redundancy money, in taking over a business and turning it around. They have built it up and taken on additional responsibilities, such as opening a restaurant or providing bed-and-breakfast rooms, but when the review of the tenancy has come around, the pubco has doubled the rent, so that it is not viable for those people to continue.

Andrew Griffiths rose—

Grahame M. Morris: I will give way to the hon. Gentleman, even though he would not give way to me.

Andrew Griffiths: I think that I was pretty generous in giving way. The hon. Gentleman has done a lot for beer and pubs, and I acknowledge his support in scrapping Labour’s hated duty escalator. I agree that it would be absolutely unfair of a pubco to do what he has described, but does he not accept that under the statutory code, the tenant could take the case to the adjudicator, who could rule on whether it was fair, and get the decision overturned? The tenant would have protection under the code.

Grahame M. Morris: I think that the best protection is offered by new clause 2, with the market rent only option. Time is short, but I shall try to explain why. We have heard from the respected Chair and former Chairs of the Select Committee on Business, Innovation and Skills. We have had debates, and the all-party save the pub group is certainly aware of the four reports produced by the Committee that concluded that there had been abuse of the tied system, and that recommended time and again the market rent only option.

During her opening remarks, the Minister was harangued by Government Members with prophecies of doom about the consequences for local economies and regional brewers, but in truth the Federation of Small Businesses suggests that there will be a considerable benefit to the economy of offering this option. CAMRA estimates that large pub companies force their tenants to buy beer at prices that are inflated by as much as 50% or 70%; that is on top of rent that is already excessive. Anyone who believes in fairness would support new clause 2, which would correct that.

John Healey (Wentworth and Dearne) (Lab): My hon. Friend makes a powerful case. Does he agree that tied tenants, such as those of the Monkwood tavern in Rawmarsh, The Crusty Pipe in Goldthorpe and The Bull’s Head in Cortonwood, simply want a fair basis on which to run their pubs as a business for them and their families?

Grahame M. Morris: Absolutely. All we are arguing for is fairness—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Burton asks from a sedentary position why this has not been done before. We have an opportunity to do something now, and I cannot be answerable for things that happened before I was a Member of this House.

As a result of excessive behaviour by the pub companies, an estimated 57% of tied landlords earn less than £10,000 a year. That is a disgrace. Anybody who, like me, frequents pubs regularly will realise what an incredible effort goes into running a public house—the hours put in bottling up after customers have gone home, the huge commitment it takes, and the toll it takes on the owners’ personal life. For them not to have the opportunity to earn a decent living is a disgrace.

Mr Jim Cunningham (Coventry South) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that the tied pub concept is old-fashioned and antiquated in the 21st century? We had the same issues with tied housing in the past. Surely big brewers inflicting on landlords a certain label of ale, for want of a better term, is one of the factors that led to the demise of the working men’s club. Those clubs ended up in a lot of debt.

Grahame M. Morris: The demise of the Club and Institute Union, and the working men’s clubs, is a huge issue, certainly for me. New clause 2 does not propose the end of the tie; rather, it seeks to make it work more effectively and fairly. If a pub landlord agrees to a tied arrangement in relation to the purchase of alcoholic drink from the pubco, they should get a lower rent, especially if they are paying as much as 70% over the top for those beverages. That is the way the tie should work. If the landlord does not want to be tied to a company in respect of beverages, they should pay the market rent, or have that option. I am not suggesting that the tied system should be done away with—just that it should work in a manner that is fair to both the pub company and the tenant. At the moment, it certainly does not.

Members have suggested that the impact is not huge, but there are lots of villages in my constituency of Easington, such as Hawthorn and High Heselden, where only a single pub is left. These communities are really feeling the effects. If landlords are compelled to pay as much as 70% more for their alcoholic beverages, despite what the hon. Member for Burton says, the tenant will be absorbing some of that cost, but when there is only a single pub in the village, it is basically passed on, and the customers pay a lot more than they need to.

It is no coincidence that thousands of pubs have closed in recent years. In some cases, profitable, popular pubs, beloved by local communities, have been sold off by big pubcos to developers and supermarkets. Pubcos have sought to cash in on the real estate or land value, with little or no thought for local people, or the effect of the loss of a community hub. As the hon. Member for Leeds North West pointed out, that is often because these pubcos have saddled themselves with huge debts. There is a suspicion that the rents they charge are deliberately high to get rid of landlords, so that it is easier for them to sell.

Those landlords who opt for the market only rent can purchase drink supplies from elsewhere, leading to better and fairer access to the pub market for smaller local brewers and cider producers. It would also increase the choice for all our constituents. I would like Members to support new clause 2 because it would help to deliver increased licensee profitability, increased investment in pubs, greater consumer choice and fewer pub closures. If avaricious pubcos are stopped from exploiting their tied landlords, hiking up rents and charging up to 70% more for a pint, the price of a pint can only fall. I am sure that I speak for all hon. Members on both sides of the House and their constituents—I certainly speak for myself and my constituents in Easington—when I say that such a move would be warmly welcomed. For that reason, for fairness and for the benefit of the economy as a whole, I commend new clause 2 to the House.

Final Chance to Protect Our NHS

Save the NHSThere are now less than six months to go before the next general election.

Inevitably, at the heart of the campaign will be the future of our NHS, which over the last four years has been fragmented and privatised by the Conservative led Coalition Government. While the Conservative’s remain wedded to their policies of privatisation, the Liberal Democrats are working hard in an effort to make people forget, but without them none of the disastrous policies affecting our NHS could have been passed.

The Government promised the Health and Social Care Act would put patients at the centre of the new clinical commissioning arrangement. However, these promises never materialised and patients have been side-lined as commissioners’ force through changes to walk-in centres and GP services against the wishes of local people.

Our hospitals have been gripped by an endless cycle of A&E crisis, waiting times are increasing and patient satisfaction has gone into free fall.

The Government’s top down reorganisation has failed, it has wasted £3 billion, money which should have been spent on frontline services. New rules have allowed hospitals to earn up to 49 per cent of their income from private patients, pushing NHS patients to the back of the queue, and doctors are being forced to open up services to competition from the private sector under the threat of competition lawyers.

In the run up to the election the Coalition are trying to distance themselves from their own health policy. A senior Conservative minister told The Times newspaper the NHS reorganisation was their biggest mistake, and Lib Dems were vocal about repealing the bill during their conference.

This Friday the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will be faced with a clear choice to either go into the next election defending their NHS reforms, or support Clive Efford MP’s Private Member’s Bill to repeal the damaging competition rules and rewrite the rules that force market tendering of services and that are seeing millions of pounds wasted on competition lawyers that should instead be spent on patients.

The Private Members Bill will restore real democratic accountability through re-establishing the Secretary of State’s legal duty to provide the National Health Service in England. The Bill will also repeal Section 75 regulations that force market tending of contracts, as well as scrapping the competition framework, removing the role of Monitor as an economic regulator enforcing competition in the NHS, and removing the Competition and Markets Authority from any role in the NHS.

The Bill will allow us to once again build an NHS that prioritises patients over profits and co-operation over competition.

The NHS is one of our greatest achievements and our most important institution. After four years of failure, the Tories and Lib Dems have one final opportunity to apologise for their disastrous health policy and help to correct the mistakes that have opened our NHS to competition and privatisation but struggling to meet the needs of patients.

Urgent Action Needed to Tackle Physical Inactivity Epidemic

Westminster Hall Debate
Tuesday 18 November
Physical inactivity and public health

Healthworks EasingtonPhysical Inactivity is a national crisis, and we are yet to fully comprehend the scale of the problem.

The report – Steps to Solving Inactivity, found that 29 per cent of people in England are classed as psychically inactive, with more than one in four failing to achieve 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week. In my region the figures are even higher with a physical inactivity rate of 32 per cent in County Durham.

The projections suggest the problem will deteriorate with a further 15 per cent increase in inactivity by 2030, despite our inactivity level currently being double those of Germany and France as well as more than 20 per cent higher than the United States.

This is a public health epidemic.

For the individual – physical inactivity leads to 37,000 premature deaths in England every year, and inactivity is the four largest cause of disease and disability – directly contributing to one in six deaths in the UK making it as dangerous as smoking.

Those not achieving the recommended level of activity are at greater risk of diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity, dementia and other mental health conditions.

This is not just an issue for the individual alone, but affects our communities and economy.

Inactivity costs the UK economy up to £20 billion every year. There are not only the direct costs associated with treating the health issues caused by inactivity, but also indirect costs through lost days at work and lower productivity. Employers should take note, 16 million work days are lost every year due to obesity related illness and improving workplace health can have an immense impact on a business’s bottom line.

It is in everyone’s interest to tackle this matter.

I note that in recent years there has been a welcome improvement in the allocation of resources to combat inactivity, most notability from Local Authorities who despite facing unprecedented cuts, have doubled the public health funding allocated to tackling physical inactivity. In fact, 70 per cent of authorities have increased their allocated public health budget spend on physical activity.

However, despite this welcome improvement spending on inactivity still represents the smallest proportion of public health grants (four per cent) in comparison to the other top tier public health areas: sexual health (36 per cent), alcohol misuse (30 per cent) and smoking cessation (9 per cent).

However, the Local Authorities who face the greatest challenges in relation to physical inactivity are the same that have seen the deepest cuts to their budget. 13 out of 15 most inactive local authorities are located in areas considered to be “most deprived” or “more deprived”.

Despite facing huge challenges particularly relating to public health, my local authority, Durham County Council, have seen their funding cut by 40 per cent, or £222 million. The cuts are so severe some authorities are warning they are at breaking point, and are struggling to provide even statutory services.

It is in this context we have seen areas of discretionary spending curtailed. In my constituency this includes Peterlee Youth Centre which I recently visited during National Youth Week.

Peterlee Youth CentreYouth Centres are ideally placed to provide services to tackle inactivity, and to help young people develop healthy habits and lifestyles which can improve their quality of life and life expectancy. They can also help young people with the difficult transition from education to work, where many people often stop taking regular exercise.

However, these vital community hubs are at risk and are at the forefront of Government cuts, as resources are inevitably directed towards statutory services. In England funding for youth services have been cut by over a third (36%) in recent years.

Clinical Commissioning Groups have also been ineffective in supporting community services which provide indirect health benefits, and in the long term through preventing illness, make considerable savings to the health budget. However, instead of learning from examples of best practice such as the excellent Healthworks, who provide a holistic approach to improving health and life chances for people across East Durham, these services are being put at risk. Healthworks is an example we need to promote, not only do they tackle health problems, but also the underlying causes of these health problems such as inactivity.

We need practical steps from Government and I would welcome the expansion of the successful community gym projects in my constituency, where facilities to tackle inactivity are located in accessible areas and at low costs such as the community gyms at the Robin Todd Centre, South Hetton, the Glebe Centre, Murton, and Blackhall Community Centre as well as the facilities at Healthworks.

However, these projects are the exception, and we have experienced massive cuts to Council funding, undermining local provisions for sports and leisure facilities.

The scrapping of free swimming for under 16s and over 60s has made cost a bar to accessing sports facilities.

Or even abolishing the Building Schools for the Future Programme, that would have delivered new sports halls, multi-use games areas (MUGA pitches), and sports facilities that could have been made available to the community in the evenings and at weekends.

New School, New PoolIn my area, there is a strong local community campaign demanding a new swimming pool as part of the project to rebuild Seaham School of Technology.

We even took the New School New Pool appeal to 10 Downing Street, calling for the Government to replace the pool we will lose when the school is rebuilt, but to date we have received no support from the Government.

The costs of failure are immense in terms of quality of life and life expectancy for our constituents. In financial terms business and the country are left subsidising ill health.

We need to renew our focus, and set out how we will provide new opportunities for people to engage in physical activity. I hope the Government will reverse the policies of austerity and begin to realise how short sighted their policies are in terms of the costs of cuts.

Removing opportunities for health and fitness do not save any money when they cause ill health and push the costs of failure onto the NHS, or the wider economy.

I would like to see practical measures from the Government to specifically strengthen community sports and leisure facilities particularly in areas of high deprivation and where income and costs are a bar to accessing health facilities

However, to achieve this ambitious goal we need a bold Government with the long term foresight to realise that investing in the nation’s health is money better spent than having to deal with the costs of inactivity and ill health.

Freedom of Information – Your Right to Know

HoCOpenness, transparency, and accountability.

These three values underpin the public service ethos, they are the foundation of good government and a healthy democracy.

As a taxpayer you have a right to know and to question how your money is being spent. However, your ability to question is being slowly eroded piece by piece as our public services are outsourced, fragmented and privatised.

While companies such as Atos, G4S and Serco become dominant in our public sector taking over multibillion contracts, the responsibilities of running a public service do not follow as companies hide behind a cloak of commercial confidentiality, and remain beyond the scope of the Freedom of Information Act.

The marketisation of our public services has been acutely felt by our NHS following the Government’s £3 billion top down reorganisation which has created a new democratic deficit in our health service.

The promise of public involvement in the new clinical commissioning arrangement has not materialised, with patients and patient groups side-lined by commissioners, who are accountable to no one, imposing decisions, cuts and service reductions on the local community.

Due to the government’s policy of opening up public services, billions of pounds of NHS contracts are now being made available to the private sector via commissioners.

Since the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, 70 percent of NHS contracts have been awarded to private healthcare companies, many with past records of fraud, failure and criminality.

We lose our ability to question with each contract and every time a service is privatised as currently it is not possible to make private providers comply with freedom of information requests.

The whole process is anti-democratic, the NHS and our public services belong to us, we use them and fund them, as such you have a right to know how your money is being spent, and to question those spending it.

The situation is untenable, and I have tabled a Private Members Bill to amend the Freedom of Information Act to apply the action to all providers and bodies seeking health service contracts.

The public have the right to question companies about any issue that would affect their ability to provide services, their performance during a contract as well as information about any penalties imposed on them by courts and regulators.

We need to end the practice of private healthcare companies receiving billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money under barely transparent contracts.

In opposition, David Cameron was a strong advocate for extending the Freedom of Information Act to a range of publicly funded bodies. Unfortunately, now he is in power, the Prime Minister is refusing to address the issues caused by the outsourcing of public services.

In the coming weeks I will be asking him to honour his commitment and provide the public the right to know what is happening in our NHS, and return the principles of good governance – openness, transparency, and accountability to our public services.

Grahame Morris MP adds name to Commons bid to introduce a fair deal for local pubs

Grahamemorris BPW3Grahame Morris MP has added his support to a “market rent only” cross party amendment to the Small Business Bill that would deliver a fair deal for local pub company pubs, including here in Easington. The Small Business Bill already includes plans for a Pubs Code and an Adjudicator to support pubs and their tenants but does not include the essential market rent only option which is needed to stop large pub companies forcing up beer prices charged to pub tenants to unacceptable levels.

The amendment will allow pub tenants tied to the large pub companies (more than 500 pubs) to opt for a rental only deal, allowing them to buy beer on the open market at prices up to 70% below what pub companies currently force them to pay.

MPs will vote on this amendment on Tuesday 18th November. The campaign to allow pub tenants to sign up for a rental only deal has been backed by 212 MPs from all parties so there is a realistic prospect of winning the vote. The amendment is also backed by the national Fair Deal for Your Local campaign which consists of ten leading national organisations, including CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), the Federation of Small Businesses, the Forum for Private Business and licensee organisations.

Grahame Morris MP commented:

“I am very pleased to add to my name to this important new clause to at last give the tenants of large pub companies a fair deal and to help keep pubs open.”

“At the moment the Government’s plans for pub company reform don’t address the fundamental issue of excessive beer prices and rents charged by the large pub companies. That is why I am supporting the Fair Deal for Your Local amendment, supported by CAMRA and small business and licensee organisations, to introduce a market rent only option.

“The market rent only option is reasonable and gradual and simply provides an option for tenants to choose at appropriate times whether to carry on with a tied agreement or to have a rental only agreement. This option will stop the abuse of the beer tie and will lead to companies offering fair tied agreements, with genuinely lower rents for higher beer prices.

Tim Page, CAMRA Chief Executive added:

“CAMRA is very pleased that Grahame Morris MP has added his name to an amendment, which calls for an important change to improve the relationship between pub-owning companies and their tenants. It is simply unacceptable that so many tenants running successful pubs are earning less than the minimum wage and are unable to invest in the future of their pub. Far too many pubs have been lost permanently as a result of the pub companies squeezing the life out of them with excessive rents and tied beer prices.”

“Allowing pub tenants to choose the best deal for them will put huge commercial pressure on the large pub companies to cut their beer prices to competitive levels. Such a move would benefit over 10,000 pubs, help pub tenants make a living, help keep pubs open and help keep the cost of a pint to consumers affordable.”

John Allan, National Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses, said: “Pubco tenants aren’t getting a fair deal and this will continue unless they have the option to go free of tie, with an independently assessed rent. “Our research showed that the ‘market rent only’ option would bring significant benefits in terms of investment, employment and consumer choice. This New Clause will give MPs the opportunity to ensure that the Small Business Bill provides a fair deal for tied pubs.”

Trustees’ Week – One in a Million

EDT2Hundreds of events will be taking place this week as charities use Trustees’ Week as a time to thank the one million trustees across England and Wales for their time and dedication.

There are 100 voluntary organisations in Easington that all rely on the dedication, energy and commitment of c. 600 trustees in order to support their beneficiaries.

Trustees are the people ultimately in charge of a charity. They make decisions that help charities achieve their aims and change their beneficiaries’ lives.

It is also a time to encourage more people to become trustees, as many voluntary organisations find it difficult to recruit new trustees. As many as one in five charities are looking for a new trustee.

Being a trustee allows you not only to make a difference to the lives of others, but to learn new skills, meet different people, and develop your career. Voluntary organisations are always looking for a range of skills and different backgrounds on their boards, as well as more young people. You can find out more about trustee vacancies in your local area through NCVO’s Trustee Bank, Charity Job and Do It.

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, said:

“Trustees are vital to the success of local charities, and I want to thank all those working hard to help our communities and local people which keeps the charity sector in East Durham so strong and vibrant.

“I would encourage all those interested to find out more and consider becoming a trustee. You will not only be helping your local community; being a charity trustee is a great way to learn new skills and gain valuable experience which can lead to new opportunities and employment.”

Trustee facts and figures

  • There are 100 voluntary organisations in Easington with 600 trustee positions.

GRAHAME MORRIS MP HELPS PREVENT THE SPREAD OF FLU THIS WINTER

Grahame Morris 1Easington MP Grahame Morris has highlighted the importance of protecting yourself, and others, against the flu virus by having the flu vaccination this winter.

Mr Morris attended an event at the House of Commons, organised by LloydsPharmacy, to raise awareness of the benefits of preventing the spread of flu.

Recent research commissioned by LloydsPharmacy showed that, on average, people with seasonal flu can infect up to two others, a ripple effect which can cause nearly 16,500 people to become infected within two weeks – enough to fill 189 double decker buses.

Grahame Morris MP said of the initiative: “It’s important that those who are eligible for a free vaccination, funded by the NHS, visit their GP or local pharmacy for the vaccine. However, it’s also important for those not considered vulnerable to get vaccinated.

“If constituents prepare for the winter flu season by having the vaccination they will not only protect themselves from the nasty virus but will help to prevent the spread of flu to those in the community who are more vulnerable. This, of course, has clear beneficial consequences on everyone’s health, as well as reducing the impact on local health services.”

Nitin Makadia, LloydsPharmacy’s Pharmacist commented: “We are delighted that Grahame attended the event and had the flu vaccination. MPs, by the very nature of their role, come into contact with tens of people on a daily basis, and having the vaccination is the best method to prevent the spread of flu to others.

“The event proved a great opportunity to highlight how our services can more widely play a role in improving access and enhancing public health. This year, we continue to support the NHS by vaccinating those who are eligible for a free flu vaccination in stores nationwide and are providing the vaccination privately.”

For further information on LloydsPharmacy’s flu service and to find participating stores, please visit http://bit.ly/1tBr3RY.