Author Archives: Grahame Morris

Cross-Party support for the clean air bill

I am calling on Michael Gove to adopt a clean air bill in a new strategy to tackle the crisis of air pollution in the UK.

More than half of the British public believe air pollution levels across the UK are damaging to their health and almost two-thirds back proposals for new laws to tackle the issue, according to research.

Levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), emitted mostly by diesel vehicles, have been above legal limits in almost 90% of urban areas in the UK since 2010. The toxic fumes are estimated to cause 23,500 early deaths a year and the problem was declared a public health emergency by a cross-party committee of MPs in April 2016.

The government’s plans to tackle air pollution have been found by judges to be so poor that they are unlawful. Gove has until the end of July to come up with a new air quality strategy which will cut emissions in the shortest possible time.

 

Sixty five MP’s, including myself, have signed this letter by Labour MP Geraint Davies, who introduced the clean air bill into the last Parliament:

 

Dear Michael,

Ahead of the imminent deadline for the Government’s Clean Air Strategy, due by 31st July, we are writing to ask that the following provisions from the Clean Air Bill are included in the strategy:

·         Restrictions on access for the most polluting vehicles in urban areas

·         Targeted diesel scrappage schemes

·         New powers for local authorities and the Environment Agency to enforce clean air zones and combat “idling”.

·         Incentives for people to switch to cleaner alternatives in all modes of transport

·         Reliable, real-time emissions testing

·         Rapid development of infrastructure of electric car charging points (at car parks in preference to      petrol stations), the main constraint on increasing the number of electric cars on the road

·         Action on air quality at ports and airports

·         An air quality fiscal strategy

Please support the Bill and include these provisions in the Government’s imminent Clean Air Strategy.

As you know, 40,000 people die prematurely at a cost of £20 billion each year from diesel air pollution, according to the Royal College of Physicians, who support my Clean Air Bill. Four select committees – Health, Transport, DEFRA and Environmental Audit – had planned joint hearings on Air Quality before the deadline but the general election has prevented that.

Many thanks for your cooperation on matter which is of such importance to all our constituencies.

Best wishes

Grahame Morris MP


 

 


 

GRAHME MORRIS MP PLEDGES TO HELP BEAT CANCER SOONER

Easington MP, Grahame Morris, has committed his support to help Cancer Research UK save more lives in his constituency and across the UK.

The MP attended a parliamentary event held by Cancer Research UK in Westminster to find out how he can keep cancer at the top of the new Parliament’s agenda. Over the course of this Parliament, two million people will be diagnosed with cancer across the UK, so Cancer Research UK needs political support in order to continue to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Cancer survival in the UK is still lagging behind other countries and too many cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully. At the event, Mr Morris met some of Cancer Research UK’s dedicated volunteer Campaign Ambassadors. He found out how many people in Easington constituency are diagnosed with cancer each year, underlining the need for MPs to join the fight against the disease.

He said: “We must not underestimate the devastating impact cancer will have on people in Easington constituency now and in the future, so it gives me hope to hear that Cancer Research UK’s pioneering research is turning the tables on the disease.

“The outlook for new and better cancer treatments in the UK is bright. However, it is clear that there is a critical role for politicians to play in helping to prevent and detect cancer earlier and bring innovative new treatments to patients faster.

“One life lost to this terrible disease is one too many and that’s why I’m supporting Cancer Research UK in their mission to beat cancer sooner.”

Matt Davies, Cancer Research UK’s Head of Public Affairs and Campaigning said: “At Cancer Research UK, we’re resolute in our ambition to see 3 in 4 patients surviving cancer by 2034. To achieve this we need cancer at the top of the political agenda and so we’re grateful to Grahame Morris MP for helping to highlight the importance of research and action in beating the disease.

“Survival in the UK has doubled in the last 40 years. But there’s still so much more to do and we cannot do it alone.

“Creating the right environment for cancer research alongside cancer prevention, early diagnosis and ensuring patients have access to the best possible treatments must be key priorities for the new Government.”

Grahame Morris MP supports heart disease and stroke patients in Easington.

More than 11,900 people in Easington are living with cardiovascular disease ~ Last week Grahame Morris MP met with health experts to discuss the burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in Easington.

Latest figures show that there are 11,900 people living with heart disease and stroke in Easington.

Grahame attended an event in Westminster held by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Heart Disease and met with experts from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to learn more about the levels of CVD locally, and ways to improve patient care.

They also discussed the progress the group had made on other issues such as heart failure, and inherited heart conditions.

Grahame said: “Cardiovascular disease is a devastating condition responsible for more than a quarter of all UK deaths, and it is the most common cause of hospital admission for people over 65 years of age.

“Politicians in Westminster and the British Heart Foundation are working to support people burdened by heart disease and stroke, and find new ways of improving care in Easington.. “It’s vitally important that we work together to ensure that people living with cardiovascular disease in Easington get access to the care and support they need.”

CRISIS OF LOW PAY IN OLDER INDUSTRIAL AREAS

New figures highlight financial burden on taxpayer

There is a crisis of low pay in Britain’s older industrial areas, says a report released today.

Although there has been progress in replacing the jobs lost from industries such as coal, steel, engineering and textiles, too many of the new jobs pay low wages and too many are insecure and short-term.

The new report from the Industrial Communities Alliance highlights the extent to which pay in older industrial areas has fallen behind the national average and behind the levels in the most prosperous parts of the country

The report also exposes the alarming extent to which the government has had to step in to prop-up low-wage families though Tax Credits.

The research shows that across older industrial Britain as a whole, median earnings – that is, the pay of an employee in the middle of the local wage spectrum – are just 73 per cent of the London level for men and 63 per cent for women. This equates to pre-tax gaps of £184 a week for men and £182 for women.

Median earnings in many local authority districts across older industrial Britain are barely 60 per cent of the level in London.

The poorest-paid 10 per cent in older industrial areas earn less than one-third of median earnings across Britain as a whole.

None of these comparisons are distorted by high-earning bankers or other well-paid London professionals.

Far too many workers have therefore had to rely on Tax Credits and other means-tested benefits, such as Housing Benefit, to top up miserably low wages. Across most of older industrial Britain, Tax Credit payments average between £650 and £1,000 a year per adult of working age.

For many households, Tax Credits of well over £2,000 a year have become the norm. Looking ahead, however, poorer households face big financial losses as planned cuts to in-work benefits, announced in the last Parliament, are gradually implemented.

Cllr Terry O’Neill, National Chair of the Industrial Communities Alliance, said:

“The weakness of the economy in so many of our areas has made it easier for employers to recruit the workers they need and to get away with low wages. The newly-elected government should do more to outlaw unfair employment practices and should increase the minimum wage.

“But a lasting solution to the problems in our areas also requires serious efforts to rebuild the industrial base of the economy. Manufacturing is a high-value, high-productivity sector that offers the potential to deliver higher wages.

“Older industrial Britain is a big part of the country, accounting for around 30 per cent of the entire population. If the Prime Minister is serious about helping the people and places left behind, our communities need to be top of her list.”

Grahame Morris pledges to become an Arthritis Champion for Easington

Grahame has pledged to work alongside the leading charity Arthritis Research UK to represent the thousands of people in Easington living every day with the pain of arthritis.
Arthritis is the single biggest cause of disability and pain across the country with 10 million people living with arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain.

The pain, fatigue and lack of mobility caused by arthritis affects every aspect of a person’s life, making everyday tasks such as making a cup of tea, travelling to work or getting out of bed extremely difficult.

As well as the personal impact, these conditions amount to the third largest area of NHS spending, with an annual budget of £4.8 billion, and are the cause of one in five working days lost in the UK.

Grahame, who attended Arthritis Research UK’s annual Parliamentary reception, has pledged to support Arthritis Research UK’s Prevent, Transform, Cure manifesto in Parliament as an Arthritis Champion, which calls for:

Making arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions a public health priority
Ensuring people have timely access to health and care services that enable them to improve their musculoskeletal health
Ensure people with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions have fair and timely access to services that support them to be in work, including financial support
Protect the UK’s position as a global leader in science and sustain the benefits of the life-science sector to the economy

Speaking about becoming an Arthritis Champion, Grahame said:

“I’m proud to champion Arthritis Research UK’s policy calls to tackle the prevention, transformation and cure of arthritis. We need to put the issues affecting people with arthritis at the forefront of Parliament’s agenda.
“I’m committed to making a difference. Together we can fight this painful condition that has such a huge impact on all aspects of people’s lives in Easington.”

Dr Liam O’Toole, chief executive officer of Arthritis Research UK, said:

“I’m delighted that Mr Morris has become an Arthritis Champion. It’s imperative that we have the support of as many MPs and Peers as possible to stand up for the rights of people with arthritis.
“There needs to be a public health approach focusing on preventing arthritis, transforming services and finding a cure for the 10 million people affected by this devastating condition. It’s vital we work together to make life better for everyone affected by arthritis.”

For further information visit www.arthritisresearchuk.org/campaign or email action@arthritisresearchuk.org

Grahame Morris encourages teachers to get involved with Parliament

The Parliamentary Education Service provides a wide variety of educational opportunities. It provides subsidies to support schools around the country making visits to Parliament and the free teacher training and teaching resources that are available; and have made it possible for schools around the country to access parliament.

Children at Ribbon Academy, Cotsford Junior school, Westlea Primary, Shotton Hall primary, Dene House Primary and Ropery Walk have used this service to learn about parliament and how it works. In addition, teachers from the region have accessed the teacher training services over the previous week through Teachers’ institute. Since it was launched in 2006, “Teachers’ Institute” has trained more than 600 teachers, from all parts of the UK, giving them skills and knowledge of Parliament to pass on to their students and fellow teachers.

Vicky Cathrine, a teacher from South Hetton Primary School in County Durham, was selected to take part in “Teachers’ Institute” in the Houses of Parliament. She applied to Parliament’s open call and was selected from more than 100 applicants to attend the three-day event in Parliament. Fully funded by Parliament’s Education Service, Vicky Cathrine got to participate in question and answer sessions with the Speaker and the Lord Speaker, and hear from parliamentarians of all parties about their work in Parliament.

Grahame Morris MP commented “I am delighted that Vicky Cathrine, a teacher from my constituency, is attending the Teachers’ Institute at Parliament. Teachers have so many opportunities to engage young people with Parliament and their democratic heritage, and I am sure that the students in South Hetton Primary School will benefit from Vicky’s experience.”

John Bercow MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: “I am proud that this excellent initiative continues to provide such an invaluable service. Better engagement and dialogue with young people is of fundamental importance to our democracy, and I am sure that the teachers attending will find the experience both useful and enlightening.”

This programme has been extremely well received, particularly by the primary schools in the area. It has not been used as successfully by the secondary schools, despite this, the visit subsidies, teacher training and teaching resources are available for secondary schools and they are encouraged to use these as much as possible. It provides opportunities for schools to visit and access resources that can enhance and develop teachers and students understanding of parliament.

WASPI WOMEN WELCOME DEBATE ON STATE PENSION AGE

Today in Parliament (05.07.17) MPs from all parties took part in a debate on the state pension age for women.

WASPI welcomed the lively debate, which followed on from the WASPI general election campaign. This called on all election candidates to pledge to work in Parliament to help the women affected by these changes. It secured the support of 480 candidates, 190 of whom were elected.

About WASPI
• WASPI stands for Women Against State Pension Inequality. The campaign has over 66,000 supporters and represents almost 3.5 million women born in the 1950s who are suffering because they weren’t told by the Government that their state pension age would be increasing, and who now have no time to put in place alternative financial arrangements to see them through to the new state retirement age, which in some cases is now 66.
• Further information about WASPI may be found at www.waspi.co.uk and on the WASPI Facebook page.

WASPI Director, Jane Cowley said:
“We are really pleased that Parliamentarians from across all parties are taking notice of the plight of the 3.5 million women who have been negatively impacted by the mismanagement of increases to the state pension age by successive governments.
This is about the fundamental trust between the Government and ordinary people and the unfair way in which the changes were implemented.
The WASPI campaign is gaining momentum and it is time that the Government took us seriously. Today’s debate is just one example of how we will continue to fight this injustice.”

Grahame Morris, the Labour MP who led the debate said “it is disgraceful that some of the worst affected women were given 14 months written notice of an increase in their pensionable age. We will continue to build momentum behind the campaign, and work with the women affected to ensure a solution is found.”

Grahame Morris MP says “it’s the end of the road for unsafe pavement parking”

Grahame Morris MP attended a Guide Dogs event at the House of Commons on 3rd July to show his support for the campaign to end problem pavement parking.

At the event, the MP for Easington heard from guide dog owners how parked cars blocking the pavement force them to walk in the road, into the path of traffic they cannot see. He heard that some guide dog owners face these dangerous situations on a daily basis, risking their safety every time they go shopping or make the school run.

Grahame Morris MP commented: “no one should be forced to brave traffic by cars parked on the pavement. I’m calling on the Government to end problem pavement parking across the country. Blind and partially sighted people should be able to walk the streets without fear.”

Research by YouGov for the charity Guide Dogs shows that 54% of UK drivers admit to parking on the pavement, with more than a quarter (29%) of those doing so a few times a month or more. More than half (55%) of these drivers do think about the impact on people with sight loss, but park on the pavement anyway.

Pavement parking particularly affects people with visual impairments, parents with pushchairs, wheelchair users and other disabled people. According to a Guide Dogs survey, 97% of blind and partially sighted people have encountered obstacles on the pavement, and 9 out of 10 have had problems with pavement parked cars.
Guide Dogs is campaigning for to make pavement parking an offence, except in areas where local authorities grant specific exemptions. This is already the case in London, but elsewhere across the country, councils struggle to tackle unsafe pavement parking because they can only restrict it street by street.

2017 Miners’ Gala – 133 years of a strong socialist community

Durham is approaching that time of the year again when all the brass bands are ready to march and people are booking up hotels. In fact, this year there are expected to be around 200,000 attendants, meaning that hotels have been sold out and camping has taken over, this could be the biggest gala yet.

The Gala has a long tradition of significant Labour figures attending, MPs such as Tony Benn and Dennis Skinner have spoken to the crowds. Moreover, previous potential labour leaders, in 2015 Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, have turned out but the star of this year’s show will clearly be Jeremy Corbyn. Jeremy is following a long line of Labour leaders to attend, Clement Atlee, Harold Wilson and Michael Foot who all met the crowds. Corbyn has clearly moved back to the grassroots campaigning of an older Labour and is not following the same line as Blair or Brown who notably did not attend. Corbyn’s recent spike in popularity is the clear reason for the expected rise in attendance this year.

The Gala is a highly significant cultural event, not only in Durham or the North East but the whole country. The Gala attracts music from around the country and even sometimes as wide as Europe but perhaps more significant is the wide reach to unions. Union leaders such as Tosh McDonald, Len McCluskey and Arthur Scargill have attended. This sums up the Miners’ Gala, it centres around unions and focuses on workers’ rights. Unison, Unite, RMT, NUT and many more unions turnout in force making it the worlds’ largest trade union event. This is of particular significance when union membership has dropped this year, this is a chance for the Labour Party and others to revive the movement that was so central to their foundation. This is Corbyn’s chance to consolidate on his work that has helped unions and workers’ rights return to the mainstream political agenda.

This Gala should be one to remember, with the strongest Labour Party we have had in years, out in force, this is the time when we can make change. Durham Day is a time to celebrate the success we have had in the recent election and a time to add more energy to our campaign.

Durham Miners’ Gala is on the 8th July, don’t forget to go along to the Labour Tea Tent and watch the speeches at mid-day.

To find out more go to http://www.durhamminers.org/news

To look at camping follow this link: CLICK HERE TO BOOK CAMPING AT DURHAM MINERS’ GALA 2017

 

Armed Forces Day

It is an honour to speak here today as the duly elected Member of Parliament for Easington and I am delighted to declare my support for our Forces, serving personnel and veterans and their families on Armed Forces Day. It is wonderful that we have a day that recognises the hard work, bravery and commitment of the forces community but of course we need to be supporting them all year round and the Governments must ensure that our Armed Forces are getting a fair deal on pay, welfare, housing and services.

This year marks two important anniversaries, the 35th anniversary of the Falklands War and the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele. The latter conflict saw over 250,000 British soldiers killed and of course we should never forget the 225 British soldiers and airmen that lost their lives while serving their country in the South Atlantic Falklands conflict. The contributions of these brave men and women must be remembered which is why days and events like this one today are absolutely paramount.

I often think MPs in the Houses of Parliament are too quick to put our servicemen and women in harms way without ensuring they have the necessary and appropriate equipment for the job they are asked to do. We must also ensure that when our men and women come back from active duty they are properly supported and that includes ongoing medical care and supported housing where there needs requirement, including when they leave the services. It is an disgrace that as many as 9000 veterans are homeless and living on the streets. Veterans are a huge part if the Forces community and I am backing the proposal of several measures to support service personal in the transition back to civilian life and to legislate against discrimination against veterans. No-one, man or woman, should face discrimination for their service in our Armed Forces.

Although we have a great team of dedicated volunteers locally, I am supporting the calls for the creation of a Veterans’ Register. This would mean no ex-servicemen or women coming out of the services fall through the net and no-one is left to fend for themselves. The problems faced by veterans should not be underestimated; suffering from PTSD and other medical problems due to their service can be particularly hard and we should work together to support them after their outstanding work for our country. I also support proposals for a Veterans’ Interview Programme which is designed to work with employers and businesses to guarantee a job interview for ex-service personnel. I further offer my support for the Homes Fit for Heroes initiative which will offer free home insulation to disabled veterans and will continue to encourage business, local authorities and community groups to sign up to the Armed Forces Covenant. We can work together to welcome back our servicemen and women and treat them with the respect they deserve.

The Armed Forces Pay Review Body must be allowed to make recommendations on pay rises for our Armed Forces. There has been additional pressure put on the incomes of Forces families from increases in National Insurance, changes in tax credits and increases in rental charges for those in Service Family Accommodation. It is vital that a career in the Armed Forces continues to provide for those in it and that it is attractive to our best and brightest. Crucial to this is ensuring that our Service Personnel are properly paid for the work they do. We have seen historically high outflow rates and recruitment and retention problems in specific vocations, particularly pilots and engineers. We need to re-examine retention and recruitment policies in order to combat this. We must work together to push for a better deal for those in our Armed Forces.

Finally, I want to praise the hard work of our councillors like Dave McKenna and his team, it is easy to forget how time consuming and difficult it is to organise an event for Armed Forces Day. Without their efforts Armed Forces Day simply wouldn’t be possible; so I thank them for that.

Thank you for your kind attention.