Category Archives: Press Releases

Easington MP backs breathing space for families in problem debt

Easington MP Grahame Morris has backed calls for a new scheme to help thousands of families regain control of their finances as data from the Bank of England shows unsecured household debt rising at its fastest rate since the financial crisis.

Debt often strikes when people experience sudden changes in circumstances such as job loss or ill health. Aggressive action from creditors and pressure to repay debts at an unaffordable rate can lead families to cut back on everyday essentials like food, take out other, expensive loans or fall further behind on essential bills.

The rise in personal borrowing has led to mounting concern that households who get into debt need safer ways to manage financial difficulties.

Grahame Morris MP has joined calls in parliament to introduce a ‘Breathing Space’ scheme that would offer people seeking debt advice a 12-month legal protection from mounting interest, charges and enforcement action. It would build on protections offered under the Debt Arrangement Scheme in Scotland, which has made sure that families sticking to an affordable repayment plan agreed with their creditors are not harried or hassled for the duration of that plan.

Grahame Morris MP for Easington said:

“It can’t be right that children’s mental health and happiness is suffering as a result of creditors unfairly escalating people’s debt problems.

“Families in problem debt need time and space to get back on their feet. By providing a period free from additional interest, charges and enforcement action, a new Breathing Space scheme would help families recover their financial situation and put in place a plan to affordably repay their debts.

“I’m pleased that the Breathing Space proposal has widespread cross-party support, including from the Work and Pensions Select Committee and the APPG on Debt and Personal Finance. The Government now needs to act by putting a comprehensive Breathing Space scheme in place.”

MP demands tougher action against dog fighting

Dog fighting was outlawed almost 200 years ago. Yet, shockingly, it is still happening today.

The BBC, working with the League Against Cruel Sports and the RSPCA, have revealed that nearly 5,000 calls about organised dog fighting in England and Wales have been made to the RSPCA since 2006. 91 of these calls came from County Durham alone. 

Tougher sentencing and proper recording of these crimes are vital if we are to tackle dog fighting. It is one of the most horrific forms of animal cruelty, not only for the violence the dogs endure during the fight but also because of the trauma they suffer throughout their lives.

It’s cruel, unfair, and completely barbaric that people consider it acceptable to torture and harm these innocent animals.

As an owner of two dogs myself, this is particularly close to my heart. To abuse any animal is a terrible betrayal of our most faithful and much loved companions. Dogs forced into fighting suffer terrible injuries, both from the fights and at the hands of their vicious owners. Pets are stolen and used as bait in ordeals too horrible to describe. Those involved in this ‘sport’ are often involved in serious and even organised crime, and must be stopped.

In the United States dog fighting is recognised as a Grade A felony by the FBI. France applies a sentence of up to two years, and Germany and the Czech Republic apply a sentence of up to three years. Surely, the same strict sentencing laws should apply here too?

That’s why I’m supporting two important Private Members Bills that are coming up on the 24th February; Kevin Foster’s calling for tougher sentencing for dog fighting offences; and Anna Turley’s on sentencing for animal cruelty. Both aim to reflect the severity of the cruelty inflicted and the high level of public concern about animal welfare.    


Grahame Morris MP supports Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Easington MP Grahame Morris is supporting Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s call for action to increase cervical screening uptake rates. Cervical screening uptake is now at a 19-year low, and more women each year are being diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Commenting ahead of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, Grahame Morris MP said: “I am very concerned that over 1 million women in England did not attend cervical screening last year. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 and is on the rise in women over 50. However, screening provides the best protection against the disease and can detect abnormal cells which if not treated or monitored, could develop in to cervical cancer.

“We need a step change in awareness about the importance of cervical screening and I am proud to support Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.”

Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “We have one of the best cervical screening programmes in the world which saves approximately 5,000 lives a year. However, the number of women attending their screening is at a 19 year low. If we do not increase investment in prevention we will be faced with more women facing the physical and psychological cost of cervical cancer, increased burden on the NHS and state, and more lives lost.”

Labour’s pledge for a real living wage

Grahame Morris - A fair economy

Labour believes in a full and proper wage for a working day. That’s why we are committing to introducing a statutory real Living Wage. The next Labour Government will ensure that everyone in Easington will earn enough to live on.

Failed Tory austerity has produced a low-wage, low-investment, high-debt economy in which productivity is stagnating. Instead, the next Labour Government will ensure that everyone in Easington will earn enough to live on through the introduction of a statutory real Living Wage – independent research has estimated that this is likely to mean a figure in excess of £10 per hour in 2020.

It is a disgrace that low pay has been allowed to flourish in the North-East under the Tories. The people of Easington deserve a wage they can live on and it is only a Labour Government that will deliver it.

Labour’s real Living Wage is just one aspect of our plan to tackle low pay and will be introduced in tandem with an industrial strategy to transform Britain into a high-skill, high-productivity, high-wage and sustainable modern economy by boosting investment and R&D, supporting manufacturing and foundation industries and nurturing the industries of the future.

“Decent pay is not just fundamentally right, it’s good for business, it’s good for employees, and it’s good for Britain. We need a new deal across our whole economy.”
-John McDonnell MP, Shadow Chancellor, Labour Party Conference 2016.

Sugar Bill supported by Grahame Morris MP, Royal College of Physicians and Cancer Research  could save Britain £billions by revealing hidden sugar content to consumers

The Sugar Bill, to be published tomorrow has been supported by local MP Grahame Morris in Parliament and tackles the underlying causes of obesity.
The Bill is supported by the Royal College of Physicians and Cancer Research has been presented by Labour MP Geraint Davies.

Obesity is a big problem in my constituency of Easington. Across the UK it has a greater burden on the economy than armed violence, war and terrorism, costing us £47bn each year.

The UK has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe with 1 in 4 adults obese and nearly 2 in 3 adults overweight, and four million with type two diabetes.

Obesity costs the NHS £16 billion a year through diabetes, heart disease and cancer and costs the economy £47 billion. That’s why we must confront hidden sugar in processed food and drinks as it is a major cause of millions of deaths costing billions of pounds.

The World Health Organisation says sugar intake should not exceed 5% of energy – 9 teaspoons for men (a can of Coke) or 6 for women (a light yoghurt)- yet the average person in Britain consumes twice that amount and teenagers three times. Overconsumption of sugar is due to manufacturers secretly adding it to our processed food and accounts for our growing diabetes epidemic.  
The Sugar Bill therefore requires that added sugar is labelled in teaspoonfuls on processed foods so consumers are empowered to choose healthier options and manufacturers incentivised to compete to reduce added sugar instead of competing by adding sugar. 

Such labelling is allowed and encouraged to be introduced by national governments by EU legislation despite the Food manufacturers claiming otherwise.

Supported by Cancer Research and the RCP the Sugar in Food and Drinks Bill will:

·Require processed food and drink to have added sugar content labelled in teaspoons
·Restrict television advertising of high sugar foods until after the 9.00pm watershed
·Require the Government to publish targets for the total amount of sugar consumed in the UK 
If we’re serious about having a sustainable health service we should tackle the root cause of growing obesity – unrestricted added sugar in processed food and drinks – and give consumers the power to make healthy choices. 
The Bill, is supported by Cancer Research UK who report that 74% of the public back a ban on junk food advertising before 9pm.  
Professor Robert Lustig whose work has explained this link said “The food industry argues that a calorie is a calorie, a sugar is a sugar, and if you’re fat it’s your fault. But the science says that the excess sugar placed in our food is toxic and addictive. How can we exercise personal responsibility when the information is kept from us? Mr. Davies has introduced a rational proposal to limit this practice, to reduce the consumption of unnecessary sugar, and to educate the populace as to what they are consuming so that they can make informed choices”

Grahame Morris MP calls on residents in East Durham to ‘Take Five’ to help prevent fraud

take-fiveEasington MP Grahame Morris is today supporting the launch of a major new campaign designed to tackle financial fraud.

The campaign – Take Five – aims to put consumers and businesses back in control with straight-forward advice to help prevent financial fraud and encourage people to take a moment. It is designed to remind people that it pays to “stop and think”.

Take Five is the first national campaign to be backed by all the major banks and other financial service providers across the UK.

Lending their support to Take Five, Grahame Morris MP said:

“Financial fraud can affect anyone and often has devastating consequences. With news that incidences of fraud are increasing, it’s time for action. That’s why the Take Five campaign is so important and I am proud to support it. I am urging everyone to take a moment and help take back control.”

Katy Worobec, FFA UK, said:

“The industry is already taking action on fraud, last year our members stopped £7 in every £10 of fraud taking place. However, we know that criminals are getting increasingly sophisticated in their tactics and that’s why we are launching Take Five. We want everyone to take a moment to pause and think to help stop fraud.”

The campaign is asking everyone to help protect themselves from financial fraud by remembering some simple advice:

  1. Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full password – it’s never okay to reveal these details.
  1. Don’t assume an email request or caller is genuine – people aren’t always who they say they are.
  1. Don’t be rushed – a genuine bank or organisation won’t mind waiting to give you time to stop and think.
  1. Listen to your instincts – if something feels wrong then it is usually right to pause and question it.
  1. Stay in control – have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for information.

Easington MP visits Seaham Harbour Marina as work starts on new Activity Centre

Grahame Morris & Peter Coe 1Easington MP Grahame Morris visited Seaham Marina as work begun on a purpose built activity centre which will offer a variety of watersports and outdoor activities on the East Durham coast.

Seaham Harbour Marina, managed by a Community Interest Company, secured funding from the Coastal Communities Fund to improve the marina’s facilities and develop the new marine activities centre.

The activity centre will offer new opportunities for local people to participate in a range of watersports such as kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding, as well as also offering land-based activities.

The activity centre is the next stage in a series of improvements and regeneration which has taken place at the marina over recent years.

In 2013 The Waterside complex was built housing independent outlets where visitors can eat and shop amongst other services and the marina offices.  The marina is also home to a heritage centre based in the restored lifeboat house, where visitors can view the George Elmy lifeboat and discover more about the 1962 lifeboat disaster, and the marina’s wider historical significance.

The development of the activity centre is being funded and supported by Coastal Communities Fund, Durham County Council, Seaham Harbour Dock Company, and Sport England.  The Coastal Community funding is also being invested in other areas at the fully-operational tidal marina, including an extension of the pontoon system and the development of a boat crane to enable maintenance and repairs for larger vessels amongst other improvements.

Grahame Morris & Peter Coe 3During the visit Easington MP Grahame Morris said:

“I would like to commend the hard work of Seaham Harbour Marina in securing the funding and investment to facilitate the improvement and expansion of the marina.

It is fantastic to see that work has started on the purpose built marine activity centre. After the success of London 2012 and now the Rio Olympics, this is an ideal opportunity to build an Olympic legacy in East Durham.

The activity centre will increase opportunities for local families, schools and community groups to participate in watersports such as kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding, which have not previously been available in the area. The activity centre will also facilitate a variety of land activities and outdoor sports too.

The new activity centre complements the existing facilities such as the Waterside Complex where people can enjoy the shops and cafes, as well as the heritage centre in the restored lifeboat house where visitors can view the George Elmy lifeboat and learn more about the history of the marina.

I look forward to visiting again when the activity centre is complete.”

Peter Coe, Director at Seaham Harbour Marina, said: “All of us here at the marina are thrilled to see work of the activity centre commence and it’s excellent to know that word is spreading about the new centre.  We hope it will be a great resource for the whole community so it’s great to receive interest and support from Grahame Morris.

It is business as usual for the rest of the marina whilst work takes place though so visitors can still enjoy a day out here over the summer.  People can learn something new at the heritage centre, or relax and enjoy all that the shops, cafes and other commercial businesses have to offer whilst making the most of the fantastic coastal environment.”

The activity centre at Seaham Harbour Marina is due for competition later this year.

To find out more about Seaham Harbour Marina, visit:


G.MorrisLabour’s Shadow Communities Secretary is calling for the publication of an audit into the effectiveness of the Government’s Troubled Families Programme (TFP).

The Government launched the TFP with a great fanfare back in 2011 in response to the riots earlier that year. We were assured at the time that the TFP would set out to ‘turn around’ 120,000 of the most ‘troubled families’ in England by May 2015.

The offical evaluation, leaked to the BBC, found that the programme made “no discernible impact” on employment, school attendence or offending, depsite previous claims of a 99% success rate.

The ‘payment by results’ funding regime has meant the most troubled families being overlooked and a investigation by the Guardian found more than 8,000 famalies in more than 40 local authorities were considered “turned around” solely through data matching excercises.

Now Grahame Morris, Labour’s Shadow Communities Secretary has written to Sajid Javid to ask him to publish an audit of the Troubled Families Unit.

Mr Morris said: “The evidenece obtained by the BBC shows the Government’s great claims about the effectiveness of the Troubled Families Programme were clearly false.

“There is much scepticism regarding the effectiveness of the payment by results and it is time for Ministers to come clean and tell us what worked and what didn’t. It is only by learning from experience that we can improve services in the future.

“The ‘payments by results’ approach hasn’t worked and we need to look at different ways of delivering these services.

“We need to know if the most troubled families have been bypassed to help councils fulfil a box ticking exercise and assist private providers to make bigger profits at tax payers expense.

“Aspects of the Troubled Families audit have already been leaked and the Government must now publish the report without delay and give Parliament the opportunity to scrutinise the effectiveness of this programme”

Troubled Families p1

Troubled Families p2


MP says earlier diagnosis is key to improvement.

APPG on CancerBy 2020, almost half of the UK population will receive a cancer diagnosis during their lifetime. Cancer survival rates in the UK are among the worst in Europe, not least because many people are diagnosed too late when their cancer is advanced. Grahame Morris MP and the APPG on Cancer believe that this must change.

Over the past year the percentage of people in England surviving at least one year from their initial cancer diagnosis has risen from 69.3% to 70.2%. However, this is still well behind comparable international rates – in Sweden, for example, one-year cancer survival is around 82%.

At the event, Grahame Morris MP was presented with the cancer survival rates in Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group that showed that 60% of local people with cancer will live for a year after diagnosis. This is lower than the national one-year survival rate for England of 70%.

Speaking at the event Grahame Morris MP said:

“As the MP for Easington, I will be engaging with the CCG leadership to discuss how we can ensure more local people survive cancer. Being diagnosed early is of utmost importance because it leads to a lower chance of dying from the disease. Every cancer patient deserves to be diagnosed as soon as possible and then receive support throughout their treatment and after it has finished to help them deal with the consequences of their illness.”

Easington MP Grahame Morris marks Srebrenica Memorial Day

Srebrenica Memorial DayTo mark Srebrenica Memorial Day, Grahame Morris MP honoured those who were murdered during the genocide 21 years ago.

Mr Morris signed the Remembering Srebrenica Book of Pledges, promising to play his part in ensuring that the lessons from the genocide are learnt and community cohesion is strengthened in East Durham.

Today marks the 21st anniversary of the worst atrocity on European soil since World War Two when over 8,000 men and boys were murdered just because of their faith. The Charity Remembering Srebrenica, which organises memorial events across the UK, says that this year it is time to act to counter the rising threat of Hate Crime in the UK.

Grahame Morris MP said: “Srebrenica Memorial Day reminds us all that a shocking genocide took place only 21 years ago and this should never be forgotten. I strongly encourage everyone to take this day as an opportunity to remember the victims and survivors of Srebrenica, but also to work together to make our own community a place of safety that welcomes and cherishes diversity.”

Srebrenica Memorial Week takes places from 10th – 17th July, with hundreds of local commemorative events taking place across the country arranged by schools, faith groups and community organisations, as well as UK and national events taking place in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast remembering the victims of the genocide.