The current crisis our NHS faces is unprecedented. Our health service is on its knees with one third of hospitals having declared they need urgent help to deal with the number of patients coming through their doors.

A&E departments have turned patients away more than 143 times between 1 December 2016 and 1 January 2017. In one day last month 15 hospitals ran out of beds with elderly patients languishing on trolleys in corridors, sometimes for over 24 hours.

Instead of dealing with the crisis, on Monday Jeremy Hunt suggested that the four hour A&E target may be downgraded and no longer apply to minor injuries.

Easington MP Grahame Morris said:

“The crisis that we have seen unfold in our NHS over recent times is absolutely appalling. The Tories have consistently missed their own targets on A&E waiting times and instead of improving the service Jeremy Hunt is simply moving the goal posts.

“Labour is calling on the Government to bring forward the £700m of social care funding planned for 2019/20 now and to pledge a new funding settlement for health and social care in the Budget in March.

“Once again Jeremy Hunt is proving that you can’t trust the Tories with the NHS”

Tribute to John Cummings 6th July 1943 to 4th January 2017

john-cummings6Following the sad loss of John Cummings, the Member of Parliament for the Easington constituency from 1987 to 2010, Grahame Morris MP said

“John Cummings was a proud colliery mechanic, with a deeply felt affection for the mining communities he represented with tremendous grit and determination in his union, in local government and in Parliament for over half a century.

He showed great courage at the end having fought all of his life for the oppressed and disadvantaged and against injustice.

He was an old school solid trades unionist and Labour loyalist.

He was kind and generous to a fault and a good friend and mentor to me personally.

John Cummings will be sadly missed by all who knew him, his family and many friends in the mining communities and labour movement whose finest traditions he personified. ”

John’s funeral will be held at St Joseph’s RC Church, Church Lane, Murton on Friday 20th January at 11am. There will be a gathering of friends and family afterwards in the Glebe Centre. Family flowers only, donations in lieu to St Joseph’s RC Church.



England Cancer Strategy Debate

On Thursday 8th December, there will be a debate in the main chamber to discuss progress with the England Cancer Strategy.APPG on Cancer

The debate serves as a timely and important opportunity to discuss cancer services in the NHS today. Whilst progress has been made, there are areas where it is important to have more detail on implementation plans if the Cancer Strategy’s ambitious aim to save an additional 30,000 lives a year by 2020 is to be realised.

‘Achieving world-class cancer outcomes: a strategy for England 2015-2020.’ set out to “improve survival rates and save lives”. I welcome plans to improve diagnosis and pathways for cancer treatments but I remain concerned that the opportunity to maximise the role of prevention has been seriously overlooked, and with it the opportunity to reduce incidence rates, save the NHS costs and improve people’s quality of life.

By the end of this Parliament, around one in every two people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. However, improvements in diagnosing and treating the disease mean that more people are surviving it, or living for longer with it, and consequently we have 2.5 million people living with or beyond cancer in the UK today.

Yet not all of these people are living well with many experiencing the physical, emotional and financial consequences of treatment. Around one in four people living with or beyond cancer face disability or poor health following their treatment and this can remain the case for many years after treatment has ended. It is vital they are abAPPGCle to access the best care that is right for them when they need it, and to ensure that the NHS is set up to meet the changing needs of cancer patients.

Not only would this increase the quality and experience of survival, it would ensure that resources invested in the disease are done in the most efficient way; this is key with Five Year Forward View projections indicating that expenditure on cancer services will need to grow by about 9% a year, reaching £13 billion by 2020/21.



Alongside the physical and emotional impacts most commonly associated with cancer, it also brings with it a real risk of financial hardship. Four out of five people with cancer are impacted financially by their diagnosis, as extra costs rise whilst having to stop work or reduce hours. This leaves people, on average, £570 a month worse off  and every year 400,000 people in the UK with cancer struggle to pay their household bills as a result of their diagnosis.MacMillan

The Government must ensure people affected by cancer can access the support they need from the welfare system. I therefore welcome the Government’s commitment not to seek further welfare savings over the course of this Parliament: it is vital that people affected by cancer can access the support they need. However, despite this commitment, there are still proposed changes to the welfare system which we are concerned could leave people with cancer without crucial financial support at a time when they need it – such as proposals to devolve Attendance Allowance, a vital benefit for people aged 65 and over, to local authorities.

The consultation on the proposals closed on 26 September 2016, but the Government have not yet released their response to say whether they plan to go ahead with the plans. I am concerned that moves to devolve the benefit could make it harder for people living with cancer to access the financial support they need, and to ensure they can live independently.


Breakthrough Breast Cancer2Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK; it effects 1 in 8 women and it is estimated that over 500,000 are now living with the disease. For diseases like breast cancer, where incidence rates are alarmingly high, prevention is an urgent priority. But ambitious action for prevention is not adequately reflected in the Cancer Strategy.

Whilst the Strategy includes a limited set of targets on lifestyle risk factors, such as alcohol consumption, smoking and obesity, it does not address other key risk factors, such as environmental pollution or exposure to harmful chemicals.


NHS England has also said it will spend £130m upgrading or replacing radiotherapy machines to improve the survival chances of hundreds of thousands of patients.

The upgrade of at least 100 linear accelerator (Linac) machines across the country will ensure more patients get state-of-the-art treatment called intensity-modulated radiotherapy, which can target the tumour very precisely without damaging surrounding healthy tissue. New machines are more accurate and can deliver a higher dose to the cancer cells, which will reduce the amount of time a patient has to spend in radiotherapy and hopefully increase cure rates.

Radiotherapy is an important part of cancer treatment, after surgery to remove the tumour, and cures more people than cancer drugs. The Linac machines used to deliver it are supposed to be replaced after 10 years, but 20% of them in England are older than that. A third of all radiotherapy machines (aprox. 90) will need replacing by next year and I intend on making sure the Government commits to their promise to fund this on a national scale. 

Pancreatic Cancer UK 2015


Seaton Holme

seaton-holmeI am delighted to have been invited to say a few words and to congratulate Eileen Hopper on the completion of her third book – this is a wonderful history of East Durham, Easington and Seaton Holme.

I think we should also take the opportunity to thank Eileen for her services to the local community.

I understand that as one of the remaining founding members of Easington Village Parish Council, Eileen will be standing down in May after 34 years of service.

The fact we are here today is testament to the hard work of Easington Village Parish Council, and all of those within this community who came together to preserve this wonderful building.

I am fond of saying that we take so much for granted.

This is true today.

It would be difficult to conceive of this book on Seaton Holme, had this building been lost to history.

The mental pictures I have of Seaton Holme as a crumbling structure, struts holding up the building, floors, walls and rooves in a state of dereliction.

I think Eileen was right to describe the task of restoration as “an impossible dream”

There was nothing inevitable about the transformation of Seaton Holme.

As reported by the Daily Telegraph a newspaper I am not often found quoting:

“A parish council whose main task is the upkeep of a village green and playing fields is buying one of England’s most historic houses. This is a major triumph for the nine-member Easington Village Parish Council that have already raised £250,000 towards the cost of repairs.”

The fortunes of Seaton Holme have ebbed and flowed with those of Easington, but its past, and future has been determined and safeguarded by those who care about our community.

We should not underestimate the foresight and scale of ambition that resulted in the restoration of Seaton Holme, and Eileen was right to describe it as “the jewel in the crown of East Durham”.

The book is fascinating, showing how Seaton Holme has served our community from time immemorial.

However, I am delighted that I have the opportunity to thank those here today who have ensured that Seaton Holme will continue to serve the community for many years to come as a well-known structural landmark of unique historic importance not just to Easington and East Durham but to the North of England.

UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls

Today marks the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls.

img_5364Women’s activists have marked November 25th as a day against violence since 1981, in memory of the assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic.

I am proud to join millions of activists around the world campaigning to end the terrible epidemic of gender-based violence.

Two women are killed every week in England and Wales by a current or former partner. Worldwide, one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence — mostly perpetrated by an intimate partner. 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes and 8% will suffer domestic violence in any given year.

The vast majority of women and girls subject to these crimes do not report them to the police. In rape for example, it is estimated that perhaps only around 15% of rapes are ever reported to the police.

This is reality for women and girls that shames us all.

vawg-infographic-1But violence against women and girls is not inevitable. We must challenge deep-rooted social norms and attitudes that lead to gender-based violence. Evidence shows that investing in women’s rights organisations is crucial to the prevention of gender based violence worldwide. Sadly, women’s services have seen their funding shrink rapidly since 2010 – a third of local authority funding to domestic and sexual violence services was already cut by 2012.

The best possible prevention to violence against women and girls is education. 

The CPS Violence Against Women and Girls Crime Report 2015-16 showed that violence is being perpetrated through social media. A study for the NSPCC found that sexting is often coercive and girls are most adversely affected. We are not preparing children with the resilience or knowledge they need to recognise abusive or exploitative behaviour. Currently, 53 per cent of children in schools have not learned how to recognise grooming or sexual exploitation.

The government must introduce statutory, age-appropriate sex and relationships education in primary and high schools to ensure every child learns about healthy, respectful friendships and relationships from the earliest possible age.

At present, sex and relationships education (SRE) is not universally taught in schools across the UK. In England it is only compulsory in maintained secondary schools, which account for 35 per cent of secondary schools). Primary schools, academies, free schools, independent schools and home schools in England do not have to teach SRE.

The Department for Education does provide guidance on what should be included in the non-compulsory sections of SRE, but this was last updated almost 17 years ago, in 2000, well before the Internet and social media became so universal.

img_5363-2This Government should do what countless charities, professionals, academics, five select committees and Members from across the House are asking for; introduce statutory resilience and relationships education in schools from primary school age. 

Women and girls across the world must be able to exercise their human rights free from the fear of violence, coercion and intimidation. The Government have made some important progress in working to address this global challenge. But as the Independent Commission on Aid Impact recently warned, DfID’ s work in this area remains small when compared to the scale of the challenge. DFID will need to scale up its work and integrate VAWG into other programming areas if it is to achieve transformative impact. 

More information on Labour’s success on tackling VAWG in Government can be found here.

Support the Disability Equality Training Bill



Today I will be supporting the second reading of the Disability Equality Training (Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Drivers) Bill. This campaign aims to stop guide dogs and other assistance dog owners being illegally refused access from taxis and minicabs.

The bill will make the completion of disability equality training a requirement for the licensing of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers in England and Wales; and for connected purposes.

Blind people with guide dogs have a legal right to access taxi services, but some drivers refuse to accept their custom, which can be confidence shattering.

To stop refusals happening, drivers need a full understanding of the rights of disabled people. The Bill will require all taxi and minicab drivers to undertake disability equality training as a condition of obtaining their licence.

Guide Dogs Campaigns Manager, Helen Honstvet, said:

“We are absolutely delighted that Andrew Gwynne MP is taking forward a Bill to ensure that all taxi and minicab drivers have disability equality training. Guide dog owners have told us that taxis and minicabs turn them away with shocking regularity because their dog isn’t welcome. This can crush people’s confidence and stops them doing the everyday things that most people take for

“This Bill, if made law, will ensure that all taxi and minicab drivers understand their duties under the Equality Act and improve the experience of getting a taxi for many people living with a disability.”



Seaham High School – Memorial Dedication to the men of Seaham Colliery who gave their lives in the service of our country


I was honoured to be asked to speak at a very moving memorial dedication at the new Seaham High School built on the site of Seaham Colliery.

The inscription reads:

“Dedicated to the men of Seaham Colliery who made the ultimate sacrifice in work and in conflict, at the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them”

This is the text of my speech

“The plaque recognises the unique sacrifice made by the community of Seaham, in conflict and at work, which has shaped not only our community but our country.

At its peak and on the eve of the war in 1914, Seaham Colliery employed over 3,000 men and boys, and alongside other pits in our area such as the Vane Tempest, Dawdon, and Murton, the mining industry created and sustained our communities for successive generations.

The principles and values forged within Seaham Colliery, and mines across our country – self-reliance, solidarity, and comradeship – were the same values we needed in our country’s darkest hours, during the First and Second World War.

This memorial is in a unique place of remembrance, steeped in our history and heritage, and is a link between our past, and our future.

We should not forgot the sacrifice that was made underneath the ground we stand on today.

We should remember William Knox, George Dixon, and John Brittle, aged just 10, 12 and 13, children from Seaham who lost their lives in this colliery.

They are not unique but their sacrifice and those of countless other children advanced the cause of compulsory education and the end of child labour.

The Durham Mining Museum list the names of nearly 400 people aged from 7 to 71, who lost their lives at Seaham Colliery, and it is through their sacrifice, life experiences, and activism that we live in the society we have today.

We take so much for granted – but all our rights, the right to go to school, to have a safe workplace, and to live in a free and democratic country – these rights were not given to us, but were hard won, and to protect and defend them people in our community, and across our country, have made the ultimate sacrifice.

We will remember that sacrifice on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month and on Remembrance Sunday.

We will remember all those who fought to create a better society at home, and then in 1914, and in 1939, fought to defend and protect our future.

It is our responsibility to honour that sacrifice, build on their work and use the opportunities we have available to us.

I am pleased that on the site of Seaham Colliery, we have our new school.

I hope you will be inspired by all those who have gone before us, and use your time at Seaham High School, to honour their sacrifice through remembrance and hard work.”

Realising Aspiration for All

realising-aspirations-for-allThere are over 100,000 people of working age who are deafblind and living in the UK. However, a new report from the disability charity Sense, has revealed that, although many of them are keen to enter the workforce, only a shocking 4% of 18 to 24-year-olds who are deafblind are actually in employment – a rate almost ten times lower than the employment rate of non-disabled young people – and the employment rate of deafblind people over the age of 24 is just 20% – almost four times lower than the national average.

More broadly, with 46% of disabled people out of work, the rate of employment of disabled people is 30% lower than that of non-disabled people. These striking statistics reveal how important it is that the right support structures are in put in place so that those who want to work, can.

With the Government now publishing their Green Paper on disability employment, and reaffirming their commitment to halving the disability employment gap, it is essential that all disabled people who want to work – especially those with more complex conditions such as deafblindness – benefit from the extra resources being put in to place. I share Sense’s belief that disabled people who want to work, fulfil their ambitions, and play active roles in their communities, should be supported to do so.

In their report, Sense undertook research with people who are deafblind of all ages and in differing employment situations, from actively seeking work to running their own business. The final report, Realising Aspirations For All, revealed the multitude of barriers faced by people who are deafblind, both to enter employment and to progress when in the work place.

The report highlighted the appalling situation that currently prevails, where support programmes and employment support providers are failing to provide the right level and type of support for disabled people to enter, and maintain, employment. The situation is exacerbated by some employers, who lack awareness of existing support schemes, run inaccessible recruitment processes, and harbour negative views about the abilities of disabled people in the work place.

To address these failures Sense is calling on the Government, employment support providers, and employers, to make targeted support available, to increase the accessibility of employment, and to give disabled people equal opportunities to realise their aspirations.

An important first step is for the introduction of specialist support models targeted at people who have more complex support needs and are not likely to benefit from the Work and Health Programme, and trials of innovative specialist support models using the Innovation Fund from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department of Health (DH).

These efforts should be complemented at a local level by a better understanding of the demands of the local labour market so employment support providers can proactively reach out to employers, encouraging applications from disabled people.

The impact of the correct support and guidance for disabled people to access work can make the world of difference. Sense highlights the case of Bethany, who is 23, born deaf and with deteriorating vision. Receiving support meant she could go from struggling to find employment, to growing in confidence and working towards starting her own business.

The new Green Paper provides an important opportunity to build a more inclusive, diverse and meaningful society that enables everyone to contribute. I join Sense in calling on the Government to do all it can to make this a reality.

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”