My Week 19th – 25th February
In the Chamber
On Monday I voted against the Government’s shameful cuts to the Employment Support Allowance and the Work Related Activity Group. The House of Lords had added amendments on to the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill which would have protected both these things, but the Tories were insistent on having them both cut, and they succeeded in overturning the Lords’ amendments.
On Wednesday 24th I asked a question at Welsh Questions, to the Welsh Minister Alun Cairns. I asked him, ‘The Institute for Fiscal Studies warned this month that universal credit will tend to weaken the incentive for single parents to be in work. What assessment have the Government made of the effect that rolling out universal credit will have on the number of workless households in Wales?’
I remained in the Chamber to talk about the Government’s plans to change the state pension ages for women. During the debate, I intervened on Nic Dakin, the Labour MP for Scunthorpe, to raise the issue of the 3540 women in Neath who will be affected by the changes the Government plans to bring in. As I asked Nic in the Chamber, ‘Does my hon. Friend agree that the 1995 changes were reasonably well communicated, but the 2011 changes were badly communicated? Some women who are affected by the 1995 changes were also affected by the 2011 changes, which compounded the issue.’ Great thanks have to go to the WASPI campaign for campaigning so loudly against the Government’s hidden changes.
Over the weekend I had a great weekend in Llandudno attending the Welsh Labour conference. There were some terrific speeches in the conference hall from Carwyn Jones, Jeremy Corbyn, Tom Watson and Nia Griffith who took the Tories to task over their bad policies that are affecting Wales. Carwyn also used his speech to set forward Labour’s vision for the future, with the Assembly elections coming in a few months, Labour’s stance couldn’t be more important.
I also had a chance to visit some of the stalls and fringe events over conference weekend. I visited the WWF’s stall to support their Earth Hour campaign and to support a sustainable economy and I visited the Citizens Advice Bureau Cymru stand to show my support for the fantastic service they provide.
On the Saturday evening I took part in a fringe event hosted by Darren Hill along with Huw Irranca-Davies, the MP for Ogmore, and Vaughan Gething AM, the Deputy Health Minister in the Assembly to talk about our lives and how we all got into politics. It was a very interesting discussion and I think the audience enjoyed.
Out and about around the constituency
On Monday had the chance to see how the justice system deals with offenders in Neath. I was joined on the visit by Shadow Solicitor General Jo Stevens MP, Alun Michael, the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales and chief superintendent Joe Ruddy, Western Division police commander. We visited the Integrated Offender Interventions Service and Hillside Secure Unit in Neath as well as Integrated Offender Management and HMP Swansea. It was very clear to see the dedication and commitment of the staff whose professional support enables service users to return to the community.
On Wednesday 24th I attended the Westminster Hall debate on Crohn’s and Colitis. During the debate I intervened on Anne Main, the Conservative MP for St Albans, to ask her, ‘Increasing access to toilets away from home is of benefit to all groups in society but it is especially crucial for those living with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, who have concerns about not reaching a toilet in time. Does the hon. Lady believe that other nations in the UK can learn from Welsh Labour’s Public Health (Wales) Bill, which treats access to toilets as a public health issue?’
Weekdays at Westminster
On Tuesday I listened to evidence given by Richard Susskind, the IT adviser to the Lord Chief Justice, who was giving evidence to the Bach Commission on Access to Justice.