It’s been another busy week. On Monday, I attended the AGM of the APPG for Industrial Heritage. My friend and colleague Nick Thomas Symonds MP for Torfaen, who has chaired the group for many years, stood down as chair and was succeeded by Stephanie Peacock MP for Barnsley East. I’m proud to continue as an officer of the group. The importance of industrial heritage is vital and encapsulated in Neath by the work of Peter Richards and his group of diligent volunteers who are restoring the Neath Abbey Ironworks. The Friends of Neath Abbey Iron Company have recently been awarded £2,625 by the Co-op Community Fund which will be used to purchase some new hi-tech equipment – a powered wheelbarrow. The Friends meet Sundays at 1pm for some socially distanced restoration work. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or just turn up. More information can be found here.
It was a pleasure to speak in two debates in Westminster Hall this week. First up was a discussion on defence procurement. Aerospace and defence are inextricably linked and are a cornerstone of our Welsh economy. Last year in Wales, the sector had a turnover of £6 billion, which is 10% of the UK total, and it employed 23,000 people before Covid struck. We have Raytheon Technologies’ airborne surveillance aircraft division at Broughton, BAE Systems at Glascoed, General Dynamics at Oakdale and Merthyr, Airbus Defence and Space at Newport, Thales at the National Digital Exploitation Centre in Ebbw Vale and West Wales airport in Aberporth. I welcome this week’s news that the Ministry of Defence has announced that BAE has secured a new £2.4 billion next generation munitions solution contract, which will sustain 4,000 jobs in the UK over 15 years, with 550 of those at Glascoed. The Advanced Technology Research Centre at MOD Sealand in Flintshire, which is a unique defence led R&D centre, and Thales at Ebbw Vale, which will focus on protecting critical national infrastructure, are two examples of Welsh Government working with the private sector in partnership with the MOD to support economic growth and I asked the Minister to maintain and to enhance this relationship. It’s really important that in our recovery from Covid, we protect and encourage the creation of highly skilled and well-paid jobs if our communities are truly to build back and work for everyone.
On Wednesday I spoke in the Westminster Hall Debate about Homelessness and Temporary Accommodation in which I highlighted that, whilst the UK Government has pledged to end rough sleeping, it is the Welsh Government who have developed truly ambitious plans. The pandemic has demonstrated the scale and scope of the action needed to eradicate homelessness, and the decisive and compassionate action taken by local councils, in partnership with Heath, the third sector, Registered Social Housing and Voluntary Organisations to bring people off the streets into temporary emergency accommodation has saved lives. But the Welsh Government is determined to transform temporary solutions into permanent accommodation and the second phase of this £50 million Welsh Government programme will provide 2,266 people with long-term homes. Since the start of this pandemic, the Welsh Government has allocated three times the funding available in England. Councils in Wales have received £10 million, compared with merely £3.2 million in England. And migrants with no recourse to public funds and sofa-surfers are included, whereas in England they are not. Our policy in Wales is predicated on the belief that everyone has a right to live in a well maintained, secure, permanent home.
This week it’s Electrical Safety Week Wales and it’s really important in the run-up to Christmas that we raise awareness of the dangers of buying electrical products online. Electrical products must meet a high standard of regulations to be sold in UK shops, but unfortunately, many products sold by third-party sellers on the internet do not meet those standards and can therefore pose a risk to the health of your family and friends. If you’re buying electrical goods this Christmas, remember to buy from a trusted seller – even online. Most of the brands that we know are online, so please always buy from a reputable seller. Saving money isn’t worth the risk to friends and family from faulty electrics.
Saturday is Small Business Saturday and in 2020 our fantastic small businesses have had an incredibly difficult year. They truly are the backbone of our local communities – they provide services and products to us, they contribute hugely to the local economy, and they bring life and vibrancy to our high streets. I hope everyone will use their local businesses as much as possible for their Christmas shopping – if we don’t support our small businesses, they won’t survive and we will miss them if we lose them.
As always, if you have any questions or issues and want to get in touch about any matters that fall under my role as an MP, please do not hesitate to drop us an email on email@example.com or call us on 01639 630152. My staff are working from home to comply with the social distancing measures, but, as always, we remain there should you need to get in contact with us.
I hope you stay well, and remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe.