Welcome to my latest newsletter as Member of Parliament of Nottingham North.
After the breaks for the summer and party conferences Parliament is now truly back in the swing of things and I’ve been busy as usual, with a lot of work to keep you up to date on.
As I’ve said before, I will strive to send you a newsletter like this each Friday to keep you updated on the work I’m doing in Parliament as well as in our community, and to inform you of any interesting events taking place in our area. To help me with the latter, if you are running or know of anything that you think may be of interest to others, feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will include it in future issues. Please also forward it onto anyone you think may be interested.
So there’s been a lot happening in Parliament this week, with important debates on Universal Credit, Social Care, Supported Housing and Modern Slavery amongst others, alongside the usual Ministerial Questions, and as always I had several meetings filling my schedule.
My major engagement in the chamber was my contribution to the debate on Modern Slavery which was led by my Labour colleague, Vernon Coaker MP. One of the biggest issues with Modern Slavery is awareness, with 1 of 10 not knowing that it refers to the forced labour, trafficking and exploitation of workers, and 2 in 3 not knowing how to recognise it, so I talked about this and what we can do to improve the situation, and allow the Act to make the difference it intended. You can watch my contribution here.
You’ll see that I and others raise a series of practical requests for to how to improve the legislation. Happily the minister agreed to lots of these – a rarity! – so we made a real difference. There’s much more to do but I’m delighted we’re making headway.
On Monday I was drawn to ask a Parliamentary Question of Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, and took my opportunity to hold the Government to account on the progress they are making on the implementation of their 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), and find out whether they are on track to meet their 2020 targets. You can watch the Minister’s response to that question here.
I used my given Supplementary Question to ask specifically about one element of the SDSR which I believe to be very important: diversity. SDSR 2015 aimed for at least 10% of Armed Forces personnel to be BAME yet currently only 2.4% of Regular Officers are from a BAME background, and none of these are of two- star rank or above. This is clearly not good enough, and certainly not in line with the target, so I asked the Minister to tell me when the Ministry of Defence will publish a new diversity strategy to get to grips with this challenge? You can watch me asking this, and the Minister’s response here.
Last week I told you all about the Opposition victory on pausing the disastrous Universal Credit rollout after the Opposition Day Debate, where the Government refused to vote in order to avoid being beaten, but a forced vote led to a 299-0 result backing the pause. This week we had a similar situation in both Opposition Day Debates, as the Government abstained from motions on Social Care and Supported Housing so that there wouldn’t be a vote in which they could be embarrassed and shown that the will of the people opposes their policy agenda. This is not how a democracy should operate, with the Government acting like dictators, which is especially remarkable with a minority Government.
As well as these involvements in the chamber, I had plenty going on. I attended a briefing hosted by Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry, the former Prime Minister of Azad Kashmir and President of PTI Kashmir, who explained the current security and human rights situation in South Asia, with special reference to Kashmir. I know we have a number of Indian and Pakistani members of our community whose views on this conflict are borne from personal experiences, so I think it’s vital that I stay briefed on the situation as a resolution continues to be sought.
I also joined a number of my Labour colleagues to meet Unison, where we discussed how we can work in tandem with the Union to represent workers and protect their rights as efficiently as possible. There were also meetings with Ferrero Rocher, to discuss the impact of Brexit on British business, and Later Life Ambitions, who enlightened me on all the excellent work they do to ensure that opportunities stay open for pensioners.
Rounding off my week in Westminster were two meetings of All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) which I attended. These are cross-party groups dedicated to specific subjects of all natures, who often work in collaboration with outside organisations to address the issues surrounding their subjects of choice.
Being a big fan of Bulwell Market on a Saturday morning, as it truly is the best place to pick up a bargain and meet as many people as possible, but in the modern age of globalisation local markets are certainly under threat, so I attended the All Party Parliamentary Market Group meeting to support the protection of our markets. The other APPG was of a more personal note, which was the APPG for American Football, a sport I’m a big fan of and hope to help develop more in the UK.
In the Constituency
I’m back home today and have a full day’s work in the constituency. I was pleased to visit the CHDA Assessment Centre on Stoney Street in the City Centre, so I could see first-hand exactly what happens when people are being assessed for benefits. This can be a very controversial topic and I’ve heard many stories from those who have had to undertake unnecessary or unsuitable assessments, but it’s also important to know for myself exactly what this entails for those people, as well as those where an assessment is necessary, and see what needs to be improved upon.
I’ve also today met with Katie Whittam, Unite’s Regional and Political Officer for the East Midlands, to discuss the issues that workers in our region specifically are facing, and how I can work with her and her team to protect their rights and improve the situation.
As you’re reading this I’ll likely be on my way back to Bulwell for my latest surgery. We have another full schedule and I’m keen to see what I can do to help people out. Please get in touch with my office if you’d like to see me next time. As for the rest of the weekend, I’ll be out on doorsteps as usual, and I look forward to seeing some of you there!
You’ll have seen in recent weeks that I’ve been promoting the Westminster Dog of the Year competition. Of course that’s been a celebration of dogs, which I enjoy. But it’s had a serious message too. It’s been about promoting good socialisation and training of dogs as well as highlighting key issues such as puppy smuggling.
The event was yesterday where I was joined by Boomer and Corona just outside Parliament for a couple of hours, where we had a great time at the event which was run by The Kennel Cluband Dog’s Trust. My two boys, and 9 other dogs and MPs took part in the day, which involved playing with some agility equipment, humans and hounds socialising with each other, being quizzed by a small panel of judges, and posing for countless photographs.
Unfortunately, Boomer and Corona didn’t make it into the top 3 as chosen by the judges, but I think we did one better, by winning the ‘pawblic’ vote! I’m very proud of both Boomer and Corona for being incredibly well behaved on the day, and incredibly grateful to everyone who helped us achieve this on our first (but surely not last) attempt. I hope everyone involved enjoyed the morning as much as we did, and even more importantly, hope that it helps bring attention to the problems affecting dogs nationwide.
I want these emails to be as interesting as possible. That means there’ll be some politics – it’s important that I am held accountable. But I also want to offer information about what’s on locally. So, if you have an event you’d like me to advertise, let me know.
‘Curating Gibbs’, Annual Evelyn Gibbs Talk
Colette Griffin, assistant curator at Nottingham Castle Museum and Gallery discusses 2016 exhibition, Evelyn Gibbs in Peace and Wartime
St. Martin’s Church, St. Martin’s Road Bilborough, NG8 3BH
Tonight, Friday 27th October, 7.30pm, £5 (£3 con.)
Bestwood Park Church’s Bestop Kitchen
Social Eating Event, Donations Welcome
Bestwood Park Church, Beckhampton Road, NG5 5NG
Every Tuesday, 12-3pm
Poems in the Pub
Poetry Open Mic Night
The William Peverel, Bulwell
Thursday 2nd November, 7pm
Notts Gets 2 Work Summer/Autumn Programme
Programme of free Dr Bike events (bike servicing) and bike maintenance sessions
Various Nottingham Locations
For further info visit http://www.nottmgets2work.org.uk/programme2017
Free Community Cinema
Free screenings of films, everyone welcome!
St John’s Church, Key’s Close, Bulwell
2nd Friday every month, 7pm
Drinks, crafts, activities, bible stories and a meal for all ages and interests
Bulwell United Reform Church, Broomhill Road/Brooklyn Road, Bulwell
Saturdays –November 4th, December 2nd, 10:30am
Christmas Coffee Morning
Many stalls, gifts, toys, toiletries, bric-a-brac. Preserves, refreshments, cakes
Bulwell United Reform Church, Broomhill Road/Brooklyn Road, Bulwell
Saturday November 25th, 10:30am
You may also recall I advertised Aviva’s Community Fund recently. I’m pleased to hear that Bilborough Arts have applied to support their 2018 Festival. However, this funding depends on public votes, so please can you show your support by voting for their project here. I’m sure it will be an incredible festival, and be even better if they can receive this extra funding.
If you would like your events advertised here, or further information on those advertised, please email me at email@example.com.
That’s all for now! Details of how to get in touch or to have a look at the things I’m doing are below…
All the best,
How to contact me
If you would like to contact me, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or give my Nottingham North constituency office a ring on 0115 975 2377.
If you are a constituent from Nottingham North e-mailing me regarding a casework issue you are my priority, so please ensure your message includes:
- your full name
- your full postal address, including postcode
- a contact telephone number and
- any helpful details relevant to your case such as date of birth, reference numbers etc.
Strict parliamentary protocol means I can only deal with issues on behalf of my own constituents. If you aren’t sure whether you live in Nottingham North, you can check who your local MP is by entering your postcode online here: findyourmp.parliament.uk.
You may also wish to write to me with your concerns. If so please send your correspondence to Alex Norris MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA. All constituents who take the time and trouble to write a personal letter will receive a reply as a matter of priority.
Other useful links
- If you’d like to learn more about the Labour party their website is here.
- To join the Labour Party click here.
- Benefits Information: Here’s an excellent site that allows you to find out exactly what benefits you are eligible to claim: EntitledTo
- Housing: please contact your City Council
- Problems with benefits or the Child Support Agency? The Citizens Advice Bureau and the Nottingham Welfare Rights Service can give advice. Remember to have your National Insurance number handy if you make an inquiry.
- Local schools / education matters: please contact your City Council.
- Employment rights: see Citizens Advice Bureau or the Trades Union Congress for info.
- Social services, environmental health, noise nuisance, parking, and Council Tax should all be addressed to the City Council.
- Another useful website on public services is Direct.gov.
- For the main Parliamentary website click here and to explore the Parliamentary education site click here.