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We’ve all heard it said. Politicians make promises during election campaigns then once elected fail to deliver. So well done to our Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn for proving the doubters wrong. During her election campaign Norma promised a referendum on the Mayoral system and a say on how the Council’s run. And she delivered on that promise. Residents turned out in their tens of thousands to give a clear vote of confidence in the Mayor and to confound critics of the system. I voted to retain the Mayoral system but I do wonder whether the rules preventing any meaningful campaigning need to be reviewed given the general lack of awareness about the vote.

 

I doubt if anyone will remain unaware of the EU Referendum by the time we get to 23rd June. Indeed apart from next week’s Queen’s Speech setting out the Government’s programme for the forthcoming year, I expect there will be few eyes on what happens in Westminster. If the Mayoral Referendum was important for the future of our area then the EU Referendum will be crucial for the future of our country.

 

One of the great things about elections is that everyone’s vote is equal. We have a free choice of who to vote for and we’re free to vote or not. So to everyone who took the time to vote last week let me say a very big thank you.

The importance of voting

We’ve all heard it said. Politicians make promises during election campaigns then once elected fail to deliver. So well done to our Elected Mayor Norma Redfearn for proving the doubters...

Last week the Heritage Lottery Fund came to Westminster to brief MP’s about their work in the North East.  I went along to hear about the projects they have funded in the past and see what lessons can be learned about future awards.  Our area has done well from the Heritage Lottery Fund, receiving nearly £11 million in the last twenty years.  Some have been big awards such as funding for the Dome, Northumberland and Richardson Dees Public Parks and the Tynemouth Volunteer Life Brigade Watch House.  Other awards have encouraged and supported local groups including the Tynemouth WW1 Commemoration Project and the Shiremoor and District Children’s Treat.  The bigger awards often need local authority support and it is clear that having a Mayor who can bring direction and accountability to regeneration has been important.

 

Back in my constituency I met with representatives of the Whitley Bay Big Local Plan for an update on the plans they have for community regeneration.  One of 150 local groups in the scheme they are working hard to identify ways of improving our area and making a difference.

 

Finally I will be meeting Ministers soon to discuss seaside and coastal towns and to see how Government both local and national can further develop the potential from tourism and physical regeneration.  The success of regeneration to me is about bringing together financial resources with our most important asset – the people who live here.

Funding for local area

Last week the Heritage Lottery Fund came to Westminster to brief MP’s about their work in the North East.  I went along to hear about the projects they have funded...

Parliament returned from the Easter Recess with the Government facing questions on their own Panama Scandal after the Panama Papers revealed tax avoidance on a grand scale. Politicians may not be responsible for past decisions by their family but as he acknowledged the Prime Minister failed to close down questions about his own financial affairs.

 

Whether this will herald in a Swedish approach where everyone’s tax returns are public or a more limited approach which will see the public peeking behind politicians curtains, time will tell.  Ironically the point of tax avoidance surely is that information does not appear on tax returns. The question is not whether tax avoidance is legal and within the rules but whether the rules are strong enough. We can and should act in territories for which we are responsible and indeed in office we acted over the Turks and Caicos Islands because of financial wrongdoing.

 

Benjamin Franklin said the only two things certain in life are death and taxes.  We all want better schools and hospitals, our streets kept safe and our country defended but in truth few relish paying tax.  Taxation needs to be fair, transparent and unavoidable and politicians need to be trusted to spend our money wisely.  What is worrying is that just 8% of people asked were surprised by what the Panama Papers revealed. When Governments act to close down tax loopholes then maybe that trust will grow.

Time for action on tax avoidance scandal

Parliament returned from the Easter Recess with the Government facing questions on their own Panama Scandal after the Panama Papers revealed tax avoidance on a grand scale. Politicians may not...

The great French diplomat and politician Tallyrand allegedly said, on hearing of the death of the Turkish Ambassador, "I wonder what he meant by that?".  Much the same question was being asked when Iain Duncan Smith the DWP Secretary dramatically resigned over the budget.  Whatever his motives it led to a frantic rush to save the Budget and involved the abandonment, for now at least, of cuts to Personal Independence Payments payable to millions of disabled people.  Significantly the change came after a very effective campaign which saw constituent's emails filling up MP's inboxes.  The ship was only steadied when the Chancellor came to speak in the debate - an unprecedented step.  At the heart of the issue was the unfairness of cutting benefits for some disabled people while paying for it by cutting Capital Gains Tax for some of the richest.  The Government may have saved the day but now has a £4.4 billion black hole in the Budget which has to be filled somehow.  In the interests of balance I will praise the Chancellor for listening to calls to cut taxes on North Sea oil and gas where the price of oil is crippling the industry.  Both my neighbour Mary Glindon and I spoke in a parliamentary debate just before the budget in a cross party campaign to help the industry.  The Chancellor should get credit for listening.  He probably wished he'd listened more to Iain Duncan Smith.

Chaos at DWP

The great French diplomat and politician Tallyrand allegedly said, on hearing of the death of the Turkish Ambassador, "I wonder what he meant by that?".  Much the same question was...

Wednesday’s Budget inevitably attracts much media attention, but in fact the previous day’s business will have equally lasting consequences. The Investigatory Powers Bill seeks to deliver an up to date and comprehensive legal framework for the police and security services in their fight against serious and terrorist related crime.  The Bill will give a statutory footing for emergency legislation, due to expire at the end of this year.

 

Some critics say the legislation is being rushed.  Nothing could be further from the truth. The current laws have been independently reviewed.  A Joint Committee of the Commons and Lords Chaired by Paul Murphy, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, spent four months looking at the Bill.  The Intelligence and Security Committee has also scrutinised the proposals.  There is an agreed view that the legislation is necessary but has to be proportionate with robust safeguards.  Extra time has been built in for thorough parliamentary scrutiny.

 

Inevitably as the Bill has to respect privacy but also provide security some will object. There are concerns about access to bulk personal data, such as IP addresses which people use, at a time when more and more crime is moving online.  There is clearly a need for greater judicial authorisation to establish what the police and security services can and cannot do.

 

The police and security services keep us safe.  We owe it to them to give them the powers to continue to do so.

Budget

Wednesday’s Budget inevitably attracts much media attention, but in fact the previous day’s business will have equally lasting consequences. The Investigatory Powers Bill seeks to deliver an up to date...

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Alan Campbell, MP for Tynemouth today met with local McDonald’s franchisee Bill Liddy and his team at the newly transformed Coast Road restaurant, to discuss his recent investment, contribution to the local community, and the high-tech makeover.

During his visit, Alan was given a tour of the restaurant, including the kitchens, and met staff who gave him insight into how the restaurant operates locally.

Alan was particularly interested to hear about the restaurants’ work in dealing with litter through the daily litter patrols and the partnership with anti-littering group Keep Britain Tidy.  Just last week nine volunteers tackled the rubbish in and around the Garth Housing Estate, as part of the nationwide campaign – Clean for the Queen.

Alan Campbell MP, said: "I found my visit to McDonald's, on Coast Road, very valuable and I was really impressed with the new features. It’s positive to see how staff are valued and have a wide range of opportunities available. What's more the company cares about being part of the local community – events such as Clean for the Queen are a good example of this.”

Visiting Local Business

Alan Campbell, MP for Tynemouth today met with local McDonald’s franchisee Bill Liddy and his team at the newly transformed Coast Road restaurant, to discuss his recent investment, contribution to...

Parliament is now gripped by EU Referendum fever and is it’s likely to continue up to June 23rd.   The previous referendum was the last time I was too young to vote. I have never felt aggrieved at not voting but had I done so I would have voted to come out.  Now my view has changed and I will be voting to remain.  I’ve never been a Europhile, it’s hard to be one with the Common Fisheries Policy.  On balance however I believe our country is better off in than facing the uncertainty of being out.  It’s not about straight bananas, it’s about the founding principles which set up the Common Market then the European Union, first and foremost to avoid repeating two world wars when Europe tore itself apart. I’ve visited Nissan and seen jobs created by being able to access the single market. I’ve discussed with Hitachi Europe their reason for locating here, within the EU.  Europe is important to the Port of Tyne where a number of my constituents work. As a former Home Office Minister I worked with EU colleagues to tackle people trafficking and serious and organised crime. I’ve seen the importance of coordinating Europe’s approach to terrorism. As for pooling sovereignty to achieve more for Britain we do it all the time. So despite the talk of Europe and little else, the debate and the vote will be worth it in the end.

EU Referendum

Parliament is now gripped by EU Referendum fever and is it’s likely to continue up to June 23rd.   The previous referendum was the last time I was too young to...

This week, Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell has given up his column to Rebecca Moore, a member of the UK Youth Parliament representing North Tyneside.

Ten per cent – that is the proportion of young people who suffer from a mental health issue, 26 per cent is the percentage of young people in the UK who experience suicidal thoughts, and 70 per cent is the proportion of young people who suffer from mental health problems and don’t receive intervention at a sufficiently early age.

All young people deserve excellent quality mental health care and freedom from judgement and stigma.

The North Tyneside Young Person’s Health and Wellbeing group has been working for two years on a mental health education campaign, M!nd Your Head.

After presenting a report to the North Tyneside adult cabinet, schools and the youth select committee in parliament, we developed an education pack to teach young people about common mental health issues and how to support a friend experiencing them.

M!nd Your Head will be launched on Tuesday at the North Tyneside children and young people’s mental health strategy at the Langdale Centre.

We are so excited to finally share our work.

Education is key to breaking down walls between young people and the help they deserve, and we hope our campaign will contribute to a more accepting North Tyneside.



Campaign will educate on mental health

This week, Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell has given up his column to Rebecca Moore, a member of the UK Youth Parliament representing North Tyneside. Ten per cent – that is...

Constituents often ask me to support Ten Minute Rule Bills or Private Members’ Bills.

Ten Minute Rule Bills are where backbench MPs get ten minutes to propose a bill to change the law.

MP’s enter a ballot for Private Members’ Bills, but few have much chance of becoming law. They are debated on 13 Fridays a year when government backbenchers talk out or vote down the bill. The exception is a “handout” bill, which the government gives to a compliant backbencher, which then succeeds with government support. Few make it that far.

Last Friday neither Kerry McCarthy’s Food Waste Bill nor Mike Kane’s Mesothelioma Bill even got to be debated. Unsurprisingly, most MPs prefer working in their constituency to the frustration of Friday sittings.

The Procedure Committee is looking at ways of shifting the balance of power from the government towards MPs. It could make sure a vote happens at the end of the debate. Time for Private Members’ Bills could be found during the week when more MPs are around. The government could also lose the power to deny a money resolution, which most bills need and which was how the Affordable Homes Bill and second EU Referendum Bill were stopped.

The government’s business currently before the House is pretty thin. Maybe MPs could use the time more productively.



Frustrations of getting Bills made into law

Constituents often ask me to support Ten Minute Rule Bills or Private Members’ Bills. Ten Minute Rule Bills are where backbench MPs get ten minutes to propose a bill to...

Our local primary schools are amongst the best in the country with virtually all being assessed as good or outstanding. That’s a tribute to the efforts of staff, parents, governors and of course pupils themselves. But as pupils progress through their schooling there’s always been a tension between outcomes in terms of results and whether students at secondary school enjoy learning and have the opportunity to be creative.

The Government intends to introduce an English Baccalaureate as a measure which recognises where pupils have secured a C grade or better at GCSE in English, Maths, History or Geography, the sciences and a language. There is concern however that the proposal will squeeze out creative subjects and risks pushing art, drama, music and design out of schools. Already we’re seeing a drop in pupils taking music and drama to GCSE.

Critics argue that by placing the curriculum in a straightjacket, rather than driving up standards the attainment gap between poorer children and their peers will widen. The parents of some pupils may be able to buy the experience for their children outside of school, for others it will be beyond reach. For employers there may be evidence of literacy or numeracy but not much about the wider person. Many people on our local community care passionately about education. If you want your voice to be heard you can give your views on the Department for Education consultation website before 29th January.

School plan may squeeze out creativity

Our local primary schools are amongst the best in the country with virtually all being assessed as good or outstanding. That’s a tribute to the efforts of staff, parents, governors...

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