I don’t agree with the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, on many things but I do agree with her when she says it is the primary responsibility of Government to defend our country. An opportunity to demonstrate that came earlier this week when the Government held a long awaited vote on renewing Britain’s nuclear deterrent.
For all of my lifetime Britain has relied upon nuclear weapons as the ultimate weapon of last resort. First air dropped bombs and then missiles launched from submarines signalled to potential enemies that any invasion of Britain or our NATO allies would unleash a response too costly for any gain they would hope to make.
The decision to develop a nuclear deterrent was made by the Post-war Labour Government and continued by successive governments since. Our party policy is to maintain a credible minimum nuclear deterrent because that has helped maintain peace in Europe.
This decision was about renewing the current submarines and whether we order four successor submarines, allowing a continuous presence at sea. The two big unions Unite and GMB recognised the importance of the work their members do by strongly supporting renewal.
The world in which nuclear weapons and deterrence were developed was a dangerous uncertain place and it remains so. No one knows what new challenges we may face over the next fifty years which is why in my view it would be foolhardy to abandon this particular insurance policy.
I don’t agree with the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, on many things but I do agree with her when she says it is the primary responsibility of Government to...
At the time of writing, we remain in the EU but by the time you read it that may not be the case. It seemed to be the most pressing issue. Then my colleague Jo Cox MP was murdered and things changed.
Sometimes the tributes paid to people overstate what they did or who they were. That’s not the case with Jo Cox. She really had the qualities and potential attributed to her, but above all she was a young, loving mum of two small children.
Whether the extreme language of the campaign directly contributed to the awful violence which killed her will be mulled over in the weeks ahead. Whether the confrontational language of politics can change when democratic debate requires a degree of difference and division, we'll have to wait and see. And what of social media which has created a virtual community in which people think any opinion goes? The fact that by saying that, I expect a reaction, serves my point.
The referendum on June 23rd was always important but now it has taken on a further dimension. It is for some about the country they fear we are becoming, compared to the country we could be. Whatever the outcome, the murder of Jo Cox has cast a long shadow over our country and over MP’s whose accessibility is at the heart of our democracy. It may be a case of "Never glad confident morning again"
At the time of writing, we remain in the EU but by the time you read it that may not be the case. It seemed to be the most pressing...
The first responsibility of government is to safeguard the security of its citizens. The Investigatory Powers Bill currently before parliament is an important of achieving that. The Bill seeks to update the powers available to the police and security services to tackle terrorism, child sexual abuse and online serious crime. Gathering and sharing information between forces and our European allies is key to successful policing and security in a modern age. There have been huge changes in technology and modern technology is often available to those who would do us harm as well as those who keep us safe. On one side our human rights legislation dates from a time when the biggest threat was to individuals from an overpowering and intrusive state; on the other the biggest threat now is from crazed and criminal individuals seeking to harm the state and community. A balance needs to be struck with powers that work but also safeguard people going about their lawful business such as journalists and trade unionists. The Investigatory Powers Bill needed to create laws which give greater transparency and are more clearly defined and proportionate. Because the Government and Opposition worked hard together to find common ground and address concerns, the Bill now does that and I was pleased to support it. Those changes, along with vital tools like the European Arrest Warrant, mean that those who work to keep us safe can get on with their job.
The first responsibility of government is to safeguard the security of its citizens. The Investigatory Powers Bill currently before parliament is an important of achieving that. The Bill seeks to...
With the EU Referendum likely to dominate politics until June 23rd and beyond, it would be easy to forget there are other important matters. One of them, which could carry a sting in the tail for the Government, is the WASPI campaign.
WASPI, which stands for Women Against State Pension Inequality, is campaigning on behalf of women unfairly impacted by plans to equalise women’s State Pension Age with men’s. Since the 1940’s women have expected to receive their State Pension at 60 but Pension Acts in 1995 and 2011 changed that to 66. Women born on or after 6 April 1951 were the ones most affected and although many accept, sometimes reluctantly, the need for raising the retirement age, WASPI’s key complaint is the Government’s failure to provide timely or proper information about the changes. In short many women only found out as they approached 60 that they would have to wait 6 years longer without time to prepare alternative pension plans.
The Work and Pensions Select Committee called on the Government to make up for their mishandling and the Commons has voted in favour of the women affected. The Government response, a review, doesn’t address the main concerns. 2.6 million women are affected, some live in my constituency. A court challenge may be possible and a petition of Parliament is being prepared. Anyone who believes they may be affected should get in touch with their MP.
With the EU Referendum likely to dominate politics until June 23rd and beyond, it would be easy to forget there are other important matters. One of them, which could carry...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.”
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...