Welcome to my community update covering my work over the past month.
A plain text version and videos of questions mentioned in the update can be found further down this page.
Libraries APPG meeting with Ukraine’s Culture Minister
As Chair of the APPG for Libraries, Knowledge and Information, I was pleased to welcome Oleksandr Tkachenko, the Ukrainian Minister for Culture and Information, to a meeting at the end of the month.
I was please so many MPs and Peers joined the meeting. The Minister spoke of the importance of ensuring Ukrainian books are stocked in UK libraries, as these have been under constant attack by the Russian government. We also discussed the idea of twinning libraries in Ukraine with those in the UK to build international partnerships.”
The session was recorded, you can watch the session here: click here.
A ban on ‘virginity testing’
During Women and Equality Questions this month, I asked ministers for an update on when the ban on hymenoplasty or ‘virginity testing’ will come into force. The Minister said that a bill had been passed and the Government remain committed to the ban, but offered no date when this law would come into force.
You can watch my question here: click here.
Supporting Guide Dogs
I am proud to have been a long-term supporter of Guide Dogs and other charities that train guide and support dogs. It was lovely to meet August, her mum and buddy dog.
It is crucial that young people with visual impairments get the support they need and have equal opportunities to learn and thrive. That is why is was such a pleasure to join August at the Parliamentary drop in this month.
Local Elections this week
It has been great to see Labour teams out across the city. Labour is on your side and is committed to championing our local communities, in Parliament and Town Halls.
I’ve been out with Labour teams talking to residents about our councillors and South Yorkshire’s next Labour Mayor Oliver Coppard. I hope you can join your local Labour teams in the last week running up to polling day.
End of the Parliamentary Session
Last week saw the proroguing of Parliament, or the close of the Parliamentary session. This has been a very difficult session, the war in Ukraine, cost of living crisis and the onslaught of Tory sleaze have been the biggest issues we have dealt with. Over the last week several key bills were passed, despite vocal opposition or criticism from opposition MPs.
Elections Bill – this Bill passed amid criticism that it limits access to polling stations by imposing ID requirements and politicises the Electoral Commission. Hundreds of charities voiced their opposition to this Bill, citing it’s likely impact on Black, Asian and minority ethnic voters. This was the Government’s solution to a problem that does not exist.
Nationality and Borders Bill – was also passed last week. Again, hundreds of charities and community organisations voiced strong opposition to the Bill, with the UN Human Rights body saying it would penalise most refugees seeking asylum in the UK.
Health and Care Bill – also passed this week, with many on Labour’s benches voicing concern that the Bill in its current form opens the doors for further privatisation of the NHS. I am clear that the NHS is a valuable public service and should remain public.
As Parliament returns, the Queens Speech will take place and the Government will outline their legislative plan for the session ahead. I will be seeking to speak up for Brightside and Hillsborough in the debates that take place in May.
Labour’s Shadow Roads Minister
Debate on a Public Transport Authority in South Yorkshire
I was pleased to respond for the Labour Party in a Westminster Hall debate on the merits of a public transport authority for South Yorkshire. This debate was particularly important to me due to the subject matter.
Many of South Yorkshire’s MPs spoke in this debate, which was called by Alexander Stafford, During the debate, Paul Blomfield highlighted the stark difference between Mr Stafford’s ambitious speech and the reality of a Tory government that has cut £1.5bn from public transport spending since 2009.
In my speech I spoke about the sheer lack of sincerity from the Government when it came to public transport. South Yorkshire has been looked over twice for vital funding now, spending on buses is half of what was promised to level up buses to London standards, and funding for ‘Transport for the North’ is set to be slashed.
View my contribution to the debate here: click link.