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Jim Fitzpartick
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Statement

26 Apr

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EU Referendum, Brexit and the General Election

April 26, 2017 | By | No Comments

Last year, I campaigned for the UK to remain a member of the European Union but as we know, the nation chose to leave. Below are some of the questions I’ve been asked on the subject and my responses to them…

 67% of Tower Hamlets voted to Remain, why did you back Brexit?

I have been asked by some constituents why I didn’t ‘abide by the outcome’ locally. The referendum was a national issue in which everyone had an equal vote. I feel there is a principle here, in terms of respecting and abiding by the result and believe it is simply wrong to try to overturn the democratically achieved outcome. If Remain had won the vote, we all would have expected the result to have been honoured.

I’d also ask you to consider that if the decision had gone the other way- how would you feel if those who’d voted Leave, after having lost the referendum then tried to override the result?

This was not an easy decision for me to make and I understand not everyone is in line with my thinking. Since the vote I have advocated and supported an exit strategy that is as fair, reasonable and tenable as possible.

But the referendum was only advisory!

No one was promised an advisory referendum, with the final decision being left to Parliament. Everyone went into the referendum believing the result would be binding.

What did Labour do during the debate on Brexit?

The Labour Party brought forward and argued in favour of several amendments over the course of the debate on the Brexit Bill. We continually called for a meaningful vote on the final terms of the deal in Parliament and repeatedly emphasised that EU citizens should not be used as bargaining chips. Despite our efforts, all amendments were voted down by the Government.

When the Bill made its way to the House of Lords, Labour Peers voted against the Government on both these issues but on its return to the Commons, the amendments were again voted down. The Prime Minister and David Davis made it clear during the debate that there was no amendment, however re-worded they were willing to accept in the Bill.

In the end, it was pressure from Labour that forced the Government to concede and guarantee that Parliament will have a vote on both the withdrawal arrangements and future relationship with the EU.

How will Labour fight to ensure a fair Brexit for all?

Labour wants an outward-looking UK and opposes Theresa May’s attitude to Brexit. The Labour Party have promised that if we win the General Election we’ll offer a unilateral guarantee to EU nationals living in the UK that they can stay.

We’ll also ensure that Parliament has its say and if it were to reject our deal, we’d return to negotiations.

Labour’s alternative approach would leave decisions like access to the single market and the customs union on the table and will protect the rights of workers, the environment and consumers. Our plan would be to rebuild the economy by investing in infrastructure, skills, new technology and the green industries.

Isn’t this General Election all about Brexit?

No, absolutely not. The Tories will focus solely on Brexit in the coming weeks but this election is about far, far more than that. Living standards are falling, wages have stagnated, local council budgets are being slashed, child poverty is on the rise, social care is in crisis, school budgets are being cut and our NHS is in deep trouble. Never a day goes by without a constituent raising their concerns.

A vote for Labour on 8 June will mean a chance to address all the above. Poplar and Limehouse cannot afford another five years of the Tories and neither can the country.

19 Apr

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Jim Fitzpatrick responds to snap General Election

April 19, 2017 | By | 4 Comments

To all constituents – I would like to confirm I will be seeking re-election as your Member of Parliament for Poplar and Limehouse on 8 June. I had previously said I would stand down in 2020 but it’s only 2017. Today I voted against an early general election but the vast majority of MPs voted in favour.

I didn’t foresee an early election and was shocked by the Prime Minister’s announcement, especially given the number of times she said she wouldn’t call one. It is sheer political opportunism at a time of great uncertainty for the country.

The Tories will focus solely on Brexit in the coming weeks but this election is about far, far more than that. Living standards are falling, wages have stagnated, local council budgets are being slashed, child poverty is on the rise, social care is in crisis, school budgets are being cut and our NHS is in deep trouble. Never a day goes by without a constituent raising their concerns.

A vote for Labour on 8 June will mean a chance to address all the above. Constituents in Poplar and Limehouse must unite around these issues and fight hard for a Labour victory. Tower Hamlets cannot afford another five years of the Tories and neither can the country.

21 Nov

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Two weeks left to report issues for ‘Clear Up’ project

November 21, 2016 | By | No Comments

The council is taking steps to improve how it works and ensure it is more transparent, following the introducing of government-appointed commissioners almost two years ago.

An independent ‘Clear Up’ team has been set up to deal with any outstanding allegations of impropriety or serious concerns residents or staff might have for the period from October 2010 to June 2016.

More information about the team’s work can be found here.

And there are now just two weeks left for people to come forward with their concerns.

James Richardson, a secondee to the Council from the Civil Service, has been appointed as the ‘Clear Up’ Project Manager and is overseeing the team which aims to encourage people to identify any issues during this timeframe which have not yet been looked into.

James said: “This is a completely independent process, and where possible we will be seeking to protect the anonymity of those who want to come forward.

“As well as giving residents, partners and external stakeholders a chance to raise specific concerns, there is also the same opportunity for staff, so I would urge anyone with any outstanding issues to raise them by 8 December.”

Allegations for investigation by the Clear Up team have to be submitted before this date. After the 8 December, any issues should be raised through the council’s usual whistleblowing process.

To submit an allegation you can:

Allegations should be as specific as possible.

For more information about the Commissioners and their roles, you can visit the council’s website: towerhamlets.gov.uk

28 Jun

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EU Referendum Statement

June 28, 2016 | By | No Comments

Like many Tower Hamlets residents, I am disappointed with the result of the EU Referendum.

However, another referendum is not going to make matters better.

We need to accept the public’s decision and seek a way forward, especially when there may be a General Election ahead. Labour needs to win the public’s trust again.

In the aftermath of the referendum, I cannot see Jeremy Corbyn taking us to government, so we may have new leaders of both parties.

I am also horrified by the recent outburst in hate crimes across London and the UK. I urge residents to report any incidents to the police and the police to do all they can to keep everyone in our community safe as I am sure they are doing.

The outcome of the referendum is not a legitimisation of racism or intolerance.

We may be leaving the EU but this does not stop us from continuing to work with our existing connections and links. Britain still has a bright future despite this outcome.

Further, the oncoming Tory leadership contest and possible General Election may be a way for a second look at this decision.

Whatever happens, it is certain that politics in Britain is in for a turbulent time.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP

11 Dec

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On Syria, Daesh and UK intervention

December 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

As many people will be aware, MPs were given the opportunity to vote on whether the UK should extend military action to Syria last week. 397 parliamentary colleagues voted for the motion to 223 who voted against. On this occasion, I found myself in the majority. I was and still am in favour of extending our efforts to Syria.

Given that I resigned from my ministerial position in 2013 over my outright disagreement of intervening in Syria back then, I assure you my decision last week was one over which I thought long and hard.

I listened to constituents (because believe it or not, there were those who were for the action and those who were not) and took every opportunity to attend briefings and read as much as I could on the matter.

My decision was based on a genuine difference of opinion, that we need to attack the terrorists of Daesh directly and was neither an attack on Islam nor on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Daesh claims to be an Islamic state but I am sure many of you will agree that much if not all of their actions scream against the peaceful teachings of Islam.

The stabbing in Leytonstone tube station last weekend where the attacker claimed his actions were “for Syria” and the subsequent “YouAintMuslimBruv” hashtag, which trended on Twitter, is a very recent and close to home example of how un-Islamic the ideology really is. It is clear the best of Daesh’s critics are in fact Muslims.

The vote on Syria was declared a “free vote” by Jeremy solely because of the many differences of opinion which he recognised.

Those of you who follow news on UK military intervention will know that we have been engaged in action against Daesh in Iraq for some time, the military intervention in Syria will only be an extension of this campaign.

Further, the commencement by the international community of the peace talks in Vienna, indicate greater determination to end the Syrian Civil War.

I am well aware that attacking Daesh alone will not halt its existence but it will hinder its ability to exist. The experience of air strikes against Daesh in Iraq has been positive so far and needs to be repeated wherever they are. Further, the record of our forces minimising civilian casualties is better than other countries and we will continue to work to ensure civilians are protected from Daesh. There are also other aspects to the conflict being addressed including Daesh arms supplies, sales of oil and other revenues which are being pursued alongside military intervention.

The reason I was against military action in Syria in 2013 was because I wasn’t satisfied that these aspects of the conflict, including a post conflict strategy were not being properly addressed.

However, the story today is very different and I hope the outcome will be too.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP

09 Sep

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Assisted Dying Bill

September 9, 2015 | By | No Comments

This post addresses a sensitive area for some readers this week, but I feel it is an important issue which needs to be discussed.

Some of you may be aware of the contents of the ‘Assisted Dying Bill’ which will be debated once again in Parliament tomorrow (September 11th).

If passed, the Bill would enable competent adults, who are terminally ill, to choose to be provided with medically supervised assistance to end their own life.

Having considered this issue at length, I wholeheartedly support the Bill, provided the correct safeguards are put in place.

Everyone should be given the choice when faced with a terminal illness to choose when to end their life because of exactly that reason, it is their life.

I believe those who are suffering from a terminal illness, who know they will have to endure extreme pain until the very end, who know their loved ones will have to watch while their health deteriorates, deserve to choose what kind of end they have to their life while they are still capable of making this decision.

Many people will agree that the Bill is not so much about wanting to die but about accepting what is medically inevitable and choosing the manner in which one wishes to go.

If it is logistically possible and patients can afford it, Britons are presently able to travel to Dignitas to receive assistance but as the law currently stands, such a decision could incriminate family and friends, and is not available to everyone because of costs.

Whilst I agree that life is important and is something that should be preserved, I cannot consider arguments surrounding the ‘sanctity of life’ as rational in this instance as I do not believe subjecting a loved one to unrelenting pain and grief despite their cries for an end is what someone who values life would do. The only way to stop the suffering is to medicate heavily.

Sometimes ‘quality of life’ is just more important, I believe it is unfair to deny someone the right to a peaceful death simply because someone unrelated believes everyone should live for as long as possible.

In the end, we are all entitled to our own thoughts on assisted dying. What I want to see is the choice being made available to those who do want to end their life, without fear of incrimination or huge expense on top of unbearable pain.

10 Mar

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Housing Associations

March 10, 2015 | By | No Comments

use housing associations

I would like to start off by praising the many housing associations in Poplar and Limehouse that do an absolute fantastic job working with the residents of Tower Hamlets in ensuring housing needs are met.

Their consistency has not gone unnoticed. However, there are concerns about the activities of some housing associations operating in the Borough.

Just last month, one housing association was found by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to have breached its home standards. This was through their provision of poor repairs services which put the health and safety of tenants at risk.

Over the past few years Poplar and Limehouse has seen a dramatic regeneration in the number and quality of properties available to tenants and homeowners. There are questions about the affordability of many of these homes.

Among other concerns, this was debated in the Commons on Friday, in my debate on “Housing Association transfer ballots”. (For full text visit: http://www.jimfitzpatrickmp.org/news/?p=746)

Residents have been raising their complaints but there is no system in place to hold housing associations properly to account. It is my view that residents should be able to decide who to appoint as their housing association with the right to sack and appoint another if major failures are found.

You may remember this is not the first time I have brought this issue to the House; in 2012 I highlighted in the Chamber that the housing related grievances in Poplar and Limehouse will not be going away unactioned.

The then Minister, Mr Don Foster replied he would keep a close eye on the housing situation in Poplar and Limehouse and do his best to secure meetings with Ministers concerned.

Despite this, problems continue and solutions are harder to find.

11 Feb

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Tax avoidance

February 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

Tax avoidance has been a big issue in the news as of late, particularly in relation to HSBC.

I am sure to many of you in the Borough, HSBC is a familiar face with its Canary Wharf headquarters towering above and viewable from, much of Poplar and Limehouse.

In a number of leaked documents, HSBC was found to have helped customers evade or avoid paying tax.

The documents contained detailed information identifying thousands of HSBC clients allegedly guilty of tax evasion.

Although the documents were originally leaked in 2007 by HSBC, they were passed onto the Government in May 2010.

It is therefore deeply concerning that in the five years the Government has been in receipt of these leaked documents, only one person has been found guilty of tax evasion.

It is clear the Government is not doing enough to prevent big corporations from using illegal means to avoid paying their taxes.

In a time when living standards are low, where families in and around Poplar and Limehouse are struggling to make ends meet, tax avoidance continues to be devastating blow to those hardest hit by this Government’s austerity measures.

However, this is not to forget the many businesses in the Borough, particularly those situated in Canary Wharf, who do follow appropriate tax regulations and who do pay the correct money they owe. It has not gone unnoticed that many companies contribute greatly to the local community with money, resources and through volunteers.

Nevertheless, the Government urgently need to crack down on tax avoidance, close loopholes and increase transparency in the tax system.

I would also like to see the Government ensure there is greater independent scrutiny of the tax system and do more to ensure the public can see who owns firms and how much tax they pay.

These so called ‘tax havens’ for the rich are costing us ordinary, hard-working people, British families and businesses alike.

Labour is proposing an international blacklist giving UK tax havens just six months to get their house in order or face being sanctioned which I believe is a good step towards tackling this issue.

Ultimately, individuals and companies alike should pay their fair share, and where the international rules are not fit for purpose we have to change them and this is what Labour promises to do if elected this May.

06 Feb

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Cuts to GP Services

February 6, 2015 | By | No Comments

1516 GP services

There are number of GP surgeries in the Borough currently under threat of closure due to Government plans to change NHS funding.

Since the Government decided to phase out a funding arrangement called the Minimum Practice Income Guarantee (MPIG) which was originally introduced to protect surgeries from losses, pressure on surgeries has intensified.

You may remember, this issue first came to light last year in May and since then there has been a borough wide campaign to save our surgeries with huge support from the people of Poplar and Limehouse.

It really is great to see local organisations and the wider community in Poplar and Limehouse supporting their GPs.

One such example includes the Friends of St Katharine’s Docks which played a central role in supporting St Katharine’s Docks practice. I visited the practice just last week for its opening since being refurbished and whilst solutions were found last May, it is clear that they were only short term and the practice still faces closure despite efforts.

Further, I met with a number of GPs for a visit at the Houses of Parliament last month to discuss their concerns and this ended with a meeting with Shadow Health Minister Andy Burnham MP.

Increasing concerns surrounding GP services are making it a major issue in Poplar and Limehouse; I was glad to take part in the debate on ‘Building Sustainable GP Services’ on Thursday and represent those concerns in Parliament.

You can see my contributions to the debate here: http://bit.ly/1AzZ222

According to the British Medical Association (BMA), there is a rising demand for GP appointments and in 2013, an estimated 26.2 million people waited over one week to see their GP.

There is also a concern that there are not enough GPs to serve the rising demand. The Royal College of General Practitioners has estimated that we need another 10,000 GPs recruited nationally.

It is evident that GP practices in their current state are not meeting the demands of their patients due to lack of funding, it simply does not make sense to sanction them even further.

For many people in Poplar and Limehouse, seeing our GP is oftentimes our only port of call for advice on health related issues.

It is disappointing to see that we are still in the same position as we were last year, when we last spoke on GP services.

Ultimately, the problem has only been partly addressed. Until the Government look into resolving issues surrounding GP services entirely, the future of our GP practices remain uncertain.

I however, will continue to work with our local practices and keep pushing the Government to find a solution.

21 Nov

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Ofsted Report

November 21, 2014 | By | No Comments

Following the publication of Ofsted reports into Sir John Cass School and six independent schools in Tower Hamlets:

Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse:

“This is not good news for Tower Hamlets and is especially disappointing given how well our mainstream schools are doing generally.‎ More criticism from Central Government gives a bad and false impression of our Borough”.

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow:

“It has taken a generation to transform schools and raise educational standards in Tower Hamlets for the better with massive improvements  in results. In the early 1990s, only 15% of students in the borough got 5 or more GCSEs, it is now above the national average at 64%.  However, the Ofsted inspection reports have raised important concerns that need to be urgently addressed. The focus must now be on ensuring these schools, working with the Local Education Authority, Ofsted and DfE, take the necessary action to ensure the best possible education is provided for all young people in Tower Hamlets.”

Cllr. Rachael Saunders, Labour Lead on Tower Hamlets Council:

“Many parents will be concerned about the education of their children in the light of this report. We will hold the council to account to ensure it now plays its part to address those concerns. The outstanding educational success stories of Tower Hamlets were built on young people, their families, teachers and communities coming together. That cohesion and sense of purpose must not be undermined as people respond to these findings.”

Cllr. Danny Hassell, a local councillor and Labour Group spokesperson on schools:

“The council must ensure that the issues in these schools are addressed as a matter of urgency.  We know that improvements in our community schools are a result of the council working with governors, teachers and parents.  The council needs to ensure all council run schools are delivering a broad and balanced curriculum and intervening early where needed.”

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