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2015 March

26 Mar

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HISTORIC 0.7% AID COMMITMENT ENSHRINED IN LAW

March 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

1532 CAidMGN_07PcullisHouse2503_041

Today’s (Wednesday 25th March) Parliamentary event celebrates the passage of International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill after it received its Royal Assent. The Act puts into legislation the target of spending at least 0.7% of national income on aid and requires that the Secretary of State makes arrangements for the independent evaluation of aid expenditure.

British aid saves lives and the 0.7% target would continue to ensure that every two seconds a child in a poor country gets vaccinated against deadly diseases and 10.2 million children the chance to go school. It was a commitment that was made in the 2010 manifestos of all the three major parties and after 40 years since the target was first agreed, the UK has enshrined the commitment into law.

Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said “Today we kept a promise to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. The Labour party had a commitment to enshrine 0.7% of the UK’s GNI into legislation and we have honoured this today.

“The UK continues to lead the way on international development. British aid makes a tremendous difference to millions by lifting them out of poverty, preventing hunger and treatable illnesses as well as getting more children into education. We should all be proud of what we achieved today.”

The Turn Up Save Lives Coalition said: “Today marks a historic achievement. The UK has honoured a promise made over forty years ago and the new legislation will now allow the Department of International Development to plan for effective, long term investments, improving value for money for the taxpayer.

“Enshrining the commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on foreign aid into law will provide a long term commitment and guarantee to those who need it the most. It will deliver vital healthcare, clean water and access to essential financial services to developing nations. It is this generation of British politicians from across all parties in both Houses of Parliament that have helped achieve this historical moment and for that we would like to say thank you.”

For more information on the Turn Up Save Lives campaign, please visit:http://www.turnupsavelives.org.uk/

26 Mar

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Early day motion 880 URBAN DEVELOPMENT

March 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

URBAN DEVELOPMENT

Session: 2014-15

Date tabled: 17.03.2015

Primary sponsor: Slaughter, Andy

Sponsors:  Fitzpatrick, Jim | Buck, Karen | Pearce, Teresa | Gapes, Mike | Abbott, Diane

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation [Establishment] Order 2015 [SI, 2015, No. 53], dated 23 January 2015, a copy of which was laid before this House on 27 January 2015, be annulled

26 Mar

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Early day motion 861 SALVATION ARMY

March 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

SALVATION ARMY

Session: 2014-15

Date Jim signed: 23.03.2015

Primary sponsor: Shannon, Jim

Sponsors:

McCrea, Dr William | Simpson, David | Donaldson, Jeffrey | Bottomley, Peter | Connarty, Michael

That this House congratulates the Salvation Army on reaching its 150th anniversary; acknowledges the great work that General William Booth began and that still continues in communities throughout the UK to this day; and commends it for its passion and dedication in the service of others.

Link: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2014-15/861

23 Mar

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Budget Speech

March 23, 2015 | By | No Comments

Excerpt taken from:

Ways and Means — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation — Amendment of the Law

budget6

12.16 pm

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Bury St Edmunds (Mr Ruffley). I have the highest regard for him, as I am sure he knows, and I am sorry that he is leaving the House. He has given another eloquent and solid performance on behalf of his Chancellor and his party, but he will not be surprised to learn that I do not agree with his analysis, as I shall outline in a few moments.

Many previous Budgets have taken until Sunday to unravel. It was to the credit of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition that he immediately spotted the big flaw in this Budget. In his response, he cited the Red Book to identify that the level of cuts impacting on the public sector over the next three years will be as deep as the cuts during the past five years. Many Labour colleagues have already referred to that in the debates during the past two days.

In fairness, there were some redeeming features, as there are in every Budget. The hon. Member for Bury St Edmunds mentioned that that was true of Budgets during Labour’s period in office. Those features include the initiatives on savings and the extra money for air ambulances, while bashing the banks is always popular—the hon. Gentleman is going back to the City, but that measure has gone down well with the public—and the measures on tax evasion and avoidance clearly have universal support.

There are, however, clear dividing lines between the parties. In east London, the big ticket issues are homes, training, the national health service and the public sector in general, including the issue of local authority budgets. I and my hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali), whom I am happy to see in her place, have not only assisted the campaign to save the local health service for the past 18 months, but are still trying to get a clearer picture of the budget for primary care in our part of east London as well as that for east London generally. There is real concern about the funding of health centres right across the country, and it is not clear whether the Budget will offer them any help.

On adult training and further and higher education, Tower Hamlets college has had a 25% in its budget during the past four years, and only this week there has been an announcement about another 24% cut. That will have a huge impact on adult training in east London; it will certainly do so in my constituency. The announcement has united the Association of Colleges, the University

20 Mar 2015 : Column 1055

and College Union and the National Union of Students, as well as students themselves. The fact that such an alliance should come together demonstrates that the issue is very serious, and it is not just restricted to east London. My hon. Friend the Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham) raised it in an oral question yesterday, showing that other parts of the country are affected as well.

That announcement will also mean further cuts to English as a second language training, which is hugely important to east London. Last year, it was found that English for speakers of other languages training has already been reduced by 40% over the past five years. Such training is critical to train and educate people with English language challenges so that they can compete in the jobs market.

On policing, there seems to be something of a conundrum. Although crime figures are down, my office has supplied me with Library statistics that show that there were 825 police officers in Tower Hamlets in 2010 and 627 this year, which is almost 200 fewer. Theft is up by 8%, burglary by 24%, sexual offences by 28% and robbery by 33%. Notwithstanding the Government’s success in making efficiency savings in police budgets, at some point the pendulum is going to swing too far. We are already perilously close to that point, and, sadly, it looks like police budgets are going to be squeezed even more.

There is consensus on and support for the benefits cap, but it throws up some anomalies. In east London, a number of families live in private sector rented accommodation and are charged market rents, and the benefits cap has a disproportionate effect on their ability to live. That is one example of how a universal benefit cap affects families in London. The shadow Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), outlined Labour’s proposals for a fairer rents policy and guaranteed rents over three years, which will go down very well in east London and elsewhere.

A number of colleagues, certainly the Chancellor, made great play of the minimum wage. Government Members have said a lot about Opposition predictions of the number of jobs that would be lost through austerity. We say that if there had been no austerity, we could have made progress a lot sooner, because when the coalition came to power the economy had been growing for a couple of months. I remind the Conservative Members that when Labour introduced the national minimum wage, they were very confident that it would cost 1 million jobs. That prediction proved to be entirely wrong. For many of us, the living wage is even more important than the minimum wage.

In Canary Wharf in my constituency there are some fantastically well-paid bankers, but 105,000 people work there, many of whom are in low-paid jobs in cleaning, security and retail. I am happy to report that the majority of companies on the wharf have a living wage policy. I would like to see the Government promoting the living wage far more aggressively than they currently do. I am sure that a Labour Government would bring that aggressiveness to bear in due course.

Mr Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that the Conservatives are taking exactly the same view of the living wage as they did of

20 Mar 2015 : Column 1056

the minimum wage? That is shown by the comments of the Tory peer Lord Wolfson, who, as head of Next, paid himself £4.6 million last year, but says that the living wage is “irrelevant”. It is not irrelevant to my constituents.

Jim Fitzpatrick: My hon. Friend makes a very good point. Low wages are costing the Exchequer, and higher, fairer wages would benefit both the Exchequer and families. That argument is borne out by statistics that show that the living wage would help not only families but the economy.

I intervened earlier on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to ask him about the Institute for Fiscal Studies report on migrant labour fuelling the economy, which was reported on in yesterday’s Independent and today’s Guardian. We do not seem to have acknowledged the contribution of migrants to the economy and how they have helped it over the past five years. The Government do not deserve all the credit. As I said, the Government wasted a number of years—a point that has been made a number of times by the Opposition.

Moving towards a conclusion—I am sure you will be pleased to hear that, Madam Deputy Speaker—I want to draw attention to some comments that have been made about the Budget. The chief executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said:

“People on the lowest income and those without savings benefit least from this Budget…Positive moves on the personal allowance and fuel duty provide some small gains for stretched households, but there was nothing to address challenges around childcare, energy bills and private rents.”

All those challenges are addressed by Labour’s programme, which will go down well with Citizens Advice.

The Chancellor might not have been happy to hear what two commentators from the right had to say. I do not often quote right-wing commentators, but the editor of The Spectator, Fraser Nelson, said:

“I wonder: how ‘independent’ is the OBR? Osborne created it, defined its remit, appointed its chairman, banned it from assessing Labour ideas”.

If the Government, particularly the Conservative party, are so convinced and confident that Labour’s plans do not stack up and that our figures would create a black hole, why not use the independent Office for Budget Responsibility to do the analysis and reinforce their argument? I find it very strange and curious that that has not happened.

In yesterday’s Times, the subheading to an article by Tim Montgomerie—I do not agree with a lot of what he and Fraser Nelson say, but they are great writers and always a pleasure to read—stated, “The chancellor’s statement was the latest example of the Tories’ risk-averse strategy and leaves them without a vision”, while the headline stated, “We need more than this dull, simplistic budget”. If the Chancellor is being attacked from the right and from the left, I assume that some people will say, “He must be getting it right, because he’s in the middle,” but Labour Members do not agree.

The Chancellor also referred a number of times to fixing the roof while the sun shines. In Tower Hamlets when Labour was in power, most of our health centres and schools were rebuilt or refurbished; more than 20 Sure Start centres and the new Royal London hospital were opened; and thousands—possibly tens of thousands

20 Mar 2015 : Column 1057

—of council and housing association properties were raised to the decency threshold for the first time in years and in some cases decades.

I do not accept that we crashed the car. As the shadow Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central, said earlier, Lehman Brothers did not crash in New York because of public sector spending in east London. Labour Members not only think but know there is a better way, and on 7 May I hope people will give us a chance to show exactly what it is.

23 Mar

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Ways and Means — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation — Amendment of the Law

March 23, 2015 | By | No Comments

Excerpt taken from Friday 20th debate on:

Ways and Means — Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation — Amendment of the Law

Jim Fitzpatrick: I thank the Secretary of State for giving way. I apologise for interrupting him prematurely at the beginning of his speech. I was just very curious to know whether, in outlining the economic recovery, he was going to refer to the report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which was covered by yesterday’s Telegraph and today’s Guardian and says that the 300,000 immigrants have fuelled the recovery. What does that do to the UK Independence party’s fox and some of the Members on the Government Benches who have been raising immigration as a scare story?

Mr Pickles: Of course if we create more jobs in the UK than in the rest of the European Union combined, it is not surprising that we are doing well, and that people are leaving our great friends in France to come here to increase our prosperity. I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman, who has such a distinguished record of supporting the firefighters, did not wish to congratulate the Government on changing the rules to ensure that spouses of firefighters who die in action will be able to remarry, should they desire to do so, and not lose their pension.

Link: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150320/debtext/150320-0001.htm#150320-0001.htm_spnew6

20 Mar

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Money Lenders: Written question – 226877

March 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

Q:

Asked by Jim Fitzpatrick

Asked on: 10 March 2015

Ministry of Justice

Money Lenders

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment he has made of trends in illegal money lending; and if he will make a statement.

A:

Answered by: Jo Swinson

Answered on: 17 March 2015

The Department does not hold information relating to changes in the number of people using illegal lending sources as a result of new regulations and the annual levy on payday loan companies. However, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) works closely with the national Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Teams (IMLTs) across the UK to monitor trends and police the market, and both have the powers to take action where necessary, including the ability to prosecute those who are found guilty to be lending illegally.

I am well aware of the misery inflicted on often vulnerable consumers by loan sharks. That is why this financial year (2014/15) the Department has provided £15 million in funding to the National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) and Trading Standards Scotland (TSS). The NTSB the TSS utilise specialist expertise to tackle the worst rogue traders, including the illegal money lenders. In addition to apprehending loan sharks, the NTSB and TSS engage in valuable educational work, equipping vulnerable groups of consumers to avoid the clutches of illegal money lenders.

Both NTSB and TSS regularly report emerging developments to the Department, along with their successes. Since April 2012 £1.5 million in cash has been seized from illegal money lenders, and 47 individuals have received custodial sentences.

Link: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-03-10/226877/

20 Mar

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Written question 226890: Jim Fitzpatrick 10-03-2015

March 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

Q:

Asked by Jim Fitzpatrick

Asked on: 10 March 2015

HM Treasury

To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, what steps he is taking to assess changes in the number of people using illegal lending sources as a result of new regulations and the annual levy on payday loan companies.

A:

Answered by: Jo Swinson

Answered on: 17 March 2015

The Department does not hold information relating to changes in the number of people using illegal lending sources as a result of new regulations and the annual levy on payday loan companies. However, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) works closely with the national Trading Standards Illegal Money Lending Teams (IMLTs) across the UK to monitor trends and police the market, and both have the powers to take action where necessary, including the ability to prosecute those who are found guilty to be lending illegally.

I am well aware of the misery inflicted on often vulnerable consumers by loan sharks. That is why this financial year (2014/15) the Department has provided £15 million in funding to the National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) and Trading Standards Scotland (TSS). The NTSB the TSS utilise specialist expertise to tackle the worst rogue traders, including the illegal money lenders. In addition to apprehending loan sharks, the NTSB and TSS engage in valuable educational work, equipping vulnerable groups of consumers to avoid the clutches of illegal money lenders.

Both NTSB and TSS regularly report emerging developments to the Department, along with their successes. Since April 2012 £1.5 million in cash has been seized from illegal money lenders, and 47 individuals have received custodial sentences.

Grouped with Q: 226877

Link: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2015-03-10/226890/

20 Mar

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Alzheimer’s Society

March 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

1532 Jim Fitzpatrick MP

On Tuesday 17 March Jim Fitzpatrick MP pledged to make this election memorable by taking action to support the 850,000 people living with dementia across the UK.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP joined over 200 other MPs and representatives from Alzheimer’s Society in Westminster to meet people with dementia and commit to support those affected by the condition. On the day, Jim supported Alzheimer’s Society’s general election campaign that is calling for more people to get the dementia diagnosis they need and for everyone to be properly supported afterwards.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP said:

‘We all have a part to play in improving the lives of people living with dementia. There are around 514 people living with the condition in Poplar and Limehouse – and many more who are in regular contact with family and friends with the condition. It is an issue we absolutely cannot afford to ignore.’

Alzheimer’s Society campaigners were in Westminster to urge MPs to make this election memorable for all those affected by dementia. The charity is striving to ensure that more people get a diagnosis and the support they need, that there is a doubling of spending on dementia research and that communities are encouraged to become dementia friendly to ensure people with dementia can live full and active lives.

While in Westminster, Alzheimer’s Society supporter Shelagh Robinson, 73, who was diagnosed with dementia five years ago, delivered a petition with 67,375 signatures to the Prime Minister. The petition calls for everyone diagnosed with dementia to have access to a Dementia Adviser or Support Worker – a named contact who can help them come to terms with the diagnosis and guide them through the complex health and social care system.

George McNamara, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Alzheimer’s Society said:

‘Dementia is the biggest health and care challenge our country faces – one that all of society must respond to. By the end of the next parliament more than a million people will be living with dementia. There is unlikely to be a family in the country that is not affected.

‘We are pleased to have been able to engage over 200 MPs in one day. Jim Fitzpatrick MP has a huge influence in Poplar and Limehouse and we hope he will use this opportunity to take action and improve the lives of people living with dementia. 2015 is set to be an important year for politics – but together let’s also make it an historical year for people with dementia.’

20 Mar

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Electoral Fraud

March 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

Excerpt taken from:

Electoral Fraud

Electoral Commission Committee

12th March

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that the Electoral Commission is monitoring events at the election court examining electoral fraud allegations relating to the Tower Hamlets mayoral election last year and that, given that the case is due to finish before the general election, any lessons to help improve the conduct of the election will be communicated to the police, the returning officer and the commissioners in Tower Hamlets?

Mr Streeter: I can certainly confirm that the Electoral Commission is watching that case very carefully indeed. There will be a study of the outcome once the judge has determined it. Obviously, I cannot comment on the details, as the case in ongoing. The report will be provided by the Electoral Commission as quickly as possible and lessons for the entire democratic system in our country will be learnt.

Link: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150312/debtext/150312-0001.htm#150312-0001.htm_spnew102

 

20 Mar

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Barts Health NHS Trust

March 20, 2015 | By | No Comments

Excerpt taken from:

Barts Health NHS Trust

19th March 2015

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): My hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali) and I have been assisting the save our surgeries campaign in Tower Hamlets for 18 months, because, like many other GP surgeries in east London, ours are feeling under threat. Today’s response from the Minister indicating that the trust for Barts and the Royal London is in special measures, as well as the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, demonstrates that there is anxiety across east London about the state of the national health service. We did not hear anything in the Budget statement yesterday to give any reassurance to the people of east London. Does the Minister not recognise how serious this is for east London?

Jane Ellison: This report alone is a very serious report, and of course it is recognised. But it is right that we are transparent about it. As a London MP, I know some of the challenges that parts of the London health economy face. The issues need to be addressed, but this Government have put record amounts into the health service. We are also committed to backing the NHS’s own “Five Year Forward View”, and moving forward new ways of delivering GP care is a part of that vision. We have to make sure that that delivers for the hon. Gentleman’s constituents, as well as for mine and for other people in London.

Link: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm150319/debtext/150319-0001.htm#150319-0001.htm_spnew111

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Jim Fitzpatrick MP