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2015 November

06 Nov


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Oral Questions – Fire Safety

November 6, 2015 | By | No Comments

Thursday 5 November 2015


Watch online: http://goo.gl/nderxV

Jim asked the following question in the chamber:

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): Today, 5 November, I would like to raise the question of fire safety—that is appropriate given the history of these buildings and fire, but it is a total coincidence. I have written to the Leader of the House to raise the disappointing number of parliamentary colleagues and our staff who have completed their online fire safety training, which is available on the intranet and takes less than 10 minutes. For the safety of ourselves, our staff and, more importantly, the visitors and guests who come to this place, I ask the right hon. Gentleman what he can do to encourage more colleagues to do their own training and to encourage their staff to do the same.

Chris Grayling: I commend the hon. Gentleman for his work in this area. When I took on this role and became involved in the restoration and renewal project, I took the cellar tour, as a number of colleagues will have done. I was slightly disappointed because, although the building burned down in the 1830s, I had an image

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of great medieval cellars having survived, where once Guy Fawkes and his team had hung out. As he will know, that is not the case. It was all rebuilt and we now have something that is not tall enough for me to stand up in. The fact is that this is an old and enormously complex building where fire safety is and should be a priority for us all. I commend him for his suggestion and encourage people on all sides of the House to take his wise advice today.

06 Nov


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November 6, 2015 | By | No Comments


Jim Fitzpatrick MP for Poplar and Limehouse backed calls for more to be done to regulate the sale of exotic pets in the UK. Attending the launch in Parliament of ‘One Click Away’, a report into the online sale of exotic pets. Jim signed a pledge calling on the Government to ‘undertake a review of exotic pet breeding, trade and keeping across the UK’, improve the enforcement of all relevant legislation concerning the sale of exotic pets’ and ‘review the Pet Animals Act 1951 to reflect the increasing sale of animals over the internet’.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP said: “This new report makes it clear that much more needs to be done to improve the regulation of the sale of exotic pets in the UK. The Internet has made exotic pets available at the click of a button, resulting in both mis-selling and unsuitable and sometimes dangerous animals being made readily available to the general public. It’s clear from the new research that the welfare of exotic animals in the UK is often not being adequately met and that existing legislation and its enforcement falls short of protecting these often vulnerable animals.”

The report published jointly by animal welfare charities Blue Cross and the Born Free Foundation (available here: http://www.bluecross.org.uk/oneclick), finds that hundreds of exotic pets (at the time of the research) are available online on various websites, often poorly or incompletely listed, including:

  • From a sample of 1,796 online ads, at least 53 different types of reptile, 37 types of exotic bird, 28 types of exotic mammal, and 7 types of amphibians were advertised for sale.
  • Unsuitable animals, including potentially dangerous animals, are widely available for sale to the general public.
  • Specialist advice on animal care and welfare is almost entirely lacking on most websites, and no checks are made on whether animals are sold to inexperienced owners.
  • Animals considered particularly vulnerable to welfare problems in captivity, such as primates, chameleons and iguanas, were advertised for sale.
  • There are considerable concerns for the welfare of the individual animals advertised; some individuals for sale were kept in inappropriate environments or were reported as being in “poor health” or ads offered animals as “swaps” or “quick sales”.
  • Sellers often provided insufficient information to enable identification of the species of animal for sale.

Steve Goody, Deputy Chief Executive of Blue Cross said: “The findings of this report demonstrate beyond doubt the need for an urgent review of the regulation of the online sale of exotic animals as pets. Blue Cross cares for thousands of sick and injured animals each year and in recent years we have seen an increase in the number and variety of exotic pets brought to our hospitals, often requiring specialist care. With such pets available to anyone, it is a sad fact that these animals’ needs are often not met and as a result their welfare suffers. We challenge the Government to take action on this issue and ensure that steps are taken to protect the welfare of animals bought and sold online.”

The report calls upon the Government to undertake a number of key actions to ensure the welfare of exotic animals bought and sold online. These include:

  • Calling for a review of the exotic pet trade: The Government in Westminster and devolved administrations should undertake a full review of the exotic pet trade, covering all aspects of ownership, including the breeding, trade and keeping of exotic animals across the UK.
  • Calling for a review of the Pet Animals Act 1951: There is an urgent need for the Government to review and update the Pet Animals Act 1951 to reflect the large-scale and increasing sale of animals over the internet, and improved clarity on what premises should be licensed under act.
  • Seeking an improvement in the enforcement of legislation: Many of the problems highlighted in the report can be improved through increased enforcement of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and EU Wildlife Trade Regulations (EC) 338/97. Sellers should be required to state if any species they are advertising require a Dangerous Wild Animals licence or an Article 10 certificate.
  • Asking the Government to ensure stricter criteria for sellers: Websites should ensure sellers include greater specificity in listed adverts, including greater detail of the animal for sale. Exotic pets advertised online should, at the very least, be listed by their correct common name and state how many animals they are advertising for sale. Any site allowing adverts offering animals for sale should list basic welfare requirements that must be met by buyers and sellers, and any online seller with a pet shop licence should be made to state this on their adverts.

Chris Draper, Programmes Manager, the Born Free Foundation said: “It is truly shocking how many exotic animals are available online with so many advertised incorrectly or incompletely and with no indication of their often complex needs. The Government should review the Pet Animals Act 1951 to ensure that people are made aware of the issues related to buying exotic pets online, and to correctly enforce the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 and EU Wildlife Trade Regulations. This would go some way to improving the lives of exotic animals being bought and sold across the UK today.”

06 Nov


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Jim Fitzpatrick MP meets experts to tackle emergency presentation of lung cancer  

November 6, 2015 | By | No Comments

1571 Jim Fitzpatrick MP & Dr Penny Woods BLF

Jim Fitzpatrick MP met with some of the UK’s leading lung cancer experts to discuss the poor state of lung cancer survival, at a British Lung Foundation report launch in Parliament this week. The report, developed by a working group of lung cancer experts, outlines recommendations for tackling the emergency presentation of lung cancer. The event was supported by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Tackling Emergency Presentation of Lung Cancer: An Expert Working Group Report and Recommendations, published by the BLF to coincide with Lung Cancer Awareness Month, highlights that 34% of lung cancer patients in the UK are diagnosed as an emergency, when the condition tends to be more advanced and there is a reduced chance of receiving curative treatment.

Lung cancer is the UK’s biggest cancer killer,[i] accounting for one in five of all cancer deaths. Survival rates in this country lag behind those in the rest of Europe and the US,[[i]i] with just one in ten patients in the UK surviving for five years post-diagnosis.

The report proposes a number of ways in which to improve this dire prognosis and enhance lung cancer patient experience, and recommendations include:

  1. Funding for a national campaign (such as Be Clear on Cancer, Detect Cancer Early or Be Cancer Aware) be maintained or increased in order to raise public awareness of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer.
  1. A commitment be made to rapid adoption of a targeted, evidenced-based lung cancer screening programme, as deemed effective by the UK National Screening Committee, in order to reduce the number of lung cancer patients diagnosed late and via emergency routes.
  1. GPs be able to make direct access referrals for CT scans for patients with suspected lung cancer.
  1. All chest x-rays and CT scans be formally reported within four days to the individual requesting them, who must act upon the result.
  1. A Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) be available to all patients undergoing investigations for suspected lung cancer.

Jim Fitzpatrick MP said:

“Lung cancer has a devastating impact on people in Poplar and Limehouse and is the UK’s biggest cancer killer. I was delighted to meet leading experts in the field today to hear about their important recommendations for tackling the high rates of emergency presentation of this terrible disease.

“Lung cancer patients diagnosed through emergency routes have a worse experience of care than those diagnosed via other routes. It is vital that we do everything we can to improve diagnosis, support and treatment for the condition, in order to ensure improved survival outcomes.

“I am delighted to be able to support the British Lung Foundation and the work of the Expert Lung Cancer Working Group in Parliament today. I will continue to fight for lung cancer patients and their families, not just in Poplar and Limehouse but across the country.”

[i] Cancer Research UK, 2012, Most Common Causes of Cancer Deaths Available at: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/mortality/common-cancers-compared#heading-Zero. Accessed: July 2015.

[ii] Global surveillance of cancer survival 1995–2009: analysis of individual data for 25 676 887 patients from 279 population-based registries in 67 countries (CONCORD-2) http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)62038-9/abstract Accessed: October 2015.

04 Nov


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Jim Fitzpatrick hails West Ham United’s charitable work

November 4, 2015 | By | No Comments

1570 - WH

Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, was present this week at a Parliamentary reception arranged to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the West Ham United Foundation, the charitable arm of the Premier League football club.

Mr Fitzpatrick has supported West Ham since coming to London in 1973 and is one of the most prominent Hammers fans in the House of Commons. He is a strong supporter of the work that the West Ham United Foundation does throughout East London, including with charities, schools and community groups in Poplar.

Among the attendees was Joan Hart, Head Teacher of Our Lady & St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, which hosts regular summer school events arranged by the West Ham United Foundation for local children in the Poplar area.

Speaking after the event, Jim Fitzpatrick said:

“One of the reasons I’ve always been proud to be a West Ham fan is that it remains a club very much rooted in its local community, and run by two chairmen who grew up in East London.

“The West Ham United Foundation is the way the club gives something back to that local community, and ensures that the people of East London, including my constituents in Poplar, can share in the benefits of having a Premier League football club on their doorstep.

“I was very glad to give my support to this event, and I look forward to the Foundation continuing its brilliant work for decades to come.”

Among the attendees at the event, held on Monday 2nd November, were the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon John Whittingdale, who expressed his support for the Foundation and wished it well for the expansion of its work that will accompany West Ham’s move to the club’s new Stadium in Stratford next year.

Also present were several other MPs, local councillors, the Premier League’s Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, West Ham’s Joint-Chairman David Gold, as well as representatives of dozens of bodies who have received support from the Foundation over recent years.

The assembled gathering heard from the Chief Executive of the Foundation, Joe Lyons, who introduced them to four young people from the East London and Essex area whose lives have been transformed as a result of the Foundation’s work.

“Over the next decade”, Lyons said, “we will work tirelessly to create more of these stories.

“Today, we are outlining our new 10 year strategy which redefines our vision. We want to be a truly inclusive organisation offering a range of programmes that provide positive experiences to all.”

He set out the Foundation’s priorities and goals for the next decade, including expanding its work across all of East London and Essex, establishing international programmes, creating pathways to education and work for young people in the region, and using sport as a motivator for social change.

In the past 25 years, West Ham’s Foundation has provided support and opportunities to 1.5 million young people and adults in local communities in the region, but it plans to reach a further 1 million people in the next 10 years alone.

West Ham Vice-Chairman Karren Brady, who has masterminded the expansion of the Foundation’s work since arriving at the Club in 2010, explained to the reception why the West Ham board believe it is so important to support the Club’s local communities.

“When my two Chairmen, David Sullivan and David Gold, and I began our work at West Ham”, she said, “one of our first priorities was to expand the work the Club had been doing to create better futures for local people.

“My Chairmen both originated from the area and…with their passion for giving something back to their local community and my determination to use sport to better the lives of its people, it quickly became something that was incredibly important to all three of us.

“We made sure the Foundation became the hub to deliver the Club’s vision for outreach, benefitting the charities we feel most passionate about and most importantly giving brighter futures for the most deprived people in our community.

“We now have some remarkable stories to tell of the lives we’ve changed and an exciting, ambitious vision for the future, as we prepare to take up residence in our new home.”

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore also hailed the achievements of the Foundation in his speech.

“In terms of West Ham”, he said, “some of their schemes are leading the way among all clubs, including the work they do with schools: 35 different schools being touched by West Ham’s Foundation; 3,000 young people in a year being influenced just by one club.

“The Kicks programme has been taken on by the West Ham Foundation probably better than any other Club; it is currently working in 24 sites within east London, with a huge impact in terms of reducing anti-social crime.

“That’s the power of football. That’s the power of the West Ham badge, that’s the power of the Foundation. There a lots of other clubs doing the same, but I don’t think there’s any single club that does it to the depth and breadth, and with the real commitment that West Ham do it.”

The event ended with MPs presenting the Foundation with a special birthday card signed by all those in attendance. The message inside read: “Congratulations on 25 years of life-changing community work and long may it continue in your new home.”

03 Nov


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Housing and Planning Bill

November 3, 2015 | By | No Comments

Monday 2 November 2015

housing bill

Watch online: http://goo.gl/zP84QG

Jim contributed the following:

5.52 pm

Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr Bacon). Housing is the biggest issue in my constituency, as it is in many others. I want to focus on two points. First, I shall deal with the elements that I believe to be missing from the Bill; then I shall cover the elements of concern.

There is nothing in the Bill on leasehold reform. The hon. Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley) has been leading a campaign on this issue for some time. The Leasehold Knowledge Partnership has supplied a briefing outlining the key elements missing from the Bill. It states:

“The law commission report proposing the replacement of forfeiture with a forced sale through the termination of a tenancy has been with government since 2006.”

2 Nov 2015 : Column 760

It goes on:

“The government is aware that many leasehold landlords are delaying or stopping the ‘right to manage’ on very minor technical grounds”.

It also states:

“The basic right for leaseholders to form a Recognised Tenants Association is set at a needlessly high level”.

Furthermore, the so-called informal disputes tribunal procedures are far from informal or inexpensive.

The Chairman of the Select Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts) mentioned electrical safety checks. A briefing from Electrical Safety First states:

“The Housing Bill…does not include anything on protecting tenants in the private rented sector from electrical accidents caused by unchecked and faulty electrical installations. Electrical safety in the private rented sector has been left behind other important safety areas, such as gas, carbon monoxide and smoke alarms.”

As my hon. Friend said, the Government have missed the opportunity to introduce regulations as part of this legislation to ensure mandatory five-year electrical safety checks.

I have already raised with the Minister the question of registered social landlord ballot transfers from councils to housing associations, and the fact that there is no reversal provision. A housing association might make an offer to tenants and they might vote yes to stop the transfer, but if the offer falls through, the tenants are stuck with that housing association ad infinitum. There should be an opportunity at some point, perhaps after five or 10 years, for tenants to be re-balloted if they so wish, to give them a chance to change their housing provider or to go back to the council.

I shall speak briefly about elements of concern. Like many others who have spoken today, I find the deficiencies in the proposals on the right to buy a matter of huge concern. I support the principle of the right to buy. However, the House of Commons Library briefing paper states:

“The ultimate aim is that replacement will be achieved within two years of sale, but the default position is that associations will achieve replacement within three years. Replacement will be at national level”.

Replacement will not be at local level, as many colleagues have pointed out. The Library briefing goes on to say that local authorities would be required

“to manage their housing assets more efficiently, with the most expensive properties sold off and replaced as they fall vacant.”

In Tower Hamlets, there is not much property that is not at the higher value end. Those are large family homes, and when they go, families in east London will not be able to afford them. According to the briefing, the Local Government Association

“has argued that the extension of Right to Buy should not be funded by forcing councils to sell off their homes.”

Another aspect that has been highlighted locally is that housing associations are having to change the way in which they work. There have been reports of employment training programmes, youth services initiatives and antisocial behaviour efforts being subjected to review, reduced or cancelled as a result of cuts in funding. Some associations are even changing the housing that they offer. For example, East Thames housing has said:

“We have had to review our housing offer in line with government changes, particularly the year on year rent cut, which will result in a £14m reduction to our annual income. We have therefore taken the decision to concentrate our resources on social housing for

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those in greatest need, as well as shared ownership which is supported by the government. Unfortunately we can’t continue to support and subsidise other tenures and believe those with the greatest need should be our priority.”

That language seems not only innocuous but quite positive, if we want to interpret it in that way, but translated into English it means that key workers and carers are going to be evicted from their homes. They will no longer be able to use intermediate tenures. I am sure that that is not the Government’s intention. It is totally wrong for people who have been living in those homes for 10 years to be evicted, and I would like the Minister to tell us that that is not the Government’s intention and that affordable social housing for key workers is part of the plan.

5.57 pm

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Jim Fitzpatrick MP