David Winnick

Parliamentary and constituency matters recently raised

31st March 2017: Visit to St Thomas of Canterbury primary school

 

I was certainly impressed when I visited St Thomas of Canterbury primary school, Dartmouth Avenue, Coalpool, WS3 1SP, last Friday, the 31st.

 

Earlier in the month I also had visited St Patrick’s, Blue Lane East. Both have an executive headteacher, namely Mrs Jean Richmond.

 

St Patrick’s and St Thomas’ had very favourable Ofsted reports last year, and the staff understandably were extremely pleased about this.

 

St Thomas has made considerable progress, which I saw for myself. It is undoubtedly an effective and well-disciplined school.

 

It was good to see for myself the fine work being undertaken at both schools; there is no doubt this will continue.

 

When I asked the pupils if they would like to visit parliament, all hands went up. It is quite likely that arrangements will be made in the near future for the pupils in their last year in both primary schools to visit Westminster. They will certainly be welcome, as I told them.

 

 

29th March 2017: exchange with the Prime Minister on the triggering of Article 50 

Please see below my exchange with the Prime Minister following her statement in the Commons this afternoon on the triggering of Article 50:

 

 

Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab): Given the reference of some Members to the British people, is it not important to recognise that a large majority of this country’s people are not fanatically for or against the UK being in the European Union? If we want to bring the people together, as the Prime Minister says she does, that should very much be borne in mind. If, during the negotiations undertaken by her predecessor, we had seen some flexibility from the European Union over the free movement of labour, is it not quite likely that we would not be debating this issue now?

 

The Prime Minister: David Cameron put an enormous effort, as did others across Government, into the negotiations leading to the deal that he brought to the British people. The hon. Gentleman’s assumption is that the only issue on which people voted was free movement, but I do not think that is right. I think that wanting control over our borders was one key issue, but it was also about more than that, including control of our laws, control of our money and self-determination. That is what was driving the decision.

21 February 2017: Israeli Settlements

 

During Foreign Office questions, I asked the Secretary of State about the actions of the Israeli authorities and the US president’s statements:

 

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-02-21/debates/D1FE592C-4CE3-476D-B1ED-3BA4306A1986/IsraeliSettlements#contribution-6D4CBBAF-BEFC-4724-902E-B4C26D5258A5

 

21 February 2017: Chase Line, Rugeley to Birmingham

 

I have written again to Patrick Verwer, managing director, London Midland over the continued overcrowding on and unpunctuality of the Chase Line, Rugeley to Birmingham.

 

Constituents continue to complain about the poor service. I had written previously about this; the reply I received stated that due to a national shortage of diesel trains it was not possible to get more capacity until the introduction of electric services in 2018. According to that explanation, it will then be possible to carry 50% more passengers than currently.

 

Nevertheless, dissatisfaction continues, including the fact that the trains are often late, which of course means that employees find it both difficult to get to work on time and take longer in the evening to get home.

 

In my latest letter, I have urged that all this should be looked into again at the most senior level of the company.

 

I sometimes wonder sometimes if the managing director and other senior colleagues have any experience of actually using the line, particularly at peak times.

 

7 February 2017: Housing White Paper

 

Following the statement on the government’s white paper on housing, I told the desperate need in the constituency first and foremost for decent, secure rented accommodation:

 

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2017-02-07/debates/DF682A35-5720-4F52-B6DC-C862EFDED0D8/HousingWhitePaper#contribution-7FE61B6F-C335-4061-9F6D-1B581E402D72 

 

29 November 2016: Intervention following Ministerial statement on Corporate Governance

Following the statement by The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, I made the following remark over executive pay and the necessity of trade unions:

 

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-11-29/debates/E9D1F9A6-346E-4C78-8885-9A51037A80BE/CorporateGovernance#contribution-3F32D62F-8E9A-4256-BF7E-D65574EF3E0217

17 November 2016: Proposed changes to Nursery Funding Formula, joint letter from all party group of MPs

I have received strong representations from nursery schools in my constituency regarding government proposals to change the funding formula for the under-five provision.

 

The point has strongly been made to me that if do ministers intend to go ahead and reduce funding by as much as 40% within two years, it could well lead to the outright closure of the schools or, if not, the numbers who could be admitted would be substantially fewer than now.

 

In a letter to the Secretary of State I have urged that the proposals should be certainly be looked at again, since otherwise my constituency and other parts of the borough where there is recognised deprivation and, particularly, low incomes, would be harshly affected. Nursery school provision is all the more important in these areas.

 

An all-party campaign on nursery schools has been established in parliament, which I support; it is co-ordinating a campaign against any proposed change in the funding formula which would worsen the present situation.

 

A letter is therefore being sent to the Minister this Friday, the 18th, which points out the acute uncertainty felt by nursery schools over what might occur within a relatively short period, if the changes were to come about.

 

The letter goes on to state that such schools for the under-fives are most important for social mobility, and to a large extent eliminate the gap between children from low income houses and their peers by the time they go on to infant and junior education.

 

Walsall has a long tradition of providing nursery schooling; it would be disastrous if changes in the funding formula were to undermine such essential provision for the under-fives. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 November 2016: Triggering of Article 50

 

I spoke in the Commons on article 50 and parliament:

https://goo.gl/jS5igf

 

31 October 2016: Handling of benefit applications

 

Following a statement on a Department for Work and Pensions green paper, “Improving Lives: Work, Health and Disability”, I mentioned the case of a constituent I had only recently met:

https://goo.gl/tZLJhr

 

27 October 2016: central government finances to Walsall Council

 

I took the opportunity of business questions to raise the acute financial crisis in Walsall: https://goo.gl/JyGe2L

 

This had also been raised earlier in the session by Valerie Vaz, MP for Walsall South: https://goo.gl/Le2Em7

 

20 October 2016: Discontinuation of knighthood for Philip Green

 

In a debate on Philip Green, I spoke about the effects on the many BHS employees and pensioners following the closure of the business and stated that in my view Green should never have received a knighthood: https://goo.gl/pxtdsG 7th July 2016: Visit to All Saints National Academy by Schools Minister

 

 

 

 

During a debate on 26th April, I invited the Schools Minister to visit All Saints National Academy and see the dilapidated state of the building for himself. He finally did so on 7th July, and the Express & Star have written up the report online at:

 

http://www.expressandstar.com/education/2016/07/09/watch-crumbling-all-saints-national-academy-shocks-tory-schools-minister/schools-minister-nick-gibb-visits-all-saints-national-academy-with-walsall-north-mp-david-winnick/

  

The Minister himself used the phrase "just awful" as he was taken on a tour. 

 

1st July 2016: Letter in the Guardian over Labour leadership

My letter to the Guardian was published today:

It is perfectly understandable that Labour’s opponents and rivals are hoping that the present leadership crisis will lead to the party splitting. If that was to be the outcome, it would indeed be a betrayal of all those whom Labour came into existence to represent and to bring in progressive legislation when in office. I joined in 1957 because I had become a democratic socialist – if a rather leftwing one – and a staunch opponent of all forms of dictatorship, Marxist no less than the rightwing regimes. Certainly I was pleased when the totalitarian Soviet state collapsed with the other eastern European regimes.

The present trouble to a large extent arises because some of the most senior figures currently in control are not and do not claim to be social democrats. Hence, John McDonnell said in the house on 7 September 2010 that he was a Marxist and not a Keynesian. He made the same point on a later occasion. Jeremy Corbyn has undoubtedly bravely stood up over the years against human rights abuses (and, for that matter, so has John). That is much to their credit, even more so when the causes were unpopular. However, in his regular column in the Morning Star over the years, criticism is unlikely to be found of the absence of democratic liberties and rights in the communist states, including Cuba. The party simply cannot in my view be led successfully by the far left; to some extent, the same is true when the leader is very much on the right, like Hugh Gaitskell, which led to constant divisions and challenges to him.

As for Tony Blair, apart from apparently not being as rightwing as he is now, he largely overcame for quite a while internal criticism, both because of the electoral triumphs and the kind of domestic policies that were so urgently required. The contribution he made to the Northern Ireland peace agreement also added to his credit at the time.
David Winnick MP
Labour, Walsall North

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/30/the-way-forward-for-the-labour-party

15 June 2016: Free movement of labour in the EU

 

My letter on this subject was published in the Guardian:

 

Like most Labour MPs and the Labour movement generally, I am certainly in favour of the UK remaining in the EU, for strong economic reasons. Polly Toynbee’s piece mentions the strong concern felt by so many working-class people over the numbers coming into the country.

 

It is surely time for the leaders of the EU to reconsider the dogmatic and inflexible policy of the free movement of labour. As for the UK, controls on Commonwealth immigration have existed for half a century, and on other non-EU states, much longer.

 

Controls on immigration – apart from providing refuge to those fleeing terror and persecution – and combating racism and discrimination here are not contradictory. It was the settled and non-controversial policy until the introduction of the free movement of labour.

 

David Winnick MP
Labour, Walsall North

 

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/14/bring-back-border-controls-by-working-with-our-european-partners

 

 

13 June 2016: Gun Control

 

There was an urgent statement on the House following the murders in Orlando which considered the terrorism threat and wider security measures in the UK. I referred to effective gun controls which were introduced towards the end of the last century:

 

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-06-13/debates/1606133000001/OrlandoAttackUKSecurityMeasures#contribution-1606133000217

 

At 3.30pm on that day, the House held a minute’s silence in respectful memory of the victims of the homophobic terrorist slaughter in Orlando.

 

07 June 2016: Investigatory powers bill

 

Apart from some other opposition members, on the Labour side another colleague and myself voted against the third reading of the Investigatory Powers Bill.

 

The bill now goes to the Lords.

 

My speech is online at:

 

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-06-07/debates/16060732000001/InvestigatoryPowersBill#contribution-16060743000811

 

18 May 2016: Debate on the Address

 

I used the debates following the queen’s speech to raise personal independence payments, and the substantial reduction in revenue support from central Government to local government, which has caused such difficulties in Walsall:

 

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-05-18/debates/16051856000002/DebateOnTheAddress#contribution-16051881000044

11th May 2016: Housing and Planning Bill 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I spoke in the chamber in favour of a Lords amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-05-11/debates/16051145000001/HousingAndPlanningBill#contribution-16051145000031

 

9th May 2016: Questions to Department for Work and Pensions Ministers 

At the first parliamentary questions session for the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, I told him he would be assessed on how far he would be willing to stand up to the Chancellor over cuts that hit the most vulnerable

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-05-09/debates/1605094000024/TopicalQuestions#contribution-1605094000203

 

3rd May 2016: Closure of Walsall Domestic Violence Forum

It is, to say the least, very unfortunate indeed that the Walsall Domestic Violence Forum is now closed. The reason given by those who ran this important organisation in Bloxwich is the continued lack of adequate funding. Only those involved in committing such violence will be pleased at the news.

Such an organisation as the forum is still very much needed; this is a matter that the local authority in particular should look into immediately.

 

 

26th April 2016: All Saints National Academy

 

I held an adjournment debate over the rejected funding application for building work at All Saints National Academy, Bloxwich.

 

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-04-26/debates/16042650000002/AllSaintsNationalAcademyWalsall

 

The Minister promised to visit the school.

 

25th April 2016: Meningitis B 

 

In a Westminster Hall debate, I raised the very sad case which occurred in Walsall North:

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-04-25/debates/16042524000001/MeningitisBVaccine#contribution-16042524000041

 

16th March 2016: Investigatory Powers Bill, Second Reading

 

I made a speech in the bill's second reading, and in particular highlighting concerns over the retention of records of communication and internet usage:

 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160315/debtext/160315-0003.htm#16031566000667 

 

Subsequently, I voted against the bill's second reading.

 

14th March 2016: questions to Department for Work and Pensions Ministers

 

I asked why the government has such a compulsive need to hit out at disabled people at every opportunity, and described their policies as an ongoing Tory war against the disabled.

 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160314/debtext/160314-0001.htm#160314-0001.htm_spnew43 

 

9th March 2016: Urgent Question on EU-Turkey relations

 

Following the response from the Foreign Office minister, I raised concerns of the Turkish PM's increasing authoritarianism, and attempts to undermine democracy and the freedom of the press:

 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160309/debtext/160309-0001.htm#160309-0001.htm_spnew91 

 

 

 

1st February 2016: deputation from All Saints National Academy meeting with Schools Minister 

 

I took a deputation to the Commons today to see the schools Minister, Nick Gibb, over the urgent and essential need for work to be undertaken at All Saints National Academy, formerly Bloxwich Church of England Primary School, High Street.

 

On the deputation was the head, Michelle Slymn, Colin Hopkins, Director of Education, Diocese of Lichfield, and Steve Rayner, the property advisor to the church board.

 

When I last visited the school in September 2015, the dilapidated state of a good deal of the building demonstrated how important it was that work is undertaken as quickly as possible.

 

Afterwards, I convened meetings at the town hall with those involved in the management of the Academy, as well as the Council’s children’s services, and the head herself.

 

A bid has been made to the appropriate body, but I wanted the Minister to know the circumstances that led to the application being made, which is dealt with by the Education Funding Agency.

 

When we met the Minister, Ms Slymn had a video over the dilapidated state where the teachers and children are working five days a week; hopefully this will have some effect when the decision is made on the application for this academy. The result of all the bids, which total over 2,000, is likely to be known in about six weeks.

 

27 January 2016: Freedom of Information Legislation

 

I believe that Freedom of Information legislation should be strengthened, and not undermined as the government intends. In view of this, I asked the Minister about the review of FOI:

 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160127/debtext/160127-0001.htm#160127-0001.htm_spnew34

 

5 January 2016: executions in Saudi Arabia

 

I questioned the Foreign Affairs Minister on the government's attitude towards human rights in Saudi Arabia:

 

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm160105/debtext/160105-0003.htm#160105-0003.htm_spnew46