David Winnick

Matters raised in Parliament in 2015 and before

18 December 2015: Local Government Finance


I tackled the Minister over the continued cuts to local authorities and the effect on essential services in the borough:




14 Dec 2015: National Minimum Wage and Sports Direct


After an urgent question over this employer, I asked the Minister about the poor treatment of staff reported in the press:




10 December 2015: Donald Trump


In the light of announcements by Donald Trump, I took the opportunity of business questions to highlight the UK’s anti-racism laws and gun controls:




2 December 2015: ISIL in Syria and extension of airstrikes


I spoke in the debate over the extension of airstrikes to Syria. Due to a lack of evidence that airstrikes would prove effective, I later voted against the government’s proposal:




26 Nov 2015: Question to the Prime Minister over Syria


After the PM spoke on Syria, I reminded him that only two years ago, he had insisted we should take action against Assad:





26 October 2015: China


I spoke out following the arrests of Chinese Protesters http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151026/debtext/151026-0001.htm#151026-0001.htm_spnew132 and also on 22nd October over the human rights situation in that nation http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151022/debtext/151022-0001.htm#151022-0001.htm_spnew137


13 Oct 2015: Saudi Penal System


My concerns over human rights violations in Saudi were put to the Foreign Office Ministers:




9 September 2015: West Midlands Police (Funding)


I spoke in a debate over the continued reduction of funding for police in the West Mids, and the unfairness of the formula:




23 July 2015: Pay reduction for Walsall Council employees


The Tory administration's proposals to reduce the pay of 4,000 council employees by 2%, and to take three days unpaid leave per year, is totally unacceptable. In a comment to the local press, I said: "They are taking it out on their employees. What they are now doing is an onslaught - there's no other way to describe it. I would hope there's a willingness on the part of the council leadership to sit down with trade unions in all of this. I'm very concerned what the council is doing".


20 July 2015: Government's counter-ISIL strategy


Following a ministerial statement in the Commons on Counter-ISIL strategy, I tackled the Secretary of State for Defence over the lack of openness on the part of the government:




1 July 2015: comments following the statement from Iain Duncan-Smith on child poverty




29 June 2015: intervention during the Chancellor's statement on Greece




25 June 2015: question to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on child poverty




23 June 2015: speech on use of the House of Commons chamber by the Youth Parliament, and reduction of the voting age




22 June 2015: raising with a Works and Pensions Minister the case of a constituent has not been able to retain her mobility car



22nd January 2015: Panel for inquiry into historic child abuse


Following a statement by the Home Secretary on the inquiry into historic child abuse, I asked the following question:


9th January 2015: meeting with chief executive, Manor Hospital


I met with Richard Kirby, chief executive, to discuss the pressures at the Manor hospital during January; aIso present was Salma Ali, the accountable officer, Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group. I also took the opportunity to visit the A&E section, together with the two chiefs, to see for myself those who were waiting to be assessed.


On the basis that level one is normal, and level four is the worst for waiting periods and pressures, I was given the latest information about the highest level. Whereas previously at the Manor when level four applied, it was never for more than one single day; however, this month for five consecutive days, namely the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th, the highest level was in operation.


On the 7th, it was reduced to three, and on the 8th to two, and on the 9th - the day I visited - it was back to three.


When I went with Mr Kirby and Ms Ali, to visit A&E, there were thirteen or fifteen on trolleys waiting longer than four hours.


A new ward at the Manor is opening today with thirty beds; it is understandably hoped that this will relieve some of the pressures.


The situation at the Manor since Christmas and the New Year is one that so many hospitals have faced; nevertheless, the fact that level four has so far been operation this month for five days is obviously a matter of concern to the hospital and, of course, the local community.


I want to pay tribute to all at the hospital who are doing their utmost, in very difficult circumstances, to deal with the situation which has arisen. It has to be remembered we are hardly halfway through January, and there are at least six more weeks of winter.


During the discussion with Mr Kirby and Ms Ali, I said that if at any stage the position was such that it would be difficult for the hospital to cope, I would immediately get in touch with the Secretary of State.



Thursday 8th January 2015: Parliamentarians gathering in solidarity in Westminster Hall


Led by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Parliamentarians and their staff had a gathering today in the historic Westminster Hall for solidarity with the French people over the murders at Charlie Hebdo.


I was of course pleased to be in attendance, in the hall which dates back to the eleventh century. More recent distinguished visitors have included Nelson Mandela and President Obama.


At 12 midday, placards with the name Charlie Hebdo were carried, and others held up pens and pencils.


The point was clearly made that freedom of speech and freedom of expression here, and wherever it exists, will not be destroyed.


7th January 2015: Temporary Exclusion Orders


I took part in the debate on Temporary Exclusion Orders, and also used the opportunity to express the horror we all feel over the events in Paris: 





18th December 2014: Local Government Finance Settlement for 2015/16


A transcript of the exchange I had with a Department for Communities Minister this afternoon is below; this followed a statement on the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement for 2015/16. The actual reduction in money terms is £22 million.


Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab):  May I remind the Minister that as far as Walsall is concerned there has been an overall reduction of nearly 40% since 2010-11? Further reductions will have an even more devastating effect on front-line services in my borough. It is war—there is no other way to describe it. It is outright war on the most deprived areas, and it is absolutely shameful that this Government continue with such policies.


Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Kris Hopkins):: In the few years I have been in this House, I have always held the hon. Gentleman in high respect. But it is shameful to say that I or my colleagues would go out of our way to pursue the most vulnerable. We want to preserve and protect those most vulnerable people, which is why we have given local councils the opportunity to make choices about how they spend their money. 


15th December 2014: attacks in Peshawar, Pakistan


I used a point of order to briefly express the horror of all of us over the attacks in Peshawar: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm141216/debtext/141216-0004.htm#141216-0004.htm_spnew5


Questions to the Prime Minister, 19th November 2014: 

At today's PMQs I questioned the Prime Minister over the bedroom tax:.



Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab):
Is the Prime Minister aware that the hateful bedroom tax will be remembered just like the Tory poll tax, which destroyed Margaret Thatcher’s premiership? He should be ashamed that such a notorious tax came in on his watch.


The Prime Minister:
What the hon. Gentleman and others on the Labour Benches have to explain is why it is right that people in private rented accommodation who are claiming housing benefit do not get a spare room subsidy but they think people who are living in council housing should get a spare room subsidy. The second question they are going to have to answer is why did they oppose £83 billion of reductions in welfare which has helped us to maintain spending on health and schools, while taking 3 million of the poorest people out of tax altogether? 




13th November 2014: Refusal of planning permission for a recycling facility in Bloxwich



David Winnick stated:


"I am delighted that the application by AB Waste has been refused by the Council. This is indeed good news for my constituents who would have been adversely affected if it had gone ahead.


"As I said repeatedly, there was no justification whatsoever for the facility to be built in the constituency.


"I congratulate all those who campaigned to ensure that the right decision was reached by the Council. Hopefully this will be the end of the matter, and residents can have a feeling of security against such intrusion."



- End –






Application No: 13/1712/WA for a "materials recovery facility" in land adjacent to Trident Alloys, Willenhall Lane, Bloxwich, Walsall was refused by Walsall Council on 12th November 2014. Full decision online at: http://www2.walsall.gov.uk/dcaccess/headway/showattach.asp?ID=25119


11 November 2014

I was pleased to learn today that Willenhall Crown Post Office is going to remain in its present state. An email to me from the head office, Post Office Limited states:

As you are aware, Willenhall Crown Post Office branch was previously being progressed as a branch that could potentially be franchised and run in partnership with a suitable retail partner. Despite interest from several potential partners, the Post Office has not reached an agreement with a suitable partner to secure the long-term viability of the branch.

The Post Office has therefore decided to retain and invest in Willenhall Post Office as part of the organisation’s on going modernisation programme, building a modern, profitable and sustainable network.

This means that this branch will remain under Post Office management. Our plan now is to invest in the branch to modernise it as part of our on going transformation programme, designed to ensure our Post Office branches are sustainable, profitable and reducing reliance on Government funding.

Our colleagues at Willenhall Post Office have provided an excellent service to customers throughout our search for a partner. We believe that with their help and the investment we have planned we will be able to meet customer needs into the future.

This is a common-sense decision and good news for Willenhall; it follows the campaign led by Cllrs Sean and Diane Coughlan, Carl Creaney, and myself; indeed a Commons debate the subject was initiated by me on 26th March this year:


10 November 2014: European arrest warrant

On Monday, I called for the government to honour its promise of a full debate over the European arrest warrant:


Prior to that I spoke after a Point of Order was called for by my colleague over the way in which the issue was handled:


21st July 2014: Intervention during Prime Minister's statement on Gaza

As so many MPs were trying to make points during the PM's statement, both on Ukraine and Gaza, we could ask only very brief questions. The transcript of the remarks I made are online, together with the PM's totally unsatisfactory reply, which, deliberately or otherwise, missed the point:


23rd June 2014: Questions to Work and Pensions Ministers

During departmental questions, I tackled the Secretary of State over his complacent indifference to the agonising hardship suffered by the most vulnerable in our society:


11 June 2014: Debate following the Queen's Speech

Following the Queen's Speech, different subject areas are debated each day. I spoke in the debate over jobs, work and welfare: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140611/debtext/140611-0002.htm#14061157000435

11 June 2014: Letter to the Times regarding the criminal trial proposed to be heard in secret

My letter to the Times read:


As regards British values, is not an important one that justice is not only done, but seen to be done? How does this hold with the intention of the prosecuting authorities to try to have a forthcoming criminal case held in total secrecy?

26th March 2014 - Adjournment Debate on Willenhall Crown Post Office

I called for a debate in the Commons on the future of the Crown Post Office, Willenhall. The transcript, including my remarks and the minister’s response, is online at:


26th March 2014 - Prime Minister's Questions

I spoke in questions to the Prime Minister and asked the following:

As the Prime Minister is so keen on boasting, is he proud of the fact that many elderly people in need are no longer able to get essential assistance because of the policies being pursued by this Government? Why is it that a Cabinet made up of so many multi-millionaires is so indifferent to the needs of the most vulnerable in our society?


27th February 2014 - Business Questions

I had an exchange with the leader of the House at business questions; prior to my intervention, the Member for Harlow made a comment on attempts over his party to rebrand itself:


11th February 2014 - FGM

During questions  to the Attorney-General, I asked what progress was being made over prosecutions for female genital mutilation. I made the point that many around the country believed not enough is done to prevent this, and prosecute offenders:


10th February 2014 - smoking in vehicles carrying children

A debate took place on whether smoking should be banned in vehicles where are children; there was, as to be expected, a vote, and the proposal was carried. My brief remarks in what was a short debate, where we were limited by time, are online at:


29th January 2014 - Raising with the Secretary of State the increase in patients at the Manor hospital

I much hope that the Manor hospital will indeed receive substantial extra funding because of the increased number of patients from outside the borough.

In view of this, I wrote to the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, a few weeks ago, in addition to putting down a parliamentary question.

Mr Hunt knows that as a result of decisions taken regarding Stafford hospital, a large number of people are being sent for treatment at the Manor. Some £14m is needed by the local hospital for this, plus upgrading and expanding maternity services.

It is to be hoped a favourable decision will very shortly be made.

14th January 2014 - Debate on Welfare Reform and Poverty

Below is a link to my speech made yesterday evening during a Commons debate on welfare reforms and poverty:



2nd December 2013: home affairs committee

Arising from the home affairs select committee on 3rd December, when the editor of the Guardian gave evidence on the US whistle blower Edward Snowden, there was sharp criticism, including from me, on the question put by the chair asking if the editor loved his country, hence this letter from myself to the Guardian:

25th November 2013: statement on Iran


My intervention on the Foreign Secretary’s statement on the deal agreed to in Geneva is online at:



21st November 2013: women bishops


During questions to Church Commissioners, I welcomed the General Synod’s vote to approve a new package of proposals that will enable women to become bishops in the Church of England:



 31st October 2013: Intelligence and Security Services


I took part in a debate over the intelligence and security services in Westminster Hall, and my remarks are online at:





28th October 2013: Publication of leaks in the Guardian


My exchange with Cameron on the 28th over the reporting of US ‘monitoring’ of the German Chancellor can be found online at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm131028/debtext/131028-0001.htm#131028-0001.htm_spnew120


17th October – meeting with the Schools Minister re: Mirus Academy


On the 17th October, I took a delegation to see David Laws, the schools minister, over the urgent need for substantial work at the Mirus Academy, Bloxwich.


The delegation included Jacqui Grace, the head of the academy, Henriette Harnisch, the chair of governors, Rose Collinson, the interim director of Walsall Council’s children’s services, and Cllrs Lee Jeavons and Tina Jukes.


Opening the meeting, I told the minister that it was totally unacceptable that pupils and teachers had to work in a building which the head emphasised was simply not fit for purpose. The school’s bid under the present government’s Priority Building Programme had been unsuccessful, and so had further attempts for work to be carried out. Such was the situation at Mirus that essential roof repairs were carried out during the summer break to stop rain leaking into the building; without that work, it would not have been possible for the school to be reopened.


Jacqui Grace put much emphasis on the fact that pupils could not understand why work was not being undertaken to substantially improve the building – a building which Rose Collinson had described as one of the worst in the borough; some £600,000 had been spent by the Council prior to the school becoming an academy, but it was nowhere near enough for further essential work to be undertaken. The governors and the councillors all emphasised these matters and urged, like myself, that at long last, funding should become available in order to make the building fit for purpose.


The minister was sympathetic, and could of course give any promise at this stage about bids being successful when made; however, he said that one of his officials from the director of the Targeted Capital Programmes Team, who was present at the meeting, would go along this month to the Mirus, see the position, and report back to the minister.


Certainly, the essential work to be done as quickly as possible, once funding becomes available, is the replacement of the metal windows and the entire wiring and heating systems.


Following the meeting, I was informed that a senior official from the Education Funding Agency would be visiting the academy on Wednesday, 23rd October. This is in order to see for herself and report back on the state of the building. 


17th October 2013 - Business Questions


At business questions, I asked the leader of the House about the threats against journalists reporting on the leaks of information:


In view of what we have just heard and what was said by the Prime Minister yesterday, by the Home Secretary before the Home Affairs Committee and by the head of MI5, is the Deputy Leader of the House aware that many of us believe that what is happening at present are threats and smears against The Guardian for publishing details, which is not in any way a threat to the security of our country, but information which the public have a right to know? As the Liberal Democrats are supposed to be ardent defenders of our civil liberties, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will bear it in mind that it would be useful to have an overall debate on intelligence and security matters and not just leave it to the Committee which meets in private session. 


14th October 2013


An article I recently wrote for the local press over energy price rises is below:

Once again, domestic gas and electricity prices are almost certainly going to go up again this year, despite the very substantial increases which occurred so recently.


The large six energy companies that dominate the market don’t waste time either, in trying to justify such price rises. The vast profits made, or for that matter the huge amount the senior director pay themselves, don’t seem to get mentioned in the press releases.


The poor old customer is simply expected to cough up again, since there is no alternative – except freezing in one’s home.


When the industry was privatised, emphasis then was all on competition to replace the state monopoly. Well, you can certainly change suppliers as much as you like, but it is not likely to make any difference to what you actually pay, much as was anticipated at the time.


Now the Royal Mail, of all things, is now being sold off; to make the sale more attractive, the company’s debts were first written off, and in addition the pension liabilities were taken over by the Treasury. Talk about getting rid of the ‘family silver’, as one former Conservative premier, Harold Macmillan, memorably described it in a speech in the Lords.


2nd September - Supply of chemicals to Syria 


During defence questions, I took the opportunity to ask the Minister about UK sales of chemicals to Syria:

Is it not the case that, although the civil war in Syria started in early 2011, a UK firm was granted a licence to sell chemicals to the regime in 2012, and that was stopped only because of tougher EU sanctions? Is there any murderous regime anywhere with which we are not willing to do business? This illustrates what I have said about Syria. If that process had not been stopped owing to EU sanctions, chemicals would have been sent that could have made the gas that was used against civilians there.



29th August - Syria


I voted against the government’s amendment, since I was opposed to UK military intervention such as airstrikes on Syria. Though at the time there was no actual evidence that the regime had carried out the poison gas attack against civilians which resulted in so many deaths, I accepted that the regime is so murderous it is quite capable of doing so. Nevertheless, I did not see how air strikes and other such military activity – even though it would not be a case of British army personnel being involved – could help in the present situation, and could well cause further civilian casualties.


It remains my view that every effort should be made to persuade Russia and China in particular to take a positive view towards seeking a political solution, even if that includes an outcome which is not necessarily the best one would hope for.


While many in the armed opposition have fine objectives against such a murderous regime, there are certainly others who would only bring about an Islamist state, with all the savage restrictions on everyday life, and without any improvement on the present situation in Syria regarding basic human rights.


Though I did not speak in the debate, I did so on 11th July (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmhansrd/cm130711/debtext/130711-0002.htm#13071159001508


24 June 2013 - Undercover Policing


I asked a question of the Home Secretary following her statement on undercover policing, and investigations into the family of Stephen Lawrence:




20 June 2013 - G8 Summit and Syria


Following his statement on the G8 summit, I called on the Prime Minister to have a debate on his suggestion that arms be sent to the Syrian opposition:




17 June 2013 - Elections in Iran


The Foreign Secretary made a statement in the House on Iran and the elections which had occurred there; I urged him to remember Britain’s history with that country




10 June 2013 - GCHQ


Following a statement by the Foreign Secretary on Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), I commented on the leak of information on the apparent clandestine security electronic surveillance program




6 June 2013 – Mau Mau settlement


Following a statement to the House over compensation finally being agreed for surviving Mau Mau Kenyans who had been in UK prison camps, I questioned the Home Secretary




4 June 2013 - Remembering Emily Davison


I took the opportunity of Points of Order to remember the centenary of the actions of the suffragette, Emily Davison:




10 April 2013: Debate on Baroness Thatcher


Parliament was recalled during recess following the death of Baroness Thatcher. The link below is to my speech:



6 March 2013: Occupied territories


During foreign office questions, I spoke about the lack of progress in finding a solution in the occupied territories of the West Bank



13 February 2013: Pensions and Social Security


Below are the interventions I made, both on the minister’s speech, and also with my front bench colleague during a debate on pensions and social security.


Column 981


Mr David Winnick (Walsall North) (Lab): The Minister says that we cannot vote against the 1% figure without opposing the uprating of pensions and the rest. That may well be so, and no doubt he is pleased about it, but the fact remains that whether we vote against it or not, some of us feel very strongly about it because we believe that it is hitting the most vulnerable, and I look on it with loathing and contempt. Only a Tory-led Government could carry out such a measure.


Steve Webb: I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman’s Front Benchers share his loathing and contempt, but they have a vote to cast and they can use it if they want to.




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Mr Winnick: Shortly after we were elected in 1997, did we not introduce both the non-means-tested winter fuel allowance, which the previous Tory Government had refused to do, and the free television licence for pensioners, which I had tried to introduce in a private Member’s Bill on Friday 16 January 1987, when the Tories opposed it with a three-line Whip?


Stephen Timms: I congratulate my hon. Friend on his foresight in pushing for that change. I am delighted that, partly thanks to his work, the previous Government were able to deliver it. It is greatly appreciated by pensioners




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Mr Winnick: My right hon. Friend is being very generous with his time. Is he aware that, as someone who from time to time did not always agree with every aspect of the Labour Government during their 13 years—although I certainly did in the vast majority of cases—one of the things that most pleased me were the measures that lifted so many families out of poverty? Both Tony Blair and his successor as Prime Minister can be proud of that.


Stephen Timms: My hon. Friend is right. There was dramatic progress on reducing child poverty but, as I shall explain in a moment, all that ground will sadly be lost under the current Government’s policies. Those policies are hitting the disabled because, as the Minister said, although disability living allowance is being raised in line with the consumer prices index, employment and support allowance is not. On Second Reading of the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill the Secretary of State said that he was protecting people in the ESA support group. In fact he is not and, as the Minister confirmed, their benefit will be uprated by less than inflation—I know the hon. Member for Eastbourne has taken a close interest in that matter. Those people will see their income rise by less than inflation; they will have a real-terms cut.


As we have discussed, child poverty will rocket. The Institute for Fiscal Studies, where the Minister once had the task of compiling the statistics on child poverty, was already predicting on the basis of Government policies an increase in child poverty of 400,000 by 2015 and 800,000 by 2020.






11 February 2013: Use of identities by undercover police


During Home Office questions, I further asked the Secretary of State when an apology would be made to the parents of deceased children whose identities had been used by police operating undercover 







4 February 2013: Undercover police agents


I raised a point of order over the use of deceased children's identities by undercover police officers, and called for the Home Secretary to make a statement on this matter to the House.




29 January 2013: Deployment to Mali


I questioned the Secretary of State for Defence over the UK’s role in military action in Mali, pointing out that there is no appetite whatever in this country for British troops to be sucked into a new war, a war far away, and a war that could easily escalate.



28 January 2013: Questions to the Work and Pensions ministers


During questions, when there was discussion over benefit cuts, I challenged the Secretary of State and the rest of the DWP ministerial team, and the PM and Chancellor, to try to live for six months on the same income as those who have been adversely affected by the benefit cuts under the present government, and without any recourse to other funds. Not surprisingly, the challenge was not taken up.



14 January 2013: Crime and Courts Bill


I questioned the Home Secretary over the withdrawal of the appeals for those denied entry clearance to the UK to visit relatives, etc.