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The first Article 50 Vote
Let me start by saying that I understand that this is an issue that evokes strong feelings on both side of this argument, as the many messages I have received have shown.
I campaigned for a Remain vote and my Brentford & Isleworth constituency voted 60% to remain in the EU. The majority of messages I’ve received in the last couple of weeks have asked me to vote against triggering Article 50.
In November I said there must be accountability on this incredibly important issue and Parliament must be able to properly scrutinise the Government’s plan for leaving the EU, before Article 50 is triggered.
For the sake of our national and local economy, for our rights at work and as consumers, for our environment, for the sake of EU citizens living and working here and for many other reasons – we have to extract guarantees from the Government.
The British people did not vote to leave the Single Market or the Customs Union. Many British jobs depend on our trading relationships with EU countries – 40% of UK exports are to the EU.
The Government must be able to provide clear answers on these issues. Right now, not only have they not done so - the Chancellor has gone as far as suggesting the UK without the single market could end the European Social model and become a tax haven – in Jeremy Corbyn’s words this would herald Bargain-Basement Britain.
I respect the result of the referendum, just as I respect the result of the general election. However, that does not mean I need to vote with the view of the 52% of voters who voted to leave, any more than it means I should vote with the Tories regularly because they won the 2015 General Election. I am in Parliament, not as a delegate, but as your representative, and on each vote I have to use my judgement as to what is best for my constituency and for the country, according to my values. Right now, I don’t feel that voting to trigger the process to leave the EU is in the interests of either and I was went into the No lobby for the vote last night.. Last weekend’s events in the US mean I feel even more strongly that
we need to remain part of the European community.
Now that the vote to trigger Article 50 has been passed, I will support amendments Keir Starmer puts down now and in the passage of the Great Repeal Bill, to protect workers’ and consumer rights, EU citizens and on environmental protection.
Further threats to school funding
I spoke in parliament last week as I am really concerned about Government funding plans that would mean local schools face cuts equating to £462 for every pupil, equivalent to 420 teachers.
Head teachers and governors are already having to cut teachers and extra support because of growing costs; the apprenticeship levy, agency staffing, pensions and National Insurance and other rising costs.
The Government is now consulting on a new National Funding Formula that aims to shift funding from London and urban schools to rural areas and this will mean more children here will lose out.
The wider cost pressures combined with the Government proposals on the National Funding formula mean Hounslow schools facing cuts of £10m by 2019.
Hounslow's teachers have achieved amazing results, and our schools are among the best in the country when measuring pupil achievement. But Headteachers and Governors are already facing decisions that mean fewer teachers, more packed classrooms, less enrichment activity, and less specialist help for children with additional needs. The Government's funding formula proposals will cut funding for Hounslow schools even more. It will be the children and their futures that lose out. I urge everyone who cares about our schools and our children's future to respond to the consultation.
Details of the Government consultation are here: https://consult.education.gov.uk/…/schools-national-fundin…/
As well as speaking in the schools funding debate, and challenging the Government on the cost of the apprenticeship levy, I raised a question in the Chamber about the continuing illegal takeover of Palestinian lands. I’ve also submitted written questions about the impact of benefit caps on different claimants, on road design standards that encourage more cycling, the proposed closure of congenital heart disease services at the Royal Brompton Hospital and on the doubling of the M4 capacity as it approaches London.
As you may know, I chair the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cycling. We’re about to launch our inquiry on how the justice system impacts on cyclists killed or injured on our roads. As you can imagine, I’m furious that the Secretary of State for Transport feels that those riding bikes don’t count as road users, despite the benefit to congestion, air quality and health that cycling can bring. For more information: https://allpartycycling.org/
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Air Pollution, Traffic and our Health – and doubling the M4 through Brentford
As London’s air descended to a week of appalling pollution levels, more than 150 people came to hear about the serious impact traffic has on air quality and health at the Public meeting in Brentford. I spoke, along with Prof Frank Kelly and London Assembly member Caroline Russell.
Professor Kelly, a leading environmental health academic, was unequivocal about the relationship between diesel emissions, poor health and premature deaths, stating that ill health from air pollution is the second most common cause of early death after smoking.
I announced that the Government are considering building a 4-lane tunnel for the length of the M4 elevated section, in order to accommodate the extra traffic associated with a 47% increase in flights if Runway 3 is built at Heathrow. Major work of this kind would be phenomenally expensive and would cause untold disruption and damage to the health and well- being of our community. I have already asked oral and written questions about this in the House.
It’s essential that the Government and local authorities change priorities for planning and put pedestrians and cyclists first. Our communities are blighted by traffic, and our health is being damaged too. It is actually much healthier to be outside a car than in, while regular walking and cycling have huge health benefits.
Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, made a pledge to urge TFL to enforce a 30 mph speed limit along the Brentford section of the A4. He also asked residents to send him their suggestions for positive changes the council could make over the next year.
One of the strongest sentiments to come out of the meeting was that the community needs to work together to put people before cars. It was agreed that everyone has a part to play – leave the car at home, get walking and get campaigning!
The meeting was organised by Air Quality Brentford and you can find out more from firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook: Air Quality Brentford.
OTHER LOCAL ACTIVITIES: I held my regular booked advice surgeries and monthly drop-in at the Gurdwara in Alice Way (10-11am, every 1st Monday of the month). I met the USDAW local branch rep, attended the Bangladesh Welfare Association children’s awards celebration, the public meeting about the future of the Park Road allotments in Isleworth and Hounslow’s annual Holocaust Memorial service, visited Chiswick Age Concern, met Hounslow Councillors and officers to discuss the impact of the Apprenticeship levy on school budgets, celebrated Chiswick Calendar’s birthday, discussed the local NHS response to the winter pressures with the CCG, and attended the launch of Hounslow’s Promise with
Seema Malhotra MP – supporting young people to achieve their full potential.
In the first week of January I visited Jerusalem and the West Bank, with a group of MPs. I was shocked at the changes since my last visit over 30 years ago; the spread of settlements, the ever-lengthening wall dividing Palestinian from their neighbours, their farms and businesses, and of the insidious and daily human-rights violations carried out by Israel in the name of peace.
I have already spoken briefly in Parliament on the situation in the Palestinian occupied territories, and hope to again whenever I can.
On Saturday I was pleased to welcome the Britain-Palestine Friendship & Twinning Network Conference to Hounslow, hosted by Hounslow-Ramallah Twinning Association. For more information about HRTA email@example.com
Ruth Cadbury MP for Brentford & Isleworth
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