Madeleine Moon MP

Member of Parliament for Bridgend

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22nd - 25th June

This was a beautiful, sunny week in Westminster. On Monday we welcomed Anna McGovern to the Parliamentary office. Matthew and Anna will continue the work of James and Sam in helping me to represent the people of Bridgend at Westminster.

I had another packed schedule this week, taking part in numerous debates and attending a variety of engagements and meetings. Take a look at what I got up to this week below.

MONDAY

To kick off the week I asked the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, about Personal Independence Payments. I pressed him for an assurance that those with disabilities will not be further affected by more cuts to welfare benefits.
I asked –

 Mrs Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) (Lab): What his policy is on maintaining the level of (a) employment and support allowance, (b) personal independence payment and (c) attendance allowance for disabled claimants.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr Iain Duncan Smith): I thank the hon. Lady for her question and for her campaigning in this area. I would like to take this opportunity to offer her my condolences, having not spoken to her before.

I am currently reviewing all policy on welfare. The outcome will be announced when the work is complete, but as the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for North Swindon (Justin Tomlinson), said, it is our intention to protect the most vulnerable, including the disabled. I believe our reforms demonstrate our strong record of supporting disabled people. We introduced the personal independence payment to ensure more support is going to those who need it. More than 700,000 of those who were, once upon a time, stuck on incapacity benefits under Labour are now preparing or looking for work. Spending on disability benefits increased in real terms, and, as my hon. Friend has said, disability employment increased by 238,000 in the previous Parliament.

Mrs Moon: I thank the Secretary of State for his condolences.
My advice surgery has received people who are terminally ill, people with life-ending degenerative conditions, people who have been found fit to work despite both conditions, and those on attendance allowance have been told to use their attendance allowance to pay for their second bedroom, so that they are not affected by the bedroom tax. There is huge fear out there in the disabled community. May we have an assurance that those with disabilities will not be further affected by more cuts in welfare benefits?

Mr Duncan Smith: Our purpose is to protect the most vulnerable. It has been from the beginning, and it will continue to be. There is, therefore, no reason for people to be fearful, and I hope that Opposition Members will not whip up such fearfulness, although I am by no means accusing the hon. Lady of that.
We must review welfare spending, but we want to do so in a way that actually changes lives. We felt that much of the huge increase in welfare spending under the Labour Government —an increase of some 60%—went to the wrong people who were not doing the right thing.”


I did not find this answer to be satisfactory; the Secretary of State fails to appreciate the misery and anxiety that his reforms have generated. The ‘face-to-face assessment’, for instance, which is now necessary to gain Personal Independence Payments (PIPs), is neither suitable nor effective. It does not take into account how symptoms may develop slowly over time. With progressive diseases such as Motor Neurone and Parkinson’s disease, outward signs are accompanied by less visible but equally debilitating symptoms such as depression and memory loss which often go unnoticed. Rather than forcing people with these illnesses to attend assessments in distant locations and at inconvenient times, a more claimant-friendly system should be established. The unacceptable delays in the processing of PIPs have further compounded the stress and anxiety of claimants. In many cases this has had a serious and adverse impact on their conditions and has added to the problems that they and their carers face on a daily basis.

I will continue to challenge the government over their insensitive treatment of PIP claimants and their failure to implement the policy.  On Thursday I have a meeting with Justin Tomlinson MP, the Minister for Disabled People, in which I will make representations on behalf of my disabled constituents and their families.

See the link below for Madeline's question.

 
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TUESDAY

On Tuesday I was delighted to be re-elected as Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Parkinson’s alongside my colleague Baroness Gayle. I look forward to working together on this important issue in the months and years ahead. APPGs represent a great opportunity to work across party lines and between both Houses on issues of shared concern. It is vital, that there is a permanent group in Parliament to promote awareness of Parkinson's disease and encourage research into its treatment and prevention.

In the afternoon I went to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) reception. I have long admired and supported the great work of the charity. In our constituency of Bridgend there are an estimated 11,200 people who have cardiovascular disease and 7 million across the UK.  The causes are numerous and the effects are far reaching. Smoking, obesity and excessive alcohol consumption all lead to heart disease and I was deeply concerned to learn how prevalent these problems are in Bridgend. Worrying though this is, I was pleased to discover that the BHF funds £5.2 million of research across Wales that helps to treat and prevent cardiovascular disease

 

You can show your support by visiting our British Heart Foundation shop in Bridgend: 3a Caroline Street, Unit 18, Bridgend Shopping Centre.

On Tuesday, I also attended a reception by Target Ovarian Cancer. I was pleased to attend the event, in light of the recent announcement that spending on cancer services in Wales is at a record high. It was also a relief to learn that 25% of Welsh women were confident at spotting the symptoms of ovarian cancer. This is the highest percentage anywhere in Britain, but there is still a long way to go.

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WEDNESDAY

On Wednesday I was pleased to be re-elected Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Kidney Group I look forward to carrying on our good work during this parliament in association with the National Kidney Federation (NKF). The Federation predict that the number of patients with kidney failure will nearly double in ten years from 42,000 to 80,000. Imagine the strain that this will put on the NHS. Worryingly, there has also been a reduction in the number of kidney donations and transplants. I am grateful and honoured to have been re-elected and will continue to argue for improvements to the services available to patients with kidney disease.

Another APPG which I am pleased to support is the All Party Parliamentary Group for Continence Care. Chaired by colleague Rosie Cooper MP with the assistance of Baroness Greengross, the group aims to break the taboo around continence care by raising awareness of issues experienced by people of all ages. Around 14 million men, women, young people and children live with bowel and bladder problems in the UK. For me, it is a matter of basic human dignity that we alleviate the appalling emotional and physical consequences of incontinence. On Wednesday I attended the APPG's first meeting of the parliament to offer my support in the fight to improve the daily living conditions of so many people throughout the country.

On Wednesday, I also asked the Home Secretary about the border crisis in Calais. As thousands of migrants travel to Europe from across Africa and the Middle East in pursuit of work and a better life, children are being exploited by organised trafficking gangs. I asked the Secretary of State what her Department was doing to help vulnerable children who make it to our borders. My question and her answer can be found in the link below.

 
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THURSDAY

On Thursday Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, took to the despatch box to field questions from MPs. The Labour MP for Ynys Môn, Albert Owen, questioned the Secretary of State over her preparation for the sustainable development conference in New York. The government’s approach to the upcoming conference on climate change in Paris was also raised. I have recently received a number of letters about these important international summits. As I mentioned in last week’s TWIP, I also had the pleasure of meeting constituents at a lobby in anticipation of the Paris conference. As Albert acknowledged, these conferences represent unmissable opportunities to secure lasting international agreements to tackle climate change and the broader socio-economic issues that are associated with the problem.

As the session proceeded, the government’s credibility on climate change was put under further pressure. The government’s recent and reckless decision to remove subsidies on onshore wind projects was raised by the Labour MP for Sedgefield, Phil Wilson. Phil challenged the government over the impact that its decision would have on jobs and investment in his local area. I share Phil’s concern that removing the subsidy could have severe economic and environmental consequences across the country.

See the following link, and the link below, for Albert’s question:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm150625/debtext/150625-0001.htm#15062546000014

Thursday also saw Chris Leslie MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, challenge the government’s record on child poverty. The latest statistics, published on Thursday morning, revealed that 2.3 million children remain in poverty; this is unchanged from 2011-12 and 2012-13. Amid debates about how poverty should be calculated, Chris framed the issue in terms of access to the basic necessities. Do families have enough food, or do parents often go without? Do families have enough money for the meter, or are their homes cold throughout the winter? It is this sort of daily deprivation that can stifle a child’s health, development and education. Rather than attacking the low-paid, Chris argued that the government ought to clamp down on low pay. As it stands, the government is still subsidising poverty wages in the private sector.
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This Week in Parliament 22nd-25th June

22nd - 25th June This was a beautiful, sunny week in Westminster. On Monday we welcomed Anna McGovern to the Parliamentary office. Matthew and Anna will continue the work of James and Sam...

This_week_in_Parliament_heading.jpg15th - 19th June

This was another busy week in Parliament. A wide variety of business was discussed in the Commons and I attended events and meetings on a number of different issues. If there was one recurring theme to my engagements this week, it was the threat posed by climate change and the destruction of the natural environment.

MONDAY

On Monday I chaired the first meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Reserves and Cadets of this parliament. I am looking forward to promoting the extraordinary and essential work that they do for their country and within their local communities. On Monday June 29th I will have the pleasure of hosting a reception for Reservists, Employers, Cadet Forces adult instructors and cadets. This will be a great opportunity for volunteers to meet their MPs to discuss how they can support the Reserve and Cadet forces. 

I recently asked the Secretary of State for Defence, how many people were recruited to each reserve force in each nation and region of the UK in each month of the last two years. In 2012, the Tory-led Coalition argued that their drastic cuts to army funding and personnel would be mitigated by a greater reliance on reserve forces. The figures that the Minister supplied in answer to my question do not fully reassure me that the government is doing enough to expand reserve forces. This could have serious implications for our international security.

On Monday afternoon MPs were joined by the singer Lionel Richie, seated in the public gallery, to discuss to the new Scotland Bill. The Bill is now at the Committee Stage; members were considering amendments that had been put forward by their colleagues. The attempts of SNP MPs and the Tory grandee Sir Edward Leigh to guarantee full fiscal autonomy for Scotland was voted down. 

See the clip below from the speech delivered by the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Murray. 
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TUESDAY

On Tuesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer  took questions from MPs in the Chamber. The Northern Irish MP Margaret Ritchie put pressure on the government over rumours in the press that they were preparing to break their promise on a fuel duty freeze. As you will see from the clip below, the minister's response was less than satisfactory.

Over the past couple of weeks I have received a good deal of mail about this issue. The Chancellor has been over-promising and under-delivering. In addition to promising to freeze fuel duty, the he has also announced a further freeze of income tax and national insurance. At a time when 
Public services in this country are under extraordinary pressure, we need a Chancellor who is frank about the scale of the challenge that we face and honest about the difficult choices that we have to make. Deceiving motorists and families for short-term party-political gain is no way to run an economy.

On Tuesday afternoon I met with the Citizens Advice Bureau to discuss the important work they do in the constituency. As the Conservative government renews its attempts to dismantle public services in this country, organisations such as Citizens Advice are essential sources of information and support in the local community. 

 

 
Me enjoying the Citizens Advice reception on Tuesday afternoon
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WEDNESDAY

A particular highlight of my week was meeting Mike Perkins and Robin and Janet Samuel at the climate change lobby in Parliament. The event was organised by the Climate Change Coalition, in anticipation of a series of important summits this autumn.

Man-made climate change is at the centre of so many of the world’s social and environmental challenges. The world faces a ‘perfect storm’ combining growing pressure on limited resources with ever-widening gender and economic inequality.  I want the government to commit to a low-carbon infrastructure plan and to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed in the upcoming summit in September are sufficiently ambitious to meet the challenge we are facing. Mike, Robin, Janet and I also call on the government to work to reduce global temperature rises to below 2% of the pre-industrial average. This will be the subject of a conference in Paris at the end of November.

On Wednesday afternoon I spoke at a Westminster Hall debate, organised by Graham Stuart MP, to discuss the government's failure to deliver its Personal Independence Payments scheme. The almost unbearable heartache, anxiety and expence that families have to endure as a consequence of this disease has recently been deepened and compounded by the appalling incompetence of the Department for Work and Pensions. In the coming weeks I will meet with the Minister for Disabled People to discuss at greater length the failure of his Department and what can be done to alleviate the suffering it has caused. See the clip below for the full debate.

On Wednesday evening I attended a Friends of the Earth reception to raise awareness about the plight of Britain's bee population. I have received a number of letters about this issue and it is a serious concern of my constituents. There are 26
0 species of bee in Britain, but 1 in 10 are now at risk from extinction. Due to the vital role that bees play in pollinating crops, their decline would have serious economic as well as environmental consequences.

Later on in the evening I also attended the RSPCA reception for the launch of a new animal welfare advice guide. A substantial proportion of the mail I receive from my constituents is concerned with animal rights and it is an issue that is close to my heart.

 
 
An easy tip to save the bees: be sure to leave part of your garden unmown this summer to allow wild-flowers to grow. I will be a beautiful sight in early summer and help to tackle the decline in the bee population.
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THURSDAY

On Thursday, the Speaker announced the list of newly elected Select Committee Chairs. After many hard-fought contests this was an eagerly anticipated moment and there was an excitable atmosphere in the Commons. See the link below for the full list of chairpersons. Having served on the Defence Select Committee I offer my warm congratulations to Julian Lewis who has been elected to the chair. I also welcome the election of Dr Sarah Wollaston MP to chair of the Health Select Committee. We share an interest in continence care and I hope that her committee will do more to address the issue under her guidance. I am also pleased to see Huw Irranca Davies, MP for Ogmore, elected to chair of the environment Select Committee. He brings a wealth of experience and energy to the role.

Following the Speaker's statement, the Leader of the House Chris Grayling delivered his weekly business statement. In the question time that followed Pete Wishart, the Nationalist MP for Perth and North-Perthshire, brought attention to the government's decision to end subsidies for onshore wind farms. This is a deeply regrettable decision that brings into question the government's commitment to tackling climate change.

 
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This Week in Parliament 15th - 19th June

15th - 19th June This was another busy week in Parliament. A wide variety of business was discussed in the Commons and I attended events and meetings on a number of different...

 This_week_in_Parliament_heading.jpg

This was a busy week in Parliament. The legislation that was discussed and the debates that were had will shape the political and constitutional landscape of the U.K. for many years to come. I had a packed schedule with meetings and engagements on a wide range of important issues. This week we also welcomed Matthew Ward into the parliamentary office and bid farewell to Sam Mannion. We wish Sam well for the future.

MONDAY 8th June

Monday’s session kicked off with Questions to the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon. A wide variety of issues were raised, from how the government is countering the threat of ISIL in Iraq to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

However, the most eagerly anticipated business of the day was the second reading of the Scotland Bill. This piece of legislation contains the proposals of the Smith Commission for the further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament. Under the plans, Holyrood would be able to manipulate income tax rates and bands and have more autonomy over welfare policy in Scotland. The Scottish government would also have control over 40% of the revenues it raises. This represents a profound change in Scotland’s constitutional status and has implications for the status of the UK’s other constituent nations. Having participated in the Smith Agreement, Labour welcomed further devolution in order to create a fairer and more equal Scotland. However, Labour opposed the proposal of the Scottish National Party for full fiscal autonomy, fearing that this would put an unnecessary strain on Scotland’s public services. With a general consensus across both sides of the House the Bill proceeded to the Committee stage of the legislative process without the need for a vote.

For the full text of the Scotland Bill debate, see: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm150608/debtext/150608-0001.htm#1506082000001
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TUESDAY 9th June

On Tuesday the EU Referendum Bill received its Second Reading. It is another important piece of constitutional legislation which has the potential to transform our relationship with Europe and the EU. However, the early stages of this Bill have been characterised by the internal conflict and confusion of the Tory Party. The Prime Minister angered his backbenchers by indicating that he would sack any minister who continued to oppose Britain’s membership of the EU following a renegotiation of the terms of membership. This tension spilled out onto the floor of the House in what turned out to be a lively and passionate debate. Labour supported the staging of a referendum following the Prime Minister’s renegotiation but argued for the extension of the franchise to young people aged 16 and above in recognition of the importance of the decision for future generations. Hilary Benn, Labour’s shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs also entertained the possibility of having a period of purdah before the referendum to facilitate a more honest and frank discussion. He further emphasised the importance of holding a referendum on a day on which no other elections were being held.
 
On Tuesday I also met with Air-Marhsall Bagnall to discuss the pressures facing the RAF in the context of an increasingly uncertain strategic and economic global landscape.
 
For the full text of the EU Referendum Bill debate, see: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm150609/debtext/150609-0001.htm#15060939000003



 
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WEDNESDAY 10th June

Following the weekly Questions to the Prime Minister, Wednesday’s business was handed over to the Opposition which chose to focus on the pressing issues of housing and climate change.
 
Emma Reynolds, the shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, described the ‘urgent and growing housing crisis’ facing the UK. She called on the government to ‘bring forward a comprehensive plan’ to tackle the problem and criticised the government’s record on homelessness and house building. Other contributions to the debate criticised the government for failing to control the inflation of housing prices. It was also argued that the government’s plan to sell off a considerable proportion of the social housing stock would exasperate an already severe housing crisis and drive more families into homelessness.
 
On the issue of climate change, Labour’s Caroline Flint argued that the UN conference in Paris this year presented a unique opportunity to persuade world governments to keep their promises to reduce global temperature increases. I look forward to meeting delegates from the constituency in Parliament’s Central Lobby to discuss the issue in anticipation of the Paris meeting. On Wednesday, I met with a delegation from Bahrain to discuss the nation’s recent social and political progress and the serious challenges that the region faces.  Tensions between religious groups, terrorism, human rights violations and the role of women remain high on the agenda of most of the Gulf Cooperation Council and it was helpful to meet and discuss the role Bahrain is playing.  The U.K. has a considerable Royal Navy presence in Bahrain.

For the full text of the Housing debate, see http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm150610/debtext/150610-0002.htm#15061057000001
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THURSDAY 11th June

Thursday’s business focussed on the report produced by the senior judge David Anderson which reviewed the investigatory powers that the security services have to tackle terrorism. The question was one of balance: how do we equip these agencies with the resources they need to protect the population, without giving them the capability to undermine the liberties and freedoms that they are established to uphold? In response to fears that the Home Secretary Theresa May was introducing a ‘snooper’s charter’ onto the statue books, Labour’s Yvette Cooper emphasised the importance of introducing new powers within a clear and transparent legal framework. In a characteristically incisive contribution from the backbenches, the Tory MP David Davis impressed upon the House the important role that the courts have to play in checking ministerial decisions to prevent the use of invasive surveillance where it is not appropriate.
 
On Thursday afternoon Valerie Vaz MP opened an Adjournment debate on the important issue of mental health in Higher Education Institutions. She described the pressure that young people experienced in a fluid and competitive jobs market, compounded by the heavy debts that they carry through from their university and college educations. Throughout the coming years I will continue to chair the Suicide and Self-harm Prevention group in Parliament as we seek to address this pervasive, but too often neglected, health and social problem. 

For the full text of the Anderson Report debate, see: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm150611/debtext/150611-0002.htm#15061141000003
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This Week in Parliament 8th - 11th June

  This was a busy week in Parliament. The legislation that was discussed and the debates that were had will shape the political and constitutional landscape of the U.K. for...


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