Madeleine Moon MP

Labour Member of Parliament for Bridgend

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The latest edition of This Week in Parliament is now available here

This Week in Parliament 9-12 October 2017

The latest edition of This Week in Parliament is now available here

Watching the unfolding twitter storm, insult trading and intercontinental missile launches it is easy to forget that the UK was the second largest military contribution to the Korean War in 1950. Most of the personnel were National Service Conscripts and more were killed and wounded than in both the recent Iraq and Afghan wars.

The UK, a Permanent Member of the National Security Council sent personnel as part of a UN force led by the US. We remain committed to the defence of South Korea to this day. The UK has always send forces to the Invincible Warrior exercises held by South Korean and US forces.  Not large numbers but we remain committed to the protection of South Korea as a standing commitment to the UN. Here in Wales, Operation Vambrace Warrior, brought Special Forces from the UK, US and Japan to take part in a week long exercise to repel an attack from North Korea.

As a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly I was invited to attend meetings in South Korea to discuss and review the current tensions and planning there.  There was a vote in the Commons on the second reading of the ‘Great Repeal Bill’ but whips agreed it was important I attended the meetings. I was ‘paired’ with a Conservative who would also miss the vote so the outcome would not change.

Before leaving for these visits there are briefing documents to read and meetings to attend so you arrive understanding the UK perspective. Looking back reading about North Korea sending people to work in China, Russia and even to Poland to earn foreign currency came as a surprise. Conditions in the labour camps especially in Russia were harsh yet despite the North Korean state taking 80% of the wages earned there did not appear to be a lack of volunteers to take on the tasks.  The new leader Kim Jong-un came to power promising two areas of growth, economic and the development of nuclear weapons capability. He has kept both promises.

The contrasting wealth, technological innovation and economic success of South Korea is stark. From the devastating poverty and infrastructure devastation following the Korean War the country has built a highly successful economy. Samsung televisions, computers, mobile phones, Daewoo Buses, Hyundai and Kia cars, ship building, minerals and plastics all drive a thriving technologically advanced economy.  There is massive investment in education and in research and development. Korean beauty products and music are the must haves of many of the younger generations.

This is a dangerous part of the world. Historic tensions have been put to one side, but not forgotten, to allow trade to develop between South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan.  Japan and South Korea are close allies of the US. Japanese brutal occupation of South Korea is etched deeply into memories. China and Russia have been long term supporters of North Korea and are opposed to greater US involvement in the South.  When US THAD (Terminal High Altitude Defence) missiles were deployed into South Korea after the firing of missiles from the north, China retaliated.  87 South Korean department stores in China were closed for fire safety infringements and Chines tourism into the South declined by 75%.

A visit to the DMZ (de-militarised zone) the border between the North and South is an earie experience that exemplifies the tension. There is an air unreality as you gaze across mine fields, see the three tunnels built by the North Koreans to bring military forces into the South and see the memorials to soldiers killed by invading forces during the armistice; there is no peace agreement ending the war in 1953. When you enter the South Korean zone, soldiers leave the North Korean side of the border to photograph your every move. The tension is palpable.

This visit to South Korea is one I will never forget. I met Civil, Military and Government leaders.  Talked to Ambassadors and visited key sites, then collapsed with a Korean strain of double pneumonia and was admitted to hospital. My NATO colleagues left, most of the medical and nursing staff had little English and I was very ill. The care was superb, and it’s amazing what you can do with sign language, single words and google translate. I was in the hospital for five days and back in a hotel room for a further five days negotiating between an insurance company and an airline to convince everyone I was fit to fly.

Those days were awful but incredibly useful. Talking about why I was in the country, how Korean’s felt about the missile threats and the growing tension and ways forward were illuminating. The resilience of the South Koreans living with the daily tension and threat from the north was amazing. The kindness and eagerness to explain despite the language barrier inspiring.

Now I am back in Porthcawl breathing good Welsh air and trying to rebuild my strength.  So what next? Sanctions have to be the way forward; there is much that can be achieved there. There is an opportunity for old enemies to face the need to work together and find a common solution. In Panmunjom there is a telephone line between the North and South Korean governments. The line is rung four times a day. It was last picked up by the North Koreans in 2013. Dialogue is ultimately the only way forward, so we must hope one day soon, the phone is answered.

The Forgotten War

Watching the unfolding twitter storm, insult trading and intercontinental missile launches it is easy to forget that the UK was the second largest military contribution to the Korean War in...

The latest edition of This Week in Parliament is now available here.

This Week in Parliament 11-14 September 2017

The latest edition of This Week in Parliament is now available here.

A list of surgery dates in Porthcawl, Bridgend and Pyle for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018 are now available here.

New Surgery dates for 2017/18

A list of surgery dates in Porthcawl, Bridgend and Pyle for the remainder of 2017 and into 2018 are now available here.

The latest edition of This Week in Parliament is now available here.

 

This Week in Parliament 5-7 September 2017

The latest edition of This Week in Parliament is now available here.  

Deciding to review the Battle of Monte Casino with a World War 2 historian may not be everyone’s way of starting a summer break.  It is what I chose to do for three days in the company of a small number of MPs and Peers who take an interest in defence.  Understanding the decisions of military commanders and their outcomes is important and as ever, history has much to teach us. 

The Battle of Monte Casino broke two cardinal rules of warfare. Don’t fight north to south and do not start a campaign in winter.  The allies felt they had no option to break the rules but a heavy price was paid with over 105,000 killed in four campaigns lasting from December 1943 to May 1944.

The Monastery of Monte Casino was built in 529 and held a commanding view over the surrounding countryside.  In December 1943 the Germans made an agreement with the Vatican that the monastery would not be occupied by their troops.  The allies did not believe such a commanding position would not be used and bombed it several times in February 1944. The Germans then moved into the rubble which gave cover and protection from which to attack the valley below, most effectively with sniper fire.

We talk of coalition war fare a great deal today but we have always fought in coalitions. Divisions from New Zealand, India, Gurkha’s from Nepal, Canadians, Americans, South Africa, France, Morocco, Italy, Poland and the UK fought in the long and bloody battle through bitter cold, snow, driving rain and with virtually no shelter. Some divisions had losses as high as 80%.

There are so many lessons to be learned from this one battle. Talking to an old man who as a small boy had hidden in the caves nearby as the battle raged around them, highlighted the horrors faced by starving civilians. The old man’s village was destroyed as part of the fighting and is now preserved as a memorial to the war and the battle for the monastery.

Descriptions of the fighting conditions are stark. Soldiers unable to move a muscle as they crouched behind inadequate cover for days, for fear of sniper attacks, were sometimes so locked into their positon they had to be stretchered down the mountain as they were unable to stand. They watched as friends who moved died and could offer no help. There was little thought or understanding of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in 1945 when armies were dispersed. Regimental and campaign associations were the main sources of help and support as the trauma left many to battle mental and physical ill health for years after peace was declared.

Awareness of the impact of war on civilians and military personnel is growing but sadly individuals still fall though the net. The number of veterans seeking support as the struggle with life as a civilian has grown locally. This weekend Bridgend hosted a Police and community event on Newbridge Fields and there I met with a number of organisations campaigning for greater access to mental health support for veterans.

We have come a long way from the lack of support after Monte Casino but still too many veterans struggle to access the help they need when a crisis hits. Organisations such as Hafal, http://forcesforchange.wales/  Help for Heroes www.helpforheroes.org.uk and Change Step www.changestepwales.co.uk are here locally to help. All three are campaigning raise awareness of the support available to military veterans and those who served in the emergency services.

This seems an apt place to ask readers to think about who they admire and which organisations are making a huge difference in their community. The Welsh Diversity Awards, are an opportunity for individuals to recognise unsung amazing positive role models, community organisations and iconic figures in their communities.

 Nominations are now open, in a variety of categories including: Positive Role Model Award, Community Organisation Award, Welsh Cultural Icon Award, Diverse Company of the Year Award, Sports Personality of the Year Award and Lifetime Achiever Award, amongst many others.   

 

To nominate visit www.welshdiversityawards.co.uk/nominate/, or for a nomination form please email info@welshdiversityawards.co.uk

 

I don’t know if Justin Hostettler-Davies is an iconic figure but he terrifies me every year with his latest test of endurance. Justin has been raising money for Motor Neuron Disease for a number of years.  Each summer he finds a more gruelling test of stamina and fitness. This year’s challenge to raise awareness of MND was- Stadium2Stadium4MND - a 100km walk from Parc Y Scarlets in Llanelli to Rodney Parade in Newport (via Swansea, Bridgend, Pontypridd and Cardiff). All nonstop through the night. The group of about 60 started at 1pm from Llanelli and finish sometime on the Sunday afternoon in Newport. Locally the determined participnts stopped for 15-20 minutes at about 11pm at Pyle Cross and then about 1.30am at the MacDonald’s outlet in Bridgend before heading off towards Pontypridd. (Please could someone cut the brambles back on the footpath along past Stormy Down)

I'm told that only 7 people survived the entire journey. Justin was there as was Simon Green who pushed his wheel chair through the gruelling 67 miles of the challenge. Well done all of those who took part for both raising awareness and money for MND.  I'm told that late into the night a man stopped his car to ask what the event was for and handed over a donation of £50.  Well done that man. You can still donate via https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stadium2stadium4mnd.

 

 

 

 

 

Trauma of Monte Cassino has echoes in plight of military veterans today

Deciding to review the Battle of Monte Casino with a World War 2 historian may not be everyone’s way of starting a summer break.  It is what I chose to...

I received the reply below from the Minster for Disabled People, Health and Work. I asked what steps are being taken to ensure ESA and Universal Credit claimants with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) are removed from the work-related activity group as soon as possible.

The DWP considers claimants in work-related activity groups will be capable of working at some point in the future. If someone is put in this group they will have regular interviews with an adviser, and will be invited for another Work Capability Assessment within two years of their previous assessment. It means that the DWP have decided that there are things an individual can do to improve their ability to work in the future, even if their health condition inhibits their current ability to work.

As MND is a degenerative disease, it is entirely inappropriate for individuals with this condition to be placed in this group. The Minister said that they are working on guidance to stop repeat assessments for claimants with the most severe health conditions or disabilities, and where their condition is unlikely to improve. I sincerely hope and expect MND to be included in their new guidance.

 

Mordaunt_(MND_and_WRAG_reply)-page-001.jpg  Mordaunt_(MND_and_WRAG_reply)-page-002.jpg

ESA & Universal Credit Claimants with Motor Neurone Disease

I received the reply below from the Minster for Disabled People, Health and Work. I asked what steps are being taken to ensure ESA and Universal Credit claimants with Motor...

There are 529 remarkable people who are registered stem cell donors in Bridgend. These individuals are real-life heroes who will potentially save the life of someone with blood cancer. Anthony Nolan is the incredible charity that helps to match patients with donors from their register.However, 1 in 8 people across the UK tragically do not find a match. Consequently, more needs to be done to increase the number of potential donors. An estimated 2,000 people in the UK are in desperate need of a bone marrow or stem cell transplant ever year.  

There is an extremely common misnomer that donating can be painful. In fact, most donors only experience mild flu-like symptoms and may feel a bit tired afterwards. A short-term inconvenience that will make the world of difference to someone whose life could be saved.  

Every 20 minutes someone in the country is diagnosed with blood cancer and only about 60% of them actually find their best possible match from a stranger. Donors can help cure someone’s cancer and give them a second chance at life.Donors must be between 16 - 30 and in good health, To find out more go to: https://www.anthonynolan.org/8-ways-you-could-save-life/donate-your-stem-cells  


How to save a life

There are 529 remarkable people who are registered stem cell donors in Bridgend. These individuals are real-life heroes who will potentially save the life of someone with blood cancer. Anthony...

When Parliament returns in September, MPs will have the Repeal Bill waiting for them to debate and vote on. It essentially converts EU law into UK legislation.

Controversially, the Bill includes proposals to give ministers extensive “Henry VIII powers”, also known as statutory instruments, to make changes to laws without full Parliamentary approval. The Government say they need this to correct some laws after Brexit. For example, they will need to amend laws that refer to the “European Commission” or to the UK’s “EU Obligations” as they will no longer apply once we exit.

There’s a reason why they’re known as Henry VIII powers. Just like the Statute of Proclamations gave Henry the power to make any laws he wanted simply by decree; statutory instruments will allow ministers to change Bills with little or no Parliamentary oversight. This means hard-won rights could be removed or weakened without any say from Parliament. It’s estimated that there could be between 800 and 1,000 statutory instruments which will have limited Parliamentary scrutiny. This raises serious concerns about democratic legitimacy and parliamentary sovereignty - the government could change laws without your elected representatives having a vote.

At a time where the constitutional fibres of the UK will be reshaped because of swathes of legislative changes, total transparency and accountability is needed more than ever. Some of our cherished rights will be left to the whims of ministers and their Henry VIII powers – and we all know what Henry did with such sweeping powers.

 

So what are Henry VIII powers?

When Parliament returns in September, MPs will have the Repeal Bill waiting for them to debate and vote on. It essentially converts EU law into UK legislation. Controversially, the Bill...

This week I made a visit to the Parliamentary archives in the Elizabeth Tower. The Tower is the large central one which dominates the Palace.  It was specifically designed to hold the Parliamentary archive after a fire burned down the medieval Palace in 1834. The great rolls of vellum stacked on shelves that hold the Laws of Britain look like the age rings of giant trees.

You can see how busy monarchs were by the number of rolls carrying their name.  Interestingly there are few rolls for Charles 1st, a man who did not like to call Parliaments, did not like to be held to account for his spending and ….. the rest is history.

We are coming to the end of the first session of this Parliament. It's been slower to get going than my previous three Parliaments. Structures have to be in place before Parliament can fully function and we can add to those rolls of vellum.  We need a Speaker so that MP’s can take the oath of allegiance to the Queen before they can speak in the Chamber and debates can begin.

You need to elect Deputy Speakers and select of Members of the Speaker’s Panel of Chairs to facilitate the debates. You also need Chairs of Select Committees, Members of Select Committee’s and other outside bodies.

I have been elected to the Defence Select Committee and re-appointed to the Speaker’s Panel. I will Chair debates in Westminster Hall and deal with the legislative processes of Bills, Statutory Instruments and Delegated Legislation. We expect a wide range of legislation to be brought forward for debate as we unpick the consequences of Brexit and the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

The Bill is highly controversial as it contains what are called Henry VIII powers enabling the government to deal with ‘deficiencies arising from withdrawal’.  It gives power to Ministers (not Parliament) to make regulations as they consider appropriate to anything they feel may be needed to ‘prevent, remedy or mitigate’ the transfer of EU legislation into British legislation. Government has awarded itself huge powers over Parliament.  You can expect a noisy Parliamentary session ahead as the traditional battle between Government and back benchers and oppositions goes into overdrive.

Why will Parliament not just nod changes through?  Because rules, standards and agreements matter. Two areas which impact on life in communities across Bridgend have come up this week.

Euratom is the agency which regulates the transportation of nuclear materials across the 28 member states. Nuclear material used to generate energy for electricity for homes and business, to power submarines or for use in medicine and research. The UK cannot move or access nuclear materials from the EU without complying with these regulations. The body ultimately responsible for arbitration in disputes is the European Court of Justice and the Government wants to leave the ECJ.

The Reach Rules control the use of chemicals across the EU. Britain’s motor manufacturing companies must abide by the Reach Rules as four fifths of cars produced in the UK are exported to Europe, the world most valuable consumer market. The car export market is worth £17.8 billion to the UK so we cannot ignore it.

To protect our future economic wealth, our industries, local jobs, our health service, power generation and defence capability those Henry VIII powers will be challenged.

Governments don’t like to be challenged. They don’t like to be told they have made mistakes and their sums don’t add up. I’d like congratulate the Gem for demonstrating this most graphically in a recent article.  Commenting on my contribution to the Queen’s speech debate. In an exchange with Chair of the Defence Select Committee (Conservative Dr Julian Lewis) we both expressed our concern that the government was only able to claim it was spending 2% on defence by including military and civil servant pensions.  Dr Lewis commented, “It is a measure of the management downwards of our expectations that we are supposed to ring the church bells in triumph at our not falling below the bare minimum that NATO members are supposed to achieve. We really have to rethink this. We really should be looking at 3% of GDP, and not this bare minimum of 2%.”

I was therefore delighted to see the quote from Minister Mark Lancaster in the Gem article. As a national defence journalist texted me ‘if the minister wants to lash out they can be v quick at giving a quote’. Seems my speech and the Gem article touched a nerve. We are underfunding our armed services, personnel numbers are cut to the bone because the MOD is struggling to pay for American equipment it cannot afford, partly because of the drop in the value of the pound.  The £20 billion black hole in the budget is not shrinking no matter how much Mark claims was spent in the past in Iraq and Afghanistan or is being spent with Welsh business.

The next few years are going to fill up those shelves with more rolls of vellum as we tackle Brexit. The impact on Britain and our place in the world will be tested and the need for ingenuity in legislation and decision making stretched. The largest roll in the current archive dates from 1820 and contains the registration of all of the land ownership in England and Wales for that year. Talking to the archivist I question how often this figured in the rolls. We plan to look for Bills relating to the building of the railroad and harbour in Porthcawl to transport coal from the mines in valleys to the north. That was our past.  I’m confident Bridgend will add more to those rings of vellum over the next few years.

 

 

 

The Chocolate Egg That Falls Apart

This week I made a visit to the Parliamentary archives in the Elizabeth Tower. The Tower is the large central one which dominates the Palace.  It was specifically designed to...

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