Madeleine Moon

Labour Candidate for Bridgend

This Week in Parliament 22nd-25th June

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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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