Madeleine Moon MP

Member of Parliament for Bridgend

This Week In Parliament 13th-16th July

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The was the last full week of parliament before the summer recess. It was a busy week of parliamentary debates, speeches and receptions. See what I got up to below...

MONDAY

Defence

On Monday, the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and his Ministers took to the Despatch Box to field questions from MPs.

I asked the Minister about the Chancellor's announcement in the Budget of an extra £50 million for Cadet Forces in schools. There is concern amongst Cadet Units in the community that they will not receive similar financial support from the government. I called on the Minister to clarify the government's policy and address their concerns.

The Secretary of State was also questioned over the use of UK military forces to combat Daesh (aka. ISIS) in Iraq and Syria. Karen Lumley MP asked Mr Fallon whether Government time would allocated for a debate and vote in the House of Commons, if and when the UK government decides to participate in air-strikes against Daesh targets in Syria. The Defence Secretary responded that 'RAF intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft are already operating over Syria at the moment' and promised that any he would 'return to Parliament for approval' before any decision to escalate UK involvement was made.

Mr Fallon neglected to mention that the RAF are already participating in air-strikes in Syria as part of a US-led coalition.  According to the BBC, about 20 personnel have been working alongside coalition partners to organise and carry out these attacks. It is deeply worrying that the Minister failed to tell MPs and the public that British military personnel were engaged in these activities. It calls both his competence and honesty into question. Click
here to read the exchange in full.

 

Click here to see me question the Minister
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TUESDAY

 

Defence

On Tuesday I attended the first Defence Select Committee meeting of the new parliament. It was also the first under the new Chair, Julian Lewis MP. The meeting coincided with the ruling of the inquest into the deaths of three SAS reservists in the Brecon Beacons. On one of the hottest days of 2013, three SAS reserves died during a training march. They were Cpl Dunsby, L/Cpl Roberts and L/Cpl Maher. The inquest into these men’s deaths concluded this week. The Coroner concluded that ‘Neglect’ played a part in the deaths of the three reservists. She did not judge, however, that the failing amounted to manslaughter by gross negligence. 
 
Serious mistakes and failings were attributed to Army management staff. It was found that there had been inadequate preparation for the training march.  Although the men were ‘very fit’, 37 of the reserves were not ‘conditioned’ as regular army servicemen and women would have been. For one of the men, insufficient water supplies had played a part in his death and in all instances the response to the emergency was ‘chaotic’ and untimely. On Tuesday, I was asked by the Defence Select Committee to conduct an enquiry. I will continue to put pressure on the MOD to ensure that lessons are learned.

On Tuesday I also hosted a reception for the Defence Police Federation. Not to be confused with Military Police or the Royal Military Police, the MOD police are a civilian force used to provide security and investigative resources for the armed forces. The Federation does important work in promoting the work of the force and representing their interests.

 

Me with Eamon Keating, the Chairman of the Defence Police Federation

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WEDNESDAY

WaterAid and the 'Great Stink'

On Wednesday I attended a WaterAid event to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the 'Great Stink'. In July and August of 1858 London was overwhelmed by the stench of untreated human and industrial waste that had amassed on the banks of the River Thames. The smell was so bad that Parliament had to be suspended. Disgust and fear at the smell, and the disease it signified, prompted a campaign for better sewage and sanitation facilities in the capital. The city’s inadequate waste disposal infrastructure was held responsible for several recent outbreaks of cholera. Joseph Bazalgette was appointed by the city’s authorities to design and build a sewer network for London that safely disposed of human waste.

 

The anniversary is a unique opportunity to reflect on the fundamental importance of accessible sanitation facilities and how often we take it for granted. This is a question of basic human health and dignity. Without access to sanitation facilities life becomes a daily repetition of illness and humiliation.

 

The squalor and disease of nineteenth century London may seem distant, but it remains a daily reality for millions of people across the world. Only two thirds of the world’s population have access to an adequate bathroom. The remaining 2.5 billion suffer daily indignity and ill-health. Poor sanitation is responsible for the spread of a range of diseases from diarrhoea and malaria to HIV/AIDS.

I am concerned that since 2010 spending on water and sanitation by the Department for International Development has risen at a slower pace than under the Labour government. Having more than doubled between 2005 and 2010, the growth in spending has since declined to just over 45%. There clearly remain further opportunities for the Department to improve sanitation in the developing world.

ADS Reception

On Wednesday I also attended
a reception hosted by ADS, the Areospace, Defence and Space trade association, to promote apprenticeships in these sectors. Last year alone these sectors provided 9,000 apprenticeships. In addition to providing these positions, these sectors also generate £56bn a year for the UK economy, including £31bn in exports, and directly provide 310,000 jobs.

 

Fox Hunting

The government had planned to introduce a vote on amending the Hunting Act on Wednesday, that would have effectively reintroduced hunting with dogs. I was grateful for the considerable volume of correspondence that I received from constituents on both sides of the debate. In the event, the government lost their nerve and withdrew their amendment, it being clear that members of their own party and the SNP were planning to vote against the reintroduction of hunting. I remain emphatically opposed to any further attempt to reintroduce hunting, whenever that might be.
 

Here I am with Joseph Bazalgatte himself!

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THURSDAY

Reccess Adjournment Debate

Thursday afternoon in the House of Commons was reserved for a Recess Adjournment Debate. This provides an opportunity for backbench MPs to highlight issues that they feel have received insufficient attention and to indicate what matters they would like the government to discuss when Parliament returns in the autumn.

I took the opportunity to press the government over open-cast mining in the constituency and to point out their reluctance to deal with Parc Slip. This country is facing a crisis over what to do with orphaned open-cast mines. There are currently 34 open-cast mines across the UK—17 in Scotland, nine in south Wales and eight in England. There are also an unknown number of unrestored and orphaned sites, where developers have declared bankruptcy and disappeared. They are all a major health and safety risk. I am particularly concerned about the safety and security of the community of Cynfigg hill who live beneath the orphaned mine of Parc Slip. Although progress has been painfully slow with the government, I am relieved that the Minister Andrea Leadsom has at last offered to meet us in September. Click
here for my speech.

Continence Care

On Thursday afternoon I also made time to visit a reception hosted by a group of charities who promote awareness of continence care. Bowel and bladder problems are much broader problems than you might imagine. Some of the most common illnesses in the UK are related to continence or have bowel and bladder problems as symptoms. They can affect men, women and children of all ages. As a member of the APPG for continence care, I intend to apply for a parliamentary debate to push the government and health service on what more can be done to improve care and policy in this area.

I look forward to working with this remarkable group of people to promote awareness and openness about bladder and bowel problems.

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