Last week I attended a parliamentary event held by Cancer Research UK in Westminster to find out how we can keep cancer at the top of the new Parliament’s agenda.
Over the course of this Parliament, two million people will be diagnosed with cancer across the UK, so Cancer Research UK needs political support in order to continue to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.
At the event, I met some of Cancer Research UK’s dedicated volunteer Campaign Ambassadors, and found out more about cancer survival rates in Durham, and received a report about treatment and survival rates in the constituency. I was pleased to note that urgent GP referral rates are higher for Durham than the national average, and that the percentage of patients receiving radiotherapy with 31 days of first treatment is also higher than the average in England.
However, there was some more concerning news regarding early diagnosis of cancers at stage 1 and stage 2, as rates in Durham are lower than the national average, and I will be raising this issue with the relevant organisations during my work in the constituency.
I have previously supported Cancer Research UK’s campaign to restrict junk food advertising on television, and in my role as the MP for City of Durham, I will continue to press the government to fund cancer treatments and to invest in new research so that survival rates improve, as cancer survival in the UK is still lagging behind other countries and too many cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are harder to treat successfully.
Last week I attended a parliamentary event held by Cancer Research UK in Westminster to find out how we can keep cancer at the top of the new Parliament’s agenda....
I am very pleased to announce that I have accepted a role as Shadow Minister for International Development. I will be working with Kate Osamor to lead on Labour’s strategy on international development, and to hold the Department for International Development (DFID) to account in terms of how Britain’s foreign aid budget is being spent.
Labour is committed to the principle of spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on special development assistance, and of ensuring that foreign aid is spent effectively and accountably on programmes which assist towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Although the Tories have also committed to this, there are signs that many of their MPs and Ministers do not fully support the 0.7 per cent target, and Labour will be fighting against any threats to maintaining this level of spending.
We believe in developing a targeted development agenda based on the principles of redistribution, social justice, women’s rights and poverty reduction. During the last Parliament, we led on scrutinising the work of the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), the private equity company owned by DFID, which is now a major vehicle for the delivery of Britain’s foreign aid targets. Whilst Labour is supportive of some aspects of the work done by the CDC, we have been concerned by reports from campaigning organisations such as Oxfam and Global Justice Now, which highlight examples of the CDC being used to channel funding towards businesses in middle-income countries, rather than focusing explicitly on poverty reduction.
In this Parliament, I look forward to working closely with the rest of the Shadow Front Bench, the international development select committee, as well as charities and NGOs, to develop Labour’s international development strategy and to hold the government to account on their actions. I will bring to the role my long experience of working alongside Parliamentarians from across the world within the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and my work with the Inter-Parliamentary Union. In addition, I have a long history of campaigning for women’s rights both at home and internationally, and this will be another priority for me in the new role.
I am very pleased to announce that I have accepted a role as Shadow Minister for International Development. I will be working with Kate Osamor to lead on Labour’s strategy...
On Thursday night, I wholeheartedly voted for the amendment submitted by the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn which opposed the Queen’s Speech put forward by Theresa May and her Conservative government, as it did not include any measures to:
- End austerity and the cuts to public services
- Reverse falling living standards and inequalities in our society
- Implement an energy price cap
- Commit to a proper infrastructure investment strategy for the whole country
- Recognise that “no deal” is the very worst outcome for the UK in Brexit negotiations
- Ensure that the outcome of any deal to leave the EU prioritises jobs and the economy and delivers the exact same benefits that the UK has now as a member of the Single Market and Customs Union
- Maintain the existing rights of EU nationals living in the UK, and UK nationals living in Europe
- Ensuring that the richest individuals and biggest corporations pay their fair share in tax
- Scrap tuition fees at universities, restore the Education Maintenance Allowance and nurses’ bursaries
- Increase the minimum wage to a real living wage of £10 per hour by 2020
- End the public sector pay cap
The Tories’ Queen’s Speech is a threadbare document that contains nothing to help the people of Durham or the country. Theresa May has dropped nearly all the commitments she made in her election manifesto, and continues to show what a weak position she is in, and how little confidence her Government has in itself.
Labour would instead bring forward a Queen’s Speech that would actually address the big issues facing the country rather than shying away from taking any decisions. I want to invest in the public services that everyone in Durham uses, rather than cutting them to breaking point, ensure we pay our doctors, nurses, firefighters and policemen the wages they deserve, and build homes that people can afford to live in.
That is why I voted for the Labour amendment and against the Queen’s Speech, and I will continue to stand up for the City of Durham against the Conservative Government’s unjust cuts and continued austerity.
Also, having signed Stella Creasy’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech which highlighted the inequality of access to healthcare services for women in Northern Ireland, I am delighted that the Government has been forced to change its stance today. Previously, women from Northern Ireland – where it is still illegal for women to have an abortion – travelling to Great Britain for an abortion were charged £900. Justine Greening, the Minister for Women and Equalities, has said that the Government will now fund this instead.
On Thursday night, I wholeheartedly voted for the amendment submitted by the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn which opposed the Queen’s Speech put forward by Theresa May and...