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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.

Roberta Blackman-Woods pledges to help beat cancer sooner

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.

Roberta appointed as Shadow Minister for International Development

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.

Voting against the Queen's Speech

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...


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Press Releases

EDM_Graphic_Fair_Schools_funding.jpg

Roberta, together with a number of her regional colleagues, has called on the Government to give the region the funds it needs to meet increasing education costs.

The MPs have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM), tabled by Tom Blenkinsop, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, which calls on the Government to take action on the estimated £119m real terms cuts that North East schools face by 2020. This funding gap is due variety of factors including changes in the new funding formula, cuts outlined by in the 2015 budget and the effect of inflation on school costs.

An independent report by the National Audit Office found schools across England need to make total savings of £3bn by 2020 to cope with increasing costs. The National Union of Teachers estimate the savings needed in the North East is equivalent to losing 3,203 teachers.

It is not just Labour Members of Parliament worried about this situation, a survey found that 72% of head teachers think their budgets will be unsustainable by 2019.

Roberta met with head teachers from across her constituency about this matter and she will continue to speak out against the unfairness of the regional disparity when it comes to education funding.

North East MPs speak out against unfair school funding

Roberta, together with a number of her regional colleagues, has called on the Government to give the region the funds it needs to meet increasing education costs. The MPs have signed an Early...

Roberta Blackman- Woods MP, Shadow Minster for Local Government and Housing, has welcomed the news that the Government have decided to scrap the “Pay to Stay” measures in the Housing and Planning Act.

Roberta said: “Pay to Stay was one of the most pernicious parts of the Housing and Planning Act. It was nothing more than a tax on tenants and a tax on aspiration and so I am extremely pleased to see that the Government has finally listened to reason and decided not to implement it

During the passage of the Act, I met with a group of tenants from Hackney who were very concerned about the impact of the measures and that stress and worry is something that council tenants from across the entire country have been subjected to for months.

I hope this is the first of many elements of the Housing and Planning Act that the Government come to realise will not help alleviate the housing crisis and I look forward to more statements winding back similar such measures in the future”.

Roberta welcomes the scrapping of Pay to Stay

Roberta Blackman- Woods MP, Shadow Minster for Local Government and Housing, has welcomed the news that the Government have decided to scrap the “Pay to Stay” measures in the Housing...

Cathy_Come_Home_5.JPGTo mark the 50th anniversary of the film “Cathy Come Home”, Roberta Blackman- Woods MP, Shadow Minister for Local Government and Housing took part in an event to discuss the film’s impact with director Ken Loach and key stakeholders in the homelessness sector.

Of the event Roberta said:

“It was fantastic to be able to discuss Ken Loach’s seminal film on homelessness with the director himself, and to hear how much it influenced so many people who work with homeless people today.

The parallels between the film and the situation today were not lost on anybody and it shows how despite several pieces of legislation being passed regarding homelessness, more needs to be done to get to grips with the issue.

We need to be building more public sector housing so that families are not trapped on waiting lists or stuck in temporary accommodation for months on end. There needs to be more good quality, genuinely affordable housing available of all types and enabling local authorities to build is the best way to deliver that”.  

Roberta celebrates 50th anniversary of "Cathy Come Home"

To mark the 50th anniversary of the film “Cathy Come Home”, Roberta Blackman- Woods MP, Shadow Minister for Local Government and Housing took part in an event to discuss the...


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