It’s been a rebellious time for me in Parliament since the last edition! I am proud of my Government’s achievements such as in turning the economy around and helping more people into work, as well significant reforms to welfare and education. However if I think the Government is not acting in my constituents best interests, and not sufficiently helping the vulnerable I will speak out.
You will know from a previous article my opposition to increased Sunday Trading for large shops. I was pleased to lead a cross party coalition of MPs to defeat the Government. I wanted to stand up for small businesses, families and shop workers who did not want to change the current compromise. The Government tried to suggest relaxing Sunday Trading laws would support the high street but most local shops I spoke to did not agree and want more help with business rates and parking. I am relieved that Parliament voted to still keep Sunday special.
Like buses sometimes the need to rebel comes in quick succession. To my surprise the budget included an unfair cut to disability Personal Independent Payments. When it comes to welfare, there’s no denying that the Government has a difficult task: to maintain sound public finances in the face of growing spending pressures such as in the welfare budget. But when families with a disabled individual are vastly more likely to endure poverty than other families, we need to handle any changes to disability benefits with great care. We need to ensure there is a focus on reform rather than cost cutting. In my mind the prospect of cutting capital gains tax for the relatively wealthy whilst cutting disability benefits was unacceptable. This time it did not need a vote but only comments in the media, as well of course the resignation of IDS, to convince the Government to drop the proposed changes.
The following week after Easter, I led a debate in Parliament on the subject of unaccompanied child refugees in Europe. I have had a longstanding interest in this issue dating back to last year when I called on the Prime Minister to expand the programme to resettle Syrian refugees. Lone children are some of the most vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking. In February 2016, children accounted for more than one third of all refugees and migrants to Europe, compared with just one in 10 in June 2015. Europol estimate that 10,000 lone children have gone missing. I am pleased that the Government has responded by agreeing to provide refuge for 3000 more children at risk of exploitation, and additional resources and expertise to provide safety for children in Europe.
Finally, last month I made a speech in a debate in Parliament on a motion to recognise the acts committed by ISIS as genocide. The motion passed by 278 votes to nil and so it was a unanimous declaration of solidarity with all who have suffered, and are suffering, at the hands of these brutal murderers. Parliament also called on the Government to hold ISIS to account for the gravest of grave crimes. My hope now is that the Government will take action by a referral to the UN Security Council. We owe it Yazidi and Christian minorities who have been persecuted, so that one day those responsible can be tried before an international criminal court, and finally brought to justice.
And so to next week when I will be challenging the Government on issues ranging from lone children refugees, immigration detention and the s ale of knives to children. I will let you know next month how I got on or visit my website www.davidburrowes.com
for a quicker update.
| Click here for article (pdf: 232k)