News from Westminster - 30th October 15

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The Labour campaign to stop the tax credit cuts is gaining momentum. After our constant warnings and a humiliating defeat at the hands of Labour Peers who voted against the cuts on Monday, George Osborne finally bowed to pressure to change his approach. 

The Labour campaign to stop the tax credit cuts is gaining momentum. After our constant warnings and a humiliating defeat at the hands of Labour Peers who voted against the cuts on Monday, George Osborne finally bowed to pressure to change his approach. 

His response to date shows that the Tories don’t get it. Their plans will see working people worse off – They need to put that right. A promise to listen falls woefully short of what is needed. It speaks volumes that at this week’s PMQ’s, David Cameron refused six times to say if families will be worse off after persistent questioning from Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

David Cameron refused Six times to say if families will be worse off

The Chancellor and the PM need to understand that cutting on average £1,300 a year from over 3 million working families is not a sensible plan, and people are waking up to what Labour has been warning on this for months.

As Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said, George Osborne needs to now go away, and consider the only reasonable option open to him. He must perform a U-turn, fairly and in full, on these unfair tax credit cuts.

A failure to do so will show that Tories are still failing to stand up for the interests of hardworking families who are doing the right thing and just want to get by.

 

GOVERNMENT ABANDONS STEEL INDUSTRY

This week Labour continued its fight to defend the steel industry. It is devastating that the government’s decision to end 170 years of steelmaking in Redcar has resulted in 2,200 direct job losses and a further estimated 6,000 job losses within the local community.

We called an opposition day debate to put pressure on the government to finally act and make them realise the damaging effect of not protecting the steel industry. But with very few Tory MPs turning up to the debate it reinforced how little they care about the steel industry and how little they care about the livelihood of working people. 

Leading from the front bench, Angela Eagle, Shadow Business Secretary said, "Steelmaking in the UK is an industry of national strategic importance and that it should be supported by the Government for that reason. But the Government has been asleep at the wheel, and have failed to take immediate action to alleviate the crisis and support this vital strategic industry.”

Labour is calling on the Tories to immediately implement the Energy Intensive Industry Compensation Package which would address the high energy costs the sector faces. To work with the EU to back anti-dumping measures to tackle Chinese dumping of steel which is driving the cost down. To explore what other support the industry could be offered. The Government need another approach because their current one is failing.  

 

TORIES JEOPARDISE NHS SAFETY

The PM and Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, have once again proven how the Tories can’t be trusted with the NHS. Jeremy Hunt’s junior doctors’ contract proposals risk making the NHS unsafe, with doctors being overworked, too exhausted to deliver safe care.

The Tories can’t be trusted with the NHS.

The Tories want to remove the safeguards that penalise hospitals for routinely forcing junior doctors to work in excess of their contracted hours and cut pay for those doctors currently working evenings and weekends. It will be junior doctors working these shifts who are likely to face a pay cut, which will make it even harder to recruit for jobs that require evening and weekend working. 

There is also a proposal to change pay progression so it reflects responsibility, rather than time served. This will disproportionately hit female junior doctors who take maternity leave or work part-time. This contract is dangerous as it risks junior doctors leaving the NHS, putting the delivery of a 7-day NHS at risk.

The Labour Party backs a safe and reliable NHS, where workers are paid a fair wage and patients are given a good quality of care. But Jeremy Hunt’s new contract proposals jeopardise this aim. As a result The British Medical Association are threatening strike action. 

Labour believes the best way to resolve the dispute is for both sides to get back to the negotiation table. The Tories must change direction and put patient safety at the heart of the NHS.

 

SPOTLIGHT ON…

Tampon tax 

Tampons were on the agenda this week as the Conservatives shot down the possibility for the removal of the “tampon tax” despite a fiery debate in the Commons.

Women have been taxed for purchasing tampons and other sanitary products for decades because these products have been deemed a 'luxury' while items such a Jaffa Cakes, pitta bread and herbal tea are not subject to a tax. 

A petition calling for a change in the law had more than 250,000 signatures, when Labour MP Paula Sheriff backed by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, brought the debate to Parliament. 

Amusement ensued when Tory MPs found it difficult to even use the word tampon. Sir Bill Cash, MP for Stone, opted to use the word “products” instead. Labour MP Stella Creasy refused to give way to the Tory MP unless he actually used the correct terminology. He was met with loud cheers as he finally gave in and used the word 'tampon' in the House of Common Chamber. 

Although the Amendment was defeated by the Tories in the Commons, David Gauke, Osborne’s Treasury Minister has vowed to discuss the issue with the EU Commission- which is a mini victory for women and for Labour!

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  • Ceri Stalker
    commented 2015-11-04 12:26:01 +0000
    This is part of one man’s details of meeting with his MP, look at the associated losses if tax credits are removed, I’m not sure they’ve even thought of this aspect of it – I even told the MP something he didn’t know: we would also lose the right to health benefits that we have via the NHS exemption certificate you get with working tax credits. Meaning that in future we would have to pay for eye tests, and lose the right to free glasses, prescriptions and NHS dental charges. We both wear glasses and have regular prescriptions….. and have teeth! There could be other benefits and the like that may be payable, and would be lost, if we no longer receive working tax credits.
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