I sympathise profoundly with anyone who is affected by breast cancer and I know that organisations such as Breast Cancer Campaign work tirelessly to help support people with breast cancer and to reduce breast cancer rates.
The previous Labour Government rightly made tackling cancer one of its priorities and in the last decade five year survival rates for nearly all types of cancer improved much faster than many other European countries. That progress was due to good planning based on the evidence about what worked and on investment in both prevention and in cancer treatment services.
However, while there has been some progress in the last decade, it is clear that much more still needs to be done to improve diagnosis, treatment, support and awareness. As the Spread the Word campaign highlights, around 12,000 women die from breast cancer every year in the UK and we lag behind much of Europe in key areas such as early diagnosis and the treatment of older people.
That is why I believe the Spread the word campaign is absolutely right to call for politicians to keep the focus on the fight against cancer and to put breast cancer on their agenda… » Read more
While I support the principles behind TTIP - the free trade agreement that is currently being negotiated between the USA and the EU - as it has huge potential to create jobs, improve wages and deliver a better deal for consumers. It is also supported by the TUC, the CBI and many consumer groups and would strengthen the trade relationship between our two most important markets. (These negotiations also show once again how important our membership of the EU is for British trade, businesses and consumers and that the UK's national interest lies at the heart of a reformed EU). It is crucial, though that:
. the benefits of TTIP filter down to employees, small businesses and consumers,
. that the deal is open and accountable,
. that it respects environmental concerns
and that national Governments can still act in their own interests.
I also share the concerns that many constituents have raised about the impact that TTIP could have on public services - particularly the NHS - which would potentially allow investors to bring proceedings against any foreign government that signs the treaty.
I believe that the NHS and all public services need to be… » Read more
With regard to the proposals to enable HMRC to share data more widely and to the e mails I am currently receiving from the 38 degrees campaign, I certainly appreciate the concerns that some people and organisations such as ‘Big Brother Watch' and the Chartered Institute of Taxation have expressed about the Government's proposals, which would remove HMRC's legal constraints on sharing data and allow the release of non-financial VAT registration data.
As I am sure you are aware, HMRC consulted on this last summer and the Government have now stated that they plan to go ahead with these proposals and will introduce legislation to do so shortly.
I know there is very real concern about this - indeed, more than 260,000 people have signed a petition opposing the Government's plans. Many people are also understandably concerned about the Government's wider plans to increase data sharing in the public sector, including in the NHS through the Care.data database.
I would be very concerned if the Government put anything forward that could compromise the privacy of individuals simply complying with their tax obligations. I also believe that there needs to be very clear safeguards in place to ensure that… » Read more
Thank you for getting in touch with me about the Government's proposed legislation on the recall of MPs.
Labour supports the principle of recall, and included this in our 2010 General Election Manifesto. The Government has now committed to bring forward a Bill, and although this is late in the day, in the fifth year of Parliament, it is still welcomed.
We are now waiting for the details of their Bill, setting out how it would work in practice.
However, I would make two key points:
First, I am not in favour of a rerun of the proposals contained in Nick Clegg's draft Bill. This would have seen the recall process in the hands of Members of Parliament. There is a real risk that such a system will be seen as the political establishment closing ranks on the behaviour of a fellow politician and could lose the confidence of the public.
Second, any system of recall needs to be designed to avoid powerful vested interests kicking out MPs where no wrongdoing has happened simply because they dislike the way a politician has voted on controversial issues.
Recall could play an important role in giving people more confidence in the… » Read more
Thank you for contacting me on the issue of shale gas extraction and the government's announcement in the Queen's Speech.
We face three critical challenges, which we have to reconcile: ensuring a safe and secure energy supply; protecting our local environment against the risks of damaging exploitation and protecting our global environment against the threat of climate change.
Let me start with the first and last points before explaining what I think our safeguards should be.
Gas is a fuel which remains vital to the operation of our homes, services and businesses in the UK. 80% of our homes rely on gas for heating, while around 30% of our electricity comes from gas fired power stations. While low carbon power generation will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels over time, we will still need flexible power to help manage peaks in demand. Projections from National Grid expect gas continuing to play a vital role in our energy system for many years to come.
While demand for gas continues to be high, our ability to source this fuel from within our own borders has been steadily declining. In 2004, the UK became a net importer of gas for the… » Read more
Karen Buck MP
Tel. 020 8968 7999
Fax. 020 8960 0150
16 May 2014
I recently met again with senior representatives from Grainger PLC, the property company now running Dibdin House. I am writing to you now to keep you updated on the issues we discussed.
For the past year Grainger have maintained that the hall has been closed due to health and safety concerns. This has always struck residents as odd, as the hall has been used for many years without incident and Grainger staff still use it on a daily basis.
Grainger have now conceded that health and safety is not the main reason the hall remains closed. As you may be aware, Grainger are considering plans to convert the hall into flats for private sale. To do this, they would need to get the council to approve a planning application.
However, council planning policy seeks to protect community floorspace. Planning officers at the council have told me:
"In all cases the Council will need to be satisfied that the overall level of social and community provision is improved and there is no demand for an alternative social and… » Read more
Rough sleepers to lose their beds as West End hostels are closed due to cuts
More than 50 rough sleepers will lose their beds in central London when two hostels shut after their grants were cut by Westminster City Council. Despite figures showing homelessness in London is rising, Conservative-run Westminster said not enough people were using the hostels and the buildings were in poor condition. A Westminster City Council spokesperson said: "We have reviewed our hostels to ensure we provide services that are needed and help people move towards independent accommodation."
Green light for Westminster luxury flats
An office block within walking distance of Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament is set to be turned into a series of luxury flats after the scheme was granted planning by Westminster City Council. The former European Council for Foreign Relations building at 29-35 Old Queen Street is set to undergo a £100m renovation to turn it into 22 super-luxury apartments complete with rooftop gardens.
» Read more
Plans to re-develop the Warwick need improving,especially to offer more hope for local people in housing need
It is now only a very few short weeks before you will be asked to vote on Westminster Council's plans for the Warwick estate. After this one vote, there will be a major development of the area, which will have both good points and disadvantages. However, you will not be voting again on the individual parts of the scheme, so I think it is very important to get the best possible deal now.
Having been out speaking to even more residents recently, I remain concerned that many people are still not clear about the plans and what they will mean, nor that the Council is offering the best deal on affordable housing.
• On the one hand, there will be real improvements to the look of the area, with some new low-cost homes, and job opportunities and community benefits
• On the other hand, out of the 290 or so additional homes to be built primarily around the Harrow Road end of the Warwick, the vast majority will be for… » Read more
Kris Hopkins MP
the Department of Communities and Local Government
03 April 2014
Dear Mr Hopkins
RE: Review of Property Conditions in the Private Rented Sector, Question 22
I have been contacted by the Westminster Amenity Societies Forum, a group representing all the officially recognised residents' associations in the City of Westminster, about your forthcoming Review of Property Conditions in the Private Rented Sector.
In particular, the WASF have drawn my attention to Question 22, which raises the possibility of relaxing the London specific rules on letting residential property on a short term basis. As we are at the heart of London's tourist economy, unauthorised short term lets are a growing problem in Westminster.
Long term residents report feelings of loss of privacy and amenity of their own homes, anti-social behaviour and noise and other unneighbourly behaviour such as dumped rubbish. In several cases, local councillors have felt that the issue has become so much of a problem in their wards that they have allocated funds from their localised ward budgets to support Planning Enforcement Teams.
You will of course be aware that London, and Westminster in particular, also faces a serious housing… » Read more
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