PAT GLASS MP’S STATEMENT ON THE UPCOMING ARTICLE 50 VOTE

I will be responding to each email I have received, but here is my statement regarding the imminent vote to trigger Article 50, where understandably I have received a vast number of representations from constituents. I hope you find this statement interesting and I assure all those who contacted me that I have put a lot of time and thought into this response.

Pat Glass MP Statement regarding the upcoming Article 50 Vote

“Thank you for writing to me on the above. I have received a lot of correspondence on this almost in equal measure. Some asking that I vote to trigger Article 50 immediately and unconditionally, some asking that I vote against and some pointing out that we live in a representative democracy where my role is to vote according to what I believe is right for my constituents not what they demand. Clearly I cannot please everyone.

“Firstly I think I need to point out that it is highly unlikely that I will be able to vote at all depending on when the vote comes and the reasons for that. I have slipped on ice and broken my left wrist and arm. The accident took place in London on Wednesday morning as I walked to work. It happened outside St Thomas’s (which was opportune if not lucky) where I was x-rayed and told that my wrist is ‘smashed’ rather than broken and needed urgent surgery. I was therefore potted up and travelled home to Durham where the surgery, which inserted metal plate(s) took place. When discharged I will be going home and not travelling to London any time soon. As MPs must vote in person (not remotely or electronically) I will probably not get to the vote.

“However, given your letter to me I feel I owe you an explanation of my current thinking and where I am on this issue. You will know that I am a committed European and whilst I have many criticisms of the EU I have serious concerns about our leaving the EU and the impact on our economy and particularly the economy of the North East. As a country we export 44% of everything we make and sell to the EU. The percentage is much higher when we take into account services as well as manufacturing. The North East remains a manufacturing region and for us the percentage we export to the EU is much higher at over 70%. That’s a lot of jobs!

“The economy is a massive issue for all of us, but I do not subscribe to the view that voters did not know what they voted for when they voted ‘Leave’. Whilst we all voted on a range of complex factors, I believe that for most of us it came down to two important issues and which of these two – the economy or controlling immigration – took priority.

“I have carried out some research since the referendum on immigration and it would appear that in recent years that element of immigration that the UK Government can and always have been able to control – immigration from the rest of the World outside of the EU or non-EU immigration – was approximately double that from inside the EU in recent years. There are two main groups that make up non-EU immigration, foreign students (that bring a lot of money to our Universities and underpin our 1st class research base) and key workers, mainly Doctors, Nurses etc. It is entirely possibly for the Government to reduce both these categories but not without consequences.

“Ultimately, despite my personal commitment to the EU, my concerns for North East jobs and my doubts about the UK’s intention or ability to control immigration, I have had to accept that we in the UK will leave the EU. I would therefore not vote against triggering Article 50, however, it is the manner of our leaving that is yet to be decided and I want that to be on the best possible terms.

“I believe that a so-called ‘Hard-Brexit’ will hit manufacturing regions like the North East hardest. Even Nissan has now said that it will need to re-evaluate its investment in the North East if we leave the Internal Market and the Customs Union. So whilst I am highly unlikely to be able to vote on the imminent votes because of my current incapacity, I will continue to campaign for (and vote for) the best outcome when leaving the EU on the North East.”

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PAT GLASS MP PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCIES (AMENDMENT) BILL SPEECH

Pat Glass (North West Durham) (Lab)
I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

I speak to the House today not out of personal interest, as much of what I say and propose will not affect my future in this House. I am sure that you, Mr Speaker, and many other Members will know that I have no intention of standing at the next election. [Hon. Members: “Shame!”] I will be standing down, so my motivation today is not personal; rather, I am introducing this Bill because I want what is best for our democracy and believe that what is best for our democracy is best for all the people of this country.

The events of the past few months have shown us more than ever that politics is constantly changing, and in a changing world we need a democratic system that is fit for purpose. Conservative Members, in particular, are fond of quoting Churchill in this House. While I have never done so before, that does not mean that he did not occasionally say something worth listening to. Churchill told us that the democracy we have is not the best, but it is the best we have. There is a lot of sense in that. However, in order to have a democratic system that is suitable for the 21st century, we need to look at ways in which we can preserve the best of what we have while looking to improve engagement wherever we can.

That is why I propose that in agreeing to this Bill, the House will endeavour to keep what is best about our current system—things like the MP-constituency link, which is envied in democracies across the world—while ensuring that we do not lock out 2 million voters who have registered to vote since 2015.

Mr Mark Harper (Forest of Dean) (Con)
I have been listening very carefully to the hon. Lady’s speech and looked at some of the stuff she said before the debate. Given that the House decided, quite clearly, to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600, to what question facing us today in politics does she think the answer is more politicians?

Pat Glass
Clearly the right hon. Gentleman was not listening very carefully to what I said, because I started by saying that the world is changing and politics is changing. What happened in the previous Parliament is not necessarily right for what is happening now. I also point out that the current Government have created 250 additional peers just down the corridor. Is that what he means by fewer politicians?

Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
The hon. Lady is starting a most powerful speech on a very important subject. Does she agree that the answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper), who was of course at the heart of Government, is that we want more MPs and less government?

Pat Glass
I do not think Shakespeare could have put it better. [Hon. Members: “Or Churchill.”] Or Churchill.

Mike Gapes (Ilford South) (Lab/Co-op)
It is a long-standing custom in this Parliament that no Parliament can bind a successor Parliament, so the point made by the right hon. Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper) is complete nonsense. Just because the coalition voted for and railroaded through some changes a few years ago, there is no need for this Parliament to carry on with that stupid policy.

Mr Harper
rose—

Pat Glass
I will give way later if the right hon. Gentleman will let me continue a little.

What I am proposing is that we keep what is best in our current system, such as the MP-constituency link, which is envied in democracies across the world, while ensuring that we do not lock out 2 million voters who have registered to vote since 2015. Under the current system, they are not counted, and therefore they effectively have no voice in this place. Surely no sensible Government would deliberately discount 2 million voters simply because they do not suit their political fortunes.

Andrew Stephenson (Pendle) (Con)
The Bill’s proposition is to increase the number of MPs from 600 to 650. The hon. Lady has twice said that the constituency link is important. Surely, whether we have 650, 600, 500 or 400 MPs, there will still be a constituency link.

Pat Glass
I will talk about that later when I address the size of constituencies and the way in which communities are being split by the current proposals.

Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP)
I want to cut to the chase. Does the hon. Lady agree that the current proposals are a travesty to many constituencies across the entire United Kingdom, and are an attempt to silence Scotland, destabilise Northern Ireland and keep an over-bloated House of Lords in business? I welcome her debate.

Pat Glass
I thank the hon. Gentleman. One of the really good things about the Bill is the number of people from right across the country who have contacted me. People from all parts of the United Kingdom are getting in touch with me as they begin to realise that their communities are going to be divided.

Albert Owen (Ynys Môn) (Lab)
The hon. Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley) has mentioned Scotland and Northern Ireland. The impact of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011 will be greatest on Wales, because we will lose a higher percentage—11 seats—of MPs. That is wrong. It also includes three of four island communities, but does not give exemption to the principal island of the United Kingdom, namely the Isle of Anglesey, Ynys Môn.

Pat Glass
I welcome my hon. Friend’s very strong point about the island communities.

Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) (Lab/Co-op)
My hon. Friend has made a very strong point about the difference in the registers and under-registration. Is she aware that that will be magnified in places such as Cardiff, which is among the fastest growing cities in the UK? We are already under-registered and we are going to grow very fast. The reality is that, within a year or two, the proposals will be so out of date and people will be so disfranchised. Does my hon. Friend agree that that is a double whammy for places such as Cardiff?

Pat Glass
I do, and that situation is reflected right across the country.

Fewer and fewer people are bothering to vote in general and local elections, because they do not see it as relevant to their lives. We live in a time when many of our people see a divide between themselves and the establishment. That means us, by the way—even people like me, and I was born in a council house in a mining community and went to a comprehensive school. They see huge divides between us, the political elite—or the metropolitan elite, as the red tops like to call us—and anyone who seems to have a vested interest in parliamentary democracy, and the people, as the red tops like to call everyone else.

Mrs Sheryll Murray (South East Cornwall) (Con)
Does not the hon. Lady acknowledge that we have periodic boundary reviews to take account of changes in population? Her point about people being missed will be picked up by a future boundary review.

Pat Glass
I do acknowledge that point and I will come on to talk about why it is important that we conduct a review every 10 years rather than every five years. One of the communities from which I have heard most is Cornwall. Lots of people have been in touch with me, saying that they are unhappy that their own MPs are not dealing with the issue.

Stephen Pound (Ealing North) (Lab)
I may be metropolitan, but I have seldom been described as elite. Does my hon. Friend accept that one of the major problems in our capital city is that whole swathes of central London are now dark, because people do not live in the properties, and that the electoral roll has, therefore, collapsed? We also have constituencies with 19 wards, rather than the usual eight or nine. Does my hon. Friend agree that her Bill exposes far more than the dreadful dichotomy between the other place and this place? In fact, it exposes a dark heart in our democracy.

Pat Glass
Yes, I accept that entirely. One of the really good things about the Bill is that it shines a light on an awful lot of the problems with the current system.

Ian Blackford (Ross, Skye and Lochaber) (SNP)
I am amazed that Government Members are talking just about population and not ascribing any importance to geography. Islands have been mentioned. My constituency of Ross, Skye and Lochaber includes seven inhabited islands. Many of them will end up in the new seat of Argyll, Bute and Lochaber, which would have more than 30 inhabited islands. How is a Member of Parliament supposed to represent people from so many island communities? It is a disgrace.

Pat Glass
The proposed system does not take account of people and communities. I hope that we will be able to address that through the Bill.

Margaret Greenwood (Wirral West) (Lab)
Does my hon. Friend share my concern that the 2 million people who are being left out equate to at least 25 MPs? To reduce us by 50 MPs seems nonsensical.

Pat Glass
I looked at those figures last night. Effectively, the proposals will reduce this place not by 50, but by 75 MPs.

Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
I am a lot more sympathetic than some of my colleagues to the hon. Lady’s Bill. How can she guarantee that the Boundary Commission will be able to implement its changes by October 2018, in time for the next general election? Is that practical?

Pat Glass
Politics is the art of the possible, is it not? If the Government want this to happen, it will happen. It is important that the Bill is in place by 2018, in time for the 2020 general election.

Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) (Lab/Co-op)
Does my hon. Friend agree that the exclusion of 2 million voters, whom we know to exist, from the electoral register goes against the very principles of representation, and that for a Government to knowingly under-represent citizens who register for elections goes against their interests as well as ours in this House? Does she also agree that those citizens who are late to register are more likely to be transient and poor, and that they are often the most in need of representation?

Pat Glass
The issue of the under-representation of 2 million people goes to the heart of our democracy.

Wendy Morton (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con)
Do the 2 million missing people include overseas voters? What assessment has the hon. Lady made of them?

Pat Glass
The figure does not include overseas voters. They are not part of the Bill. That issue is for a different debate at a later time.

We have seen anti-establishment politics at its worst in the recent US elections, when Donald Trump courted voters by portraying himself as the anti-establishment candidate and by saying the most outrageous things he could think of, irrespective of the offence he caused. We have also seen it here, with the emergence of far-right parties. Many of us saw and heard it during and following the referendum, both on the doorsteps and on social media. Ugly things were said about refugees, immigrants, migrants and pretty much anyone who is not like us.

Huge swathes of people living in both towns and cities have lost confidence in the parliamentary system. They feel that they have nothing vested in it and nothing to gain or to lose. We hear it all the time on the doorstep: “You’re all the same. You’re all in it for what you can get out of it.” Instead of ensuring that we reach out, engage with and listen to people when they do bother to register to vote, this Government are refusing to count them or to give them a voice, so that they have an excuse to cut the number of MPs, thereby making constituencies bigger and MPs more remote from their constituents. In doing so, they endanger what is best and unique about our parliamentary system. However people talk about MPs in general—however cynical they are—we all know that they view their MP as different.

Christina Rees (Neath) (Lab/Co-op)
On the referendum, the number of peers is going up and the number of MPs will go down, but does my hon. Friend agree that it is the MPs who will have to take on the additional work of MEPs when we leave Europe?

Pat Glass
That is a good point, which I will come on to.

Under the current proposals, my constituency of North West Durham will become West Durham and Teesdale. It is already a large rural constituency, but it will become huge. It will stretch from the banks of the Tyne to the banks of the Tees, taking in all manner of the vastly different communities in between, and there will be one MP—thankfully not me—who will cover all that, provide the unique and valued MP-constituency link, and try to make that link real for all those people in all those communities. That will be replicated throughout the country if the changes go ahead.

My constituency is already huge. It will become unmanageable for the person who takes over from me. If someone from the north of my constituency wanted to see me at a surgery in the south, given that lines of communication go from east to west in that part of the country, it would take them all day on public transport and they would need an overnight stay. That cannot be acceptable.

Sue Hayman (Workington) (Lab)
The point about geography is critical in Cumbria, where my constituency is. Under the proposals, we will end up with the largest constituency in England, Penrith and Solway. I have Solway at the moment, and my constituents are deeply worried, because they think they will lose representation. Cumbria not only is large in square mileage, but has mountains, lakes and difficult weather. A lot of the time, we cannot get from one part of it to another, and people on the Solway would lose their representation.

Pat Glass
I absolutely agree.

Ms Margaret Ritchie (South Down) (SDLP)
Does my hon. Friend agree that, further to the point made by the hon. Member for North Antrim (Ian Paisley), in Northern Ireland the proposals will sever political stability? There is a need for special consideration for Northern Ireland and for proper recognition of social, economic and geographical cohesion, which does not exist in the new proposals.

Pat Glass
Absolutely. The Bill will go some way to making that happen.

Mrs Sheryll Murray
The hon. Lady and I share something similar in our constituencies. My constituency stretches from the banks of the Tamar to the banks of the River Fowey. The difference, however, is that because my constituents would not find it possible to travel from one end of the constituency to another by public transport, I go to them, which I consider to be my job as a Member of Parliament.

Pat Glass
The hon. Lady misses the point completely.

Dr Paul Monaghan (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (SNP)
On size, is the hon. Lady aware that the Boundary Commission for Scotland has proposed the notion that my constituency will be incorporated into a larger constituency called Highland North, covering 13,000 sq km, the same size as Northern Ireland? No one would seriously suggest that Northern Ireland should be covered by one MP, but that is what the proposals for Scotland suggest.

Pat Glass
The hon. Gentleman makes the case clearly.

The proposed system not only seeks to reduce the number of MPs, thereby making them more remote from their electorate, and to cut out 2 million registered voters, thereby giving them no vote, but seeks to create constituencies of equal size, irrespective of what that does to communities, and to include a review of the boundaries every five years, which will ensure that practically every constituency will change every five years. We will weaken MP accountability to our constituency and voters, because every five years the voters will be different people. In a sense, that will strengthen MPs’ accountability to their party, on whom they rely to be reselected, and will weaken their accountability to our constituents.

Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South) (Lab)
I am listening with great interest to my hon. Friend’s detailed speech. The Boundary Commission proposals for Stoke-on-Trent will have two effects, certainly as far as my constituency is concerned. First, a number of my constituents who live within the city of Stoke-on-Trent will find themselves represented in the county—in the rural area—which will break their existing link with the city. They will still live in the city and pay rates to city, but they will find themselves represented by an MP out of the city. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, my constituents and others who live in the city are represented by three MPs, who happen to be Labour but could be anyone in future. That will be downgraded to only two. What message does that send to the people of Stoke-on-Trent?

Pat Glass
That exemplifies how nonsensical the system will be. If we move ahead with the proposals, we run the risk of making MPs more accountable to their party, on whom they depend to be reselected, and less accountable to their constituents, who may well not be their constituents five years from now. I cannot believe that any of us want that. Like many in the House, I pride myself on serving every person in my constituency, whether they voted for me or not, whether they voted or not, and whether they have lived in the constituency for five minutes or five years.

Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
As a fellow north-easterner and as someone who worked in Sunderland, my hon. Friend knows Sunderland well. Under the proposals, Sunderland will be split between six constituencies—parts of six, from the current three—and my fabulous constituency will be split into three. As a Member who has served three terms and has had two seats already, if I was by some miracle lucky enough to retain a seat next time around, I would have had three constituencies in four terms, which must be a record.

Pat Glass
That exemplifies what I am saying about the proposals: they will break the MP’s link with their constituents.

Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab)
I hope that my hon. Friend will reconsider standing again for this House, because it deserves Members of her high calibre. Are we not getting to the crux of the debate? It is not really about geography, the electorate, the size of the House or even the cost of politics; it is a continuation of this Conservative Government’s gerrymandering of the constitution. They have gagged charities, they have neutered trade unions and now they want to gerrymander boundaries for their own reasons.

Pat Glass
Absolutely.

Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con)
As we are getting to the nub of why the Bill has been introduced, is it not the case that we have the Bill because so many Opposition Members are frightened of reselection, because of the threat of Momentum taking their seats?

Pat Glass
That unfortunate intervention was not helpful and exemplifies why people out there get so angry about people in here. This is about something bigger than ourselves.

Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab)
The anger goes beyond political parties. In my constituency, the nonsense of putting two wards from Sheffield South East in with wards from Rother Valley will create a constituency where we cannot drive from one side of it to the other without going through a second constituency. Indeed, one of the roads goes through a third council area and another region. As a result, 2,500 local people have already signed a petition against the proposal, because they see a constituency being created with no community of interest at all involved in that creation.

Pat Glass
That is what we are hearing in the debate today—cities being split, communities being split, and that is not good for our democracy.

We in Britain pride ourselves on being the home of democracy. However, can we really talk about democracy when we have an antiquated system in which the larger House in Parliament is made up of people who are unelected? The unelected House is large and growing, and can be enlarged further at the political will of a retiring Prime Minister.

I have huge respect for the other place, where sensible decisions are often made and where many bring their lifelong experience to bear, but we cannot get away from the fact that it is unelected, significantly bigger than the elected House and subject to patronage. Is that what we mean by democracy in the 21st century? If we are the mother of Parliaments, I respectfully suggest that many of the children of this mother of Parliaments have outgrown us and are now showing how it is done.

Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con)
On community connections and synergies, does the hon. Lady accept that in the time from when the drafts of the last boundary review proposals were produced to when the final proposal was made by the Boundary Commission for England, two thirds of the seats were changed in response to the concerns that were raised?

Pat Glass
The initial proposals were never implemented, so the constituencies remained the same.

The Government are even trying to sell us the idea that the proposed boundary changes are an attempt to save the taxpayer money. Granted that removing 50 MPs will save some money; the total amount is questionable but reasonably estimated to be in the region of £12 million. At the same time, the Government have massively increased the unelected House at a cost of £46 million. Whatever the Government say, this is not about saving money for the taxpayer or cutting the cost of politics.

We are in the process of leaving the European Union, so each and every one of us will no longer have access to a Member of the European Parliament. In counties such as mine, local government reform has created more and more unitary authorities. The reforms have removed our district councils and replaced them with, in some cases, very large unitary authorities, which can appear remote from people’s lives. I and my constituents used to have access to a parish council, district councillors, county councillors, an MP and MEPs. Some may say that that was too many representatives, but in the space of nine years, we have in effect lost two layers of representation. I believe that democracy is not served in this country by further reducing our representation.

It is blindingly obvious that the Government are not intent on reducing the cost of democracy. If the purpose of reducing the number of MPs is to save money, why is the number of unelected Lords constantly being increased at a cost that far outweighs the savings from reducing the number of MPs? Actions speak louder than words, and no matter how much the Government spin their actions, their attempt to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600, while at the same time massively increasing the number and the costs of the House of Lords, should be seen for what it is—a poor attempt at trying to hold on to power for as long as possible at the expense of our democracy.

Andrew Stephenson
I have a great deal of sympathy with the hon. Lady’s points about the House of Lords. I am hugely in favour of House of Lords reform, which was in the Conservative party manifesto. During the last Parliament, I voted for House of Lords reform, unlike many Opposition Members. May I gently point out, however, that the cost of the House of Lords has fallen by 14% since 2010? Its operating costs were £112 million in 2009-10, as opposed to £96 million in 2015-16.

Pat Glass
The Lord Speaker of the House of Lords has described this situation—the Government seeking to reduce the number of MPs, while the size the House of Lords remains the same or grows—as “untenable”. If the House of Lords is saying that something needs to be done about the size of its membership, why are we—or rather, the Government—reluctant to listen?

I believe that the time has come for us to have a proper, inclusive and open review of our system of democracy. The alternative may be that fewer and fewer people vote, as well as the further disengagement of large parts of our country from the democratic purpose, the rise of parties far less interested than we are in democracy and the threat that parts of our communities will see the state as illegitimate.

I want us to go forward, strengthening and reviewing our democratic processes as we go. My Bill seeks to retain 650 MPs, which will continue our unique and much admired link between the MP and the constituency. I want to ensure that we engage more and more of the potential electorate, and the first step is to include the 2 million people who have registered to vote since 2015 but are not counted in the current boundary review. Through the Bill, I want to give those 2 million people a voice.

I agree that MPs should broadly represent an equal number of voters, but my Bill seeks to safeguard communities and to avoid some of the stupidities that a 5% margin throws up. I therefore propose that there should be a margin of 10%. I also propose that we should review constituency boundaries every 10 years, not every five years, which will strengthen the accountability of MPs to their constituency, not weaken it.

The democracy we have is precious. It was hard fought for and hard won over many centuries. Arguably, we have done everything wrong along the way—we have had a civil war and civil unrest; we have seen many injustices and abuses; we even cut off the head of a king—but over the centuries we have inched our way towards the democracy we have now. We need to appreciate that our democracy is both precious and fragile, and we cannot allow one party or one Government to endanger what we have for the purposes of narrow party interest, irrespective of which party it is.

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SCIENTIST FROM NORTH WEST DURHAM JOINS PAT GLASS MP IN PARLIAMENT


Pat Glass MP with Dr. Graham Coates

Dr. Graham Coates, a scientist from North West Durham, swapped his lab bench for the green benches when he joined Pat Glass MP in parliament this week. Pat Glass met with Dr. Coates from Durham University as part of a unique pairing scheme run by the Royal Society- the UK’s national academy of science, with support from the Government Office for Science.

The scheme pairs scientists with parliamentarians and civil servants so that they can learn about each other’s worlds and explore how research findings can inform policy making.

During the week Dr. Coates spent time with Pat in Westminster to get a behind the scenes insight into how policy is formed and how their research can be used to make evidence based decisions. The visit also gave Pat the opportunity to learn more about Dr. Coates’s research.

The week began with a reception in parliament where Professor Brian Cox OBE, FRS, will explain why policy makers and researchers must work together to ensure the UK’s excellent science is used to improve people’s lives and tackle global challenges.

Pat Glass MP said:

“In parliament I need to make decisions on complex topics. Building links with the UK’s top scientists helps me access scientific advice so that I can make decisions based on the best evidence available.

“Meeting expert scientists from my constituency and all over the UK is a great reminder that the UK is a world leader in science. We should use the expertise of our brightest scientists to provide evidence for policy making.

“It was great to meet Dr. Coates and learn about his work. I’m looking forward to visiting him at his lab in the New Year.”

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PAT GLASS MP SUPPORTS USDAWS CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT SHOPWORKERS

Pat Glass MP has joined with the members of the retail union Usdaw to call for an end to abuse in the workplace.

As part of the Freedom From Fear Campaign, which seeks to prevent violence, threats and abuse directed at retail staff, Usdaw members are highlighting the problems faced by staff during Respect for Shopworkers Week, which runs from 14 to 20 November.

Pat Glass MP says:

“Too often retail employees are confronted with violence, threats and abuse whilst serving the public. It is really important we stand together and ask people to keep their cool and respect shopworkers, especially as we approach the busy Christmas shopping period.

“I was personally shocked to hear about the abuse that shopworkers can receive on what can be a daily basis. No one should have to go to work expecting abuse.

“I will continue to campaign with Usdaw to provide shopworkers the support they need and deserve. We must give a clear message that abusing or assaulting workers who are serving the public is totally unacceptable.”

John Hannett – Usdaw General Secretary says:

“We are grateful to for supporting our campaign to keep our members safe at work.

“Often, in the course of their duties, shopworkers are expected to deal with tense and difficult situations. Unfortunately these can escalate to verbal abuse and assault. Over 300 shopworkers are assaulted every day and it is time to say enough is enough. Parliament has placed the legal obligation on shopworkers to enforce the law in relation to age restricted sales and Parliament must also ensure that the law also protects shopworkers who are doing their job. Politicians and members of the public must work together to ensure that shopworkers get the respect they deserve.”

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PAT STANDS UP FOR BUS PASSENGERS


From left to right: Andy McDonald MP (Shadow Transport Secretary), Pat Glass MP (Shadow Transport Minister), Daniel Zeichner MP (Shadow Local Transport Minister)

On the 30 year anniversary of bus deregulation, campaigners are calling on MPs to ‘take control of our buses’ by opposing the government ban on new public bus companies. Pat Glass, MP and Shadow Transport Minister, has backed the campaign.

The government wants the Bus Services Bill currently being debated to include clause 21 which would stop English local authorities from setting up new municipal companies. The clause was defeated on Monday in the House of Lords but is expected to be introduced again in the Commons.

On the 30th anniversary of bus deregulation, We Own It is also asking bus passengers to send their ‘bus selfies’ and explain why they want public ownership to be an option for local authorities.
The Transport Act 1985 was implemented on October 26th, 1986. Since deregulation, fares have risen well above inflation and many routes have been cut.

Fares in England (outside London) rose by 35 per cent above inflation between 1995 and 2013. Bus mileage on local authority supported services in England outside London dropped by 12.3 per cent just in the last year. Bus deregulation leaves few options for cash-strapped local authorities – whereas municipal companies like Reading Buses can use profits to reinvest in services.

Cat Hobbs, Director of We Own It said:

“It’s absurd that after 30 years of the failures of private bus companies, the government is ruling out new public ownership of buses. It’s time to take control of our buses and run them for people not profit. All councils should be not just allowed but encouraged to follow the lead of the public ownership success stories in Nottingham and Reading.”

While buses are privatised in most towns and cities across the UK, there are 12 local authority-owned bus companies, for examples in Edinburgh, Nottingham and Blackpool. In 4 of the last 5 years, local authority run buses have won Bus Operator of the Year at the Bus Awards.

Daniel Zeichner MP, Labour’s Shadow Local Transport Minister, said:

“Thanks to the damage done by deregulation, bus companies have been able to put profit above passengers for the past 30 years. The Tories said deregulation would improve our buses but the proof has been in the pudding: rising fares, plummeting patronage and too many areas where pensioners have a bus pass but no bus. London rejected deregulation and has a much better service today. Almost half of bus company income comes from the public purse, but buses aren’t treated as a public service. Commercial operators can simply pull a route or service and stretched local authorities are left to pick up the pieces. With the Bus Services Bill soon to arrive in the House of Commons, Labour will be fighting to change that.”

Research from Transport for Quality of Life suggests we could save £506 million a year from buses outside London by bringing them into public ownership. Municipal bus companies are common in other European countries such as Austria, France and Germany.

We Own It polling shows that 57% of the British public think local authorities should be allowed to set up new public bus companies – as opposed to 22% who don’t believe they should have this power. Amongst Conservatives, the majority still oppose clause 21. Over four times as many people want more public ownership of buses than want more private ownership (46% to 11%). 26% want to see no change.

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PAT GLASS MP OPENS CONSETT’S CRAZY CROCS SOFTPLAY CAFÉ

Pat Glass MP cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the new Crazy Croc’s Softplay Café on Wesley Street, Consett on 26th September 2016.

The café was a hub of activity as the final pieces of work were being completed by the team right up to when customers began to arrive shortly after Pat cut the ribbon to declare the café open for business.

Owner Lisa Price has built a strong local following on Facebook with over 1000 members of her ‘Our Crazy Croc’s Softplay Café’ group. The café is open Monday to Saturday between 9am and 3pm and on Sunday between 11am and 4pm. Sunday Lunches can be booked in advance.

Targeted at younger children, the Crazy Crocs café allows childminders and parents to socialise with one another whilst the children play in a safe environment. There are an assortment of tea, coffee, cakes, biscuits and breakfast options available.

Commenting on the opening of her café, Ms Price said:

“It has been a dream of mine to open the café and to see it finally open and welcoming our first customers after planning its launch for the past two years is an amazing feeling. Since the closure of Sure Start I noticed a gap in the market for this type of local service and together with my partner, Lee Moore, we set about putting this plan into action.

“Being based near the centre of Consett was important to me, I love our premises and feedback from customers suggest they love it too. It’s my first business venture so I am very excited at what the future holds and we have big plans to expand in the future. In the meantime we hope our baby corner, our creative table and our soft-play facilities prove popular with the local community. We look forward to giving everyone a warm welcome.”

Pat Glass MP said:

“I am confidence that Lisa’s business will prove popular with the local community in Consett. Children can play in a safe environment and the youngsters who arrived this morning as we cut the ribbon to mark the café’s opening were clearly very excited at what they saw. I believe if people know it is there, they will find the services affordable and useful and I wish the business well for what I hope is a bright future for the café.”

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PAT GLASS MP BACKS NEW CAMPAIGN TARGETING THE CRUEL UK PUPPY TRADE

North West Durham MP Pat Glass has lent her support to a new public awareness campaign launched by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to target the growing problem of the illicit and cruel UK puppy trade.

The puppy industry is booming, but with many UK breeders and puppy smugglers across Europe producing puppies solely for profit, all too often these animals suffer serious illness or behavioural problems later in life. Others, sadly, do not survive.

IFAW has devised a useful guide, P.U.P.S, for anyone looking to buy a puppy, to ensure they know what to look for to avoid buying an unhealthy, possibly puppy farmed animal. The P.U.P.S mnemonic, below, is accompanied by a kitsch, online mock advert for a children’s toy, the Suzy puppy. The short film depicts a young girl’s delight at her new toy puppy, but mirroring the grim reality of the puppy industry she quickly discovers that her seemingly perfect pup is in fact suffering a great deal.

Pat Glass MP said:

“I am very pleased to support this important IFAW campaign to help make people aware of the potential pitfalls before buying a puppy which may have been farmed in squalid conditions and taken from its mother too soon, before it is eight weeks of age.

“It is terrible to think of these puppies being transported a great distance by dealers with little or no thought for their health or welfare. The mothers suffer greatly too, being made to produce litter after litter of puppies until they have outlived their usefulness. I encourage everyone to watch and share IFAW’s film and to remember P.U.P.S.”

  • Parent – Is the puppy with its mum?
  • Underage – Has the puppy reached the legal age for sale?
  • Papers – Are all of the puppy’s papers available and in order?
  • Sickness – Is the puppy healthy and energetic?

Philip Mansbridge, UK Director of IFAW, said:

“We are very grateful for (INSERT MP’S NAME) support for our campaign. As a nation of dog lovers, none of us wants to be part of the cruel puppy industry. I am sure people will be shocked to find out that many much-loved pet dogs in the UK have suffered a horrible start in life with ill effects that may last through their lifetime.

“In the worst scenarios, owners suffer too when their much-loved puppy quickly gets sick and dies. This is the reality of the heartless UK puppy trade. IFAW always advocates adopting a happy and healthy puppy or dog in need of a home from your local shelter. But for those who wish to buy from a breeder, we believe our P.U.P.S campaign arms people with the information they need to make the right choice.”

The P.U.P.S film was screened at a parliamentary reception for MPs and key decision makers where IFAW continued to call for legislative change to better protect puppies. MPs were presented with their own Suzy puppy toys to remind them of the need for measures to combat the puppy trade.

Mr Mansbridge added:

“IFAW stands firmly against the large-scale, low welfare commercial breeding of puppies for profit. We want to see an end to third-party sales and the introduction of tougher and better enforced licensing to tackle this cruel trade.”

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PAT GLASS MP WEARS IT PINK FOR BREAST CANCER NOW

Pat Glass, MP for North West Durham, has shown support for women affected by breast cancer by dressing up in pink and encouraging their constituents to take part in the UK’s biggest, brightest and pinkest fundraiser, wear it pink, on Friday 21 October.

Wear it pink is back for its 15th year, calling on supporters across the country to add a flash of pink to their wardrobe for the day and raise money for Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving breast cancer research. Pat Glass joined fellow parliamentarians in wearing it pink in Westminster last week to encourage people across the UK to get involved and help Breast Cancer Now towards their ambition that, by 2050, everyone that develops the disease will live.

Wear it pink raises close to £2 million each year for world-class research into breast cancer, and this year it’s going to be pinker and more fun than ever before. Anyone can take part, whether at work, at home or at school. All you have to do is wear something pink and donate what you can. When you join the hundreds of thousands of people who take part in wear it pink, you become part of a collective force of scientists, supporters and people affected by breast cancer, passionate about putting an end to deaths from the disease.

Pat Glass MP said:

“50,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK, and sadly around 11,500 women and 80 men will lose their lives to the disease. Together, we must put a stop to this.

“Through cutting-edge research, Breast Cancer Now are tackling the disease from all angles to ensure that, by 2050, everyone that develops the disease will live. But we all need to join forces and act now, and in wear it pink there is a fun and simple way for everyone to get involved.

“I’m fully committed to standing up for the women and families affected by the disease in North West Durham and I am very proud to take part in wear it pink. I hope everyone in the local community will join me by wearing it pink on Friday 21 October and show their support for Breast Cancer Now.”

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now said:

“It’s wonderful to see so much parliamentary support for wear it pink. It’s a great opportunity for friends, co-workers and families across the UK to have some fun, wear something pink and show their support for those affected by breast cancer.

“Far too many women are still losing their lives to this dreadful disease. On Friday 21st October, every cake baked, every feather boa or pink tie worn and every laugh shared will help us create a future where no one dies from breast cancer.

“We will all be standing together, with colleagues and friends, to stop breast cancer taking the lives of the people we love – and we very much hope you’ll join us.”

Sign up to wear it pink on Friday 21 October to support Breast Cancer Now’s life-saving research. For more information or to register, visit www.wearitpink.org

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JIM MURPHY VISITS PAVILION FOR ANNUAL FUNDRAISER

Former Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Jim Murphy, who was also a former Secretary of State for Defence and had a spell as Secretary of State for International Development whilst an MP in Westminster, joined members of the North West Durham Labour Party for their 2016 annual fundraiser at The Pavilion Restaurant, Iveston.

Jim proved to be a very entertaining speaker with real comedic timing and by the end of his speech everyone was left with a smile on their face. Jim delivered an important message about the challenges facing The Labour Party both before and after the EU referendum. Pat then spoke about her experiences as Shadow Europe Minister before the evening concluded with an auction and raffle draw. Many thanks to all who donated raffle prizes and to those who attended the evening. Other North East MPs came to support the CLP including Ian Lavery MP, Grahame Morris MP and Ian Mearns MP. The CLP were also pleased to welcome Baroness Hilary Armstrong and the Labour candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner, Ron Hogg.

The evening was compared by the Made In Tyne & Wear host, Peter Grant.

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OPEN LETTER TO LABOUR COUNCILLORS ON DEVOLUTION DEAL

Dear Colleagues,

You will be aware of the increasing strength of feeling in the NECA area, among Labour Group councillors, regional MPs, and regional trade unions against the proposed Mayoral Combined Authority for NECA, in particular about the unseemly and unnecessary haste of the approval procedure. Some of the disquiet we know you share, and particularly in relation to the issue of the elected executive mayor, in the regrettable absence of any public vote on the issue.

We are also aware of the pressure being put on you by the government to come to a final decision on the issue. This pressure is, in our view, completely unjustified, given that the secondary legislation – which will go through the statutory instrument procedure in Parliament – will not be presented before June. Hence, the detailed operational provisions of the MCA will not be known until June. It cannot be right that council leaders, other elected members and the citizens they represent, are expected to agree to a deal which contains no detail on the key mechanisms of governance.

We are all of the view that this deal is fundamentally unsound. We support greater devolution for the North East but this is not a good deal and should not include a North East Mayor which is being forced on us by George Osborne and which the people of the North East do not need or want. It is economically dysfunctional; unequal in its application; reduces democratic control at local level; offers no more than a marginal increase in fiscal autonomy, and is inapplicable to the NECA area. We believe that the proposed deal should be rejected and that rejection by NECA would lead to other Labour councils rejecting the deal, or, if agreed, revisiting the decision. Nonetheless we recognise that some may disagree with our assessment and that further analysis and debate may be required.

For this reason we urgently request that even if you feel unable, at this stage, to reject the proposed deal then, at a minimum, you postpone any decisions in the County Council until after the publication of the detailed secondary legislation to enable detailed scrutiny to take place within councils, and provide a greater opportunity than has been the case so far for informed public debate.

We look forward to hearing from you soon to see how you intend to proceed on this matter which is of such vital importance for the people of the north east of the region.

Yours sincerely,

Pat Glass MP
Roberta Blackman-Woods MP
Helen Goodman MP
Kevan Jones MP
Grahame Morris MP
Phil Wilson MP

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  • Meet your MP

    Pat Glass is the Labour MP for North West Durham.

    Pat was first elected to Parliament in May 2010 having worked for 25 years in senior posts in education.

    Pat was recently appointed Shadow Transport Minister with responsibility for Labour's policy in regards to Rail travel.
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