All Carolyn Harris debates involving the Cabinet Office

Wed 15th September 2021
3 interactions (111 words)
Mon 8th February 2021
3 interactions (556 words)
Wed 27th January 2021
3 interactions (74 words)
Wed 11th March 2020
3 interactions (60 words)
Wed 4th September 2019
3 interactions (85 words)
Wed 3rd July 2019
3 interactions (213 words)
Wed 12th June 2019
3 interactions (56 words)
Wed 15th May 2019
7 interactions (89 words)
Wed 15th June 2016
2 interactions (75 words)
Wed 27th April 2016
3 interactions (39 words)
Mon 22nd February 2016
3 interactions (86 words)
Wed 27th January 2016
5 interactions (61 words)
Tue 24th November 2015
3 interactions (524 words)

Merthyr Tydfil: City Status

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Wednesday 15th September 2021

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

Westminster Hall

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Cabinet Office
Gerald Jones Portrait Gerald Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Yes, and they will be brief.

As part of the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations, towns across the UK will have the opportunity to apply for city status. It is my contention that none has contributed as much to the modern world as Merthyr Tydfil. When people ask me, “Why should Merthyr Tydfil be made a city?”, my answer to them is, “Why on earth not?” Why should Merthyr Tydfil be less deserving than Preston, Newport, Stirling, Lisburn or Newry? What secret formula do they and other cities have that Merthyr Tydfil lacks? The answer, of course, is that Merthyr Tydfil is as industrious, as ambitious and—I might be biased—even more beautiful. It is thoroughly deserving of city status.

This bid, this collective endeavour, for city status is as much about reminding us, as representatives and residents, why Merthyr Tydfil is as worthy of becoming a city as any other town in the UK. I am pleased that the campaign has already won the support of our Member of the Senedd, Dawn Bowden, the lord lieutenant for Mid Glamorgan, Peter Vaughan, the high sheriff of Mid Glamorgan, Jeff Edwards, and Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, along with residents, businesses and well-wishers from beyond Merthyr Tydfil’s borders. I am pleased, too, that the mayor of Merthyr Tydfil, Councillor Malcolm Colbran, has made the journey to be with us here today.

Merthyr Tydfil was the cradle of the industrial revolution. It went from a small farming village in the mid-1700s to the largest town in Wales by 1851 as a result of the rapid expansion of the ironworks. By the 1820s, Merthyr Tydfil was the source of 40% of Britain’s iron exports, and it became the largest iron-producing town in the world. Iron forged in Merthyr Tydfil supplied the Royal Navy and helped to shape the modern world. Iron from Merthyr Tydfil helped not only to power the industrial revolution, but to build the railroads of the American frontiers. Coal from Merthyr Tydfil was shipped all over the globe and helped to create cities such as Cardiff. On 21 February 1804, the world’s first ever steam railway journey ran for 9 miles from the ironworks at Penydarren to the Merthyr-Cardiff canal in south Wales.

I am personally proud that the first ever Labour MP and first leader of the Labour party, James Keir Hardie, represented Merthyr Tydfil in this House. The year 1831 saw the Merthyr rising. During that week-long revolt, people marched under the red flag, using it for the first time as a symbol of working people. The red flag was later adopted internationally as the symbol of the working class. More recently, Merthyr Tydfil and particularly the village of Aberfan have developed a very deep and personal connection with Her Majesty the Queen, along with other members of the royal family.

But history alone does not a city make, no matter how world-changing that history is. Merthyr Tydfil has seen considerable change, certainly over the past 20 years. Investment in the area has brought a brand-new college offering university courses to the town; a new hub of civil service jobs at the Welsh Government offices; and improved transport links, including the 21st-century bus interchange that recently opened, thanks to £10 million of Welsh Government investment.

Merthyr Tydfil has always been the “capital of the valleys”, with people travelling from far and wide to visit for retail and leisure. Our proximity to the world-famous Brecon Beacons national park and attractions such as BikePark Wales and Rock UK’s climbing centre have seen tourist numbers increase dramatically.

The town also has a thriving cultural offering. Local pubs are well known for their live music, with the New Crown recently awarded as the “best live music entertainment restaurant” at the Welsh Enterprise Awards. Merthyr Tydfil has two theatres providing a mix of English and Welsh-language productions and events, in partnership with students and staff at the College Merthyr Tydfil. The annual Merthyr Rising festival provides a mix of culture, music, arts and political discussion, and it has grown year on year.

The town’s links to Roman Britain are remembered with events such as the Tydfilians Roman Run, which started in 1980 to commemorate the martyrdom of Tydfil, the saint from which the town derives its name, 1,600 years ago. The race follows the route between the forts of the Roman legions stationed in Wales from Brecon to Merthyr Tydfil, across the Brecon Beacons. The council’s ambitious Cyfarthfa plan is a 20-year vision made up of 70 short-term and long-term projects. The plan will also turn the former home of the Crawshay ironmasters—the famous Cyfarthfa castle—into an international museum, with hopes of doubling the size of the surrounding ground as well as conducting urgent repairs to both the furnaces and the castle.

Sadly, not everyone is as passionate and optimistic about Merthyr Tydfil’s future as I am. The proposal to make Merthyr Tydfil a city has drawn the predictable snark and cynicism from social media that we have come to expect. Online commentary has focused on Merthyr Tydfil’s lack of a cathedral. Sadly, this is true, but having a cathedral has not been a requirement for city status since 1889. The social media brigade, largely from outside Merthyr Tydfil, has also deemed the town too small to become a city, despite the fact that 12 cities in the UK have a lower population than Merthyr Tydfil.

Thankfully, I have received a great many positive comments from residents and businesses who are optimistic about the opportunity that city status presents for Merthyr Tydfil. I believe that city status would build on the progress that we have already made and allow us to realise myriad advantages for the town. There are the obvious economic advantages of city status, which would help the local authority to attract inward investments, promote wider interest in the town from across Wales and other parts of the UK, and encourage greater tourism to our remarkable scenery.

Merthyr Tydfil is not just the metaphorical heart of the valleys; it is the geographical centre, too. Merthyr Tydfil is literally at the crossroads of the A470 and the A465, with links to Cardiff to the south, to mid and north Wales, and to the midlands, Swansea and west Wales.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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I know my hon. Friend will agree that Merthyr Tydfil has been at the very heart of Wales’s political, industrial and social history. It has quite simply shaped the world that we live in. I am privileged to have visited my hon. Friend’s constituency many times, and I consider him to be a very dear friend. I know that his campaign to add Merthyr Tydfil to the growing list of Welsh cities should be successful. As he has already said, Merthyr Tydfil is a city of the valleys. My home town of Swansea was bestowed city status, and I sincerely hope that Merthyr Tydfil gets the opportunity to achieve the same.

Gerald Jones Portrait Gerald Jones
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank my hon. Friend for her intervention, and for her support. Indeed, Merthyr Tydfil is well placed to be a city of the valleys, attracting businesses and jobs.

By supporting the bid, the local authority and residents are showing their pride in Merthyr Tydfil and our collective ambitions for the future. I believe that Merthyr Tydfil’s bid for city status speaks for itself. We are a town that has shaped the world for generations. If the bid is successful, Merthyr Tydfil will take its place among the great cities of our country and face its future with pride and determination.

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Monday 12th April 2021

(7 months, 4 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Tom Tugendhat Portrait Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling) (Con)
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I am going to carry on right where the hon. Member for Hove (Peter Kyle) left off, because there is a reason why His Royal Highness The Prince Philip was popular with the military, and that is for any of us who have sat at the top table at a military dinner and wished that we were down with our mates in the cheap seats, with the cheap wine: he brought life to the dinner and made the whole thing rather more fun than it would otherwise have been. I am going to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesham (Adam Holloway) in not telling the stories that His Royal Highness told, because I think they would make Hansard blush.

Although His Royal Highness gave entertainment to the wardroom, and indeed to the mess table, he was also a very diligent colonel—and I speak, although I am one of two here, on behalf of the Intelligence Corps, whose royal colonel he was. He was always very astute in keeping an eye on what the Corps was up to, and asking us in great detail what we were doing. One colleague once asked him why we were not the royal Intelligence Corps. His answer was quite simple: “Because you bastards aren’t gentlemen.” I thought it was entirely fair.

The chances that he had in his early life to go awry, to become a wastrel, or a gambling prince in Monaco, or something similar, were huge. Instead, we saw a life of service and of duty. That is quite something.

When I go around the world, in person or now on video, one of the things that strikes me is how many people remember visits by our royal family. Today, although we are of course remembering the Duke of Edinburgh, I wish to pay tribute to the whole family that he led, and to say thank you to all of them. I have been to schools in Pakistan and to sites in Chile that have a plaque with his name on it, or that of another member of the royal family. That connection is an integral part of our country’s strength in bringing people together and promoting the values that we so champion.

We often celebrate our Foreign Office and praise the work of our diplomats, but today I would like to praise the work of one diplomat who has finally left service, but not until he really had done his duty. He exemplified an entire generation and an entire ethos, and for that I am eternally grateful. I offer my best wishes and condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the entire family.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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As the Member of Parliament for Swansea East and as deputy leader of the Welsh Labour party, I would like to join others in paying tribute today to the Duke of Edinburgh, on behalf of my constituents and the Welsh Labour party.

While as a nation we mourn the passing of a man who devoted his life to public service, first and foremost we offer our deepest sympathies to the Queen and the royal family as they grieve the loss of a much-loved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. In almost 70 years as royal consort, Prince Philip was loved and respected across Wales, and he played a huge part in our nation’s history, in times of triumph and times of tragedy. He opened and presided over the Commonwealth games in Cardiff in 1958 and, just a few years later, he was the first member of the royal family to visit Aberfan, arriving just hours after the disastrous landslide that killed 144 adults and children in 1966. In the years since then, he has dutifully joined the Queen on official tours of and visits to Wales, and indeed to the Senedd, earning him the love and respect of people across Wales.

However, Prince Philip’s greatest legacy will undoubtedly be the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, which have given young people life experiences they may never otherwise have had. I know that in Swansea East and across Wales the difference these awards have made to the lives of youngsters from working-class backgrounds is phenomenal —not just for the range of activities and adventures they have enjoyed, but for the personal accomplishments, the skills that they have learned, the confidence they have gained and the futures that have been shaped from these experiences.

A life of almost 100 years should always be celebrated, but even more so when most of those years have been dedicated to serving the country, so today we honour a man who did just that. We thank him for the positive impact he made on so many lives, praise him for his tireless and continuous dedication to our nation, and join the Queen and the whole of the royal family in mourning his passing. May he now rest in eternal peace.

Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con)
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I first met Prince Philip over 40 years ago, when I was a young councillor. He came to County Hall, and of course one was shy and did not really know what to say, so I said to him quite proudly, “Sir, you might know my father: he’s the clerk of the Privy Council.” I was expecting some conventional remark, which by now would have been completely forgotten, but quick as a flash, he said, “The Privy Council—what a boring and pointless institution! Thank God the meetings do not go on too long.” Of course, in all those comments he actually showed how astute he was. Queen Victoria ensured that the meetings of the Privy Council were so boring and so long that ever since then Privy Counsellors have been forced to conduct the meetings standing up, which makes them very short, although I can say from my personal experience that the Queen concentrates all the time, wedded as she is to her duty.

I met the Duke on other occasions of course, but I remember once when we were all invited to Buckingham Palace, and of course I was late, unfortunately—typical— and a presence emerged behind me, and it was the Duke. He made it quite clear that he had noticed that my wife and I were late, and we got a right good ticking off, and then we had a fantastic conversation.

I think it is a marvellous aspect of the man that so many people in this debate have said that they met him. We all know that receiving lines, whether as a member of the chain gang, the local Member of Parliament or visiting royalty, can be quite a trial—let us be honest about it—with the small talk, but he had this amazing knack of putting everybody at ease with a joke and getting really to the heart of matters. In a world of increasingly anaemic politics and conversation of many public figures, I like to think of him as the patron saint of a sort of lack of political correctness—of speaking your mind—and I think that is terribly important.

I think it is particularly important to remember the Duke as a patron saint of all those who are forced in life to do what they do not really want to do, which is to perform a subordinate role and always be walking behind the person who is more important. The fact that he did this for decades is a staggering compliment to him, especially as it was not easy for such a man of action.

I like to think of Prince Philip as a patron saint of perseverance. One of the biggest challenges we face in our country is that of marital breakdown. We know that we cannot turn a spotlight on other people’s marriages. We know that marriage is difficult and has many challenges, but imagine being in a marriage where the spotlight is always on you and having to sustain that. That can only be sustained out of love. What a tremendous example the Duke of Edinburgh is to families up and down the country. I therefore like to think of him as a patron saint of perseverance.

I remember when the Duke came to Lincoln as a very old man to open the frieze on the front of the cathedral. I was struck not so much by what he said, but by the fact that here was a man well into his 80s, even into his 90s, still carrying on. All over the western world, there is a cult of youth and older people are shoved aside and expected to be certainly not heard and perhaps not even seen, but here was a man who kept going well into his 90s. That is such an inspiration for so many older people.

I want to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh as a man of the countryside and as a man of deep faith. That is summed up by something that he wrote:

“If God is in nature, nature itself becomes divine, and from that point it becomes reasonable to argue that reverence for God and nature implies a responsibility not to harm it, not just for our own selfish interests, but also as a duty to the creator.”

He was a very great man and a deep thinker. We will always miss him and today we salute him.

Armed Forces Bill

(2nd reading)
Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Monday 8th February 2021

(10 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Virginia Crosbie Portrait Virginia Crosbie (Ynys Môn) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is an honour to speak in this important armed forces debate. One of the most significant changes that the Bill makes is to enshrine the armed forces covenant in law. The covenant was put in place 10 years ago to protect and support those who serve us as members of the armed forces. It is our very promise as a nation to ensure that those who serve or have served, and their families, are treated fairly.

Our armed forces defend and protect us, and we often think of them in the context of conflict overseas. However, in the past few months, we have seen at first hand the value of our servicemen and women, as they have built our field hospitals, carried out covid-19 testing and been part of the team vaccinating those at greatest risk. Only last week, a further 96 military personnel were detached to help with the vaccine roll-out here in Wales. Members of RAF Valley in my constituency of Ynys Môn have been assisting with testing across the UK.

Since its inception, over 6,000 businesses have signed up to the covenant, including Isle of Anglesey County Council and Môn Maintenance Services here in Holyhead, but once the Bill becomes legislation, the principles of the covenant will become a legal requirement. That will ensure equal treatment for our serving armed forces and for those who have left the services.

Our local poppy appeal co-ordinator, Piers Beeland, reminded me recently, “Don’t forget the veterans. We may be suffering genuine PTSD, long covid or live in substandard accommodation. Most of us were prepared not just to serve but to put our lives at risk to save others.” On behalf of all current and former servicemen and women, and particularly those in my constituency of Ynys Môn, I thank the Government for their work to create a country in which they can expect fair and equal treatment.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab) [V]
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May I add my thanks to all our armed forces personnel for everything they do and for the sacrifices they make to keep the rest of us safe? Today, I want to touch on what we can do to keep them safe outside their jobs and when they leave service.

A King’s College London study five years ago confirmed that there were in excess of 70,000 veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Now, mid-pandemic, that number will likely be higher, and there just are not the resources to get adequate help for all those individuals. The sad statistics show the blunt reality of what our service personnel face. More Falklands veterans have committed suicide since the conflict than those who lost their lives during it. Mental health issues can affect service personnel and veterans just as much as physical injuries, leading to unemployment, homelessness, social deprivation and addiction.

Gambling addiction is on the increase in the armed forces. One of the biggest challenges that those in the military face is getting that addiction recognised, as it is often seen as a weakness. To date, it is an offence to borrow money in the forces, but we know from the volume of case studies that every single week, disordered gamblers borrow money and will steal to fund their addiction. For those leaving service, it is evident that there is a worrying lack of support. Many find the transition back to civilian life very difficult, and mental health support falls far short, resulting in veterans being up to four times more likely than any other cohort to experience gambling-related harm.

With over 10,000 veterans thought to be suffering from or at risk of gambling-related harm, more really needs to be done to address the causes. Gambling becomes a coping mechanism, blocking out the anxiety, the anger and the loneliness. With an industry ready to prey on these vulnerable individuals, we need far better regulation to provide protection, if not through this Bill, then through other forms of legislation.

In addition to this Bill, I ask the Defence Secretary to please work with his colleagues in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport as they undertake the long-awaited gambling review. That review is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that gambling legislation in this country is both robust and future-proof. We have to get this right. The review needs to look not just at the industry but at its customers, and particularly at the cohorts, such as our armed forces and veterans, who are most vulnerable to harm.

Our armed forces serve to protect all of us and, in turn, it is our duty to protect them from associated public and mental health issues, of which addiction is one of the most isolating. We owe a real, huge debt of gratitude to every serving member of our armed forces and to all veterans, but thanks and accolades are not enough. There is so much more we need to be doing to help these heroes, many of whom suffer in silence after witnessing things the rest of us cannot even imagine. In truth, the scope of this Bill is too limited. Social care, pensions, compensation, employment and benefits are all excluded and, while it focuses on healthcare, mental health is, sadly, lacking. The answer to what we are doing with this Bill is, sadly, very little.

James Wild Portrait James Wild (North West Norfolk) (Con) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The defence of the realm is the first duty of Government, and this Bill provides the legal basis for the armed forces. In three years advising the then Defence Secretary, I had the privilege to meet many servicemen and women, at home and around the world, helping to keep Britain safe, and it is in recognition of their unique sacrifices and obligations that we have the armed forces covenant. This pledge from the nation commits to remove disadvantages arising from being a serving or former member of the armed forces, and to consider whether special provision is justified for those who have given the most.

I warmly welcome the new duty on public bodies to have due regard to the covenant’s principles when providing housing, education and healthcare. This is a very good start, and reflects the areas the Secretary of State is required to report on. However, the annual report typically covers a broader range of issues where personnel face disadvantage, including family life, criminal justice and employment, so I encourage the Government to broaden the scope in due course. I hope the Minister will reassure the Royal British Legion and others that the case for adding further areas is under active review.

While I support public bodies being subject to this duty, the Bill would be improved by including Government Departments, which determine policy, allocate resource or provide national guidance to other delivery bodies. I know how committed Ministers are to the armed forces covenant, and a legal duty would help ensure that it is properly adhered to. Clearly, it also needs to be enforceable, and judicial review is expensive and slow, so it would be helpful to clarify that the local government and social care ombudsman and other bodies will have responsibilities for enforcement.

During my time at the Ministry of Defence, I helped instigate the service justice review in 2017. I did so because I was concerned about the transparency, fairness and efficiency of the system and the impact on service personnel who have been let down. The Government have rightly accepted many of Shaun Lyons’s proposals to improve the system. However, I am concerned that they have not accepted his first recommendation that court martial jurisdiction should no longer include murder, manslaughter and rape when offences are committed in the UK, except with the consent of the Attorney General. That is the approach that other countries have adopted, including Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister for Defence People and Veterans for the discussion we have had on this issue, and I do think it would be helpful to send a clear message from the House that, as a general principle, civilian authority should take precedence for investigating and prosecuting those offences in the UK. This is about giving victims confidence to come forward, and also about public confidence. Another important step to improve confidence are the changes to bring the court martial system into line with the Crown court by introducing qualified majority voting where there are six lay members.

Finally, I was pleased to work on measures to enable part-time working for our armed forces. This Bill will allow reservists to benefit from the same flexible working provisions that regulars have to undertake full-time or part-time service. Churchill called reservists “twice the citizen”, and this is very much a welcome move. Our armed forces represent the best of us, and I am pleased to support the Bill, which will strengthen our commitment to their service.

Oral Answers to Questions

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Wednesday 27th January 2021

(10 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I know the stress that people are under—not just school pupils, whom my hon. Friend is right to raise, but particularly NHS workers—during this current wave of the pandemic. It has been really gruelling the last few weeks and months. We are investing hugely in mental health support; on top of the £13.3 billion in 2019-20, we will see a further £2.3 billion a year by 2023-24, and that will support 380,000 adults and 345,000 children.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab) [V]
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Given that the Prime Minister has already said today that he will take full responsibility for all the actions his Government have taken during the pandemic, will he confirm that that will include the woeful and reckless management of the covid outbreak at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency sites—Government sites—in my constituency? Will he also ensure that his Transport Secretary is held accountable for the inexcusable damage and devastation that that has caused?

Boris Johnson Portrait The Prime Minister
- Hansard - - Excerpts

I thank the hon. Lady for raising that question with me. May I offer her, by the way, my condolences on the death her father? I can tell her that we have been working flat out on the problem at the DVLA. All staff who can work from home are doing so, measures have been taken to minimise the number of people on the site at any one time, and more than 2,000 tests have been carried out by the DVLA in the last fortnight alone, with all the results so far coming back negative.

Oral Answers to Questions

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Wednesday 11th March 2020

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Maria Caulfield Portrait Maria Caulfield
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I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his question, and I am sure that we welcome the Bill. In 2019, the Department for International Development announced a global campaign of action on this very issue—to end period poverty globally by 2030. The global campaign was kick-started with an allocation of up to £2 million for the small and medium-sized charities working on period poverty in DFID’s priority countries.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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A recent report by Women’s Aid shows that almost half of domestic abuse survivors living in refuges do not have enough money to pay for essentials. Schools, prisons and hospitals now provide free sanitary products for women and girls, so when can we expect victims of domestic abuse living in refuges, and their daughters, to be extended the same courtesy?

Maria Caulfield Portrait Maria Caulfield
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The hon. Lady makes an absolutely essential point. The tampon tax fund has dealt with a number of these points; it was established in 2015 to allocate funds generated from VAT on period products to protect vulnerable women and girls on this very issue.

Oral Answers to Questions

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Wednesday 4th September 2019

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

4 Sep 2019, 11:44 a.m.

I must say that I do not recognise the figures the hon. Lady has just given, but I would say that the introduction of universal credit has ended the 16-hour cliff edge that many families faced and the introduction of the national living wage has helped boost the incomes of many across Wales.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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11. Mr Speaker,“Women survive violence then have to survive on peanuts, we have nothing, no furniture, no food, no recourse to public funds, we need money to live on, otherwise we are either destitute or die.”Those are the words of a Welsh survivor of domestic violence. Is the Secretary of State aware that his Government’s universal credit scheme is responsible for causing victims more pain, more hardship and more heartbreak? These survivors need help, not hurdles. When will he start speaking up for them? [912234]

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster
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I can say that the Department for Work and Pensions has been working with Welsh Women’s Aid to deliver training for domestic abuse specialists in jobcentres. By the end of September, every jobcentre in Wales will be covered by a specialist who will further raise awareness of domestic abuse and be able to provide additional support.

Oral Answers to Questions

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Wednesday 3rd July 2019

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

3 Jul 2019, 12:49 p.m.

No, no. It is becoming quite commonplace for there to be a flurry of attempted points of order immediately after Prime Minister’s questions. Colleagues will have to be patient. I will exercise discretion and allow one point of order from the hon. Member for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris), who I believe wishes to raise a matter with which the Prime Minister is well familiar, so this might be a convenient moment. Thereafter, we should proceed with the Prime Minister’s statement. Colleagues can of course raise points of order, more suitably and appositely, after statements.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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3 Jul 2019, 12:50 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. If you will indulge me, may I please take a brief moment to thank everyone involved with the introduction of the children’s funeral fund?

Since 2016, I have been asking the Government to introduce a fund to assist bereaved parents during their darkest hour and financially support them in funding a funeral. I have at times been impatient. I have at times been frustrated. But I have always known it was the right thing to do. The Prime Minister, the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, the hon. Member for Charnwood (Edward Argar), the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the hon. Member for Colchester (Will Quince) and civil servants have delivered on my request, and I understand that the children’s funeral fund will be operational from 23 July.

I thank everyone involved in making this happen: the organisations that have supported me; colleagues who have encouraged me; my family who, like me, have had to revisit our loss; my team, who have held my hand; and you, Mr Speaker, for your understanding. Martin’s fund is a legacy for my son and will be a comfort to every parent who will need to use it in the future; so, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. [Applause.]

John Bercow Portrait Mr Speaker
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

3 Jul 2019, 12:51 p.m.

I think it only right that if the Prime Minister wants to respond in a moment, she must certainly should do so. Let me just say to the hon. Member for Swansea East that the sheer passion, sincerity and integrity with which she has spoken and conducted herself are an example to us all, and that the determination that she has shown is an enormous credit to her. Her constituency, her party, the House, and people across politics and beyond are inspired by the way in which she has behaved, and we are unstinting in our admiration for her. Before the statement, let us hear from the Prime Minister on this subject because she has brought matters to fruition.

Oral Answers to Questions

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Wednesday 12th June 2019

(2 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Paul Maynard Portrait Paul Maynard
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

12 Jun 2019, 11:53 a.m.

That is two questions for the price of one, which I will seek to answer. As the hon. Gentleman will know, we are recruiting significant numbers of prison officers—over 2,000 more—but also significantly increasing our spending on women’s centres to make sure that every police and crime commissioner area has a centre.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

12 Jun 2019, 11:53 a.m.

As a welcome reform of probation services is ongoing, now is the time to look at how we can improve delivery of these services. Will the Minister commit to looking at making specialist gendered support such as women’s centres, female drug rehabilitation clinics and women’s refuges mandatory as part of the probation services across the country?

Paul Maynard Portrait Paul Maynard
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

The hon. Lady makes an important point. We know that women leaving prison have a range of quite distinct needs: they have higher reoffending rates than men, 39% go into unsettled accommodation, and a third are not on out-of-work benefits a month after leaving prison. There is a wide range of issues that we need to look at, and we will take the hon. Lady’s point seriously on board.

Oral Answers to Questions

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Wednesday 15th May 2019

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Susan Elan Jones Portrait Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) (Lab)
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1. What assessment the Government have made of the effect of changes to the policing budget since 2015 on the operational effectiveness of Welsh police forces. [910816]

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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2. What assessment the Government have made of the effect of changes to the policing budget since 2015 on the operational effectiveness of Welsh police forces. [910817]

Kevin Foster Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Kevin Foster)
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15 May 2019, 11:34 a.m.

We have been clear that ensuring that the police have the right resources and powers is a Government priority, which is why we are providing more than £1 billion of additional funding to the police in 2019-20, including precept, and additional funding for serious violence. Funding to the Welsh forces will increase by more than £43 million in 2019-20 compared with 2018-19.

--- Later in debate ---
Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster
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15 May 2019, 11:35 a.m.

It has to be said that anyone who wants to hear vacuous nonsense can just listen to those sort of attacks in the Chamber. Let us be clear: in 2015-16, the combined budget for North Wales police was £139.8 million; in 2019-20, it will be £115.8 million. That shows the increase in funding that is going on. Three out of the four forces in Wales are rated good for effectiveness, which is the subject of the main question.[Official Report, 20 May 2019, Vol. 660, c. 5MC.]

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris
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15 May 2019, 11:36 a.m.

South Wales police are dealing with nearly 50% of all crimes reported in Wales in an environment of increased domestic violence, knife crime, serious crime and terrorism. Meanwhile, they face a greatly reduced budget and the loss of nearly 1,000 staff. South Wales police are doing a good job; when will the Government give them the resources and the support they need?

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster
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15 May 2019, 11:36 a.m.

The Government recognise the pressures, for example, in the recent announcement of additional knife crime funding, South Wales police will receive £1.2 million. In 2015-16, South Wales police had a budget of £255.1 million; in 2019-20, its budget will be £290.3 million.

Oral Answers to Questions

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Wednesday 15th June 2016

(5 years, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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Q7. Many in my constituency of Swansea East are already struggling to make ends meet. The World Trade Organisation says that if we leave the EU we could face major tariffs on trade, and would have to renegotiate more than 160 trade agreements. Does the Prime Minister agree that leaving the EU would hit hard-working families the most by raising the cost of living, and that it is too big a risk to take? (905430)

David Cameron Portrait The Prime Minister
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The hon. Lady is right. It is always the poorest and those with the least who get hit hardest if an economy suffers a recession. There are two ways in which the cost of living could be impacted. She is absolutely right that if we leave the single market and go to World Trade Organisation rules, tariffs will be imposed on the goods we sell to Europe, which would make us suffer. Also, if the pound falls, as many independent experts forecast, the cost of living rises, the cost of the family shop rises and the cost of the family holiday rises. She is right that it is not worth the risk. We should not risk it—we should keep our country safe.

Oral Answers to Questions

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Wednesday 27th April 2016

(5 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
John Penrose Portrait John Penrose
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My hon. Friend is absolutely right that online activity is an increasing part of our everyday lives, whether it be shopping or anything else. As technology improves and online voting becomes steadily more secure, it is something that we will need to continue to revisit. At the moment, the prospect of potentially stealing the Government of a country is too grave to allow online voting to happen.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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Does the Minister agree that we must do everything possible to bring power closer to people in every part of the country, and that a good start would be to make it easier for people to engage in politics?

John Penrose Portrait John Penrose
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I absolutely agree. As I said in response to an earlier set of questions, there is a great deal that Governments can do, but there is also a great deal that political parties and others need to do, to engage the interest of the voters.

European Council

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Monday 22nd February 2016

(5 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
David Cameron Portrait The Prime Minister
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I certainly agree with that. We should recognise that there are something like a million jobs in finance in Glasgow and Edinburgh—I think there are almost a million jobs in Manchester and Birmingham. The key point here is this: because we are in the single market, we have the right to passport—that is, to have a bank or a financial services company here in Britain that can trade throughout the EU. Leave the single market, and you lose that right. What would then have to happen is that companies based in the UK would have to move at least some of their jobs to another European country—that is why HSBC said the other day they would lose 1,000 jobs. So real jobs, real people’s salaries and real prosperity are under threat. We really need to explain this. It is complicated, but there is no doubt in my mind: leaving the single market for financial services would mean fewer jobs in Britain.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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It was interesting to hear the Prime Minister use the word “divorce” in connection with some of the less than helpful comments from the Mayor of London. I think we are all now fully aware that hell hath no fury like a Bullingdon boy scorned. I will be voting to stay in the European Union, and I will help the Prime Minister to convince others. However, if he has had such a good deal, why is he struggling to convince so many in his own party?

David Cameron Portrait The Prime Minister
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Some people have very long-standing views about wanting to leave the EU. The point I was making about starting divorce proceedings on the basis of renewing the wedding vows is that that is what some people seem to be suggesting, not just the Mayor of London but others—that somehow starting the process of leaving will mean being offered a better deal to stay. I think that is just not the case. We could think about it like this: divorcing not just one person but 27 potentially unhappy partners. While I yield to no one in my belief that I can bring people back, I have seen multiple weddings take place but I have never seen multiple divorce negotiations resulting in a multiple wedding—that would be something!

Oral Answers to Questions

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Wednesday 27th January 2016

(5 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Cabinet Office
Robert Halfon Portrait Robert Halfon
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As I have said, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority will make a huge difference, transform the way infrastructure projects are done in our country and save taxpayers’ money, and it will do a number of other things as well.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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12. What recent progress he has made on implementing the Government’s transparency agenda. (903296)

Matt Hancock Portrait The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General (Matthew Hancock)
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This morning we published further spending transparency data, which the Cabinet Office is committed to do as part of our agenda to be the most transparent Government ever.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris
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I thank the Minister of transparency for that response, but does he not agree that it is very difficult for him to lead by example on the transparency agenda when his own Department is being investigated by the Information Commissioner for refusing to publish routine spending data?

Matt Hancock Portrait Matthew Hancock
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It sounds like the hon. Lady wrote her supplementary question before she got the previous answer, because we published that information this morning. What is more, we are publishing Cabinet minutes at twice the pace that we ever saw under the previous Labour Government.

Community and Voluntary Sector Funding

Carolyn Harris Excerpts
Tuesday 24th November 2015

(6 years ago)

Westminster Hall

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Cabinet Office
Gerald Jones Portrait Gerald Jones
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I absolutely agree. As I said, that funding is an absolute lifeline for many small community groups that are on the road to developing more ambitious projects. It is unacceptable for the Government to contemplate such a cut to offset Government cuts in other areas. The Minister should confirm that the cut in lottery support will not be used as part of the Government’s deficit reduction plan.

In view of the Government’s apparent attack on the voluntary sector, I am bound to ask what they have against volunteers and voluntary groups. I urge them to acknowledge the role of the voluntary sector and the massive contribution the sector makes to society and to act accordingly. I therefore ask the Minister to advise us whether he will stand up for the sector and stand against this huge cut in the support to the Big Lottery Fund.

Carolyn Harris Portrait Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab)
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May I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford West (Naz Shah)? May I also say what a great pleasure it is to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Moon?

Charities play a vital role in society, and they make a significant economic contribution. The sector generates gross value added of £12 billion per year. The economic value of UK volunteering is estimated at nearly £24 billion. However, given that approximately half of all charities depend on central or local government funding, they expect to be hit particularly hard by any budget reductions over the next five years. Charities will be looking closely at the spending review for details of where funding may become even more challenging. It goes without saying that public service cuts will have a significant knock-on effect on charities.

We have heard a lot about the Big Lottery Fund. To shed some light on the issue, let me add that it is one of 12 distributors of the national lottery’s good causes funding. However, there is a strong indication that Her Majesty’s Treasury is planning to reduce the Big Lottery Fund’s share of national lottery funding from 40% to about 25%. That, arguably, would mean the redirection of funding towards the arts and sports because of DCMS spending reductions. The reduction in the Big Lottery Fund would be £300 million a year. We all recognise the value of the arts, sport and heritage, but support for those causes should not be at the expense of community groups.

The move would hit smaller groups hardest, because 90% of BLF grants are smaller than £10,000. It would particularly affect community projects such as village halls, playgrounds and youth clubs, as well as targeted interventions where there are social problems. Examples are isolated older people, domestic violence and vulnerable children—I could go on, but I think I have made my point. As BLF funds are usually committed years in advance, an immediate reduction in the national lottery’s contribution to it could cause it to close its books to new funding applications for several years.

In my constituency a total of 251 projects have been funded, with a total value of nearly £4 million. In the whole of Swansea 993 projects have received funding, with a total value of £20 million. One of those is an organisation called Hands Up For Down’s, a parent-run group for children with Down’s syndrome and their parents and carers. It is based in Swansea and has been running since May 2014. It simply offers a support network to the parents of children with Down’s syndrome, as well as an opportunity for the youngsters to get together to play freely and socialise. Sian is the mum of Iolo, who uses the project, and she said:

“We are facing many challenges but with the support of Hands up for Downs and the Big Lottery Fund we don’t feel we need to do it alone”.

I hope that the Government will think about all the Iolos and Sians in the country, who benefit from the Big Lottery Fund, when they wield their axe and do whatever they intend to do that will affect voluntary sector funding.

Jo Stevens Portrait Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central) (Lab)
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It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for the first time, Mrs Moon. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford West (Naz Shah) on securing the debate. We have heard excellent and wide-ranging contributions this afternoon, and I very much welcome the debate. It is important that we discuss the issue, since funding for the community and voluntary sector is at a critical juncture. With the Chancellor’s spending review coming tomorrow, I am sure that everyone involved in the sector will wait with bated breath to see what further cuts he has lined up for local government budgets. The continuous budgetary pressure on local government makes it even harder for the voluntary sector to fund its important work. I have seen in my own constituency the tremendous impact that community organisations have and the growing funding challenge that they face because of cuts to Welsh Government budgets that have to be passed on to local authorities.

I spent some time a couple of weeks ago at Grassroots Cardiff, a small community organisation working with the most vulnerable young people in Cardiff Central. It provides advice, support, creative opportunities and training that help young people between the ages of 16 and 25. In a supportive environment, it promotes self-confidence and development to help vulnerable young people avoid homelessness and drug abuse. It also runs a fantastic weekly Asperger’s support group for young people—the only one that is available in Cardiff and the wider region. I have seen the remarkable work that the organisation does and the positive difference it has made to the lives of young people with Asperger’s.

Grassroots works very hard to function within its means, but owing to the cuts it is really struggling. It has lost local authority funding because of UK Government cuts and faces the prospect of being able to offer only a part-time service. That successful organisation, which has been serving the community in Cardiff Central for decades, is under threat. It is desperate for funds. If it asks for funds from local people, who are already stretched with low incomes and a lack of work opportunities, they will give what they can, but it is a struggle.

In the previous Parliament, under the coalition Government, there were tax cuts for the wealthiest in the country—a giveaway to the people who needed it the least. At the same time cuts were made to the local authority funding that supports and delivers voluntary and community sector provision in villages, towns and cities across the UK. The expectation was then, as it will be once again in tomorrow’s spending review, that ordinary working people will have to foot the bill.

Part of the Conservative party manifesto in 2010 and again 2015 was the creation of the big society. One pillar of that was opening up public services and enabling voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises to compete to offer public services combined with community empowerment, giving local councils and neighbourhoods more power to take decisions and shape their own area. However, under the coalition Government outsourcing took place on an unprecedented scale, and that is continuing under the current Government. The aim was to create a fairer playing field in which charities, social enterprises and private companies could bid for services, but as we have heard in many speeches today, the harsh reality has been private companies’ share growing, while charities and voluntary organisations have lost out completely.

The other pillar of the big society was community empowerment. The idea of that, as I understand it, was for people to be able to select the community projects they wanted to launch. However, because of the swingeing cuts in public sector funding, people are now forced to choose which projects they want to save, rather than the ones they want to launch. I have seen that happen in my constituency. Several voluntary sector organisations, including Carers UK’s Cardiff branch, ABCD Cymru, which works with the disabled black and minority ethnic community, and Cardiff’s Disability Action group, have had to fold altogether, leaving people without the support they desperately needed.