Commemorating Armed Forces Day, victory for steel workers, Labour win in Batley & Spen - weekly update 06/07/2021
It’s been another busy week across the constituency and in Westminster. On Saturday I was delighted to attend the Armed Forces Day service at the Guildhall alongside Swansea Council leader Rob Stewart and Swansea’s Armed Forces Champion Wendy Lewis and Joanna Jenkins MBE, to honour those who have served our country. It was a wonderful opportunity to thank those in the armed forces who sacrifice so much across a wide range of roles overseas and here in the UK, including offering their assistance to Swansea Bay Health Board which has made a real difference during the current health crisis.
Wednesday saw a huge victory for steel workers in South Wales and across the UK, after a month of hard campaigning helped force a last-minute UK Government u-turn over the removals of safeguard tariffs on cheap imports of steel. Following recommendations from the independent Trade Remedies Authority, the UK Government planned to remove nine of the 19 current import safeguards on different steel products at midnight on 30th June. At a time when other countries were renewing their safeguards, fears have been raised that the UK market would become flooded with cheap imports, and the viability of UK steel would be threatened. With just five hours to go until the deadline, the UK Government announced that the five most important steel import safeguards under threat would be extended for a further year, and that the decision-making powers of the Trade Remedies Authority would be reviewed. This is great news for communities in South Wales, but we now need the Government to reform the Trade Remedies Authority to represent the views of workers and the industry as part of their review, and consider how it’s decisions will impact communities like ours in future.
On Wednesday I called on the UK Government to deliver on their promise to electrify the South Wales Main Line. It is really important that we decarbonise our rail network to help us reach Net Zero by 2050. Electrifying the South Wales network is one key way to achieve this, as well as investing in hydrogen technology by increasing orders of battery and hydrogen trains, yet work keeps getting delayed. The UK Government needs to get on with electrification.
The Welsh Affairs Committee met on Wednesday to hold a one-off evidence session with representatives from Welsh universities to hear how UK Government policies have affected higher education in Wales, and to explore the future of international collaboration and overseas exchange programmes. A report by Universities Wales raised some key issues science and research communities would need to overcome, such as securing funding from the Horizon 2020 programme, continuing to make the UK attractive for researchers and maintaining collaborative networks.
The Samaritans annual Talk to Us campaign began this week, which aims to raise awareness that they are available at any time of the day or night for anyone in need of help, advice or just a listening ear. Local events are being held across the UK in aid of the campaign, so keep an eye on the Swansea Samaritans website for their plans. Anyone wanting to help raise funds for the campaign can sign up for the Samarathon, and run, jog or walk 26.2 miles across the course of July.
I was absolutely thrilled to see Kim Leadbeater elected as Batley and Spen’s newest MP in the early hours of Friday morning. When I visited the seat to campaign, Kim’s passion for the constituency and her determination to bring people together really shone through, and she will be a fantastic representative, following in the footsteps of her sister, Jo Cox. The people of Batley and Spen thoroughly rejected the politics of hate and division, and I can’t wait to welcome Kim to Parliament. She will do all of us proud.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. If you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01792 899025. My office is not open, my staff and I are working from home, but my email and phone are still being monitored and responded to. You may experience a slight delay in receiving a response from us as the demand has increased, but we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Keep well and remember – and remember - observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!