Welcome to my CLP report for February 2018
It’s been a hectic few weeks in Westminster which have included meetings with representatives from Lockheed Martin, the Engineering Employers Federation, Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and the Brain Tumour Charity.
In my Defence role, I visited Raytheon in Broughton, and MDBA in Stevenage, along with attending briefings by BAE Systems, and the Yorkshire Regiment, as well as an Edinburgh Royal Tattoo event on the role of soft power in UK diplomacy.
I attended, along with Nia Griffith and Jeremy Corbyn, the launch of a campaign for a National Sikh War Memorial. I spent an enjoyable evening at a Burns Night supper hosted by Raytheon.
It was also a great pleasure to welcome Caerphilly Mayor, Councillor John Bevan, on his recent visit to Westminster.
In the Chamber I have spoken in debates on shipbuilding strategy and the future size and structure of our armed forces. I was also able to ask a question on homelessness, citing the Wales Audit Office Report which stated its belief that the Westminster Government’s welfare cuts are having a detrimental impact on homelessness in Wales
In the Welsh Grand Committee I was heavily critical of the UK Government breaking its promise over electrification of the rail line from Cardiff to Swansea.
Government still in disarray over Brexit
This last week we have seen the chaotic uncertainty over the Government’s Brexit strategy manifest itself, prior to a special Cabinet meeting, following the leaking of an EU document suggesting it wants to restrict UK access to the single market if there is a dispute after Brexit.
We had pro-EU former Minister Anna Soubry calling for Mrs May to “sling out arch Brexiteers”, threatening to quit the Tory Party. At the other end of the spectrum Tory MP Bernard Jenkin stated Mrs May had “pushed back” against those who wanted to stay within the customs union, which he said was at odds with the government’s stated position of achieving “regulatory autonomy”. Former Chancellor Ken Clarke said the PM had to see “where the majority of opinion was” with the Cabinet, offer some concessions, and those who could not live with the agreed stance would have to resign.
Early reports, following the first “crunch” Cabinet meeting do little to suggest any breakthrough in terms of achieving consensus or clarity on a strategy. A second Cabinet meeting is to be held but it looks increasingly doubtful that a deal will be finalised with the EU by the October target, set by the EU, to enable all 28 Member States to vote on any deal prior to the UK leaving in March 2019.
All this at a time when businesses are urgently calling for clarification on the UK’s position. The British Chamber of Commerce has written to Theresa May expressing concern at its members perception of “continued division”. It added, “Even amongst the many optimistic, future oriented firms – those who see opportunity in change – patience is wearing thin”.
Jeremy Corbyn has marked the 100 years anniversary of some women first getting the vote in the UK, by saying a Labour Government would apologise to the suffragettes, and overturn their criminal records. Unfortunately Home Secretary Amber Rudd has been more equivocal, saying, giving pardons to these women would be complicated. As Home Secretary it should not be that difficult to make this happen – surely, where there is a will there is a way.
In the constituency, along with Hefin David AM, I attended meetings with residents in Ystrad Mynach over anti social behaviour, and the Cwm Calon estate over the poor service provided under the maintenance contract.
Having highlighted the problem of homelessness, exacerbated by the Conservative UK Government’s welfare cuts, I was pleased to be able to meet up with volunteers at the St Helen’s Roman Catholic Church Night Shelter in Caerphilly. The Night Shelter, run in partnership with Caerphilly Council and Cornerstone, brings together 9 churches, along with volunteers, to provide shelter, hot meals, support and advice to the homeless during the most difficult months of the year.
I had an opportunity to call into Rudry Rural Fayre at the Rudry Parish Hall, to sample some of the produce of local businesses.
It was pleasing to be able to take up the offer of speaking to local young learners at ACT Training in Caerphilly.
Finally I enjoyed a pleasant evening attending the Lord-Lieutenant of Mid Glamorgan Awards ceremony, and a fundraising concert for Caerphilly Children’s Centre in the Wesley Methodist Church in Caerphilly, with great performances by Rechoir UK and the BTM Brass Band.