Welcome to my CLP report for March 2018.
This month has seen the usual comprehensive schedule of meetings and events taking place in Westminster.
These have included, the Leonard Cheshire Cymru drop-in and photo call in support of disabled people in Wales, CAMRA’s celebration of beer and pubs and Dogs Trust event calling for a UK wide ban on electric dog collars – I am pleased to say these are already banned here in Wales.
In my Shadow Defence capacity I attended the EEF Manufacturers association Conference, Prospect Trade Union seminar on defence, a briefing by GKN and meetings with Rolls Royce, Babcock, and BAE Maritime Services.
I was pleased to attend the rally organised by PCS in support of a fully funded 5% pay rise for public sector employees.
I attended an informative CBI briefing setting out why the UK remaining in a customs union with the EU should remain on the table in the Brexit negotiations
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Fairtrade held an event in recognition of “Fairtrade fortnight”, which I was happy to support.
Ministry of Defence’s Equipment Plan is a “financial mess”
During Defence Questions in the Commons this week I asked a question of the Armed Forces Minister about the scathing report, produced by the National Audit Office, on the Ministry of Defence’s equipment plan for 2017 to 2027. The report highlights that there is a £20.8 billion gaping black hole in the MoD’s budget. I went on to refer to the absence of any reference in the Government’s equipment plan to the Type 31e frigate – the planned class of frigate intended to enter service in the 2020’s. The response from the Armed Forces Minister was as concerning, as it was dismissive. Not only was he unable to provide an answer, but merely deflected the issue for the Defence Procurement Minister to write to me.
Fears over new army vehicle contract
Talking of defence procurement, I am continuing to work with my Shadow Defence colleague Gerald Jones MP, in pressing the Minister to ensure there is an open tender process for any contract to manufacture the new Mechanised Infantry Vehicle. We both believe that companies like General Dynamics, which has workplaces in Merthyr and Oakdale , would be well placed to submit competitive tenders for this work, if they are afforded the opportunity. However, there is a real fear that the UK Government may by-pass any tendering process, and award the contract to a German based company, as a helpful bargaining tool in Brexit negotiations.
A number of constituency events scheduled in the last month had to be cancelled due to the adverse weather conditions. On this subject I do want to put on record my thanks to the dedication of our Caerphilly Council staff and the emergency and other public service staff who worked tirelessly during this period to keep the rest of us safe. In the context of a Tory UK Government which does little to support our key public services it is a timely reminder of how invaluable they are.
Hefin David and myself had a productive meeting with the head teacher at Lewis Pengam School to discuss how best to tackle the issue of substance misuse amongst the young in our communities.
We have started holding regular canvassing sessions again with a handful of members recently braving a bitterly cold Saturday morning in Bargoed. There is a schedule agreed for the forthcoming months and you are asked to keep an eye out for emails, or postings on Caerphilly CLP facebook page – your support for this activity would be welcomed.
We have, in the last week, had the disappointing news that Bedwas based Peter’s Pies are consulting over the possible loss of 84 posts from that site. Hefin David and I have already set up a meeting with thecompany’s Manging Director to discuss ways in which any compulsory redundancies can be avoided, and are in close contact with the USDAW and UNITE trade union in relation to our endeavours.
Caerphilly County Council recently organised a highly successful Life Vacancy Event, alongside partners Careers Wales, in Ystrad Mynach. I was not able to attend due to business in Westminster but I was pleased one of my staff colleagues was able to go along and say a few words of praise for this excellent initiative, and thanks those 60 plus employers and training organisations who were there supporting the event.