In this together?

When Nick Clegg tells the nation we are all in this together there are facts he forgets…

Nick Clegg described public sector pensions as “gold plated, unfair and unaffordable” but failed to mention that in the last month, David Cameron has signed off contracts for politically appointed advisers that will cost the taxpayer over £4 million in pension contributions over the lifetime of a parliament.

Wavertree Carers Deserve ‘A life of their own’

Luciana with Justin Davis Smith, Chief Executive of Volunteering England

I want to start this week, Carers Week, by expressing my respect and gratitude to all our carers in Wavertree.

I want our carers to know: You don’t have to struggle on alone.

Three quarters of carers say they have lost touch with family and friends, while 4 out of 5 are worse off financially because of their caring role. I want to ensure that those who feel isolated or lonely because of caring, learn about the services and support out there to help them. I am backing Carers Week’s ‘A life of my own’ campaign, which calls for carers to receive greater recognition for their work.

Whether the chance to have a long bath or a full night’s sleep – these are luxuries for many of the thousands of carers in Wavertree. They deserve to be recognised for the priceless contribution they make to their loved ones, to our local community and to society at large.

I was one of 50 MPs from around the country who gathered at a Volunteering England event to say ‘Thank You’ to the thousands of volunteers in our constituencies as part of the national Volunteers’ Week celebrations.

For more information about the events taking place in Liverpool this week click here.

Under the blindfold with RNIB

Every week a number of people in my constituency will begin to lose their sight, and I am committed to  understanding better the  help they need to continue to  live an independent life.

So, hot on the heels of my Guide Dog walk in Liverpool I met up with the RNIB in Parliament to get a first hand experience of the everyday challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people.

Wearing a blindfold, I tried to carry out some everyday tasks, like making a cup of tea and using a cash machine, within the kitchen and bank areas that had been set up in the House of Commons.

It was a real challenge to carry out these simple everyday tasks without the use of sight. It made me aware of the need for support to be in place when someone loses their sight and is struggling to adjust, trying to remain independent in their own local area and home.

There are nearly 2 million people living in the UK with sight loss. A shocking 23 per cent of people losing their sight leave the eye clinic without even being certain of the name of the condition that caused their sight loss. We need to improve the support and counselling they receive so that they are never left to cope with their diagnosis alone.

Guide Dog Walk Highlighted Special Value

Today I went under the blind fold and experienced being led by a guide dog first hand. 

Luciana and the guide dog in the City Centre

The walk took place at a Guide Dogs Awareness Event in the city centre.

I also saw demonstrations of the dogs at work and had the opportunity to meet puppy walkers, guide dog owners and Guide Dogs staff.

Training a guide dog costs tens of thousands of pounds and the investment shows –my guide dog did a great job of keeping me on the right track today. It was a really creative way of highlighting how a guide dog can change the life of a blind or partially sighted person.  The guide dog service receives no government or social services funding – it is supported entirely by the generosity of the public.

For more information about guide dog ownership, you can visit www.guidedogs.org.uk/enquiries or telephone 0845 372 7499

What’s Your Favourite South Asian Restaurant in Wavertree?

The Tiffin Cup is an annual competition to find the best South Asian restaurant in England and Wales. Nominees are selected by their local MPs so I need your help to suggest Wavertree’s favourite place to eat out. I know we have a huge diversity of cooking talent so I will select which restaurant I nominate on the basis of the recommendations I receive – please get in touch by email or Facebook before the closing date of the end of July.

After the best nominees are shortlisted, the top tier of restaurants will participate in a cook-off event, as judged by MPs and guest celebrities, with the proceeds going to charity.

Plans for Fixed Term Parliaments Need Scrutiny

I have joined a cross-party campaign against plans to rail-road through legislation designed to keep the Government in power.

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition recently announced plans for fixed-term parliaments that could only be cut short if 55% of MPs voted to do so. This could mean a government supported by less than half of MPs might not be removed. 

I have signed a Parliamentary motion calling on the Government to ensure that any Bill to establish a fixed-term Parliament and to change arrangements for Dissolution is published first in draft and then subjected to pre-legislative scrutiny. MPs and the public deserve to have their say on an important constitutional change of this kind.

Almost 50 other MPs have joined this campaign (as of today 1st June)  by signing Early Day Motion Early Day Motion 79 – Legislation For Fixed-Term Parliaments. See EDM79

Don’t Risk Progress on Violence Against Women

I have joined anti-rape campaigners in highlighting concerns that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat proposal to give anonymity to defendants in rape cases could stop women coming forward.

Currently those who appear in court charged with rape can be identified – the original ban was abandoned in the late eighties because police said that it was preventing women from coming forward. There is a risk that anonymity sends a message that  allegations are presumed to be false.  The Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government has put forward the proposal without any research, or evidence to suggest any change is necessary.  

The Labour Government made huge steps forward in reducing violence against women, but with a 6.5% conviction rate for rape the new Government should be taking action to continue that work rather than putting it at risk.

To read the House of Commons motion I’ve signed supporting this campaign click here.

Opposing £4m Police Cuts to Merseyside

The new Tory-Lib Dem Government  made the decision today to cut vital police funding – and I will be both opposing the cuts and working with local people to ensure we limit the harm to Wavertree.  

The proposed funding cut for forces in England and Wales is £125 million in revenue, £10 million in capital and £10 million from the counter-terrorism budget and will do real damage to the ability of police to carry out their job of protecting the public. This means £4m cuts to Merseyside and will be a real blow to the local force in Wavertree.

Our Shadow Policing Minister David Hanson MP has said that the announcement means we need to ask serious questions about the new Government’s commitment to reduce crime and protect people.

Police Authorities have already raised precepts locally and set budgets on the basis of the settlement and will now have to make very difficult choices. I will be working with David to ensure the Government is aware of the concerns of people in Wavertree on this issue.

This is how the Liverpool Echo reported the cuts: Click Here

Sign Up: To Save The Royal Hospital Rebuild From Tory / Lib Dem Cuts

On the day that the Coalition Government starts to outline its cuts programme I’m promoting a petition to  demand that the Tory and Liberal Democrat government protects promised investment in our health service.

You may remember that in March, the Labour Health Secretary, Andy Burnham MP, announced that the Labour Government was approving plans for a complete rebuild of the Liverpool Royal Hospital, at a total investment of £451million.

The project would create a brand new hospital with single, en-suite rooms throughout, a garden the size of Albert Dock and a separate A&E entrance.

But on 18 May 2010, the Liverpool Echo reported that the Tory / Lib Dem government was reviewing those plans. They are now under threat, and there is a chance that the Tories and Liberal Democrats might cut the investment altogether.

Liverpool needs a modern NHS, and a Royal hospital fit for the 21st Century. Sign our petition, and demand that the Tory and Liberal Democrat government protects this investment.

CLICK HERE to sign the petition.

Sworn In

I was incredibly proud to take the oath of alliegance today which allows me to properly start my work in Parliament.