Last week in Parliament


3rd_reading_edubill.pngLast week I was delighted to be appointed to the Shadow Cabinet Office team as the Shadow Digital Minister with responsibility for the Government's digital strategy, the Freedom of Information Act, data security and privacy.  These issues will be of increasing importance in this Parliament as we work to ensure that the digital revolution works for the interests of all in society and we navigate the line between privacy and security. I am looking forward to being able to support our new leadership team, Jeremy Corbyn MP and Tom Watson MP, in this role.


I voted against the Tax Credit cut and welfare changes. These changes to Tax Credits will mean thousands of families up and down the country will be up to £1000 worse off a year.  You can read more about why I view these cuts as both socially and economically indefensible


Regular readers will be aware that I sat on the Education and Adoption Bill Committee, which has allowed me to scrutinise this Bill as it passed through the Committee stage. There were many areas that were contentious in this Bill and through discussions it became clear that this legislation was taking more power out of parents’ and teachers’ hands. It clearly is doing little to address the real growing issues in education, of workload, recruitment and retention of teachers.


In parliament last week the Bill passed through its final vote before becoming legislation. This allowed me to put forward amendments about the specific issues I had with the Bill, including the removal of the need to consult with parents and local communities before a school becomes an academy. I raised my concerns that this Bill is ignorant of the issues developing in our schools and a misunderstanding about the principles of good teaching not being reliant on whether a school is an academy or not. Unfortunately my amendments were voted down.


However I am proud Labours' policy is for academies and free schools  to come back under local authority control, bringing power closer to communities in which the schools sit, taking profit out of our system.


Last week we saw Jeremy Corbyn’s first Prime Minister’s questions. This was a refreshing change to the usual theatricals of PMQ’s with Jeremy asking real people’s questions.


There was also a debate on East Midland Mainline - the most underfunded railway track in the country, which had been bought forward by Hillsborough & Brightside MP, Harry Harpham.  I have expressed my views on rail electrification in the past and have been very vocal about the pause on this particular investment. You can read my blog about this issue here. I am proud that Labour have committed to a policy of re-nationalisation.