MP Update – 11th May

 

MP Update No.298 – criminal justice; local housing; a chance to stay in the Single Market; Kashmir update; energy billsNEWS AND COMMENT FROM CHRIS LESLIE Friday 11th May 2018(for more news also see my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chrislesliemp)

Nottingham News

  • Gregory Dickinson QC, one of Nottingham’s most senior judges, has warned of delays in trying people accused of several serious crimes. Mr Dickinson QC, who as Recorder of Nottingham is involved in the administration of Nottingham courts, suggested that ‘In an ideal world, we would have twice the number of courts and twice the number of judges’. If courts get clogged up, justice is delayed and the public risk losing confidence that crimes will be punished effectively. I will press the Ministry for Justice to do better than this.
  • Nottinghamshire Police have released a map showing every crime that was recorded during March, except for 109 crimes that could not be matched to a particular address. The map shows the location of 10,817 crimes including 1,120 in Nottingham City Centre and can be found here.
  • Nottingham City Homes won several awards at the National Housing Awards Night in London last week. At the awards, run by the Chartered Institute of Housing and Inside Housing, Nottingham City Homes won ‘Landlord of the Year’, ‘Innovation of the Year’ and the award for ‘Outstanding Approach to Tenant Involvement’. Nick Murphy, NCH chief executive, said: ‘‏Our vision of creating homes and places where people want to live goes beyond traditional housing services. We offer our residents a whole range of initiatives to help them create better lives and better futures for themselves, their families and their communities’.‏
  • Plans for 92 student flats, to be built on Lower Parliament Street, are due to be decided on by Nottingham City Council next week. The development which would be six stories tall and involves the demolition of several vacant shops is being proposed by Megaclose Ltd. Planning officers have recommended that the development be approved but that noise restrictions be put in place.
  • Nottingham teenager Mariam Moustafa was finally laid to rest this week following the release of her body to her grieving family after many weeks of post mortem investigations. The police and coroner needed time to conduct tests pending a decision on criminal prosecution and while this is clearly part of the process of inquiry it is distressing that this has taken such a long time. If justice is to be done, then the police need to be meticulous in gathering all the evidence. Nevertheless, I have been working with Mariam’s family to do all I can to ensure that no stone is unturned and that also lessons are learned by all agencies, some of whom have real questions to answer.

 

National & International News

  • On Tuesday the House of Lords defied the party whips and voted to keep the UK in the EEA Single Market. It was an amazing moment of hope and a victory for common sense. This means that MPs will thankfully have a chance to decide on keeping Britain in both the Customs Union and the Single Market if Brexit is to proceed, and with a dozen Tory rebel MPs suggesting they want this, it could be a real game-changer.But the baffling decision by Labour’s frontbench to abstain, although ignored by 83 Labour peers, could prevent this happening in the Commons unless they change their minds, which is why I am arguing as strongly as I can that Labour must not abstain again when this comes to the Commons. Can you imagine a situation where it is the Labour Party official line – faced with the chance of defeating the Tory government on a hard Brexit – which fails to take this opportunity? It seems utterly unconscionable for me to imagine that this could happen, which is why I suspect Labour’s frontbench will surely have to reflect on the chance of winning here and opting for the Single Market.

To throw away this chance would be to risk consigning Britain to a further decade of austerity, where even the Treasury predict that £55billion of cuts to public services will arrive if we don’t go for the EEA Single Market option. If you share my view, please write, email and make as many representations as you can to Labour’s leadership to ensure we come together and stop a hard Brexit. Your voice is crucial and this is a defining moment of choice where the country’s fate on Brexit lies in the Labour leadership’s hands.

  • The decision by Donald Trump to ditch the Iran deal has rightly dominated the news this week. The joint agreement which had been so carefully crafted multilaterally by President Obama, European leaders, Russia and China was designed to reduce the punitive sanctions on Tehran in exchange for guarantees that the Iranians would not enrich uranium and build nuclear weapons capacity. And the UN inspections process appeared to show that Iran was indeed abiding by this agreement. But Trump’s ‘hardball’ approach now risks harming moderate forces in the Iranian parliament and providing succour to Iran’s extremists, potentially spurring the regime towards nuclear capacity with greater fervour. The British, French and German governments all tried hard to dissuade the White House from this but to no avail, so are currently trying to salvage the deal minus the USA. This will be an uphill task, because few businesses will want to continue trading with Iran and risk American sanctions themselves. I hope that this is a temporary situation and somehow a return to moderation can be rediscovered, because the Iranian regime is already engaged in deeply irresponsible non-nuclear military behaviour in Syria and elsewhere and the last thing the Middle East needs is Iran unleashed. There are few easy solutions here, but if the Iranians have been complying with a nuclear weapons moratorium only to see Trump’s America breaking that agreement, then this will do real damage to the trust and confidence needed if further ‘deals’ are to be sustained in other tense situations.
  • As the UK chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir I have been monitoring recent developments in Jammu and Kashmir following the torture, rape and murder of an eight-year old Muslim girl and the arrest of eight Hindu men including a government official and police officer. The religious identities of the victim and her alleged attackers have enflamed strong passions and protests across the ‘line of control’ between Pakistan and Indian controlled Kashmir, exacerbating the fault lines between Hindu-majority Jammu and the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley. I am currently chairing an ongoing inquiry into human rights issues in Kashmir as I know this is an issue which very many constituents of Kashmiri heritage in Nottingham East feel strongly about..

 

What do you think?Is it a coincidence that the gas and electricity companies tend to raise their prices when people aren’t paying as much attention as warmer weather arrives? Today’s decision by Npower to increase energy bills by 5.3% – the equivalent of an extra £64 per year on a typical dual bill of £1200 – follows recent decisions by British Gas to raise prices by 5.5%, EDF by 2.7% and Scottish Power by 5.5%.Of course, the best thing for residents to do is continue to shop around and visit price comparison websites rather than stick with companies who may have once offered a good deal but are now uncompetitive. And there’s also Nottingham City Council’s own ‘Robin Hood Energy’ option at the link here.But I’d be interested in your views about whether energy prices are sustainable for you and what you think could be done. Renewable investment and energy efficiency can in the long run make our sources of electricity sustainable, but the upfront investment – and shift to ‘smart meters’ – is costly. Is this a price that just has to be paid? Are the companies profiteering unfairly in your view? Or are global factors like the fall in sterling after the Brexit referendum pushing up wholesale energy prices unavoidably? You views would help inform me on where public policy should intervene here.

 

RegardsChris LeslieLabour & Co-operative Party MP for Nottingham East
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