It has been a busy couple of weeks in the Houses of Parliament. On January 11th it was Home Office Questions, a 1 hour session in the House of Commons where the Home Secretary, Theresa May, and her Home Office Ministers take questions from MPs on of varying topics. They included everything from immigration to the smuggling of illegal goods to policing.
It is the latter of these topics that, in my role as Shadow Policing Minister, I had the opportunity to grill the Government myself. Despite George Osborne’s grandstanding on protecting police budgets, actually the West Midlands Police Service, and every other Police Force, face further budget cuts. I put this outrageous state of affairs to the Government. These cuts come on the heels of the Government slashing 25% of the funding they give to the police; it is one thing to cut the police to the point where the public is put at risk and it is another to disguise this cut behind smoke and mirrors.
Later that week I joined junior doctors in their protest against Jeremy Hunt’s disgraceful treatment of our hard-working, life-saving junior doctors. The contract that the Tory’s are enforcing on them is neither fair nor safe for doctors or patients. The cut in out of hours pay means that many doctors will face a 30% cut in pay whilst the removal of safeguards on how many hours doctors can work leaves them under threat of working exhausting hours.
Hunt has claimed he wants a 7-day a week NHS but what he fails to realise is that we already do. Doctors work more hours than they have to because they do not enter the profession for the glamour or the money, they become doctors because they want to care for their patients and it is the Government’s job to care for them. It has become clear, however, that Jeremy Hunt and the Tories do not care about our doctors – they want to rip them off and push them around. I was proud to stand alongside our fine junior doctors in making a stand.
On Monday of this week I took part in the debate about whether or not Donald Trump should be banned from entering our country. When he made his comments about wanting to ban Muslims from entering America I was one of the first MPs to call for Trump to be banned from the UK and I stand by those comments. Trump is free to say foolish things, he is free to say populist things, he is not free to incite racial hatred and he is certainly not free to spread his hateful and dangerous words in this country.
We all, rightly, have the freedom of speech. It is an important freedom and has allowed for political and social change over many years, but everyone should also be free to practice their religion or faith without their safety being threatened for holding those beliefs. This is where Trump crossed the line. By claiming the Islamic religion poses a threat to American people, especially women, and saying the solution is to prevent any Muslim into the country hardens cultural and religious tensions to such an extent that the threat of violence or discrimination is very real. I said in the debate ISIS needs Donald Trump and Donald Trump needs ISIS. ISIS wants to say on the one hand, Muslims, you are under attack. Donald Trump, on the other hand, needs to say you are under attack by Muslims. ISIS poses a massive threat to our security and safety. Nothing should be done that helps them recruit terrorists in this country.
We are fortunate to have a wide range of ethnicities, cultures and religions in Erdington and they all contribute so much to our society both individually and collectively. We should not let anyone, regardless of their wealth or power, disrupt that in Erdington or anywhere else in the country. All faiths should stand together to reject division and terrorism.
This week also saw my fellow Birmingham MP’s and I meeting with Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for communities and Local Government, on trying to secure a fair deal for Birmingham. Birmingham is a city that has suffered the biggest cuts in Local Government history. A City treated unfairly over the past 5 years, losing out to leafy Tory shires. Conservative cuts on the scale proposed risks putting social care, emergency services and the protection of the most vulnerable at breaking point. Birmingham needs a fair funding deal now. Fair treatment next year would see the City £85 million better off, wiping out painful cuts Birmingham will otherwise suffer.
The funding formula that decides how much each councils gets is not fit for purpose and has short-changed the hard-working people of Erdington and Birmingham for years. We had a very positive meeting with Greg Clark about what can be done in the near future. I will not rest in my pursuit to get a fair deal for people in Birmingham.