This week my new role with the Shadow Treasury team has begun in earnest and I have attended numerous detailed briefings. This has been time consuming but really useful and going forward it will definitely be an advantage to have the ear of the Shadow Chancellor. However in my new role I am not allowed to speak in the chamber on any Treasury related issues. This was frustrating this week because I was desperate to have my say on the proposed cuts to Tax Credits. I have written more detail on this subject which you can read on my website at www.juliecooperforburnley.co.uk. Suffice to say here: I voted against the changes in Tax credits that will affect over 3 million families and it was the right thing to do because shockingly just to give one example: under these proposals over the lifetime of this Parliament a cleaner who earns £13,000 will lose over £6,000 in tax credits whilst during the same period the 65,000 workers who earn more than two million pounds a year, will each receive £1.25 million in tax rebate. I know that many readers will share my disgust at the sheer unfairness of these proposals.
On Tuesday I was pleased to meet celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver. Jamie was in Parliament to raise concerns over the high levels of sugar contained in foods and drinks that are routinely fed to British children. He has come up with a range of measures including a sugar tax and he is urging the Government to take action to address this problem which is one of the biggest causes of childhood obesity and Type two Diabetes. It seems that only tough Government action will make food manufacturers reduce the sugar content of their products. This is one of many issues that I will be investigating on the Health Select Committee.
Cuts and proposed cuts have been very much in evidence this week. In London I met the Policing Minister to challenge the proposed funding cuts to Lancashire’s police budget. The Minister Again it seems that unfairness was the order of the day: the proposal as it stands is this Lancashire’s police budget should be up by 53% whilst other authorities will gain increased funding. The Minister listened to concerns raised by myself and other Lancashire MPs and has agreed to look into this matter further.
Midweek I met with former Secretary of State for Education Kenneth Baker. Lord Baker was keen to share with me his vision for education for 14-19 year olds. This is of course particularly relevant to us in here as Burnley is home to the University Technical College. The UTC situated on Trafalgar Street takes caters for students in this range who have a particular interest in engineering.
I have also spent a lot of time promoting my Private members Bill this week. By the time you read this I will have presented the Bill for its second reading. In case anyone has missed it I am aiming to bring legislation that will give free hospital car parking to Carers. Carers save
the NHS billions of pounds every year. The least we ca do is surely to let them park for free when as part of their caring role they visit a hospital.
I was glad as ever to be back in Burnley on Thursday. On Friday I held what proved to be a very busy community surgery. Without a doubt the highlight of my week and I’m sure that of thousands of others in town was watching Burnley beat Blackburn Rovers. Up the football league we go!