Welcome to my final update of 2023. I would like to wish everyone in Luton South a merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.
Here’s a snapshot of what I have been up to in Parliament and Luton South this month.
Luton South Small Business Awards 2023
It was lovely to meet our wide range of Luton South Small Business Awards 2023 winners on Small Business Saturday, this year held on 2 December. Small businesses are the beating heart of our communities and our local economy.
Find the full winners list here.
Conservatives’ Mortgage Crisis
In Treasury Questions this week, I pressed the Government on Mortgage rates. 1.5 million fixed rate mortgage deals will expire next year, meaning even more households will face increased costs, with families paying hundreds more each month. Families in Luton South and across the UK are being forced into financial difficulty and debt due to this Conservative government’s disastrous economic failures.
Welcoming the Shadow Minister to visit Vauxhall
I was delighted to welcome Sarah Jones MP, Shadow Minister for Industry and Decarbonisation to Luton South to visit the Vauxhall IBC plant, alongside Sarah Owen MP. It was great to discuss Luton’s manufacturing history, alongside issues facing the UK car manufacturing industry and the transition to electric vehicles. Fascinating to hear more about efficiencies the plant has but in place, including in their paint shop, reducing CO2 emissions.
Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
I have continued to press for a ceasefire in Gaza, calling on the Conservative government to push the Israeli government to end the besiege and blockade of Gaza.
Earlier this month, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter for a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, as the escalating crisis continues to result in an unconscionable loss of life. Alongside Sarah Owen MP, I have written to the Foreign Secretary, urging him to heed the warnings of the UN Secretary-General, and to join the international community, faith leaders, and humanitarian experts in calling for an immediate and lasting ceasefire.
I also spoke in the petitions committee debate on Israel and Palestine. The debate covered three parliamentary petitions, totalling over 600,000 signatures, including over 3,000 in Luton South. In the debate, I repeated my calls for a ceasefire on all sides.
There remains a desperate need for a permanent ceasefire, a significant increase in humanitarian and medical aid, the return of hostages, and a renewed political effort on all sides to come to an enduring resolution for peace.
APPG Ethnicity and Transplantation Report Launch
It was great to attend the APPG on Ethnicity Transplantation and Transfusion’s launch of the vital report, ‘Where are our Nation’s Donors’. The report highlights the inequity faced by mixed heritage and ethnic minority patients in the UK, and included research by Professor of Diversity in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire, Professor Gurch Randhawa.
To register as a life-saving donor, or find out more, visit: https://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/how-you-can-help/donate/
UK Food Security
I pressed the government on our UK food security. Growing, harvesting and eating domestic produce ensures greater food security and reduces reliance on food imports.
However, on my recent visit with the National Farmers’ Union to a local farm, they raised with me their concerns about access to labour and issues with the Seasonal Worker Scheme, which is currently only guaranteed until 2024. Our farming businesses need certainty to support their business planning.
The Government must work with the National Farmers’ Union to improve the Seasonal Worker scheme. Watch my question here.
Speaking in the Islamophobia debate
Earlier this month, I took part in a timely debate on Islamophobia. Islamophobia is far too prevalent in our society.
In Luton, diversity is our strength. We have a history of opposing those seeking to sow division and spread racism. I spoke about this in my speech below.
Are you having issues with Royal Mail deliveries?
This week, I met with residents in Caddington where many people have contacted me about issues with their Royal Mail deliveries, including frequency and delays in receiving time sensitive post. It was useful to hear about issues people are experiencing with Royal Mail, despite postal workers’ best efforts to provide a good service.
If this is an issue that has affected you in your area, I would like to hear from you. Please email me with the details, including your address, at email@example.com.
Bedfordshire Police Christmas Service
I was delighted to attend the Bedfordshire Police Christmas Service, alongside Sarah Owen MP, Alistair Strathern MP, and Mayor of Luton, Councillor Yaqub Hanif. The service was full of hope and peace as we reflected on the difficulties people are facing both here and around the world.
At the service, we gave thanks to all police officers for their service, especially over the festive period.