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April 24 Newsletter

Dear Constituent,

I’m delighted with today’s fantastic news that we now have a Labour Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire.

Congratulations to John Tizard, who stood on a platform for real change for policing, only reinforced on the doorstep by countless residents of Bedfordshire who certainly couldn’t say they felt safer and more protected by the police now than they did 14 years ago.

I wish him and his deputy Umme Ali all the best and I know they will both do a fantastic job.

In polling booths around the country, voters have sent clear messages of disappointment and dissatisfaction in the Tories combined with hope for a future Labour Government and all eyes are now on the General Election.

We can make a real difference to crime and policing with a Labour PCC and a Labour Government, who are the only option to restore our public services and make Britain once again a place to be proud to live.

Yours sincerely,

Mohammad Yasin MP

Constituents get in touch

In summary:

  • Pensions
  • Assisted dying
  • Gaza

Since my last newsletter my office has opened 587 cases, 185 of which are casework and the remaining 402 relating to campaign and policy.

This month, domestic issues have dominated the campaigns and policy enquiries.

Constituents have contacted me about the fur trade, animal testing, wildlife crime and wider animal welfare issues.

Pension poverty and the WASPI cause also featured heavily, as did matters relating to the ongoing cost of living crisis.

I received multiple emails about assisted dying with many constituents sharing personal accounts around an incredibly sensitive topic.

Internationally, Gaza remains a key concern for many people in Bedford and Kempston. People continue to raise humanitarian fears and further call for a ban on the UK arms trade with Israel.

In the constituency

In April, I had local meetings with:
The National Farmers Union (NFU) for a wide ranging discussion including on: food security, supporting small farmers, the importance of minimising the impact from farming on water quality, and animal welfare.

The Dental Care Centre in Bedford to meet with representatives from Community Dental Services CIC. I was given a tour of the clinics and the Training Centre which CDS is opening to provide training for the whole dental team and talked with the clinical teams working at the DCC, viewed the mobile dental fleet and heard about the work CDS has done to bring preventative care to local under 5s who had not previously seen a dentist.

Events around the constituency I’ve had the pleasure of attending, include:
Universal Studios public engagement event where we were given a sense of what the ‘Universal experience’ might look like for visitors. As well as rides and attractions, there was an emphasis on investing in local infrastructure and the wider community. Indeed, this project would bring thousands of new local jobs, and be a huge boost to Bedford & Kempston’s economies. 

Coffee mornings at The Limes and Warwick House coffee mornings to hear about their concerns both nationally and locally and to answer questions.

I addressed the congregation at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara as part of their Vaisakhi celebrations. I hope our Sikh community across Bedford and Kempston enjoyed their celebrations.

The Bella Ciao workshop hosted by Scott Primary School, where Valentina Ciardelli led a session on recital and composition. Children from multiple schools attended. With Bedford’s rich history, it’s lovely to see Italian culture being shared in our schools as part of the wider festival bringing a rich programme of events to Bedford.

Sri Lanka’s new year celebrations, where it was a privilege to be joined by His Excellency Rohitha Bogollagama (High Commissioner of Sri Lanka).

The Scouts St. George’s Day Parade in Bedford town centre, always a great community event.

The Bedford Independent Everyday Heroes Awards, which recognises and highlights the work of Bedfordians over the last year, who otherwise often go unrecognised whilst contributing so much. Of course, there aren’t enough awards to recognise everyone that makes Bedford and Kempston special but congratulations to all the winners and nominees this year.

The Bedford Marston Kerala Association (BMKA) Easter and Vishu celebrations. We were honoured to be joined by Peter Cheranelloor, a prestigious singer and music director for this enjoyable event.

In Westminster

Turning to Parliament –

Israel Gaza conflict
I continue to raise questions whenever possible about the Israel Gaza conflict. I asked about the suspension of arms to Israel. Four former UK Supreme Court judges and more than six hundred lawyers, including over 60 KCs, have warned the Prime Minister that the UK risks breaking international law relating to a plausible risk of genocide in Gaza if it does not stop its weapons exports to Israel. I asked why the Prime Minster why he was not heeding the warnings and urged his Government to publish its own legal advice on this matter.
In Foreign Office questions this week I raised my concerns about the Humanitarian crisis in Gaza and urged the Government to reinstate funding to UNWRA. The Colonna review was given no evidence to back up claims by the Israeli Government that UNRWA staff were involved in the 7 October attacks. Other countries have already restored funding to the aid agency, so it can continue its work feeding tens of thousands of people who are starving in Gaza, including innocent babies who are dying without milk. I asked the Deputy Foreign Secretary to commit to refunding or continue to risk UK complicity in using famine as a weapon of war.

Net zero targets
This month I also raised questions on net zero targets for business and investors.
Eight in ten of the large energy companies recently surveyed by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association agreed that the UK is falling behind in the race to become the most investable market for low-carbon technologies. In Energy and Net Zero questions I asked the Minister what steps the Minister would take to reassure the clean energy industry that the UK is serious about the transition to net zero, which must include moving away from a commitment to max out oil and gas production.

Rwanda Deportation Bill
Despite the valiant attempts of Tory, Labour and crossbench peers to amend and improve the controversial Rwanda deportation Bill passed through Parliament this month.

The Lords tried to get the Government to exempt Afghans who had helped UK in the war. And the final amendment was over having an independent monitoring committee to determine whether Rwanda is safe. Both were lost in the end as the Lords which has a Tory majority conceded that they must now acknowledge the primacy of the elected house of Commons.

For those of us who were against this Bill, it was never about party politics but about decency and the fundamental importance of the rule of law.
It’s a sad day when Parliament has effectively overturned the judgement last year of the UK’s most senior judges in the UK Supreme Court that determined Rwanda was not a safe country.

The removal of judicial scrutiny by the executive should send chills down the spine – it reminds me of the days of the unlawful proroguing of Parliament – again to force controversial and potentially illegal legislation through that has brought no good to our country.

A few symbolic flights to try to win votes in the General Election is not going to tackle the asylum backlog that has soared under the Conservatives.
Their failing Rwanda scheme will only cover less than 1% of asylum seekers arriving in the UK. The Tories have no plan for the 99%.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign
It was great to see constituents down from Bedford as part of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign which coordinated a national lobby of parliament.

The Renters Reform Bill completed its passage in the Commons and is now in the Lords. Although I welcomed the introduction of this long overdue Bill, it is not fit for purpose. It contains numerous defects, deficiencies, omissions and loopholes that would allow the minority of disreputable landlords to exploit tenants and jeopardise their security of tenure. The Tories have watered down the Bill in response to the vast vested interests of the many Tory landlords and have reneged on their promise to ban no fault evictions.

I want to see measures to fix the housing market, delivering the biggest boost to affordable, social, and council housing for a generation. This includes restoring local housing targets and reconsidering planning rules to build 1.5 million homes within a five-year period. We need to fundamentally reform the private rented sector to tilt the balance of power towards renters and make renting fairer, more secure, and more affordable.

Tobacco and Vapes Bill
I voted in favour of banning anyone born after 2009 from buying cigarettes as the Second Reading of the Tobacco and Vapes Bill was voted on in the Commons this month. It passed by 383 votes to 67.

Smoking is the single biggest entirely preventable cause of ill-health, disability and death. It leads to 80,000 deaths a year in the UK, and is responsible for 1 in 4 cancer deaths, and over 70% of lung cancer cases. Smokers lose an average of ten years of life expectancy.

I don’t know anyone who smokes who wishes they had started or who want their children to become addicted to nicotine. It may be difficult to enforce, and I know some worry about freedoms – but these are not good enough reasons not to take steps to protect the health and wellbeing of future generations from taking up a habit which can only bring harm.

Select Committees

The Education Committee held a one-off session on the way Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) is administered under a newly reformed system that has been subcontracted to Capita and Study Tech Ltd. The DFE has put out a call for evidence on improving DSA which closes on 3 July 2024. We also continued our inquiry into children’s social care. I asked questions around adoption as part of a line of questioning around the different forms of care and placements that children may experience within the care system, mainly fostering, adoption and kinship care. We also heard about how the cost-of-living crisis has impacted on the numbers of people adopting, with 2023 seeing the lowest take up for over a decade.

The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Committee concluded the public evidence sessions for its inquiry on the Office for Local Government (Oflog) with questions to Simon Hoare MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Local Government. We learned that there are no measures for success such as key performance indicators so the committee were interested in how Oflog would measure whether it has fulfilled its objectives. I asked about the Oflog early warning system which aims to identify local authorities at risk of serious failure who have not already raised the alarm themselves.

Labour Party
Labour made a number of announcements this month as the prospect of a General Election gets closer. I was particularly pleased with the pledge to reform and improve bus services.

We pledged to allow every community across the country to take back control of local bus services by speeding up franchising, offering greater flexibility over funding, including support for public ownership and safeguarding vital routes.

Labour also announced its plans to create Great British Railways to get our trains back on track. Under Labour our railways will be Publicly owned and passenger focused. Labour has committed to best-price ticket guarantee, to eliminate waste and to establish a powerful new passenger watchdog.

Labour confirmed its plans to turnaround the decline of high streets. Like many towns across the country, Bedford has lost household name retail stores and banks in recent years leaving our town centres looking rundown and attracting anti-social behaviour.
Labour has pledged to restore neighbourhood police & PCSOs, install face-to-face banking in every community, replace business rates, stamp out late payments and revamp empty shops, pubs & community spaces.

Newly elected Labour Police and Crime Commissioner for Bedfordshire John Tizard has pledged to restore community policing  in line with Labour’s pledge to put 13,000 more police and PCSOs on the beat, including a named officer to lead on tackling anti-social behaviour in our community.

After 14 years of Tory Government, over 90% of crimes are now going unsolved meaning that criminals are less than half as likely to be caught now compared to the last Labour government.

Labour will crack down on anti-social behaviour through tough new Respect Orders with criminal sanctions for persistent anti-social behaviour.

We will protect retail workers by ensuring shop thefts under £200 are thoroughly investigated and dealt with and enforce a new criminal offence of assaulting a retail worker.

Labour also confirmed we would protect the triple lock on pensions in the first term of a Labour Government.

Lastly…

I signed EDM’s calling for the water companies to be brought back into public ownership, for rent controls and an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health highlighting the shocking treatment that people affected by eating disorders are facing where people with eating disorders being marked as untreatable and sent down the palliative care route. I supported applications for Backbench Business Debates on Freehold: Estate Management Fees and UK arms export licences to Israel, both of which have been granted.

A number of constituents came down to Westminster for a tour or to watch PMQs. A handful came down for the Palestine Solidarity lobby of Parliament. My constituents know I have already called for a ceasefire, for funding to be restored to UNRWA and for arms to Israel to be suspended while the ICJ investigates the “plausible case” that the Israeli army has not protected Palestinians from acts that violate the Geneva Convention on genocide.

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