This is my final newsletter for 2023 and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Back in January I wrote to you about my concerns for the winter – the cost-of-living crisis, abysmal NHS waiting times and a Government without a handle on how to turn things around. I’m sad to see these issues are still prevalent and we still have the incompetent Tories in power.
We’ve seen devasting events internationally, whilst nationally further costs have been sunk into the hairbrained and immoral scheme to send asylum seekers to Rwanda (all the while criminal gangs continue without consequence to risk lives on boats across the channel) and schools closed due to a complete lack of action on RAAC, to name but two disasters for the Conservatives.
However, it has not been a year without hope, with Labour winning more seats in the local elections back in May and I was heartened to see the support given in Mid Beds for a brilliantly successful by election for the Labour Party. Congratulations again to Alistair Strathern and all those who campaigned with him.
My hopes for the year ahead are to see a lasting solution to peace to be found in Israel and Gaza, peace in Ukraine and all areas of conflict and for a General Election bringing in a Labour party to restore pride and purpose in our country.
Mohammad Yasin MP
Constituents get in touch
Stop UK arms sales to Israel
- Stop UK arms sales to Israel
- Puppy smuggling
- School funding
Since my last newsletter my office has opened 594 cases, 129 of which are casework and the remaining 465 relating to campaign and policy.
Constituents rightly continue to raise the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza calling on the UK to suspend arms sales to Israel and to call for an immediate permanent ceasefire. I continue to support these calls and you can read more about my actions on this issue in the Westminster section of this report.
Bedford and Kempston’s love for animals continues to shine through, calling for action to tackle the scourge that is puppy smuggling. I want to see action to protect dogs from abhorrent criminal activities such as puppy smuggling and ear cropping. I believe there should be strict limits on the number of animals being brought into the country in non-commercial vehicles as well as a six-month age limit for those being imported.School funding is an issue that needs desperate attention. With residents, parents and teachers regularly raising their concerns about the Government’s lack of funding for our schools. Teachers are overworked, overstretched and undervalued. They do an incredible job but there are simply not enough of them, with the Government continuing to miss its own recruitment targets and almost a third leaving the profession within five years. I will continue to stand up for our schools calling for the funding they need to give students the best chance in life.
In the constituency
It’s certainly beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Bedford and Kempston! I’ve had the pleasure of attending a number of carol services and Christmas fairs across the constituency, including the Church of the Transfiguration in Kempston and Ridgway School. I attended the Christmas Tree festival at St Paul’s church last week, a visit to London Methodist Church, and a wonderful civic carol service at St Mark’s Church.
Of course, I haven’t just been getting into the Christmas spirit, and since my last report I’ve visited some vital services based in the constituency and held meetings with concerned constituents and businesses.
It was USDAW Union’s respect for shop workers week recently, highlighting the abuse shop workers receive, often with too little support, and I spoke to staff at the Church Lane Co-Op and the Cardington Road Tesco. They told me of their personal experiences and the unacceptable verbal abuse they have sadly received. We also spoke about wider issues such as regular shop-lifting, again with little follow up action being taken to arrest regular perpetrators. They deserve respect in their work at the heart of our communities.
I visited the Jobs 22 site in Bedford which supports people to return to work by providing clients access to wraparound services, working closely with employment coaches as well as health and education specialists as they search for a role that suits them in the local community. It’s important that when we talk about unemployment, we consider the causes preventing many people who want to work from being able to do so. Jobs 22 offer a holistic approach and have supported 22,000 people back into the workplace.
I joined The Bedfordshire Road Safety Partnership to pay my respects on the World Day of Remembrance to all those who have lost their lives on the road globally. Whilst there I spoke with the Road Victims Trust who provide invaluable emotional and practical support to all those that are affected the the tragedy of a road death. Road safety has come a long way but every life lost on the road is one too many and I will continue to call on the Government improve the safety of our roads.
I attended a bespoke jobs fair at Bedford Job Centre Plus as part of Older Workers Week. Local employers were there offering jobs and training opportunities for those aged 50 plus. Job Centre Plus staff were really welcoming and it was a pleasure to attend and discuss the scheme.
I then visited the Patronato Acli where I met the Honorary Consul of Italy, Giuseppe Di Stefano and heard about the important welfare and support work they do around pensions and other matters.
It was a pleasure to open the Community Media Hub on St Mary’s Street. Wellbeing Media Studio and Bedford Radio have teamed up to provide this hub which will give a voice to local issues and allow people to build media and public speaking confidence. I wish them well and it’s fantastic to see more local opportunities being created.
I met with residents of Adelaide Square with Councillor Zara Layne to discuss issues in and around Bedford Prison. It’s always useful to hear from residents about their experiences and to get their local knowledge. Combined with news of HMP Bedford being granted another ‘Urgent Notification’, it is important I have a depth of knowledge of the issues at the prison and how this impacts local residents as well as prisoners and staff.
I met with Emma Bolton, Head Teacher of Queen’s Park Academy, to discuss issues around school attendance with too many children missing valuable school time due to holidays being taken during term time. It’s clear that the fine system isn’t working and that more action is needed to dissuade unauthorised absences during term time.
I appreciate there are financial issues, especially given the cost-of-living crisis, that prevent families going on holiday during the school holidays and the offers during term times can be tempting, but the damage of missed schooling can be significant. I would urge families to prioritise their children’s education.
I was honoured to attend two flag raising days recently, the first for Romanian Great Union Day, which involved fun celebrations in Harpur Square with food stalls, performances of traditional Romanian dance Hora Unirii, music, and an exhibition in the Harpur Suite. The second was the Kenyan Community Bedford’s event for Kenyan Independence Day. The Kenyan flag was raised outside Bedford town hall, and I was invited to say a few words.
I attended a Palestine Children in Need event at Biddenham Pavilion, which saw a huge turnout despite the bad weather, where funds were raised to help the children in Gaza who are hugely suffering as a result of conflict.
This month I’ve had the pleasure of visiting two crucial operations centres within our wider healthcare system. Firstly, I met with the Chair and Operations Managers of the East of England Ambulance Service at Bedford Emergency Operations Centre, which is one of the service’s incoming 999 call-centres. I spoke with senior management about the challenges facing the ambulance service, particularly handover waiting times once patients are brought to hospital. It was sobering to hear that paramedics can sometimes spend an entire shift waiting outside with a patient in an ambulance before they are admitted. It was made clear in my conversation with senior staff, that urgent reform and expansion of our primary care system is essential to alleviate this bottleneck. I am very grateful to the frontline staff who let me listen in on a few calls and see first-hand the critical role they do for the public.
I also visited the NHS 111 Contact Centre on Ampthill Road, where I met with the CEO, Senior Management, and Social Media Executive. It was very informative to hear about how calls are triaged, and again I was fortunate to be able to listen in on a few. A recurring theme was patient access to GP surgeries. The frontline staff I spoke to told me that incoming calls double, if not triple, when GP surgeries close for the weekend. Whilst NHS 111 staff do invaluable work for the public, I am concerned that many patients feel unable to access primary care in the first instance. I want to see a return of the family doctor, an end to the 8am scramble for appointments, and patients being given a real choice. Training staff takes time, so as well as doing more to keep the brilliant staff we have, I support creating more front doors into the NHS, moving more care into communities, expanding the role of community pharmacies, and cutting unnecessary red tape that delays patient care and wastes GP time.
I attended the opening of the British Pakistani Welfare Association’s office on Honey Hill Road. This organisation promotes cultural integration, educational opportunities, and addresses the unique needs of the British Pakistani community. For example, they offer guidance and support with housing, immigration, employment, and social welfare and mental health.
For the final time, I met with the current Bedford Youth Parliament members. It has been fascinating and useful to hear the political priorities and experiences of young people in the constituency. They have each now completed their time on the Youth Parliament and applications are open for 11-18 year olds in Bedford Borough who wish to become candidates for the next election, with voting due to take place over February 2024. More info can be read here
Last week I attended the celebration event for Ian Pryce CBE for his service to Bedford as the CEO of the Bedford College Group. Having been CEO for over 25 years there is no doubt that Ian has made his mark on Bedford and has helped to improve the lives of so many students over the years.
Despite the Government whipping Tory MPs to vote against Labour’s Dame Diana Johnson’s amendment (of which I was a named supporter) to speed up payments to victims and families of the infected blood scandal, we won the Commons vote by 246 votes to 242 last night. It was a humiliating defeat for Prime Minister Sunak who tried to deny justice to the victims of the scandal.
Parliamentary events and drop-ins:
Nov 30 – Attended event to mark 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence
Dec 6 – APPG for the Prevention of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity drop-in session ahead of a debate marking the 75th anniversary of the Genocide Convention.
Dec 13 – I showed my support for research funding for Lobular Breast Cancer
Nov 27 – Called on Foreign Office Minister, Andrew Mitchell to support an urgent ceasefire in Gaza.
Nov 29 – PMQ: I asked a question on behalf of the Sikh community in Bedford and Kempston who have raised their concerns with me about their safety following a reported assassination in Canada and an assassination attempt in the US of Sikh activists reportedly by the Indian Government.
Nov 30 – Business and Trade: I challenged the Minister on the status of the tradeshow programme pilot – which was promised as an important, improved gateway for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to access new markets.
Dec 4 – DLUHC: Arising from casework raised by Councillor Valentine, I asked the Secretary of Estate for Levelling Up and Housing about what the Government was doing about estate rental charges.
Dec 4 – Urgent Question: Asked the Minister of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs if he agreed with me that the supply of arms to the Israeli government must be suspended given that serious violations amounting to crimes under international law are being committed.
Dec 5 – Health and Social Care: Addressing challenges faced by GP practices and community health services in Bedford and Kempston, I asked the Minister for health if she would apologise to my constituents because her government has failed them on access to timely health care.
Dec 13 – Women and Equalities: I raised the issue of the role gender plays in the misdiagnosis and underdiagnoses of conditions such as ADHD and autism for women and girls. A wrong diagnosis leads to vital support not being put in place and it’s important that this is addressed.
“To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how she plans to measure the effectiveness of the SEND change programme.”
Nov 30: After the recent issuing of an Urgent Notification by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons against HMP Bedford, I was pleased to lead an adjournment debate on the issue of conditions at Bedford Prison. These debates are held at the end of the day’s business and usually involve the MP that applied for the debate with the appropriate government Minister responding.
The new Prison’s minister, Edward Argar heard my concerns following a recent inspection which found volence at the prison was the worst in the country.
Dec 13: I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate calling for a suspension of arms export licences for sales to Israel.
A number of my constituents have written to me to ask me to speak in this debate and have asked me to use my influence to stop UK arms and military equipment being exported to Israel because there is a high risk it may be used to facilitate or commit serious violations of international law, including war crimes.
It’s the second time in 5 years HMP Bedford has been found to be in this state so I wanted to know what the Government was going to do differently this time to improve conditions for prisoners and staff.
Nov 24: Named supporter of Dame Diana Johnson’s amendment to speed up payments to victims and families of the infected blood scandal. Despite the Government whipping Tory MPs to vote the amendment, we won the Commons vote by 246 votes to 242.
Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Dec 5 :
1.) Why are satisfaction levels among shared owners so low, relative to other types of tenants, and how can these be improved?
2.) How can Government support providers to mitigate the impacts the 10-year repairs period may have on service delivery?
3.) What can be done to prevent providers passing on service charges to family members who have inherited shares in shared ownership properties?
At the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Select Committee we questioned the Secretary of State Michael Gove MP. I asked questions around the Renters Reform Bill, namely:
1.) How will the Renters (Reform) Bill ensure that tenants are not victims of ‘backdoor’ evictions via unreasonable rent increases?
2.) When will you provide us with a timetable for the abolition of Section 21?
3.) Turning to another part of the Bill, it is my understanding from a written response from your Department that the requirement for local authorities to consider pets will only apply to temporary and not emergency accommodation. Is this the case and if so why has emergency accommodation been excluded?
Nov 27: Evidence session on fire safety where Paul Morrell OBE and Anneliese Day KC who co-authored the Independent Review of the Construction Products Testing Regime were questionned.
Early Day Motions (EDM):
Jon Trickett (Hemsworth)
That this House expresses its dismay at the number of children in poverty in the UK; believes that as the UK is one of the richest countries in the world, it is shocking that 29% of children in our country are living in poverty, with 71% of children growing up in poverty living in a household where at least one person works; notes the recent UNICEF report which found that child poverty levels in the UK were the worst among the world’s richest nations and have increased faster than all other rich nations; highlights that child poverty has increased because of the huge programme of public service cuts enacted since 2010, the current cost of living crisis and policies such as the two-child limit on claiming welfare benefits; and calls on the Government to tackle child poverty by first extending the two child limit and also by restructuring our economy to deliver for working families and children.
Jon Trickett (Hemsworth)
That this House expresses its deep concerns about the future of local government funding and the cuts which have been imposed on local authorities by the Government, which on average amount to a 40% decrease in funding; highlights the comments made by some council leaders who have expressed their concerns about how difficult the financial situation could get, particularly those of Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery who has said Wakefield could face financial hardship by 2027 without better investment; notes the SIGOMA report which showed that the most deprived council areas have seen three times the cuts at the richest; and urgently calls on the Government to properly fund and invest in local government.
Margaret Greenwood (Wirral West)
That this House recognises that poor literacy skills and illiteracy can consign adults to insecure and low-paid work, lead to poverty and isolation and leave them vulnerable to exploitation; further recognises that people who struggle to read and write can face difficulty in accessing housing, social security, health and care services, education, skills, training and job opportunities, supporting their own children’s educational development and in staying in touch with friends and family; notes that literacy is invaluable in enabling people to communicate with each other and engage with the world around them; expresses concern that the National Literacy Trust estimates 7.1 million adults in England, 16.4% of the adult population, have very poor literacy skills, 931,000 adults in Scotland, 26.7%, experience challenges due to their lack of literacy skills, 216,000 adults in Wales, 12%, lack basic literacy skills and 256,000 adults in Northern Ireland, 17.4%, have very poor literacy skills; believes that these figures amount to a crisis in adult literacy across the UK and that this needs attention as a matter of urgency if we are to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential and if we are to address the economic challenges our country faces; and further believes it is vital that adults who struggle with reading and writing get the support that they need.
Raising awareness of Rett syndrome
Daisy Cooper (St Albans)
That this House recognises Rett Syndrome Awareness Month from 1 to 30 October; notes its importance for raising awareness of the rare genetic disorder as the second most common cause of severe disability in women and girls; commends the charitable organisation Rett UK, for their outstanding work in providing information, support and advocacy services for people impacted by the condition across the UK; and recognises the importance of their campaign this Rett Syndrome Awareness Month to inform, educate and engage people who can help improve the lives of people living with Rett Syndrome and their families.
Household Support Fund
Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton, Kemptown)
That this House calls on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to extend the Household Support Fund beyond March 2024 in his next Budget; notes that the removal of the fund will have the largest impact on the most vulnerable members of society including those most affected by inflation; further notes that increasing pressure on councils’ budgets may result in critical food and energy help infrastructure being dismantled; and further calls on the UK government to ensure that sufficient funding be made available to county councils and unitary authorities.
Arms to Israel
Chris Law (Dundee West)
That this House notes with deep concern that UK-made military equipment and technology is being used by Israel, including in its most recent bombardment of the occupied Gaza Strip which has resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries; expresses alarm at reports by the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and others of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law by Israel, including apparently unlawful attacks that may amount to war crimes; further notes that Israel uses military technology and weaponry, including surveillance technology, in the broader repression of Palestinians across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory; is therefore alarmed by the granting of and continuation of extant UK licences for export to the Israeli military of arms and arms components including for aircrafts, helicopters, drones, missiles, military technology, armoured vehicles, tanks, ammunition, and small arms; reminds the Government that under international and domestic law, the UK is required to prevent the transfer of military equipment where there is a clear or overriding risk that such exports might be used to commit or facilitate a serious violation of international humanitarian law or international human rights law, as affirmed by Articles 6 and 7 of the Arms Trade Treaty, and criteria one and two of the UK’s Strategic Export Licensing Criteria; and therefore calls for the Government to immediately halt all transfers of military equipment and technology, including components, to Israel, and to suspend the issuing of new licences.
Funding domestic abuse services
Apsana Begum (Poplar and Limehouse)
That this House notes that domestic abuse has wide ranging effects, including mental, emotional, physical, social and financial, on all areas of life for the individual survivor and those around them; recognises that community-based domestic abuse services provide holistic, specialist support to women and children experiencing domestic abuse on both a short and long-term basis; further recognises that access to support at all stages – whether still living with the abuser, planning to flee, or having already left to rebuild their lives – is absolutely critical; is alarmed that many such services are chronically underfunded and working to short-term contracts, creating a postcode lottery of provision across the country; and calls on the Government to ensure that domestic abuse services, including specialist services for disabled, LGBTQ+ and Black and Asian survivors, are properly funded so that every survivor can access the support they need.
Clothing poverty awareness
Apsana Begum (Poplar and Limehouse)
That this House notes with concern that rising numbers of people are unable to afford adequate clothing in the United Kingdom, that the demand for clothing banks has increased dramatically and is particularly acute during winter months and that even despite the best efforts of clothing banks clothing deprivation is an hidden aspect of poverty in the United Kingdom; further notes that whilst other deprivations, notably food deprivations, are highly publicised and visible in the United Kingdom’s public consciousness the same is not true of clothing deprivation; acknowledges that through its voluntarily ratification of a range of treaties the United Kingdom has recognised and assumed obligations in international law to work towards the realisation of the right to adequate clothing; recognises the right to adequate clothing; calls on the Government to acknowledge the growing issue of clothing deprivation; further calls on the Government to publish a clothing strategy to ensure that nobody is excluded from accessing adequate clothing as well as address concerns regarding the environmental damage caused by fast fashion and the exploitation faced by garment workers in this country and in global supply chains; and also calls on the the Government to begin work towards addressing these issues through policy and law.
Sewage discharges by United Utilities
Tony Lloyd (Rochdale)
That this House condemns the regular and large-scale dumping of sewage by United Utilities across the North West of England; notes that recent Freedom of Information requests show that since 2018 raw sewage has been pumped into the North West’s natural environment for a total of 2,219,418 hours; highlights that in 2021 United Utilities recorded the highest number of sewage spillages in English rivers of any water company; believes that United Utilities clearly needs to act to greatly reduce its level of sewage-dumping; is concerned by the suggestion by United Utilities that they will increase customers’ bills as part of a plan to reduce sewage-dumping; and calls on United Utilities to first look to raise any funds required to reduce sewage-dumping by cutting expenditures such as the more than £300 million paid as dividends to shareholders earlier this year.
Sir Greg Knight (East Yorkshire)
That this House is concerned that sky lanterns, also known as Chinese lanterns, continue to pose a serious fire safety hazard due to their uncontrolled and unpredictable flight paths, and are dangerous to livestock, wildlife, crops and the environment; notes that these hazards are exacerbated in rural areas in summer; further notes that the voluntary code on their use is not being universally respected; and calls on the Government to introduce an outright ban on flame-powered sky lanterns.
Migrants and domestic abuse
Apsana Begum (Poplar and Limehouse)
That this House notes that domestic abuse can have profound long-term effects on survivors and is concerned that it is very difficult to speak out about domestic abuse and often those that do are subject to further silencing tactics; is concerned that police forces potentially sharing migrant data with Immigration Enforcement could prevent migrants experiencing domestic abuse from reporting to the police and others due to the fear that they will be treated as an offender themselves and face potential criminalisation, detention and deportation; is further concerned that many migrants experiencing domestic abuse are left without support due to the No Recourse to Public Funds policy; believes that everyone experiencing domestic abuse must feel able to report abuse and access justice and safety, and that perpetrators should not be allowed evade justice by using immigration status in order to silence, abuse and control; and calls on the Government to introduce a firewall between all public services and the Home Office and to scrap the No Recourse to Public Funds policy.
BBC investigative journalism
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington)
That this House deplores the announcement by the BBC that more than half the jobs on flagship weekday evening programme Newsnight will be lost as part of the latest misguided Digital First savings strategy; regrets that Newsnight will no longer screen investigative reporting and will be truncated to just thirty minutes; is further concerned by proposed reductions to the budget of Panaroma; welcomes investment into the creation of digital news content but remains deeply sceptical of claims that this will compensate for cuts to flagship investigative news programmes; and calls on BBC management to work constructively with the National Union of Journalists to avoid compulsory redundancies and retain the key skills and expertise of its investigative journalists.
60th anniversary of Dr Who
Kate Osborne (Jarrow)
That this House congratulates Dr Who on reaching its 60th anniversary; welcomes the inclusive and diverse nature of the 60th anniversary episode; notes the long history of Doctor Who breaking barriers in inclusion in gender and diversity including the recent positive representation of trans people; further notes the pleasure and enjoyment that it has brought to many generations of fans; and highlights that the BBC is truly providing its licence payers with the best of the BBC in this programming.
70 years of Panorama
Jim Shannon (Strangford)
That this House celebrates 70 years of Panorama, that first appeared on screens on 11 November 1953; highlights how loved the programme is and the light it sheds on some of the world’s most talked about events, including crime, international affairs, health, politics and social matters; notes the exploration of complex stories which appeals to millions of watchers across the UK and further afield; thanks the producers for their work in creating such an interesting, much loved series; and wishes the programme many more years of success.
Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion)
That this House notes that COP28 in Dubai marks a critical moment in efforts to secure a liveable future; expresses profound alarm that, according to the UN, governments plan to produce double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030 than is consistent with limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees and that current pledges under the Paris Agreement would lead to a 2.5-2.9°C temperature rise this century; welcomes the Prime Minister’s attendance at COP28 in person and calls on him to work with other leaders to deliver an agreement on the urgent and just phase-out of all fossil fuels in recognition of the end of the fossil fuel era; calls on the UK to back an ambitious political deal in response to the Global Stocktake; further notes the damaging impact of the delayed delivery of the $100bn climate finance pledge and the UK’s changes to its climate finance definitions on trust between countries and efforts to achieve the Paris Agreement goals; urges the Government to deliver its existing climate finance commitments in full, ensure funding is new and additional and support efforts to increase climate finance at COP28, laying the ground work for agreement of the New Collective Quantified Goal; notes that the full operationalisation of a properly resourced Loss and Damage Finance Fund will be the litmus test of success at COP28; and further urges the UK to support this goal and to contribute by providing grant-based funds which are additional to existing ODA and climate finance commitments.
Sporting ambitions of children on dependent visas
Daisy Cooper (St Albans)
That this House notes that some people who are legally residing in the United Kingdom have children attached to their dependent visas who are extremely talented at sports; expresses extreme disappointment at the refusal of the Home Office to establish a route for these talented children on dependent visas to enter a professional sporting environment to further their career; regrets that children who have entered the UK dependants are precluded from pursuing a professional sporting career; and calls on the Government to engage with the Professional Footballers Association, football clubs and other sporting bodies that want to nurture the sporting talent of these young people.
Nuclear test veterans
Daisy Cooper (St Albans)
That this House acknowledges the treatment of nuclear test veterans in the UK; notes their continuing battle for justice and recognition for their role; further notes with disappointment the delays in issuing of medals to these veterans; further acknowledges their ongoing anger and frustration; affirms the nation’s duty of care to this group of people; applauds the work of Labrats International, a campaigning group for descendants of atomic testing programs across the world; and calls on the Government to fully support these veterans and their families.
– Free school meals
Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton, Kemptown)
That this House notes that free school meals ensure millions of children get a hot and healthy meal each day; is concerned that children whose families meet financial eligibility requirements, but receive their education other than at school, do not benefit from these meals; congratulates both Brighton and Hove City Council and East Sussex County Council for their work to guarantee equity of access for all eligible families; and calls on the Government to provide clearer guidance and, if necessary, additional funding to ensure that no child in education goes hungry during the school day.
HALO Trust mine clearance record
Fabian Hamilton (Leeds North East)
That this House pays tribute to the HALO Trust on successfully clearing two million mines since its establishment in 1988; commends the staff, past and present, who have contributed to this remarkable milestone; notes that the HALO Trust is one of just two British mine clearance organisations; notes that the HALO Trust has cleared landmines in 29 countries, saved an estimated two million lives and enabled over ten million people to have safer access to schools, health clinics and farming land; reiterates our commitment to clearing landmines which continue to endanger lives around the world; and expresses our gratitude to the HALO Trust for its remarkable work in conflict affected countries in making communities safer and more prosperous.