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February 24 Newsletter

Dear Constituent,

As you all know, I voted in Parliament for a ceasefire back in October and I had planned to vote for both the Labour amendment and the SNP motion.

You’ll have seen or heard about it not quite going as expected but overriding all the noise about parliamentary procedure and political shenanigans, the important thing to say is that in the end, there were no votes and Labour’s amendment passed unopposed meaning Parliament now supports:

  • An immediate humanitarian ceasefire 
  • No attacks on Rafah
  • Full humanitarian aid to Gaza
  • Return of all hostages
  • Recognition of the intolerable loss of Palestinian life
  • Recognition of a Palestinian State
  • Urging Israel to comply with the ICJ provisional measures
  • Delivering the peace of a two-state solution


Yours sincerely,

Mohammad Yasin MP

Constituents get in touch

In summary:

  • Gaza
  • Universal Studios
  • Horizon Scandal

Since my last newsletter my office has opened 736 cases, 159 of which are casework and the remaining 577 relating to campaign and policy.

This month, almost half of our campaign and policy cases concern the situation in Gaza. It is evident that many of my constituents feel strongly about this conflict, and the correspondence that I have received so far is overwhelmingly in favour of an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

Constituents have written to me about the recent SNP ceasefire motion, the International Court of Justice’ interim ruling, UK arms trade with Israel, and the Overseas Matters Bill (or “anti-boycott bill”). I have set out my stance on each of these interrelated issues and the wider conflict in my responses, and I continue to welcome correspondence on this important issue from my constituents. I cannot in good conscience call for anything less than an end to the suffering.

On more local issues, my office has seen an uptick in constituents getting in touch about the potential Universal Studios development in Bedfordshire. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for our county, and the economic impact on Bedford and Kempston would be transformative. Constituents who own small construction businesses have already asked me how they can get involved, and I will continue to make my support for the potential project known during my monthly meeting with Universal executives.

Lastly, constituents have been writing to me about the Horizon scandal. There is a justified depth of public anger over the scale of this injustice. People lost their lives, their liberty and their livelihood, and they have been waiting too long for justice and for compensation. I am outraged that despite the landmark legal rulings in this case, several years later people have still not been able to access the compensation they are entitled to. We must review the regulation surrounding private prosecutions so that they are never again abused in this manner and on this scale736

In the constituency

This month, I visited a number of schools, including:

  • King’s Oak Primary School, discussing school traffic issues, with a view to finding potential solutions.
  • St Joseph’s and St Gregory’s Catholic Primary School where I met their school council and spoke to students at their Assembly.
  • Priory Primary School for an assembly on mental health.
  • Cambian Walnut Tree Lodge School, a specialist education facility for children and young people experiencing emotional, social and behavioural difficulties.


I’ve also had a number of local meetings including with:

  • Headway Bedford, a local brain injury charity who deliver rehabilitation to adults who have acquired a brain injury including stroke.
  • The charity Become to discuss their “Gone Too Far” campaign. Over 17,000 children are moved over 20 miles away from their home and support network each year.
  • Richard Sumray, Chair of Bedfordshire Hospitals and Melanie Banks, Director of Redevelopment at Bedfordshire Hospitals to discuss plans for a new primary care hub and community diagnostic centre on the Bedford North Wing site.
  • Bedfordshire and Luton Wheelchair Service to discuss the pressures they face, the criteria set by the local Integrated Care Board for NHS funding, and their work more widely.

Events around the constituency I’ve had the pleasure of attending, include:

  • The flag raising ceremony for the Sri Lanka independence day, Vietnamese community of Bedford’s new year celebrations,
  • Tree planting events in Jubilee Park and at the Skate Park off Moore Lane,
  • A launch event for the Bella Ciao festival, which will include films, concerts, talks and more across a number of venues across Bedford,
  • A coffee morning run by the East Bedford Primary Care Network, where free support and information is available from a range of local organisations every month
  • A Bedfordshire University Health and Social Care outreach event in Kempston, raising awareness of health and social care apprenticeship and career opportunities for young people.
  • A meeting with Orbit’s new cover manager at St Bede’s and a drop-in surgery at their weekly coffee morning, where various issues were raised.
  • A performance by My Girl The River and discussions about grief and loss to launch photographer Chiara Mac Call’s exhibition ‘Life Through Windows’, which can be viewed until 31st March at The Place Theatre.
  • I visited Bletchley railway station to welcome the long-awaited reopening of the Marston Vale line.
  • I joined Tony Catanzaro on In2Beats Business and Entreprise show discussing businesses in Bedford and Kempston and the challenges they face.
  • I attended the annual general meeting for Bedfordshire Beekeepers Association, a local charity with over 500 beekeepers who are integral to the pollination of local crops.

 

Following campaigning with Labour Councillors, I’m delighted funding for Daubeney Academy has been secured and the school – which had been at real risk of closure – has been saved.

In Westminster

Government Bills this month:

Offshore Petroleum Bill had it’s third reading. Labour is opposed to the Bill as it’s the opposite direction to where we should be going on reliance on fossil fuels and decarbonising the planet but also the plans to extract North Sea oil will do nothing for our energy security, because oil and gas is sold on the international market. Only Labour has a serious plan to make Britain energy independent, whereas Rishi Sunak will leave Britain exposed to Putin and fossil fuel dictators.
 
On that note – I was initially disappointed to hear Labour front bench announced they were slowing down on their very ambitious plans for green prosperity. However, I see because the economy is in a very different place after Liz Truss budget, Putin’s war in Ukraine and impacts of Brexit since this policy was announced 2 years ago.
 
The Conservatives are willing to lie about the damage they have done, but we are not. And nor are we prepared to offer false promises in our manifesto as the Tories have done.
 
When Labour left Government in 2010, debt was 40% of national income – it’s now at 100%.
 
The circumstances have changed, but Labour’s ambitions for Britain have not. And I think Rachel Reeves – who is determined Labour presents a bullet-proof credible plan for the economy wanted to take the Tory weaponization of Labour’s plan for a green economy away from the Tories. The ambition is still there for Labour who are committed to delivering Great British Energy, no new oil & gas licenses and clean power by 2030.

But I think the Shadow Treasury did not want to be boxed in by a specific number when we don’t know exactly how bad the state of the economy if we are able to win the General Election.
 
However, I will still prioritise campaigning on environmental issues because we can’t afford not to. There is a greater cost in not taking action and I know its important to Labour supporters and indeed many of my constituents.

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill was back in Parliament. We are very disappointed that the Government has scaled-back on protections for leasholders.

Leaseholders deserve a clear answer about the real reason why they look set to be fobbed off with just a limited Bill.  A Labour government will make commonhold the default tenure for all new properties as part of our commitment to fundamentally and comprehensively reform the leasehold system. We are determined to overhaul leasehold to their lasting benefit and reinvigorate commonhold to such an extent that it will become the default and render leasehold obsolete.

However, Labour is supportive of most measures within the Bill including changes to the calculation of premium payable for lease extensions or collectively buying the freehold, the end of marriage value, introduction of 990-year extensions, ground rent reforms, and freehold estate regulation.

Select Committees:

The LUHC Committee continued its Inquiry on Children, young people and the built environment. I focussed on National Planning policy and guidance and  what can be done through planning policy and the building of new homes to put children and young people at the centre of built environment policy in England.
 
The Committee published a report outlining why the Government must tackle £4bn council funding gap or risk severe impact to services and council finances.
 
On Fire safety the Committee published the Minister’s reply on product testing review
 
The Education Select Committee continued its inquiry into Online Harms – focussing on Screen Time and the Impact on Education and Wellbeing. The Children’s Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Souza gave a very interesting insight into her work around online safety and her thoughts on the Online Safety Act and how it could be improved.

I supported:

  • A cross-party letter to the Secretary of State for DESZN to discuss biomass and future subsides. The letter follows the Government’s recently published Consultation on extending subsidies for biomass passed 2027, despite the Climate Change Committee, last year, warning that biomass subsidies no longer provided value for money.
  • Scope letter to the Prime Minister calling on the Government to follow through with their commitment for a social tariff consultation.
  • The Literary Trust’s  Libraries for Primaries campaign

APPG for Ending Homelessness letter on people being discharged into homelessness from public institutions.

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