May I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year. Much as we saw 2022 come to an end amidst the turmoil of strikes, in 2023 we are seeing workers from even more industries taking steps toward or carrying out industrial action as our incompetent and self-serving Government deny the fair pay and working conditions that are owed and the support and investment into our precious NHS.
This is a difficult winter for many as the impact hits from the cost-of-living crisis, rising inflation and the disastrous waiting times across NHS services. I will continue to press the Government to take meaningful action.
More locally, we have our local authority elections taking place this May 4th and I am pleased to announce all our candidates (within my constituency) standing within this newsletter and their key pledges.
Mohammad Yasin MP
Constituents get in touch
- The right to strike
- The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill
- Animal welfare
- Health and our NHS
I have had the privilege of receiving correspondence from a number of constituents in Bedford and Kempston recently who have not contacted my office before. This has been on a wide range of issues, from audio-visual stop announcements on buses, to flexible working, the Gender Recognition Act, and mental health treatment.
At the forefront of my inbox has been campaigns on the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill. I have received over 120 emails from constituents concerned for their employment rights, consumer protections and environmental regulations, alongside others calling for support for amendments put to this Bill. I was pleased to support these amendments, but disappointingly the Bill has passed its Third Reading and will proceed to the House of Lords.
Similarly, the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill has been a major area of discussion, with those writing in voicing their opposition to restrictions on the right to strike and the operational challenges of minimum service levels.
Continuing from last month, animal welfare remains a focus for many of those getting in touch. Several constituents have expressed their support for animal-free science, with others highlighting the need for legislation to end both the importation of hunting trophies, fur and foie gras, as well as the export of live animals for slaughter.
As winter continues to pile pressure on our NHS, health services and medicine have been a key concern; with over 50 cases relating to staff pay, nurses strikes, junk food advertising and the need for an urgent long-term plan for action on dementia.
In the constituency
In the week before Christmas I was pleased to visit East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s three centres in Bedford and Kempston and witness their incredible work.
The visit began at the Kempston Ambulance station meeting with Nicola Scrivings, Chair of the Trust, before moving on to the Hammond Road site, meeting Tom Abell, the Chief Executive Officer, as well as his team. They have been taking steps to meet the high demand for their services, including recent recruiting efforts, and I joined in efforts to provide food and drinks to paramedics and staff on their shift from their Welfare Van.
The final stage of the visit was to talk to ambulance staff at A&E at Bedford Hospital. I am ever thankful for the hard work of staff in our ambulance service.
Also that week I took part in the collection for Bedford Foodbank at Bedford train station, and enjoyed listening to Bedford’s Community Choir, Opus 18, performing Christmas Carols.
Whilst no one should be forced to turn to food banks, I am grateful that we have services in the area providing a crucial safety net for constituents in Bedford and Kempston.
I held a productive meeting with CI Hoque and CSI Murphy from Bedfordshire Police and two representatives from Bedford’s community of private hire and hackney carriage taxi drivers to discuss issues of safety whilst they are working.
Working alone at any time of day or night can leave taxi drivers vulnerable to attacks and criminal behaviour and I was pleased that an outcome (amongst others) from this meeting will be for taxi drivers and Beds Police to meet regularly moving forward.
On return from my visit to Bangladesh, Councillor Colleen Atkins and I attended the SSG family fun day for children with special educational needs and disabilities. It was a pleasure to speak with the children and parents who were enjoying the many activities being run at the event.
I am also doing my best to knock on as many doors across Bedford and Kempston along with Labour councillors and candidates as the campaign ramps up a gear in advance of the local authority elections in May.
May 2023 Bedford Borough Elections
Labour have set the following five pledges for the May 2022 Bedford Borough elections.
1.) Renew Bedford Borough.
2.) Protect and improve local health services.
3.) Zero tolerance of anti-social behaviour.
4.) Prioritise the climate emergency.
5.) A quality education for all.
Bedford Borough Labour will be launching their manifesto in due course and should you have any local or Borough level ideas you wish to share you can email Mayoral candidate Saqhib Ali at: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to find out who is standing in your Ward, here are all the Bedford Borough Labour candidates in my constituency:
Castle & Newnham
Mohammad Khayrul Islam
Procurement Bill: Labour recognises the need for a new Procurement Bill to consolidate the spaghetti of different rules into one place and create a more straight-forward procurement regime.
However in its current form, the Government’s Procurement Bill is unambitious and fails to take advantage of post-Brexit opportunities to create a procurement regime which promotes local British business, clamps down on the obscene waste of recent years, and outlaws VIP lanes.
Instead of clamping down on the wasteful cronyism which saw billions of taxpayers’ cash wasted during the pandemic, this Bill is a gift to Tory cronies, handing Ministers more, not less power over direct awards. The Conservatives are failing to learn from their mistakes and cementing cronyism into law.
Online Safety Bill: Labour has long campaigned for stronger protections for children and the public online. There’s a broad consensus that social media companies have failed to regulate themselves. There has been a wild west online for too long, the need for regulation is now urgent.
The Government have made a mess of the Online Safety Bill. There’s a parliamentary majority to strengthen the Bill and ensure company directors are liable for their failures to protect children and families yet instead the government are watering it down.
The Prime Minister is too weak to stand up to big tech vested interests. Labour is on the side of the public, and will argue for keeping children safe online and protecting our democracy.
Labour will support backbench Conservative amendments to strengthen criminal sanctions for senior managers who fail to make their platforms safe. Labour’s own amendments would allow Ofcom to set minimum standards for platforms’ terms and conditions on online harms, and hold them to account for changing them on a whim. This would avoid the situation we’ve seen at Twitter, where Elon Musk took over and removed bans on Covid disinformation on the platform. The Party has also tabled amendments to introduce an ombudsman, for better redress for individuals when a platform fails to deal with their complaint.
However, the legislation has been subject to too many delays for too long.
I supported my Labour colleague, Mary Foy’s letter to the Education Secretary on the recent miserly uprating of the Student Maintenance Loan by just 2.8% in September.
I have written to Lucy Frazer, the Minister for Housing and Planning to raise concerns of constituents over freeholder estate management fees and to ask what the Government is doing to address this increasingly prevalent problem for homeowners across the country.
I supported Scope to sign a cross-party letter calling on the Chancellor to support disabled people further during the current cost-of-living crisis.
I supported a letter in a joint effort from all the major Public Health Associations (very rare they come together in this way), to call nationally for increased expansion of Free School Meals, Healthy Start voucher scheme, Breakfast programme, Sugar Drinks Industry Levy and a commitment to a £5 million campaign to help those missing out on FSM/HS vouchers.
LUHC & My Representations
Click to view my representations, as recorded on Hansard:
10 January 23: Westminster Hall – Future of Postal Services
11 January 23: House of Commons Chamber – NHS Long Term Strategy
17 January 23: House of Commons Chamber – Energy Bills Support Scheme: Alternative Funding (BEIS Qs)
12/01/23: The Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (LUHC) Select Committee questioned Ministers on the steps the Government has been taking to help support Ukraine refugees. Questions focused on the rising cases of homelessness among Ukrainian refugees, support for Ukrainians to live independently, and the pressures on hosts and local authorities. More information can be found here.
As the Vice Chair of the APPG for Bangladesh I was very pleased to visit the country in January alongside other APPG MPs. We visited the Rohingya camps where over a million people are displaced from their homeland. We must do all we can as an international community to support these vulnerable people.
Bangladesh has suffered from severe flooding and we visited the Lama Kazi Union area by the Surma River near Sylhet to see the area that had suffered from severe flooding ourselves. The resilience of communities is outstanding and work is ongoing to build up flood defences thanks in part to UK aid.
As APPG members we met with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina to discuss UK – Bangladesh relations and the shared challenges we face. We also discussed the importance of fair and free elections and the participation of opposition Parties in the forthcoming general election.
It was a pleasure to visit the great city of Sylhet where most of my constituents with Bangladeshi heritage are from and it was wonderful to meet with some of my constituents there. Whilst in the city I met with the Mayor of Sylhet City Corporation Ariful Haque Choudhary from the Opposition Party BNP and discussed his work throughout the city of Sylhet.
During our trip we visited the National Martyrs Memorial which is an important monument in Bangladesh.
We toured the Beximco textile factory which employs 70,000 people and raised the need for working conditions across the country to improve. It’s important that Bangladesh continues to take steps in the right direction on this matter.