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July 23 Newsletter

Dear Constituent,

Over the past month I have drafted my annual report and sent it off to be printed. This is always a useful exercise in reflecting back over the previous year and one which helps to focus the mind on what’s next to come.

As it’s now parliamentary recess, I will spend as much time as I can this summer delivering the newly printed Annual Reports before returning to Westminster in September. With over 46,000 to deliver I’ll be grateful for any volunteers who may be able to give me a hand!

The General Election is likely to take place in 2024 and as we saw with the recent by election results, nothing can be taken for granted. Rallying together to show Labour’s vision for Bedford to our constituents is crucial and getting my annual report out to each household is one important step.

Wishing you all an enjoyable summer.

Yours sincerely,

Mohammad Yasin MP

Constituents get in touch

In summary:

• Cost of living crisis
• Illegal Migration Bill
• Modern slavery

This month, my office has opened a total of 577 cases, 162 of which are casework and the remaining 415 relating to campaign and policy.

Constituents have contacted me in large numbers about the ongoing cost of living crisis and steps the Government can take to alleviate pressure on hard working families, specifically with an emphasis on the minimum and living wages.

I believe we should change the remit of the Low Pay Commission’s remit to take into account the cost of living, alongside median wages and economic conditions, so that finally we can have a genuine living wage that people can live on. I also believe we should empower key workers to act collectively to negotiate higher wages and better conditions.

Many constituents also reached out to raise concerns around the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers arising from the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill.

I have expressed resistance to this Bill at every stage of the legislative process, and had hoped the Lord’s amendments would be an opportunity to mitigate the impact of the Bill. However, I am deeply concerned by the Government’s detention plans for children. I supported a Lords’ amendment which would have retained the 72-hour limit on the detention of accompanied children. Likewise, I backed a similar amendment on retaining the 24-hour limit on the detention of unaccompanied children. Frustratingly, the Government’s amendment to extend detention for these children to eight days was passed instead.

Vulnerable women, particularly those who are pregnant or victims of modern slavery, also need to be protected. I therefore supported two Lords’ amendments which aimed to retain the 72-hour limit on the detention of pregnant women

In the constituency

We may not be getting as much sunshine so far this summer as in recent years but rain isn’t stopping the residents of Bedford participating in some brilliant community events, including the Bedford Italian Festival, a wonderful display of Italian culture celebrating the Italian community’s deep roots in Bedford, also a family fun day and fundraising event in Allen Park. I also went along to Shaheedi Sports Council’s annual sports festival in Kempston, a great day with hundreds of young people taking part in different sports and I was invited by The Church of the Transfiguration to open their annual summer fete.

Hundreds of families from all the communities attended Bedford Eid Mela in Addison Park Kempston, I also attended the Eid celebration at Westbourne centre Queen’s Park and I and enjoyed the food, music and atmosphere at both the Kenyan Bedford Community’s annual and the SMART summer Caribbean BBQ fundraising event. The performances were fantastic at the Bedford African community event and I enjoyed popping by the summer fayre at St Martin’s church.

Also, in the last month I met with Charlotte Wood, the Headteacher of St John’s school in Kempston today about some of the issues she is contending with the budget restraints so many schools are facing. A few years ago, I was able to put pressure on the Government to grant much needed funding to the Grange Academy, a sister school in the Bedford Inclusive Learning and Training Trust to replace dilapidated buildings and I will certainly put pressure on the Government for much needed repairs at St John’s.

I share the dismay of staff, parents and families who were sad to learn this month that Castle Newnham will close their nursery, with September 2023 to be the final intake of pupils. After 25 years the nursery will close as a direct result of insufficient Government funding to cover the costs of running the nursery. I have written to the Schools Minister, Nick Gibb to urge him to act to save the school.

I enjoyed an inspiring and fun visit to Booktastic, the children’s book festival, that took place at Bedfordshire University. It was arranged so that as many children could attend as possible and it was clear they were having a wonderful time.

It was a pleasure to attend the 50th birthday celebration of the Peter Pan Nursery. Congratulations to the staff, parents and children on their recent outstanding rating from OFSTED!

I visited Kempston Academy where I met with teachers and representatives of the Student Council and Elstow School to observe the implementation of the Early Career Framework, a tool in the professional development of teachers. They were both insightful visits.

It’s always fantastic to see new businesses opening in the town centre and this month I visited Tops Pizza who have shops across the region, with a new branch in Bedford, Desi Delights on Midland Road, which serves breakfast, coffee and desserts and Aconchego Portugues cafe in the Church Arcade in Bedford town centre. I wish all new businesses the best of luck.

I also attended the opening of POP BEDFORD with live performances representing Bedford’s different communities taking place throughout the evening. Pride of Place (POP) Bedford aims to bring creative and community use to formally empty retail space in Bedford town centre.

I attended a private viewing of the John Bunyan Museum’s upcoming summer exhibition. The history on display is simply incredible and I hope that everyone will enjoy the exhibition.

I met with Stephen Sleight of the Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership to discuss progress on the Marston Vale line and how we can work together to keep up the pressure for a rail service to resume on the line as soon as possible.

Thank you to Kempston Town Council Mayor Terri Conway for hosting a fantastic Mayoral reception raising money for a number of charities. It was great to see a number of local Kempston community representatives there alongside dignitaries from other areas.

I met for the first time with new incumbent Richard Sumray, Chair of Bedfordshire Hospitals. We talked about the importance of keeping services at Bedford Hospital and issues around staff parking. It’s clear that our NHS needs investment and I will continue to support our Hospital and all the staff working so hard to help us all.

It was a pleasure this week to present my constituent Sundeep Kaur the Points of Light award from Downing Street to recognise the work of her charity Sehhat. The charity works to breakdown the stigma attached to mental health and does some excellent work across the UK.

In Westminster

Education Select Committee

04/07/23 – July 2023 – Child exploitation and county lines – The Committee questioned experts on what government, schools, police and other agencies can do to protect children from being groomed into county lines gangs.

05/07/23 – Education Committee blasts ‘disappointing’ Govt response to T Levels report:

https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/203/education-committee/news/196242/education-committee-blasts-disappointing-govt-response-to-t-levels-report/

11 July 2023 – Teacher recruitment, training and retention: I focussed on questions about whether newly qualified teachers are given sufficient training to support pupils with special educational needs and disabilities or those from diverse backgrounds, as well as about concerns that too few teachers are from diverse backgrounds.

18 July 2023 – Government plans for Maths to 18 and Schools Funding: This Education Committee questioned the schools minister, the Rt Hon Nick Gibb on the proposals for Maths to 18 – following on from the Committee’s initial session on this in February and schools funding. This proposal was met with scepticism about its feasibility by many in the education sector who pointed to issues such as the repeated failure to hit annual targets for recruiting specialist maths teachers; how to boost pupils’ interest and confidence in maths; and what form post-16 maths study should take, including for those who do not pass at GCSE. As well as touching on these issues, I asked how achievement in maths can be boosted among disadvantaged pupils, and whether post-16 study could emphasise financial education and other practical skills, as suggested by the Education Secretary.

LUHC Select Committee

10 July 2023 – Follow-up: Private rented sector report and the Renters (Reform) Bill: We examined the provisions of the Bill, and and the Committee’s report into Reforming the Private Rented Sector (published 6 February 2023) which focussed on the proposals included in the Government’s White Paper, which was primarily a response to concerns about security of tenure and housing quality. The Committee also explored the potential impacts of the Bill on landlords and renters, including students.

17 July 2023 – Financial Reporting and Audit in Local Authorities: We questioned witnesses on topics relating to the purpose and understanding of local authority accounts, the impact of local authority accounts and audit findings, and the role of audit in local accountability and democracy.

Consultation responses

I have responded to the consultation into the closure of rail ticket offices. I am against the proposals. I am pleased the consultation response has been extended to September 1.
I responded to the consultation against TFL’s proposal to withdraw Day Travelcards. Despite the strong opposition made, the Mayor is going ahead with the withdrawal process.

Parliamentary Events

It was great to attend an event hosted by The Commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle to celebrate South Asian Heritage Month. The Speaker spoke of how important it was that we celebrate, educate and inspire ourselves on South Asian cultures, histories, and communities, as well as the contribution of South Asians to the UK.

I attended the City & Guilds Foundation parliamentary event aimed at tackling the skills and productivity crisis. Ceo, Kirstie Donnelly MBE is passionate about education for everyone and has some great ideas as did Lord Blunkett about how we tackle our skills shortage and workforce depletion.

I met with Energy for All who are advocating for a much fairer energy system where everyone gets the essential energy, they need to lead a decent life. Heating, hot water, and cooking should not be an unaffordable luxury, so it was interesting to hear their ideas for a new way of doing things.

Notable Legislation

In the last week of the Parliamentary term, MPs worked on the final stages of a series of measures on the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill, and the highly contentious Illegal Migration Bill, the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.

Despite significant opposition in the Commons and especially the Lords on the Illegal Migration Bill, parliamentary “ping pong” ended and the Bills will sadly become law.

It’s truly astonishing that another unworkable, badly drafted piece of legislation claiming to “stop the boats” has passed just a year after Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill which claimed to do the same thing passed. Yet, the problem has got worse, not better.

Labour believes in strong border security and effectively managed and controlled asylum system so the UK does our bit alongside other countries to help those fleeing persecution and conflict.

Under the Tories we have neither of those things. The latest Bill will make things worse. They’ve let the criminal gangs take hold along the Channel, undermining our border security They’ve caused total chaos in our asylum system so that decisions have collapsed, the backlog has soared, it’s harder to get international return agreements, harder to prosecute trafficking and smuggler gangs, and they will lock up children and torture victims. The taxpayer is having to fork out billions of pounds for costly hotel use and ever more outlandish plans like the ludicrous, illegal and exorbitantly expensive idea to send a small proportion of irregular migrant arrivals to Rwanda.

Similarly, the legislation on strikes does nothing to help the crisis in public services. The Government’s failed approach to public sector strikes has led to the worst strikes across sectors in decades. At every stage, rather than get around the table to negotiate with doctors, nurses, teachers, lecturers and rail workers, the Government has sought to collapse talks and thrown in last minute spanners.

Labour strongly opposes this fundamental attack on working people’s freedoms on the principle – and we will repeal if we get into Government.

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