Constituents get in touch
I stand in solidarity with Ukraine. The unspeakable horrors of the unfolding crisis from Russia’s unprovoked and deeply undemocratic invasion of Ukraine should never have come to pass.
Amid the tragedy and uncertainty of war, I know we are all united in our delight to see footage of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori back in the UK at last reunited with loved ones. With their lives having been so disrupted for so long I wish them and their families joy and peace in their homecoming and reunion.
Mohammad Yasin MP
In summary, campaigns and policy this month focused on:
Many constituents are concerned about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as the plight of refugees and the welfare of animals in Ukraine.
Animal sentience, fox hunting and the safe of fur and foie gras has been a key topic of campaign emails this month.
Utility prices are, understandably, at the forefront of many people’s concerns.
The last month has seen a wide range of different campaigns and policy emails land in my inbox. From concerns regarding at-home abortion, to continued calls for reduction to the beer and wine tax, I have engaged with my constituents in Bedford and Kempston on a myriad of important issues.
Utility prices have, understandably, been a key concern of many of my constituents. Some are already facing a choice between heating and eating, whilst several people on pensions have contacted me sharing their experiences and fears for the future.
The rising cost of living, paired with soaring energy prices, has meant that many people are feeling the strain and the impact of a lack of Governmental fore-planning. With the energy price cap increasing again in April, I remain disappointed that the Government have failed to support people in need and tackle the crisis at its root.
Nearly 90 of the emails that I have received this week have been related to Ukraine; many from people opposing Russia’s despicable and illegal invasion, whilst others have been concerned by the plight of refugees and the threat to animal welfare.
Similarly, my constituents remain concerned by the Government’s policies on animal welfare, sending over 130 emails this month. Fox hunting, often under the veil of trail hunting, has been raised, as well as support for the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, banning the importation of cats and kittens, and banning the import and sale of fur and foie gras.
In the constituency
It was a pleasure to speak to year 10 students at Bedford School on their Citizenship morning. I spoke about my role as an MP and answered a number of very insightful questions on current subjects of national concern.
I was pleased to meet with the Bedford Hospital Charity, who do fantastic work including funding a volunteer car service helping Bedford based patients travel to hospital appointments at Addenbrookes Hospital.
I readily signed Unison’s anti-racism charter calling on employers to commit to making their organisations anti-racist. I would encourage all employers to make this commitment and I thank Unison for their efforts to tackle discrimination in the workplace. I took a thoroughly enjoyable trip in the sunshine on the John Bunyan, a community boat run entirely by volunteers. This is a wonderful community resource that offers a unique view of Bedford from the beautiful River Ouse.
The trip was arranged by the Bedford and Milton Keynes Waterway Trust, who campaign for a new waterway park between Bedford and Milton Keynes and we were joined by Trustees of the Inland Waterway Association (IWA).
The Bedfordshire Festival of Music, Speech and Drama has been showcasing local talent since 1921 and is a great celebration across all ages and I was grateful for the invitation and send my congratulations to all involved.
The Levelling Up, Housing & Communities Committee (LUHC) held a session with the Permanent Secretary, focusing our questioning on what support is being given to Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, before going onto questions ranging across the responsibilities of DLUHC.
My questions focussed on Local Authority Financial Audit. The current local audit framework was established by the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014 which abolished the Audit Commission, creating a locally led audit regime.
The effectiveness of the 2014 framework was questioned by Sir John Kingman in his 2018 Review of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC). His report recommended that the local audit regime be fundamentally rethought to improve scrutiny, quality and leadership. The LUHC committee held another session on Social Housing. We heard from tenants, finance sectors, and housing organisations, discussing tenant empowerment and the condition of social housing stock.
I focused on the condition of social housing – I have heard from so many constituents who have to put up with mould and damp. I asked Tarun Bhakta from Shelter why he thought these problems were so commonplace.
It has been deeply frustrating to see the Government failing to match it’s own rhetoric on the UK’s response to the refugee crisis. Confusion and false promises have meant we have been too slow to act though schemes are now in place. In February we saw a fantastic night for the Labour Lords who defeated the Government 4 times on their Nationality and Borders Bill. Those descended from a person born before 1983 on British Indian Ocean Territory will be allowed to register as British Overseas Territories citizen & British citizen. The Peers successfully removed clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill, which seeks to create new powers to strip British nationals of their citizenship without even telling them.
Peers voted FOR cross-party amendment (24), led by Shami Chakrabarti, calling on Government to restate intentions to comply with the Refugee Convention and ensure the Bill’s asylum provisions are subject to that legal obligation. Labour peers with cross-party support also successfully deleted clause 11, which would allow Ministers to differentiate between asylum seekers methods of arrival to the UK.
Not such good news that the Government used it’s 80 seat majority to reject an amendment to the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill aimed at protecting people’s right to peaceful protest around the Houses of Parliament and beyond. A number of Tory MPs voiced their profound concerns about the draconian measures in the Bill, but only one voted for the Amendment. The fight to protect our rights goes on – as the Bill will now go back to the Lords. I welcomed the Home Secretary’s announcement for a new strategy on Violence Against Women and Girls including a new priority for police to put VAWG on the same priority footing as terrorism but with most metrics showing continuing decline in women’s safety there is much more to be done.
I supported the Economic Crime Bill, designed to crack down on the flow of “dirty money” to the UK, as part of the sanctions against Russian president Vladimir Putin regime for the invasion of Ukraine. The bill is designed to tackle the £100bn of illicit financing that the National Crime Agency estimates is channelled through the UK each year. That an industry of enablers has grown up here to facilitate those corrupt elites, to help them hide their money, evade tax or launder proceeds of crime is deeply damaging to our economy, to our international reputation, to the rule of law and to democracy.
It should not have taken a war for this Government to clean up our act. It was all spelled out in the Russia report, that Boris Johnson sat on before being forced to publish 2 years ago. The new legislation calls for a Register of overseas entities, will smooth the path for Unexplained wealth orders (UWO) and a new law enforcement unit to investigate these crimes. Now that this has passed into law, my Labour colleagues and I will be ensuring that the laws are enforced.