Today (7th July), Sharon Hodgson MP, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, visited Sunderland Royal Hospital to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS.
Photo Caption: (left to right) Midwife Michelle, baby Hayden, Alex and Sharon Hodgson MP
Sharon received a tour from Carol Harries, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Corporate Affairs and Andrea Hetherington, Deputy Head of Corporate Affairs.
During the tour of Sunderland Royal, Sharon visited the new emergency department and the maternity department to meet some of the newest arrivals.
In the maternity ward, Sharon met with new mum Alex and baby Hayden who was wearing a special NHS 70 baby grow.
At Sunderland Royal Hospital, Sharon said:
“It was great to visit Sunderland Royal Hospital today to mark the 70 th birthday of our NHS and see the amazing work the staff do here every single day, despite the huge pressures on them with funding cuts and increasing demand.
“The NHS was established by a Labour Government, and it is only a Labour Government that will properly fund our NHS to ensure that it can continue for many more years to come.
“It was lovely to meet Hayden and see him in his NHS 70 baby grow. I will continue to campaign for our NHS to be free at the point of use for everyone, so that when Hayden grows up, he can benefit from it too.”
Today (7th July), Sharon Hodgson MP, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, visited Sunderland Royal Hospital to mark the 70th birthday of...
As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a Westminster Hall debate on ME treatment and research. During her speech, Sharon raised the issue of limited funding for research on ME and delays in diagnosis.
You can read Sharon's speech below
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Gapes.
I thank the hon. Member for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan) for her excellent speech setting the scene today and for securing this important debate, and I thank the Backbench Business Committee for granting the time for it. I also thank all hon. Members who contributed. A great number of them did so: the right hon. Member for Kingston and Surbiton (Sir Edward Davey), the hon. Members for Mid Dorset and North Poole (Michael Tomlinson), for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk), for Strangford (Jim Shannon), for Stirling (Stephen Kerr), for Luton North (Kelvin Hopkins) and for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands), and my hon. Friends the Members for Stroud (Dr Drew), for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy), for Heywood and Middleton (Liz McInnes), for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport (Luke Pollard) and for Ealing North (Stephen Pound) all made excellent and moving speeches. I thank the many other Members who made excellent interventions. The packed Public Gallery and the number of Members attending and speaking in the debate on a Thursday afternoon shows the strength of feeling on the subject not only in Parliament but in the nation as a whole—more should be done to help people with ME. They should get the help, recognition, support and treatment that they deserve and need.
I thank MEAction, Action for ME, the ME Association and the ME Trust for the detailed brief that they sent me, and ME North East and especially the Sunderland and South Tyneside ME support group including Professor Malcolm Hooper—I first met him way back in 2010 on this very issue—for all the work that they do to campaign for better care, support and recognition for people living with ME. We have heard today in great and moving detail from numerous Members sharing tragic and very personal stories from their constituents, whom we thank for allowing their stories to be told.
ME is a neurological disease, or a disease of the central nervous system, but that does not begin to explain how devastating it can be to have to live with it—or die from it, as happened so tragically to 21-year-old Merryn Crofts. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Middleton, who was her MP, and the hon. Member for Glasgow North West for sharing her story with us in some detail—I especially thank her family for allowing that—and helping to make the case so strongly in the debate.
ME affects an estimated 250,000 adults and children in the UK and about 17 million people worldwide. Despite the fact that so many people are affected by ME, it is little understood in the medical world, leaving patients feeling dismissed, neglected and stigmatised further by their condition. That can be no surprise, as no significant research has been done into the condition, as we have heard. ME receives far less research funding than other neurological conditions of similar prevalence or disease burden. The answer to a written question from the hon. Member for Glasgow North West revealed that the average research spend per person living with ME is only about £1 a year, as she said. Also, the majority of that research spending does not even come from Government; it comes from the charity sector.
Does the Minister think that research into this condition should be left entirely up to the charity sector? The ME charity sector in the UK does a fantastic job of researching the condition. For example, the UK ME/CFS Biobank is a vital part of the ME research infrastructure and has achieved an international reputation. All the start-up costs for the ME Biobank were funded by the charity sector, and ongoing costs are met by the ME Association’s Ramsay Research Fund. Do the Government have any plans to contribute to that research?
Patients with ME feel that they have been let down time and again as research such as the PACE trial—which, sensibly, we heard about—have been found to be seriously flawed. In fact, Jonathan Edwards, emeritus professor of medicine, said that the PACE trial would be a great example
“in an undergraduate textbook as an object lesson in how not to design a trial”.
In addition, a petition signed by more than 12,000 individuals —mostly patients, but also more than 90 scientists and clinicians—and more than 50 patient groups worldwide have demanded a retraction of the results of that trial. Does the Minister agree that ME patients deserve a trial that they can trust not to dismiss their condition or recommend treatments that could make it worse? Do the Government have any plans to fund a proactive and co-ordinated piece of research on ME that patients can trust?
Given the lack of medical research into ME, healthcare professionals are, unsurprisingly, not sufficiently trained in diagnosing the condition, as hon. Members have told us today. According to several ME charities, coverage of ME in many medical textbooks remains inadequate and can be misleading or even non-existent. The chief medical officer’s report and the NICE guidelines on ME set out clear timeline markers for making an early and accurate diagnosis. Both recommend that adults should normally have had the diagnosis confirmed within four months of onset of symptoms, or within three months for children and young people. However, standard medical tests often find nothing wrong, which leads many doctors initially to dismiss ME as psychological.
In 2016 a patient survey by the ME Association indicated that only a small number of patients were receiving a positive diagnosis within six months of onset. Further experiences from the charity sector suggest that a majority of patients have to wait for more than a year, and a significant number for many years, before they receive a diagnosis. That means that patients are being dismissed and stigmatised further and, more importantly, are not then receiving the care and support that they need. Does the Minister have any plans to create a care pathway for people with ME to ensure that patients are given access to the care and treatment they require in a timely manner?
In addition, has the Minister made any assessment of the effects that ME, and the delay in diagnosis of it, have on women in particular? I find it incredibly illuminating that 75% of patients with ME are women. That leads me to believe that there is an issue of women’s pain being dismissed and not taken seriously by healthcare professionals. Will the Minister consider that issue in his response?
It is therefore clear that more training is required, not only for healthcare professionals but for welfare assessors. A survey by Action for ME found that 79% of survey respondents disagreed with the statement that their assessor had sufficient expertise of their condition to conduct an assessment effectively and appropriately. Symptoms of ME can fluctuate so much and are often invisible, as we have heard, so the condition is difficult to manage for patients and, it has to be said, difficult for welfare assessors to detect.
A patient may perform well during a welfare assessment, but an assessor will not see how long patients rested in order to perform tasks during the assessment, or how long it took for them to recover afterwards. As we know, the onerous and ill-conceived assessment process can result in not only an inaccurate award, but an exacerbation of ME symptoms, which can result in a long-term deterioration of the individual’s health. Has the Minister had any conversations with his ministerial colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions on that matter?
From this excellent debate, it is clear that the majority of issues that arise from ME do so because the condition is so little understood. The Government should consider funding research into ME to further our understanding of the condition. The hope is that that would, in time, improve perceptions of ME and improve the routes to diagnosis, care and treatment.
As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a Westminster Hall debate on ME treatment and research. During her speech, Sharon raised the issue of limited funding for research...
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo.
This week (June 15 to 25, 2018) marks Royal Life Saving Society UK’s (RLSS UK) Drowning Prevention Week.
In partnership with the RNLI and Swim England, RLSS UK aim to reduce the number of drowning and near-drowning incidents that occur in the UK every year, by showing people how to be safe and have fun near water.
Sadly, drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in children in the UK, and over 700 people drown in the UK and Ireland every year – equivalent to one person drowning every 20 hours.
As summer quickly approaches, it is important that children and adults are taught about the dangers of the water, especially open water, and cold water shock.
Whilst jumping in the river on a hot summer’s day might seem an attractive way to cool off, it couldn’t be further from the truth.
As the vice-chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Water Safety and Drowning Prevention and as a local MP, I have heard many stories of lives being tragically lost in the water; including Chloe Fowler, 14, and Tonibeth Purvis, 15, in July 2013 and Ross Irwin, a 22-year-old, who sadly drowned in the River Wear at Fatfield two days before Christmas in 2016.
A water safety throwline board was unveiled last month, close to the spot where Ross drowned at Fatfield Riverside.
It was unveiled by his father, David Irwin, of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Northumbria Police, Sunderland City Council and RLSS.
This was the first throwline board unveiled in the North East, and I hope there will be many more boards alongside our open waterways in Washington and Sunderland and across the region very soon.
I will continue my work with the APPG on Water Safety and Drowning to urge the Government to increase water safety education in schools, and encourage them to install initiatives such as throwline boards, so that we can soon see the number of people, especially young people, drowning in the UK decline.
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo. This week (June 15 to 25, 2018) marks Royal Life Saving Society UK’s (RLSS UK) Drowning... Read more
This Clean Air Day, Sharon Hodgson MP is encouraging her constituents to help improve air quality for all by ditching their cars and getting active.
Constituents in Washington and Sunderland West are encouraged to cycle or walk when they can. This will limit their pollution contribution but also protect their heart health, as air pollution levels can be significantly higher inside a car.
As well as encouraging individual action, Sharon Hodgson MP is also calling for national action to make the UK’s air safe to breathe, especially for her constituents with heart and circulatory conditions whose health is at increased risk from air pollution.
Air pollution is now the largest environmental risk factor linked to deaths in England, with the majority of air-pollution related deaths worldwide (58%) caused by heart disease or stroke. The British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) research has shed light on how health-harmful pollutants such as particulate matter (PM) - small particles found in emissions from diesel engines and wood burning stoves- can cause damage to people’s cardiovascular health and increase the risk of potentially deadly heart attacks and stroke.
Sharon Hodgson MP attended a photo-call organised by the BHF in Parliament ahead of Clean Air Day to express her support for action that will ensure that the health of people living in Washington and Sunderland West isn’t at risk from the air they breathe.
The BHF is urging government to make this happen by adopting World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guidelines into UK law.
The charity believes it is vital that the UK’s air quality legislation has the protection of health at its core. This will ensure that efforts to reduce air pollution achieve meaningful outcomes, particularly for vulnerable groups whose lives are impacted by outdoor air pollution.
The EU air quality limits that the UK currently follows are equal to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended upper limits for nitrogen dioxide but are less stringent than the WHO’s guidelines for health-harmful pollutants.
Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, said:
“It’s important that we have better air quality so my constituents living with a heart and circulatory condition don’t need to worry about dirty air damaging their health when they leave the house. Research has shown that even the smallest reduction can make a big difference in preventing new cases of coronary heart disease.
“I’m supporting the call for all effective action to be taken to clean up our air.”
Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said:
“It’s great to have the support of Sharon Hodgson MP with encouraging action to promote and protect the nation’s heart health from the effects of air pollution.
“We know that to have good heart and circulatory health, people need to be active. But BHF-funded research suggests that poor air quality can cancel out the cardiovascular benefits of exercise in vulnerable people. Further BHF-funded research has also shown that particulate matter increases the risk of potentially fatal complications for people with a heart or circulatory condition.
“To reduce this risk, we urgently need WHO limits for PM to be adopted into new air quality legislation as soon as possible.”
You can learn more about the BHF’s research and work on air pollution by visiting https://www.bhf.org.uk/airpollutionpolicy
This Clean Air Day, Sharon Hodgson MP is encouraging her constituents to help improve air quality for all by ditching their cars and getting active. Constituents in Washington and Sunderland...
As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon opened a General Debate in the House of Commons on acquired brain injuries.
During her speech, Sharon highlighted that although more and more people are surviving and living with a brain injury, this puts increased pressure on vital services, such as Neuro-rehabilitation. Sharon also praised the work of Headway Wearside, who provide support for people living with acquired brain injuries and their families.
You can read Sharon's speech below
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab)
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. That is now in Hansard. I am sure the Minister will enjoy it in the months and years to come.
It is an honour to speak in this very important debate, and I thank the Government for allowing the time for it. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) for calling for it and for his tenacity in ensuring it went ahead, against all the odds, when we all doubted it would and even though we are very pushed for time. I thank the all-party group on acquired brain injury and the right hon. Member for South Holland and The Deepings (Mr Hayes) for all their work and for their excellent campaign for better support and recognition for people living with ABI. I join the Minister in praising the work of the late and great Baroness Jowell. I, too, will never forget her last appearance in this Chamber in the Under Gallery.
Last month, along with colleagues from across the House, I was pleased to attend the rally for people with acquired brain injury at which they, along with their families, friends and carers, talked about their conditions and the services available to them. As we have heard, 1.3 million people in the UK live with the consequences of ABI, and each year approximately half a million patients attend UK emergency departments for traumatic brain injury. That is nearly 1,500 patients with traumatic brain injury attending A&E departments in the UK each day; one every minute. Brain injury can happen to anyone at any time, and all Members will have constituents living with the consequences of an ABI.
Despite the fact that so many people are living with ABI, it is little understood, which is why I am so pleased that the time has been allowed to discuss it in this place this evening. A brain injury can happen in an instant, but its effects can be devastating and last a lifetime. Thankfully, due to excellent advances in emergency and acute medicine, more and more children, young people and adults now survive and live with an ABI, but this brings its own challenges. As ever more people survive an ABI, further pressure is put on the vital services that people require.
For example, many individuals with an ABI require early and continued access to neuro-rehabilitation to optimise their recovery. The United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum says that the average cost of the initial rehabilitation programme is offset by savings in the cost of ongoing care within just 16 months and that this leads to an average saving over a lifetime in care costs of £1,475,760. That is a huge amount of money. Neuro-rehabilitation is therefore one of the most cost-effective services the NHS provides and one of the few services in medicine that result in long-term decreased costs to the economy. However, as is the case for many health conditions, the number of available beds across the UK is inadequate, service provision is variable and consequently long-term outcomes for brain injury survivors are compromised. What plans do the Government have to address those issues and improve the lives of patients living with an ABI? The UKABIF recommends a review of neuro-rehabilitation to ensure that service provision is adequate and consistent throughout the UK. Does the Minister agree that that is needed?
Many children and young people with an ABI are in education, and therefore the majority will receive most of their rehabilitation at school. Yet among education professionals there is a lack of awareness and understanding of ABI, its consequences, and its impact on learning. A pupil with an ABI may also require extra support when transitioning between primary, secondary and further education. What discussions has the Minister had with his colleagues in the Department for Education to ensure that children with an ABI receive the support that they need throughout their journey through the education system? Will he discuss with them the inclusion of ABI in the code of practice for special educational needs co-ordinators?
Brain injuries can be difficult to detect for people who are not already aware of them, which is why all education professionals should have a minimum level of awareness and understanding of ABI. In fact, that requirement goes beyond education and into everyday life. People living with ABI are discriminated against because of the general lack of understanding of their condition. For example, earlier this year Grace Currie was escorted out of a pub on a Saturday night because the bouncers believed that she was “too drunk”. In fact, Grace, who had suffered life-changing injuries after being hit by a car in 2010, had had just one drink. The incident must have been extremely upsetting and embarrassing for Grace, and I am sure that it really knocked her confidence.
Sadly, such encounters are not rare, and the level of misunderstanding of brain injuries is high among the general public, including assessors for employment and support allowance and personal independence payments. A study conducted by Headway found that 71% and 60% of respondents felt that assessors for ESA and PIP, respectively, did not have an understanding of brain injury. Further, assessors were widely reported to lack empathy and patience, resulting in a stressful and even traumatic experience for many brain injury survivors. Many respondents also said that their medical evidence was not taken into consideration, and that the assessment location and environment were not suitable for them, despite requests made in advance. Consequently, a strong sense of frustration and anxiety was reported by brain injury survivors and their carers about the failure to recognise or respect their needs throughout the application process. Has the Minster had any discussions with his colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions about that issue? Will he look into those concerns with his colleagues, and ensure that they are properly addressed?
Living with a brain injury is difficult enough for people without their having to struggle to explain and prove their disability to anyone who lacks understanding of the condition. Each brain injury is different, which is why it is so important to raise awareness of ABIs. However, it is also important to recognise that such injuries affect not just the people directly concerned, but their families and friends. Headway aimed to highlight that during brain injury week last month for its “you, me, and brain injury” campaign. Headway found that 69% of brain injury survivors reported breakdowns in their friendships after the injury, and that 28% of relationships ended after an ABI. However, it is not all doom and gloom: 47% of survivors reported improvements in their relationships with family members. It was clear from Headway’s study that a little bit of understanding and time really can go a long way. That is the kind of service that is provided by its 127 groups and branches across the country.
Headway Wearside, whose representatives I met recently at the rally in Parliament, provides information, support and social activities for brain injury survivors, and works with the local community, relevant professionals and organisations to promote understanding of ABI. I spoke to Neil and Jimmy, who use the Headway Wearside service, and was touched when they explained that Headway had brought them together as a community, and they had formed friendships that they never expected to form. Headway Wearside does not just teach new skills, but helps people to form and develop friendships at a time when doing so might otherwise be hard. When I met with Neil and Jimmy we feared that this service might soon be lost, and I am pleased to say that it has been extended to June 2019, and I hope it will be extended still further so that patients can have access to this life-changing service. I pay tribute to Headway Wearside and all the work it does for the local community, and I will continue to support it so that this vital service can continue to support its 4,000 patients.
Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD)
My wife suffered exactly this problem in 1999. The eldest of my three children was sitting her exams—her highers—at school, and while that school and the education system in general supported them fantastically well, there is the issue of supporting the children, quite apart from supporting the sufferer of an injury like this. Will the hon. Lady elaborate on how we might increase the support and help for families caught up in such situations? My children got through it, but it was touch and go, and I remember these events without much happiness.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for sharing such a personal anecdote from his own experience. It demonstrates why it is important that we support the Headways across the country that are giving this vital support to families in the position his family was in, and he is right to mention the children of people with acquired brain injuries; they must not be forgotten in all of this.
Unfortunately, not every patient with an ABI will have access to a service like Headway Wearside. If the Minister is to take away one thing from this debate, I urge him to recognise the need for services such as Headway Wearside and the other 126 across the country, so that the more than 1 million people living with a brain injury can access the support they need and deserve.
As Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon opened a General Debate in the House of Commons on acquired brain injuries. During her speech, Sharon highlighted that although more and more...
Towards the end of last year, I stepped down as the Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer to the position of Vice-Chair, due to an increasing volume of work. Breast cancer is of course still a hugely important issue for me, and one that comes under my brief as Shadow Minister for Public Health. I thought it may be helpful to provide constituents with an update on some of the breast cancer related events that have been in the news recently.
Breast Cancer Inequality Report
During my time as Co-Chair of the APPG on Breast Cancer, I was proud to be part of the initial work on a report on geographical inequalities in breast cancer diagnosis, treatment and care across England. The report was published earlier this year, and contained some extremely concerning findings.
Although overall outcomes for breast cancer patients have been improving in recent years, there exists huge variety in the level of the treatment, care and support available to women in different parts of the country.
For example, based on where a woman lives she may be more than twice as likely to die from breast cancer under the age of 75 than a woman treated in a different area, and a third less likely to have attended breast cancer screening in the last three years compared to a woman living in another part of the country.
It is entirely unacceptable that access to vital breast cancer care can be so dependent on a postcode lottery of services available. The report made some important recommendations, including that ‘Health Education England and all Cancer Alliances should urgently ensure there are enough healthcare professionals to deliver high-quality and timely diagnosis, treatment and care to local women.’
Following on from the report’s publication, I wrote to the Northern Cancer Alliance to highlight the findings and request a meeting to discuss how they are tackling the challenges within our region. This meeting took place recently, and was extremely informative. I was pleased to hear that once their workforce plans have been finalised, they will be published in order to ensure transparency.
I look forward to seeing these plans once they have been made available.
Breast Cancer Screening Error
Last month, Jeremy Hunt came to the House of Commons to give a statement on a breast cancer screening error that led to thousands of women missing vital examinations.
Although the number of people affected has now been revised down from the figure originally given, the extent of this mistake is truly astounding. Indeed it has had a devastating impact on the lives of many women, and may have led to the premature deaths of up to 74 people.
I now believe that the Department for Health should expand the capacity of the screening programme, and commit to employing more staff in order to ensure that all women are seen in a timely manner.
Figures provided by the Secretary of State show that within Washington and Sunderland West, 110 of women were affected.
I know that many people in our constituency may be worried by this situation. If you think that you may have been affected then there are a number of ways that you can seek more information below:
- Call the breast screening helpline number 0800 169 2692.
- Go the NHS Choices website for more information: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-cancer-screening/missed-invitations/
- Contact my office if I can be of any further assistance on: email@example.com or (0191) 417 2000
Towards the end of last year, I stepped down as the Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Breast Cancer to the position of Vice-Chair, due to an increasing volume...
Labour Party policy event in our constituency - "Education for the Many"
with Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Education Secretary.
Labour Party policy event in our constituency - "Education for the Many" with Angela Rayner MP, Shadow Education Secretary. Read more
Sharon Hodgson MP attended a Carers Week speednetworking event with carers and charities in Westminster, pledging her support to unpaid carers in Washington and Sunderland West.
The event was in support of Carers Week, to celebrate and recognise the vital contribution made by the 6.5 million people across the UK who currently provide care and support to a family member or friend who has a disability, illness, mental health problem or who needs extra help as they grow older.
It matched up MPs and carers to share experiences of caring and the support they need to take care of their own mental and physical health and well-being.
Eight national charities have come together to call for urgent support for unpaid carers to be Healthy and Connected as new research released at the start of Carers Week reveals the toll that caring can take on many carers’ own health and wellbeing.
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“I was delighted to be able to show my support for the carers in my constituency at the Carers Week event and I pledge to support the 10,157 carers in Washington and Sunderland West through my work in Parliament.
Unpaid carers make a huge contribution to our society, providing vital and often hidden support to friends and family members, and it is right that we value them and ensure they have the right support at the right time. I look forward to working with the Carers Week charities, and, with unpaid carers, locally, to make a difference to their lives.”
Heléna Herklots CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK, on behalf of Carers Week, said:
“Without the unpaid care provided every year by family and friends, our health and care services would collapse. Yet, caring for a loved one too often means carers neglect their own mental and physical health.
Finding the time and space to be healthy, get enough sleep and maintain relationships with others are all huge challenges identified by carers. By working together during Carers Week we have a huge opportunity to make our communities more Carer Friendly and make a difference to those who contribute so much.”
Carers Week 2018 is made possible by Carers UK joining forces with Age UK, Carers Trust, Independent Age, Macmillan Cancer Support, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, MS Society and Which? Elderly Care and kindly supported by Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition.
For further information visit www.carersweek.org
Sharon pledges support to help carers be Healthy and Connected in Washington and Sunderland West for Carers Week 2018
Sharon Hodgson MP attended a Carers Week speednetworking event with carers and charities in Westminster, pledging her support to unpaid carers in Washington and Sunderland West. The event was in...
Over the past couple of days in Parliament, we have been voting on amendments to the EU (European Union) Withdrawal Bill.
As many people may be aware, I campaigned and voted to remain in the European Union. Despite this, I recognise that a majority of people voted to leave, and ultimately I respect the outcome of the referendum.
Respecting the result of the referendum however, does not mean giving Theresa May and the Conservative Government a blank cheque to force through a hard Brexit. It has been almost two years since the referendum took place, and the Government is still arguing about which negotiating position to take when it comes to important issues such as Customs, and Northern Ireland.
This chaotic instability is already damaging the economy, and putting people’s jobs at risk. The manufacturing industry has repeatedly warned that a failure to secure the right customs arrangement with the European Union could cause significant damage to the sector, and the economy more widely. Indeed the outgoing president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) warned this week that without a Customs Union, ‘there are sectors of manufacturing society in the UK which risk becoming extinct.’
It appears as though the Government is continuing to ignore these warnings, with its dogged insistence that we must leave the Customs Union, regardless of the cost.
Manufacturing makes up an integral part of the fabric of our region, and I will always vote in the best interests of my constituents. That is why I voted for amendments to force the Government to negotiate a continued customs union with the EU, although unfortunately they did not pass.
One of the most significant drivers for people voting to leave the European Union was the desire for the country to take back control. Sadly, this has not been the case, and the fact that Parliament was given just two days to debate 15 amendments to the Bill is yet another example of how democracy is being side-lined in this extremely important process.
I firmly believe that as elected representatives, Members of Parliament must have a truly meaningful vote on the deal negotiated with the EU. That is why I voted to retain an amendment made in the House of Lords that strengthens the terms of this meaningful vote.
This would have made clear that, should the Government's proposed withdrawal deal be defeated, it is for Parliament to say what happens next, not the Prime Minister. Theresa May faced the prospect of a humiliating defeat on this amendment, and has now promised all things to all people with a proposal to discuss the details at a later stage.
I do not accept that leaving the European Union means accepting whatever deal the Government comes back with, regardless of the real human cost that a bad deal, or ‘no-deal’ scenario could have. I therefore await details of the concession made by the Prime Minister, and will hold the Government to account to ensure it lives up to the promises made in Parliament.
I would like to thank every constituent who has written to me on this extremely important matter, I will be replying individually in due course. I welcome contributions to this debate from everyone in Washington & Sunderland West, the process of leaving the European Union is a matter of national interest, and one that I take extremely seriously.
Over the past couple of days in Parliament, we have been voting on amendments to the EU (European Union) Withdrawal Bill. As many people may be aware, I campaigned and...
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Sharon has received information today by email from Sunderland City Council, regarding the consultation process for the Sunderland Core Strategy and Development Plan 2015-2033, which runs from 15 June to 27 July 2018.
From the email below: "All comments must be submitted within this period and received by the council no later than 5pm on 27 July 2018. Please note that comments received after 5pm on Friday 27 July 2018 will not be considered. Only comments received within this period, by deadline, have a statutory right to be considered by the Planning Inspector at examination."
Please read the following information supplied by Sunderland City Council.
Top of page Sharon has received information today by email from Sunderland City Council, regarding the consultation process for the Sunderland Core Strategy and Development Plan 2015-2033, which runs from... Read more