You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website
There is no doubt that Brexit has divided some families, our communities and the nation.
The tension has been made all the more worse by the harmful language used by Prime Ministers May and Johnson, whose rhetoric has normalised words such as “betrayal”, “traitor” and “saboteurs”, directed at elected Members of Parliament and the judiciary; crucial pillars upholding our constitution and holding the Government to account on a host of issues, not just Brexit.
Such language has made it into my own inbox, and the inboxes of, mostly female, colleagues.
I am pleased to say that the majority of emails and messages I receive containing harmful language don’t pose a serious threat. Any that do are immediately reported to the police and Parliament’s security team.
However, when trying to work for the best of all of my constituents, whether that is speaking in debates, responding to letters, emails and calls or meeting with ministers, receiving such messages can be daunting, not only for me but for my family, friends and staff too.
No one should feel unsafe in their job, but I know that many MPs do.
The tragic murder of Jo Cox MP and the foiled plot by a neo-Nazi to murder Rosie Cooper MP serve as a reminder that words have serious consequences.
More locally, Billy Charlton - who appeared on the well circulated photograph from the Sunderland count of the EU referendum celebrating the leave result - was found guilty of inciting racial hatred and given a 21-month jail sentence.
It is this kind of behaviour and language that is making our society toxic.
Instead of encouraging debate, hostile language pushes people away from engaging in issues that affect them, leaving only the bullies standing tall.
If we want more women, young, working-class and BME people to engage in politics and current affairs, we must all take a moment to reflect on the consequences of our language.
Is it harmful and intimidating? Is it disenfranchising people from the debate? Could this encourage or influence others to act physically?
We all have a role to play in bridging the divide.
We are all human and our words have consequences.
You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website There is no doubt that Brexit has divided some families, our communities and the nation. The...
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Sep-Oct 2019 number 121Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Sep-Oct 2019 number 121 Read more
As the Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon participated in a panel at a fringe event at the 2019 Labour Party Conference in Brighton. The event was titled “Labour on Drugs – Our Policies for a General Election”.
The event was organised by The Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform (LCDPR). On the panel was: Neil Woods, former undercover police officer, Chair of LEAP UK and author of Good Cop Bad War; Jeff Smith MP, Co-founder of LCDPR and Lord Charlie Falconer, Former Secretary of State for Justice.
You can read Sharon’s speech below.
***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
Thank you for inviting me.
For those of you who don’t know me, I am Sharon Hodgson, the Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and the Shadow Minister for Public Health – which is what brings me here today.
As Jeff says I probably wouldn’t have come to an event like this, definitely not a few years ago – I’ve been on a journey – after talking to people like Jeff and Thangam my opinion has changed.
Drug policy currently sits with the Home Office, but I think that we will all agree that drug policy should be seen as a public health issue, as Jon said in his speech on Sunday.
Whether it is children being exploited by dealers on our estates or BAME people being disproportionately locked up for drug offences; this is a health issue that is touching all of society.
The UK has the highest drug-related death rate on record, with 2018 marking the highest rate of deaths from drug misuse.
And that is why I am so pleased the Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform has been set up, so that we can come together and discuss how we tackle this very issue.
The way the Government are – or aren’t – handling the drug crisis is affecting the most vulnerable in our society, which is why we need action.
Now, the first thing I would do as the Public Health Minister in Government is to reverse the public health budget cuts.
Since 2013, £700m has been cut from the Public Health Grant given to local authorities to provide vital services such as drug and alcohol treatment services.
That includes £72m cut from public health budgets this year.
Drug and alcohol treatment services have been hit hardest and with planned reductions across the board by £27.1m, including £2m worth of cuts to specialist drug and alcohol misuse services for children and young people.
Treatment services are struggling under the weight of austerity.
Less adults were in contact with drug and alcohol services in 2017-18, compared to the previous year.
If we are to prevent addiction and drug-related deaths, the Government need to invest in public health services to offer support to people. I know that there is no silver bullet to this issue and that there are many examples across the country that are making an impact on local communities by approaching this as a public health issue.
In Bristol, The Loop set up the UK’s first city centre drug safety testing service. In the West Midlands, Police and Crime Commissioner, David Jamieson, unveiled an eight-point plan to reduce the harm, cost and crime of drugs to society.
I met with David last year who opened my eyes to the many ways in which drug harm can be reduced.
In Weston-Super-Mare, the first drug-testing service licensed by the Home Office run by the charity Addaction.
And overseas – Canada became the first G7 country to legalise the sale and possession of cannabis last year.
Canada have put young people and education at the heart of this policy, and that is something I cannot disagree with.
Whether it is drug consumption rooms – which Jonathan Ashworth endorsed at the Health and Social Care Policy Forum yesterday; heroin assisted treatment or decriminalising all illicit drugs for personal use, it is clear that something needs to be done.
So that is why I am so pleased to be here today to listen to your thoughts and start the conversation about drug policy reform and hopefully get something into our next manifesto - which is already very packed as we’ve heard in Jeremy’s speech - that can really transform the way Governments and the public think about drugs.
As the Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon participated in a panel at a fringe event at the 2019 Labour Party Conference in Brighton. The event was titled “Labour on...
At the 2019 Labour Party Conference in Brighton, Sharon spoke on a panel at a fringe event titled “Meals for the Many: The Continuing Case for Extending Universal Infant Free School Meals”.
The event was co-hosted by the New Statesman, ISER and LACA. Also on the panel was: Steve Reed MP, Shadow Minister for Children and Families; Michael Hales, Immediate Past Chair of LACA; Dr Angus Holford, Research Fellow at ISER and Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group.
During the event, Sharon set out why school food was a lifeline to so many families up and down the country and the benefits it has to the health, wellbeing and development of children.
As the Shadow Minister for Public Health and the Chair of the APPG on School Food, Sharon believes that Universal Infant Free School Meals should be extended.
The Labour Party are committed to extending Universal Infant Free School Meals to all Primary Pupils and ensuring that all children in families receiving Universal Credit to be eligible for Free School Meals.
Sharon also said there is the case to look at extending Free School Meals to secondary school pupils, although this is not a Labour Party commitment.
If you would like to find out any further information about Sharon’s work on school food, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
At the 2019 Labour Party Conference in Brighton, Sharon spoke on a panel at a fringe event titled “Meals for the Many: The Continuing Case for Extending Universal Infant Free...
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Aug-Sep 2019 number 120
Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Aug-Sep 2019 number 120
News from Westminster
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Aug-Sep 2019 number 120 Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Aug-Sep 2019 number 120News from Westminster Read more
You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website
I know many constituents will be as horrified as I am by the way the unelected Prime Minister Boris Johnson, has been riding roughshod over our democracy.
The events of Tuesday evening, when Boris Johnson expelled 21 members of his own Party, were entirely unprecedented – and many will have been appalled by Jacob Rees-Mogg’s entitled and disrespectful behaviour in the chamber.
Since being elected as leader of the Conservative Party by less than one hundred thousand Conservative Party members, Johnson has been trying to force through a reckless No Deal Brexit, against the wishes of Parliament and the country.
One of the ways in which he has attempted to do so, is by suspending (proroguing) Parliament early next week.
In 2017 I was honoured to be re-elected as the Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West.
My job is to represent everyone in our constituency in Parliament, scrutinize and amend legislation and hold the Government to account.
At a time of such huge political significance and considering the limited time available before the 31st October Brexit deadline, it is outrageous that MPs are being denied the maximum time possible to represent our constituents.
By proroguing Parliament, Johnson has acted in a profoundly undemocratic way.
Leaving the EU without a deal would be a terrible outcome for our country, and particularly for the manufacturing industry in our region.
Companies such as Nissan, who provide around 40,000 jobs in and around my constituency, rely on the ‘just in time’ process in order to operate smoothly. The continued success of this process could be immediately at risk under a No Deal scenario.
Don’t just take my word for it, recent leaked documents from the Government reportedly warn of potential 48-hour delays at Dover.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA), said that they were not surprised by the fact that a document of this nature existed, and added that there is still no sign of a new customs process with only weeks to go until the UK is expected to leave the EU.
It seems clear to me, that those best placed to provide information on these issues are the industry experts themselves, not Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg or Michael Gove.
According to leaked documents, border delays could also lead to shortages of food and of certain medicines.
It is almost inconceivable that this is something a Government would consider imposing on people in circumstances outside of a major national crisis or war.
I did not come into politics to put the livelihoods or the health of my constituents at risk, and I am not prepared to do so now.
That’s why I have supported measures in Parliament to prevent a No Deal Brexit, including Hilary Benn’s Bill which will hopefully become law by the end of this week.
You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website I know many constituents will be as horrified as I am by the way the unelected...
A No Deal Brexit would be a terrible outcome. No matter how people voted in 2016, no one voted for the disruption and economic damage that a No Deal could do.
Leaving the EU without a deal is something I will continue to firmly oppose. No Member of Parliament should be willing to let something with such considerable risks to the economy, our Public Services and vulnerable people in our society, happen and I don’t intend to do so.
Below are the ways in which I have been opposing No Deal and the Government’s chaotic approach to Brexit.
I challenged the then Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP to provide assurances for the UK automotive industry, after Nissan’s decision not to build the X-Trail model in Sunderland as planned.
After Nissan took the decision to make the new X-Trail model in Japan rather than in Sunderland, I wrote to the then Prime Minister Theresa May outlining my concerns. In that letter I warned of the potential catastrophic impacts of a No Deal Brexit on Nissan.
You can read my letter here.
Just 38 days before the UK was due to leave the EU, I asked Greg Clark MP when businesses such as Nissan could expect to have clarity on what trading arrangements would be in place.
In March, with just 15 sitting Parliamentary days until we were due to leave the EU, I spoke to BBC Newcastle about the risks that a No Deal Brexit posed and the amount of work that was being done by Parliament and companies to prepare for No Deal.
You can listen to the clip on Twitter here.
I also secured a Westminster Hall debate on the risks that a No Deal Brexit posed to Public Sector catering, which some of the most vulnerable people in our society rely upon.
After Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, I used his first statement to the Commons to ask him to rule out leaving the EU without a deal due to the impact it could have on the automotive industry.
I am extremely worried about the impact that a No Deal could have on the worst off in our society, so I’ve been calling on the Government to introduce a Hardship Fund in the event we do leave without a deal.
You can read my article in the HuffPost about this here.
A No Deal Brexit would be a terrible outcome. No matter how people voted in 2016, no one voted for the disruption and economic damage that a No Deal could...
Sharon Hodgson MP raised concerns about Nissan’s announcement and challenged the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP, to rule out a No Deal Brexit, and commit to the continuation of an active, innovation-led industrial strategy to protect our industrial towns.
Sharon's Question can be viewed on Twitter here
Sharon's Question can be viewed on Parliament TV here
Sharon's Question can be read here
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health used the new Prime Minister’s first statement in the House of Commons to raise concerns around Nissan’s announcement this morning that 12,500 jobs will be lost worldwide.
She also challenged Boris Johnson to rule out a No Deal Brexit, and commit to the continuation of an active, innovation-led industrial strategy to protect our industrial towns.
The Automotive Industry in the UK is undoubtedly going through a challenging period, and by far the greatest threat to its continued competitiveness is a No Deal exit from the European Union (EU).
‘Like many people I was hugely worried by Nissan’s announcement this morning. At this stage there is little indication that any job cuts will be made at the Sunderland plant, but I will be monitoring the situation extremely closely and maintaining contact with both Unite Officials, and Nissan.
I’m glad Boris committed to the continuation of an active, innovation-led industrial strategy and I look forward to seeing that in practice.
When it comes to Brexit, a No Deal exit from the European Union poses an existential threat to the continued success of the automotive industry in the UK.
It is frightening that we now have a Prime Minister who believes he knows more than the industry itself when it comes to the challenges that a No Deal would present. I will continue to challenge No Deal at every available opportunity, and hold this new Prime Minister to account.’
Sharon Hodgson MP raises concerns about Nissan’s announcement and challenges the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP
Sharon Hodgson MP raised concerns about Nissan’s announcement and challenged the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP, to rule out a No Deal Brexit, and commit to the continuation of...
Sharon has this week received a response from the Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Mrs Heather Wheeler MP, in reply to her letter dated 26th of June regarding the leasehold property market which can be found here.
In her letter to the Minister, Sharon outlined the problems and injustices felt by constituents of Washington and Sunderland West regarding leasehold properties, and made the case for urgent policies to stop leasehold injustices.
The response from the Minister outlines developments relevant to the leasehold sector, and offers advice and comment for leaseholders who may want to take action personally.
“I thank the Minister for responding to my letter and for her advice to my constituents. However, I fear that this will provide little comfort to my constituents who continue to feel trapped in their leasehold home, and subject to this feudal and exploitative market.
The Government’s current proposals to change the market overlook existing leaseholders, and its attitude towards this crisis has been lacklustre.
Only Labour is committed to truly reforming the market in a way that will deliver justice for all homeowners with our New Deal for Leaseholders.”
Sharon has this week received a response from the Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Mrs Heather Wheeler MP, in reply to her letter dated 26th of June regarding the leasehold...
On Friday 19th July, Sharon spoke at the Planning and Highways Committee meeting regarding the proposed application for a gasification plant to be built at Hillthorn Farm. During the meeting, Councillors voted to reject the planning application.
You can read Sharon's speech below
** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY **
I’m the MP for Washington and Sunderland West and the proposed site for this application is in my constituency.
I am here today to represent the views of my constituents, as they have been expressed to me over the last two years.
In my 14 years as an MP no other issue has galvanised my constituents to campaign against something than what is before you today.
Whilst the vast majority of complaints have understandably come from Washington residents, I don’t actually want this plant built anywhere near any of my constituents. In Washington or Sunderland.
I would like to begin by expressing my disappointment that this meeting is being held in Sunderland, rather than in Washington where the proposed site is, and in the middle of the afternoon as that has limited who could attend due to work or care commitments – as well as the distance to travel.
My constituents in Washington are very proud of its heritage and industry.
However, communities feel they are becoming the victim of Washington’s excellence, with industries – such as the waste processing sites cluster in Teal Farm – being akin to the nightmare neighbour next door.
Many of my constituents have told me they are worried that Washington risks becoming the dumping ground of the whole region and beyond!
If this gasification plant is a regional or national necessity, why can’t it just be built well away from homes and schools?
As one constituent wrote to me, and I quote:
“The people of Washington do not want this monstrosity built near to where we live and work.”
As I mentioned, some communities in Washington are already suffering as a result of nearby industries.
Building a waste gasification plant in Washington may attract more of the same problems that residents living near existing industries face such as: vermin, flies and odours.
The applicant has failed to confirm what waste will be used in the feedstock, or how it will be treated.
This is particularly relevant in light of the experience of the residents in Derby, who have had two years of foul smells from the Sinfin gasification plant, despite all the reassurances given by the operator at the planning application stage .
In terms of this application, the Environment Agency are unsatisfied about the technical detail with respect to the odour management system.
Surely the Committee cannot approve an application that fails to satisfy the Environment Agency, and the concerns of my constituents, who will have to live alongside it?
Waste will be coming from across the Northern region, in 110 HGVs a day, which will have significant adverse impacts on both transport congestion as well as recycling rates in the region.
The pollution that would be emitted from the stack and from the transport to and from the facility would also have serious adverse impacts well beyond the immediate locality.
We therefore do not know the short or long-term health and environmental impacts that an approved plant in Washington would have on the local and wider population.
Last year, I held a meeting with constituents and the applicant managing company, Rolton Kilbride, to discuss concerns about the proposed plant’s technology.
They were unable to confirm what technology or feedstock would be used and a year on we are still none the wiser. This is deeply alarming.
What they did say though is that the technology would be similar to one used in Japan; but never one previously used in Europe.
The people of Washington should not be used as guinea pigs for technology used for the first time in Europe.
My constituents are concerned about several matters not just how close the proposed site is to thousands of homes and ten schools all within a mile radius, but also the effects on air quality, public health and impact on house prices.
There is also the very real danger it could pose to any metro extension to Washington.
Therefore in conclusion, knowing the anxiety of constituents and the lack of information from the applicant, could you really approve this application with a clear conscience?
I called the application in to the Secretary of State in August last year, but that should not be used as a safety net for the Council.
Please don’t gamble with the health and lives of my constituents – they deserve their elected representatives to have their best interests at heart at all times and this is too important a decision to get wrong.
On Friday 19th July, Sharon spoke at the Planning and Highways Committee meeting regarding the proposed application for a gasification plant to be built at Hillthorn Farm. During the meeting,...