Click on image above to download letter.
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health has today written to the Prime Minister in order to outline key concerns around Nissan’s decision to build the new X-Trail Model in Japan rather than in Washington as originally planned.
After considerable speculation over the weekend, this decision was confirmed by Nissan, and has undoubtedly caused much concern for the near 40,000 people who either work at the plant in Washington, or its supply chain.
During a statement on Nissan by Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on Monday 4th February 2019, Sharon asked him what immediate steps the Government would be taking to reassure the UK Automotive Industry.
A clip of Sharon’s question can be viewed on Twitter here:
No such assurances were provided during that statement. Sharon has therefore written directly to the Prime Minister asking her to; confirm that any new application by Nissan for Government funding will be considered fairly, and independently, rule out a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit and confirm when MPs will next get to vote on a re-negotiated deal, and reconsider the option of a negotiating a new customs union with the EU.
A copy of the letter can be found here
‘Many of my constituents will be hugely worried by this decision. Although no immediate jobs are at risk, it is a great shame that the 740 future positions that would have been brought to the plant in Washington have been lost.
There were undoubtedly a number of factors that led to Nissan taking this decision including concerns around the transition away from diesel and falling sales of diesel vehicles.
However, it is also clear that the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit had a role to play, and this was confirmed by Nissan in their initial statement. There are just 51 days to go until we are due to leave the EU, and businesses in this country are still no clearer on what trading arrangements we will have at that point.
I’ve written to the Prime Minister in order to address some key concerns that I have around this decision and I look forward to them being answered as soon as possible.’
Sharon Hodgson MP writes to the Prime Minister outlining key concerns around Nissan decision. Click on image above to download letter.Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West... Read more
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, has today raised concerns with the Secretary of State about the recent decision by Nissan to build the new X-Trail model in Japan, rather than in Washington, Sunderland as originally planned.
The Plant has been a great source of employment for Sunderland and the wider North East area, hiring around 7,300 members of staff directly, and around 32,000 in the supply chain. This means that Nissan provides almost 40,000 jobs in the UK, the majority of which are in the North East.
On Monday 4th February 2019, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, made a statement in the House of Commons regarding Nissan’s decision.
This came after speculations over the weekend that Nissan would announce that the new X-Trail model would be built in Japan, rather than in Washington, resulting in the loss of 740 future jobs. Nissan confirmed this on Sunday 3rd February 2019.
On Monday, a letter written in 2016 to Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan at the time, by the Secretary of State, was published. The letter included references to up to £80m funding assurances by the UK Government, including:
“It is contingent too on a positive decision by the Nissan Board to allocate production of the Qashqai and X-Trail models to the Sunderland Plant.”
Significant questions around this funding must now be answered.
During the Secretary of State’s statement, Sharon asked:
“Nissan in my constituency, together with the supply chain, employs around 40,000 people, many of whom will be extremely worried by this decision.
This Government’s chaotic approach to the Brexit negotiations, concerns around diesel, and a new Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Japan have all created a perfect storm of conditions.
With just 53 days until we are due to leave the EU, no Brexit Parliamentary business scheduled for two weeks, the Prime Minister currently engaged in fantasy politics over the backstop, and the sweetheart deal on the rocks, what immediate steps is the Secretary of State taking to re-assure the whole UK automotive industry?”
In response, the Secretary of State said:
"One of the pleasures of dealing with the automotive industry in the UK is that it is one of the most advanced and most capable, in terms of innovation, in the world.
The work that we are doing, through our Industrial Strategy with the sector, in terms of being the leading place in the world, not just for the discovery of battery technologies, but for manufacturing them; the test beds that we have put in place for connected and autonomous vehicles, make Britain the place in the world that people come to for innovation.
We back that in this Government, and it enjoys support, I know, across the House. It is a source of confidence around the world. But it is true that the international business such as the automotive industry is wants to know reasonably what its trading relationships will be with the rest of the European Union in the years ahead.
That is why they’ve been so clear that this House should come together and back the deal. I hope that the Hon. Lady, with the care for her constituents that I know she always has in mind will during the weeks and months ahead do so too.”
After the statement, Sharon said:
“I am disappointed that the Secretary of State has failed to give assurances to the UK automotive industry during these uncertain times.
“Those employed directly or indirectly in the automotive industry will rightfully be concerned by this news, which is why I called on the Government to provide assurances. However, they have failed to do so.
“The Secretary of State spoke about unity over Brexit, but it is down to his own Government’s failings that we are now in uncertain times; just 53 days away from Brexit day, without a deal.
“In light of specific assurances made in 2016 to Nissan, the Government must now be clear about what implications this now has on the future of the automotive industry in the UK, and the funding promised to Nissan’’
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, has today raised concerns with the Secretary of State about the recent decision by... Read more
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Feb 2019 number 113 Brexit update
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - News from Westminster - Feb 2019 number 113 Brexit update Click on the picture above to read Sharon Hodgson MP's report Read more
Sharon Hodgson MP's report Jan-Feb 2019 number 112 Click on image above to download report. Read more
Local Labour MP, and Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon Hodgson has announced she will be giving up fizzy drinks for the whole of February as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the negative health consequences of drinking sugary fizzy drinks which can lead to obesity and other sugar related illnesses.
Sharon is also encouraging local schools and constituents to take up the challenge of “Fizz Free February”, to raise awareness of the negative health consequences of drinking sugary fizzy drinks which can lead to obesity and other sugar related illnesses.
Participants will give up fizzy drinks for the 28 days of February.
Sugary soft drinks, mainly fizzy drinks, make up an average of 29 per cent of free sugar intake for 11-18 year olds, the single largest source of sugar in their diet. Studies have also suggested that fizzy drinks can affect the appearance of young people’s skin, cause brittle bones and rotten teeth, as well as causing weight gain and affecting pupils’ ability to concentrate in school.
The initiative is part of a wider campaign to tackle the obesity crisis in Britain. 61% of adults in England are either overweight or obese and 34% of children in year 6 are overweight or obese. Type 2 diabetes, a disease linked to obesity and sugar intake, costs the NHS 10% of its entire budget to treat.
In the local area 46% of year 6 children are overweight or obese and 28% of five-year olds are suffering from dental decay.
Public Health England dietary advice says that adults should consume no more than 30g free sugars per day, children aged 7-10 should have no more than 24g and children aged 4-6 should have no more than 19g.
Examples of sugar content in popular fizzy drinks:
• A can of Original Coca Cola – 35g of sugar = 145% of a child’s recommended daily sugar intake
• A can of IRN BRU – 34g of sugar = 142% of a child’s recommended daily sugar intake
• A can of Fanta Orange – 15g of sugar = 63% of a child’s recommended sugar intake
• A can of Original Pepsi – 41g of sugar = 171% of a child’s recommended sugar intake
In 2018 the campaign was started by Southwark Council in London. In 2019 Sharon Hodgson is encouraging councils and schools across the country to take part and help people in the local community to do #FizzFreeFeb
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
“As Shadow Minister for Public Health, I am committed to promoting a healthier nation, and working towards reducing child obesity, which includes raising awareness of how excess sugar consumption can have terrible effects on health.
“That is why I am taking part in Fizz Free February, and encouraging constituents to take up the challenge too, in order to raise awareness of the amount of sugar in fizzy drinks, and the impact this has on our health.
“Obesity is a growing problem in Sunderland, and across the country, so it is important to take steps to help reverse this trend. Of course, Government has a big part to play in this, which is why I am urging them to reverse cuts to public health budgets so that people can be supported in losing weight.”
Local Labour MP, and Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon Hodgson has announced she will be giving up fizzy drinks for the whole of February as part of a national...
Sharon Hodgson MP's report Dec 2018 - Jan 2019 number 111
Click on the image above to download the report.
Sharon Hodgson MP's report Dec 2018 - Jan 2019 number 111 Click on the image above to download the report. Read more
As the Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a Backbench Business Debate on Appropriate ME treatment in the House of Commons.
You can read Sharon's speech below:
Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Lab):
I start by thanking the hon. Members for Glasgow North West (Carol Monaghan) and for Cheltenham (Alex Chalk) and the right hon. Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan) for securing this important debate. I thank all hon. Members who spoke; it was great that so many did so. Due to time, I shall not list them all.
I thank the charities—MEAction, Action for ME, the ME Association, the M.E. Trust and ME North East—and all the patients who have been in touch with me to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences of living with ME. The ME Association estimates that approximately 250,000 people in Britain are affected by ME; we have heard plenty of moving stories about those individuals today. However, an article published in the British Medical Journal in July 2018 reported that 90% of cases are thought to go undiagnosed, and that people with ME are substantially undercounted, underdiagnosed and undertreated. As we have heard, patients are often passed from pillar to post with dismissals and misdiagnoses, and sometimes left waiting over a year for a diagnosis. I am sure the Minister does not need me to tell him that that does not meet NICE guidelines of diagnosis within four months of the onset of symptoms. The Government should therefore do more, and considering that they are not doing much for patients with ME at the moment, I do not think that that is too much to ask.
The Government do not fund research and clinical care for people with ME at the rate they do for other serious prevalent diseases. As we have heard, the average spent on research for a person living with ME is just £1 a year. According to Action for ME, that represents just 0.02% of all active grants given by the mainstream UK funding agencies. I am therefore concerned that the Government recently confirmed in a written answer that ME research funding is lower now than it was even in 2013-14.
Current treatments of graded exercise therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy have been found to be harmful to patients with ME, and continue the narrative of disbelief and neglect of them, which we have heard about from a number of hon. Members. NICE has already recognised that its guidelines are outdated, and that patients do not receive the full picture on recommended treatments. NICE is updating its clinical guidance on the diagnosis and management of ME, but that is not expected to be published until October 2020. Patients and their families have already waited long enough, so will the Minister work with patients, charities, researchers and NICE to ensure that treatment and care for ME is appropriate?
We have heard today why funding for biomedical research into ME is so desperately needed. According to MEAction, the only year in which the Medical Research Council invested any meaningful sum in biomedical research was 2012, when £1.5 million of funds were ring-fenced. However, no funds have been allocated for biomedical ME research since then.
In the Westminster Hall debate in June last year, I called on the Government to consider funding research, because it is long overdue. Will the Minister commit to doing that today, or will the Government continue to leave it up to the charity sector to do so? Projects such as Invest in ME Research, which has four PhD students researching ME, have been financially supported by patients and their families via crowdfunding in excess of £870,000. That is fantastic, but it should not be left to patients to crowdfund research. More funding for research will enhance healthcare professionals and clinicians’ understanding of ME, which will improve the patient experience and debunk the myths of ME being a primarily psychological condition, as we have heard about today. Clinicians must have access to up-to-date research and information so that they can give patients the best possible care and advice.
In some areas, however, that is not the case, as Jennifer Elliot, the CEO of ME North East, has brought to my attention. Jennifer told me of the diminished services available to patients with ME in the north-east region. There are no services at all for young people with ME in the entire north-east. Adult services in Sunderland are closed to patients altogether, and have been for some months, with no date for them to be reinstated. For 20 years, ME North East has been doing all it can to help and support ME patients but, with a severe lack of funding, it is now at crisis point. I am sure that other regions have similar stories, as we have heard today, so will the Minister please consider the loss of services in his response? Will he ensure that the services are reinstated and supported financially by the Government?
Finally, we must ensure that the stigma of ME is tackled. Funding and research will help, but it cannot be right that, as found last year, more than one in five families caring for a child with ME have been referred for child protection proceedings due to school absences and a lack of understanding by the school, as we have heard. I am pleased that the vast majority of those accusations are dismissed in less than a year, but the added stress and burden to families with children suffering with ME can be overwhelming. We therefore need more funding for research, so that we can understand, care for and treat ME, and break down the stigma.
As the Shadow Minister for Public Health, Sharon responded to a Backbench Business Debate on Appropriate ME treatment in the House of Commons. You can watch Sharon's speech here You...
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website.
This week, January 21 to 27, 2019, is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, a campaign spearheaded by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, and supported by other charities, such as The Eve Appeal.
As the Shadow Minister for Public Health, I work closely with charities, health professionals and the public to raise awareness of cancer symptoms, so that cancers can be diagnosed early, in order to improve the effectiveness of treatment.
Cervical cancer is currently one of three cancers that are screened for nationally, along with bowel and breast cancer.
However, cervical cancer screening rates are at their lowest rate for two decades.
Three million women across England have not had a smear test for at least three and a half years.
A survey, published this week by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, found that eight out of ten women said they had delayed a smear test or never gone for a screening because they felt embarrassed.
In November 2018, it was found that more than 40,000 women in England have not received information regarding cervical cancer screening.
We must do better.
Each day, nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and two women lose their lives to the disease.
Seventy-five per cent of cervical cancers can be prevented by smear tests.
It is therefore crucial that women, aged between 25 and 64, firstly know that they are eligible for a smear test, and secondly take up the opportunity to attend.
Most women receive a normal screening test result; but for those that don’t, the results from the screening will provide a gateway to treatment and care.
This is not something women, or men either, should be embarrassed talking about to their families and friends, after all it could save lives.
This Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, I encourage all of my constituents to talk about cervical cancer and smear tests, and the lifesaving benefits of attending appointments.
If you have been invited for a test, don’t delay your booking any longer.
The number of cervical cancer deaths has fallen in recent years, but it remains the most common cancer in women under 35.
If we want to prevent more cancers, we must be open to talking about symptoms and concerns about screening tests.
If you are concerned about cervical cancer, please contact your local GP.
Read Sharon's latest Sunderland Echo column below or by going to the Sunderland Echo website. This week, January 21 to 27, 2019, is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, a campaign spearheaded...
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health is urging the Prime Minister to rule out a disastrous ‘No-Deal’ Brexit scenario. As uncertainty around Brexit continues from day to day, it is more important now than ever that a viable solution is found to break the current impasse.
In recent weeks, Sharon has been contacted by local businesses who are growing increasingly concerned by the lack of certainty around Brexit, some of whom have already incurred significant financial costs through preparing for any eventuality.
This comes as a number of high profile trade bodies and businesses issue stark warnings about the reality of a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit – details of which can be found at the bottom of this page.
Sharon Hodgson MP said:
‘There have been growing calls by some people in recent weeks and months for a ‘No-Deal’ or ‘Clean Break’ Brexit, in which we would leave the European Union (EU) without an agreement. This is being painted by some, as a harmless and convenient way in which to bring the current political crisis over Brexit to an end.
What these latest figures from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Government’s own financial analysis and the concerns I have heard from local businesses, the North East Chamber of Commerce show, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), and Trade Unions is that this could not be further from the truth.
When the automotive and manufacturing industries highlight the huge impacts that any disruption at the border could have, it’s important to listen. No politician should claim to know more about the intricate nature of industry, than those who actually work within it, and this is something I will never do.
It is all too easy for some to dismiss the concerns being raised as ‘Project Fear’, but the very real truth is that there is now the possibility of severe and long-term damage being done to our region due to the reckless approach to Brexit by this Tory Government. It won’t be the Boris Johnsons or the Jacob Rees-Moggs of the world who suffer, it will be working people in the North-East.
Our region has already suffered disproportionately under 9 years of punishing austerity, and as the proud Labour MP for my constituency I will never inflict more pain on those I represent.
That is why I will continue to back the Labour Party in calling on the Prime Minister to do the right thing by dropping her red lines, ruling out ‘No-deal’ and allow Parliament to decide next steps.’
Sharon Hodgson MP has taken a number of steps in recent weeks to put pressure on the Government into ruling out a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit:
- Sharon joined over 200 MPs from across the political spectrum in signing a letter to the Prime Minister urging the Government to agree a mechanism that would ensure a ‘No Deal’ Brexit could not take place.
- Sharon attended a meeting that followed on from this letter, with the Prime Minister on Tuesday 8th January 2019 where concerns from MPs representing constituencies across the country were aired about the damaging impact that a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit could have on manufacturing and jobs.
- Sharon also supported an Amendment to the Finance Bill which would limit the scope for tax changes following a ‘No-Deal’ unless authorised by MPs. Although the specific effect of this measure may be limited, it signals that there is no majority in the House of Commons for ‘No-Deal’.
- Sharon intends to support amendments that seek to take ‘No-Deal’ off the table and allow Parliament to have a say on options to break the Brexit deadlock.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) recently released information on the impact of a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit scenario on the North-East:
- If the UK fails to secure a deal, by 2034 real GVA – a measure of the value of goods and services produced in the region - could be 10.5% lower in the North East than under the UK’s current arrangements with the EU1. This could amount to an annual loss of output worth £7 billion by 2034 (in today’s prices), equivalent to twice the amount of public spending on schools and education in the region each year2.
- North East, and many of the region’s manufacturing businesses are particularly exposed to the risk of higher tariffs and other trade costs that would hit firms in a no deal scenario. The manufacturing sector accounts for 15% of the North East’s GVA and 10.4% of employment, making it the region’s largest sector3. With 89% of the North East’s exports being goods, and with 59% of these going to the EU4, a deal is really important for jobs and growth in the North East.
- The prospect of higher tariffs, border delays and administrative costs are a particular risk for the North East’s automotive sector – which spans small technology companies making steering systems to one of the largest car companies in the world. Transport equipment makes up the greatest share of manufacturing GVA in the North East (15.0%), and 94% of this comes from motor vehicles3. At a national level, the automotive sector is likely to be one of the most severely impacted sectors in a no deal scenario, with sectoral GVA projected to be around 23% lower by 2034 than it would be if today’s arrangements persisted1.That is because tariffs on cars could be up to 10% and every completed component in a car would have to be tested twice over before being sold, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.
- The North East’s important chemicals, refined petroleum and coke sector, which accounts for 13.7% of the region’s manufacturing GVA3, is also highly exposed to no deal. The chemicals, pharmaceuticals, rubber & plastics sector is set to be one of the hardest hit sectors in a no deal, with sectoral GVA estimated to be around 22% lower by 2034 than if today’s arrangements with the EU continued1. That is because chemicals sold or traded to the EU are highly regulated and for safety reasons would have to be carefully tracked and traced through a complex system that UK firms would have to go through twice.
As reported in the Sunderland Echo, Assistant director of policy at North East Chamber of Commerce, Jonathan Walker recently warned that a ‘no deal’ Brexit could see “death by a thousand cuts” for Sunderland firms
- The result of a no deal or disruptive Brexit, he argued, could affect future investment, disrupt supply chains and even see some businesses relocate.
- “When we have surveyed businesses in the region, among exporting businesses, the overwhelming majority want an outcome that keeps us in the single market or customs union or both. “This is for the very simple reason that goods flow freely across borders into Sunderland. “Any disruption to that trade fall we believe really exposes us to short-term disruption and risk but in the long-term makes Sunderland and the North East a less attractive place to invest in. “We have a lot of companies based here where this is their European presence and they’re there to serve a European market.
- “The reason we’re concerned is because the manufacturing sector in Sunderland is part of the jewel in the crown of the North East, we’re a region that continues to punch above its weight when it comes to export, particularly value.
In a recent statement, Nissan said:
‘Since 1986, the UK has been a production base for Nissan in Europe. Our British-based R&D and design teams support the development of products made in Sunderland, specifically for the European market.
Frictionless trade has enabled the growth that has seen our Sunderland plant become the biggest factory in the history of the UK car industry, exporting more than half of its production to the EU.
Today we are among those companies with major investments in the UK who are still waiting for clarity on what the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU will look like.
As a sudden change from those rules to the rules of the WTO will have serious implications for British industry, we urge UK and EU negotiators to work collaboratively towards an orderly balanced Brexit that will continue to encourage mutually beneficial trade.’
Mike Hawes, Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said in a recent statement:
‘’Leaving the EU, our biggest and most important trading partner, without a deal and without a transition period to cushion the blow would put this sector and jobs at immediate risk. ‘No deal’ must be avoided at all costs. Business needs certainty so we now need politicians to do everything to prevent irreversible damage to this vital sector.”
Sharon Hodgson MP urges the Prime Minister to rule out a ‘No-Deal’ Brexit, which would be a disaster for Sunderland and the North East
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health is urging the Prime Minister to rule out a disastrous ‘No-Deal’ Brexit scenario. As... Read more
Sharon receives a response to her letter (of 13th Dec, 2018) requesting an update from Sunderland City Council, regarding the gasification plant application in Washington.
Click on image above to download letter.
Sharon receives a response to her letter (of 13th Dec, 2018) requesting an update from Sunderland City Council, regarding the gasification plant application in Washington. Click on image above to download... Read more