Mark spoke with passion in the House of Commons today in attacking the Government for refusing to work with other European states to put in place search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean to save the lives of refugees and migrants desperately trying to reach Europe at risk of their lives.
He put down an Urgent Question to the Government to challenge its policy as the Italian Navy operation comes to an end this week without a comprehensive EU operation to replace it.
It is estimated that already this year more than 3000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe and the total number to have lost their lives over recent years is likely to be at least 20,000.
“Refugees and migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe are exploited by people traffickers and risk dying en route – yet they are so desperate they still make these terrible journeys anyway, many of them fleeing war, poverty and starvation in places like Syria and Libya.
“The Government has said it would not support EU search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean – to discourage, presumably, others from making the journey: that’s not just cruel but totally without logic.
“The right response is to work to bring about a comprehensive EU search and rescue operation and offer safe and legal channels for people to access protection yet the number of refugees from Syria the Government has allowed in to the UK is tiny.
“This is a shameful policy. When fellow human beings face a terrible death, and it is in our power to do something about it, it is our moral duty to act.”
The Italian navy’s search and rescue operation comes to an end this week having it is estimated saved 150,000 lives over the past year but the UK has made it clear it will not support EU search and rescue operations across the Mediterranean to replace it because it believes it would only encourage more people to undertake the journey.
That will leave only a much more limited EU plan that will see operations restricted to within 30 miles of the Italian coast.
The decision has been strongly attacked by the British Refugees Council and Amnesty International and other agencies working in the field.
Mark spoke with passion in the House of Commons today in attacking the Government for refusing to work with other European states to put in place search and rescue operations...
Mark was one of the MPs backing a Motion in Parliament today by Labour MP, Andy Sawford, for a Bill to be introduced to permit public sector railway operators.
The Motion was passed by 197 votes to 38 and even if the Bill does not reach the statute book the vote shows the strength of feeling amongst Labour MPs about the franchise system and the service that passengers are receiving.
The new franchise for the East Coast Line is due to start in March 2015 but the UK Government has repeatedly refused to allow Directly Operated Railways (DOR), the public sector company currently running the East Coast Main Line, to bid for it.
“I strongly welcome this Bill which would permit a public sector company to bid for a franchise as I have been urging the Government to allow the current public sector operator of the East Coast Line to be allowed to do given the successful way it is running it.
“Given the franchise fiasco of the West Coast Line last year and East Coast’s private sector operator reneging on the terms of that contract in 2009 surely it’s time a public sector operator is given a chance at last to bid for a franchise or is the Government afraid of a public sector bid coming out on top.”
The railway network was privatised in 1993 by the then Conservative Government of John Major. The East Coast Line is currently the only franchise run by a UK public sector rail operator and it has consistently been amongst the top train operators for value for money for the taxpayer.
The latest results for Directly Operated Railways showed that in the last financial year before it is reprivatised, to March 2014, it paid £225m to the government after it’s pre-tax profits for the year rose 40%. Over the five years the company has run the East Coast Line since 2009 it has paid more than £1bn in premium payments to the Government.
Mark was one of the MPs backing a Motion in Parliament today by Labour MP, Andy Sawford, for a Bill to be introduced to permit public sector railway operators. The...
In a debate called by the Opposition today on the effect of Government policy on disabled people, Mark attacked the Government for the horrific delays experienced by disabled people waiting to be assessed for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) which is being rolled out to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Claimants are waiting at least 6 months for an assessment and Mark also called for claims from people with progressive conditions like Motor Neurone Disease (MND) to be fast tracked – one of the aims of the campaign by Gordon Aikman in Scotland to improve the care and support of people with MND. You can find more on that here.
“Disability and illness often involve extra costs – for heating, travel, specialist equipment, treatment or diets - and that’s what DLA and now PIP are meant to pay for.
“People claiming PIP are facing delays of 6 months or more, and in the case of some of my constituents well over a year, so as well as coping with their condition they face financial insecurity which can further damage their health and leave them deep in debt.
“This is all the more shocking because the Government seems to be just repeating the mistakes made with Work Capability Assessments and the same company, ATOS, is involved again”
“The system is complex and even if people finally receive PIP it may not be backdated but for people with progressive conditions like Motor Neurone Disease that may be too late anyway: any sense of basic decency dictates that at least their claims should be fast tracked.
“Disabled people should be able to participate fully in society but the way the Government has mishandled the introduction of PIP actually threatens to increase social exclusion. That should surely be unacceptable in any civilised society.”
A recent report by Citizens Advice Scotland sets out the hardship that claimants facing prolonged delays are experiencing often forcing them to turn to food banks or run up debts to cope from day to day which inevitably makes their health even worse. You can find the report here.
In a debate called by the Opposition today on the effect of Government policy on disabled people, Mark attacked the Government for the horrific delays experienced by disabled people waiting...
View More Activities
The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better.
Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.
To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.