EU Withdrawal Bill
Rail Fail: Time for Government to step up
Summer School applications open
Constituency update
Parliamentary business
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News from
Debbie Abrahams MP

For Oldham East and Saddleworth

June 2018

Dear <<First Name>> <<Last Name>>

This is the latest edition of my e-newsletter! 

This edition contains an update on my activities across the constituency and in Parliament. 

For more regular news you can like my page on Facebook, follow me on twitter  or visit my website.

Debbie Abrahams MP
EU Withdrawal Bill

This week, Parliament has been debating and voting on Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill. These are the most significant votes in Parliament since the start of the Article 50 process. In March 2017, I voted to leave the EU in respect of how the people of Oldham had voted in the EU referendum. This Bill is about how we leave. They come at time when the negotiations have stalled, and the Cabinet remains split over two unworkable customs options. Two years on from the referendum it is clear that the Government has no plan for how it will protect jobs and the economy, and guarantee no hard border in Northern Ireland .

Labour focused on two areas – customs union and a meaningful vote and also sought to retain multiple amendments passed in the House of Lords, including on workers’ rights, environmental protections and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

We will only accept a Brexit deal that delivers the benefits of the Single Market and protects jobs and living standards. Labour tabled amendments to the Government’s Brexit legislation calling on ministers to negotiate a new deal with the Single Market that would protect jobs and the economy. The proposal, alongside a new comprehensive customs union, would avoid disruption to the UK's trading relationship with the EU, protect jobs, rights and the economy and ensure no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The Prime Minister must start putting the needs of the country first and negotiate a future relationship with the EU that puts jobs and the economy at the centre but also protects employment rights and environmental standards. It is also vital to ensure that Parliament takes control of process. Without a meaningful vote the Government could push a bad deal through or leave with no deal at all. At the forefront of my mind is how best to protect the 14,000 jobs in Oldham currently dependent on EU trade and the future for all the people in our borough

Rail Fail: Time for the Government to step up

I recently met with the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling to demand he take action over the debacle surrounding the introduction of the new rail timetable affecting commuters at Greenfield station and across the north of England. 

Alongside colleagues Thelma Walker (MP for Colne Valley) and Jonathan Reynolds (MP for Stalybridge and Hyde), I asked the Transport Secretary what immediate actions he will take to resolve issues with the interim timetable which has caused havoc for local commuters. Many of us have warned that the new timetable was going to play havoc with the lives of working people using Greenfield station but the chaos since 20th May has been far, far worse than we had feared. I recently travelled with commuters in the morning rush hour and have heard how numerous cancellations have caused chaos and frustration. I revisited Greenfield station today and residents told there had been a slight improvement only. I have petition at Greenfield station and Station Brew coffee shop calling from improvements now! Please do sign it if you can.

I first contacted the Transport Secretary with my concerns around the proposed changes last November but received a written response from a junior minister which didn’t address any of the issues I’d raised.This level of incompetence from train operators TransPennine Express and Northern Rail is unacceptable and I raised this with the Transport Secretary. He must ensure substantial compensation is paid to season ticket holders and that there is a reduction in general ticket prices. I also said the new timetable should be reformed immediately and this should be done in continual consultation with passengers. Strong financial penalties should be imposed on operators who are not able to carry out their commitments and we should be able to bring the route back into public ownership, if these types of delays are allowed to happen again

Summer School 2018: Applications open

As an MP, I am often asked if I can give young people experience of an MP’s office but unfortunately I can’t accommodate them all.  To try and give as many young people from Oldham as possible community experience, I will be running my fifth ‘working for your community’ summer school for 16-24 year olds. 

The selected group of young people will be based in Oldham and must be available for every weekday for the duration of the scheme, from 9th-20th July 2018 but there will also be a one day visit to Parliament, on the 10th July 2018. Participants will spend the first week developing knowledge of community development, campaigning and and will spend week 2 on a community project. To find out more and apply for Summer School please click here.

Constituency Update

It's been another busy month in the constituency. Alongside my regular constituency surgeries and meetings, I have included details of further activities below.

On 15th May I met with Richard Harrington, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, alongside colleagues Jim McMahon and Barbara Keeley regarding ShopDirect. During the meeting we explored whether the Government’s £40m upskilling and retraining pilot scheme could be suitable to help reskill ShopDirect workers. I am liaising with Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester regarding an application to be a pilot area . I also suggested a Ministerial site visit to Shaw which was agreed to. I will continue to work closely with colleagues and Usdaw union to ensure we support workers through this difficult period.

As part of Dementia Awareness Week, I undertook a number of activities to highlight the campaign and the small ways we can help. This included a Dementia Friends session with residents at Springhill Court, a visit to a Singing for the Brain event and a street stall in Oldham town centre to ask for views on dementia and disability. If you would like me to run a Dementia Friends session at your organisation or community group please get in touch on or 0161 624 4248

A number of residents have raised concerns about the erection of fencing by Network Rail in Uppermill. I have spoken to both Oldham Council and Network Rail about this and requested they reconsider the location of the fence. No consultation took place, or at least no constituents notified of one and I am disappointed that Network Rail have, to date, not responded to me. Environmental Health have said that this shouldn’t happen in a conservation area. Constituents are also concerned about the cutting down of the trees and they want to ensure that no more mature trees are cut down. I will continue to raise this matter.
Parliamentary update

The government's flagship social security system has been too slow to roll out, causes hardship, and is not delivering value for money, a watchdog has said. The National Audit Office said the £1.9bn Universal Credit system could end up costing more to administer than the system it is replacing. I have warned this for years and it's time the government finally listen. In addition to this, I was in the High Court yesterday as a landmark judgement found 2 severely disabled men had been unlawfully discriminated against. The support they received was dramatically reduced when they moved to another area and were placed on Universal credit. This poorly designed system is just not working and I will continue to push the Government on this.

On 4th June the Speaker granted my Urgent Question to the Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey on the most recent Government climb down on personal independence payments (PIP). The DWP withdrew from a battle with two chronically ill people who had been denied higher rate PIP. One claimant is severely diabetic and has to be watched at night to avoid slipping into a deadly coma. Lawyers argued that this need for an observer counted as "therapy" - which would, in turn, give the claimant higher rate PIP. Ms McVey finally confirmed the DWP had backed down in the case, and the two people involved will be paid extra PIP within days, but refused to answer questions from me and many colleagues on the wider implications of the judgement.

This is the Government's second climb down on PIP. Last year, a high court judge said rules for assessing people with mental health conditions were "blatantly discriminatory.  Up to 220,000 people are entitled to a higher rate of PIP after this judgement but will have to wait all summer for  payments to be made. It's time the Tories got a grip, the current assessment process is just not fit for purpose and needs to be scrapped.

I have been contacted by many constituents regarding the horrific violence at the Gaza/Israeli border. Over 100 protestors have been killed with thousands injured, to date. Many of us have been appalled by the scenes since 30th March, and by the deaths and injuries inflicted even on children and journalists by the Israeli border authorities. During an Urgent Question by Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, I condemned the use of lethal force by the Israeli Defence Force and border authorities.  It is also important that parties from all sides start genuine peace talks where nothing is ruled out. When I asked the Minister, Alistair Burt, about this in Parliament, he said that the Government was waiting to hear from ‘US envoys’. But Britain must be playing a role too, not least in formally recognising Palestine, given that Parliament voted for this in 2014. Read more here.
I used the pre-NHS experiences of Oldhamer Brenda Rustidge to highlight the danger of a privatised NHS in Parliament. During an Opposition Day Debate on the NHS I said we are slowly seeing our NHS and care systems slide towards privatisation under this Tory Government. In Oldham and Saddleworth, the CCG’s latest round of procurement in 2016 and 2017 shows that out of the 12 contracts up for tenure, six healthcare, six non-healthcare; all the contracts went to private companies.  I believe passionately in our NHS. For me it is more than an organisation that plans and delivers our healthcare; it reflects the values of our society. We all pay into a system which we may or may not use, but we do it because we know it could be us, or our children or our parents. Not only is access to healthcare a fundamental human right, but it is the right thing to do. Read more here.

Please go to my website to read my latest articles and speeches. 
To read all my contributions in Parliament click here.

If you live in Oldham East and Saddleworth and would like to attend one of my surgeries to discuss personal cases regarding housing, immigration, social security or other matters please call the Oldham office on 0161 624 4248 to book an appointment.

Friday 22 June, 17:00 - 18:00, Oldham

Saturday 23 June, 10:00 - 11:00, Lees

If you have an urgent enquiry, please send an e-mail, including your name, address, contact number and details of the issue you are e-mailing about.
Meetings and Events

Some of the events I've been involved in this month have included:

11 May Met residents as part of my local surgery in Oldham

12 May Met residents as part of my local surgery in Lees

14 May Met with Stalybridge to Huddersfield Rail Users Group about the new rail timetable

15 May Chaired the APPG Dementia inquiry launch in Parliament

15 May Joint meeting with Barbara Keeley MP, Jim McMahon MP and Business Minister, Richard Harrington on Shop Direct

16 May Met the MND Association about ESA Assessments

18 May Met Diggle residents regarding ill fitted wall insulation

18 May Visited RSPB officers at Dovestones. I am the species champion for the Dunlin bird.

21 May Spoke at a Music, therapy and dementia roundtable in Salford

22 May Met with the Society of Occupational Therapists

23 May Spoke in a Parliamentary debate on the NHS

24 May Attended a Dementia 'Singing for the Brain session at Oldham Library

25 May Held a street stall in Oldham town centre to raise awareness of Dementia Awareness Week

25 May Met residents as part of my local surgery in Oldham

25 May Attended Saddleworth Band contest in Diggle

26 May Met residents as part of my local surgery in Uppermill

26 May  Visited Waterheard Rugby League Club

27 May Attended the Mayoral procession and service in Oldham

4 June Asked an Urgent Question on PIP and chronic conditions

4 June Met with rail minister regarding the new timetable chaos

5 June BBC Radio Manchester interview on rail chaos

6 June Took part in Westminister Hall debate on Northern rail

6 June Met with local constituent and Cancer Research Ambassador Nicola Jeffrey-Sykes on the new 'shoulder to shoulder' campaign

8 June Met with residents as part of my local surgery in Shaw

8 June Regular door knocking session in Lees to meet with residents

9 June Met with residents as part of my local surgery in Oldham

10 June Took part in Radio Ramadan interview with Cllr Yasmin Toor

15 June Met with FCHO chief executive 

15 June -Regular door knocking session in Shaw to meet with residents
Focus on....

Oldham Learning Festival
Want to improve your knowledge around #education, #leadership or #science? Then the Oldham Learning Festival is for you ... save the date: Monday 25 June – Friday 6 July 2018.
Debbie on the Parliamentary Website

To find out more about how I have represented Oldham East and Saddleworth in Parliament, you can read my contributions in debates and questions I have asked here on the parliamentary website.  
If you know anyone who would like to receive news about Oldham East and Saddleworth, they can sign up to my e-newsletter here.  Past editions my e-newsletter can be accessed here.
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