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Refugee Family Reunion Bill and Unpaid Trial Work Period Bill

Today I am in Parliament to support two important Private Members Bills – the Refugee Family Reunion Bill and Unpaid Trial Work Period Bill.

The Refugee Family Reunion Bill would give unaccompanied refugee children in the UK the right to be reunited with their parents. Current laws mean that many refugees are prevented from being joined by their close family members. These refugees have faced unimaginable trauma and but for many refugees this is worsened by the current rules in the UK that restrict and further keep apart families who have been divided. If it were our families under threat, we would not want the world to look the other way. It is time that British law recognises and protects these family relationships.

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Proposed takeover of GKN by Melrose

Today, I was among the MPs from different parties across the House of Commons who argued for Government to intervene over the hostile bid by Melrose for GKN. GKN is one of Britain’s oldest and largest engineering companies making automotive and aerospace components. GKN Aerospace’s Kings Norton plant in my Birmingham Northfield constituency specialises in aircraft windscreens.

I am extremely concerned that the hostile bid that has been put to the shareholders of GKN by Melrose would be bad for the UK’s aerospace and automotive sectors and bad for employees of GKN. In my speech to the House of Commons today, I explained my reasons for taking this view

Analysts have observed that a bid like this one would not be allowed to proceed in France or Germany where the rules governing takeovers are different. It is a yet another reminder that reform of the UK’s Takeover Laws is urgently needed to defend the public interest and safeguard the long term future of our industrial base.

Even our existing takeover laws, however, allow Government Ministers to intervene under Section 58 of the Enterprise Act 2002 where a bid raises national security concerns. GKN Aerospace, including its Kings Norton plant, make specialist components for military as well as commercial aircraft so this bid does indeed involve issues of national security. Today I called on the Government to intervene in this takeover to safeguard national security and put the long term health of British industry first.

Birmingham’s Labour MPs call on Legal Aid Agency to reverse its refusal of Legal Aid to families of Birmingham Pub Bombings victims

Birmingham’s nine Labour MPs have today written to the Chief Executive of the Legal Aid Agency calling on him to reverse the Agency’s decision to refuse Legal Aid to the families of 10 of the victims of the Birmingham Pub Bombings at the Court of Appeal.

The families are contesting an appeal by the Coroner, Sir Peter Thornton QC, against a High Court ruling that he should reconsider his decision to prohibit the identification of suspects during the reopened inquest into the Pub Bombings.

Lawyers presenting the Coroner’s case will be publicly funded but, following the Legal Aid Agency’s decision, the families will be denied equivalent funding to present their case.


Richard Burden MP, who has written the MPs’ letter to the Legal Aid Agency, said today:

The question of whether or not suspects should be investigated at the Inquest raises complex legal issues. That is underlined by the fact that highly experienced lawyers like the Coroner and the High Court Judge reached different conclusions.

It is therefore both in the public interest and the interests of justice that both sides of the argument have an equal opportunity to present their cases at the Court of Appeal. That can only mean that both sides should have the financial means to do so. As the presentation of the Coroner’s case will be funded from the public purse, it must surely follow from this that the families should be granted Legal Aid to present theirs.

The force of this argument is underlined by the fact that Coroner himself has called for the families to be granted public funds to present their case in opposition to his appeal.

All Birmingham MPs support legal aid being granted to the families of the Birmingham Pub Bombings victims and I hope our letter today will help convince the Legal Aid Agency to reverse their decision to refuse Legal Aid.”

World Book Day 2018

Today is World Book Day, a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and most importantly reading. The aim of World Book Day is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own.

The theme of this year’s Day is ‘Share a Story’ and World Book Day is encouraging a daily ten-minute storytelling slot to make reading with the children the nation’s new habit. Spending just 10 minutes a day reading and sharing stories with children can make a crucial difference to a child’s development.

You can read together anywhere and everywhere, from breakfast to bedtime. That is why this World Book Day, by spreading the ‘ten minute’ message we can make a habit of every day reading with children of all ages.

You can find out more about World Book Day here –


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Lobby of Parliament by GKN workers

Today I joined GKN workers at a lobby of Parliament organised by UNITE the Union to call on the Government to intervene in the hostile takeover bid for GKN by the Melrose company. GKN are one of Britain’s oldest and largest engineering companies making automotive and aerospace components. The GKN Aerospace plant at Kings Norton makes specialist aircraft windscreens .

Along with the GKN workers I met today and the company itself, I am extremely concerned that, if the Melrose takeover goes ahead, the likelihood is that GKN would be broken up and various units sold off to different buyers over time. Not only would that be bad for jobs in the Midlands and elsewhere, it would be bad for the UK’s key aerospace and automotive sectors as a whole. Indeed, GKN Aerospace’s strategic role as a defence contractor making components for military aircraft mean that the takeover also raises issues of national security.

Industry analysts have already observed that a hostile takeover bid like this would not be allowed in other European countries like France or Germany, and it once again underlines why the laws governing company takeovers here in the UK need urgent reform. Even under our current laws through, Ministers have powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to call in takeover bids which raise national security concerns, to safeguard the public interest. The clear message from today’s lobby is that the Government must use those powers and intervene to safeguard national security and the future of GKN.

Professor David Bailey of Aston Business School has published a series of articles in the Birmingham Post about the Melrose bid for GKN. You can read them here –

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