On Tuesday (15 March) I held a debate in Parliament calling on the Government to speak the truth on new anti-boycott rules which many fear represent an unprecedented attack on democracy.
The rules, announced last month, by a Government minister during a visit to Israel – without any parliamentary or public scrutiny – aim to ban public bodies including local councils and universities from refusing to award contracts to certain companies on ethical grounds.
Richard Burden MP, Chair of Britain-Palestine All-Party Group has today accused Cabinet Office Minister, Matthew Hancock, of trying to duck Parliamentary Scrutiny for new restrictions on public sector procurement and ethical investment decisions, stating last week’s announcement should have been made to MPs, rather than on a visit in Israel.
As you may have heard, the national Boundary Commission has been reviewing the numbers of Councillors there should be on Birmingham City Council in the future and the boundaries of the areas from which they should be elected to represent. Those areas are known as “wards” as I am sure you know.
I wrote an article recently for the Bromsgrove Standard, but I wanted to write another piece to tell you what is happening and to ask you to let the Boundary Commission have your views. Don’t delay, though. All comments have to be received by the Boundary Commission by February 8.
Earlier this year it was revealed that the Northfield constituency has the worst record in the country for low pay.
Over 50% of people in this area are paid less than the living wage of £7.85 an hour – reaching up to 63.1% for women. As I said at the time, it is an absolute scandal that over half of local working people are not being paid enough to provide properly for themselves and their families. There is no doubt that the Conservative-led Government’s attempt to build an economy based on low pay and insecurity has hit areas like Northfield hard. However, the fact that our community has been hit so particularly hard is also about long term changes and challenges facing communities on the outskirts of Britain’s big cities.
Last year’s fire at Northfield’s Manor House was devastating news for everyone concerned about the heritage of our area.
Since then I have pressed Birmingham University for updates. You can see here a briefing I received from them last month shortly before Parliament was dissolved. This gives an outline of the work which is being carried out.