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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 – https://www.birminghampost.co.uk/authors/david-bailey/

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February’s Newsletter

Welcome to my latest Parliamentary newsletter.

Space prevents the newsletter covering all of what I have been doing over the past month. However, hopefully it provides a flavour of some of the local issues I have taken up as well as my actions in Parliament. You’ll find updates on North Worcestershire Golf Club, local government funding and other issues. As ever, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me on these or any other issues.

Best wishes,

Richard

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Exploitation in the aid sector

The recent revelations of abuse and sexual exploitation in the aid sector have rightly caused outrage and, as a Member of the House of Commons International Development Committee, I was this week at a special committee hearing to look into what has gone on.

The hearing did not only provide the opportunity for the Committee to take evidence from charities and the Government about what they have done to address the historic cases that have featured in the news in recent days. It also enabled us to question them on what they are going to do to prevent instances like these happening again. Recognising that the whole issue of how to improve safeguarding in the aid sector needs more depth investigation, we have also confirmed that the Committee will be holding a full inquiry into the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation in the aid sector in the coming weeks. You can see more about that here.

The Government also made a statement to the House this week, during which I took up these themes with the Secretary of State for International Development, including calling for the establishment of an international register of humanitarian workers to promote consistency in safeguarding mechanisms across the aid sector.

Recent examples of misconduct and abuse are awful and need to be called out. We should also remember, however, that the vast majority of people working in the aid sector do so for the best of motives and that they do amazing work in some of the most difficult and dangerous environments on earth, often at considerable personal risk to themselves.

So too we should reject the arguments of those who are cynically using recent events to discredit the UK’s work in the developing world and to cut international aid. UK Aid matters and it is a lifeline helping some of the most vulnerable people in the most horrific of circumstances. That includes in places like Yemen, where more than 8 million people are on the brink of famine. It also includes the Rohingya crisis where over 680,000 people have been forced to flee from Burma to Bangladesh and where women and girls have reported the most appalling cases of sexual and gender based violence. Cutting international aid would hit people in situations like these hardest and it is something we must not do.

Labour launches Animal Welfare Plan

The Labour Party has launched our Animal Welfare Plan which contains 50 policy proposals out for consultation. This is the next stage in Labour’s animal welfare agenda and seeks feedback on some of the measures we would seek to bring in under the next Labour government.

Labour has a proud record on animal welfare. From bringing forward the landmark Hunting Act to protecting the treatment of domestic animals under the Animal Welfare Act, Labour has always placed the welfare of animals high on the policy agenda. It is now time to update existing legislation, in order to ensure that we still have the best standards of animal welfare in the world.

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Funding for local charities and community groups

Local charities and community groups in the Northfield area have the opportunity to apply for funding between £500 and £20,000 raised by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

Today the latest funding rounds for the People’s Postcode Trust, Postcode Local Trust and Postcode Community Trust have opened for applications. Between 14 and 28 February 2018, charities are being urged to submit an expression of interest in the funding, which requires basic details about the organisation, as well as a short description of the project they are proposing.

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