Time for real answers from Lansley on our maternity centre
- 11:03 am, Thu 29th Jul 2010
On Tuesday I spoke in the Commons about the future of maternity services here in Bolton and how they have been thrown into uncertainty by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government. I felt it was important to make a few points clear and ask the Government to be frank with us.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley made promises based on political opportunism in a cheap attempt to win votes during the General Election campaign. Once this was uncovered he promised all things to all men and confusion set in over the future of our maternity services across the North West.
The facts remain that the Making It Better programme undertook a huge review and public consultation before reaching any conclusions. These were not top-down decisions enforced by disconnected managers, these where the views of doctors, nurses, patients and the wider public. The programme proved itself to be the best use of NHS resources, ensuring a higher quality service and saving up to 50 children’s lives a year.
If the Government reverse the move towards larger centres, that will be the wrong decision. Doctors and patients alike saw that change was needed to provide a good service to everyone.
If the Government decides that towns like Bury and Rochdale can keep their small facilities, while still investing money into the regional super centres, then key questions must be asked. Do we need extra small centres alongside the new structure? And more importantly, where is the money to keep them open coming from? Who else is losing out so that Lansley can keep everybody happy?
It seems most likely that Mr Lansley will call for a further review into the North West’s maternity facilities and use it’s conclusions to support whatever decision he then makes. But at a time when the government says it wants to reduce spending, we must ask why would a review be needed after the excellent one undertaken by Making It Better? If a new review is done simply because Lansley has made too many promises that he can’t keep, then quite simply it is a waste of public resources and the cause of far too much uncertainty.
I will always stand up for Bolton, so obviously I will continue to push for the Royal Bolton Hospital to receive the investment it has been promised to upgrade, expand and to sustain it in the future. However, this is not only about Bolton, the Making It Better programme will benefit people all across the North West and save lives.
I hope that Mr Lansley will put his electioneering aside and focus on what is the best use of public resources and on providing the best service possible.
- You can read my full speech to the commons here
Say no to the Con-Dem VAT Bombshell
- 11:04 am, Thu 8th Jul 2010
VAT is a regressive tax; it hits those with the least harder than anybody else. Pensioners and those on low wages should not be the people that bear the brunt of the Government’s need to raise money.
I know that difficult decisions need to be taken as we come out of the worst global recession in living memory. I agree that the deficit needs to be reduced. At the election I stood on a Labour manifesto that had a plan to reduce the deficit by half over four years. We had to make some tough choices. We rejected a VAT increase as part of our deficit reduction plan, and chose to increase National Insurance Contributions instead. Under these plans, the individuals with the biggest incomes and the biggest businesses would have contributed their fair share and the impact on low earners would have been a lot less.
The Liberal Democrats agreed with the Labour Party before the election, they campaigned against any VAT rise because they know that it is unfair. The Conservatives repeatedly criticised our plans to raise National Insurance Contributions and denied that they had plans to raise VAT.
The Government have made the wrong choice. The increase in VAT that the Conservatives and Lib Dems said we wouldn’t see is a broken promise that will hit ordinary people hardest.
I’m demanding from the Government that MPs get a vote on this issue and if given the chance I will vote against it. If you agree with me that the VAT increase is unfair, please show your support by signing the Labour Party’s petition against it www.labour.org.uk/vat
Now Bolton's schools are Con-Demned
- 02:06 pm, Tue 6th Jul 2010
Yesterday it was announced that the ConDem Government are cutting the Building Schools for the future scheme.
This is extremely bad news for the schools across Bolton, who have invested a great deal of time and money into their bids for a better school. It is disgraceful that the Government would pull the rug out from under these schools. The preparation work had been done and the money was ready and it would have made real improvements. This will seriously damage the prospects of future generations of pupils.
I believed that those schools ready to begin the rebuilding or redevelopment would be safe from these cuts. I am glad that this is true in the case of St Catherine’s Academy and Essa Academy but this must be devastating for Sharples school and the 6 others across Bolton that have been denied.
There were also 12 other schools across Bolton hoping to benefit in phase two and three who can now only imagine the improvements that could have been.
I’m afraid that this will impact our communities in many ways. Not only will our children be denied the high quality facilities that they deserve and hoped for but a great deal of jobs will be lost. Over £240million was due to be invested here in Bolton across all three stages, which would have provided local people with opportunities in construction, management, ICT and more.
We must also look at why this government is really taking the axe to BSF.
The Secretary of State for Education has stated many times that his priority is his experiment with “free schools” and the creation of new academies. It would seem that these cuts are not being made to reduce the deficit but to fund these new plans. It is wrong of this Government to hide behind the language of responsibility when they are actually taking a big gamble with our children’s future.
Providing our children with the best opportunities to succeed is the greatest thing that Government can do. Building Schools for the Future was an ambitious plan that would allow us to extend those opportunities to all of our children by giving them the very best educational facilities for the years ahead. Michael Gove says that we cannot afford to do this, for our children’s sake we can’t afford not to.