Nick Smith MP Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent
We have just returned from a very successful Labour Party conference which set out our party’s aim to win the trust of people who are feeling let down by a government that just isn’t up to it.
In his speech Keir Starmer focused on the things that matter to working people: improving health, giving young people the skills they need for the future, confronting climate change, creating quality jobs and tackling crime.
He spoke about addressing the inequalities that have been exposed by the pandemic.
He announced a series of fully costed policies that demonstrate Labour’s approach to the economy: taxing fairly, spending wisely and getting the economy firing.
By contrast, the Conservative party conference did little to dissuade anyone of the impression that the Tories are out for themselves and can’t be trusted to stand up for working people.
Rather than having the country’s best interests at heart, they remain focused on helping themselves and their pals.
Labour wants a better future for our country.
Too many people feel their basic needs are not being met and that politics is not working for them.
We must continue to hold the Tories to account for their record of failure over the last decade and focus on how a Labour economy, a Labour society, a Labour worldview, and Labour politics would differ.
I was pleased that it was resolved at Conference that Labour will continue to fight for ex-mineworkers to get their fair share of their pension pot.
My fellow coalfield MPs and I hoped that we were heading towards an end to this ongoing injustice earlier this year after a Select Committee enquiry recommended the changes we have been campaigning for.
The Government rejected this recommendation, a total slap in the face for ex-miners and an especially hard-to-stomach decision given that Boris Johnson promised he would put things right for miners while campaigning during the 2019 election.
The numbers speak for themselves – the Government has collected billions from the pension scheme, while many miners are surviving on a pension of just £84 a week. And yet the Government continues to argue that this is fair.
The thousands of pensioners who deserve a fairer deal have been let down badly, but Labour is committed to campaigning for the immediate return of the £1.2bn in the Investment Reserve Fund to increase pensions – putting hundreds right back into miners’ pockets every year – as well as changing the surplus sharing agreement to give more to pensioners.
Department for Work and Pensions
Last summer I spoke in Parliament about an issue where 130,000 married women had been underpaid more than £1bn in state pension due to errors at the Department for Work and Pensions.
Now, a damning National Audit Office investigation has described the catalogue of errors that enabled this mess, pointing the finger at an “outdated” IT system and “repeated human errors over many years”.
The same investigation revealed that the way the DWP keeps data means it is going to be very difficult to put things right for the bereaved families of women who were underpaid for years.
This is not good enough.
The DWP must do all it can to put things right for all women affected and the families of those who have since passed away.
Big changes must be made to how the DWP operates to prevent anything like this from happening again.
Free tours of Parliament have returned.
This is a great chance to take a look behind the scenes and have a look around the House of Commons led by an expert guide.
Come and take a look around and I will say hello if I’m able.
This tour can be booked via my office – please email firstname.lastname@example.org
– or directly with UK Parliament’s Bookings Team here: https://www.parliament.uk/visiting/visiting-and-tours/tours-of-parliament/tours/