The 75th anniversary of the NHS was a big occasion for the whole UK, but an especially important one for us here in Blaenau Gwent.
It was here that the great Nye Bevan brought the NHS to life inspired by the Tredegar Medical Aid Society, with a vision to “Tredegarise” the whole UK.
75 years on we remain incredibly proud of Nye’s legacy, and immensely grateful for our wonderful NHS.
As I mentioned in a video I made thanking NHS staff for their hard work, the health challenges of Nye’s day are different to some of the challenges we face today, with health problems stemming from different lifestyles and consumer pressures meaning that conditions like obesity, and related conditions like diabetes, put a strain on our modern NHS.
Public health initiatives like parkrun are a great way to try and tackle these issues.
As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for parkrun I took the opportunity to put together a 4K for Parliamentarians around St James’ Park Westminster and also a special NHS 75 parkun at Parc Bryn Bach.
The latter saw Shadow Leader of the House Thangam Debbonaire visit Tredegar to call the start of the race and also take part.
The brilliant Ebbw vale Brass band played us in as we made our way around and we also held a graduation ceremony for the NHS Couch to 5K programme graduates.
I was delighted that nearly 300 people took part, with many new faces joining in, some NHS staff in their scrubs and a few travelling from as far as Birmingham and London.
During the week of the anniversary I also had the pleasure of welcoming the parade of trade union banners to Tredegar as part of the Bevan day celebrations, and also meeting the man who may well have been the first NHS baby born in what is now Blaenau Gwent.
As we look back at 75 years of the NHS we must also look at the political challenges it faces today, a service struggling against 13 years of austerity, chronic underfunding and understaffing.
A Labour government would deliver the help needed to get our NHS on its feet again, pledging to deliver one of the biggest expansions of the NHS workforce in history, more doctors, more nurses, lower waiting times and higher standards for patients.
My campaigning around the British Steel Pension Scheme scandal took another big step forward recently with the impending passing of new laws based on my suggested changes to the Financial Services and Markets Bill.
I have been campaigning for an amendment that would require regulators, such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to report to Parliament, updating MPs and Lords and allowing improved scrutiny of their work.
This follows my work to ensure that action was taken against those responsible for the rip-offs, to instigate both a Public Accounts Committee hearing and a National Audit Office (NAO) investigation and also helping introduce a redress scheme for those affected.
The government has now amended its Bill to introduce new laws requiring statutory panels to produce annual reports.
During the debate, Economic Secretary Andrew Griffiths MP said that the Treasury intended to use this power “in the first instance to direct the publication of annual reports by the CBA (Cost Benefit Analysis) panels and the FCA consumer panel. I hope the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent will welcome this as he tabled a similar amendment.”
Steelworkers were targeted by rogue advisers and then badly let down by the regulators in the aftermath.
I am hopeful that these new laws will provide much better oversight of the financial regulators and their work, leaving our financial services sector all the better for it and, most importantly, better protecting Britain’s consumers so that scandals like BSPS can not happen again so easily.
It was good to also recently help conduct the BSPS consumer day event in Ebbw Vale, and also welcome Steelworkers and Community Union representatives to Parliament to talk about Labour’s commitments to the future of their industry.
Pleased that my special advice surgery for former Tillery Valley Foods turned out to be such a worthwhile event in offering help to those former staff members that need advice and support
Thanks to Community Union, Citizens Advice, the DWP and Blaenau Gwent Council for taking the time to come along and help those who attended and thanks to Abertillery Library for hosting us.
I asked a question in the House recently about the mortgage catastrophe facing Britain.
The fact is that after 13 years of economic failure and a kamikaze budget which crashed the economy, the Government is consumed in chaos while working people and families pay the price.
In Blaenau Gwent 5,700 families in Blaenau Gwent are facing an annual mortgage payment increase of £1700 this year.
Across the UK it will cost the average family £2900 extra a year.
The Prime Minister was warned about this. Either he didn’t get it, didn’t believe it, or didn’t care.
Labour will bring financial and economic security back, so that families are not constantly on a cliff edge, and so that we can urgently grow our economy to grab hold of opportunities of the future.
Armed Forces Day / Ajax
It was great to be part of the Armed Forces Day celebrations at Bedwellty House, Tredegar.
Well done to Tredegar Town Council for organising such a wonderful event.
It was good to meet everyone there, a special thumbs up goes to the volunteers who support our local cadets, giving up their spare time to help young people learn new skills.
On the topic, I am continuing to push for progress to made on the UK Ajax tank programme, something important to our national defence and local economy – with the vehicles being built over the border in Merthyr Tydfil.
The problem-stricken programme will not be operating to its full potential even when it is finally introduced. This is due to a delay to Morpheus, the £3 billion next-generation defence communication system intended to replace the current Bowman system.
I asked the Minister for an update on when it will be delivered.