With his government collapsing in on itself, the Prime Minister demonstrated a stark lack of confidence in his MPs by resorting to bringing David Cameron back into the fold as Foreign Secretary.
During his time away from the House, the new Lord Cameron spent time as the public face of Lex Greensill, whose companies are facing criminal investigations in Switzerland, Germany and here in the UK.
During PMQs recently, I reminded the Prime Minister that David Cameron messaged Ministers and officials 62 times over Greensill’s covid loan guarantees, something the Treasury Committee called “a significant lack of judgement”.
I asked the PM what this appointment said about his own judgment.
I recently asked the Minister for the Cabinet Office whether Lord Cameron could be considered a Shadow Director at Greensill and if this has been assessed by the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests.
I have written to the Treasury Select Committee setting out how, when questioned by the committee, Lord Cameron’s failure to provide details of all the personal flights he took on Greensill’s private planes may potentially be contempt of the House.
On top of calls for Lord Cameron to be clear about his links to a Sri Lankan port development with ties with the Chinese government, I have called for him to declare how much he earned from Greensill Capital and what and when he knew about Greensill’s collapse after uncovering that taxpayers footed the £2million redundancy bill when it went bust.
Everyone Deserves a Christmas
It is awful that so many families struggling against the cost-of-living crisis are facing difficult choices this Christmas. No one should have to choose between heating or eating.
I’m very happy to be able to bring the “Everyone Deserves a Christmas” campaign to Blaenau Gwent this year, teaming up with Ebbw Vale Institute Pantry volunteers to deliver a lorry-load of hampers containing Christmas dinner ingredients and festive treats to families that could do with a helping hand.
My friend and colleague Carolyn Harris MP began “Everyone Deserves…” to tackle holiday hunger in Swansea, where I attended this year’s official launch with EVI manager Sian Tucker.
It is brilliant to see how much the campaign has grown, its success allowing it to extend to helping neighbouring communities like ours, all due to bags of good will and energy generated by those at its centre and a lot of chipping in throughout the year.
I want to help the campaign grow so that even more families in Blaenau Gwent benefit in future.
I’ve written to local business to ask for their support and will be looking for fundraising opportunities across 2024, ahead of Christmas next year.
It would be great if local people would consider contributing to the fundraising if they can.
If you would like to support this great campaign you can visit the Just Giving Page to donate to the campaign’s charity partner the Swansea City AFC Foundation here
If you would like any further information about “Everyone Deserves…” please get in touch at email@example.com
Cyber College Cymru
It was great to be invited to speak at the Cyber College Cymru showcase event, highlighting the ongoing expansion of a thriving project that was born in my office.
After meeting with two local cyber security experts back in 2018, I began helping with an idea for a college course in Ebbw Vale that would follow the Technical College model, giving young people the skills for jobs in Cyber Security without the need for a degree.
I spent the next few months bringing together potential partners and like-minded people with college leaders.
It was in these meetings that I began to understand the true scale of how fast the industry was growing, hearing how big firms could not fill their cyber security roles fast enough and about the urgent need for homegrown talent with the necessary skills.
Working together with the college leadership, the course came together quickly and has already been up and running for three years now. Students have already been through the course and graduated into jobs with course partner firms like Admiral, Welsh Water and Bridewell.
The success of the course has seen it already expanding into colleges in Bridgend and Merthyr and another is about to start in Cardiff and Vale College.
At the event it was especially good to catch-up with the students from Blaenau Gwent who are now benefitting from such a fantastic course right on their doorsteps.
Within a few miles we now have not only the college, but businesses like Thales’ NDEC centre and the Resilient-Works lab. We have cutting-edge manufacturing firms setting-up ahead of the opening the new £12m High Value Engineering campus.
These are the industries and the jobs of the future and we are working to make sure our young people have the skills they need to get ahead.
It was a wet and windy start to the Remembrance weekend in Blaenau Gwent, as I made the annual trek to commemorate the crew that died in the 1940 crash of Wellington bomber T2520, placing a wreath at the crash site on the mountain over Trefil.
It was great to also be able to once again lend a hand at the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal stand in Tesco, Ebbw Vale alongside Gavin and Dylan-Anthony Tarr.
I attended the Princetown and Tafarnaubach Remembrance Service where I did a short reading on the Friday, then attended Tredegar service on Saturday the 11th, ahead of Remembrance Sunday where I had the privilege of attending Ebbw Vale service in the morning and Nantyglo and Blaina in the afternoon.
All were very well-attended despite the bouts of dreadful weather.
As ever, it was an honour to play my part in remembering the Armed Forces personnel from Blaenau Gwent who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe.
Following my question to the Minister about whether the government’s deal for steel signals a giving up the UK’s capability to produce primary steel I gave my backing to the plan put forward by GMB Union and Community to secure a just transition, to safeguard the future of steelmaking at Port Talbot, and delivers on climate responsibilities.
Steelworkers need our support, which is why I’m continuing to help those affected by the pensions scandal that hit their industry, welcoming them recently to a meeting with the regulators in Blaenau Gwent.
I’ve been spearheading this campaign since this scandal broke, and I will continue to support steelworkers until they get the justice they deserve.
Brynithel Christmas Lights
The Christmas lights switch on in Brynithel is always a great event and this year was no exception.
Thanks to the brilliant Brynithel Activities Group for putting it on, with superb carol singing backed by a four piece brass ensemble and ending with a look around the craft fair in the community centre
Chase the Pudding
Another great year at the Parc Bryn Bach Chase the Pudding charity fun run.
It was a cold morning, but there was a warm atmosphere as we all chased the pudding.
Well done to the Hospice of the Valleys for continuing to organise this great seasonal event.
Thanks to Cllr Ross Leadbeater for joining me at my advice surgery in Abertillery.
My next surgery will be at Ebbw Vale Institute on Wednesday, December 20 at 11am-12pm where I will be joined by Cllr Sue Edmunds.
If you want to speak with me but can’t make it, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 01495 313167.
Lastly, I would like to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.