Nick Smith MP Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent
We are in a national crisis. The cost of living is rising at the fastest rate for 40 years, energy bills are rocketing and people here in Blaenau Gwent and across the whole of Britain are worried sick about what’s to come this winter.
Meanwhile the zombie Tory government ambles along utterly failing to address any of it, putting the profits of oil and gas giants before the British people.
The Tory front benches are too busy fighting amongst themselves and blaming each for the mess they’ve all made over the last 12 years.
Once again, it is Labour that has stepped forward with a plan.
This week Labour leader Keir Starmer and Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves launched a fully-costed £29bn plan to stop bills going up this winter.
This plan would typically save households £1,000, paid for by taxing oil and gas producers who are making massive profits.
The plan also sets out how Labour would get energy costs under control for the future and help tackle inflation.
Labour would also right the wrong that sees people on prepayment meters paying more for their energy.
You can read about Labour’s plan in detail here.
The Tories have totally lost control. Britain deserves a Labour government that would help people through this national emergency.
A recent Public Accounts Committee report into the handling of the steelworker pension crisis of 2017 confirmed what I have been saying for five years now, that the steelworkers were badly let down and the regulators failed to protect them in their hour of need.
Following the publication of the report I spoke to Radio Wales and BBC Radio Humberside about this ongoing campaign and where we go from here.
This campaign has been like pulling teeth at times but we are making some big strides forward.
The National Audit Office investigation I instigated took place earlier this year and the redress scheme I pushed for is currently under consultation.
I hope we are now close to putting this scandal to bed.
Moving on, steelworkers need a redress scheme that is as fair and comprehensive as possible, and then we need to make sure those responsible are held to account.
I will also be seeking to amend a Bill in the autumn to give regulators bigger teeth to deal with rogue advisers in future.
There was also good news for retired miners recently. Thanks to our campaigning, alongside the trustees, the Treasury agreed to bring forward Bonus Protection for the Mineworkers Pension Scheme meaning that, from this autumn, miners’ pensions will increase by 11% rather than 4%.
This is another of the campaigns I have been a big part of, fighting for miners to get a fairer share of their pension pot.
Despite the recommendations of the Select committee hearing we initiated and despite the election-trail promises of Boris Johnson, the Tory government is still refusing to budge on this, maintaining that the deal is fair.
What former miners need now is a Labour government that will finally end the 50/50 surplus sharing arrangement and return the £1.2bn investment reserve to them.
Johnson & Lebedev
When he was Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson met former KGB man Alexander Lebedev without security, weeks after the Salisbury poisonings.
He only “thinks” he mentioned it to officials afterwards. He has claimed that “no Government business was discussed as far as I’m aware.”
He made Alexander’s son Evgeny a member of the House of Lords in 2020, despite concerns that it posed a serious security risk to our country.
I have called for a report to be published on this security risk and also recently asked for an official statement.
The government’s response is clear, they believe this issue has been dealt with.
I believe this represents a high security risk to our country and should be investigated fully.
It was good to be able to make another drop-off of personal care and hygiene products to both Abertillery’s Ebenezer Food Cupboard and Sirhowy Food Share for distribution with food parcels.
Charities like Beauty Banks are doing great work in recognising that often families may be making a decision between eating or staying clean.
I’m happy that I can help out by delivering these toiletries to our local Foodbanks.
I held another meeting of the roundtable group I set up to discuss the issue of illegal off-roading in our valleys.
This was attended by Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, land owners, council officials, Gwent police officers and representatives from the biking world. We heard updates on the work to seize bikes being used illegally – I am told that 291 bikes and quads were seized between July 2021 and July 2022 – and discussed dealing with this ongoing problem.
Unfortunately this is an issue that is very difficult to tackle, and I understand people becoming discouraged when contacting the police and seemingly nothing gets done.
But I would encourage everyone to continue reporting incidents as it allows the police to gather intelligence and informs their operations.
You can call 101, use messaging on Facebook or Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org