Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

  • Home /
  • News / Dudley Chronicle, 12 September

Dudley Chronicle, 12 September

Government celebrations of economic growth show just how out of touch they are with the lives of ordinary families struggling to pay the bills. 

FAMILIES ARE STILL STRUGGLING WHILE THE GOVERNMENT CELEBRATES

It’s obviously good news the economy is finally moving after three years of flat-lining, but it is far too soon for the government to celebrate. It just goes to show how out of touch they are with the lives of ordinary families struggling to pay the bills.

Every week I hear from families battling to make ends meet. Bills and prices are going up all the time while wages stay the same.

Working people are £1,500-a-year worse off since David Cameron became Prime Minister. On his watch, we’ve had the biggest fall in people’s incomes of any G7 country.

Prices have risen faster than wages for 37 out of 38 months since the election.

The odd month out was April, when bankers reaped the rewards of deferring their bonuses until George Osborne’s cut to the top rate of tax came in.

People earning a million got a tax cut worth on average £107,000, but an average worker will have lost £6,600 by the election.

There’s lots of things the Government should be doing that they’re not.

They should drop the millionaire’s tax cut and reintroduce the 10p tax rate instead. They should axe Ofgem, the useless energy watchdog, and replace it with a body that has the power to force energy companies to pass on price cuts to customers. Rail fair increases should be capped, and rip-off fees in the private rented sector should be tackled.

Unfortunately this Government is helping millionaires and spending the next few weeks on a lobbying bill that won’t benefit anyone.

RMLY

On Tuesday I called a debate in Parliament to raise concerns over the Government’s decision to abolish Dudley’s local TA regiment, the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry.

The regiment’s A Squadron is based at Vicar Street in Dudley. The brave volunteers are a credit to the unit and their community. They do a brilliant job – not just here in Dudley but serving their country too. Earlier this year I joined campaigners to try and get Government Ministers to think again on their plans.

Unfortunately the Government refused to listen to us, and in July they announced that the regiment would be abolished after all to make way for a new Scottish and Northern Irish Yeomanry. The Dudley squadron will survive, but its regimental HQ will be transferred from Telford to Croydon – over 190 miles away.

I’m worried about the impact the changes could have on the long-term future of the TA in Dudley. It could be much harder for the local TA to sort out problems, get support with training and recruit new members.

The Dudley squadron is popular and has deep roots in the community. I hope that the Government will listen to campaigners and set out clear plans to safeguard its future.

Lobbying Bill

Lots of constituents have written to me about the government’s proposals to tackle lobbying.

I know lots of people think politicians are all the same and are out of touch, but I work hard to listen to local people and take what they say seriously. That’s why I think it’s really important for people to feel like they can work with charities and campaigns to contact their MPs about issues they care about.

Unfortunately, the Government’s new lobbying bill would hit charities and campaign organisations that fight for ordinary people and make their views heard at the top of Government.

I’m not against regulation of lobbying. A statutory register of lobbyists is urgently needed. Serious questions have been raised about lobbying, and I think we should go even further to look at MPs with second jobs outside of Parliament.

In opposition, David Cameron backed regulation saying that lobbying was ‘the next big scandal waiting to happen’. Since he’s been in Government we’ve seen him back the wrong people time and again, and now his new bill will hit charities bit leave ‘big money’ lobbying untouched.

It will effectively gag charities and campaigners in the run-up to the election, but would only capture a tiny minority of professional lobbyists. The result is a bill that would not stop Lynton Crosby from advising the Prime Minister on tobacco policy, but it could stop an organisation like Cancer Research UK from campaigning on plain packaging of tobacco products.

I think this is a cynical attempt by the Government to gag ordinary people, campaigners and charities that want to criticise the Government and hold it to account.

Charities, campaigners and political experts are all lining up to attack the plans. The Chair of the Constitutional Reform Select Committee in Parliament has labelled the whole thing ‘a dog’s breakfast’.

I’ve voted against the plans and will be working hard to get the Government to go back to the drawing board.

 

The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better.

Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.

To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.