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Date published: 23 October 2023
Tony Lloyd MP
Israel and Gaza
I stand with the innocent Palestinians and Israelis. Hamas’s indiscriminate attacks on civilians, including the deaths of hundreds of innocent women and children, are unspeakable in their horror. That said, we must continue to be strong advocates for justice, human rights and international law and I condemn the use of violence against civilians. Israel must protect itself from attack and we must distinguish Hamas, a terrorist organisation, from the Palestinian people.
Any response must be proportionate, adhere to international law and take all steps to avoid the death and suffering of innocent Palestinians. There must be humanitarian access to Gaza for food, water, medicines and electricity. The international community must immediately provide safe corridors to allow vital life-saving medical equipment, fuel and water to reach those who need it. I am very concerned by reports of rising anti-Muslim and antisemitic threats, abuse and assaults in the UK. There is no place for anti-Muslim hate or antisemitism in our country. There will not be a just and lasting peace until both Israelis and Palestinians enjoy security, dignity and human rights.
Over the last week, I have received over 700 emails from concerned constituents about what is happening in the Gaza strip. I asked the Prime Minister how cutting off food and water seriously bring hostages home and help defeat Hamas
Labour Party Conference 2023
This year's party conference in Liverpool allowed us to see the forthcoming election battleground more clearly. The Conservatives, knowing they can’t fight an election on their record of stagnating living standards, creaking public services and political chaos, are trying to package Rishi Sunak as a change candidate. However, the idea of 'Tory reinvention' becomes less believable with each passing Prime Minister. When you are the fifth Tory Prime Minister in seven years, there are only so many times the Tories can shed their skins and the tactic has run out of road. If Rishi Sunak is supposed to be change from his predecessors, what is changing from? Every time Liz Truss pops up, he looks the other way and doesn’t say she is wrong. The truth is he is too weak to be a change candidate because he is tied to the forces that he says we need change from. The country does need change — but that can only be delivered with Labour in government.
Labour had a successful conference showing both unity and a clear sense of direction. It is crucial to build on that now and drive forward with what was announced, including:
Scrapping HS2: Betrayal of the North
Only the Conservatives would announce scrapping HS2 to Manchester whilst holding their party conference in Manchester. Presumably the thinking is that they've already been, so there's no need to come back. HS2 will terminate at Euston in central London but will be chopping off opportunities for the North. What Rishi Sunak has put on offer instead is what previous Tory governments had promised but had cut — why should we believe these new 'promises'? This is a betrayal of the North.
This isn’t about shaving a few minutes off journey travel times; it’s about increasing the capacity on our rail system so our manufacturers can access the South and through into Europe. Modern infrastructure is taken for granted in London and the South East, we ought to be able to take it for granted in the North.
The first phase of the Bee Network launched in Bolton, as buses are finally taken under democratic control and run for public interest which will benefit passengers in Rochdale and across Greater Manchester. Rochdale has seen some of the first yellow buses on some routes but the full roll out in March 2024, with single ticketing, will create a united transport network connecting the city region.
It's also good to see investment from Greater Manchester's city region back into Rochdale with low-emission buses being built locally by the coach building company Mellor. It's good news for local jobs, it's good news for our environment.
Read more: First Bus Manchester buys local for Bee Network as planning for Rochdale bus services beginsPublished: 02 October 2023
Housing Conference in Rochdale
I chaired a successful housing conference held at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum. Voices of local tenants were heard on really important issues such as long social housing waiting lists (over 20K waiting in Rochdale), too many houses in need of repair, and the need for a council house building programme. It's time for a change in housing to put people and their homes first. Daniel Meredith, executive member for Housing, made an excellent case for what he is trying to set out on a local level with the council.
Greater Manchester’s unprecedented healthcare challenge as 558,000 await planned hospital care
A staggering 558,000 people in Greater Manchester are currently waiting for planned hospital care, according to recent data released by the Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership. This is a phenomenal number of people waiting for medical care — roughly 1 in 6 people in the Greater Manchester region. But this has been a long time coming. We’ve had 13-years of a Conservative government denying funding to the NHS and failing to address a growing workforce crisis which has left it with too few staff, too little equipment and too many outdated buildings to perform the amount of surgery needed. What we need is a government that will make the NHS a priority and to begin to use the resources of our society for all of us, not just some of us.
Childhood Cancer Awareness Month
I took part in raising awareness of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September. Plans and strategies that work for adults just won’t work for children and young people with cancer, so it’s important our government takes a dedicated approach for young cancer patients.
Calls for legal right to visit relatives
I'm backing a proposal for a new law to make it a legal right for families to visit loved ones in care settings. Since the pandemic, some care homes and hospitals have acted slowly in allowing normal access and a hangover remains from Covid which means it’s possible to keep family and friends away. We have seen the harmful impact that separation and isolation has on individuals, but in particular for those who are approaching the end of life. The government has been slow to change things and we should ask who has the right to maintain contact with our loved ones, regardless of health or care needs — hospitals or care homes, or family and friends to make that choice? I think the answer is obvious. Read more here.
Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month
I took part in Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month, a globally recognised awareness initiative aimed at raising awareness about the very debilitating and life-limiting illness. I have had close relatives who have suffered from Pulmonary Fibrosis and across the UK there are around 70,000 people with this disease with 1% of all deaths being due to pulmonary fibrosis. There is a need for fast and accurate diagnosis as well as access to treatments and pulmonary rehabilitation. There is also the need for improved funding for research and support services. There are things the government could be doing, such as supporting initiatives that raise awareness of pulmonary fibrosis, encourage early diagnosis, and promote research into the disease. Read more here.
Banning single use vapes
Ministers are considering banning disposable vapes to stop children becoming addicted. I welcome this move. There are more and more young people coming through and using single use vapes, but it is late in the day as we know the vape manufacturers have targeted young people. It should have been done a long time ago, vapes are not a new thing. I'm from a generation where people started smoking young and I would want those lessons to be learned so children do not start smoking at all. Read more here.
Kinship Care Week
I took part in highlighting Kinship Care Week which celebrates the role of relatives and friends who step up to raise a child whose parents are not able to care for them. New data from the 2021 census reveals that there are 475 households raising children in kinship care in Rochdale. We owe them a huge thank you for the critical role they play in the lives of the children they are raising, ensuring they have the best start in life. Too many children and carers struggle with too little support to overcome the practical and financial challenges that come with their caring responsibilities. The government could be more ambitious by making sure the state is on the side of kinship families.
Avanti West Coast
Avanti West Coast has been given a new long-term contract, despite not running to a full timetable. The Conservatives in government have a record for rewarding failure with lucrative contracts, but the public have had enough. I urged Ministers to cancel Avanti’s contract if, once again, it is the poster boy for failure. Let's get our railways back on track. Watch here.
Deep Sea Mining
I spoke in Parliament about the International Seabed Authority and deep-sea mining. Companies seek to exploit the world’s seabeds for commercial reasons with the purported logic being that we need to find rare metals to use in our batteries, mobile phones, electric vehicles and so on. However, the full impact of deep sea mining is highly damaging and goes well beyond the areas being mined. The UK must join France, Sweden, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and a host of other countries in making sure that the science is there before we even contemplate this destruction, which we will not be able to reverse if we allow it. Watch here.
Amazon's business practices and small businesses
I tabled a Parliamentary motion raising concern about the impact on small businesses following the decision by Amazon to hold onto money from sales by small businesses for an increased period of time before releasing them to those businesses. Amazon has the gall to offer loans to these impacted businesses and the Government has not done enough to challenge that practice. The motion calls on Amazon to reverse this decision and calls on the Government to bring meaningful pressure to bear on Amazon. Read more.
Detention of Dr Gubad Ibadoghlu in Azerbaijan
I tabled a Parliamentary motion condemning the arbitrary detention in Azerbaijan of Dr Gubad Ibadoghlu, a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics. Amnesty International considers the charges against Dr Ibadoghlu to be fabricated in another example of the Azerbaijani authorities’ misuse of the criminal justice system to target peaceful criticism and dissent. The motion calls on the Government to use its influence to work urgently for Dr Ibadoghlu’s immediate release and access to medical treatment. Read more.
Imprisonment of journalists in Belarus
I tabled a motion condemning the imprisonment for twelve years of Belarusian journalists Maryna Zolatava and Liudmila Chekina by the Lukashenka regime on politically-motivated charges. The two have been added to the Lukashenka regime’s list of extremists, meaning they will be banned from taking on any public role in Belarus and the police will be able to follow them when they are released from prison. The motion calls on the Lukashenka regime to release Maryna Zolatava and all other political prisoners in Belarus. Read more.
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