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Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents about the recent government announcement regarding the Badger Cull:

 

"Thank you for your email regarding the current Government’s proposal to accelerate and extend the culling of badgers.

As you probably know it is my view that culling badgers is misguided and unscientific. I completely agree with Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International, who said that the culls have been “a very expensive, cruel and ineffective farce”.

Parliament will be dissolved in a few days and I will cease to be the MP for Bristol South, however I can assure you that Labour Party policy is to scrap the culls. This will save up £122.5 million which can be used to eradicate bovine TB through vaccination of both badgers and cattle, together with tougher rules on the movement of livestock.

Thank you again for writing to me about this issue.

Yours sincerely

Dawn Primarolo"

Badger Cull

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents about the recent government announcement regarding the Badger Cull:   "Thank you for your email regarding the current Government’s proposal to accelerate and extend...

Dawn Primarolo's reply to constituents on the subject of beer duty:

"Thank you for contacting me recently regarding beer duty ahead of this year’s Budget.

I do appreciate concerns regarding the very serious challenges that are currently facing the pub and beer industry and I recognise that community pubs often play a vital part in neighbourhoods across the country.  I understand the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) estimates around 30 pubs close every week in the UK and this loss is not only felt by local communities but by our economy as a whole in terms of jobs, trade and taxation.

As you will probably know, yesterday’s Budget included a cut to beer duty of 1p per pint.  Any support for people struggling with the cost of living crisis is welcome, but my view is that the Government must do much more to support local pubs and households at this difficult time than to simply offer a penny off a pint of beer - a 'buy 300 pints, get 1 free' policy. It should also not be forgotten that the Government's decision to increase VAT to 20% has added more to the price of a pint since 2011 than the beer duty escalator.

We require a more comprehensive approach to support consumers and struggling community pubs. One of the areas this should address - along with providing a fairer relationship between pubcos and their tenants - is the current lack of protection that community pubs have in the planning system, which has contributed to pubs being converted into supermarkets, takeaways and payday lending shops without having to gain planning permission.  Unfortunately the Government's approach to this has been wholly inadequate.  In January Labour MPs supported an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill that would have required developers to seek planning permission before a pub could be demolished or converted to another use. Disappointingly the Government rejected this and I know concerns remain that the Government has still not given planning protection for all pubs.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.

Yours sincerely

 

Dawn Primarolo

Labour MP for Bristol South"

Beer Duty - Budget 2015

Dawn Primarolo's reply to constituents on the subject of beer duty: "Thank you for contacting me recently regarding beer duty ahead of this year’s Budget. I do appreciate concerns regarding...

Dawn Primarolo's response to constituents regarding the Modern Slavery Bill and overseas domestic workers:

 

"Thank you for contacting me regarding overseas domestic worker visa arrangements and the Modern Slavery Bill.

 

I fully support the introduction of the Modern Slavery Bill currently being considered by Parliament.  Modern slavery is a heinous and all too prevalent crime and the complicated nature of tackling it requires special legislation.  However, I believe that this Bill could go further in a number of areas to help victims and survivors of modern slavery.  One area of concern has been regarding Overseas Domestic Workers (ODWs).

 

In April 2012 the Government changed the Immigration Rules to prevent ODWs from changing their employer in the UK, and limiting the length of time they can stay here to six months. I recognise the serious concerns that organisations such as Kalayaan and others have raised about these changes, and the effect they are having on protections for ODWs against potential abuse and servitude under tied visa arrangements.

 

These changes to the Immigration Rules made things worse for ODWs and have led to more domestic workers being trapped in slavery. Kalayaan’s work has also found that domestic workers on tied visas are twice as likely to report significantly worse conditions and fewer freedoms.

 

I was therefore pleased that an amendment, supported by my Labour colleagues in the House of Lords, was recently added to the Modern Slavery Bill which would have effectively reversed the Government’s 2012 changes to ODW visa arrangements. The victory in the House of Lords on this matter followed several attempts by my Shadow Frontbench colleagues to address this issue in the House of Commons. Unfortunately these previous attempts were opposed and outvoted by the Government on each occasion.

 

Yesterday the Government sought to remove and replace the Lords’ amendment when the Modern Slavery Bill returned to the Commons.  Labour MPs supported the Lords amendment but unfortunately were outvoted by the Government and as a result concerns remain regarding the tied visa for employment.  A transcript of the interesting debate is available to view here.

 

As you may also be aware, the Government has recently announced plans for an independent review into ODW visa arrangements. This comes in light of the concerns that have been raised inside and outside of Parliament on this issue for many months. I believe, however, that this review is too late, unnecessary and that it does not tackle head on the plight of many ODWs who are subject to forced labour and exploitation.

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to write to me and share your views on this important issue.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Dawn Primarolo

Labour MP for Bristol South"

Modern Slavery Bill - overseas domestic workers

Dawn Primarolo's response to constituents regarding the Modern Slavery Bill and overseas domestic workers:   "Thank you for contacting me regarding overseas domestic worker visa arrangements and the Modern Slavery...

Dawn Primarolo MP's reply to constituents regarding mandatory sex and relationship education in schools:

"Thank you for contacting me in support of statutory sex and relationship education in primary and secondary schools.

 

My view is that all children should be taught a broad curriculum that prepares them for their future, and that this should include good quality, age-appropriate sex and relationship education. I believe this is key to changing attitudes and behaviour to prevent violence and harassment in relationships and to teach the importance of respect and sexual consent.

 

Along with my Labour colleagues in Parliament, I have supported calls for the compulsory introduction of sex and relationship education and I know the Sex Education Forum (SEF) have campaigned tirelessly for this.   I appreciate that a number of organisations were disappointed that the Government failed to take the opportunity to include age appropriate sex and relationship education at all 4 key stages when they published their new National Curriculum.

 

As you may know, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary has confirmed that a future Labour Government will introduce compulsory sex and relationship education in all schools.  This will be age appropriate and parents will still have the right to withdraw their child up to the age of 16 while from age 16 onwards it will be the pupil’s decision.

 

You make reference to two Private Members’ Bills on this subject.  Both are now scheduled for Second Reading on 27 March but as the House of Commons is not expected to sit on this day they are unlikely to be debated on this date.  As you may be aware, Parliament will be dissolved on 30 March ahead of the General Election campaign.  I am standing down as an MP on this date so you may wish to contact prospective parliamentary candidates about this issue, or the new MP after the election on 7 May. 

 

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.

 

Yours sincerely

Dawn Primarolo

Labour MP for Bristol South"

 

Sex & Relationship Education in schools

Dawn Primarolo MP's reply to constituents regarding mandatory sex and relationship education in schools: "Thank you for contacting me in support of statutory sex and relationship education in primary and...

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding the 'Harvey's Law' campaign in connection with animal deaths on the roads:

 

"Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the way in which animal deaths on the roads are dealt with and the related 'Harvey's Law' campaign.

Sadly a number of domestic animals are killed or injured on our roads each year and I share your concern that in some cases owners are not informed about the death of their pets. It is very difficult to lose a pet but when canine fatalities do occur on the road network, I believe both the animals and their owners should be treated with the respect they deserve.

The Highways Agency's Network Management Manual sets out procedures for a number of Highways Agency area maintenance contracts for notifying owners of canines that are killed on the roads. However, adherence to these procedures is not enforced through legislation and, in response to the requirements of the Government's Spending Review 2010, the Highways Agency awarded a new type of contract, an Asset Support Contract - which has led to the removal of mandatory policy for handling canine fatalities.

I appreciate and share your frustration that there is currently no standardised procedure for identifying, recording and managing animal fatalities across the road network. I believe there should be consistency across the Highways Agency, its contractors, local authorities and the police in how these cases are handled.

As you know, the Harvey's Law e-petition has been signed by over 100,000 people making it eligible for consideration for a Backbench Business Debate which took place on 2 March 2015.  Although I was not present for this debate I read the transcript of the debate with interest and was pleased to note that, following questioning from Labour MPs, the Government Minister confirmed that: new contracts will make scanning for microchips mandatory, a review will apply to existing contracts, and the requirements will be extended to cats.  A record of the proceedings is available to download from the Parliamentary website here.


Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.

Yours sincerely,

Dawn Primarolo

Labour MP for Bristol South"

 

Harvey's Law

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding the 'Harvey's Law' campaign in connection with animal deaths on the roads:   "Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the way in...

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding the 'Living Streets' campaign:

 

"Thank you for contacting me in support of the ‘Living Streets’ campaign to make our streets safer for older pedestrians.

 

I share your concern that fast moving traffic, difficult crossings and obstacles on the pavement can cause problems for pedestrians, including older people.  At a time when we are all being persuaded to make fewer journeys by car it is vital that alternative methods of transport - including public transport, cycling and walking - are safe and attractive options for everyone.  Fewer cars on the road will mean less congestion and fewer emissions, as well as health benefits for individuals.

 

My view is that we need a long-term approach to making our streets safer and more accessible.  Labour MPs recently supported changes to the Infrastructure Bill in Parliament to require the Government to publish a strategy which establishes a long-term commitment and funding to increase rates of walking and cycling, including in the planning of infrastructure projects. 

 

I believe we must invest in good walking and cycling routes in our local communities and I welcome initiatives such as the project currently being taken forward by the Greater Bedminster Neighbourhood Partnership which seeks to improve walking routes in the local area by removing obstacles, improving signage and making key walkways more attractive for pedestrians.


As you may know, the Living Streets manifesto calls for a number of measures to be introduced to encourage more people to walk and cycle, including: a national action plan on sustainable travel, adopting a long-term investment structure, introducing 20mph zones in urban areas (as we have seen here in Bristol), banning pavement parking across the country and increasing road crossing times.  I agree that all these issues need to be carefully considered in the run up to the 2015 General Election and that pedestrians and cyclists should be at the heart of future decisions on road planning and transport policy. 

 

On behalf of local residents, I have recently written to the Transport Minister regarding the need for greater national consistency on pavement parking and I believe that we should consider extending the 'Active Travel' legislation (introduced by the Labour Government in Wales) to England as this would place duties on local authorities to promote walking and cycling and improve conditions for vulnerable road users.

I welcome the commitment by Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary that, if a Labour Government is elected in May, we will: restore national targets to cut deaths and serious injuries on our roads, review how the justice system protects vulnerable road users and develop national plans for cycling and sustainable transport.

I hope this reply is helpful.  Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views on this matter. I can assure you that I will continue to follow this issue closely and bear in mind the points you raise.

 

Yours sincerely

Dawn Primarolo

Labour MP for Bristol South"

'Living Streets' Campaign

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding the 'Living Streets' campaign:   "Thank you for contacting me in support of the ‘Living Streets’ campaign to make our streets safer for...

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents on the subject of tax avoidance:

 

"Thank you for contacting me recently regarding tax avoidance.

I strongly believe that everyone should pay their fair share of tax. When I was a Treasury Minister in the previous Labour Government I worked hard with my colleagues to close tax loopholes and am proud of the changes we made at the time, however, there is clearly further work to be done to tackle tax avoidance.

 

I know from the many e-mails I have received on this issue in recent days that there is anger and frustration at the recent allegations that some banks, corporations and wealthy individuals may have engaged in aggressive tax avoidance and, in some cases, tax evasion.  At a time when the Government are proposing deep cuts to our public services and when households up and down the country are seeing their incomes squeezed, it is vital that we clamp down on tax avoidance and ensure that corporations, businesses and individuals pay their fair share.

I find it very concerning that the Government has failed to tackle tax avoidance in the last five years and that the amount of uncollected tax has risen year on year - increasing to £34 billion in 2012/13.  The Government also has questions to answer over the recent allegations of malpractice at HSBC bank - in particular why there has only been one prosecution out of the 1,100 people who are alleged to have avoided or evaded tax and why the Government signed a deal with the Swiss in 2012 which prevents the UK from actively obtaining similar information in the future.

I welcome the proposals of the many charities and organisations that have called for an Anti-Tax Dodging Bill and I agree this will be a vital issue for the next Government to address after the General Election in May.

I am very pleased that Labour’s Shadow Frontbench has announced that a future Labour Government would introduce a range of measures in their first Finance Bill to clamp down on aggressive tax avoidance, including: introducing penalties for those who are caught by the General Anti-Abuse Rule; closing loopholes used by hedge funds to avoid stamp duty; closing loopholes like the Eurobonds loophole which allows some large companies to move profits out of the UK and avoid Corporation Tax; stopping umbrella companies exploiting tax reliefs; scrapping the Government's "Shares for Rights" scheme which the Office for Budget Responsibility has warned could cost £1 billion in avoidance; and tackling disguised self-employment.

Along with stronger independent scrutiny and greater transparency of the tax system, I believe these steps could make a real difference in the fight against aggressive tax avoidance.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views. I can assure you that I will continue to follow this issue closely and bear in mind the points you raise.  Please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of further help with this or any other matter.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Dawn Primarolo

Labour MP for Bristol South"

Tax Avoidance

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents on the subject of tax avoidance:   "Thank you for contacting me recently regarding tax avoidance. I strongly believe that everyone should pay their...

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding the Modern Slavery Bill and supply chains:

 

"Thank you for your email in connection with your concerns regarding the Government’s Modern Slavery Bill and in particular the proposals to require companies to report on their supply chain.


Modern slavery is a heinous and all too prevalent crime and the complicated nature of tackling it requires special legislation. I am therefore very pleased that Parliament is taking action on this important issue and I fully support the introduction of this piece of legislation.  However, I do believe the Bill could go further in a number areas to help victims and survivors of modern slavery.

I am pleased that the Government has eventually recognised that more needs to be done on the key issue of adopting mandatory reporting of efforts to eradicate slavery in the supply chain.  As you may be aware, the Government introduced an amendment at the Bill's Report Stage in the House of Commons that includes a requirement for companies to report on the steps they have taken to ensure their supply chain is slavery free.

This amendment - which has now been added to the Bill - follows strong campaigning from inside and outside of Parliament.  You may be interested to know that Labour’s Shadow Frontbench also tabled an amendment on this issue at Commons Report Stage that would have introduced minimum reporting requirements on large public and privately-listed companies, and allowed greater accountability and transparency. This amendment also built on proposals put forward by my parliamentary colleagues on the Bill Committee and cross-party Joint Committee, who repeatedly pressed the Government on the importance of addressing this issue as the Bill progressed.

I welcome the fact that the Modern Slavery Bill has been strengthened and now includes steps to improve the reporting of supply chains, however, much of the detail of the Government's amendment still needs to be finalised and questions remain about enforcement and comparability. I hope these concerns can be addressed as the Bill continues its passage through Parliament.  More broadly, I believe this Bill could still be further improved, for example to better protect trafficked children and to prevent exploitation.

Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.  I can assure you I will work with my Labour colleagues to continue to press the Government on these very important issues. 

Please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of further help with this or any other matter.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Dawn Primarolo

Labour MP for Bristol South"

Modern Slavery Bill - supply chains

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding the Modern Slavery Bill and supply chains:   "Thank you for your email in connection with your concerns regarding the Government’s Modern Slavery...

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding the 'Cold Homes' campaign:

"Thank you for contacting me regarding energy efficiency, fuel poverty and the Energy Bill Revolution campaign.

I share your concern about the number of households living in fuel poverty in our country.  This is a problem that has been made worse by rising energy bills over the past few years, which I know have put a real strain on household budgets, particularly for those on low incomes.  Frustratingly the significant falls in wholesale gas and electricity prices have not been passed on to consumers.

It is clear that we need to do more to tackle fuel poverty and end the scandal of cold homes. Part of this is about ensuring the energy market is fairer for consumers and businesses and that energy companies pass on falls in wholesale costs. This is why Labour MPs supported an Opposition Day motion in the House of Commons on 14 January 2015 calling on the Government to bring forward legislation to put a statutory duty on the energy regulator to ensure energy suppliers pass on price cuts to consumers when wholesale costs fall should suppliers fail to act.

I welcome the announcement made by Ed Miliband, Leader of the Labour Party, that if Labour forms the next Government after the General Election in May, energy prices will be frozen until January 2017.  This will allow prices to fall but not to rise and will provide time to undertake the fundamental reform of the energy market that is so badly needed.

It is concerning that the current Government's two flagship energy efficiency schemes - the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation - are inefficient and are helping far too few households.  Poor energy efficiency is the single biggest reason why so many households are in fuel poverty and I agree that improving energy efficiency is the best long-term way of reducing household energy use and bills. I am disappointed that the Government has not done enough in this important area.

My Labour Shadow Frontbench colleagues have stated that a future Labour Government will make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority and will improve the energy efficiency of at least 5 million homes over 10 years, saving the average household over £270 a year from their energy bill.  A future Labour Government will also create a tough new energy regulator to ensure consumers get a fair deal.


Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views on this issue. I can assure you that I will continue to support action to improve energy efficiency and tackle fuel poverty.

Yours sincerely

 

Dawn Primarolo

Labour MP for Bristol South"

Cold Homes Campaign

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding the 'Cold Homes' campaign: "Thank you for contacting me regarding energy efficiency, fuel poverty and the Energy Bill Revolution campaign.I share your concern...

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding fracking and drinking water:

"Thank you for contacting me regarding the extraction of shale gas (‘fracking’) and the Governments’ Infrastructure Bill in connection with your concerns that changes made to the Bill in the House of Lords weaken protection of drinking water sources.

 

As you may know, Labour tabled an amendment to the Infrastructure Bill in the House of Commons in January that closed a number of loopholes in the existing fracking regulations and included important safeguards on planning regulations and the cumulative impact of shale gas developments on local areas. It also included measures specifically designed to tackle the climate change impact of shale gas, forcing companies to monitor and report emissions, and banned fracking in areas where drinking water is collected.  At the time the Government accepted this new clause, representing a significant u-turn from their previous position and a real victory for our environment.

 

Unfortunately subsequent changes were made to the Infrastructure Bill in the House of Lords earlier this month which appeared to potentially weaken some of the above protections that had been secured by Labour. 

 

When the Bill returned to the House of Commons on 11 February, Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister, Tom Greatrex MP stated “It is vital for groundwater, and sources of drinking water, to be properly protected”, and Labour MPs voted to reject the House of Lords’ amendments.  Unfortunately the Government used its majority to push the changes through and the legislation has now become law. A transcript of the debate is available on the parliamentary website.

 

Labour’s Shadow Energy Secretary, Caroline Flint MP, remains clear that shale gas extraction should not go ahead unless there is a system of robust regulation and comprehensive inspection in place.

 

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about this matter. 

 

Yours sincerely

 

Dawn Primarolo

Labour MP for Bristol South"

Fracking and drinking water

Dawn Primarolo MP's response to constituents regarding fracking and drinking water: "Thank you for contacting me regarding the extraction of shale gas (‘fracking’) and the Governments’ Infrastructure Bill in connection...

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