Caroline Lucas, the Green party’s only MP, will present a bill to parliament which aims to reverse large parts of the last government’s Health and Social Care Act 2012.
The private members bill, named the NHS Reinstatement Bill, has received cross-party support, including the backing of Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat MP John Pugh and the SNP’s health spokesperson Philippa Whitford.
The bill would reinstate the secretary of state’s responsibility for the health of UK citizens, something the Health and Social Care Act removed.
It would also abolish bodies such as NHS trusts, NHS foundation trusts and clinical commissioning groups, allowing commercial companies to provide services only if they were essential to patient welfare and the NHS could not do so itself.
A private member’s bill can be introduced by any member of parliament or peer who is not a government minister, but few of them actually pass in to law because they are given little parliamentary time.
In March this year, Lucas tabled a similar bill that had to be dropped when parliament was dissolved before the general election.
Labour MPs Cat Smith, Michael Meacher, Rob Marris, Kelvin Hopkins, John McDonnell and Roger Godsiff have supported the bill, but Lucas called for the whole Labour party and its leadership candidates to follow Corbyn in “standing up for our NHS” and backing it.
A campaign against the controversial zero hours contracts will be taken to Parliament by a North MP.
Ian Mearns, who represents the Gateshead constituency for Labour, is proposing a private members’ bill on Friday in the House of Commons in a bid to end the contracts.
He says that the contracts erode workers’ rights and that businesses need to take more responsibility.
The MP’s bill will require employers to treat zero hours contract workers on the same basis as comparable workers on regular working hours contracts.
It would also allow zero hour contract workers who have been employed for 12 weeks to receive a contract for fixed and regular hours and employers to give reasonable notice.
It would mean that if a shift is cancelled with less than 72 hours’ notice then the employee will be paid in full.
The bill would also see that exclusivity clauses are banned so workers would be free to seek additional employment.
It comes as Labour makes wages and zero hours contracts central to their General Election campaign.
> Only because there’s a general election ? Although its good to see some movement on this, its hardly a new problem. It’d be better if things were done because they’re the right things to do, rather than because there’s an election looming. Still, you have to take what you can get…
It also comes just days after leader Ed Miliband took aim at retailer Sports Direct for their use of what he called the “exploitative contracts”.
Labour claims 17,000 of Sports Direct’s 20,000 UK staff are not guaranteed regular hours.
In response the company has said it was reviewing some of its employment procedures.
Defenders of the contracts say they offer employees flexibility.
Ian Mearns said:
“It is downright scandalous and unreasonable for companies such as Sports Direct to employ regular staff on zero hours contracts.
“Zero hours contracts are supposed to be for short-term or seasonal work, but it is clear that they are being used by unscrupulous employers who seem to think that we still live in Victorian times to dodge their responsibilities towards their staff.
“If the Government is serious about wanting to tackle in-work poverty and job insecurity then they will back my Bill to ban the abuse of zero hours contracts this Friday.”
The bill will be debated by MPs on Friday.
Source – Newcastle Journal, 18 Nov 2014
The ‘bedroom tax’ came one step closer to complete abolition today (5 September 2014), after the Tories were defeated in a House Of Commons vote.
Liberal Democrat and Labour MP’s joined forces to deal David Cameron one of his most humiliating defeats so far, by 306 votes to 231.
Under changes introduced by the government in 2013, social housing tenants are required to contribute toward their rent, if they are ‘under-occupying’ their home, through a deduction in the amount of Housing Benefit they can receive. The exact deduction is dependent upon the number of ‘spare bedrooms’ in the property: 14% for one spare bedroom or a 25% deduction in Housing Benefit for two or more.
It’s only the second time the coalition partners have voted against each other and prompted calls for the pact to be broken up immediately. Tory MP accused the Liberal Democrats of being “devious and untrustworthy”, after the party initially voted in favour of the ‘bedroom tax’ when it was first introduced. He angrily declared that the coalition had “officially come to an end”.
Bringing forward the bill, Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George said:
“We have had long enough to tell how these regulations have had an impact. It is quite clear that if we are to ensure that…the vulnerable are properly protected, the rules should be changed so that existing tenants are not penalised when they cannot move into smaller accommodation because this is not available in their locality.”
Virtually every Labour MP was present for today’s crucial vote, said the Shadow Defence Minister Vernon Coaker, and the victory will now path the way for the bill to move to the next stage. The BBC’s parliamentary correspondent Mark D’Arcy said that there was a “fighting chance” the ‘bedroom tax’ could now be completely abolished, before the next general election.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, has reiterated Labour’s pledge to scrap the ‘bedroom tax’, if the party wins an outright majority in next years general election.
“The Government should scrap the hated Bedroom Tax following the overwhelming vote by MPs against the cruel tax on bedrooms today”, she said.
“David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s cruel and unfair Bedroom Tax has hit hundreds of thousands of people across the country causing misery, hardship and forcing families to rely on food banks. If the government won’t ditch the Bedroom Tax, then the next Labour government will.”
> Great that its happened… just a shame that the Lib Dems and Labour only find they had consciences when there’s a general election in the offing. Earlier action might have saved a lot of heartache for many people.
Source – Welfare News Service, 05 Sept 2014