My article for Walsall Advertiser – 20 July 2017

One of the benefits of the general election campaign was that I was able to meet many more parents of schoolchildren in my constituency when out campaigning on days when I would usually be working in the House of Commons. A big topic of discussion was school funding. The Conservative government was and still is planning on making huge cuts to the funding of schools in Walsall. For example Moorcroft Wood Primary School will lose funding that amounts to a cut of £514 per pupil or the equivalent of losing 3 teachers.

Parents are rightly concerned that this will have a damaging effect on their children’s education and future. Labour is ambitious for every child and will continue to fight these cuts. Talking of local schools, last week it was a great pleasure to meet the School Council at Whitehall Juniors and respond to their thoughtful questions, and also to participate in the ‘Party on the Playground’ at Old Church Primary in Darlaston. What’s more I was delighted to be able to donate some books provided by the Reading Agency as part of their promotion of the Summer Reading Challenge to Old Church’s project of setting up a library in the school.

In the House of Commons I was pleased to vote to remove the pay cap that has been imposed on our public sector workers by the Conservatives since 2010. The standard of living of our vital public sector workers – our nurses, our firefighters, our teachers and teaching assistants ¬¬¬– has been falling whilst the richest have seen huge growth in their wealth. This is not only damaging for these public servants and their families but it is also damaging our public services as experienced staff are leaving nursing for example at a faster rate than nurses are being trained. Disappointingly, my two parliamentary colleagues representing the other Walsall seats voted against supporting our nurses and teachers.

Last Thursday, speaking as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, I persuaded the Speaker to grant a debate on the scheduling of business in the Commons. It is accepted practice that the opposition is given 20 ‘opposition days’ per year where they choose the subject or issue to be debated. Not a single opposition day has been granted since the election, and the last was in January. This government is afraid of debate, lacks a positive plan for our country and is avoiding votes at any cost.