My article for Walsall Advertiser – 10 August 2017

My emergency debate in the last week of the Parliamentary term was a polite parliamentary request to grant the Opposition a chance to hold the government to account on their policies.
An opposition day allows us to continue the conversations we have had with you the electorate and raise your issues and our policies to hold the Government to account for their policy failures.

So we can ask why the Government has failed to deal with the crisis in our prison service which has led the Ministry of Justice in an attempt to recruit and retain more staff to break the Treasury rules and offer an increase in the hourly rate for overtime, incident response payments, payments to new prison officers and new advanced roles. Staff in our prisons have to face threats and overcrowding remains an issue as our prisons are in crisis.

We want to ask the Government why there was no new money announced for schools before the start of the September term rather than money reallocated from within the education budget and why additional funding for primary schools has not yet been addressed.

The Government’s policy on fees for Employment tribunals was held to be illegal by the Supreme Court who cited that access to justice is a right enjoyed since Magna Carta and set out in the UK constitution. The same arguments were used to reduce access to Judicial Review. Far from filtering out vexatious claims in employment, claims have been reduced by 70%.

And we want to ask why a 17 year old cannot be found appropriate care in the mental health system despite a Government promise to make more funding available. Our Health Select Committee inquiry into CAMHS found that funding was running out for organisations who provided support; pressure from other regions forced children and young people to be placed in regions far away from their families and support.

For the third time the Government’s Clean Air strategy has been found to be inadequate the UK breaching Nitrogen Oxide levels causing 40,000 early deaths a year.

All that before Parliament debates the Second Reading of the European Withdrawal Bill. It will be 6 months since article 50 was triggered. This is time wasted when negotiations on transition options should be under way. Even the Institute of Directors have asked that Ministers stop feuding.

As we say to the Government – be accountable or give way.