Update on my work in Parliament and the constituency
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News from your local Labour MP

Thank you for reading my March 2016 update on my work in Cardiff Central and in Parliament. I hope you had a good break over Easter.

During March my team and I have held 9 advice surgeries for constituents, including specialist weekly immigration clinics. Details of upcoming surgeries are at the bottom of this email. You don't need an appointment for surgeries, please just drop in.

In Parliament I raised the conduct of Government Ministers during the European Referendum campaign, the issue of scrutiny of private companies who operate lucrative Home Office temporary accommodation contracts and questioned Justice Ministers on the impact on the European Arrest Warrant were the UK to leave the European Union.
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I was delighted to welcome Albany Primary School to Parliament this month. Members of the school council were joined by staff and parents for a tour of the Palace of Westminster. I met up with the group afterwards and was quizzed on everything from how to be an MP to the amount of gold that decorates the House of Lords chamber.
I met researchers Lorena Hidalgo and Emma Yhnell from Cardiff University in Parliament this month. Lorena's research uses stem cell therapy to repair tissue in paralysis victims and Emma is researching brain training in Huntington's Disease. Both researchers are based at Cardiff University's groundbreaking brain imaging centre.
I took part in a campaign this month to make sure women across the UK are registered to vote. The #RegistHERtoVote campaign is all about amplifying women's voices in political discourse. You can complete the survey and share your views here.
I was delighted to catch up with the Alsharki family this month. The family came to me for help because, having needed to flee the Syrian conflict in search of asylum, they were forced to leave behind baby Omar with relatives in Lebanon. I worked with the Home Office and the Red Cross to enable the family to be reunited and I'm thrilled that Omar landed in the UK at the beginning of March.
I had a lively question and answer session with students at St David's Sixth Form College about a whole range of issues, but particularly the forthcoming European Union Referendum.
I spoke at two rallies against the Trade Union Bill; one outside Parliament and one in Cardiff, alongside Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Cardiff Central Welsh Assembly colleague Jenny Rathbone AM. The Bill is currently in the House of Lords where the Government have suffered a number of defeats on proposed amendments. I will continue to strongly oppose this Bill which is illegal, illogical and illiberal.

In Parliament

European Arrest Warrant
This month in Justice Questions I took the opportunity to ask the Justice Minister what impact leaving the EU would have on the UK’s ability to protect victims of crime here.
The European Arrest Warrant is an arrest warrant valid throughout all member states of the European Union. Once issued, it requires another member state to arrest and transfer a suspect to the issuing state so that the person can be put on trial or complete a detention period.
I wanted to know if the Minister had thought about the implications on these warrants and victims of crime of leaving the European Union. His answer? Muddled, unclear and he failed to answer my question. 

Click here to watch the exchange.

Freedom of Information for Private Contractors
This month I asked the Cabinet Office to confirm that the Government will make changes to the Freedom of Information Act to allow taxpayer scrutiny of organisations providing lucrative public sector contracts. Disappointingly, the Minister refused to make such a commitment.
At present, Government outsourcing is at record levels with over £100 billion worth of public services being run by private providers. This includes a £75 million Home Office contract with Clearsprings to provide asylum seeker accommodation in Wales including Lynx House in Cardiff Central.
Currently, these companies are not currently included within the Freedom of Information Act, and so cannot be held to the same level of public scrutiny as Government-run services. I have been raising problems at Lynx House consistently and met with the Immigration Minister to try to get him to take action to improve the delivery of the Clearsprings contract.

Watch the exchange here.
Keeping Sunday Special
On 9th March my Labour Party colleagues and I successfully defeated the Government's attempt to overhaul Sunday trading laws in England and Wales. Labour strongly opposed these changes and stood in solidarity with businesses, workers, trade unions and faith groups in opposing further deregulation. The legislation would have led to the gradual erosion and diminution of workers’ pay and rights across the UK. I voted to #KeepSundaySpecial as I firmly believe that the current arrangements work well, and mean that retailers can trade, customers can shop, and shop workers can spend time with their families.
Government U-Turn on Disability Benefit Cuts
I've been contacted by many concerned constituents about the Government's proposed cuts to Personal Independence Payments (PIPs). Labour have continuously opposed cuts to PIP ever since they were flagged last year in a Government consultation. I know how worried many of you were about the cuts, with cuts to PIP impacting 1129 people in Cardiff Central, and costing on average £3,500 per person; a huge sum of money that would have been taken from those who need it most.

I am delighted that our pressure has paid off, and that the Government have now decided to not cut PIP. The question remains though - if the Government have managed to not cut PIP, why was it ever proposed in the first place? I will continue to keep a close eye on this issue, and continue to stand up for our most vulnerable residents.
Investigatory Powers Bill: Your Thoughts
I have been contacted by many constituents who have written to me to share their concerns about the Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) which is a Bill that will set out the Government and Security Services’ new surveillance powers. The Bill is now at Committee stage, where each line of this complex and very long Bill will be scrutinised by a dedicated Committee. I have been selected to serve on the Committee and this will involve detailed scrutiny and questioning of the Home Office Minister and Solicitor General, during eighteen Committee sessions. If you have specific concerns about the IPB, please e-mail me with details and I will seek to incorporate them in my speeches and questions to the Minister and Solicitor General. You can read more about my views on the IPB here

Upcoming Advice Surgeries

I hold regular surgeries around the constituency. All surgeries are drop-in, no appointment is needed.

Every Wednesday, 11am - 12 noon
Immigration Clinic at Constituency Office, 116 Albany Road

Friday 8th April, 11am - 12 noon
Advice surgery at Wyndham Tea, City Centre

Friday 8th April, 4pm - 6pm
Advice surgery at Constituency Office, 116 Albany Road

Friday 15th April, 3.30pm-4.30pm
Advice Surgery at the Powerhouse, Llanedeyrn

Friday 22nd April, 11am - 12 noon
Advice surgery at St German's Church Hall, Adamsdown

Saturday 23rd April, 10am - 11am
Advice surgery with Plasnewydd Councillors at Penylan Library

Saturday 23rd April, 11am - 12 noon
Advice surgery with Cathays Councillors at Cathays Library

Friday 29th April, 2pm - 3pm
Advice surgery at Rhydypennau Library, Cyncoed

Full details of upcoming surgeries are listed on my website.

Copyright © 2016 Jo Stevens MP, All rights reserved.

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