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

Thank you for reading my November 2016 update on my work in Cardiff Central and in Parliament. 

During November my team and I have held 10 advice surgeries for constituents, including specialist weekly immigration clinics. Details of December surgeries are at the bottom of this email. You don't need an appointment for surgeries, please just drop in.

My office will be closed for the festive break from Thursday 22nd December and will reopen on Thursday 5th January. If you need to contact us with an urgent issue during this time, please call 07754 593427.

November has been a busy month both in Parliament and Cardiff Central. Parliament is currently dominated by Brexit, with the government still refusing to give details of any plan about their approach to exiting the EU. At the very least, the Prime Minister could and should guarantee the right of EU citizens here before talks begin.
Out and About
November 10th was this year's designated 'Equal Pay Day'. This is the day from which women effectively work for free until the end of the year, based on the most recent gender pay gap statistics. The gender pay gap across the UK was 18.1% last year. To add to the injustice, 86% of the tax and benefit changes made by the coalition and the current Conservative government have been taken from women. More than 40 years after Labour introduced the Equal Pay Act, women are still being disadvantaged.
I joined members of the forces, volunteers and residents from across the city at the National Remembrance Service in Cathays Park. I was proud to pay my respects on the 100th anniversary of the battle of the Somme.
Springwood Primary and Marlborough Primary Schools both visited Parliament this month and had a brilliant time. If your school is interested in visiting Parliament, please get in touch with my office. 
I joined friends from Cardiff Central and across the UK at the Bangladesh Caterers Association awards last week. It was an honour to be asked to present the award for the best curry restaurant in Wales and I'm delighted that Cardiff Central's own Empire Restaurant was the winner.
I joined Dogs Trust in Parliament last week to celebrate the charity's 125th anniversary. Dogs Trust cares for, rehabilitates and rehomes dogs alongside campaigning for better animal welfare laws and protections.
It was lovely to get a chance to say thank you to Jan Carton from the Citizens Advice legal team and all her colleagues at Citizens Advice Cymru at Parliament this week. Citizens Advice provide huge amounts of support to Cardiff Central constituents and I'm grateful for the way we are able to work together to support people who need our help. 
You will probably have read or seen the case involving nineteen year old Bashir Naderi. Bashir's case has made national news because he was almost forcibly removed from the UK and sent back to Afghanistan earlier this month, after coming to the UK as an unaccompanied ten year old child following the murder of his father by the Taliban. Bashir has grown up in Cardiff and is at college here. Working with his family, friends and his solicitor, we succeeded in temporarily stopping Bashir from being put on the flight to Kabul with just a few hours to spare. His case highlights serious issues with the way the Home Office treats people who have turned eighteen having sought asylum in the UK as children. 
I joined colleagues to show our support for the White Ribbon Campaign, which encourages men to take a stand to stop violence against women and girls. This serious issue both in the UK and across the world is on the increase and we need urgent action to try to eradicate it. 
Once again this year Jenny Rathbone AM and I invited school children from Cardiff Central to design our Christmas cards. We had a great time looking through all the entries, choosing a winner with local artist Ceri Auckland-Davies and selecting runners up for an exhibition at the Albany Gallery on Saturday 10th December. This is the winning card, designed by Alexandra Singeorzan from Glyncoed Primary School.
I joined retail union USDAW at their Respect for Shopworkers event at Tesco. This annual campaign reminds customers in the run up to Christmas to be polite and respectful towards shopworkers during their busiest time of the year. Find out more here.
I also attended a Fairtrade Fair in Cyncoed, hosted by Fair Do's and Park End Church. It was lovely to join this community event with constituent Jan Tucker - and pick up some great Fairtrade coffee. 
I attended an event in Parliament this week hosted by the City of Sanctuary project, with representatives from the Cardiff City of Sanctuary group, who provide support to refugees and asylum seekers in Cardiff. My team also attended Asylum Justice's 10th anniversary dinner this month, at which the organisation celebrated a decade of providing free legal advice to asylum seekers.
I joined fellow MPs, members of the Parliament Choir, rock band MP4, Thurrock Community Choir and well known recording artists earlier this month to record a charity single in aid of the Jo Cox Foundation. The Foundation was set up following Jo's terrorist murder in June, to advance the values of fairness and tolerance that Jo believed in.

The single, a cover of The Rolling Stones song 'You Can't Always Get What You Want', will be released on 16th December.

In Parliament

Welsh Questions

This month I led the Shadow Wales team at Welsh Questions calling on the Government to confirm post Brexit support for jobs and funding for Wales.

I raised the issue of the car industry in Wales and the thousands of jobs that reIy on the automotive sector, with the Secretary of State for Wales.

Ford announced in September that they would guarantee around a third of the 1,800-strong workforce at Bridgend, but only until 2020. These jobs are vital to the local community and to the supply chain in Wales. The Government’s lack of any plan for Brexit and, specifically, access to the single market and whether businesses will have to pay tariffs to import and export, is causing significant uncertainty and concern.

I called on the Government to say and do more to offer Ford certainty post-Brexit. We need to know what the broad terms of our future trade approach will be. To protect jobs in Wales, instead of secret deals company by company, we must know that major employers like Ford will be offered the same guarantees on tariffs as their UK based competitors.

In refusing to give any commitment, the Tory Welsh Secretary is placing businesses in Wales in a worse position than those in Scotland or Northern Ireland. The Scottish and Northern Ireland Secretaries of State have committed, in Parliament, to offering the same protections for businesses in Scotland and Northern Ireland as those offered to businesses in England.

Click here to watch the full exchange.

Brexit Letter

This month I co-signed a letter alongside 90 Labour MPs and MEPs urging the Government not to pursue a ’hard or extreme Brexit when negotiations start. To do so will leave us poorer, and worse off; fewer jobs, less business investment and isolated.

You can read the letter, which was published in the Guardian, here.

Autumn Statement

Last week in Parliament the Chancellor made his Autumn Statement, reporting on the state of Britain's finances and future spending commitments the Government will make.

The statement confirmed what many have been thinking - that the Government has no ideas to improve life for people in Wales. The only announcements relating to Wales had been announced before, and there was very little which will make real change for people in Wales.

In Cardiff Central I am still looking to the Government for confirmation of the necessary investment to secure the future of the South Wales Metro project, as well as key improvements to Cardiff Central station.

I will continue, in my role as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, to fight for our fair share, not just of funding, but also recognition. The Government must not be allowed to make Wales a permanent afterthought.

Visit to Welsh Stakeholders with Keir Starmer QC MP

This month I invited my shadow cabinet colleague Keir Starmer, to Cardiff Central. We did a series of visits and meetings in Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare where we met with businesses, Wales TUC, charities, Cardiff University and Welsh Government to discuss their concerns about Brexit and how we can assist them in ensuring that we get the best deal possible for Wales.

I will continue to work closely alongside Keir Starmer and my other Shadow Cabinet colleagues to ensure that there is a strong voice for wales challenging the government to act in the national interest.

Co-Signing Aleppo Letter to the Prime Minister

I joined over 200 MPs from all parties to sign a letter to the Prime Minister, supporting the campaign for aid airdrops into Syria.

The campaign is being co-ordinated by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Syria, and asks the Government to provide airdrops of aid to people suffering amid fighting in Aleppo.

The situation in Aleppo is desperate. Some 275,000 civilians are trapped there, while hospitals and aid centres are being destroyed by the bombing.

With the Syrian Government refusing to allow access for UN aid agencies, air drops are the only way to get food and medical supplies to the citizens on the ground.

Read more in the Guardian here.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Kamal Foroughi

A number of constituents have contacted me about the cases of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Kamal Foroughi who are currently being held in the 'notorious’ Evin Prison in Iran.

Nazanin, a charity worker, was stopped at the airport in April and detained, while Kamal has now been imprisoned for over five years. Concern from their families and the British public is growing stronger.

I wrote to Tobias Ellwood MP, Minister for the Middle East, to directly raise their cases and ask what additional efforts the Government will be making to secure their release. 

Child Burial Fees

My friend and colleague Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, is leading a campaign to scrap child burial fees. Carolyn, who lost her son when he was just 8 years old, held an adjournment debate in the Commons on the issue.

I am proud to support this campaign, which would lessen - even in a small way - the burden on families of children who have died.

When the issue was raised during Prime Minister's Questions - by my Labour colleague Chris Bryant MP - the Prime Minister was very dismissive in her response, claiming that the responsibility lies with local councils.

This is both wrong and unfair, espeically when the Government has been cutting funding to local authorities for the past six years.I will continue to campaign alongside Carolyn, and stand up for people who need our support against a Government that is doing all it can to avoid helping them.

Football Supporters (Access) Bill

This month I was also a co-sponsor of the Football Supporters (Access) Bill launched by my Labour colleague Justin Madders MP.

The Bill would require football clubs to provide discount match tickets for young people, require local authorities to consider the needs of match-going supporters when approving fixtures, and require clubs to set aside a proportion of transfer fees to fund the development of facilities for local clubs and young people.

I am a big football fan, and it's always been important to me that our clubs, in addition to being successful on the world stage, keep the sport open and accessible to young people and the stars of the future.

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 9th December 12 noon - 1.30pm
Churches Together Shop, Maelfa, Llanedeyrn CF23 9PL

Friday 9th December 4pm - 6pm
Constituency Office, 116 Albany Road, CF24 3RU

Wednesday 21st December 1pm - 2.30pm
Trinity Centre, Four Elms Road, Adamsdown, CF24 0DF

Wednesday 21st December 3pm - 5pm
Constituency Office, 116 Albany Road, CF24 3RU

My office will be closed for the festive break from Thursday 22nd December and will reopen on Thursday 5th January. If you need to contact us with an urgent issue during this time, please call 07754 593427.

Full details of upcoming surgeries are listed on my website.

Copyright © 2016 Jo Stevens MP, All rights reserved.

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