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

Thank you for reading my January 2015 update on my work in Cardiff Central and in Parliament.

During January my team and I have held 10 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.

This month I also accepted a role in Labour's Shadow Front Bench team, taken part in Parliamentary debates on student grants, the Cardiff City Deal and supporting small businesses, and met with organisations working in the Cardiff Central constituency.

Information Fun Day

On the 19th February I'm joining forces with Jenny Rathbone, Assembly Member for Cardiff Central, to hold an information and fun day at the Powerhouse in Llanedeyrn.

Alongside your MP and AM you will be able to get advice from a wide range of organisations including Cardiff Bus, Citizens Advice, Careers Wales, Shelter, Cardiff & Vale Credit Union, South Wales Police and many more.

There will also be indoor and outdoor play, cooking workshops and free bike maintenance.
Join me at the Powerhouse from 10am - 2pm on Friday 19th February!

Click here for more information.
Last week I saw a report in the Guardian that people were being forced to wear coloured wristbands in order to access meals at Home Office temporary accommodation on Newport Road. Some had suffered abuse and threats as the bands made readily them identifiable as refugees and asylum seekers. I stepped in and spoke to Home Office private contractors Clearsprings Ready Homes, who run Lynx House, and secured an end to this practice.

Reports of dangerous conditions have now emerged and I have joined calls for an immediate inspection and review of Lynx House and the operation of the private contract by the Home Office. I am always proud of how welcoming and diverse our city is and it shocked me to see people treated this way. Lynx House is a taxpayer funded facility for vulnerable people and if the private contractor won't run it safely and humanely, then the Government must take action. 
I welcomed a delegation of teachers from Bangladesh to Cardiff this month. The teachers were visiting on an exchange programme which fosters collaboration and sharing of best practice.
I have joined my Labour colleagues this month campaigning for an end to fuel poverty. Every winter, thousands of people are forced to make the choice between heating and eating and we must put a stop to this. If you are concerned about fuel poverty, you can get advice and support at Speakeasy Advice Centre on Friday mornings. More information here.
I visited St David's Primary School in Pentwyn earlier this month to meet year six pupils and get grilled for an hour on a wide range of topics from foreign policy to sport to democracy. I was also asked to say hi to Ed Miliband if I see him. It was an absolute pleasure to spend time with such engaged and enthusiastic pupils, who had really done their research and all joined in the session. 
I also joined a group of parents, and Plasnewydd Councillor Dan De'Ath, this month to call for a crossing patrol for Albany Primary School. The school is in a busy area of Roath and parents and children struggle to cross congested roads without a patrol. Councillor De'Ath will present a petition to the full meeting of Cardiff Council, and we will continue to campaign for a safe crossing solution. You can read the WalesOnline article about the campaign here.

In Parliament

Standing up for Students
Earlier this month I spoke up for Cardiff students in the House of Commons during a debate on the UK Government's plan to scrap student maintenance grants on the quiet and replace them with loans.

I spoke about my pride representing a University constituency and the adverse impact of the changes on the many thousands of English students who, unlike their Welsh counterparts whose grants are protected by the Welsh Labour Government, will be affected by these changes.

The changes will increase the debt of the poorest students to around £53,000 from a three-year course. The Government have chosen to push through these changes via a procedure that avoids proper scrutiny. Removing student maintenance grants was not in the Tory election manifesto and their attempts to sneak through the changes betray their total lack of regard not just for students, but for democracy. You can watch my speech here. 

You can watch my speech here.

Treasury Questions
On 19th January I was able to ask First Secretary to the Treasury Harriett Baldwin a question about the ill practices for lending to small businesses, and asked why the investigation into banking culture had been dropped by the Government. This is an important issue to me, since the practices used by the financial sector have had a huge impact on small businesses across Cardiff Central.

You can read the exchange here.
Cardiff City Deal
This month I took the opportunity in Welsh Questions to press for UK Government match funding for the Cardiff City Deal. The project, which has been led by Cardiff's Labour Council Leader Phil Bale, is a great opportunity for Cardiff to grow and prosper. The proposed deal would bring increased investment in business development and infrastructure for our city and surrounding region.

So far, the Welsh Government has pledged £580m for the project, but the UK Government has still not confirmed that it will match this investment, so I asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether or not the UK Government will make this commitment.

Stephen Crabb MP refused to answer directly,instead hiding behind an ‘in principle’ commitment to infrastructure. The Tories continue to dodge answering the question of match funding and typical of this Tory Government: no answer, no action and, I suspect, no match funding.

You can watch the exchange here.
Justice Contributions This Month
This month I accepted an invitation to join the Labour front bench as Shadow Minister for Justice with responsibility for prisons, probation, sentencing and victims. Alongside this, I am Shadow Solicitor General, which involves helping the Shadow Attorney General provide legal advice to the Shadow Cabinet. 
My number one priority in Parliament, however, is to represent you and continue to be an accessible, visible and effective MP. That will not change.
In my position as Shadow Minister I have spoken in a number of debates, which you can find out more about here:
Opposition day debate: Prisons and Probation
Read | Watch

Justice Questions
Read | Watch

Safety in Youth Custody (Westminster Hall Debate)
Read | Watch

Access to Justice (Westminster Hall Debate)
Read | Watch

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 5th February, 4pm - 6pm
Advice surgery at Constituency Office, 116 Albany Road

Friday 12th February, 11am - 12 noon
Advice surgery at Rhydypennau Library, Cyncoed

Friday 19th February, 10am - 2pm
Information Fun Day at the Powerhouse, Llanedeyrn

Friday 26th February, 11am - 12 noon
Advice surgery at St German's Church Hall, Adamsdown

Saturday 27th February, 10am - 11am
Advice surgery with Plasnewydd Councillors, Penylan Community Centre

Saturday 27th February, 11am - 12 noon
Advice surgery with Cathays Councillors, Cathays Library

Full details of upcoming surgeries are listed on my website.

Copyright © 2016 Jo Stevens MP, All rights reserved.

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