Paula's Press Column (20 November) - Six months in Parliament speaking up for you!

Six months in Parliament speaking up for you!

It seems like only yesterday, the morning of 8 May when the result at Cathedral House, Huddersfield was declared and I was elected to parliament. The last six months have been a non-stop ride with many highs and lows. During this time I hope I have done you proud through speaking up for you on a regular basis in the House of Commons and working hard in the constituency.

 

When I was elected I pledged to be a full time MP. This is why I immediately resigned from my position with Virgin Care and then stood down from my council seat.

 

After six months I cannot see how anyone could keep up with the demands of the job unless they were fully committed to the role.  I am working 7 days a week, speaking up for you in Parliament as well as working hard when I am back in the constituency. So far I have spoken 38 times in 25 debates and I have raised many important issues on your behalf with the Ministers.

 

In the summer I joined the Health Select Committee and I have grilled the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over the use of agency staff and management consultants in our hospitals. I have spoken up for Junior Doctors whose employment conditions are being completely undermined by the Health Secretary and I have also campaigned for months now against the disabled parking charges at Dewsbury and Pinderfields Hospitals. The Trust have now agreed to hold a review into these charges and just this week the Health Minister agreed with me over the poor handling of the issue by the Trust.

 

One of my proudest achievements to date was forcing high street giant WH Smith to climb down on their hospital pricing policy. WH Smith and other stores were charging up to 90% more for various items in their hospital stores than in the high street stores, taking advantage of a captive audience. 

 

Earlier this month I tabled an amendment to the finance bill which would have mandated the government to include a demand for zero rate of VAT on tampons and other female sanitary products in their EU negotiations. Ministers sought to head off a rebellion from their own Conservative backbench MP’s who were supporting my amendment, and pledged to start negotiations with the European commission.

 

Also this month we stood strong as a party against the proposed Tax Credit Cuts and Trade Union Bill. Unfortunately both passed their third readings. These are both issues I feel strongly about and I voiced my concern in parliament speaking on both these issues, standing up for working people and also the 13,000 children in Dewsbury who’s families are in receipt of tax credits. Many of the people I worked alongside in the NHS relied on tax credits to make work pay, and now they find themselves caught in a pincer between the government’s pay cuts and the work penalty. Working people are being hit hard by this government by having their in-work benefits cut and rights at work eroded.

 

Of late I have launched my campaign against the proposed cuts to policing. It’s anticipated that the Chancellor could cut the police budget by up to 25% in next week’s spending review. As someone who worked for nearly a decade within the police service, supporting victims and witnesses of crime, I have recently felt the need to speak out at the government’s treatment of our police force. I have set up an online petition to raise awareness of the seriousness of this issue. You can sign it at: www.paulasherriff.org.uk/don_t_cut_our_cops.

 

I hope you can see how passionate I am about representing you both at home and in London.  If you have an issue that you feel I could help you with please do not hesitate to contact me at paula@paulasherriff.org.uk or to 17 Wellington Road, Dewsbury WF13 1HQ.


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