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Michael leads historic debate in the House of Commons as part of the “Justice for the Coalfields” campaign

29 October 2014

Michael led a historic debate in Parliament yesterday as part of the “Justice for the Coalfields” campaign.

The motion, which was unopposed by the Government, called on Members of Parliament to:

  • acknowledge that the recent release of the 1984 Cabinet papers showed that the government at the time misled the public about the extent of its pit closure plans and sought to influence police tactics;
  • recognise the economic legacy of the pit closure programme in coalfield communities across the UK;
  • and back continued regeneration and much needed support for coalfield communities as part of a wider programme to boost growth in Britain’s regions.

In his speech, Michael also called for an apology from Conservative ministers for the lies by the Thatcher government at the time about the secret pit closure plan. And called on Ministers to: set out all the details of the interactions between the Government and the police at the time of the strike; to release all information about government-police communications around Orgreave; and to consider initiating a swift, independent review into what happened at Orgreave if the Independent Police Complaints Commission can’t or won’t undertake a proper investigation.

You can read Michael’s full speech by clicking here, or by watching the video below and scrolling to 16:26.

 

In the media

The historic debate has been reported widely.

You can listen to an interview with Michael about the debate on BBC Radio Sheffield by clicking here and scrolling to 1:24:26.

Click here to watch a report on ITV Calandar News.

And you can also read more from reports in: the The Journal, the Yorkshire Post, The Daily Echo, the Morning Star, the Express and Star, the Sheffield Star, the Northern Echo, the Sheffield Telegraph and the Yorkshire Post.

 

 

 

Michael leads historic vote in the House of Commons as part of the “Justice for the Coalfields” campaign

28 October 2014

As reported in the Sheffield Star, the Northern Echo, the Sheffield Telegraph and the Yorkshire Post, Michael will lead an Opposition Day Debate today and call for a vote in the House of Commons as part of the “Justice for the Coalfields” campaign.

The motion to be debated will call on Members of Parliament to:

  • acknowledge that the recent release of the 1984 Cabinet papers showed that the government at the time misled the public about the extent of its pit closure plans and sought to influence police tactics;
  • recognise the economic legacy of the pit closure programme in coalfield communities across the UK;
  • and back continued regeneration and much needed support for coalfield communities as part of a wider programme to boost growth in Britain’s regions.

Labour has also called for an apology from Conservative ministers for the lies by the Thatcher government at the time about the secret pit closure plan and for looking to deploy the Army (as revealed in the recently released Cabinet papers).

Labour has also previously called on Ministers to: set out all the details of the interactions between the Government and the police at the time of the strike; to release all information about government-police communications around Orgreave; and to consider initiating a swift, independent review into what happened at Orgreave if the Independent Police Complaints Commission can’t or won’t undertake a proper investigation.

The full motion to be voted on is:

Coalfield Communities: That this House acknowledges the economic legacy of the pit closure programme in coalfield communities across the United Kingdom; notes that the recent release of the relevant 1984 Cabinet papers showed that the Government at the time misled the public about the extent of its pit closure plans and sought to influence police tactics; recognises the regeneration of former coalfield areas over the last fifteen years, the good work of organisations such as the Coalfield Regeneration Trust, and the largest industrial injury settlement in legal history secured by the previous Government for former miners suffering from bronchitis and emphysema; further recognises the ongoing problems highlighted recently by the report produced by Sheffield Hallam University on The State of the Coalfields, which revealed that there are still significant problems for the majority of Britain’s coalfield communities, such as fewer jobs, lower business formation rates, higher unemployment rates, more people with serious health issues, higher numbers in receipt of welfare benefits and a struggling voluntary and community sector; and therefore calls for the continued regeneration and much needed support for coalfield communities as part of a wider programme to boost growth in Britain’s regions.

Commenting ahead of the debate, Michael said:

“This will be an historic debate and vote in the House of Commons.

“Recently released Cabinet papers from the Thatcher years confirmed that the government at the time not only misled the public about the extent of the pit closure programme, but that it also sought to influence police tactics during the strike.

“It is now only right that Parliament recognises just how badly ministers at the time treated the coalfield communities and acknowledges the full scale of the economic legacy of the pit closure programme.

“The debate comes too late for so many of the miners and families in Yorkshire who saw their lives and their communities decimated after the Strike, but that sense of injustice endures today across those coalfield communities who are still dealing with the devastating consequences of what happened.

“The challenges that remain in the coalfield areas in Yorkshire are huge. That is way the vote in the House of Commons will also be asking MPs to back continued regeneration and much needed support for coalfield communities as part of a wider programme to boost growth in Britain’s regions.

“As well as this, we still need a proper investigation into Orgreave and full transparency of all government communications with the police at the time of the Strike. What happened at Orgreave 30 years ago was a black day in South Yorkshire. The Independent Police Complaints Commission needs to get its act together. If they can’t or won’t undertake a proper investigation, then Labour has said the Government should consider initiating a swift, independent review along the lines of the Ellison Review.

"It’s now time now to get to the truth and for there to be justice for the coalfields.”

 

Michael congratulates an outstanding school

27 October 2014

Michael has congratulated Birkwood Primary School, Cudworth on their recent Ofsted report where the school was classified as ‘Outstanding’.

As well as receiving the 'outstanding' grade overall, the school received this grade in all five categories assessed: leadership and management, behaviour and safety of pupils, quality of teaching, achievement of pupils and early years provision. In his report, Ofsted lead inspector Alan Lemon concluded ‘something special and something of excellence takes place at Birkwood’

Michael commenting said: "I am delighted that Birkwood Primary has received the recognition it deserves. It is an outstanding school and Julie Allen is an exceptional Headteacher. Having met their School Council last month, following a recent school visit to Parliament and witnessed first-hand during a Celebration Assembly the excellent work that goes on at the school, I believe governors, staff, pupils and parents should be all congratulated on their hard work and dedication.   I wish them all the best for the future”

 

South Yorkshire Times: ‘Time for a change at the top’

27 October 2014

Michael has written an article for the South Yorkshire Times about his admiration for the difficult work that the men and women of the police service do, whilst at the same time having to cope with big Government cuts.

You can read the article in full by clicking here.

 

Michael attends The Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal launch in Hoyland

25 October 2014

On Saturday 25 October Michael welcomed Vernon Coaker MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence to Barnsley to help launch the annual Poppy Appeal with The Hoyland and District Branch of the Royal British Legion at the new Tesco superstore in Hoyland.  Joining him was Labour's PCC candidate Canon Dr Alan Billings. At the launch Vernon had an opportunity to meet with Branch President and Arctic Convoy veteran Ken Burkinshaw and Chairman Robert Hill.

Following the launch Vernon took part in a roundtable discussion with local veterans to discuss servicemen's and veteran's issues.

Commenting Michael said "As we mark the Centenary of the First World War, it’s as important as ever to wear a poppy and remember the sacrifices and commitment made by our Armed forces both then and now" 

 

Michael joins the fight against breast cancer and 'wears it pink'

24 October 2014

As reported by the Barnsley News and Sport, Michael has joined the fight against breast cancer by taking part in Breast Cancer Campaign’s flagship fundraiser, 'wear it pink' day.

On Friday 24 October people across the country will come together to find fun and stylish ways to wear pink in the office, at home or at school. Donations raised by this year’s fashion inspired event will go to Breast Cancer Campaign to fund lifesaving breast cancer research. 

The proportion of women aged 53-70 attending breast cancer screening is 81.6 per cent in Barnsley, which is higher than the English average of 77 per cent.

Commenting, Michael said,

"Every year in the UK over 50,000 women and around 350 men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Sadly, 12,000 women and 80 men die from this disease each year. That’s why I’m proud to support Breast Cancer Campaign’s fundraising efforts to support world-class breast cancer research that saves and improves lives, giving people quicker diagnoses and more effective treatments.

“I am pleased to see that the proportion of women attending breast cancer screening in Barnsley is above the English average. Screening continues to be one of the most effective ways to spot breast cancer as early as possible. However, there is still so much to do and I hope you’ll all join me by wearing it pink and showing your support for breast cancer research.”

 

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