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IMG_6040.JPGThank you for contacting me recently concerning the Alzheimer's Society campaign, 'Fix Dementia Care'. I was able to attend today’s drop in session and was shocked and appalled to learn the effects that government cuts are having on dementia care within the constituency.

I support this campaign and appreciate that dementia is one of the greatest challenges facing our country. The Alzheimer's Society estimates 850,000 people in the UK are already living with dementia and that number is set to rise to over a million in the next five years.

I believe our health and social care system needs to change urgently in order to meet this challenge and to ensure that people with dementia get the support and care they need.

We need improvements in the quality of care and support for people with dementia, yet this will not be achieved until we find a solution to the funding crisis in social care. The huge cuts to social care budgets in recent years have left hundreds of thousands of older people without support.

The scale of the cuts is forcing local councils to cut the services that would have helped to support people outside hospital. As a consequence, more and more people with dementia are spending time in hospital and, once admitted, are finding that the support is simply not in place in the community for them to return home.

The number of days patients are kept in hospital because there is nowhere safe to discharge them has doubled under this Government. This is a clear sign that Government cuts to social care have come at a huge human cost to some of the most vulnerable people in society and have put huge financial pressure on hospitals.

IMG_6045.JPGI stood on a manifesto at the last General Election which made action to improve care quality and patient safety a priority. It included pledges to recruit extra nurses to help provide safe levels of staffing onwards, recruit 5,000 new home-care workers, and end time-limited 15-minute care visits.

I hope the Government carefully considers the issues raised by the 'Fix Dementia Care' campaign and takes action. 

Dementia Care

Thank you for contacting me recently concerning the Alzheimer's Society campaign, 'Fix Dementia Care'. I was able to attend today’s drop in session and was shocked and appalled to learn...

I believe that openness and accountability are vital for any Government and that an appropriate balance needs to be struck between the need for transparency and the right for certain Ministerial correspondence to remain confidential. The FOIA - introduced by the previous Labour Government - sought to achieve this balance but I believe it is important to look at how this could be improved and modernised.

I am concerned about the Government's Commission on the Freedom of Information, including its remit and composition. I believe the Commission was set up by the Government in order to weaken the Freedom of Information Act. It is therefore welcome that my Shadow Frontbench colleagues have held their own public, cross-party review into the Act, to look at whether there is scope to extend any part of the Act in order to achieve its stated objectives.

The manifesto I stood on at the last election included a commitment to extend the scope of Freedom of Information laws so that public services run by large private companies are included and during the last Parliament Labour MPs supported amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill which would have brought public providers of public services contracted out under the Bill within the scope of the FOIA.

I would like to see progress of the past decade in opening up government to more scrutiny built upon, with the FOI Act's successes and proposals being considered in order to strengthen the Act. I will look closely at both the Government and Opposition's reviews and consider their findings. However, it is important that any changes resulting from the Commission's review do not weaken this crucial check on the power of the Executive.

I have previously signed EDM 49 and I hope this letter outlines my strong commitment to defending our Freedom of Information laws. I will bear your views in mind and will monitor the outcome of my Shadow Frontbench colleagues' review into the Freedom of Information Act.

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FoI Consultation

I believe that openness and accountability are vital for any Government and that an appropriate balance needs to be struck between the need for transparency and the right for certain...

I agree that travelling circuses are no place for wild animals and I know this is a view shared by many local people and animal welfare organisations. Legislation on this issue is long overdue, and the lack action from the Government has been shameful.

I share your frustration that the Coalition Government failed to legislate on this during the last Parliament. This is despite the House of Commons backing a ban and the Prime Minister stating that a ban would be introduced.

As you know, the Coalition Government published a draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill in 2013 but failed to find parliamentary time for this Bill, or for a Private Members' Bill that was introduced to finally ban the use of wild animals in circuses. It is also the case that the current Government failed to include legislation on this in the Queen's Speech on 27 May 2015, despite the fact that the Conservative election manifesto included a commitment to implement a ban.

I agree that an outright ban should be a priority, particularly due to concerns raised about the Government’s ineffective licencing system. I am therefore very pleased that the Wild Animals in Circuses (Prohibition) Bill which I am co-sponsoring received widespread support during its first reading today, and is scheduled to be debated again in Parliament during early March.  

I will press the Government on its progress towards banning wild animals in circuses and I can assure you I will continue to bear in mind the points you raise when this Bill is presented to Parliament.

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Wild Animals in Circuses

I agree that travelling circuses are no place for wild animals and I know this is a view shared by many local people and animal welfare organisations. Legislation on this...


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