Archive | June, 2010

Headway at Old Whitt Gala

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins Pledges Support for Brain Injury Organisation

Toby Perkins, Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, has pledged his support for a local charity dedicated to helping sufferers of brain injury.  

Mr. Perkins met with Peter Shaw, Chair of the North Derbyshire branch of Headway at the Old Whittington Gala on Saturday 26th June. The organisation provides opportunities and support to people affected by brain injuries. Those who have been affected by brain tumors and strokes often go on social events, including ten pin bowling, complementary therapy, along with indoor and outdoor leisure activities.

The charity is hoping to re-establish a new HQ to help its volunteer carers, professional workers and brain injury survivors carry continue doing an important job in the Chesterfield area. As well as caring for people of all ages, Headway also provides its members with information on issues such as home equipment, transport, and welfare benefits.

Mr. Perkins said:-

“It was great to meet Peter and his Headway team at the Old Whittington Gala. The organisation helps hundreds of people in Chesterfield and the surrounding areas who have been devastated by brain injuries”.

Peter Shaw added:-

“We were delighted to meet with Toby on Saturday and very much appreciate his support. We now hope to expand our volunteer base to ensure we develop our social rehabilitation scheme in North Derbyshire”.

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Air Cadets at Brimington Gala

Perkins backs 1082 Brimington Air Cadets

Toby Perkins, Labour Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, has called on youngsters in Chesterfield and Staveley to learn more about the out of school activities available to youngsters in Chesterfield following a visit by Mr. Perkins to the Brimington Air Force Cadets’ stall at the Brimington Gala on Saturday 26th June. Continue Reading

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Mencap Reception

Toby Perkins MP Backs Learning Disability Campaign

Toby Perkins MP last week showed his commitment to ensure that people with a learning disability get the healthcare they have a right to by signing Mencap’s Getting it right charter.

The MP for Chesterfield signed the charter at a Parliamentary Reception which was part of the launch of Mencap’s Getting it right campaign, the focus of this year’s Learning Disability Week. The charter calls on health professionals to commit to a nine-point pledge that will help make real changes and save lives.

 Speaking at the Getting it right Parliamentary Reception, Mr Perkins said:

“This is a hugely important campaign that sets a benchmark of practice to ensure that people with a learning disability have the same access to good healthcare as everyone else. I pledge my commitment and support to help ‘Get it right’ for people with a learning disability from across Chesterfield.”

 For more information on the Getting it right campaign and charter, and to show your support, www.mencap.org.uk/gettingitright.

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Harriet Harman

Tory Budget breaks election promise on VAT and will kill the recovery

Labour MP for Chesterfield, Toby Perkins, has today warned that ordinary hard working families in Chesterfield will bear the brunt of the of the Budget cuts announced by Chancellor George Osborne with the help of the Liberal Democrats. The Coalition Government has scrapped Labour’s plans to reduce the budget deficit responsibly, instead choosing to slash much needed government spending initiatives deeper and sooner.

 Today’s budget which saw a two and a half percent rise in VAT, and cuts to child benefit and wages is based on a Conservative ideology and  highlights the differences between this Tory/ Lib Dem government and Labour’s approach which was slowly moving the country back into growth.

 Labour had planned to spread the burden of deficit reduction fairly, raising half of all taxes from the top 5 per cent of earners, and in fact the new office for Budget Responsibility confirmed the accuracy of Labour’s pre-election forecasts.

 Mr Perkins said:

 “Today we saw the true colours of George Osborne, David Cameron and the Tory/Liberal government. This is a budget that will hit growth and pull the rug out from under the recovery. This Tory government has outlined its plans to savagely cut government spending immediately in almost every area of society and it will have a devastating impact on millions of people.

David Cameron has broken his election promise when he said he had no plans to raise VAT. The Liberal Democrat support of it is even more shameful as it so blatantly contradicts the promises they made during the election.”

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The poorest will pay for bankers’ blunders

A heated House of Commons debate on the Department for Communities  Local Government saw the first startling admission by the new coalition government about the true victims of the bank initiated economic deficit.

Junior Minister Bob Neill told the house : “Those in greatest need ultimately bear the burden of paying off the debt.”

The comments were made during a debate about the first round of Local Government cuts that have seen £160,000 taken from Chesterfield Council, more than double the national average. The cuts came from funding specifically given to Councils in the most deprived areas.

Toby was called to quiz Secretary of State Eric Pickles about the cuts to Chesterfield’s budget. After the debate, Toby Perkins said:”It hasn’t taken long for the true face of caring conservatism to come to the fore. For all the talk about eliminating waste, and protecting the poor, now a Minister has come out and admitted that it will be the poorest communities that the Tory cuts are targetting. Although I am shocked, I can’t say I am suprised, but I will fight on to build public opposition to these cuts, and pressure the Government to look elsewhere for ways to repay the losses incurred by their banking friends in the city.”

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IMGP2574

Why I’m supporting David Miliband

At the General Committee meeting of Chesterfield Constituency Labour Party on Saturday 5th June, I announced that I would be supporting David Miliband for leader of the Labour Party , and indeed after the hustings event for the Parliamentary Labour Party that took place on Monday 7th June, I added my name to those that have nominated David.

If I am honest, I didn’t start out expecting to support David so let me tell you why I ultimately chose to.

My support for David is entirely positive. It is not a reflection on characteristics that the other candidates are lacking but more a recognition that he was the best candidate of those on offer to lead the Labour Party and to place in front of the country as a future Prime Minister.

Having spoken to all of the candidates, it was David that seemed to have the calm assurance that you expect in a Leader, his analysis on the reasons Labour lost is unquestionably the most thoughtful and his performance in the debate showed a man comfortable in his own skin, with the confidence to defend Labour’s record, coupled with the vision to identify the ways in which the leadership of the party has been too top down and autocratic in it’s consultation and dealings with both the party and the public.

David’s influence in assisting Diane Abbott to be on the ballot paper was typical of his desire to have a debate about the future direction of the party in an open way without trashing the record of the party in government.

The performance of the Coalition government so far show that they are clearly embarking on a huge programme of public sector cuts, apparently without any pretence about cutting waste, (Future Jobs Fund, University places, Working Neighbourhoods Fund). 

The cuts will directly affect the poorest in our communities and require a robust response that reflects the best of Labour, our values yes, but allied to our pragmatic ability to deliver change that really impacts on people’s lives. 

David is the candidate that will best hold the Tories to account. He is by far the most accomplished Commons debater, the most experienced in Government and the one that the Tories fear most. In David, the Tories realise that we have a candidate that can restore Labour’s appeal across the class divide and rebuild the broad coalition needed to form a government again.

This is a time of great opportunity but also great danger. The coalition will not fall apart by itself. After thirteen years out of power the Tories are desperate to return to their position as the natural party of government, and the Lib Dems are clearly willing to ditch many of their principles in order to sit at the top table. But a Liberal influence on a Tory government could deliver a gentler face to the Tory cuts agenda and if the Tories’ attempt to attribute every cut to the previous Labour government is met by an unconvincing response from the Labour leadership, or worse, if we concede our role as the voice of progressive aspiration and retreat to the language of envy and tribalism, the potential dangers to our position as the major force in progressive politics are huge.

Simultaneously, get our response to the cuts right, put pressure on the Lib Dems to define what they stand for, and articulate a positive message about our alternative plan for government and our role as THE voice of progressive opinion can be hugely strengthened.

And whilst the public may not be listening to Labour, they are certainly watching us. David is the man that opinion polls consistently show is most likely to deliver a win for Labour. He is the candidate who has stayed solid on what he believes in, and is engaging in this debate with an open mind but resolute in defending the strengths of our party that has delivered a better, fairer and safer Britain over the last thirteen years.

Far from being a narrow race, I think the differences between the candidates will become clear as the race develops. Ed Balls has a strong background as a fighter for working people, and his history in the Treasury and as DCSF Secretary of State show him to be a serious politician; whilst Ed Miliband’s speeches are passionate and moving, and his appeal for the trade union and youth vote will keep him in the race. Andy Burnham has a strong history running one of the key offices of state at Health and Diane Abbott will provide a valuable voice for the left of the party.

But notwithstanding the attributes that are apparent in all of our candidates, David is the one who can couple the ability to devolve power to the party and the wider trade union movement with an ability to form a winning coalition.

That’s why I will be supporting David, and I hope that you will too.

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Maiden Speech -the full text

It was a great honour and a privilege to stand in the House of Commons on Tuesday 8th June to speak during the Queens speech debate on Work and Pensions. Maiden speeches cover a specific format, namely a word or two or about your predeccesor, some words about your constituency, and then moving on to talking about the subject to be debated.

The full text of my maiden speech is featured below:   

I congratulate hon. Members who have made their maiden speeches, particularly Joseph Johnson, who should not be so self-deprecating. If it is in fact true that he has no sense of humour, someone has written him a great speech.

It is a great privilege to be only the fifth person to represent the Chesterfield constituency in Parliament in the past 80 years. The most recent of my predecessors was Paul Holmes, and I should like to start my maiden speech by reflecting on some of the strengths that he brought to the House in the nine years during which he served it. He was a diligent constituency Member of Parliament and a determined fighter for council housing, particularly through his membership of the Defend Council Housing group. As a former secondary school teacher, he was also an outspoken advocate of comprehensive schools and the teaching profession. As MP for an area that suffered a great deal from firms that went into liquidation with failed pension schemes, he consistently added his voice to those calling for a fair deal for those pensioners.

As a guide to the history of Chesterfield and as a commentary on the times, I also want to reflect on the maiden speeches of some of my other predecessors. Sir George Benson was a stalwart member of the Government who is still remembered fondly by some of Chesterfield’s most experienced citizens. His first major address to the House was in 1931, when he controversially called for the end of flogging with the cat o’ nine tails. I am pleased to inform the House that on the basis of an informal survey that I conducted during the recent election campaign, Sir George’s stance against corporal punishment still enjoys some support.

In Eric Varley, a local miner’s son who rose to the Cabinet and was posthumously given the freedom of the borough of Chesterfield, my constituency had a famous son who is fondly remembered across the borough. There is also, of course, Tony Benn, one of the greatest political figures of the 20th century, a man who bestrode the politics of his time as few can. I am mindful of those who have trodden this path before me in Chesterfield’s name.

Chesterfield has made its mark in other ways than through political history. Despite the comments of my hon. Friend Chi Onwurah, George Stephenson was actually from Chesterfield. Thanks to the vision of Bill Flanagan, the council leader for 27 years, an innovation centre now stands on the Stephenson’s family’s former estate; new firms grow in new industries, overlooked by the grandfather of innovation.

Football fans will know of the town as the home of goalkeepers, with legends such as Gordon Banks, the England World cup-winning goalkeeper, before him, Samuel Hardy, the England goalkeeper for 14 years at the end of the 19th century, and Bob Wilson, who served Arsenal, Scotland and sports broadcasting with tremendous distinction, all learning their trade in the town. Chesterfield football club, the Spireites, is a useful metaphor for the town, having had its moments in the hearts of the nation, as it did in 1997-a great year-when, as a third division club, it was cruelly denied a place in the FA cup final by a combination of the Old Trafford crossbar and a short-sighted football referee. Now, after a quiet period, the club gets ready to welcome the new season at the sparkling new B2net stadium-a brand new home on the north entrance to the town, and a symbol of the regeneration of Chesterfield.

The campaign that brought me here to represent the people of Chesterfield focused most strongly on jobs. With Junction 29A, or Skinner’s Junction, a huge site open for business as a result of the tireless work of my hon. Friend Mr Skinner, working with Labour party councillors who have fought for the area for so long, such as John Williams, Walter Burrows and John Burrows, Chesterfield and north Derbyshire finally get the investment in jobs that we needed-indeed the biggest investment in the area since the pits were sunk.

As Chesterfield rebuilds its economic prosperity, tourism also plays an increasingly important part, our world-famous crooked spire being just the highlight. While it is true that the number of people drawing the dole is less than a quarter of those who did so at its peak in the ’80s, thanks to the Labour Government‘s steps to save jobs during the recession, the need for skilled work for those who do not go to university, or for graduate and apprenticeship opportunities, is still keenly felt.

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has stated that his purpose is to improve the quality of life for the worst-off in society so that they can play a part and, one hopes, pay tax themselves one day. No one on the Labour Benches would oppose that aspiration; indeed, it was that aspiration that led Labour, in the face of Conservative opposition, to introduce the national minimum wage and the tax credits system. The starting point in reducing benefit dependency is not an increase in the rhetoric against the unemployed, but an increase in work opportunities. It is therefore depressing that the coalition should choose the future jobs fund as one of the first examples of waste to be cut.

The Secretary of State is right to say that benefit recipients should be free to try to work their way off sickness-related benefits while retaining some security, as previewed by the previous Labour Government in the pathways to work pilot. No one could object to his intention to make benefits simpler and fairer, but surely one of the key reasons benefits are complicated is that so are the circumstances of people’s lives. The current system at least attempted to reflect logically the complexities of ordinary people’s lives, and the Secretary of State has not yet demonstrated how he can simplify the system without increasing unfairness; until he does, I will remain a sceptic. From my perspective, however, I will provide any support that I can to help him to convince his own party of the need to invest more in jobs, not in cutting them, and to understand that benefit recipients are more often the victims than the architects of their circumstances. Alongside a call for personal responsibility must come governmental responsibility to put job creation before the benefit cuts and to ensure that the most needy are not the victims of the simplification of benefit payments.

Chesterfield has a great deal going for it; under Labour, it improved so much. I came into politics to fight for the next generation of working opportunities for Chesterfield and Staveley-to fight inequality and to protect the public services that our people rely on. As I stand here in this magnificent place, bearing a dual responsibility, sent here to represent the people of Chesterfield and the Labour party, there is not a prouder man alive.

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Toby asking a question at PMQs

Prime Minister’s Questions- 2 June 2010

The first Prime Minister’s questions of the new ‘Con Dem’ government and I was picked out to ask question number seven on the order paper. The full exchanges can be seen by clicking here http://bit.ly/d3wxW6 My question is at around 18 minutes 50 seconds.

After the solemn early exchanges on the subject of the Israeli attack on the aid convoy and the terrible tragedy in Cumbria, the fiirst clashes were on the subject of Tory plans to allow rape defendants (uniquely) anonymity. Three times Harriet Harman pressed the Prime Minister to justify his position which would give men accused of rape a unique status in criminal justive terms, yet the PM insisted that this was his way of preventing the disgracefully low level of convictions on rape. Continue Reading

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Welcome

I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries in Chesterfield and Staveley so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Email: toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF

Surgeries

I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
Please call 01246 386286 or email toby.perkins.mp@parliament.uk to make a booking.

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