|Surgery at Balham Community Centre|
|Monday, 27 November 2006 16:47|
On Monday I held my usual drop in surgery at Balham Community
Centre on Bedford Hill. This was really busy with constituents needing
help in issues ranging from housing to parking problems and from immigration
problems to concerns about anti social behaviour.
In the afternoon I met with officers from the Society of Labour Lawyers to discuss some of the interesting work they are involved in.
The Public Accounts Committee examined the Department for International Development and, in particular, Working with Non Governmental and Other Civil Society Organisations to promote development.
In the evening I held the inaugural reception for Totally Tooting readers. The evening was a great success with almost 100 local residents visiting the House of Commons for their first time. The Secretary of State for International Development, Hilary Benn MP, the Minister for the Third Sector Ed Milliband MP, Stephen Pound MP, Martin Linton MP and Dawn Butler MP all made great speeches and joined us in the enjoyable evening. You can see photos of the evening HERE and HERE and sign up to Totally Tooting by clicking HERE.
On Tuesday I met with the Chief Executive of Camelot and other senior representatives of Camelot to discuss their plans, the bidding process for the next process, the Olympics 2012 and generally how things are going with the Lottery. Camelot are not in charge of distributing the funds to "worthy causes" so there was no point lobbying them about how the money could be better spent in Tooting!
I met with the Chancellor Gordon Brown, and other colleagues, to discuss the themes of the Pre-Budget Report, due to take place shortly. I raised my concerns about the pressures on Londoners and the infrastructure with the predicted increase in migration caused by the economic growth over the last few years. Of course I certainly hope that London’s economy continues to grow as it has so strongly over the past decade.
On Wednesday, I met with senior representatives of Amnesty International to discuss their important campaigning work, in particular the End Violence Against Women and Arms Trade Treaty campaigns, both of which I wholeheartedly support (for more information about these campaigns please click HERE).
In the afternoon I met with 2 local residents who wanted to lobby me about the Local Government Pension Scheme. Local Government workers were lobbying MPs to ensure that they would be offered the same pension protection provided to civil servants, NHS employees and teachers last year. I will be writing to the Local Government minister, Phil Woolas MP. If anyone affected by this issue would be interested in receiving the reply please contact my Westminster office.
The Public Accounts Committee examined the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Countryside Agency about the new Right of access to open countryside. The introduction of "open access" enables the public to walk across large areas of countryside without being restricted to footpaths.
I also attended a briefing with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms MP and the Office for Government Commerce about the Government's Efficiency Programme. In 2003 Sir Peter Gershon conducted a cross-cutting review of efficiency in the public sector. The Governments 2004 spending review accepted the review and the aim is to release £21.5 billion a year by March 2008 to improve frontline services.
In the evening I attended the General Committee of Tooting Labour Party where we had an excellent discussion about nuclear energy, energy supply and security and the diversity of energy streams lead by Alon Or-bach who is on the Executive Committee of SERA (if you are interested in the work undertaken by SERA please click HERE).
On Thursday I chaired the All Party Parliamentary Group on Citizens Advice. We had a speaker from the Policy unit at the Department of Work and Pensions and from the policy unit at the Citizen Advice Bureau to discuss a recent report by Lisa Harker entitled "Delivering on Child Poverty: what would it take?" Huge progress has been made in reducing child poverty with 700,000 fewer children living in poor households compared to 1998 (and by 800,000 since 1997) and child poverty levels in the UK are at a 15 year low.
I also gave an interview to a PHD student about politics before taking part in a debate with a Lib Dem MP on the Olympics for A Week in Westminster. It was quite a sight to see MP's jump on and off bandwagons. First, being against the Olympics coming to London; then joining the massive celebrations when we won against all odds in July 2005 and now being very anti with the first hiccups about overspends.
In the evening I met with the six Labour Councillors who represent Tooting, Graveney and Furzedown wards in the Town Hall. There are only 9 Labour Councillors in the Town Hall (6 from Tooting and 3 from Battersea) and they do an incredible job standing up to the worst excesses of the other 51 Tory Councillors.
One of the joys of being the MP for Tooting is the various assemblies I get to go to. On Friday I attended a Year 1 assembly at Fircroft Primary School which was all about numbers. It was good to see the 5 year olds having so much fun with their counting and with so much confidence. The rest of my day was spent at a workshop organised by the Fabian Society and the Barrow Cadbury Trust about migration.
On Sunday I was a speaker at The Global Peace and Unity Event at the ExCel centre in East London. Other speakers at this weekend event, where more than 30,000 people attended were Peter Hain MP (Secretary of State for Norther Ireland and Wales), Stephen Timms MP (Chief Secretary to the Treasury), Dr Abdul Bari, General Secretary of the MCB and Rose Fitzpatrick, Deputy Assistant Commisioner of the Metropolitan Police.
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