Paul Blomfield MP

Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central

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BIS_offices_4.jpgToday, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has confirmed it will press ahead with closing its Sheffield office, moving 247 policy jobs to London. The announcement comes despite opposition from Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, the Business Innovation and Skills Select Committee and MPs from across the political parties and across the country.

I think the decision is disgraceful. It has been clear from the outset that centralising the Department’s policy functions in the most expensive city in the country makes no financial sense. It also goes against the Government’s own aim of moving civil servants out of the capital.

MPs from across the political parties and across the country made these points when we debated the issue in Parliament earlier this month. That debate resulted in MPs agreeing to call in the National Audit Office (NAO) to look at the decision. I am confident that when the NAO looks into this there will be some red faces.

But the suffering caused to the Sheffield BIS staff in the meantime is a disgrace. It is a shocking indictment of the Government’s approach to running the country and another kick in the teeth for the so-called northern powerhouse.

Phoney consultation ends with BIS Department confirming Sheffield office closure

Today, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has confirmed it will press ahead with closing its Sheffield office, moving 247 policy jobs to London. The announcement comes despite opposition...

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I have warned that Government proposals, outlined last week in the Queen’s Speech, could undermine the BBC. Speaking in the House of Commons, I accused the Government of “turning their ideological fire” on the BBC and making changes in the interests of commercial providers like Sky.  

I criticised a number of the Government’s proposals for the BBC, including plans to: change their mission statement, establish a fund for which commercial rivals can bid, make Ofcom assess the market impact of “any aspect of BBC services”, and appoint as many as half of the non-executive directors to an all-powerful board. I think that these changes could damage the BBC’s capacity to compete with commercial providers in producing popular and successful programmes, as well as undermine its independence.

In the debate, I said:  

What is the BBC White Paper all about? If the BBC were some colossal failure, plumbing new depths in unpopularity, there might be cause for reform, but we all know it is not such a failure. The BBC is the envy of the world. It is hugely popular in the UK, as we know from the overwhelming support it received in the Government’s own consultation.

Underlying the proposals appears to be the idea that the BBC is bad for the market, and therefore has to be reshaped in line with the views of the Murdochs, because it is too popular, too successful and too good at what it does.

What is it all about? Is it that successful public services challenge the Government’s world view that only the private sector can deliver quality, or is it just that the Government do not like the BBC?”

I have received hundreds of emails from people who support the BBC and are determined to see it protected. The Government are making needless changes to a beloved national institution for ideological purposes. They should listen to the British people and think again. I'll continue to press this issue in Parliament.

My warning of threat to BBC

I have warned that Government proposals, outlined last week in the Queen’s Speech, could undermine the BBC. Speaking in the House of Commons, I accused the Government of “turning their ideological fire”...

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Parliament’s continuing to debate the Queen’s Speech this week and I’m intending to speak on the Government’s plans for the BBC and Higher Education today. I’m concerned that in both cases the Government is undermining successful public provision. 

Sheffield’s BIS Office will again be a big feature of my week as we expect a decision on its future on Thursday. Last week I joined staff protesting against closure plans and today I’ll meet BIS Permanent Secretary Martin Donnelly to make the case for the Department to keep the 247 jobs in Sheffield.

On Tuesday, in my role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn, I’ll be in the Commons for Foreign and Commonwealth Office questions and the debate around “Europe, human rights and keeping people safe at home and abroad”, which Hilary is opening - one of the themed debates on the Queen’s Speech, covering Government proposals including the British Bill of Rights and counter-extremism.

Earlier in the day, the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, of which I’m a member, will hold an evidence session on the EU referendum, and later I’ll be at an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Universities and APPG on Students meeting about students as consumers, a joint event between the APPG on Carers and the APPG on Motor Neurone Disease, of which I’m Vice-Chair, about how the Government can better support carers, and a meeting on the vision for the Sheffield City Region.

Also this week I’ve meetings with Universities Minister Jo Johnson, Unison, and the HS2 project team – to make the case for a station in the City Centre. Back in Sheffield on Friday I’ve meetings with Tramlines organisers, the Chinese Centre in Sheffield and charity Hft, holding one of my regular advice surgeries, and joining the opening of Grace Owen Nursery School in its new building at Park Hill. Over the weekend I’ll be campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU, and taking part in the opening ceremony for the Journey to Justice exhibition. 

The BBC, higher education and Sheffield’s BIS Office – some of my week ahead

Parliament’s continuing to debate the Queen’s Speech this week and I’m intending to speak on the Government’s plans for the BBC and Higher Education today. I’m concerned that in both...


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