Paul Blomfield MP

A strong voice for Sheffield Central

Home

Latest News

Today I’m welcoming constituents who are visiting Parliament on one of the regular trips that I organise each year. I’ll also be in the Commons for Defence Questions to press the Secretary of State to back a new HMS Sheffield.  

Tomorrow I’ll be in a Westminster Hall debate on street homelessness to share the concerns of constituents, hoping to speak during Justice Questions, and going to an event about Brexit and the NHS organised by the Nuffield Trust and UK in a Changing Europe.

On Wednesday I’ll be meeting with student housing charity Unipol, the President of the European Research Council and the new Chief Executive of MillionPlus. I’ll also be going to an event organised by the Obesity Health Alliance as part of my work supporting the great Manor-based project Shine Academy, and attending a Sheffield University alumni event.

On Thursday I’ll be going to a meeting about the impact of Brexit on financial services and joining the debate in the Commons on membership of a Customs Union with the EU, initiated by a cross-party group of Select Committee Chairs. Then I’ll be heading back to Sheffield for a monthly meeting of my constituency Labour Party.

On Friday I’ll be speaking at an event for Sheffield Chamber of Commerce and Industry, meeting with the Council to discuss support for people with Special Educational Needs and talking to Age UK Sheffield.

On Saturday I’ll be at an event to mark International Workers Memorial Day before heading to Bramall Lane for the last home game of the season. On both Saturday and Sunday I’ll also be out knocking on doors to hear the views of constituents.

Sheffield in Westminster, homelessness, obesity, a customs union and International Workers Memorial Day – some of my week ahead

Today I’m welcoming constituents who are visiting Parliament on one of the regular trips that I organise each year. I’ll also be in the Commons for Defence Questions to press...

Sheffield MPs Clive Betts and Paul Blomfield joined together in the House of Commons today to challenge Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on the decision to scrap electrification of rail services to Sheffield, following a damning report from the National Audit Office.

Mr Betts highlighted the report’s conclusion that the bi-mode trains, which the Government claimed would be used in place of electric engines, had not been developed to meet the specific requirements of the Midland Mainline. He said:

“The NAO produced a report on the 29th March, and I just quote from it, in the case of the Midland Mainline bi-mode trains with the required speed and acceleration did not exist when the Secretary of State made his decision and the department had informed him of this. So why in his Written Statement did he promise to deliver bi-mode trains which he knew merely did not exist but that were not even being developed?“

After Transport Minister Jo Johnson replied that such trains were already in use on the Great Western Mainline, Mr Blomfield repeated the challenge, pointing out that the requirements of the Midland Mainline were different and went on to highlight the National Audit Office findings on the cost and emissions from the bi-mode alternative, saying that the Transport Secretary knew that:

“Bi-mode trains are a poorer investment case than electrification, would be worse polluters – actually emitting 25 times more carbon - and that the required rolling stock may not even exist. Yet none of that information was in his statement to the House cancelling electrification"

Transport Minister Jo Johnson’s claim that “equivalent trains to the ones which will be in service are already in operation. As I just said, bi-mode trains that are capable of running at more than 120 mph in diesel mode are already now in use on the Great Western Mainline” met an angry response from MPs.

Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald, then joined the debate saying:

“The Secretary of State said in the Summer Recess that the bi-mode alternatives could achieve the same significant improvements to the journeys. The NAO has said that those bi-mode trains with the required speed and acceleration to meet the timetable did not exist. Those two statements are mutually exclusive. It’s important that Ministers of the Crown come to the despatch box and say things that are founded in fact.”

Speaking after the debate, Mr Betts said:

“The frequent curves on Midland Mainline require greater acceleration to maintain overall speed. No bi-mode trains can achieve this and it has now emerged that the Transport Secretary knew that all along.”

Mr Blomfield added:

“It’s simply not acceptable that crucial facts were withheld from Parliament when the Transport Secretary announced he was scrapping electrification. We’ll continue to press him to reverse the decision.”

Editor’s notes

On 20 July 2017, Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling announced that the Government were cancelling longstanding plans to electrify the Midland Mainline beyond Kettering and would instead be using bi-mode trains. His statement is available here.

The National Audit Office (NAO) report, published on 29 March 2018, is available here.

Press Release: Sheffield MPs unite to challenge Government on rail electrification decision

Sheffield MPs Clive Betts and Paul Blomfield joined together in the House of Commons today to challenge Transport Secretary Chris Grayling on the decision to scrap electrification of rail services...

I called on the Chancellor to clamp down on high cost credit that leads to problem debt by extending the payday loans cap to the doorstep lending and rent-to-own markets.

I was closely involved in the cross-party campaign to regulate high cost credit, which resulted in the Financial Conduct Authority introducing a total cost cap on payday loan debt and the number of people approaching Citizens Advice for help with unaffordable payday loan debts falling from over 16,000 to fewer than 9000.

Citizens Advice estimates that 1.6 people in the UK use doorsteps loans and that 400,000 people have rent-to-own debts. Their modelling suggests that replicating this cap in the doorstep lending and rent-to-own markets would save consumers £123 million and £62 million a year in repayments respectively.

In the House of Commons during Treasury Questions, I said:

“The number of people with unmanageable payday loan debt has more than halved since the Financial Conduct Authority introduced a total cost cap on those loans more than three years ago – after pressure from many of us on both sides of the House.

“New analysis by Citizens Advice suggests that extending the cap to the ‘doorstep loan’ and ‘rent-to-own’ markets would have the same impact on problem debt in those sectors and could save consumers up to £154 million in repayments a year.

“Will the Chancellor consider doing that?”

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP, responded on behalf of the Government:

“I think the Honourable Gentleman makes a very sensible point and the FCA is looking into this and will be coming forward with another report in May. I met with Andrew Bailey just a few weeks ago to underscore how important this issue is and as we move forward with the construction of the single financial guidance body that will deal with some of the problem debt challenges, this will be another focus of their work as well.”

Introducing a total cost cap on payday loans made a huge difference to people trapped in payday loan debt. It’s now time to tackle other high cost credit markets.  Doorstep loans are notorious for high interest repayments and willingness to accept borrowers with poor credit histories who will get into difficulties. In the rent-to-own sector customers typically pay above RRP for an essential household item and repay the loan at high interest rates, usually paying a lot more than the product is worth. A cap on this credit would significantly reduce the strain of problem debt on often vulnerable and low-paid consumers.

You can watch my exchange with the Minister on ParliamentLive TV here.

My call on the Government to cap cost of high cost credit

I called on the Chancellor to clamp down on high cost credit that leads to problem debt by extending the payday loans cap to the doorstep lending and rent-to-own markets....


View More Activities

The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better.

Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.

To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.