The death last Thursday of my friend and colleague Harry Harpham casts a shadow over my week in Parliament. I worked with Harry for many years - long before either of us were in Parliament. His strongly held values and personal integrity shone through in everything he did. Building on his huge experience serving Sheffield as a leading Councillor, in eight short months he had established himself as a great advocate for the city in Parliament. I’ll miss him enormously.
Harry would have been at the centre of our campaign to challenge Government plans to close Sheffield’s Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) Office and move 247 civil service jobs to London. I’ve challenged the Prime Minister to publish the reasons why they’ve taken a decision that will cost jobs, undermine Sheffield’s economy and make policymaking more London-centric. On Wednesday I’ll be grilling the Secretary of State for BIS Sajid Javid about the closure at a Business, Innovation and Skills Committee (of which I’m a member) meeting. I’ll be doing all that I can in Parliament, but it’s important to keep up public pressure too – so please sign the petition here.
Before that, today I’ve a meeting of the new Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy, focusing on how both the BIS and Education Departments can work together to promote education and skills – at which we’re launching our inquiry into careers advice, information and guidance. Later in the week I’ll be supporting an event about the ‘Fix Dementia Care’ campaign, which is investigating the experiences of people affected by dementia in hospitals, and speaking in a debate on compensation for Equitable Life policy-holders who lost huge amounts of their pension savings when the company came to the brink of collapse in 2000.
Back home in Sheffield on Friday, I’ll be speaking at a conference organised by the ESRC/HEFCE Centre for Global Higher Education and at a day of debate and action planning for the voluntary and community sector in Sheffield. Then I’ve meetings with PACT, a fundraising charity for the Children’s Hospital, the Tournament Director of the Youdan Trophy, an international football tournament for the youth teams of professional clubs, and the Estates Director of the University of Sheffield. Then in the evening I’m speaking at an event about whether a fair, free and equal society is really possible – a question which goes to the heart of my politics. On Saturday, I’m chairing a conference on economic policy organised by Sheffield Central Labour Party - with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Deputy Director of SPERI Craig Berry and ‘Spirit Level’ author Kate Pickett.
If you’ve seen my website over the last week you might have noticed some changes. I’ve re-launched it so that it’s more informative, interactive and accessible. I’ve also tried to include contact forms on many of my pages, so I can read your views and concerns. Do take a look and let me know what you think.
The death last Thursday of my friend and colleague Harry Harpham casts a shadow over my week in Parliament. I worked with Harry for many years - long before either...
I have challenged the Prime Minister to publish the Government’s reasons for moving 247 civil service jobs from Sheffield to London, closing the Business Innovation and Skills Department office in the city. The decision followed a report commissioned by the Government from US management consultants McKinsey at a reported cost of £200,000.
I have called for the report to be published in response to confusion over the reasons for the Sheffield closure. Staff were told by civil service bosses that it was to centralise policy work in London, while MPs were told by Ministers that it was to save money.
I’ve argued in Parliament that too many decisions are made by people living, working and bringing up their families in London and not drawing on the varied experiences lived around the country.
It’s my view that the Government must come clean on why they are moving 247 jobs from Sheffield. It’s complete nonsense to shift jobs to London where salaries and office rents are much higher. Nobody can see how this makes any sense at all. Public money paid for this report and we have a right to see it.
In my letter to David Cameron, I have written:
You will know of the concern regarding the Government’s decision to close the Sheffield office of the Department of Business Innovation and Skills and move the 247 jobs to London.
“The reasons for this decision remain unclear. Yesterday BIS staff in Sheffield were told that their office closure was not about saving money, but about centralising policy work in London. At the same time, answering questions in the House, the Business Secretary was telling members that it was a financial decision.
“It is difficult to understand how moving jobs from Sheffield to London will save public money. Would you therefore agree to publish the business case for this decision?"
As a member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Business Innovation and Skills, I will be questioning Business Secretary Sajid Javid on the move in a public evidence session to be held next week, at 9am on Wednesday 10 February.
I have challenged the Prime Minister to publish the Government’s reasons for moving 247 civil service jobs from Sheffield to London, closing the Business Innovation and Skills Department office in...
After two weeks with a relatively blank diary to accommodate jury service, things are back into full swing this week. I’m meeting with ActionAid to discuss their recommendations for reforms to the global tax system and proposals for a UK ‘Tax Dodging Bill’. Later on, I’m serving on a European Committee to consider a report of the High Representative on Foreign Affairs and Security. In the evening I’ll be at a GMB event for retiring General Secretary, Paul Kenny, and his successor, Tim Roache.
Tuesday starts with the Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee where we’re starting our new inquiry on Exports and the role of UKTI, after which I’ll be in the Chamber for BIS Questions, seeking to press my concerns on the closure of BIS’s Sheffield office, with the transfer of over 200 jobs to London, something I spoke out on last week. Later I’ll be meeting researchers from the Department of Landscape at the University of Sheffield on their work about Business Improvement Districts, before launching a report on Migrants in the Media produced by the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University.
On Wednesday I’m meeting Ministers on a couple of issues I’ve been pushing in Parliament. First I’m talking to DWP Minister, Justin Tomlinson, about the timetable for implementing the concession that I secured from the Government with my colleague Neil Coyle on Personal Independence Payments for terminally ill claimants. Then I’m seeing Health Minister Alistair Burt, on my concerns about GP funding in Sheffield, following my campaign to protect practices serving patients with greater needs. I’ll also be in the Chamber for a Ten Minute Rule Bill on Voter Registration, which I’m sponsoring.
I’ve also a few meetings of the Shadow Foreign Office team, and an event with Citizens’ Advice, before heading back to Sheffield on Thursday. On Friday, I’m meeting constituents on a range of issue, and seeing Councillors on economic regeneration as well as the review of school places, before visiting Exchange Place Studios in Castlegate. On Saturday, I’ll be knocking on doors meeting constituents and heading on to Bramall Lane to see the Blades take on Wigan. Finally, on Sunday, I’m joining the Sheffield Chinese Association for a celebration of the Chinese New Year.
After two weeks with a relatively blank diary to accommodate jury service, things are back into full swing this week. I’m meeting with ActionAid to discuss their recommendations for reforms...