Paul Blomfield MP

Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central

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BIS_offices_4.jpgWorking with colleagues from across political parties, I’ve secured a debate in the House of Commons on the closure of the Sheffield BIS Office. 

The debate was agreed today by Parliament’s Backbench Business Committee, which allocates time for Commons debates, and will take place on Monday 9th May. You can watch me making the application for the debate here.

The motion that will be debated calls on the National Audit Office to conduct a cost benefit assessment of the proposal to close the Sheffield BIS Office, which involves moving 247 jobs from Sheffield to London. We’ve known all along that this plan doesn’t make financial sense, nor does it recognise the value of having decision-making outside of London. Now the Department will have to answer to Parliament.

We shouldn’t be in this position, but I will not rest until the decision has been reversed, and a proper plan for policy-making that serves the whole country and provides value for the taxpayer is reached.

I’ve secured a debate in Parliament on Sheffield BIS office closure

Working with colleagues from across political parties, I’ve secured a debate in the House of Commons on the closure of the Sheffield BIS Office. 

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With the referendum now less than two months away, and so much at stake, my involvement in the campaign to keep Britain in the EU is taking an increasing amount of my time. This week I’m meeting with the Youth Engagement Officer at Britain Stronger in Europe to discuss how to get more young people involved in the referendum, attending our regular Labour In for Britain campaign meeting, and going along to the PLP’s ’Labour In’ group. If you haven’t seen it already please check out my new webpage, which outline my views and provides other useful information.

I’ll be speaking in Parliament today as we have the final debate on the Immigration Bill, following its consideration in the House of Lords. I spent several weeks on the Bill Committee, opposing many of the Bill’s main provisions, and I’ll be supporting amendments from the Lords on a number of key issues. Then tomorrow morning, I’ll be at the Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) Select Committee, where we’re questioning Ministers as part of our inquiry on exports and the role of UKTI.

I’m continuing the fight to save Sheffield’s BIS Office, and will be making the case for a special debate on the issue to the Backbench Business Committee. I’ll also be watching closely when Martin Donnelly, the Department’s top civil servant, comes back before the Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday. He’s likely to come under more pressure to give the full cost-benefit analysis for the devastating decision to move 247 Sheffield jobs to London - especially after my parliamentary questions revealed that office space costs three times more in London than in Sheffield.

Also this week, I’ll be speaking to education attaches from the embassies of around 40 countries on the Government’s plans for a ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ for universities, meeting with the Chief Executive of Commercial & Private Banking at RBS as a member of the BIS Select Committee and joining colleagues on the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy, for a session as part of our inquiry into apprenticeships.

I had planned to come back to Sheffield on Thursday to speak at an event organised by Sheffield TUC for Workers Memorial Day, but am now staying in London for a special meeting of the BIS Select Committee to question Business Secretary Sajid Javid on his handling of the crisis in the steel industry. On Friday and over the weekend, I’ve meetings, surgery appointments, casework and correspondence catch-up back in Sheffield, as well as knocking on doors to meet constituents, and an appearance on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show.

Staying in Europe, Sheffield’s BIS Office and UK steel – some of my week ahead

With the referendum now less than two months away, and so much at stake, my involvement in the campaign to keep Britain in the EU is taking an increasing amount...

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I have demanded answers after the most senior civil servant in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills refused to provide costings for the planned Sheffield BIS office closure, despite calls from two Parliamentary Select Committees.

Both the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee and the Public Accounts Committee have called on the BIS Permanent Secretary, Martin Donnelly, to release information on the Department’s estimate of the costs of closure of the Sheffield office and the transfer of posts to London. After Mr Donnelly failed to deliver the requested information, the Committees issued a joint letter stating the information provided had been “wholly unsatisfactory” with answers in oral evidence “obfuscatory, if not misleading”.

Mr Donnelly’s response to the Chairs of the Committees, dated 21 April, set out the annual costs of the Sheffield office, with no mention of costs that would be incurred from moving posts to London. So far we’ve discovered that, in rent, rates and maintenance alone, it’s going to be an extra £1.6m a year. After salary and other costs it could be around £2.5 million.

I want the whole truth so that I can make my case to keep the jobs in Sheffield.

My demand for answers on BIS office closure

I have demanded answers after the most senior civil servant in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills refused to provide costings for the planned Sheffield BIS office closure, despite calls...


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