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Most MPs have areas they specialise in, and I tend to concentrate on domestic matters rather than foreign policy (although Brexit is dominating everyone’s workload right now)!

But this week has seen a very heavy programme of debates in parliament on important foreign affairs. The Prime Minister made a statement on Monday on the bombing of chemical weapons sites in Syria last weekend. That was followed by a debate called by my colleague Alison McGovern MP on the wider situation in Syria. On Tuesday, Jeremy Corbyn called a debate on why parliament hadn’t been consulted before the bombing raids were launched.

A number of constituents have been in touch with me expressing concern that parliament was not given a say, and while the government is not legally required to hold a vote in parliament, and indeed I agree it should be able to act in pressing circumstances without the need to consult MPs, it’s hard to see why parliament could not have been recalled before action was taken last weekend. Of course, most MPs won’t have access to the full intelligence information that the government has in deciding whether to act. Some constituents have suggested that no action should have been taken until independent inspections to verify the allegations of chemical attacks by President Assad had taken place, and inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have been waiting to get into Douma this week. Their entry has been delayed however, and I have to say that makes me very sceptical that they will find much evidence now – I strongly suspect the Syrian and Russian governments of taking the time to eliminate any evidence that might exist. In any case, the OPCW have no mandate to ascribe responsibility for chemical weapons attacks, but merely to assess if such attacks took place.

Other constituents have said there should have been UN approval for intervention. The problem is that Russia would undoubtedly exercise its veto at the UN Security Council to prevent this from happening, whatever justification might exist. I do not believe it can be right for the west to be stymied from taking action in the face of chemical weapons attacks, but we need much greater clarity in future about when and why we intervene, and what we seek to achieve. I therefore very much welcomed Alison’s debate, which enabled MPs to suggest a much more comprehensive, humanitarian-led strategy - albeit one in which military intervention might also play a part.

I heard the start of the Prime Minister’s statement, but had to leave before I’d had a chance to question her, because I wanted to attend the debate that was taking place at the same time in our second chamber, in Westminster Hall (you can watch the debate here). This was arranged in response to a number of petitions that have been presented to parliament on the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, who have faced torture, death, or been forced to flee their homes by the programme of ethnic cleansing being carried out by the Burmese government against them. In February, I presented one of the petitions on behalf of hundreds of my constituents in Stretford and Urmston, and was keen to attend the debate to convey the extent of constituents’ concerns. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims are now taking refuge in camps in Bangladesh, and while the Bangladeshi government is to be commended for hosting them, it is of deep concern that attempts are now being made either to repatriate refugees back to Myanmar, or to relocate 100,000 refugees to a new island, Bhashan Char, while many are still without shelter as the monsoon season is due to start. I joined other MPs in calling on the UK government to help with the supply of aid and support to the refugees in Bangladesh, and to do all it can to ensure those responsible for the appalling brutality against the Rohingya Muslims are held to account at the International Criminal Court.

Jeremy’s debate on Tuesday was followed by a debate on antisemitism which saw powerful speeches from across the House. Very unusually, my colleagues Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth received applause for their speeches – something that’s formally out of order in parliament, but on this occasion we all wanted to show our solidary with them, and to commend them for their bravery in the face of the appalling antisemitic abuse they’ve received.

We also had an important question this week on the scandalous treatment of the so-called Windrush generation - Commonwealth citizens who came to the UK in the 1950s and 60s with every right to live and work in the UK. Shockingly, there have been reports recently that those who can’t supply evidence that they have this right have been refused NHS treatment, asked to pay for new documents, or even threatened with deportation. This is an important issue for my constituents, since many Windrush families made their first home in Old Trafford many years ago. The government has now set up a special taskforce to help them obtain documents, quickly and free of charge, but the way they’ve been treated up till now is a disgrace. If any constituent is affected by this situation or knows someone who is, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, and I will do all I can to help.

With Monday and Tuesday having been taken up with such serious and difficult issues, it was a real pleasure to welcome constituents from the Sri Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara on Upper Chorlton Road to the Vaisakhi celebrations in parliament on Tuesday evening. I was also very glad to meet and congratulate Julie and Ian from the Lord Nelson pub in Urmston, who were in parliament to collect an award for their amazing fundraising efforts, which have raised over £62,000 for charity.


I am also glad to say that I did manage to spend some time this week on my favourite policy interests, attending a very interesting seminar on the youth justice system, and a fascinating roundtable on the different migration systems that apply in the USA, Canada, Australia and Switzerland. This gave lots of food for thought as we await the government’s proposals for the immigration system that will apply here after Brexit, when EU free movement rules would no longer apply. And also in connection with my interest in justice matters, thank you to Purple Futures, who run the community rehabilitation service in Greater Manchester, for welcoming me to your office last week. I learnt a great deal about the programmes that are in place for offenders sentenced to community penalties, and have come away with a number of questions I’ll be putting to ministers.


A week focused on debating important foreign affairs in parliament

Most MPs have areas they specialise in, and I tend to concentrate on domestic matters rather than foreign policy (although Brexit is dominating everyone’s workload right now)!


Kate has announced the local health and care workers she has nominated for national awards to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS.


The NHS70 Parliamentary Awards, sponsored by IBM, were set up to recognise the massive contribution made by the individuals who work in and alongside the NHS.

MPs in England were invited to propose outstanding nominees who have innovated, impressed and made a real difference to how local health and care services provide care for patients.

Nominations closed on 23 March, and Kate has made five excellent local nominations.

Kate’s official nominees, who will represent Stretford and Urmston in the national competition are:


  • Seed Studios, Old Trafford, for The Excellence in Mental Health Care Award. Seed studios use music as a tool to help in improving wellbeing, confidence and social capital, enabling local people gain a better chance in life.


  • Revive Dental Care in Davyhulme, for The Excellence in Primary Care Award for their work improving access to dental care and raising standards of oral health locally.


  • Voice of BME Trafford, Saving Lives Project, for The Healthier Communities Award. The Saving Lives Project worked to increase uptake of screening and health checks among BME communities in north Trafford.


  • Trafford Gynaecology/colposcopy team, for The Care and Compassion Award – this team are a lifeline to women undergoing incredibly stressful times when they receive abnormal cervical smear results.


  • Sylvia Burgess, Receptionist at Revive Dental Care, for The Lifetime Achievement Award, for her 43 years’ service to Revive.


Kate said: “Everyone in Trafford is proud of our local NHS and care services, and especially so because we’re home to Trafford General, the birthplace of the NHS. That’s why I’m delighted to be taking part in the NHS70 Parliamentary Awards as a way of thanking and recognising the people who work in or support those services.

“As well as getting behind our nominees for these awards, I hope local people will take the opportunity to mark the NHS’s 70th birthday in other ways, whether it’s by finding out more about its history, sharing their NHS memories and stories, getting involved in local events and tea parties, or being inspired to keep themselves well and use health services wisely.”

Nominees put forward by MPs across England will initially be judged by senior local and regional NHS experts to find regional champions in each category, which will be announced on 21 May.

These regional champions will then be judged by a high-level panel, with the overall winners announced at a special awards ceremony in Parliament on Wednesday 4 July – the day before the NHS’s 70th birthday.

The NHS70 Parliamentary Awards is part of a range of activities being organised nationally and locally to mark the achievements of the NHS and those who work for and with it.

These range from ceremonies for NHS staff in Westminster Abbey and York Minster, the special 10p NHS coin released recently by The Royal Mint and new resources for schools to engage children and young people to think about a career in the NHS, to local  open days, exhibitions and other events being staged by hospitals and other health organisations.

In Trafford, local people are warmly invited to attend Golden Hill Park on Saturday 7th July from 2pm to 6pm. We will be celebrating the NHS through the years.

The theme for the celebration of the NHS this year is Loneliness and Social Isolation, how communities and the NHS can work together to improve health. There will be local live bands, activities for all the family and food and drink. Please come and celebrate our NHS where it all began in Trafford.



Kate backs local 'health and care heroes' for NHS Birthday Awards

Kate has announced the local health and care workers she has nominated for national awards to mark the 70th birthday of the NHS.  

purple_day_epilepsy.JPGKate dressed in purple for an event at the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Epilepsy to celebrate Purple Day, the international day of epilepsy awareness.

The group aims to raise awareness epilepsy among MPs and to engage with individuals and organisations in supporting the promotion of the needs of the epilepsy community.

The event was attended by many MPs from all parties, including the Chair of the APPG Paula Sherriff MP. They were joined by epilepsy charities Epilepsy Action, who are also the new secretariat of the APPG, The Epilepsy Society, Young Epilepsy and SUDEP Action. Attending MPs were given the opportunity to learn more about the condition and meet representatives from the charities.

Purple Day is held annually on 26 March and was created in 2008 by nine year old Cassidy Megan from Canada. People are encouraged to dress in purple on the day. MPs attending the APPG were given the chance to get into the Purple Day spirit by wearing purple for a photo at the end of the event.

Kate commented: “It was fantastic to celebrate Purple Day with the APPG. I was very pleased to learn more about epilepsy and how the condition affects people.

“It was eye-opening to hear of the issues that some people with epilepsy face. From stigma and a lack of understanding about the condition to the problems people face with driving, employment and education.

“It is important that we continue to raise awareness about epilepsy and tackle the problems that people with the condition face.”

Philip Lee, chief executive of Epilepsy Action, said: “We are very pleased that so many MPs have attended the APPG on Epilepsy’s event to learn more about the condition this Purple Day.

“It is vitally important that MPs understand the impact that epilepsy has on 600,000 people in the UK and their families.

“We look forward to working with the APPG and MPs from all parties to improve the lives of everyone affected by epilepsy and improve access to high-quality, accessible epilepsy healthcare services.”

Kate attends APPG on Epilepsy event in Parliament on Purple Day

Kate dressed in purple for an event at the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Epilepsy to celebrate Purple Day, the international day of epilepsy awareness.

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