Kashmir Crisis

I have written to the Foreign Secretary regarding the revocation of Article 370 by the Indian Government and the rising tensions between Pakistan and India over the Kashmir region.

In addition to my correspondence with the Foreign Secretary, I have tabled an Oral Question to be asked at the first Foreign Office Questions after Recess.

Tensions are rising and we need to make representations to the Indian Government to deescalate the current situation over Kashmir.

I am increasingly concerned about the increased tensions in the area and the movement of thousands of additional paramilitary troops into Indian-controlled Kashmir as well as reports of the use of cluster munitions on unarmed civilians.

The escalation between India and Pakistan is growing by the day, and I am concerned that this dispute could have far reaching consequences.

As a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group in Kashmir I and other members have consistently pressed for the British Government to show leadership on this issue. Even before this escalation there were clear warnings signs of oppression, marginalisation and clear human rights abuses taking place. This was highlighted in the June 2019 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report.


GM MPs come together over Fire Service cuts

All 27 Greater Manchester MPs have written to both Andy Burnham in his capacity as Mayor and additionally to the newly appointed Minister for Policing and the Fire Service regarding the cuts we have seen to the Fire Service as a result of austerity.

We have asked the Minister to halt the agenda of austerity imposed upon our services which has seen the Fire Service severely crippled whilst facing an ever growing demand for their help.

In Oldham we have seen an increase in fires across the borough demanding a fully fit and responsive Fire Service. The Government must act now before even more lasting damage is caused.

The proposed cuts to Greater Manchester Fire Service have been deferred for now by Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, however the cuts are still very much a reality and we must push the government to fully fund our essential services.

This is a moral imperative, not a political choice.


A large group of MPs, Peers and I have signed a cross party letter to the Prime Minister regarding the treatment and release of British citizen, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, from the Iranian prison and psychiatric ward she has been kept in following her arrest in 2016.

We recognise the Prime Ministers ‘to-do’ list is monumental, however we believe it should be one of the Prime Ministers top priorities, especially Mr Johnsons, to petition for the immediate release and safe return of Nazanin.

The safety and protection of all British citizens should be the Prime Ministers top priority, and this includes Nazanin.

The concerns raised by my colleagues and constituents are grounded in the strong humanitarian, physical and mental health abuses administered to Nazanin in Iran under her continued unlawful imprisonment.

We are calling on the PM and the Government to use the robust protections at its disposal, including using options available under diplomatic protection. We want them to work with the UN and international allies to see the safe return of Nazanin and see to it that the practice of unlawful imprisonment of overseas nationals comes to an end.


The Churchill Fellowship

An opportunity has opened up for Oldhamers who are interested in travelling and problem solving in the modern world.

The Churchill Fellowship is looking for 150 people to join their programme this year.

The Fellowship was founded in 1965 by Winston Churchill’s grandson as a tribute to the former Prime Minister and aims to invite around 150 people above the age of 18, regardless of qualifications and experience to travel the world in search of innovative and imaginative solutions to the problems we are facing in the world today, and then applying those solutions and the knowledge gained back home in the UK.

It takes a practical approach to modern problems and since they began the initiative in 1965, they have sent out over 5,700 fellows across the world and they aim to send another 150 in 2020.

This year the Fellowship will be covering all areas of interest from the arts to education, science and technology, healthcare and suicide prevention. Among many more.

I would strongly encourage you to apply if you have a genuine interest in the world today and wish to look at solving some of the problems we currently face.

We in Oldham have always been innovative and forward thinking about how we adapt to problems that present themselves in the world around us, from the Industrial Revolution until now. Perhaps you will be the next person from Oldham to help shape our future.

Applications must be made at www.wcmt.org.uk and closes on the 17th September 2019.

Please, if you are available to travel I would recommend you at least apply, you could make a real difference.

HS2 & Northern Investment

Parliament debates the next phase of HS2 which sees the route now move north from Birmingham to Crewe, getting closer to Manchester.

There is little doubt that the project is vulnerable, some critics will point to overspend and others to the impact on areas along the route, but too often MPs in the north are asked to support scrapping the project to fund other local transport schemes. I react against that; when does London have to choose?

We don’t want any more, but we certainly shouldn’t accept any less than London.

We want fair funding; HS2 but also better East-West connectivity and better transpennine links. We also want to bring back the many bus routes cut – losing over 30million bus miles a year in Greater Manchester alone.

I also want to see Metrolink extended to connect Ashton with Oldham Mumps, and Westwood through Chadderton to Middleton, before going on to Bury. I’d also make the case for a spur link to Royton.

If I could make a change to HS2 it wouldn’t be to scrap it, but to connect to St Pancreas rather than London Euston; that would then connect to Eurostar and on to France and beyond, that would help reduce air travel and be better for the environment too. But that isn’t an option as it stands today.

I’ll keep fighting for investment in the north.