Millie’s Trust debate: paediatric first aid – 15th December

Yesterday I spoke in the ‘Millie’s Trust’ debate about paediatric care. It happened because more than 100,000 people signed a petition to make paediatric first aid training in nurseries compulsory after 9 month old Millie choked to death while eating mashed Shepherds Pie in a Cheadle nursery in 2012.

I believe that every parent in Gloucester would have wanted me to be there and speak in a debate that clearly demonstrates people power.

It was a remarkable session, with an outstanding speech by Mark Hunter, Millie’s MP. Three of us, plus Minister and Shadow Minister, stayed for the whole debate. Importantly Millie’s parents, Joanne and Dan Thompson, were also there.

This was my opening speech:

“I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Mark Hunter)—not just for securing the debate, but for his calm and measured argument.

This debate marks yet another milestone in democracy. A while back, the tragic death of a nine-month-old child would not have led to a giant petition, signed by over 100,000 people, being considered by Parliament, with the chance perhaps to change the law. Although that would not have happened but for changes in parliamentary procedure, it is above all the result of the remarkable reaction and leadership shown by Millie’s parents, the Thompsons. Joanne is motivated by the purest motive that any of us parents could hope for—to make something positive out of profound tragedy, and light a candle in the darkness.

Although many of us can think of other recent examples of constituents campaigning successfully on issues dear to their hearts, today’s starting point must be to recognise both the very sad circumstances of Millie’s death and the positive reaction of Joanne and her husband afterwards in founding their charity. The heart of today’s debate is whether it should be mandatory in law for everyone working at nurseries to be given paediatric first aid training, or whether the law should stay where it was when the Childcare Act 2006 was brought in, under which it is mandatory that someone on the premises is trained, but not everyone.

My hon. Friend the Member for Colchester (Sir Bob Russell) made a case for first aid training for every individual in the United Kingdom. He has a point: it is right that we should all go on a course. It is one of the best things I have ever done—I did so fairly recently, and no doubt far too late in life. However, that does not necessarily mean that to do so should be mandatory, thereby having rules, regulations and punishments attached to it—that people should be fined or there should be some other punishment for not going on a first aid course. I am not sure that today is the moment for a discussion of whether we should legislate that everybody should go on a course.”

Sir Bob Russell: “I should point out to my hon. Friend that I was not saying that there should be first aid training for every person, but that it should be part of the school curriculum. Clearly, over three generations everybody in the country would then be a trained first aider; others could—this is the example he has set himself—go voluntarily for training. However, if parents are entrusting their children to a nursery, it should be mandatory for the staff to have specific training for the needs of the role that they may be called upon to perform.”

Richard Graham: “My hon. Friend is right to differentiate between the two. The point I was going to make was that the fact that I went on a first aid course about two years ago does not necessarily make me that competent to attend to someone in a life-or-death situation today, let alone at some point in the future. Although it is a great idea that everybody at school should learn first aid, again, that will not necessarily make them competent to act in a life-or-death situation. As other hon. Members pointed out, the stress of that situation, the possibility of panic and the absence of recent and up-to-date experience of handling dummies and so on, will be crucial.

That brings me to the key points raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle. He rightly touched on the fact that the number of children in child care is rising and on the need for care for the most vulnerable—this point will be especially relevant to the Minister, whose son cannot be much older than Millie was at the time of her death in 2012. The case that has been made today for mandatory paediatric first aid training for everybody working in child care is therefore a powerful one. The coroner concluded that, first, the ambulance service should carry paediatric equipment for such a situation and, secondly, that there should be a national review.

Joanne and her campaign for Millie’s Trust have already achieved the first objective, which other ambulance services around the country may want to consider. I shall certainly write to my own ambulance service in Gloucester. The second objective is open for the Minister’s response, and I hope he will bear in mind the already remarkable achievement of the trust in having trained several thousand teachers for free. This is a fantastic objective, and the number of teachers who have already been trained is fantastic.

I do not know the precise cost of ensuring that every person in every nursery is trained, and I hope that it would not increase the cost of the child care provided to so many of our constituents around the country. I hope that it will be absorbed by the nursery as a necessary part of providing that trust in child care that all of us who are parents would expect.

Today’s debate is an important step in recognising what an individual has done on behalf of her own child and her own family situation, but it has much wider applicability across the land to all of us who are parents and to everyone who puts their children, with trust, into a nursery school. My hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle made a strong case that is the stronger for having been measured and reasonable. I hope that the Minister—a reasonable man and a young father to boot—will be able to give us some reassurance about the national review as quickly as possible. I suspect that all of us here today hope that that review will lead to mandatory provision of paediatric first aid.”

Later I intervened twice on the Minister – first to clarify whether a review would take place:

“In a sense, there are two slightly different issues. I think the hon. Member for Stockport (Ann Coffey) was close to implying that, had everyone received paediatric training in the nursery where Millie, very sadly, died, these events would not have happened, but I am not sure that any of us here today is in a position to make that judgment. However, on the wider point, many of us feel that future tragedies would be much less likely if everybody did receive paediatric training, so will the Minister respond to the call for a review, which the coroner, in effect, made?”

The Minister replied:

Mr Gyimah: “I can commit to a review next year of how the requirements have been strengthened and how they are bedding down in the nursery sector. I welcome my hon. Friend’s intervention. None of us can say what would happen if there was another situation on the ground, but we do have the coroner’s response, and I can commit to a review.”

And then secondly to ensure that mandatory training of all nursery staff would be included in the review:

“The Minister has helpfully confirmed that the national review will go ahead, as the coroner wanted. To avoid any doubt, will he confirm that it will include consideration of moves to make it mandatory for everybody working in nurseries to receive paediatric training?”

Again the Minister confirmed:

Mr Gyimah: “My hon. Friend is fast bringing me to the end of my speech—I was going to address that right at the end. Yes, when we have a national review, we will look at making this mandatory.”

I believe that at the end of the debate the Thompsons had achieved their main aim of a Review, which will include the option of mandatory paediatric first aid training for all staff who work in nurseries. Now it’s about the timing of the Review.

The full debate can be read here

I was very encouraged to get this response from  Jade Dobson who works at the GRH:

“I have been corresponding recently with our MP for Gloucester Richard Graham regarding the debate and I’m pleased to say that not only did he attend, he also spoke out at length during the debate in favour of a change in law to protect our children.

The debate was an important step in seeing a change in the law and it’s heartening to know we are being supported locally with this.”

Thank you Jade. As you say it’s not the end, but it is the end of the beginning. Changing the law because of Millie is now a possibility, and perhaps more than that.

GRCC Community Activities Grant Scheme

The Community Activities Grant Scheme is a grant fund to support small grass roots charities and community groups in Gloucestershire to create social and physical activities.

Grants are available for community, voluntary or self-help groups to run projects to deliver positive social impact.  Examples of this could be:

  • The purchase of equipment such as bowling mats and other sports equipment
  • The payment of hall hire fees so that activities such as Pilates, T’ai Chi and dancing can take place
  • Grants to luncheon clubs to provide after-lunch activities

Grants are available from £300 – £1,000.  No match funding is needed.  The overall project cost should not exceed £1,000 (as a rule of thumb).  Grant applications for projects which involve older people (aged 50+) will have priority, however activities which target any age group will also be considered.

A simple report will need to be completed at the end of the year, summarising what the grant has been spent on.  This will need to be sent to GRCC together with a photograph of your activity taking place.

Application forms and guidelines are available through Village and Community Agents or by contacting the GRCC on 01452 528491 or admin@grcc.org.uk or online by clicking on this link.

Closing date for applications: 9am, 7th January 2015

Just another day in Parliament

It’s 0110 on a Wednesday morning. Have just finished in the House of Commons.

 

It started at 0730 e mailing from my flat. After that I had a long interview for Alzheimer’s Society and a meeting with Arriva trains. I did a silly jumper photo for Save the Children before Treasury questions. Then I dropped in on a Commonwealth promotion and did a telephone magazine interview on regeneration, before sitting on a Delegated Legislation committee – delegating tax raising powers to Scotland.

 

After that I made several tel calls on Gloucester issues, had a meeting in his office with the Justice Secretary and a cup of tea with the CEO of the Henry Smith Foundation. Greeted the Air Marshal in charge of the RAF and had dinner with the Canal & River Trust before tucking into four hours of paperwork, dealing with about 380 e mails.

 

Now to cycle home. Up in time to prepare to chair a breakfast seminar on pensions and mug up on the Llanthony Secunda manuscripts at Lambeth Palace Library, which I see before PMQ. All in all just another ‘normal’ day in Parliament. Not even a speech today – just one intervention. Must try harder.

Bill to prevent sex selective abortion clears first hurdle

This month a new Bill to clarify the law on abortion to prevent gender based abortions being carried out passed its first stage in the House of Commons with a huge majority.

In a number of countries babies are very sadly routinely aborted simply because of their gender, so this new bill is to clear up an ambiguity in the law and to make clear that sex-selective abortion is NOT permitted in the UK.

Department of Health guidance states that gender is not itself a lawful ground under the Abortion Act but liberal interpretations of a mental health risk to the mother has meant that some believe it is permissible.

With a majority of 181 votes to one I, along with many others, agreed that a debate about more legislation is needed to silence those claiming that sex-selective abortion can be legal. That means the issue will now have a slot to be debated in the House of Commons by all MPs. I believe a small change would ensure no unintentional ex bias.

Response to Facebook campaign on Hollie Gazzard’s murderer Asher Maslin’s appeal

Thank you for your message by Facebook or email asking me to ask Home Secretary Theresa May to intervene and prevent Asher Maslin’s appeal against his sentence for murdering Hollie Gazzard.

I totally understand and sympathise with the strength of your feelings about this horrific murder, and I’m sure her family hugely appreciate your emotional support.

Since you ask me to do something specific, let me give a simple summary of the legal situation as I understand it.  Anyone convicted in a Crown Court has an absolute right to try and appeal against conviction and/or the sentence. Because Asher Maslin entered a plea of guilty, and there were no exceptional circumstances, he could only appeal against the sentence. So there is no question of his conviction being overturned: the only issue is about whether his sentence (a MINIMUM of 24 years) is appropriate.

A High Court judge has granted leave his request to an appeal and will be heard by the Court of Appeal with a Lord Justice presiding. I have asked for a date but the case won’t be listed now until sometime in mid-December, so we can probably expect not to see a date for the hearing until 2015.

No politician, whether MP, Justice Secretary, Home Secretary or PM has any say in the matter at all. It’s an entirely judicial process. And although it’s occasionally tempting to wish I could wave a magic wand at certain court cases, I can’t.

While I might have strong views on what the result of the appeal should be, it wouldn’t be helpful for me to go public on this – and might even be counterproductive. We shouldn’t have long to wait and whatever happens the facts can never be changed: the murderer has to live with the ghastly truth and we can never bring Hollie back again.

But what we can do is to support the work Nick Gazzard has started with the Hollie Gazzard Trust – preventing and stopping domestic abuse before it’s too late.

We can all in different ways support the events, raise the funds, spread the word, encourage the cards of hairdressers to have the helpline number for Domestic Abuse Services, and above all make everyone feel they can, and must, talk about abuse.

That way, out of shocking evil can come something hugely positive that honours Hollie.

I hope this both answers your question and shows a way forward.

Best regards

Richard

 

Control of Horses Bill progresses to next stage

I’m delighted that the Bill on the Control of Horses has now passed through to the next stage of the legislative process and hope it progresses further.

The Bill will grant local authorities more powers to detain and re-home fly-grazed horses, and make those responsible for abandoning the horses liable for any costs incurred, and so will go a long way towards tackling the serious problem of abandonment of horses. There was a particularly sad case in Sandhurst Lane at the beginning of this year during the flooding and I have raised this issue with Ministers and spoke out in a debate in Parliament on it so it’s great news  that the Government has listened to landowners and welfare charities, and is supporting this new Bill fully.   In the meantime it is illegal to be cruel to an animal, so the Animal Welfare Act can already be used to prosecute someone for abandoning a horse and the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act will provide enforcers with new, more flexible powers to tackle all antisocial behaviour, including fly-grazing. For example, community protection notices could be used to require the owner of a fly-grazed horse to remove or sell it so with this new Bill hopefully becoming law and the existing laws we have already in place we should be able to tackle fly grazing much more effectively.

More vocational apprenticeships

Under this government Britain has seen 2 million more apprentices since 2010. The Prime Minister has pledged to create an additional million apprenticeships (so 3 million in total) in the next Parliament and so abolish youth unemployment.

In Gloucestershire, to make sure we achieve that, we will need to create apprenticeships in areas that don’t yet exist. Vocational courses and training to help bridge skills gaps that already exist are the way forward.

For example the Uni of Glos and Emma Willis have already teamed up to proves a shirt sewing element of their fashion course, which will be relevant to Gloucester’s other shirt maker Turnbull & Asser and I hope will lure other shirt makers to Gloucester.

Now we need a specialist course for electroplaters in the coatings sector, which require a strong knowledge of chemistry: and the same for HGV drivers in the haulage sector. There are ideas coming forward for both these and I hope the new Growth Hub and the LEP will look closely at such specialist courses.

I raised this directly with the Chancellor last week:

“This Government’s support for apprenticeships has hugely helped the 40% drop in youth unemployment in Gloucester. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Government will continue to look constructively at new and innovative vocational schemes in sectors where there are jobs available—such as HGV drivers, haulage companies, and electroplaters for the Poeton company—but a shortage of skills at the moment?”

The Chancellor remembered immediately his visit with me to Gloucestershire Engineering Training (GET) and gave an encouraging response:

Mr Osborne: I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham) has worked with local employers to improve skills, and I visited a successful apprenticeship and training scheme with him. We want to ensure that local employers are involved in shaping those apprenticeships and further education courses, and that is precisely what we are now setting up.

I hope this encourages both coatings and haulage companies to take their ideas forwards and I will support them. Other companies with similar skills gaps can follow suit.

Katie Alleyne of Prompt Transport said, ‘I believe it’s time the haulage sector got together in the Bristol/Glos region to create a vocational course that delivers good HGV drivers with a strong understanding of European laws on the road etc so that we don’t have this current shortage of British drivers and end up recruiting from Continental Europe’

Nick Day of Downton Group, Gloucestershire’s largest haulage operator said ‘it is quite true that there is a shortage of drivers with an HGV qualification and we are going to have to train them; if the industry comes up with a good course we all like and the government pays for the training – like GET for engineering – this has for to be the right way forward’

David Owen GFirst and LEP: ‘skills is at the heart of the LEP and our Growth Hub agenda,mans we will looks closely at all good ideas for supporting projects that develop skills across the county’

Tidal Lagoon is a game changer for our City

Tidal energy is a probable game changer for Britain and Tidal Lagoons relocation is a game changer for our city. With EDF Energy and Horizon Nuclear Power also based in the city, Gloucester is fast becoming an energy hub.

Tidal Lagoon Power’s plans to build a six-mile lagoon as part of a £1billion investment at Swansea Bay, capturing energy from the tide’s movements coming in and out of the bay. The development would be the first of its kind in the UK and hopes to make use of local producers for 65 per cent of the build, all orchestrated from the Gloucester office. And with apparent support in Swansea for the plans, all that is needed is the green light from Government and the firm is then likely to increase staff numbers, and therefore footfall in Gloucester’s other businesses.

Tidal Lagoon bring with them a team of forty full time employees who will be joined by up to ninety-five colleagues from Atkins and Costain, two of the delivery partners helping to prepare the world’s first tidal lagoon power plant. Tidal Lagoon Power’s workforce will inevitably grow fast and the redevelopment of Blackfriars and Bakers Quay should provide great accommodation very close for new employees.

Once they get the go ahead for Swansea that will also attract the re-location sub-contractors nearby. We now have the potential to become a city of marine as well as nuclear energy. The government will have to make sure the figures stack up and I am excited about the prospects for an innovative sustainable, long lasting source of green energy – much better than onshore wind farms.

UK ASEAN Business Council Seminar on Investing in Indonesia – 29/10/14

I’m delighted to make a key note contribution to this timely event. Since first living there in 1980 I’ve been convinced that Indonesia is one if the most fascinating countries in the world and one whose size means that if political stability is secure then anything is possible.

That includes using foreign technology, investment and skills to develop new firms if energy and reduce the amount if subsidised fuel: to expand safely a huge demand in aviation and other public transport and infrastructure and exploit sustainably great natural resources.

There also the consumer demands of a fast increasing middle class for the world’s best cars, electronics, fashion and creative media – not to mention savings and other financial services’ products – and a great deal of young Indonesian talent to partner with. So forward looking British companies should be investing time and money in working out how best to work with Indonesia.

The event is also an opportunity to hear directly from the Indonesian Government its latest plans and initiatives and support for foreign investment.

To find out more about this event please contact arnaud.delaeter@ocoglobal.com

Gloucester can be a City of Sport

This week Parliament reconvenes, but first I had the chance to show Sports Minister Helen Grant why Sport in Gloucester is on the UP. It’s partly the coming of the Rugby World Cup to Kingsholm next year, but much more besides. There’s the planning approval for Gloucester City Football Club to return to Gloucester after 7 years in the wilderness following the floods of 2007. There’s the renovated Jubilee Athletics Track, which is now leading to a much wider partnership with The Crypt school, Gloucester Rugby & Football and the Podsmead Big Local community fund for an exciting new Sports Hub at Blackbridge. And then there’s the new Gloucester Rowing Club clubhouse, which will be completed in 2015 on the Gloucester canal, arguably the best rowing water in the land.

The Rugby World Cup: a new football stadium: a new Sports Hub and a new Rowing & Canoeing clubhouse. Not to mention our revamped and improved Ski Centre and our much expanded Warehouse Climbing Centre, which is looking terrific. The Sports Minister saw our city excited about the Rugby World Cup Games, taking pride in developing other sports and saw that we can be a great City of Sport. Sport lifts communities and builds skills for life – which is as crucial to our young as the sports results themselves: and why I want to help make Gloucester, our City of Sport, a reality.

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Richard in Parliament

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