Rt Hon Stephen McPartland MP
Working hard for you
in Stevenage, Knebworth, Codicote, Datchworth and Aston

Stephen McPartland MP will be the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Furniture Industry Group.

The Group’s membership comes from across the political spectrum with Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat members and will provide a parliamentary forum to discuss the issues affecting the sector, including the economic recovery, small business lending, and fire safety regulations.

Martin Jourdan, Chair of the British Furniture Confederation, the trade association representing the UK furniture manufacturing industry, said:  “I am pleased that the All-Party Group has been reformed with a talented and diverse range of parliamentarians. I am delighted by the election of the Group’s new Chair, Stephen McPartland MP, whose knowledge and enthusiasm will be of great benefit to the Group. Stephen is one of the new generation of MPs, and will be a fantastic credit to the industry. I know Stephen’s constituency contains a number of furniture companies, such as FIRA International Ltd."

The Group has examined key industry issues since it was first formed in 2005 including the importance of retaining our fire safety regulations. These rules ensure that UK furniture remains some of the safest in the world, and have saved an estimated 1,860 lives since their introduction.

Pupils at Stevenage schools, five primary – Almond Hill, Giles, Martins Wood, Shephalbury Park, and Trotts Hill – and two secondary – Barclay and Thomas Alleyne – raised £3,500 towards the campaign to End Polio Now.

Stephen McPartland, MP, joined Stevenage Rotary Presidents to present certificates and class dictionaries to acknowledge the great efforts made by the young people. Stephen was delighted to celebrate the success with them and said, “I am proud to be associated with a group of young people who have so clearly demonstrated their awareness of, and commitment towards social awareness and community cohesion. They have set a good example to us all”.

The funds were raised through a wide range of activities, including using purple-ink pens, selling purple-iced buns, and having handprints preserved in purple paint. Children in Afghanistan, India or Pakistan have their little fingers are painted with a purple dye to show they have been immunised.

The money, through Rotary’s partnership with the Bill Gates Foundation, will result in a total of 17,500 young people in Afghanistan, India or Pakistan will be immunised against the crippling disease.

Stephen McPartland MP has been given figures by Gingerbread that show a child maintenance debt mountain of £7,180,000 owed to single parents in Stevenage.

Stephen said, “Stevenage single parents received a raw deal from the last Government, as they completely failed to deal with this debt. This is a huge figure and if collected would have a big impact on the quality of life of local children. I think it is disgusting that the child support system has been allowed to fail in this way”.

Commenting on the figures, Gingerbread’s Chief Executive Fiona Weir said: “Child maintenance is vital for children in separated families. We know from single parents that this is much-needed money which pays for items such as children’s clothes, school meals, trips and activities and childcare. Ultimately the responsibility for paying child maintenance rests with the non-resident parent, but the Child Support Agency has to do its job too in collecting debts and enforcing payment. We want to help single parents caring for children take action to ensure their arrears are paid.”

Stephen McPartland hosted the launch of Asthma UK’s Fighting for Breath report at a reception at the House of Lords, as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on asthma. Stephen pledged his support to improve the lives of people with severe asthma in Stevenage and across the UK.

Stephen said “Asthma has a huge impact on the quality of people’s lives, preventing many from being able to work, study or do normal day to day activities like caring for children, doing the shopping or managing a full night’s sleep. Severe asthma also places a huge burden on the lives of carers, who often struggle to access financial and emotional support”.

Stephen has pledged to support Asthma UK’s calls on the Government to:

  • Ensure that people with severe asthma can access the benefits they are entitled to and are assessed fairly when claiming. Better training should also be provided for assessors so that people with severe asthma are not discriminated against.
  • Protect specialist asthma nurse posts from cutbacks, as they are a lifeline for many people with severe asthma. Evidence also shows that they can help to reduce costly emergency hospital admissions.
  • Ensure consistent, national standards on asthma care are implemented across the UK

Neil Churchill, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, says: ‘We’re calling on everyone who can make a difference to the lives of people with severe asthma to take action. Our report shows that people with severe asthma are some of the most marginalised in society, living hidden lives, facing discrimination from many areas of society and missing out on vital life opportunities.’

There are a quarter of a million people in the UK who suffer with severe asthma. Many have difficulty breathing almost all of the time, suffer frequent, serious asthma attacks, have endless trips to hospital for emergency treatment and live with the constant fear that their asthma will one day kill them. They also take high doses of a long list of medicines, which have harmful and debilitating side effects such as osteoporosis, growth problems, weight gain, diabetes, depression and hair loss. The Fighting for Breath report summarises the findings of focus groups across the UK and makes a number of recommendations.

Stephen made his maiden speech in the House of Commons on Thursday July 1st, speaking as part of the debate on Global Poverty, first, as is customary, outlining the Stevenage constituency which includes the villages of Knebworth, Datchworth, Codicote and Aston.

Stephen emphasised that we must move away from a culture where spending money is seen to be the answer to all the problems in our society,  as well as the need to remember that behind the statistics are real people - real families and real lives - who have to live day-to-day with the decisions that taken in the House of Commons.

Stephen highlighted that currently globally one child dies every 15 seconds from pneumonia, which is the leading killer of children under the age of five.  Increasing evidence shows that pneumonia is linked to global poverty, yet it is a disease that can be managed relatively simply if the resources are available. The millennium development goal is to reduce by two-thirds the mortality rate among children under the age of five. Stephen said "I am proud of the leading role that GlaxoSmithKline, a major employer in my constituency, has taken to try to save the lives of millions of children in the world's poorest countries. GSK is one of the first manufacturers to sign an advanced market commitment, which, by guaranteeing an affordable long-term price, will support the sustained use of vaccines. GSK has worked closely with GAVI and IVAC-the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, and the International Vaccine Access Centre-the leading NGOs in trying to sort the problem out, and whose work I commend."

Here in the UK, Stephen commented that it is possible to help a child out of poverty and improve their chances in life if they receive a good education, but stressed that we are not doing enough and are not lifting enough people out of poverty. There are children who have tried hard in school, with a cadre of dedicated and professional staff who have helped them try to improve their life chances, but the system does not seem to work. Those children are being forced through an education system that pushes them out the other end with little chance of getting a job, as they do not have the skills that local employers want.

Stephen said, "We need to encourage employers to work with local schools and colleges, to get fully involved in education, to highlight the skills that are missing and even perhaps to take preventive action, possibly by designing some of the more vocational courses. Perhaps the prize at the end of the course should be a job or an apprenticeship with the employer. We need to be innovative and flexible, so that courses can reflect the skills gap locally and more local people can get local jobs."

You can read the full text of his speech in the People section of this web site, or via Theyworkforyou web site at this link . The Theyworkforyou site also has a video of the debate which you can watch below - Stephen starts speaking at around 3hrs 4min 30secs.

Local MP Stephen McPartland joined local families at a local store in Stevenage to learn about car seat safety as part of Child Safety Week. Professionals are visiting Mothercare stores up and down the country, giving advice to parents on how to best keep their kids safe.

Stephen said, “Child safety is an important issue for families in Stevenage and I am pleased so many are ‘making time for safety’ during Child Safety Week. It’s an important message, and I am glad that that this initiative is working to prevent accidents and help keep children happy and safe.”

Julie Woods, Store Manager at Mothercare Stevenage said: “Mothercare is proud to be a part of Child Safety Week, helping parents to keep their children safe both at home and on the road. We put child safety first and our trained and helpful staff are always on hand to give advice and support.”

Stephen McPartland has been pressing Ministers for clarification on the reconfiguration of health services in Hertfordshire. He has been working hard behind the scenes and earlier today, Stephen secured a high-level meeting with Simon Burns, the Minister of State for Health, and also in attendance were Nick Carver, Chief Executive of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, Sir Neil Mackay, Chief Executive of East of England Health Authority and Jane Halpin, Acting Chief Executive of NHS Hertfordshire (PCT).

Stephen McPartland said “I wanted to get reassurance from the Minister that the first three phases of the developments would proceed at the Lister hospital and I was delighted that everyone around the table was supportive. This means the new surgicentre, the maternity unit and the car park will continue as planned and should all open sometime next year.

The second aspect of the meeting was to discuss phase 4 which is the consolidation of Acute services at the Lister to ensure it is a centre of clinical excellence. I explained that we needed to disentangle this decision from the QEII, where there should be a new local general hospital with a range of services that need to be negotiated locally. What happens at the Lister is a separate issue and we hope to get a green light to proceed with the business case in July. This means no time will have been lost”.

Stephen added “Protecting and improving our local NHS is a key priority and I will continue working with Unions, managers, Staff, clinicians and patients to deliver the best healthcare possible for local people. This is just the start and we need to campaign hard to make sure we deliver real results. There has been too much talk over the last thirteen years, it is time for action”.

Stephen McPartland met with John Dickinson-Lilley, RNIB's Parliamentary Officer, and Claire Kay, RNIB's Regional Campaigns Officer for the East of England RNIB, to gain first-hand experience of the everyday challenges faced by blind and partially sighted people.

Wearing a blindfold, Stephen McPartland tried to carry out some everyday tasks, like making a cup of tea and using a cash machine, within the kitchen and bank areas that had been set up in the House of Commons.

Stephen said "It was a real challenge to carry out these simple everyday tasks without the use of sight. It made me aware of the need for support to be in place when someone loses their sight and is struggling to adjust, trying to remain independent in their own local area and home."

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