The calamity that is Chris Grayling MP – the current Transport Secretary who is best known for signing a contract with a ferry company who has never operated a ferry service and copied and pasted their terms and conditions from a takeaway site – first struck in the Ministry of Justice when he part-privatised probation services.
The cost of this bungle? £173,000,000. I have long argued that these changes would not work and that everything needed to be put back under the control of the UK Government. It was ridiculous to delineate offenders by risk as we all know that people change and someone who is technically low risk can become high risk to the community.
But it is not just me who said that this reform has failed. Her Majesty’s Inspector of Probation, the National Audit Office and the cross-party Justice Select Committee have all stated that this was a failed policy.
As it would happen, the day after Labour secured an Opposition Day Debate on the privatised probation companies and called for them to be nationalised once more the UK Government announced that they would do just that. Common sense has prevailed, but not after Chris Grayling MP cost us all £173million.
The Labour Party put forward a motion to the Commons that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Esther McVey MP, should be docked 4 weeks wages for her failure to tell the truth to Parliament We think it is only right that the Secretary of State is treated the same way as someone on Universal Credit who makes an error and completes a form incorrectly – they lose 4 weeks of pay so she should too.
I am deeply concerned that the Secretary of State not only lied to the Commons in response to two of my questions, but she is seemingly continuing to misleading the House now.
She said that she realised she made a mistake after my question, but it then took her 48 hours to come to the House to apologise. It is looking likely that this was not the case and the only reason why she came to the Commons was because she had been found out by the National Audit Office. I am going to continue to work with my Frontbench colleagues to ensure that we get to the bottom of this.
Labour secured an Opposition Day Debate on rural crime this week and this gave me the opportunity to raise the key issues facing North Wales Police and what more the UK Government can do.
I noted the rise in crime in North Wales – especially violent crime – but I also wanted to focus the Government’s attention on livestock worrying. At the end of 2017 there were a spate of attacks on sheep in places like Lixwm and Brynford. But the punishment for not controlling a dog that worries or kills livestock is £1,000. This very rarely, if ever, covers the costs incurred to the farmer and it importantly doesn’t ban someone from owning a dog after the event has happened.
Some may think this crime is on the fringes of what our police need to tackle. I noted in my speech that we need more officers to ensure that they have the resources they need to tackle the worrying rise in violent crime, but this issue is important and requires a small and low cost change to how the law is implemented.
I called on the minister to implement the recording of livestock worrying, to increase the fines and look into the ability to ban the ownership of a dog once the owner has proved that they cannot provide the care needed. The ball is now in the UK Government’s court, but I will continue to press for reform.
Labour held an Opposition Day Debate calling on the Government to halt its plans to cap help with housing costs for tenants of supported housing at the local housing allowance rate and instead adopt a system which safeguards the long-term future and funding of supported housing.
Although housing is devolved in Wales whatever spending commitments are made in England have to be matched in funding for the Welsh Assembly. Therefore the introduction of this cap would have meant less money for us in Wales.
I pressed the Government to make commitments to work with the Welsh Assembly and secure with them the funding we need for people living in supported housing.