The delay in rail electrification to Swansea is another broken Tory promise. Wales desperately needs to increase economic productivity to boost economic growth, help pay down the deficit and to put food on the tables of working families in Wales. Instead, the delay in Swansea's rail electrification is another kick in the teeth on top of massive cuts in tax credits for those working all hours to make ends meet. The Budget has simply reinforced the plight of a new generation of those in poverty at work. The real issue in Wales and Britain is not so much the number at work but the ability of working families to keep afloat and the Tories are forcing them under. Across Britain there are 800,000 fewer people earning over £20,000 than there were in 2010 so cuts in work benefits will hit people already on low wages even harder. The delay in rail electrification alongside uncertainty over our future in the EU will cut inward investment and is another blow to Swansea and Wales. Wales and Swansea need better, faster rail links to London and Europe but the Conservatives are restricting our economic lifeblood whilst pumping investment into London and the South East. Cuts to rail electrification are another broken promise alongside cuts to Welsh Government income on which we rely for essential public services. We need more growth and less cuts to balance the books and the Tories' Sheriff of Nottingham Budget is robbing the poor to pay the rich with inheritance tax give aways in London paid for by food taken from the mouths of Swansea children.
I am incredibly proud of the previous Labour Government’s strong record on animal welfare and am proud to have voted for the Hunting Act in 2004 that sought to end the needless cruelty to wild animals. This is an issue that is close to my heart and I want to be clear that I am fervently against any backdoor attempt to water down this extremely effective, and popular legislation. We have a moral duty to treat the animals we share our planet with in a humane and compassionate way. The unnecessary and prolonged suffering of defenceless animals has no place in a civilised society and the vast majority of the British public agree with this sentiment. Indeed, a recent poll illustrated that 80% of the public support Labour’s ban on hunting. The commitment to give Parliament the opportunity to repeal the Hunting Act in the Conservative Party’s election manifesto demonstrates the extent to which their party is disconnected from the concerns of the British public. The vote to amend the Hunting Act is a distraction from the real issues affecting rural communities – the lack of affordable housing, poor productivity in our economy and public services being dismantled by this Conservative Government. Currently, there is an exemption to the Hunting Act which allows farmers to use two dogs to flush out a fox before it is shot. The Government proposes amending the Act to remove the limit of two dogs to flush out and stalk wild animals. This is arguably where the worst cruelty occurs in hunting, not only to wild mammals pursued underground with limited opportunity to escape, but also to the dogs sent below ground to find these animals. Rather than removing the current safeguards in place for the protection of wild mammals, we should be strengthening the current legislation to stop the exploitation of provisions within the Hunting Act and prohibit the use of dogs below ground. The Hunting Act is the most successful piece of animal welfare legislation. Recent Government figures reveal that a total of 590 prosecutions were made under the Act, with a success rate of 64%. In comparison, the Scottish fox hunting legislation has had 210 prosecutions in 13 years with a success rate of only 35%. The Government’s changes to the Hunting Act are not a ‘small number of technical amendments’- instead it is a deliberate attempt to make prosecutions impossible under the amendments, rendering the Act meaningless. The planned vote on amending the Hunting Act has been postponed, with the Government fearing that they no longer have the support needed to win the vote. It is likely that the Government will now seek to reduce the voting rights of Scottish and Welsh MPs beforehand, in an attempt to circumvent the will of the British public. We must continue to put pressure on this Government to drop their controversial plans and accept the views of the whole House. After the Government announcement that they had postponed the vote, I asked on the floor of the House of Commons: “Will the Leader of the House enable a situation where Welsh MPs can vote on behalf of Welsh foxes in order that English foxes, like English badgers, can escape over the border avoiding the sadistic slaughter that he is advocating in the name of sport.” I will fight any Government proposal to weaken the Hunting Act.
Swansea West MP Geraint Davies today asked a question to George Osborne MP, who was stepping in for the Prime Minister at the weekly Prime Ministers Questions. Davies asked “Will the Chancellor confirm that the waste water from fracking will be properly treated, so that it is safe to drink again?” Geraint Davies said “George Osborne was unable to answer the question because the millions of tons of water that will be used in fracking becomes so poisonous with added chemicals it is uneconomic to treat in order to make it safe for human consumption. “It is important to know that Fracking will generate enormous quantities of contaminated water, as well as gasses that threaten public health. Before the government rushes through the energy bill to allow fast-track fracking with light-touch regulation we need to pause. “Fracking is also inconsistent with our carbon emissions target and as George Osborne talked about the economic befits of fracking while ignoring the environmental costs, on a day that hundreds of people, including many from Swansea were in London to lobby their MPs on climate change.”
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The Conservatives campaigned on a manifesto that meant they would offer a free vote on a government bill in government time on the repeal of the 2004 Hunting Act. I, and the Labour Party campaigned on a manifesto that meant we would defend the hunting ban and build on the strong record the previous Labour government had on animal welfare. There can be no place in a civilised society for animal cruelty and I believe that the rest of the British public also support our ban on hunting with hounds. I know that there is real concern among many people and organisations such as the League Against Cruel Sports that there may now be an attempt to repeal the Hunting act in the near future. I will oppose any such attempt to repeal the Hunting Act and will voice my opinion on the matter, not only because I believe in the ban on this cruel sport, but because so many of my constituents also believe in protecting animals that are unable to protect themselves, and are so often mistreated by us. I also believe that holding a vote on repealing the Hunting Act distracts from the real issues that are facing us – low wages, the shortage of affordable housing, improving infrastructure and protecting public services, and a consistent fall in living standards. I support this petition online against the repeal of the Hunting Act, I would appreciate it if you could do so too: https://www.change.org/p/david-cameron-mp-keep-the-ban-on-fox-hunting-2?recruiter=297114813&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_term=mob-xs-no_src-no_msg&fb_ref=Default