David's News Extras 2001-05

19/12/05 Backing for Trains
08/12/05 Tribute to an old friend
03/12/05 B&Q in the bag
02/12/05 David lights up the town
26/11/05 Twenty Years in the House
13/10/05 David opens Irish Festival
21/07/05 David backs Gateshead Olympic bid
13/07/05 David supports Youth
08/07/05 Praise for Volunteers
08/07/05 David condemns bombers
01/07/05 David chosen for Parliamentary Groups
20/04/05 Election 2005
01/03/05 Lords Proposals 'disappointing'
13/01/05 David welcomes Railways Bill
30/11/04 Darkness upon Tyne
10/11/04 Annual Meeting of the Northern Region Showmen's Guild
28/10/04 Britain can "win without the Tories"
20/07/04 David battles for buses
08/05/04 "Now is the time" says David
05/05/04 Fears for 'Fed' workers
09/02/04 David defends Balmbra's
04/12/03 Closure of LloydsTSB Call Centre - Newcastle (Repeat)
02/12/03 Delaval Community Primary School, Newcastle upon Tyne
14/11/03 Back to School at Tyne View Primary
04/11/03 Closure of LloydsTSB Call Centre - Newcastle
22/09/03 David writes on House of Lords Reform
11/09/03 What does Osama bin Laden read in his lonely cave at nights?
14/07/03 David gets drop on Bond
30/06/03 Bright kids at Brighton
10/06/03 2008 Why wait?
19/05/03 North Danger from Olympic Bid
03/12/02 David chosen for chair
13/11/02 Primacy of The House of Commons
15/10/02 Congratulations on RIBA Award
16/07/02 Baltic: "cultural leap forward " - David
24/06/02 David backs calls for easier voting
24/06/02 The Eyes have it
22/05/02 David backs cash machine motion
10/05/02 David on how we are governed
08/05/02 David asks for more
15/04/02 David Goes to the Dogs
12/04/02 New Life Long Learning Centre
27/03/02 New "Angel" for North
20/03/02 Happy Birthday, LGA!
20/03/02 David Clelland meets Defence Minister over Vickers
18/03/02 National Care Standards Commission
16/03/02 City of Culture bid submitted
15/03/02 David meets over railway heritage development
13/03/02 David gets "Babs" for opening
08/03/02 Gateshead Millennium Bridge
08/03/02 Something
04/03/02 Baltic Art Centre Visit
01/03/02 David joins Regions Select Committee
28/02/02 Minister opens bottling plant
27/02/02 MP backs air gun ban
25/02/02 David condemns "mean and shabby" Dunlop
26/02/02 New Remploy factory opens
May 01  Message to all Tyne Bridge Electors - May 2001
May 01  Welcome to Election 2001

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Backing for Trains

David has backed a Commons motion calling for more rather than fewer local train services.

The motion expresses concern at the threat to rail services in the north and asks government to block any closures or reductions until the Transport Committee, on which he sits, has had its say.

The full Early Day Motion reads:

EDM 1248
Murphy, Denis
That this House is deeply concerned at the threat to passenger rail services in the North East of England despite the enormous growth in rail patronage; requests that the House of Commons Transport Select Committee re-open its inquiry into railways in the North of England; calls upon the Government to prevent any station closures or service reductions until that committee reports; and believes that the Government should promote the expansion of regional railways, an example of which would be the re-introduction of passenger services on the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne line, which would reduce car use substantially and assist in the regeneration of a former mining area.

19 Dec 2005

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Tribute to an old friend

John Cummins MP, Gerry Steinberg and David in Durham
John Cummins MP, Gerry Steinberg and David in Durham

David made a special trip to Durham to see an old friend honoured.

Gerry Steinberg, the former MP for Durham City who retired at the last election, was created a Freeman of the City Durham on 8 December.

Gerry's forthright and combative style, especially in Public Accounts Committee, had not endeared him to some, but his fierce principles and loyalty brought him many good friends, David among them.

The ceremony, carried out with due pomp and pageantry in Durham's packed, historic Town Hall, saw Gerry admitted to this rare honour, the previous one being Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1987.

In his address, Gerry described his travels including when he and David met a hapless mugger in Israel, whom they chased, caught, pinned down and were then advised to shoot! Of course they did not.

A full report of the ceremony is on Gerry Steinberg's website.

8 Dec 2005

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B&Q in the bag

David helps save the environment
David helps save the environment

David helped the launch of B&Q Scotswood's new initiative to improve the environment by discouraging customers from taking unnecessary numbers of plastic bags.

David said,

"As you will know these bags are unsightly, hard to dispose of and a danger to wildlife. It is estimated that some 100,000 mammals and 1 million seabirds die each year though suffocation and strangulation from plastic bags. In 2001 there was 1,678,900 tonnes of plastic packaging in the waste stream, and increase from 1,600,000 in 2000. According to the DEFRA website UK consumers use in excess of 8 billion plastic carrier bags per year."

B&Q have started to charge 5p for each bag. A trial in Scotland had a massive impact with a reduction of 82% in the number of bags issued. All of the money collected is donated to Keep Britain Tidy and is used for small environmental schemes throughout the UK.

3 Dec 2005

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  David with lights display

David lights up the town

David turned up, and turned on, in Benwell to start the Festive Season by switching on the Christmas Lights around Benwell Shopping Centre.

The Winter Festival - "HELLO" - is aimed at promoting social cohesion, as David put it a posh way of saying 'getting to know each other'. There were carols from the Riverside Project Choir, hot soup was served and there was even a magician to add to the magic of the occasion.

David is pictured with children from St John's School and local residents with one of the displays erected around the square.

2 Dec 2005

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Brendan Foster present David with a picture of the Great North Run
Brendan Foster present David with a picture of the Great North Run

Twenty Years in the House

The Tyne Bridge Labour Party has been celebrating the 20th anniversary of David's parliamentary election.

David Blunkett was the guest speaker - which meant that the two Davids were back in town - only this time it was Blunkett and Clelland not Tory hopefuls Cameron and Davies.

Apart from local members, Parliamentary colleagues were there plus Tyne Tees, Northumbria Water, local leaflet delivery company Amaro, the Showmen's Guild, Nova International - the company run by Olympic Medallist Brendan Foster MBE who used to work for David when he was chair of Gateshead's Leisure committee, although who worked for whom is a moot point, Amicus and GMB.

Brendan Foster presented David with a picture of the Great North Run - after thanking him for letting Nova use his bridge to stage the run!

David Blunkett in praise of David's contributions to Gateshead
David Blunkett in praise of David's contributions to Gateshead
David Blunkett made a good speech, commenting that many of the features that make Gateshead what it is today - the quayside regeneration, the flower show, even the public art which culminated in the Angel - had its seeds in the time when David served his community on Gateshead Council, as councillor and then as leader.

26 Nov 2005

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David backs Gateshead Olympic bid

David has added his support to a move to bring Olympic athletes to Gateshead in 2012.

He has signed a Commons motion encouraging the use of Gateshead Stadium as a training venue for athletes from around the world when the London Olympics are staged.

The full Early Day Motion reads:

EDM 670
Hodgson, Sharon
That this House congratulates Gateshead Council on its continuing support for the refurbished Gateshead International Stadium with top quality sports facilities including an indoor athletics training centre for track and field athletes as well as those from other sports, a community-based sports centre and sport-related education programmes in partnership with Gateshead College and the Learning and Skills Council; believes that the Stadium, which is due to be completed by the end of this year, would be highly suitable as a training camp for athletes from around the world when they attend the 2012 Olympics; and urges all those with influence to facilitate the use of the Gateshead International Stadium and also help boost tourism opportunities in Gateshead and the wider North East.

21 Jul 2005

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David supports Youth

David Clelland has co-sponsored a Commons motion calling for youth-led community action.

He has called for an increase in youth volunteering, noting how this can develop confidence and skills.

The full Early Day Motion reads:

EDM 587
That this House welcomes measures to involve and empower young people in decision making processes; believes that citizenship education should be enhanced by practical experience; recognises the work of Changemakers in supporting youth-led community action and youth consultation projects; notes the many benefits of these projects which help to develop confidence and skills, and promote a positive image of young people; further notes the publication of a report by the Russell Commission calling for an increase in youth volunteering; and urges the Government to ensure that every young person has the opportunity to engage in youth-led community action.

13 Jul 2005

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Praise for Volunteers

David presents Peter Featherstone with his award for club volunteer worker of the year.
David presents Peter Featherstone with his award for club volunteer worker of the year.
David Clelland has praised the role of volunteers, especially in relation to sports clubs for young people.

He was speaking at the Redeugh Boys' Club Annual Presentation Night, of which he has been invited to become a patron. He stressed the importance of such voluntary organisations and the contribution they make to society.

Of his time as a Councillor, he said,

"I realised the importance of voluntary organisations, like Redeugh Boys' Club, to the borough, and that it would take a huge increase in local taxes for the council to provide the important services these voluntary organisations provided, and why it was so important for the council to help and support them."

Volunteers work not for monetary reward, but they do get a reward when they see the success of the boys - and girls - they work with. He said,

"But the reward they get is not personal wealth, but the satisfaction of seeing all of you enjoying your membership of the club and what you get out of it. Sometimes a Brendan Foster, a Steve Cram, a Steve Grant or an Anthony Reed emerges, and that is great of course. But the important thing is that everyone gets the chance to take part and enjoy their sport and their membership of the club.

Redeugh Boys' Club in his constituency is one of the North East's most famous and successful clubs - based mainly on football - and now includes girls as well as boys.

David's full speech may be downloaded here in PDF format

8 Jul 2005

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David condemns bombers

David Clelland has condemned the "indiscriminate brutality" of the London bombers.

Speaking at a presentation night in his Tyne Bridge constituency, he said there is no cause, no religion, that can justify such brutality.

Coming the day after London celebrated the Olympic win, from which he hopes the North East will benefit, he said,

"Then, on Thursday, the tragedy of the terrorist bombs that killed over 50 people, injured hundreds more, affected thousands and left the nation in sorrow. Words cannot describe those who did this. There is no cause, no religion, that can justify such brutality. These people are the enemies of humanity. Their action was indiscriminate, their victims were of all faiths and non, all races and all beliefs. In the end they will be defeated, not by their methods, not by terror and intolerance. But by the increasing realisation that we are one people in one world and it is our determination to come together that will prevent them from driving us apart."

8 Jul 2005

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David chosen for Parliamentary Groups

David Clelland has been elected to two important positions on Parliamentary groups.

He has been elected to the Executive Committee of the UK Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Committee and Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Non-Profit Making Members' Clubs.

The latter works to look after the interests of some 5,000 clubs. Working Men's Clubs, Labour, Conservative and Liberal clubs, British Legion Clubs etc. It is one of the biggest All Party Groups in Parliament.

Date 2005

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Lords Proposals 'disappointing'

David Clelland has tabled a Commons motion against government plans to reform the House of Lords.

The Early Day Motion, which has attracted cross party support, says a second chamber as outlined would be unsuitable for its "the scrutiny and advisory role" and is a missed opportunity

The full Early Day Motion reads:

EDM 800
That this House believes that a partly elected second chamber would be an unsustainable hybrid and would inevitably lead to a fully elected chamber and that an elected second chamber could not guarantee the spread of experience, knowledge, background, gender and ethnicity required for a chamber dedicated to the scrutiny and advisory role hitherto considered appropriate for a reformed House of Lords; further believes that a second chamber should add value to our system of governance and be more representative and more effective and that these qualities can be achieved without producing a whole new batch of elected politicians; and believes that the cobbled together proposals outlined in the recently published Second Chamber of Parliament Bill are a disappointing response to the opportunity that now presents itself.

1 Mar 2005

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David welcomes Railways Bill

David Clelland MP has given a broad welcome to the government's Railways Bill.

He is a member of the Commons standing committee examining the bill. His interest in this bill arises out of his duties as liaison MP for the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive. A new group, the Passenger Transport Executive Group (PTEG), was formed recently and launched at an event hosted by David in the House of Commons.

He is concerned that the Bill reduces the role of PTEs in the franchising of local rail services and centralises the responsibilities in this area on Whitehall and the Secretary of State.

Apart from this aspect he says this is a good Bill that returns our railway services to public control and is welcome for that.

David's contributions to the committee's proceedings may be read here.

Date 13 Jan 2005

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Darkness upon Tyne

David Clelland MP has attacked the LibDem Newcastle City Council for pulling the plug on this year's New Year festivities.

David Clelland said, "The fireworks display has become a traditional part of the New Year celebrations and is seen all over the UK and beyond via TV coverage. It would have been particularly appropriate to herald in 2005 which will be a year of major cultural and sporting events here on Tyneside and the wider North East including the Tall Ships Race and the first full year of the newly opened Sage Gateshead Music Centre.

"People come from all over to celebrate New Year in Newcastle. Now there will be darkness instead."

Date 30 Nov 2004

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Annual Meeting of the Northern Region Showmen's Guild

On 10 November 2004, David Clelland MP gave the following speech to the Annual Meeting of the Northern Region Showmen's Guild at Ramside Hall, Durham.

A video game called 'Grand Theft Auto San Andreas' came out at the end of last month. There were queues of youngsters three deep outside the Newcastle store that stocked the game. I'm not well up in the video games world but I'm told, on good authority, that (I'm quoting here) "it's a really cool game, absolutely brill, where you get to shoot at pimps and prostitutes, drug barons, there's brothels and gambling too, you can steal cars and race them, and there's an amazing array of weapons with which you can kill or dismember your enemies". And all in the privacy of your own bedroom.

Yet there are those who think a cause for concern is kids trying to win a cuddly toy on grab machines in penny arcades? I put that point to the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport last week during the second reading of the Gambling Bill.

Her reply was encouraging, she said there was no intention to outlaw the Penny Arcade, but I think we will need to monitor the progress of the gambling bill quite closely, to see that common sense prevails.

Actually, in my experience, if ministers are concerned that children should not be attracted to gambling they should recognise - with all due respect to the Showmen's Guild - that one of the best places to learn that gambling does not pay is the seaside or fairground amusement arcade. Great fun they undoubtedly are - but let's be honest, they are rarely highly profitable for the player. But they are fun - and that's what it's about really. Kids know that, and are not going to be attracted to gambling as a career as a result of a visit to the seaside arcade.

The Gambling Bill is a genuine attempt to grapple with the challenges that have been created by new technology, by the internet and by the steady growth in consumer demand. It seeks to keep gambling crime-free by giving regulators new powers and new duties, and tries to ensure that the freedom that adults have to gamble is not at the expense of children or vulnerable people.

Objectives that, I am sure, all of us in the room would applaud. But to go back to the point I made earlier, when children have access to computer games based on the most gratuitous violence, why demonise the penny arcade? Seaside arcades are as much a part of the British way of life as roast beef and Yorkshires, eggs and bacon.

I can assure Guildsmen here today that I, and my Parliamentary colleagues, will continue to take a balanced view on this legislation.

There is a lot of good in this Bill, in the way that it seeks to remove abuses in the industry - although I have to say, amongst friends, that I remain mystified as to why the government should want to turn the UK into the casino centre of Europe.

Or indeed where the demand is? But whilst supporting the principles behind it, we will do our best to ensure that amusement arcades continue, exactly as they are today. And we do this, secure in the knowledge, that they pose no threat to children.

We've come together today, as we do on a regular basis, to greet old friends and make new ones. But there is a serious side to these lunches. I see, around this room, not only members of the Showman's Guild, but also representatives from local authorities, parliamentarians and other stakeholders. And it's a tribute that the relationship between you is defined in such friendly terms.

There are strict rules governing showgrounds, of course. But, so far as the public are concerned Fairgrounds are, first and foremost, places to have fun. And, of course they also provide work.

I remember standing in a pub one night and this chap was moaning on about how lady luck had deserted him. I asked what the matter was and he explained that he was with the local fairground and he had a small exhibit of wild animals - the favourite with the children was his gorilla but that morning it had died, and he had a busload of kids coming in tomorrow just to see 'Joey'.

We discussed his dilemma for a while and he came up with a brilliant idea.

I was out of work and needing a bob or two - why don't I dress up in a gorilla suit and amuse the kids for a couple of hours - he would pay me 50 quid. Seemed like easy money so I agreed.

The next day I turned up donned the suit and got into the cage. When the kids turned up I fooled around and the kids were thoroughly enjoying it. All but this one kid - there's always one, isn't there? Anyway he insisted on playing around with the trailers and eventually found a lever and pulled it.

Unfortunately this was the lever that opened the door between my cage and the adjoining lion's cage. The lion came bounding through the door and leapt on me, pinning me to the floor - its teeth gleaming and its saliva dripping in my face. I panicked - HELP! HELP! I screamed - at which point the lion said, "Shut up you fool or you'll get us all the sack."

I can still remember the sense of excitement when the 'Hoppings' were coming to the Town Moor.

We worked all day but at night we would be donning the suit, knotting the narrow tie, polishing the winklepickers to brilliance, combing the hair forward in a quaff, slicking it down in a DA at the back - you can tell I'm going back some years here.

And then swaggering off to the Hoppings to have fun riding the most dramatic, stomach-churning rides, to eye up the girls, take them on the Waltzers, buy them a candy floss. And if you were lucky to take one home - I have to say I was never much of a dancer but I was a hell of a good taker home. And the screams we hear at the fairground are not screams of horror provoked by some blood soaked video game, but screams of delight.

Funny thing the scream though isn't it? I mean, if you stand up in a library and scream - everyone just stares at you. But, if you stand up on an aeroplane and scream - everyone joins in.

But whilst I have become more follicley challenged, times have not changed that much. What I outlined as my idea of a good night out at the fair is virtually the same today. The only difference is that the rides have become more powerful, more impressive and more exciting.

But safer too. Guild members, local authorities and the Health and Safety Executive have worked together to ensure that everyone has their fun in safety, and the record of the British Fairground industry is second to none in that regard.

We MPs have an active All Party Parliamentary Group for the industry, and its members will be ever vigilant on your behalf - because we recognise the important part the Fairgrounds and amusement arcades play in providing enjoyment for millions of our constituents up and down the country.

We are grateful to you for continuing the traditions of your industry - for the light relief you bring in a world that too often, for too many, is not always that much fun. We wish you well for a long and prosperous future and may the UK fairground industry continue to provide the enjoyment it has given us all for well over a hundred years.

10 Nov 2004

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Britain can "win without the Tories"

David Clelland has attacked the arrogance of Michael Howard who has dismissed Newcastle and Liverpool.

Howard said that the Tories can win without Newcastle; David's response in a Commons motion is that Britain can win without them.

Th Commons motion in full reads:

EDM 1843
That this House notes that the Leader of the Opposition has stated that the Tories 'can win the election without Newcastle' and 'can win the election without Liverpool'; and considers that it is just such attitudes that have led to the almost total demise of the Conservative Party across huge swathes of the North where voters have demonstrated that they, and Britain, can win without the Tories.

28 Oct 2004

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David battles for buses

David Clelland has raised the issue of bus services in Gateshead.

In the House of Commons he asked the government to look into the planned withdrawal of some services and suggested that private bus companies should be subject to public service agreements.

He has also put down a Commons motion urging the PTE to enter into discussions with Go Ahead to ensure the withdrawal of the current proposals.

The Early Day Motion reads:

EDM 1556
That this House condemns the severely detrimental changes to local bus services in Central and West Gateshead announced by bus company Go Ahead and its subsidiary Go North East; considers the proposed cuts in services damaging to the social and economic well being of the residents affected and contrary to any pretence by the company to be a business concerned with public services; calls upon the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Authority and Gateshead Council to enter into urgent and meaningful discussions with Go North East to ensure the withdrawal of the current proposals and an assurance that public service is not being entirely subjugated to the pursuit of profit; and urges Her Majesty's Government to introduce early measures to ensure that the providers of local bus services are subject to public service agreements and local regulation in the interests of local people.

20 Jul 2004

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"Now is the time" says David

David Clelland addressed the Amicus Northern Region Political meeting in Murton on Saturday.

His speech outlined the successes of the Labour government and called on supporters to help the party continue its campaign of social justice reform and modernisation.


8 May 2004

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Fears for 'Fed' workers

David Clelland has called on Scottish & Newcastle to be "generous to all those who will be casualties of the reduction in employment" as a result of S&N's reorganisation following their take-over of the Federation Brewery.

He has tabled a Commons motion regretting the demise of the 'Fed' and urging for the link with working men's clubs to be maintained.

The full text of the motion, which has already support from other MPs, especially those from the north, reads:

EDM 1132
That this House deeply regrets the demise of the Northern Clubs' Federation Brewery, founded in 1919 and with a long tradition of brewing beers and lagers in Newcastle and Gateshead; congratulates all who have been associated with and worked for the organisation over those years and the Workingmen's Club movement that created it and supported it; urges the new owner of the brewery, Scottish and Newcastle, to maintain the production of the excellent and award winning Federation products and the special relationship with the Northern Clubs; calls upon Scottish and Newcastle to be generous to all those who will be casualties of the reduction in employment resulting from the closure of the Tyne Brewery in Newcastle, which has an equally long and proud history, and the transfer of production to the Federation site; and looks forward to the continuation of the brewing of fine beers and lagers on Tyneside, not the least of which is the world famous Newcastle Brown Ale.

5 May 2004

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David defends Balmbra's

David Clelland has sprung to the defence of Geordie tradition to preserve the name of Balmbra's.

The current operators want to change the name of this historic and famous venue, immortalised in the song "Blaydon Races" and known world wide.

David has tabled a Commons motion calling on Mitchells and Butlers to respect Tyneside tradition.

The motion has already wide support from MPs, especially those from northern constituencies.

The motion reads.

EDM 587
That this House is shocked to learn of the proposal by Mitchells and Butlers to change the name of Newcastle's most famous music hall, Balmbra's, in order to reflect the common name of the chain of pubs they own; recognises that this is in blatant disregard for the history and culture of Tyneside and is deeply resented by the people of the area; recognises that Balmbra's is know throughout the world by its inclusion in the famous Geordie Ridley song 'Blaydon Races'; and calls upon Mitchells and Butlers to respect local views and Tyneside traditions and ensure that the name of Balmbra's lives on in reality as it does in the hearts and minds of Geordies throughout the world.

9 Feb 2004

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Delaval Community Primary School, Newcastle upon Tyne

David Clelland has highlighted the success of a Newcastle school to Parliament.

He has tabled a Commons motion congratulating Delaval Community Primary School, Newcastle upon Tyne on their success on coming top of the national league table for "value added" education.

The full motion reads:

EDM 185
That this House congratulates staff, pupils, parents and governors at Delaval Community Primary School, Newcastle upon Tyne, on topping the nation-wide list of schools in the added value tables; wishes them all well in their continued endeavours and their determination to provide the best possible education for youngsters in that part of Newcastle.

2 Dec 2003

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Closure of LloydsTSB Call Centre

As part of the continuing campaign to save 1000 call centre jobs in Newcastle, David Clelland has tabled his Commons motion on the subject before the House for the new session of Parliament.

It is in exactly the same terms as his earlier motion, tabled in November and this will allow the motion to continue to attract support in the new session of Parliament. It has already attracted wide support, especially from northern MPs.

The full Early day Motion may be read below.

4 Dec 2003

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Liam and Karl show David their work, with Mrs Lowrie.
Liam and Karl show David their work, with Mrs Lowrie.

Back to School at Tyne View Primary

David Clelland went back to school on 14 November.

He visited Tyne View Primary School to meet staff and children. The head teacher, Mrs P Lowrie showed David round the school where he met some friendly and courteous children and felt the school's strong sense of community.

Tyne View Primary School Tyne View Primary School

14 Nov 2003

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Closure of LloydsTSB Call Centre - Newcastle

David Clelland has tabled a Commons motion expressing concern that Newcastle is to lose 1000 jobs to India.

This refers to the closure by LloydsTSB of their Newcastle call centre. The motion reads:

EDM 1866
That this House expresses concern at the news that Lloyds TSB has decided to close its call centre in Newcastle and move the operation to India with the loss of almost 1000 jobs; recognises the importance of such jobs to workers in India but deprecates the exploitation of low paid labour there at the expense of workers in the UK; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government urgently to review this increasing threat to the jobs of thousands of UK workers who are at a particular disadvantage because of the prevalence of English as a second language in so many countries.

4 Nov 2003

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What does Osama bin Laden read in his lonely cave at nights?

On this anniversary of September 11th 2001, when a new wave of conspiracy theories is sweeping the globe, I thought it might be of interest to share part of my own holiday reading.

I reproduce below an extract from a novel by Mark Burnell, first published in 1999 by Harper Collins under the title "The Rhythm Section".

Pages 285 - 286. "The biggest operation Qassam sanctioned, however, was an attack on New York, ......... The plan was relatively straightforward but would have been catastrophic had it succeeded............. It was to start as a hijack. .......... The destination was to have been New York. But this was not to have been a conventional hijack. It was a suicide mission, for which five men volunteered.

How where were they going to do it?

They were going to wait until the aircraft descended towards JFK, thereby giving the authorities on the ground no time to react. Two members of the terrorist team were former airline pilots with the PIA. Having murdered the flight crew, they were going to assume control of the aircraft and crash it into the middle of Manhattan."

Perhaps our intelligence services should be reading more novels!

11 Sept 2003

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David gets drop on Bond

"Look behind you!"

Sean Connery, David Clelland, Richard Kiel David Clelland managed to get the drop on James Bond recently, but he has not joined SPECTRE, and like many others before, his success did not last long.

David explains, "I attended a fund-raising dinner organised by 'WaterAid' to raise money for life saving and preserving projects in the third world.
I bumped into a couple of familiar characters. I managed to get the drop on Bond, but not for long - he had help close at hand."

Is that a disgruntled constituent behind him?

14 Jul 2003

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Bright kids at Brighton

The Schools Minister David Miliband recently visited a local school with MP David Clelland.

Some of children of the School Council The two Davids listen to those at the chalkface.

Some of the children of the School Council

The two Davids listen to those at the chalkface.

The Minister was visiting Brighton Avenue School at the MP's invitation to see the excellent work being done and listen to the difficulties that the staff have to deal with in this inner city area.

Mr Miliband and David Clelland met staff to hear first hand what they had to say. They also met some of the children who are members of the school council, learning at first hand about political (with a small 'p') reality.

30 Jun 2003

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2008 Why wait?

David Clelland MP has put down a Commons motion looking forward to 2005 and the number of events on Tyneside in that year which should draw world wide attention to region. He congratulates the area on its quick recovery from the disappointment of losing the Capital culture bid and asks the government assist Tyneside to prepare for its 2005 spectacular.

The full motion:

EDM 1381

That this House congratulates Newcastle/Gateshead on quickly recovering from the disappointment at losing the bid to be the European Capital of Culture 2008 by adopting the new slogan, 2008 Why wait? Newcastle/Gateshead 2005; notes the preparations now underway to welcome the biggest ever tall ships event to the Tyne in 2005 and the British Arts Show, To The Baltic, a year that will see the first full season of the magnificent Sage Gateshead Music Centre, the opening of Dance City, the completion of the restoration of Saltwell Park, the reopening of Newcastle Playhouse as a European centre for the Theatre's Ideas Factory etc; wishes the partnership and the people of the North East well in their preparations; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to reward their hard work and dedication by offering every assistance to the development of the programme of events planned for the North East's own cultural revolution.

10 Jun 2003

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North Danger from Olympic Bid

David Clelland MP has warned that government support for London's Olympic bid will "exacerbate regional disparities".

In an Early Day Motion, which has already attracted support from several dozen MPs, he calls for the government to ensure that resources are not diverted from poorer regions and further overheat the economy in the south east.

The full text of the motion reads:

EDM 1254
OLYMPIC BID 19.05.03
That this House believes that the bid to hold the Olympic Games in London must not be detrimental to regional policy and that scarce resources must not be diverted from poorer regions in order to promote the bid which, if successful, will require massive investment in infrastructure to support the games and periphery activities which will exacerbate regional disparities and add further heat to an already overheated South Eastern economy; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to fully consider the effect of this decision on policies to produce a fairer distribution of power and resources throughout the UK.

19 May 2003

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David chosen for chair

David Clelland MP was elected Chairman of the 31 strong Northern Group of Labour MPs at the group's AGM on Tuesday 3 December.
Ashok Kumar was elected Vice Chairman and Alan Campbell re-elected Secretary.
David said, "I am looking forward to an interesting year with regional government and the Capital of Culture bid to make progress on."

3 Dec 2002

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Primacy of The House of Commons

David Clelland has reminded the government that the House of Commons is the prime means of represented the people.
In an Early Day Motion he has tabled, he makes the point that any reform of the Lords must not be to create a duplicate of the Commons.
He goes on to stress that a second chamber can be accountable without being directly elected.

The EDM reads:

EDM 56
Primacy of The House of Commons 13.11.02
That this House believes that a reformed House of Lords should not be a duplicate of the House of Commons; further believes that the primacy of the elected House of Commons and its special responsibility of representing people must be maintained and that an elected second chamber, however constituted, would inevitably challenge that primacy and lead to bad government; and notes that it is entirely possible to create a representative and accountable second chamber without direct elections.

13 Nov 2002

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Congratulations on RIBA Award

David has put down an Early Day Motion congratulating those concerned with the Millennium Bridge on winning the recent RIBA prize.

The motion also points out this will help the City of Culture bid.

The EDM is:

EDM 1753
15.10.02 Clelland/David
That this House congratulates the architects, engineers, Gateshead Council and all concerned in the design, construction and operation of Gateshead Millennium Bridge on winning the most coveted Royal Institute of British Architects annual Stirling Prize; notes the comments of the judging panel that the bridge is 'outstanding' and 'the one new piece of architecture that will be remembered by people this year'; further notes that this recognition of excellence by the RIBA is further evidence of the quality of the renaissance taking place on the banks of the Tyne and a positive contribution to the joint bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2008.

15 Oct 2002

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Baltic: "cultural leap forward " - David

David Clelland has welcomed the opening of the Baltic Centre calling it a cultural leap forward.

He congratulates Gateshead Council and all involved in a Commons Early day Motion he set down this week.

The full text of the Early day Motion is:

EDM 1642
16.07.02 Clelland/David
That this House applauds the successful opening to the public of the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead; notes yet another cultural leap forward on Tyneside as the magnificent converted flour-mill joins the neighbouring Millennium Bridge and the Angel of the North as another outstanding example of public art and the cultural wealth of the area; looks forward to the third stage of the cultural renaissance on Gateshead Quays, the opening of The Sage music centre; congratulates Gateshead Council and all involved for their foresight and courage; and wishes them well in their bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2008.

16 Jul 2002

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David backs calls for easier voting

David Clelland has lent his support to a campaign for postal voting, but has warned against fraud.

An Early Day Motion he has signed welcomes easier voting and the greater voter participation it achieves, but calls for measures to prevent to reduce the risk of fraud by the publication of registers of who had or had not voted in an election.

The EDM reads:

EDM 1492

That this House welcomes the Government's attempts to make voting easier and more convenient; acknowledges that a postal vote facility does have a positive impact on turnout, but expresses its concern at the potential opportunity for abuse of the postal vote system; and therefore calls upon the Government to make it compulsory for returning officers to publish a marked register of those who receive and cast postal votes at Parliamentary, European and council elections as an initial step towards investigating and clamping down on such fraud.

24 Jun 2002

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The Eyes have it

David Clelland has joined with other MPs in expressing condemnation of plans to refuse treatment for elderly blind people until they have already lost sight in one eye.

Macular degeneration is the commonest cause of blindness and mainly affects older people, and is often linked with inherited factors. Recent advances have brought hope to those suffering, and those likely to suffer in the future, but proposals by NICE to limit treatment until sight has already been lost in one eye has been condemned by MPs. David has signed an Early Day Motion calling for a re-think. The motion reads:

EDM 1455

NICE and Macular Degeneration 17.06.02

That this House is appalled by the provisional recommendation of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence that elderly patients suffering from macular degeneration be refused photodynamic therapy until after they have gone blind in one eye; regards such a suggestion as penny-pinching and arguably contrary to medical ethics; and calls on NICE to think again.

24 Jun 2002

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David backs cash machine motion

David Clelland has added his voice to those opposing charges at cashpoint machines.
He has signed an Early day motion which points out that bank profits were £18billion last year and asks for pressure to be put on the banks over this.

EDM 1372 reads:

That this House opposes proposals by the Alliance and Leicester and other banks to charge £1.25 to customers to withdraw their own money from cashpoint machines; supports the view of the National Association of Bank Customers that many people in remote and rural areas would have no other option other than to pay such a fee; notes that the United Kingdom banking sector achieved pre-tax profits of £18 billion last year; and calls upon the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to make urgent representations to the British bankers' Association to bring pressure to bear on those banks who are threatening to either charge for the use of their cashpoints or withdraw them from service.

22 May 2002

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David on how we are governed

Whether it's Regional Government or Westminster, David Clelland takes a keen and informed interest in the way we are governed.

While regional assemblies may the hot topic, David has not taken his "eye off the ball" with regard to constitutional arrangements at Westminster. He has put down two Early day Motions which set out his belief that we need time to reflect on the role and composition of a reformed House of Lords, and also his firm belief in the primacy of the directly elected House of Commons.

The two EDMs are:

EDM 1275

That this House believes that a reformed House of Lords should not be a duplicate of the House of Commons; further believes that the primacy of the elected House of Commons and its special responsibility of representing people must be maintained and that an elected second chamber, however constituted, would inevitably challenge that primacy and lead to bad government; and notes that it is entirely possible to create a representative and accountable second chamber without direct elections.

EDM 1276

That this House believes that the important and necessary reform of the House of Lords will be best served by a period of reflection on precisely what powers and responsibilities the second chamber should have, before deciding how its members should be selected; and further believes that the United Kingdom's hard fought for democracy is well protected by the election of honourable Members, members of devolved assemblies, elected mayors and councillors and would be neither enhanced by an elected second chamber nor eroded by the creation of a second chamber constituted in a different way to the House of Commons.

10 May 2002

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David asks for more

Regional government has been the focus of David Clelland's activities lately. Firstly, he put down and Early Day Motion welcoming the Queen's visit to the North East and welcoming the opening of the Gateshead Millennium Bridge which he said was a "symbol of the North East's renaissance and sense of regional pride".

The full EDM reads:

That this House congratulates all concerned with the successful visit of Her Majesty the Queen to the North East to mark her Golden Jubilee; notes the comments of Her Majesty relating to the ongoing improvements to the economic, social and cultural infrastructure in the area and the resilience of the people of the region; and welcomes the official opening of many important new projects not least of which is the Gateshead Millennium Bridge which the people of the region have taken to their hearts as a symbol of the North East's renaissance and sense of regional pride.


In a question to John Prescott reminiscent of Oliver Twist, David welcomed the government's White Paper on regional government, but lost no time is asking about the provisions for further powers to be devolved to the North East.


08 May 2002

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David Goes to the Dogs

Sports Minister Richard Caborn has asked a number of MPs to act as liaison on individual sports and David has agreed to report on the Greyhound industry.

David said;

"I am no expert on the subject, although I do enjoy a night out at the Greyhounds now and again. However, I am a member of the House of Commons All Party Greyhounds Group and as such am in touch with the issues and fellow members, some of whom are far more knowledgeable on the subject than I am, but were presumably unable to take this on.

The main quality I will bring to the post is that, as an MP, I am able to talk to people involved, from the 'lads in the club' to individual track owners and members of the National Greyhounds Association as well as those who are concerned about the welfare of the animals, their care and aftercare. The minister is not going to ask me the name of the winner of the 1928 Greyhound Derby or test my general knowledge of the sport. Indeed, someone who boasts a greater knowledge of the sport may well be less inclined to seek the views of others - which is really what the minister wants".

April 15 2002

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New Life Long Learning Centre

The first 'purpose built' Life Long Learning Centre opened its doors to the public this week and David Clelland spoke at the opening ceremony.

David said,

"The government's commitment to education is a commitment to make education accessible to all age groups. The first class facilities available here are open to all comers and will provide opportunities to learn new skills, or hone up old ones, in bite (or byte) size chunks to suit individual, circumstances and lifestyles."
The new centre is located on the site of Kings Meadow School in Dunston in David's Tyne Bridge constituency. Run in conjunction with 'Learning World' and Gateshead College it will be open initially from 9am until 5pm Monday to Friday but will soon extend its hours to later in the evening and to Saturdays, and even Sundays, depending on demand.

The building is ultra-modern to match the facilities which consist of state-of-the-art computer equipment and highly trained instructors.

12 Apr 2002

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New "Angel" for North

David and Cllr Hattam with Angel and Angel Ale
David and Cllr Hattam with Angel and Angel Ale
David Clelland MP helped the Federation Brewery launch its new 'Flag Ship' ale on the day the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative unveiled the bid to become European City of Culture in 2008.
The new bottled beer "Angel Ale" takes its name from the famous Angel of the North and it was fitting that the Angel formed the back-drop to the launch.
David Clelland, who was there with Gateshead Mayor Cllr Joe Hattam, commented, "This is just one small example of how our new cultural initiatives are linked to enterprise and local jobs. Culture, like Federation beer, is about employment as well as enjoyment."

27 Mar 2002

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Happy Birthday, LGA!

Sir Jeremy Beecham with David David attended the 5th birthday party of the Local Government Association on Wednesday 20th March, at LGA headquarters in Transport House, Smith Square, London.
The LGA was formed from the separate local government associations covering Metropolitan Councils, County Councils and District Councils. David is pictured chatting to LGA Chairman Sir Jeremy Beecham, who is also a Newcastle upon Tyne City councillor for Benwell Ward in David's Tyne Bridge constituency.

20 Mar 2002

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David Clelland meets Defence Minister over Vickers

David Clelland today (20th March) met with Defence Procurement minister Lord Bach to press the case for Vickers Defence System's (VDS) bid for the contract to build 100 Terrier engineering vehicles for the British Army.
The recent loss of the long campaigned for order by Greece for main battle tanks was a severe blow to the company whose future is less secure as a result. Mr Clelland was able to draw the attention of the minister to the distinguished record of VDS in supplying equipment, not least the Challenger II tank, to the MoD. David also emphasised the importance of this work to the Tyneside area as it would retain and enhance the skilled workforce at Vickers and contribute to the skills shortage now blighting the area.
The announcement of the successful bidder is expected within the next six weeks.

20 Mar 2002

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National Care Standards Commission

Alan Milburn with David Clelland Secretary of State for Health, Alan Milburn, was in Tyne Bridge constituency on Monday 18th March to open the national headquarters of the National Care Standards Commission which will regulate and inspect 39,000 public and private care service providers in England.
The agency is housed in St Nicholas Buildings opposite Newcastle's St Nicholas Cathedral.
Tyne Bridge MP David Clelland was there and commented, "This is an important new national service bringing hundreds of high quality jobs to Tyneside. It is also further evidence of the government's determination to devolve power and influence from London into the regions and nations of the UK. I welcome NCSC to Newcastle and this further contribution to the revitalisation of this part of the City".
Chairperson Anne Parker said, "This is really the most important social care institution that has been created in recent years".
Alan Milburn said, "The NCSC will play an extremely important role, ensuring that standards are there for some of the most vulnerable people in society and will do so in a way that is sensitive and rigorous".

18 Mar 2002

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City of Culture bid submitted

David with the six youngsters
David with the six youngsters
The Newcastle Gateshead Initiative bid for European City of Culture 2008 was formally submitted to the Department of Culture Media and Sport on Thursday 16th March. David joined the six young people especially selected to hand in the bid and commented afterwards, " The competition is stiff, with several other cities bidding for this prestigous and valuable award. It will mean millions of pounds of investment and the creation of some 17,000 jobs across the North East. It is about employment as much as enjoyment - Education as much as entertainment - People as much as personalities - and the North East generally as much as Newcastle and Gateshead."

Newcastle Gateshead Initiative website

16 Mar 2002

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David meets over railway heritage development

David Clelland MP has had a meeting with North East Railways who are seeking permission to develop the last remaining undeveloped sector of the 1990 National Garden Festival.
The Riverside site, which includes the famous Dunston Staithes now owned by English Heritage, has lain derelict for the past twelve years while owner McAlpine have sought a suitable developer.
North East Railways want to develop a railway heritage site incorporating office and other leisure facilities. David was impressed by their presentation but questioned the sustainability of the scheme over the long term. They assured him that it was sustainable and had the support of the National Railway Museum in York.
The final decision on the future of the site, which is also sought after for a housing development backed by the fashion designer Hemmingway, will be taken by Gateshead Council Development Control Committee soon.

15 Mar 2002

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David gets "Babs" for opening

Barbara Windsor with David The famous Annies Bar, a Member/Press bar in the House of Commons, was relaunched after refurbishment this week.

At David's suggestion Barbara Windsor came along and performed the opening ceremony.

And of course David lost no time in getting acquainted!

13 Mar 2002

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Gateshead Millennium Bridge

David on the Gateshead Millennium Bridge with Transport, Local Government and the Regions minister Lord Falconer. David (for it is he in the hat) on the Gateshead Millennium Bridge with Transport, Local Government and the Regions minister Lord Falconer.
Lord Falconer was in the North East on Housing issues but took the opportunity to see the ongoing improvements on the banks of the river Tyne in Gateshead where the magnificent 'Blinking Eye Bridge' is complemented by the Baltic Arts Centre and Gateshead Music centre, both still under construction.

Gateshead Quays Website (new window)

8 Mar 2002

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David visits "Something", on Team Valley Trading Estate, during Fair Trade week David visits "Something", on Team Valley Trading Estate, during Fair Trade week.
The company retails pottery and other environmentally sound household goods manufactured in third world countries. "Something" guarantees that goods have been manufactured with fair wages and conditions for the workers and no child labour.

8 Mar 2002

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Baltic Art Centre Visit

Sune Nordgren, explains to David some of the unique lighting effects David Clelland has been to see how progress is being made at the Baltic Art Centre.
Baltic Art Centre Director Sune Nordgren, explains to David some of the unique lighting effects incorporated into the main gallery. The Arts Centre is due to be opened later this year.

4 Mar 2002

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David joins Regions Select Committee

David Clelland MP has been appointed to be a member of the new select committee dealing with the office of the Deputy Prime Minister i.e. Local government and regional policy issues.

Following the reshuffle the DTLR was split up into two departments, Transport and Local Government and the regions, and two new select committees replaced the one and two sub-committees which went before.

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Minister opens bottling plant

At the bottling plant
L to R John Coppinger, Chair of Federation Brewery, David, Alan Johnson, DTI Minister and Kevin Smythe, General Secretary of the CIU at the official opening of the new bottling plant.
A new bottling will help secure the future for "the Fed"
As MP for the Federation Brewery David has worked hard to help the company through some difficult years. The future is looking much brighter for Federation now. The recently opened automated casking facility - by then Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers - has been joined by the fully automated bottling plant, opened by Trade Minister Alan Johnson.

28 Feb 2002

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MP backs air gun ban

David handing in the petition
David with Joyce Quin MP together with representatives of Gateshead Council and Evening Chronicle handing in petition to ban air guns to number 10.
David Clelland MP has backed a petition for the banning of air guns.
Along with Joyce Quin MP and representatives of Gateshead Council, he handed in the petition at 10 Downing Street on 27 February.

27 Feb 2002

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New Remploy factory opens

At the factory opening
David with Steve Cram at opening of new Remploy factory on Team Valley Trading Estate, Gateshead, in his constituency.
David Clelland has been at the forefront of the fight to keep Remploy on the Team Valley.
The plant faced the threat of closure some years ago. The opening of this new factory secures the future of the company in Gateshead for the foreseeable future.

26 Feb 2002

David condemns "mean and shabby" Dunlop

David Clelland has made a scathing attack on Dunlop in a Commons Early Day Motion.
The motion expresses outrage and disappointment at the "cynical and unrealistic" treatment of the workers by the company.
The full text of Early Day Motion 878 reads:
That this House condemns the closure of Dunlop Hydraulic Hose on the Team Valley Trading Estate in Gateshead, with the loss of 99 jobs; notes that the cynical and unrealistic response to an offer by the workforce to consider any proposal to rescue the plant was to suggest a 75 per cent. cut in wages; further notes that the company has given minimum notice and minimum redundancy terms to loyal workers of up to and in excess of 30 years service; and expresses disappointment that Dunlop should choose to leave Gateshead after a 50 year history in the town and outrage that this international company should treat its workers and the local community in such a mean and shabby manner.
Full List of David's EDMs

25 Feb 2002

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Message to all Tyne Bridge Electors - May 2001

Dear elector,

All elections are important, of course. But this general election has special significance for it will either put our country on the path back to Tory economic disaster, with all we know that entails for jobs, education and our vital public services or, it will allow the Labour government to continue the work it has started to rebuild public services, invest in Health and Education, care for the elderly and disadvantaged.

No Labour government has ever won a second full term in office.

The Tory Party dominated the 20th century and for all their years in office failed to build a strong economy and strong public services. They failed to close the gap between those who have and those who have not. They devastated manufacturing and caused misery and despair among those who suffered unemployment as a result. Labour has started the job of repairing the damage and in four short years has succeeded in stabilising the economy, creating employment, improving education and health services.

Much has been achieved, but, of course, much remains to be done.

I have been proud, as a working class Tynesider, to have been part of the government and to have seen the improvements to the life chances of millions of people it has brought about. Whether we are able to go on to even greater achievements is in your hands. As election day approaches you will be told "voting doesn't matter" that "they are all the same" etc.. These are siren voices that would lead our country back to darker days.

It does matter, it is important and your vote does count.

We have done our best over these past four years - it is up to you now!

Help us carry on the work we have started - VOTE LABOUR

David Clelland
Labour Party Candidate - Tyne Bridge

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Welcome to Election 2001

If you believe the press you might wonder why we are here. All the opinion polls tell us Labour is going to repeat its landslide victory of 1997. All we need to do is wait for polling day and then settle down to another term of office for a Labour Government.

I remember a similar claim in 1970. Right up to polling day Labour, under Harold Wilson at the time, was certain to be returned to office. It didn't turn out that way though and the Tories came back under Ted Heath.

So we take nothing for granted. We fight to win as we would were this to be a marginal constituency, and by so doing we will be playing our part in creating the atmosphere which will spread throughout the region and the country and help secure the victory we know can be ours. And a historic victory that will be - because never before in our history as a political party, have we won a full second term in office.

And we need that second term - Britain, needs that second term.

As ever, when Labour came to power at the last election we had to take stock of the economic situation we inherited. We committed ourselves to the cautious, perhaps with the benefit of hindsight overcautious, policy of constraining ourselves within the economic targets left to us by the outgoing government for the first two years - with the exception of the 'windfall tax' on the privatised utilities which we had promised would pay for our 'New Deal' for the unemployed. It was that constraint, and low inflation, which led to the infamous and damaging 75p increase in pensions.

But, rightly or wrongly, you can take your pick, the government stuck to that policy. We put in place a new financial regime by making the Bank of England's Monetary policy committee independent - taking interest rates out of the party political arena. We tackled the huge debt the country was faced with - which meant we were paying out more in debt repayment than on the whole of our schools budget - and we put in place sound finances and a stable economic base on which we could begin to build the social policies that Labour stands for.

As a result, spending on Education now exceeds spending on debt repayments.

We are now in a position where we can deliver on promises to invest in Health, and the social and transport infrastructure of Britain. We have not achieved all we would have wished to, even in four short years. And there are some areas of government policy which I too think we have not got right and need to be changed. But the charge that that the government has not been radical enough, that there has been no social progress, could not be more wrong.

People perhaps expected more than could be delivered in too short a time. After 18 years of the Tories that is understandable. And perhaps we raised expectations too high. We have not been ambitious enough says Charlie Kennedy - who promises us a clean and honest campaign from the Liberal Democrats - well we know what to expect when you start off with a whopper like that!!

But what was it that the founding fathers of the Labour Party wanted to achieve. What would Keir Hardy make of life in Britain in 2001 after the last four years of a Labour government?

They wanted social justice, fair wages, safe and healthy homes and working conditions, welfare support when needed, work opportunities, education for all, health services based on need and not on the ability to pay, rights to trade union membership and recognition. They wanted a war against the poverty and deprivation they saw around them. And an end to class privilege too.

Some progress was achieved, by Labour, and to be fair, liberal minded politicians of other parties over the past 100 years. But much had not been achieved by the time we got to 1997 and the election of this Labour government, and much had been damaged or destroyed by the Tories.

So what further progress has been made. Well, our concentration on education and in particular the early years, has seen class sizes reduced to under 30 for infants, and rising standards.

Our literacy and numeracy initiatives are achieving good results and improving life chances. More money is going into schools and into education generally. £300 per pupil more in real terms since 1997 - far more I might add than would have been available from the 1p rise in income tax the Liberal Democrats promised to allocate and which they are repeating this time.

We have seen the first newly built hospitals for many years in this country - two in this region alone. Accident and emergency departments have been modernised; NHS Direct has been introduced - first here in Northumbria and now across the land.

The damaging and divisive 'internal market' has been consigned to the dustbin and we now have a more co-operative, patient based service as a result.

In the workplace; after 100 years of waiting, this Labour government introduced the first ever National Minimum Wage, legislated for the right to be represented by a Trade Union, given equal rights to part-time workers and statutory rights to holiday and maternity leave.

This Labour government has set itself the target of Full Employment - lack of ambition Charlie??

Through our New Deal we have taken 250,000 young people off the dole - more than 2000 here in Tyne Bridge, half of whom have found full time work. Long term unemployment has been halved and unemployment generally is now down to under a million for the first time for over 20 years. All this has reduced the burden on the Social Security budget and released funds to be spent elsewhere.

This Labour government has set itself the goal of eradicating child poverty in Britain. We have cut the rate of income tax for low earners and introduced the biggest ever increase in child benefit. £15 for the first child and £10 thereafter. Brought in the Family Tax Credit so that no working family in Britain should be bringing home less than £214 a week. And Child Tax Allowance worth up to another £10 a week.

At the last election - and this one so far as I am aware - none of the three major political parties promised to link pensions with earnings. Why? Because that is viewed as promise which may not be sustainable. Government's have limited power to control wage inflation, and to promise increases in public expenditure linked to wages - with a growing and longer living pensioner population - could lead to economic disaster.

But, having said that, governments can take decisions based on what can be afforded now and within the timescale of their own economic plans. To that end our government set out immediately to attack pensioner poverty by introducing the Minimum Income Guarantee, which immediately helped 3000 pensioners here in Tyne Bridge. We then attacked fuel poverty by reducing VAT on fuel to 5% and bringing in a £200 per household Winter Fuel Allowance. Last year's budget saw the introduction of Free TV Licences to the over 75's and an increase in pensions of £5 per week for a single pensioner and £8 for couples.

These have resulted in £5 billion more for pensioners than if the government had merely linked pensions to earnings in 1997 and left it at that. The average pensioner in Tyne Bridge is now £11 a week better off than in 1997 and the poorest £14 a week.

The next Labour government will do even more in the short term and plan for the long term, to ensure that everyone in Britain can make provision throughout their lives for a decent standard of living in retirement, underpinned by the State Pension.

This government, which we are told lacks ambition and is not radical enough, has been the government which has begun the devolution process we in the North have wanted for years.

A Scottish Parliament, Welsh, Irish, and Greater London Assemblies, the creation of Regional Development Agencies, will be followed by devolution of democratic power to the English regions under the next Labour government. And after 100 years it is this government - this government that lacks ambition and is not radical enough - which has finally abolished hereditary peerages and begun the reform of the House of Lords.

So you might have your gripes and groans; but let no one tell you this has not been a radical government.

As we enter this campaign I want you to remember the Tory years. 3 million out of work, inflation rates of 10% interest rates of 15%. The attacks on working people - none more so than the Miners who were mercilessly battered into submission during the 1984/85 Miner's Strike, and who's communities were devastated as British coal mining was virtually and deliberately destroyed, and miners and their families left to suffer the aftermath.

This government, saved the remaining pits, brought in compensation for work related disease, and is pouring millions of pounds into coalfield communities. The Tories now promise tax cuts on the back of £16 billion worth of cuts in public services - that's £24 million in this constituency alone.

Remember how the Tories diminished our standing in the world by their failure to properly contribute to the war on poverty at home and also overseas. Labour is an internationalist party. Because of the activities of our Department for International Development we can now hold our heads up high in the world.

I know this from my own work with Clare Short and Chris Mullin, as the Government Whip attached to the department, and from the praise that was heaped on Clare and her department when I led a delegation to the UN last November. Under Labour the Aid Budget is rising again - set to reach £3.6 billion in 2003/04 - the largest ever UK Aid budget.

We can now hold our heads up in Europe also, as we repudiate the isolationist and eurosceptic attitude of the Tory party and increasingly influence events and policies in the European Union.

The world is changing. Globalisation is unstoppable as technological changes and electronic communications develop apace. For Britain to leave the EU, as the Tory right would have it, would spell economic disaster for this country. So we have to be a full partner, an active member and our country must be fully integrated if we are to take full advantage of our membership and have some protection from the massive changes which are happening around us. That is why - when the economic conditions are right - we will recommend joining the Euro Currency to the people of Britain in a referendum. Contrast this with the policy of the Tories who say they have a principled objection to joining the Euro - but only for the next five years, after which their principles will be open to review apparently.

In my introductory leaflet I say I am proud to be Labour. And I am proud of the achievements of the Labour movement over the 20th century, including those of our government these past four years.

I also say I am proud to be a Geordie. And I am certainly proud to have had the opportunity to represent the people of Tyne Bridge - the place of my birth - in Parliament these past 15 years. Tyneside has had its share of troubles during that period but we have come through it - and even managed to make some notable improvements, despite the Tory governments we have suffered under. Now we see shipbuilding reborn, the cultural developments on the riverbanks in our own constituency, employment growing and optimism returning.

Also in the introductory leaflet I list some of the achievements of the Labour government but end by saying - 'a lot done, a lot more to do'. And when we talk to people over these next few weeks we will acknowledge that there is a lot more to do. But it will only be done by a Labour government. And we will only get a Labour government if they come out and vote for it. Apathy, will be the enemy here in Tyne Bridge. So lets get out there, remind them what we have done and get them to the polling stations voting Labour on 7th June.

I thank you for your support for me these past four years. I hope I have justified your continuing confidence and look forward to your continued comradeship, friendship, and dedication to the Labour cause.

14 May 2001

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Promoted by Ken Childs on behalf of David Clelland, both of 19 Ravensworth Road, Dunston, Gateshead. NE11 9AB