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Why we need defibrillators in every school in the UK

This week, Kevin Brennan MP met with The Oliver King Foundation in Westminster to show his support for every school to have a defibrillator by 2020.

The Oliver King Foundation was set up in 2012 following the death of 12-year-old Oliver. He died from a sudden cardiac arrest whilst at school. If a defibrillator had been available on that day, it could have saved Oliver’s life.

Every single year in the UK 600 young people die from Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  It is estimated that 270 of these deaths occur in schools.  Every week in the UK 12 young people die from sudden cardiac arrest.  Nearly half of those deaths occur at school. Asthma is a well-known risk factor for Sudden Cardiac Arrest.  Recently a study from Denmark has found that children and young adults with diabetes have seven times the risk of sudden cardiac death, than young people without diabetes.  Only 1 in every 10 who suffer a cardiac arrest survives. 

Early access to a defibrillator is vital. For every minute that passes following a cardiac arrest, chances of survival drop by 10%.  Studies have shown that access to a defibrillator can increase survival rates by a massive 75%. 

Signing up to become a Defibrillator Champion for Cardiff West, Kevin Brennan MP said:

“I am proud to become a lifesaving Defibrillator Champion for Cardiff West. It is vital that we take action to prevent any loss of life. I will be working with local schools to fundraise and get lifesaving defibrillators in our area, protecting our school children and teachers.

“It was inspiring to hear about the 25 lives saved by defibrillators placed around the UK by the Oliver King Foundation.”

Mark King, father of 12-year-old Oliver King who died from a sudden cardiac arrest said: “For the last six years, I’ve driven across the country delivering over 2,000 defibrillators. The Foundation has provided first aid training to over 22,000 people. I miss my son every day, I’m determined that no other family has to suffer the same loss. I won’t rest until every school has access to a defibrillator by the time, Oliver would have been 21, in 2020.”

For more information about Defibrillator’s please contact The Oliver King Foundation on 0151 728 3470 or email campaigns@theoliverkingfoundation.co.uk.

Showing support for Brain Tumour Awareness Month

Kevin Brennan has teamed up with The Brain Tumour Charity to support Brain Tumour Awareness Month in March.

Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40 in the UK, and reduce life expectancy by 20 years on average. The impact of a brain tumour diagnosis on quality of life can also be severe, with common side effects including cognitive difficulties, personality changes and fatigue.  To help raise awareness of the disease, over 30 MPs across many political parties united in Parliament yesterday at an event hosted by The Brain Tumour Charity during Brain Tumour Awareness Month.

Brain tumours have featured highly on the political agenda since January 2018, after Baroness Tessa Jowell gave a moving speech in the House of Lords where she courageously shared her experience of being diagnosed with a high-grade brain tumour.

After the event, Kevin said: “It was a pleasure to attend yesterday’s event hosted by The Brain Tumour Charity, to help raise awareness of this devastating cancer.

It is important that MPs from all political parties endorse the work being done to support people with brain tumours, pushing for earlier diagnosis and increased research to improve survival rates.
I’ll be doing everything I can to ensure that people diagnosed with this condition in Cardiff West get the support they need”.

To mark Brain Tumour Awareness Month, The Brain Tumour Charity launched a new report on the financial impact of a brain tumour titled The Price You Pay. The report describes how 80% of brain tumour patients have their working life affected after diagnosis, and provides recommendations on how the benefits system can be improved.

Cameron Miller, the Charity’s Head of Policy & Public Affairs said, “we launched The Price You Pay during Brain Tumour Awareness Month because it’s vital that we improve life today for brain tumour patients who face financial difficulty post-diagnosis”.

“The report is evidenced by survey responses from people that have been directly affected by a brain tumour. Unfortunately, the report displays the harsh reality that many patients and carers face, including reductions in household incomes and inadequate support and information”.
“We thank all MPs who attended our event today and we hope to work with them to tackle this devastating disease”

Speech: UK Government must not bury their head in the sand on musems

Local Museums
07 March 2018
Volume 637

I congratulate the hon. Member for Stirling (Stephen Kerr) on securing today’s debate. His tremendous enthusiasm for local museums shone through, particularly in his references to an antique nipple protector and an internationally renowned mutton bone. Only he could have brought those items to life in such a way during the debate. He also told us something I did not know, even though I used to teach history: that Mary Queen of Scots played football. I knew she had played golf, but not football— in a sense, it is a shame that she is not available for the current Scottish national team, given their recent fortunes.

The hon. Gentleman made an interesting proposal on indemnity, and he referred back to Scottish history at some length. The hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith (Deidre Brock) mentioned the lack of references to Scotland’s Gaelic heritage, and a much forgotten aspect of Scottish history that is not mentioned sufficiently is its Welsh heritage. The greatest poem in the Welsh ​language, the ancient poem “Y Gododdin” describes a battle between Welsh-speaking warriors from the south of Scotland at Catterick in North Yorkshire with the Anglo-Saxons. Indeed, the hon. Lady’s constituency’s name of Edinburgh derives etymologically from the old Welsh—I thought I would add that into the mix since we are having lengthy discussions on Scottish history. The hon. Member for Stirling also recognised that state funding is important, and I will come back to that point.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock (Bill Grant) who spoke about the Keir Hardie exhibition, and I will certainly visit that if I get the chance to go to his part of the world in future. He also described the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, which again sounds like a wonderful place to visit. As he rightly said, museums “are worth it”, and I will come back to that later in my remarks.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mike Hill) spoke about the importance of funding local museums, and he described some museums in his constituency. He spoke not just of museums themselves, but also of the associated services, which is an important point. The hon. Member for Henley (John Howell), our resident archaeologist, spoke about the review he undertook. He said that it is important that we do not lose our local museums, and I could not agree more. He also described some of the ways that he thought those museums could be made more sustainable.

It was all spoiled, however, by the hon. Member for Walsall North (Eddie Hughes) who introduced the “B-word” into the debate—we were all getting along so well until that point. He described how he thought that we as a country should “go forward into the world and dominate”—I think those were the words he used—as we have done in the past, although I am not quite sure what he has in mind. He also said that “our future has been fantastic in the past”, which I thought was the quote of the day. He described a wonderful sounding Black Country Living Museum in his constituency, which again sounds like a marvellous place to visit.

As hon. Members have made clear, local museums are a crucial part of the UK’s cultural life. They tell the story of specific communities up and down the country and help to preserve a continuous sense of community identity. People often feel an ownership of their local museum that they do not always feel about larger civic institutions. As a result, the audience of local museums can often be more diverse and representative than for other larger museums.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the St Fagans National Museum of History in my constituency of Cardiff West. Rather like the Black Country Living Museum, it is on a large site with buildings from all over Wales. It is a wonderful place to visit, and was recently the happy recipient of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. That is helping it to develop facilities, including a new “gweithdy”, as we say in Welsh—a place where people can go and try some of those crafts with those wonderful new facilities. If Members ever visit Cardiff, I suggest that they go to the edge of town and visit that museum.

For the reasons we have heard, local museums sometimes have to charge for entry. Constituency MPs are clearly aware of the benefits that local museums bring, but those museums are facing funding problems and threats ​of closure. There are ways we can try to overcome that fact, but we cannot divorce it from the UK Government’s cuts to the budgets of the devolved nations through the Barnett formula, and to local authorities. The Local Government Association states that there have been staggering cuts since 2010, and that central Government funding will be reduced by a further 54% by 2020. In that context, it is no surprise that local authorities struggle to maintain their services, particularly non-statutory services such as museums.

The Mendoza report, commissioned by the Department, identified museums that are run and supported by their local authority as those most vulnerable to funding pressures. Last week, on the same day the Government published museum visitor numbers, the Museum Taskforce published its report, which considered the funding of museums in England. It stated:

“Often it is less prosperous areas that are feeling the brunt of the crisis in funding and there is concern that further reductions in public finances will leave local authorities in less wealthy areas in particular, unable to fund non-statutory services such as museums.”

Councils are the biggest public sector investors in culture, including museums and galleries, and despite reductions in council funding from central Government, they valiantly continue to spend more than £1 billion per year on culture. That is a good investment because culture is a very good source of economic regeneration. I encourage local authorities of all stripes to continue to do that.

We need more than fine words about local museums from the Government; we need to put an end to the continuous cuts that are putting them at risk. It seems contradictory to protest the underfunding of local museums while propping up a Government who seem intent on cutting the funding available to local authorities. The hon. Member for Stirling was very fair in his remarks, and I hope Conservative Members put pressure on Ministers to ensure local authority funding is not cut so savagely that they are forced to cut local museums. The Government seem determined to ignore that at the moment, but I hope there will be a change of mind under the new Minister.

The Opposition Front-Bench team thought we would look into the issue ourselves when we were recently trying to get to the bottom of what is happening to our local museums, and we conducted a bit of research into the opening hours of local authority museums in England through hundreds of freedom of information requests. We gathered information from a sample of 250 local museums, which showed a huge decline in museum opening hours in the past seven years. Since 2010, more than 40% of local authority museums have decreased their opening hours by an average of 30%. Just across our sample, that is a loss of almost 23,500 opening hours since 2010.

Those results confirm that museums are bearing the brunt of the Government’s local authority cuts. At the end of the day, it should not be up to the Opposition, who have fewer resources, to collect such statistics via freedom of information requests. The Government should be doing that work themselves so they better understand the sectors they represent.

Our museums have to contend not only with the reduction in local authority funding, but with the reduced funding from the lottery and the potential loss of EU funding—the “B” word is not going to issue from my lips. Late last year, the Heritage Lottery Fund announced ​that it will distribute only £190 million in the coming financial year, down from £406 million in 2016-17. In addition, no new major grants will be awarded during this transitional year. The Government published their heritage statement only a few days after that announcement, and the document did not even mention the possible implications of that reduction in funds for museums and the wider heritage sector.

The Arts Council’s recent report on the EU funding that arts and cultural organisations in the UK receive shows that museums have received more than £13 million from regional funds alone. Despite that, in response to a written question, the Government failed to outline whether that funding will be preserved when we leave the European Union.

Like the hon. Member for Stirling, I have political differences with the Scottish Government in Holyrood, although probably for different reasons, but it is undeniable that the UK central Government’s austerity policies and the effect they have on the devolved nations and councils around the country are at the root of local museums’ problems. Budget decisions made in this House have a direct effect on funding and resourcing in devolved policy areas and local authorities. On all three of these issues—local council cuts, lottery funding reductions and EU funding reductions post-Brexit—the Government need to take responsibility and the actions necessary to ensure our proud cultural heritage continues to be available to the widest possible audience.

I do not want to be overwhelmingly negative, because this has been a jovial debate and a lot of exciting and inspiring work is taking place in our museums. As part of my Front-Bench brief, I have had the pleasure of visiting some fabulous museums around the country. I have been to country homes and seaside fishing museums, and later this month I will be travelling up to the north of England to see some exciting work taking place in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley East (Stephanie Peacock), where there is a wonderful award-winning local museum.

We can all be proud of our cultural heritage in the UK. We should all be able to share it and feel that we have ownership of it. However, the Government must not bury their head in the sand. If they continue to do so, I will continue to draw attention to the challenges our museums face and to advocate on their behalf.

Wales needs and deserves better from the UK Government and Chancellor



Here's a video of my budget speech from last week's historic Welsh Grand Committee, where we were able to use Welsh for the first time in a Parliamentary debate.

Translation:

It is a pleasure, Mr Owen, to be able to address you in the language of heaven here in Westminster for the first time. This truly is a historic occasion as it is possible to speak in a debate in a language other than English for the first time in 800 years. This is entirely appropriate, since Welsh was spoken across Britain long before the Westminster Parliament or the English language existed. Outside Wales, it is not widely understood that the names of cities far north such as Edinburgh and Glasgow come from the Welsh language originally.

I also wanted to speak in Welsh today as a tribute to the late Rhodri Morgan, who was my predecessor as MP for Cardiff West and the former First Minister of Wales. This is the first Welsh Grand Committee meeting since his sudden death last May. In the ’90s, Rhodri was a pioneer in pushing to change the rules so that the Welsh language could be used when the Welsh Grand Committee met in Wales. I am sure that if he were here today he would have several amusing anecdotes to tell us in both languages.

This debate relates to last autumn’s Budget and its impact on Wales. There is some extra money for Wales as a result of the Barnett formula, but the fundamental problem is its lack of vision at a time when ambition is needed. That is the result of having a weak Prime Minister and a Chancellor with all the excitement of the English rugby team—I hope I will not regret that comment after next Saturday’s match at Twickenham.

Before the autumn Budget I wrote to the Chancellor regarding the future funding of S4C. Over recent years, S4C has faced brutal cuts from this Government, and any further cuts would endanger the quality of the service. I wrote to the Chancellor expressing concern after hearing that S4C could face cuts of up to £9 million over the next three years. I asked for a promise that no such cut would take place.

In their response, the Government said that they were

“committed to the future of Welsh language broadcasting and supporting the valuable service S4C provides”.

However, almost two months since that letter from the Treasury, and more than two years since the independent review of S4C was originally announced, the review has still not been published. That is unacceptable.

Today, I yet again call on the Government to publish the independent review and to offer S4C fair funding. I am afraid that, all too often, culture and the arts is seen as cuttable. The Welsh Labour Government are trying to shield Wales from the effects of Tory austerity. However, without enough money, that is a very difficult task. S4C is crucial to the future and to reaching the goal of 1 million Welsh speakers by 2050.

Years of austerity have failed. All of the cuts were meant to be for a purpose—to pay off the deficit by 2015. The Government said that the cuts would be worth the pain. A child born in Wales in 2010 could have gone to school, finished university and started a family of their own by the time the Government achieve that. They said the debt would be gone before that child started infant school. That is a complete failure, and it is due to old-fashioned financial orthodoxy.

The fact is that it was not too much spending on Welsh schools or Welsh hospitals that caused the economic problems of 2010. Rather, they were caused by irresponsible gambling by greedy bankers. The answer was not to cut spending so savagely as to hurt the economy, but rather to invest for wealth creation in the future—in roads and rail, housing, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, digital infrastructure and clean energy. We therefore looked hopefully, if not in expectation, for the Chancellor to lose his “Spreadsheet Phil” soubriquet and to announce a plan for national renewal that would help to build the Wales of the future, in partnership with the Welsh Government and business, local government and communities and so forth.

Perhaps, we thought, the Chancellor would show confidence by announcing his support for the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon project, or by giving additional funding to electrify the main line to Swansea, or by helping to create the metro in Cardiff and the valleys, or by helping to build the houses we need to bring jobs and homes. Instead, we got tinkering around the edges.

Wales needs and deserves better from the Government and from the Chancellor. We now face the danger of Brexit, which I am sorry to say that a majority in Wales voted for, although not in Cardiff. My appeal to the Secretary of State for Wales is to not be content to be a mouthpiece for economic orthodoxy and to not be content to sit at the Cabinet table, admiring the view. Rather, fight, fight, and fight again for investment in Wales and for a fair future for everyone in Wales.

Blog: Air guitar - it's no joke

For professional musicians, touring can be a crucial source of income and a valuable way of building a reputation on the music circuit. However, musicians planning to take flight with their instruments often face more difficulties than they should.

Musicians report that airlines are increasingly requiring that musicians travelling with guitars, or other similarly sized instruments, purchase seats for their instruments or place them in the aircraft hold. Social media is abuzz with horror stories about damaged precious instruments and extra charges. Extra cost is a barrier, temperatures are often very low in the hold, and instruments can be damaged during transit.

This makes life for musicians much more difficult than it needs to be. For professional musicians, musical instruments are both essential for working and often very costly to purchase. I’ve heard first-hand about the anxiety musicians feel, worrying that their instruments might be damaged or facing additional charges for an extra seat on the aircraft. The difficulty and uncertainty of taking an instrument abroad can make touring a real challenge.

The Musicians Union has raised this issue repeatedly with airlines over recent years, but it has still not been fully resolved. That’s why I started EDM 775, which already has cross-Party support, and raised airline charges for musicians in the House of Commons. I am calling on the airlines to agree to a code of practice to give travelling musicians consideration, fair and consistent treatment, as well as peace of mind.

In the Government’s recent reshuffle, Matt Hancock was promoted to Secretary of State for Culture. While there are many areas where Labour and Tory culture policy will clash, I am hopeful that this is an area where we can work together for the benefit of working musicians. Taking a proactive step to resolve this issue would be a positive, productive way for Matt Hancock to begin his tenure as Culture Secretary.

I’ve written to him asking if he will take up this issue with his colleagues in the Department for Transport, and call in the airlines, together with the MU and other interested parties, for a roundtable discussion to try to agree an industry code of practice for musicians travelling with musical instruments. I've raised the issue with the Transport Secretary too.

This USA’s Department of Transport have already issued regulations which could provide a useful springboard for discussions.

Airlines’ treatment of travelling musicians can cause stress, anxiety, and damage to costly instruments. But it could be largely resolved with a common sense, consensual solution that wouldn’t impose serious cost on business. In fact, by working together to establish trust and goodwill between the parties, everyone could benefit.

Air guitar – it’s no joke.

Blog: UK Government's power grab on EU Withdrawal Bill

Over the past few weeks I have had hundreds of emails lobbying me to take various positions on the EU Withdrawal Bill.

Many of the emails I have received have suggested that by voting against the Bill I am either refusing to accept the Referendum result or on the other side of the coin that this bill is not doing enough to stop Brexit. However this Bill is about either of those things. Put bluntly this Bill is about the Government putting huge and unaccountable power into the hands of government ministers, side-lining Parliament and the devolved administrations on key decisions and putting crucial rights and protections at risk. Far from bringing back control to Parliament, it would result in a power-grab for UK Ministers. 

The Bill risks eroding basic human rights and could prevent a transitional deal on the same basic terms we currently enjoy – including within the single market and customs union, as well as undermining powers that already are in place for our National Assembly. I voted in favour of amendments that would protect those rights. 

I voted against a fixed date of exit from the EU as we have absolutely no certainty from the Government as to the nature of any deal on the EU and on any transitional arrangements that may be in place.

As I have stated before I voted and campaigned for a remain vote and I also voted against the triggering of Article 50, and I have not changed my view on the consequences of leaving the EU. The full article from the time explaining my view can be found
here.

The Government with its DUP helpers voted against all reasonable amendments. We were able to defeat the Government on one vote which guaranteed that Parliament will get a vote on the terms of how we leave the EU. Due to their unreasonable intransigence I voted against the whole Bill at its Third Reading.

As the Bill enters the Lords where the Government and DUP does not have a majority I hope we will see amendments to the Bill.