I am delighted to announce that I have a new website. Please go to www.gillfurniss.com and have a look.
You will be able to see what I’ve been doing to represent you in Parliament and in Sheffield, and you can find out how to get in touch, should you need support with an issue. As always, I appreciate your feedback, so please let me know if there is anything you feel should be on there which isn’t, or if anything is unclear.
Knife Crime Roundtable
Today I hosted a roundtable meeting in Sheffield to address the growing problem of knife crime. Knife crime is on the rise – last year 39 teens in the UK were killed in a knife-based incident, the highest number for 40 years.
This event follows the fatal stabbing of young father Jarvin Blake two weeks ago in Burngreave, Sheffield, and the near-fatal stabbing of a 24-year old woman in the Norton area last weekend.
I was privileged to be joined by local councillor Mark Jones, Detective Superintendent Una Jennings, and representatives from schools and youth initiatives to discuss the causes of knife crime, and to outline possible solutions. We all agreed that more must be done to tackle the problem, and that the most effective change would come from local partnerships and initiatives.
Last week a government inspector declared that Northamptonshire County Council should be scrapped. The council, which on World Book Day announced that 21 of its libraries would reduce their opening times to just one day a week with immediate effect, invoked Section 114 earlier last month, suspending all spending due to an inability to fund its services. It is the first council to invoke this measure in two decades.
In Wednesday’s Prime Ministers Questions Jeremy Corbyn criticised Theresa May’s “slash and burn model for local government”, which has seen councils lose millions, or going bust after outsourcing to private contractors. Indeed, Sheffield City Council has seen its budget cut by £350 million since 2010, and councils are facing a £5.8bn funding gap by 2020. May’s response that the council’s collapse was ‘not a case of underfunding’ was simply stunning.
On Wednesday I was quoted in the Guardian after calling on Culture Secretary Matt Hancock to act following Northampton’s library closures, and I was relieved to hear that the Government may intervene. But our councils across the UK are facing crisis and for many it is too little, too late. The government must reverse their cruel starvation of local authorities. They must act now.
Read the article here: https://bit.ly/2pwksLE
On Monday, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport was asked to make a statement on the alleged breach of data privacy by Cambridge Analytica, and the powers of the Information Commissioner to investigate such incidents.
At the weekend, the Observer revealed that 50 million Facebook profiles had been harvested of data for Cambridge Analytica (CA), a data analytics firm that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and on the winning Brexit campaign. Just last month, both Facebook and Alexander Nix, CA’s chief executive, told the DCMS Committee as part of its inquiry into fake news that CA did not have or use private Facebook data.
The Secretary of State said on Monday that the Information Commissioner was already investigating CA as part of a broader investigation into the use of personal data during political campaigns, and that she would be looking at whether Facebook data was acquired and used illegally. The Secretary of State also said that the Data Protection Bill would strengthen legislation around data protection and give the Information Commissioner tougher powers to ensure that organisations comply with requests for information.
If the allegations against CA are proven to be true, they would represent not only a massive breach of data and trust, but also a breach of rights. I believe this is an utter indictment of the permissive environment the Government has created, which allows data giants in this country to be both careless and carefree. Moreover, considering Facebook’s complete disregard for the protection of its users’ data, it is obvious that voluntary codes of conduct for social media companies, like those proposed in the Government’s Digital Charter, are completely unfit for the way these companies operate.
Last Month President Trump announced a 25% tariff on steel imports to the US, putting tens of thousands of UK jobs at risk.
I am pleased to say that the EU has now secured a temporary exemption from US steel tariffs, which were due to be enacted this Friday. European diplomats had condemned Trump’s jingoistic move which contravenes the World Trade Organisation Rules.
Nonetheless, we are not in the clear yet, and the Government have proved weak in facing up to President Trump. They had a whole year to secure an exemption, and then spent weeks keeping parliament in the dark. I will continue fighting to #Saveoursteel
Two years ago the Government announced that it was preparing a Green Paper on consumer protection. We are still waiting for it. Now, with the advent of Brexit, our consumer rights are more uncertain than ever.
So this week I hosted a consumer roundtable, with representatives from leading consumer organisations such as Which?, Citizens Advice and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. It was a productive meeting, and it was great to hear from the organisations which do so much to protect our rights and interests. I will fight for consumers and I will hold our government to account.
Every year Cityread London invite everyone to pick up a book. This is followed by a month of celebrations, workshops and talks across the capital.
This week I was delighted to attend their parliamentary reception. Click here to find out more: http://cityread.london/
In the Constituency
This afternoon, I visited Fir Vale Academy. I met with the new Head Teacher, Simon Hawkins as well as the fantastic school’s Parliamentarians!