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Letter from Parliament - Tony Lloyd MP

Date published: 29 September 2017

This week I have been at the Labour Party conference in Brighton.

I listened intently to Jeremy Corbyn’s speech, which was about why politics matters and how it is not all despair. He gave a strong message as to why a Labour government would be very different to the soulless Tory government we have now. What came across was a strong sense of Labour's purpose for our country.

John McDonnell’s speech provided a solid based on how Labour can manage the economy - by putting more of the burden on people with the strongest financial shoulders, and make sure we can fund things we need to do for people across Rochdale and Britain.

As Shadow Housing Minister, I spoke at some important meetings about the future of Labour’s housing policy.

Like Jeremy and John, who both had a similar message, I reiterated that we need to commit to a massive increase in the number of houses being built if we are to begin to tackle the current housing crisis.

My central theme for Rochdale was not just needing more houses being built, but more houses that are affordable.

I listened to a TUC speaker explain about the TUC campaign 'Dying to work', which helps those diagnosed with terminal illnesses. Some have been treated very badly and have been sacked under ridiculous circumstances. The campaign aims to help give the terminally ill the employment protection they should have.

Did you know 11,000 people in Rochdale have hip or knee arthritis? This is a huge number, and hence I agreed with the speaker from Arthritis Research UK, it is a really important issue for us to take on board. Arthritis Research UK helps people live a better quality life.

An interesting talk from the People’s History Museum in Manchester told the stories of ordinary people from our background, how they grew and lived. I support what they are doing.

Unison’s 'scrap the cap' campaign was very well received, and got my strong support. We have got to recognise public service workers, and some in the private sector, have been held back and gone without real pay rises for years, this can not go on forever.

Often people in the hospitality industry find their tips absorbed by the company, which is not why people give tips. Hence it was good to hear more about the Unite 'Fair Tips' campaign. Unite has been exposing rip-off tipping practices in the hospitality industry for years.

Cancer research has seen amazing changes and I was very pleased to attend a presentation which explained that most women who have breast cancer now survive. However, the message that still needs putting across is we still need research for other cancers that are harder to treat and beat. Prostate cancer is one of the UK's most serious killers of men, and we need to raise awareness that if caught early lives can be saved.

The British Red Cross, though known for its international work, also does incredible work in Britain. We heard of the British Red Cross service, in partnership with the Co-op, helping people experiencing loneliness and social isolation.

A representative of Langley House Trust, which runs Tekoa House in Rochdale (I was there a couple of weeks ago), explained how it provides a safe environment for long term criminals who want to stabilise and live a crime free life.

I gave my support to the 'White Ribbon Campaign' – which sees men working to end male violence against women. The 25 November is the 'International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women' and people are encouraged to wear a white ribbon for one week - I urge you to join me in doing so.

With the Labour Party conference at an end, I travelled to a conference on international trade. From a Rochdale viewpoint there are a lot of companies who trade internationally, and I want to help make sure that, with Brexit looming, they are ready to move into new export markets.

In the evening, I was back in Rochdale for the Rochdale Council of Mosques annual dinner, this year in aid of the Rohingya - the people who live in fear of their lives in Burma. It was an amazing charity night with people from all backgrounds across Rochdale who volunteered and raised money to help people who live in the most appalling conditions with no sanitation, shelter or clean water. It was a very good example of the compassion in Rochdale, showing that people care.

On Saturday I will be out in Milnrow letting people know Labour is there for them and picking up on local issues.

I shall also be visting Touchstones for the 'To Walk In Your Shoes' event. Touchstones is one of Rochdale’s jewels and has lots happening. It is important to support it.

Later in the afternoon I will be attending a meeting for new Labour Party members.

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Serenity by Kim Gregory.