Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service

Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): I am pleased to speak under your stewardship, Mr Hollobone, and I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Wirral West (Margaret Greenwood) on securing this important debate.

As a former chair of Merseyside fire and rescue service, I feel I have a little knowledge—some would say very little knowledge—of the area that it serves. As a former Fire Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Knowsley (Mr Howarth) also shares significant knowledge of the service. The headquarters of the fire service is in my Bootle constituency. I visited the service HQ only a few weeks ago, and I am pleased to say that there is a jointly located command and control centre, shared with the police. That was an initiative taken and implemented without Government diktat, so Merseyside

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Swine Flu Vaccination: Compensation

Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): Does my hon. Friend agree that the quality of life of people who have been affected or damaged by the vaccine is dreadful and quite deplorable? We should be doing something as soon as we can to sort that out.

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Child Poverty Chaired By Peter Dowd MP

Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): I beg to move,

That this House has considered levels of child poverty.

I am pleased to serve under your oversight, Mr Howarth.

“Even if we are not destitute, we still experience poverty if we cannot afford things that society regards as essential. The fact that we do not suffer the conditions of a hundred years ago is irrelevant… So poverty is relative—and those who pretend otherwise are wrong.”

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Housing and Planning Bill

Peter Dowd: Is my hon. Friend aware that as a result of this Bill, one of my local housing associations is preparing to sell off stock that is expensive to maintain as it becomes vacant, even if that is through auction, and it is incrementally moving out of the very areas it was supposed to serve?

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State Pension Age (Women)

Peter Dowd: One of my constituents, Angela Pugh, has sent me valuable information, and I thank her and WASPI. She outlined one woman’s experience. She said that the job market is not ready to accept older women and that many are forced to accept zero-hours contracts, temporary contracts or low-paid contracts that offer no financial security. Does my hon. Friend agree that those women—the backbone of this country—have been betrayed by the Conservatives?

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Child Prisoners and Detainees: Occupied Palestinian Territories

Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): “My hands were tied in front of me, so I kept reaching up to pull the blindfold off, but the soldiers kept pulling my hands down to stop me. I just wanted to go home to my dad.” That was a nine-year-old. Does my hon. Friend agree that if that behaviour happened in any of our constituencies, we would be outraged?

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Mental Health

Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

“There they stand, isolated, majestic, imperious, brooded over by the gigantic water-tower and chimney combined, rising unmistakable and daunting out of the countryside—the asylums which our forefathers built with such immense solidity to express the notions of their day.”

Who would want to go back to that description of the old county asylums by Enoch Powell, the then Minister of Health, in a speech in 1961?

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Shop Direct Call Centre Jobs - Topical Questions

Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): A devastating announcement has been made in the days before Christmas by Shop Direct, which covers the Littlewoods and Very brands, and its partner, Webhelp, that 400 call centre jobs in my constituency are to be lost. Those jobs are to be transferred 6,000 miles away to South Africa. What assurances can the Secretary of State give me that the people affected by those redundancies will get all the support and help they need from his Department?

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Middle East

Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): I, too, will not take up my allotted time. Nevertheless, thank you for your generosity, Madam Deputy Speaker.

The hon. Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee), who began the debate, set an excellent tone, which has continued, and I hope will continue further when we come to deal with the substantive issue of Syria in the coming days. The hon. Member for Edinburgh East (Tommy Sheppard) gave an excellent analysis, which went to the heart of the issue and was pertinent and incisive.

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Spending Review and Autumn Statement

Peter Dowd (Bootle) (Lab): In addition to the threat to thousands of Revenue and Customs jobs in my constituency, proposals have been announced by Webhelp and Shop Direct, which has the Very and Littlewoods brands, to transfer 400 call centre jobs to South Africa. What in the statement will encourage such companies to remain or, as the Chancellor puts it, stay here in Britain, especially in the light of the cuts to departmental budgets?

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