SHARON HODGSON: Parliament is not just about Brexit

Nursery schools are at risk due to changes in funding.
Nursery schools are at risk due to changes in funding.
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Parliament is currently dominated by Brexit as we continue the process of passing the Article 50 Bill which will see Parliament allow the Government to trigger Article 50 in March; however, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other issues going on which are just as important.

Last week, I attended a debate on Maintained Nursery Schools and the worry is that this jewel in the crown of our education system is under threat from this Government’s changes to the Early Years Funding Formula.

Here in Sunderland, we are lucky to have nine good nursery schools providing for the local communities, with four in my own patch in Washington and Sunderland West.

However, there are concerns that the changes in the funding for Nursery Schools here in Sunderland could drop from £5.38 an hour to £5.11.

It may seem like a small change, but it is the difference between survival and closure for many nursery schools.

I have always been a champion of improving our early year’s education in this country.

Giving children the best start in life is paramount to improving social mobility and giving all children the opportunity in life to achieve great things.

There has also been a lot going on regarding cancer in Parliament, and in my capacity as Shadow Minister for Public Health, I have been working hard on this issue especially in the lead up to World Cancer Day (which took place last weekend).

Firstly, we had a debate on Kadcyla – a breast cancer drug which can extend terminally-ill women’s life for many months, sometimes years – which is being removed by NICE and then research by Cancer Research UK released last week showed the impact that inaction on prevention measures – such as smoking and obesity – could mean more women developing cancer faster than men in the next 20 years.

Brexit may be taking all the headlines, but this Government is implementing policy decisions that if not addressed in a sensible way, will have ramifications on the long-term health of our country.

l In my last few columns, I have mentioned that I am holding public meetings in my constituency to talk about Brexit.

I recently launched my Brexit Listening Exercise, along with a questionnaire, and held the first of two public meetings last month and the next will be on February 25 in South Hylton. If you’re a constituent, please contact my office at hodgsons@parliament.uk or on 0191 417 2000 to register.