Following the dissolution of Parliament on 30 March 2015, Mr Ainsworth ceased to be a Member of Parliament.

This website was set up whilst Mr Ainsworth was a MP and its content relates to the work undertaken by Mr Ainsworth during that time.

This website will no longer be updated and no new content will be posted.  

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Tory-led Government’s pension changes could put firefighters’ lives at risk

The way Ministers in the Tory-led Government have handled firefighters’ pensions has been deeply irresponsible. They have presided over 48 separate periods of strike action by firefighters in England since September 2013 and, after more than three years of dispute, they have failed to negotiate a fair and sustainable solution.

The new Fire Minister offered firefighters warm words and raised their hopes when she first took up the post, only to cease negotiations and put down essentially the same offer that her predecessor in the role proposed in June 2013.

Labour cannot support the pension regulations for England because they are built on an assumption of a dangerously low aerobic fitness measure for firefighters. The Williams Review, which the Government itself commissioned, states that the aerobic fitness measure the Government is basing their plans on means “the risk of sudden catastrophic cardiac events increases… with a risk of sudden death particularly while undergoing high levels of physical exertion”. This flawed fitness standard would put firefighters needlessly at risk and fail to protect the public.

If a more robust fitness standard is implemented it would mean that the assumptions on which the Government’s pension regulations are based would no longer be valid. The result would be that a number of firefighters who try to maintain fitness would be unable to meet these operational standards into their late 50s through no fault of their own.

The Government’s firefighter’s pension regulations are not fit for purpose and Labour will oppose them. At least 270 MPs have now signed a ‘prayer’ against the regulations, and under pressure from Labour, the Government have granted a full debate and vote on the floor of the House on Monday 15th December, at which I will vote against these regulations.

Importantly, these regulations are not the only configuration possible within the amount of money that the Treasury has set aside for the scheme, which we support. Devolved Governments are negotiating fairer alternative proposals within these financial limits and have averted strike action. In England, Ministers in the Department for Communities and Local Government have failed to do so. Firefighters risk their lives to save ours and they deserve better than this.

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You can view Bob’s original letter and Mr Appleton’s response here

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There is a lot of speculation circulating on the internet concerning the future of the Ricoh Arena.

Any proposition must and can ensure that the recent deal that brought the Sky Blues back to the Ricoh Arena is honoured, and that includes primacy for the football club’s fixtures.

Speculation that this is in jeopardy is unfounded.

Coventry City Council have a responsibility to the citizens of Coventry to develop and maximise the economic potential of the Ricoh Arena. If that can be achieved, and at the same time Coventry’s sporting reputation enhanced, the opportunity should be seized. I would like to see Coventry propelled up the ranks of sporting cities and local people given the opportunity to watch top class sport without having to travel.

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Russian Aggression the Most Serious Threat

As President Obama steels himself to do what he has tried to avoid, namely increase US military involvement in the Middle East, we should try to keep in perspective that he and the rest of us face a more significant threat. The extremists of the Islamic State are an affront to our sense of humanity but they are non-state actors who could be dealt with if the politics and governance of the states effected can be improved.

However, the situation in the Ukraine is of a different magnitude. President Putin, having previously dismembered Georgia, is now involved in the same activity in Ukraine. Crimea has already been annexed to Russia and now the full ambitions of the Russian puppets in eastern Ukraine are becoming clear. They plan the creation of “New Russia” a state that would take in the eastern and the whole of the southern part of the country all the way to the Romanian border.

No leader of a major power has behaved as overtly aggressive since Stalin in the post war period, and sadly Putin would be very pleased with the comparison. He has said the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century and he claims the right to act on behalf of Russian minorities in other states. As there are Russian minorities throughout the old Soviet Union and far wider he is in principle claiming the right to interfere in the affairs of all of the independent sovereign states of Eastern Europe.

Stalin’s policies pushed the world into the Cold War, Putin’s have the potential to be equally as dangerous.

No sensible person wants, in the face of the many other challenges, to be forced to find money for increased spending on arms. No one wants the economic consequences that extensive sanctions against Russia will have on our own economies, but Putin will not be deterred by resolutions passed at NATO or EU summits. So unless we want to gamble that this systematic aggression will fizzle out in the face of inactivity, and history tells us that doesn’t happen, we must find effective ways to deter him.

Both NATO and the EU have made a start but the small and reluctant steps taken so far sadly are not likely to be nearly enough.

All NATO countries should commit to reverse the recent decline in defence spending.

At the European level there is an urgent need to develop a strategy to decrease our heavy dependence on Russian energy.

And here in Britain there are steps that should be taken. The Prime Minister told the House of Commons recently “there is no need to look at the Strategic Defence Review of 2010” despite the fact that large scale cuts are still being imposed on our Armed Forces and we have an Army stuffed full of the kind of vehicles best suited to fight a counter insurgency in Afghanistan, not those best suited to offer reassurance to our European neighbours facing a Russia that is re-equipping its own forces.

These capabilities cannot be altered simply or quickly. All party agreement should be sought for a new review now, this side of the election to look at what can be afforded and the kind of training and equipment needed in the face of the new scenario.


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Coventry’s average ESA appeal waiting times remain above the national average

Recent figures released by the Ministry of Justice show that the average length of time for the Tribunals Service to administer an Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) appeal in Coventry was 29 weeks between April 2013 and March 2014 (the latest period for which figures are available). This is well above the national average in England for the same period, which stood at 23 weeks, and above the West Midlands regional average of 27 weeks.

The Tory-led Government had previously provided assurances that they would implement a number of measures to ensure that the average appeal waiting time in Coventry reached parity with the national average. However, in spite of the actions taken by the Government to reduce waiting times, it continues to takes an additional 6 weeks on average for the disposal of a Coventry appeal when compared with the national average in England.

The average ESA appeal waiting times in Coventry have now been persistently higher than the regional and national averages for the duration of this Government’s time in office.

The Ministry of Justice statistics also revealed that the proportion of ESA appeals decided in favour of the appellant in Coventry in 2013/14 (the latest period for which figures are available) stood at 48%. These figures clearly show that had the original decision to disallow a claimant’s ESA been made correctly in the first place, the number of appeals would have been reduced by half over the period. This would have freed up significant capacity in the courts and ensured that the remaining appeals were heard in a timelier manner.

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Bob holds the Home Secretary to account over passport delays

In the House of Commons yesterday, the Home Secretary responded to an Urgent Question on the processing delays at HM Passport Office. Bob questioned the Home Secretary’s response in dealing with the delays experienced by thousands of people who are waiting for their new passports. This is the Home Secretary’s response:

Mr Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East) (Lab): The Home Secretary is now announcing a series of measures; the problem has been ongoing and apparent not for a couple of weeks, but for months. Members of Parliament—myself and everyone else—have been inundated by constituents in panic and distress. Why has it taken so long for this problem to be recognised and for measures to be taken to address this issue?

Mrs May: The increase in demand was recognised earlier this year. HM Passport Office put steps in place to deal with that increased demand. The increased demand continued and, as a result, further steps were put in place. Those steps included increasing the number of staff available to deal with the applications, increasing the number of staff on the telephone helpline, extending the hours of operation of HM Passport Office and working with couriers to ensure that printed passports were delivered within a very short space of time once they were issued. Over time, as the demand has increased, steps have been taken. It is clear that further steps need to be taken, and they are being taken. (Hansard, 12 June 2014)

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