Ian Austin MP

Labour MP for Dudley North

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Dudley Chronicle, 30 October

We have to send criminals the message that killing a police officer means life behind bars.

I know lots of local people will have been outraged by last week’s news that the notorious police killer Harry Roberts is to be released from prison.
It’s been 48 years since Roberts was convicted for the brutal murder of three unarmed police officers.  At the time he narrowly escaped the death sentence and was told by a judge that he should never be released.
I think life must mean life for an evil criminal like Roberts, and his release is a betrayal of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us.  I know that the majority of decent, law-abiding people in Dudley will agree.
That’s why I stood up in the House of Commons last week and demanded that the Home Secretary Theresa May stick to her promise that “life should mean life for anyone convicted of killing a police officer”.
We have to send criminals the message that killing a police officer means life behind bars.
People often tell me that politicians in Westminster don’t care what they’ve got to say about immigration, but I know local people think it’s an important issue and politicians should be listening.
That’s why over the last few weeks I’ve held a dozen meetings across Dudley to hear what local people think.
I listened to lots of local people who want a say on our membership of the EU and want their concerns about this to be heard in Westminster.
That's something that I'm determined to do.  I’ve been calling for an EU referendum for years, and I recently stood up in the House of Commons to say we should have one before the next election.  The Government hasn’t been able to sort this out to public satisfaction, so I think people should be trusted to have their say.
Personally, I would keep a free-trade single market but I think we should make our own decisions on things like UK relations with the rest of the world, domestic law and social security.
But I also think there’s more that the Government can do right now to address local people’s concerns.  I think we should change the benefits system so that you can only take benefits out of the system if you have paid into it first and I think the Government should reverse its cuts to the border force so it has the staff to count people in and out of the country properly.
It's my job to go to London and speak up for people in Dudley so I will be taking advantage of every opportunity to raise points made at these meetings in House of Commons debates.  I promise that I'll also push for a new immigration bill in the first 12 months of the next government if I’m re-elected, and I will be telling politicians in Westminster exactly what local people said should be in it.
When me or a member of my family is ill, we queue up at Russells Hall like anybody else in Dudley, so I’m really concerned about what’s happening to our local hospital.
Bosses at Russells Hall say that jobs are at risk as they battle a £12 million deficit.  At the same time, the hospital has missed its cancer treatment targets for the last three months, has kept patients waiting up to five hours for chemotherapy and is being investigated for waits at A&E.
Over the last couple of months I have spoken to hundreds of people in Dudley about Russells Hall, and more than nine in ten said they share my concerns about the effect that the hospital's £12 million deficit could have on services and waiting times.
That’s why last week I stood up in the House of Commons and called on the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to get a grip and make sure that patients and hard-working staff at Russells Hall get the support that they need.
I want a new 'time to care' fund to make sure the NHS always has the time to provide the care we all rely on.  That would provide 20,000 more doctors, 8,000 more GPs, more midwives and care workers paid for by a 'mansion tax' on the most expensive properties to help hospitals like Russells Hall that have been hit hard under the Tories.
Thanks again to everyone who supported our climb up Ben Nevis for local causes in honour of local hero Bert Bissell.
The final total is in and with your help we have raised a massive £4,600.  I think that’s a brilliant tribute to the great man and we’re really looking forward to meeting the local charities we’re supporting in the coming weeks.

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