Stephen has revealed the staggering amount lost on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) in East Ham and backed the work of the FOBT All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in Parliament, expressing his support for the Group’s ‘Cut the Stake, Reduce FOBT Harm’ campaign.  

FOBTs allow punters to stake £100 every 20 seconds on electronic versions of casino games such as roulette, but in a low supervision high street bookie environment. Political concern and controversy has been growing about the highly addictive nature of the machines, with one campaign group even calling them the ‘crack cocaine’ of gambling.

The cross party group of MPs and Peers, published its report in January 2017, assessing the impact of FOBTs, and called for a substantial reduction in the maximum stake playable, stating that there was a strong case for this to be no more than £2.

The campaign has secured the widespread support with the General Synod of the Church of England, 93 local authorities, the Royal Society for Public Health and politicians from all parties supporting the campaign.

Lending his support to the campaign for a stake reduction, Stephen said:
“The case for action on FOBTs is clear and I urge the Government to act now and cut the stake. There is no excuse for the continued misery these machines are causing. The problems associated with them are obvious, and it is really not acceptable to be able to walk in off the street and stake such a high amount with no checks or safeguards in place whatsoever.

"I am extremely concerned to hear that £9,683,104 was lost to FOBTs in East Ham. We cannot go on with this situation. I urge the Government to bring forward their proposals, and to substantially reduce the stake on FOBTs/cut the stake on FOBTs to £2 without further delay."

The Government is currently considering responses from the Call for Evidence into Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility launched in October 2016. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is expected to publish the next stage of the Review, with its proposals, in October 2017.  

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AuthorStephen Timms

Stephen has led a debate in the House of Commons calling for stricter sentences on those who commit acid attacks. Stephen tabled for the debate after figures showed an increasing trend of acid attacks in London.

During his speech on Monday evening, Stephen called for tougher sentences; a crackdown on sales; and a new criminal offence for those found carrying sulphuric acid. His comments were echoed by neighbouring MP, Lyn Brown, who said: "...we need to make sure that we control those substances too, because sales will move online if it’s not possible to buy at the corner shop.”

Responding to Stephen, Home Office Minister, Sarah Newton MP said the government will be doing “everything possible to tackle the emerging threat”, with those who commit acid attacks being subjected to the “full force of the law”. Earlier in the day she already indicated acid attack convictions could soon carry life sentences as part of a crackdown on corrosive substances unveiled by the government, which includes a review of existing measures.

Speaking afterwards, Stephen said: “I welcome the announcement that the government will be looking at acid attacks over the summer recess. I will be asking Ministers for an update when the House of Commons returns in September. There can be no reason to delay action on these wicked attacks."

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AuthorStephen Timms

Stephen has lent his support to a new ivory surrender launched by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to help protect elephants from further slaughter for the illegal ivory trade.

Members of the public are being invited to surrender their own ivory which will be destroyed as part of a campaign to close the UK’s ivory market and save this iconic species from the threat of extinction.

IFAW, which has run previous successful public ivory surrenders in the UK, believes it is vital now more than ever before that the British public stand up for elephants by helping to end consumer demand for ivory products and keep up the pressure for a domestic ban on the ivory trade.
New polling released by IFAW reveals that the vast majority of the UK public want to protect elephants with a UK trade ban and do not wish to purchase ivory themselves. An overwhelming 95% of respondents polled by YouGov stated that they would not be interested in purchasing antique ivory. 

Stephen said: “With elephant populations at an all-time low and the species facing extinction due to the ivory poaching crisis which is killing at least 20,000 elephants each year, I am very pleased to support this important IFAW initiative which enables members of the public to make a real difference for elephants and their future survival. I would encourage any of my constituents who have unwanted ivory to support IFAW’s ivory surrender which will help ensure that ivory is only valued on a live, wild elephant, where it belongs.”

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AuthorStephen Timms

On Monday, Stephen will call for tighter restrictions on the sales of substances used in acid attacks. He will also ask Ministers to introduce harsher punishments for those who carry out such attacks. 

Stephen is leading an adjournment debate in House of Commons. He called for the debate after Jameel Muhktar and his cousin, Resham Khan were attacked in Beckton last month. The pair were left with severe burns which the Metropolitan Police described as ‘life changing’. It is estimated that there were over 450 acid attacks last year in London, up from 261 in 2015, although, unlike the hate crime in Beckton, almost all were connected with a crime such as burglary. 

During the debate, Stephen will ask Ministers to commit to three things: 

  1. Reclassify sulphuric acid – which is commonly used as a drain cleaner – as a ‘regulated substance’ and require a licence for purchase, as proposed by the British Retail Consortium; 
  2. Bring the possession of acid – which is not currently a criminal offence –into line with the law on possession of knives;
  3. Introduce tougher and more consistent sentences for those found guilty of carrying out acid attacks. 

Speaking in advance of the debate, Stephen said: “I very much welcome the opportunity to bring the issue of rising acid attacks to the attention of Ministers. Too many people are frightened of becoming a victim.  Ministers need to act. 

“My three requests to Ministers aim to make it harder to obtain noxious substances, and introduce tougher punishments for those who plan to use them as a weapon. 

“I am pleased that I have the support of Newham Council, and will be looking to work with others in taking this forward in the future.”
 

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AuthorStephen Timms

On Friday 7 July, Stephen - and fifty one other cyclists - set off from London City Airport for a gruelling 185-mile bike ride to Amsterdam. In what is the fourth year in a row that the airport has organised an annual bike ride, it was the most participants ever to join the two-wheel adventure, a special achievement to mark the airport’s 30th anniversary.

The airport has maintained longstanding support for Richard House Children’s Hospice, raising a close to £900,000 since it first began fundraising initiatives over two decades ago.

Having arrived in Amseterdam, Stephen said: “Richard House has done a tremendous job in caring for children and providing support for their families since it opened in 2000. And London City Airport – which stands just a few hundred yards from Richard House – has been a long-term supporter of the hospice.

“I was delighted to join the cycle and take part once again in this fundraising challenge.”

Declan Collier, CEO of London City Airport, said: “The annual charity bike ride continues to grow in scale each year, with colleagues demonstrating tremendous energy and enthusiasm in our 30th anniversary year to fundraise and take part in the endeavour."

Libby Basson, Interim Director of Family and Care Services at Richard House, said: “We are deeply grateful for the support London City Airport has offered to Richard House for more than 20 years. Richard House support children and young people with life limiting conditions and their families. This inevitable strain - emotionally, physically and spiritually - means the whole family are facing a very challenging life.  The hospice is often a huge source of support for them, and the hospice is very reliant on voluntary income. We are therefore so pleased to have partners like London City Airport who are willing to ride hundreds of miles to make sure we raise fund to support our families. A huge thank you from everyone at Richard House.”
 
The route took the group through Essex and Suffolk to Harwich, before boarding the ferry to the Hook of Holland and completing the final leg on Dutch soil, arriving in Amsterdam late on Saturday afternoon. 

Among the participants was customer service agent Pam Kaur, who remarkably had never ridden a bike before the Amsterdam trip, using the opportunity as an incentive to learn, and training twice a week ahead of the trip. Cyclists were also met with supporters and onlookers during the journey, including two little girls from Harwich, India Cranston and Avaleigh Brockman, who donated £1.50 of their pocket money. 

Previous destinations for the airport’s annual bike ride include Lille (2016), Rotterdam (2015) and Amsterdam (2014).

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AuthorStephen Timms