Sheffield MP fears for public services

Gill FurnissGill Furniss
Gill Furniss
Newly elected Sheffield MP Gill Furniss claimed Government cuts are resulting in public services 'withering on the vine', as she delivered her maiden House of Commons speech.

Ms Furniss, who won the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough seat in a by-election following the death of her husband Harry Harpham, criticised the Government for its 'ideologically imposed austerity'.

She said there are seven food banks in her constituency and 'the very fact that people are having to rely on food parcels at all in 2016 speaks volumes about the Government's determination to tackle inequality'.

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She said it was 'disgraceful' that food banks have 'become accepted as part of the landscape'.

Ms Furniss told MPs she had spent her entire adult life working in public services and felt qualified to 'speak up in their defence'.

She stressed that she understood the importance of services and said: "I also know that over the last six years these services have borne the brunt of an ideologically imposed austerity that has left them withering on the vine.

"Men and women working across the public sector are being asked to do more with less and less.

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"Morale is at rock bottom across the board. Teachers, doctors, police officers, nurses, firefighters, social workers, prison and probation officers. The list goes on.

"They have all dedicated their working lives to public service and all see on a daily basis their ability to serve being undermined by this Government."

Paying tribute to her late husband, who died nine months after being elected as an MP in the 2015 General Election, Ms Furniss said he had 'made his mark' during his time in the Commons.

She said: "In keeping with the tradition of the House I would like to take a few moments to pay tribute to my predecessor as member of parliament for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough.

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"I am doubly proud to say that not only was he a dedicated and conscientious Labour MP but, as many colleagues will know, he was also my husband.

"He served in this House for less than a year before his death but in that time he made his mark."