Harriet Harman

Labour Member of Parliament for Camberwell & Peckham

Home

Recent Activity

HH_PMQs2.jpg

Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): I join the Prime Minister in his congratulations to England’s women’s football team. With only a fraction of the resources that the men get, they are showing the men how it is done.

Sadly, we now know that 22 British citizens have been confirmed dead in the Tunisia attack. Our thoughts are with the bereaved and injured, and the help they and their families will need. The bereaved and those who have experienced life-changing injuries and trauma will need long-term practical and emotional support. The experience after 7/7 was that to really help those affected families, there needs to be co-ordination across Departments and agencies, so will the Prime Minister establish a dedicated taskforce reporting to a Minister to support those who have suffered in that terrible attack?

The Prime Minister: Yes, I can give the right hon. and learned Lady that assurance. Let me update the House, because I am sad to say that the confirmed number of British citizens killed in this appalling attack is now 27 and, as we have said, we expect it to rise still further. Today we are repatriating eight bodies from Tunisia on an RAF C-17 plane. The plane is now in the air and will land at RAF Brize Norton this afternoon. Every family of a victim now has a dedicated Foreign Office liaison officer, but—I can confirm what she asked—I have asked the Cabinet Secretary for advice on creating a ministerial committee to ensure that work is properly co-ordinated right across Government to provide all the support that the victims of this appalling attack deserve and to ensure that, as a nation, we mark and commemorate this event appropriately.

1 July 2015 : Column 1472

Ms Harman: That is a really important step that the Prime Minister has taken. We fully support it and thank those who will be working in that respect. Reports over the past few days have suggested that it was not just a lone gunman who perpetrated the attack, but an organised cell. Following the Home Secretary’s visit to Tunisia and the deployment of 50 police officers, will he update the House on the progress being made to help identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice?

The Prime Minister: On that specific issue, there is still a lot of work to be done to identify all the circumstances of this appalling attack and the support that the gunman received. As we get that information and confirm it, I will ensure that the House is regularly updated. I can confirm that the discussions between my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and the Tunisians went ahead and were successful. As I have said previously, that is looking at everything, from the protective security in hotels and resorts to intelligence co-operation at the highest levels between Britain and Tunisia, so that we can help with its capacity to combat such appalling events. It will need a lot of long-term work between our two countries, but the French, the Germans and the Americans are also willing to help, and we need to co-ordinate between ourselves how best to support that country on its road to democracy.

Ms Harman: The Prime Minister has rightly said that this was an attack on our values and everything we stand for, and there is radicalisation in this country, too. Last November the Intelligence and Security Committee said that the Prevent programme had not been given sufficient priority and that counter-radicalisation programmes are not working. Today a new statutory duty to challenge radicalisation comes into effect. Will there be sufficient training and support for those covered by the duty, and will he look again at the concern that the Prevent programme has not focused sufficiently on engaging with the communities?

The Prime Minister: The right hon. and learned Lady raises very important issues. Let me answer them as directly as I can. First, we have now put more money and resources into the Prevent programme. Secondly, on her point about the statutory duty on public sector bodies, I think that is very important, because we are saying to schools, universities, local authorities and others that they have a duty to deal with radicalisation and to confront extremism, because this effort is not just for the police and security services, or indeed just for the Government, it is an effort for us all. On her specific question, which goes back to whether it was right to split the Prevent work into work that is done to deal with extremism under the aegis of the Home Office and the programmes to encourage integration, which should be done by the Department for Communities and Local Government, I maintain that that was the right decision. It followed a review in 2011 by Alex Carlile, who found that

“there have been cases where groups whom we would now consider to support an extremist ideology have received funding.”

As we discussing in the House on Monday, it is very important that that does not happen. Yes we should work with community groups, but not those that encourage an extremist narrative.

1 July 2015 : Column 1473

Ms Harman: It is important that the Prime Minister does not just defend the decisions he has made, but continues to reflect on this and really tries to make absolutely sure that he gets it right. If he does that and gets the right outcomes, we will strongly support him on that.

Let me turn to another issue. With all-party support, the Prime Minister commissioned the Davies report to look at the question of airport capacity. Now that the commission has recommended a third runway at Heathrow, does he agree with us that, subject to key environmental tests being met, there should be no further delay and that it should go ahead? Will he now take that forward?

The Prime Minister: First, let us all thank Howard Davies and the team for the very thorough piece of work they have done. I think that there is a lot of common ground across almost all parts of the House that there is the need for additional airport capacity in the south-east of England, not least to maintain this country’s competitiveness, but it is important that we now study this very detailed report. I am very clear about the legal position; if we say anything now before studying the report, we could actually endanger whatever decision is made. The guarantee that I can give the right hon. and learned Lady is that a decision will be made by the end of the year.

Ms Harman: The Prime Minister says there is common ground, and there is common ground across the House; the worry is the lack of common ground on his side of the House. He gives the impression that there is going to be a proper process, but something very is different coming out of No. 10, because it is briefing that it is not going to happen. It looks like the Prime Minister has been overruled by the hon. Member for Uxbridge and South Ruislip (Boris Johnson); he should tell him that he is not the leader of the Tory party yet. Will the Prime Minister stand up for Britain’s interests or will he just be bullied by Boris?

The Prime Minister: I would have thought that with all her years of experience, the right hon. and learned Lady would know not to believe everything that she reads in her morning newspapers. It would probably be good for her blood pressure, as well as for mine, if she did not. Let me give the mildest warnings about jumping to a conclusion before seeing the results, because we had a classic example of that last week when the shadow Health Secretary warned the Government that the poverty figures would make us all hang our heads in shame. That was of course before the poverty figures were published, showing that relative poverty was at its lowest level since the 1980s.

Ms Harman: The Prime Minister seems to be keen to get off the issue of airports. It seems like he is in a holding pattern above Heathrow and Boris will not let him land. Our economic infrastructure is essential for future jobs, for growth, and for our productivity, but this week the Government have pulled the plug on electrification of the railways and seriously undermined the renewable energy sector, and now they are backing off over airports and risking losing the opportunity for Britain to be at the heart of the global economy. If the Prime Minister makes a swift decision on the Davies 

1 July 2015 : Column 1474

report, we will support him and there will be a majority in the House, so will he put Britain’s national interest first?

The Prime Minister: It is an interesting day when the leader of the Conservative party wants to talk about child poverty and the Leader of the Opposition wants to talk about an airport report that none of us has yet had time to read. I seem to remember that the last leader of the Labour party—although we have been churning through a few recently—had a totally different position on airports to the one that the right hon. and learned Lady is now putting forward. What I can say to her is that we will all read this report and a decision will be made by the end of the year.

Challenging David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions

Today following events in Tunisia, where 18 innocent Briton have been murdered and many more seriously injured in the biggest terrorist attack on our citizens since 7/7, I responded to the Prime Minister’s Statement in the House of Commons on this and recent European Council meetings. Below is my response:

 

Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): I thank the Prime Minister for his statement.

The House meets today in dark times. At least 18 innocent Britons have been murdered and many more have been seriously injured in the biggest terrorist attack on our citizens since the horror of 7/7. Every one of us in this House extends our heartfelt sympathies to the families and friends of those killed and injured. Our thoughts are with them at this terrible time. We cannot begin to understand what they must have been going through as they saw on the news pictures from the beach where their families were on holiday showing sun loungers being used as stretchers and bloodstained beach towels turned into makeshift shrouds.

 

The families of those killed now face the painful process of helping in the identification of their loved ones and bringing them home. The relatives of the injured will be worried sick and desperate to bring them home as soon as possible. Others are still searching for any information about what has happened to their relatives.

 

The Prime Minister was right to convene Cobra immediately, and I thank him for updating the House on all the work being co-ordinated through the daily Cobra meetings. I add our thanks to Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff, the British police teams, the Red Cross experts and other British officials who are working on this, as well as to all those—from hotel staff and local officials to the travel reps and other holidaymakers—who are supporting those who have been caught up in this.

 

As we know from 7/7, support will be needed for the bereaved and injured—not just in the immediate aftermath, but for months and years to come. Can I therefore ask the Prime Minister to establish a dedicated taskforce that reports to a Minister with responsibility for co-ordinating across Departments and agencies to provide that support? It is right that the Home Secretary and the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the hon. Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood), the Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for the middle east, have travelled to Tunisia today. I make particular mention of the Minister, who has stepped into this immensely difficult situation highly effectively, clearly drawing on the experience of his own family loss and demonstrating great personal empathy with those who are suffering. We thank him for his work.

There are close ties, going back decades, between Tunisia and the UK. The Prime Minister will have our full support in helping Tunisia tackle the scale of the terrorist problem that now confronts it. We welcome the fact that the Prime Minister, the French President, the German Chancellor and the Belgian Prime Minister have agreed to work together to help Tunisia strengthen its security. Can the Prime Minister say more about what actions are being considered by our Government and internationally to help the Tunisians respond to the economic problems that this terrorist atrocity will inevitably cause, given the country’s reliance on tourism?

 

While we make preparations for commemorating the 10th anniversary of 7/7, the death toll in Syria and Iraq continues relentlessly to rise. This week alone, there have been deadly terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait, Syria and France, as the Prime Minister said. People are 

 

29 Jun 2015 : Column 1178

concerned about how difficult it is to combat this widespread threat. Can he tell us more about the international efforts to tackle the spread of terrorism? The issue is about sharing intelligence, the use of the internet and social media, cutting off finance, control of borders and co-ordinated military support to those fighting ISIL on the ground. Given the contribution that Britain’s armed forces are making in helping the efforts to fight ISIL in Iraq, has the international community been asked to provide further assistance?

The Prime Minister has rightly recognised that the violence stems from an extremist ideology, which hijacks the religion of Islam. He is right that we must be resolute in standing up for the values of peace, democracy, freedom of speech and equality for women, rejecting and confronting those who go along with these extremist narratives. Is he satisfied that the Government are doing everything they can to back up and empower those at the forefront of the challenge within their communities—particularly families, teachers, religious leaders and community groups?

 

The Prime Minister said that, in addition to the new statutory duty on public bodies to identify and tackle radicalism, he intends to go further in the weeks ahead. Will he outline what actions are under consideration and whether he is working with the Muslim communities on that?

Turning to last week’s European Council, obviously the biggest issue is Greece. It is in everyone’s interest that an agreement is reached. This matter is of huge importance to us even though we are not in the eurozone, because, whatever the cause, if Europe’s economy is hit, Britain will be hit too. Obviously, the Chancellor will say more about that shortly.

 

On migration, instability in north Africa and the middle east is a growing factor that is driving desperate migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe. I ask the Prime Minister to confirm that the capacity and mandate of our action in the Mediterranean will not be diminished with the replacement of HMS Bulwark by HMS Enterprise.

 

We back the action against people trafficking to which the Prime Minister referred. Does he agree that EU action is needed to help southern European countries cope with those who are arriving, including support for a swift and robust asylum assessment, and help from other countries for those who are certified as refugees? Does he agree that Britain ought to offer to help some of those who are certified as refugees, just as we have done for vulnerable refugees from Syria, and just as we have done over the decades and, indeed, centuries, when we have provided sanctuary to refugees who have fled persecution and allowed them to make their future here with us?

 

On Britain’s negotiations with Europe, will the Prime Minister confirm that there is no prospect of any treaty changes being ratified before people vote in our referendum? Of course the negotiations are sensitive, but it is evident that even the people he is negotiating with are not entirely clear what he is negotiating for, and nor are the British people he is negotiating on behalf of. He referred to the announcement at the summit that there will be technical negotiations until December. What steps will he take to keep Parliament and the British people informed? There is an expectation in this country of high levels of transparency. It is not feasible for the British people to feel that they are in the dark.

29 Jun 2015 : Column 1179

Finally, we are an island, but whether it is the terrorism in Tunisia, Syria, Kuwait or France, whether it is the refugees in the Mediterranean, whether it is the economy in Greece, or whether it is the radicalisation of young people here at home, this week’s terrible events remind us emphatically once again that we are all interconnected.

Responding to the Tunisia & European Council Statement

Today following events in Tunisia, where 18 innocent Briton have been murdered and many more seriously injured in the biggest terrorist attack on our citizens since 7/7, I responded to...

Manny Amadi

Vice Chair, The Charter School Educational Trust

c/o The Charter School

Red Post Hill

London SE24 9JH

 

 

26th June 2015

 

 

Dear Manny,

Submission to the public consultation on The Charter School East Dulwich

I am responding to the consultation on the plan to build a new secondary school - The Charter School East Dulwich.  

I fully support the plan to build a new secondary school on part of the site of Dulwich Community Hospital. 

I fully support the school being run by The Charter School Educational Trust - The Charter School is rated by Ofsted as an outstanding school and is oversubscribed with more applicants than there are places.

There needs to be full consideration given to, and consultation on, the 'nodal finish point' for admissions because there is a long standing and acute problem with secondary school provision of the quality parents want. And we know that many parents fail to get any of their six choices for secondary school.

It's important that all parents, and other local stakeholders, are given the chance to have their say.

This is about building a great new school to serve the needs of the diverse community by providing an excellent education for its young people, and it has my full support.

Best wishes,


Harriet Harman

Submission to public consultation on The Charter School East Dulwich

Manny Amadi Vice Chair, The Charter School Educational Trust c/o The Charter School Red Post Hill London SE24 9JH     26th June 2015     Dear Manny, Submission to...


View More Activities

The Labour Party will place cookies on your computer to help us make this website better.

Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site.

To find out more about these cookies, see our privacy notice. Use of this site confirms your acceptance of these cookies.