Harriet Harman

Labour Member of Parliament for Camberwell & Peckham

Current News

I've always respected the right of members to choose who they vote for in our internal party elections for Leader.  And I've never, in the past, felt the need to intervene to urge members in Camberwell and Peckham to vote for any particular candidate.  But I'm writing to you today to urge you to vote for Owen Smith and not for Jeremy Corbyn because I feel it is fundamental for the prospect of a progressive future for our country.

I believe Owen Smith recognises what I believe to be the case.  That it is our duty to protect people from the unfairness and the reactionary policies of the Tories.  That it is only with a Labour government that we can do that and that only Labour will make the changes which challenge entrenched inequality, prejudice and discrimination.

The job of the leader of the party is to unite us and take us towards that.  It is clear that Jeremy Corbyn cannot unite the party.  The party has become deeply divided under his leadership. We have seen that both at national and at local level here in Camberwell and Peckham.   A leader cannot blame others for division.  The buck stops with the leader. 

I believe with Owen Smith for Leader we can get on track to put our progressive principles into practice.  I will be voting for him and I hope you will too.

Labour Leadership Election: My message to Camberwell & Peckham members

I've always respected the right of members to choose who they vote for in our internal party elections for Leader.  And I've never, in the past, felt the need to...

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The Joint Committee on Human Rights says the Government should only bring in new legislation if there’s found to be a gap in existing powers. It warns that a crackdown on religious conservatives could end up driving wedges between the communities. The Committee says there is no clear definition of what extremism actually is, the new measures could be used indiscriminately against evangelical Christians or orthodox Jews. The most precious asset is the support of the Muslim community and it could be undermined unless the Government treads with great care.

Read the full report: Counter Extremism

Read the report summary

Read the report conclusions and recommendations

 

 

 

Counter Extremism Report - Joint Committee on Human Rights

The Joint Committee on Human Rights says the Government should only bring in new legislation if there’s found to be a gap in existing powers. It warns that a crackdown...

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So now, after the disastrous and divisive referendum campaign, we have a new Prime Minister.  And for only the second time in our history it will be woman.  I offer Theresa May my congratulations.  Having a woman at the top of our country sends a strong message that no girl or woman can be told "you can't do that because you're a woman".   The overwhelming majority of Conservative MPs are men and she beat them all to the top spot. 

But what will she, as a woman who has now reached the top, do to change things for other women? 

Here are the 8 U-turns we need from this new woman Prime Minister.

  • She should start with a U-turn which ensures that our public services, like the NHS and care for the elderly, have the resources they need.  It is mostly women who care for the elderly.  Conservative government cuts to social care have left women struggling to support family members without the support services they need to back them up.  Most of the people who work in the NHS are women and they need to be valued, not stretched to breaking point
  • She must ensure that every family has accessible, affordable childcare to care for children while the parents are working.  Most of the responsibility for care of young children falls on the mother.  This is the case in two parent families but even more so in lone parent families.  Women want to be able to go out to work, to get on in their jobs, to contribute to the family budget and the nation's economy and to set an example to their children that life is about work rather than relying on benefits.  But they need to know that their children are safe, happy and learning while they are at work.  Too many women have to limit what they do in their work because they can't afford childcare.  She should re-open the children's centres that her government has closed. And set about opening new ones.  
  • She must give parents strong rights at work.  Most of the people at work are someone's parent.  Parents need to be able to spend time with their children as well as earn money to spend on them.  There should be longer maternity and paternity leave and higher maternity and paternity pay.  Many mothers have to go back to work before they feel their baby is ready because they can't afford to stay off.  And many fathers take no paternity leave because they can't afford to lose pay.  Her government has said that these rights are a burden on business.  She must u-turn on that and strengthen rights at work
  • She must give grandparents new rights at work.  Most families just couldn't cope without the help of grandparents but they too are working as they have to work till they're older because of the raising of the retirement age. Grandparents need new rights to take paid time off work to help with their grandchildren
  • She must give the police the resources and the leadership they need to step up tackling domestic violence.  A woman prime minister should make it a priority to prevent the deaths of 2 women every week at the hands of domestic violence.
  • She must ensure that what we do internationally, through our Foreign Office and through our development aid, helps empower women around the world who are suffering poverty and oppression.  50% of our ambassadors must be women.
  • She must implement Labour's Equality Act, now and in full.  That will strengthen the law on equal pay and against discrimination for everyone, not just women but people of all backgrounds.
  • She should appoint a cabinet and ministerial team which is half women.

When Margaret Thatcher was a Prime Minister we had a slogan "The First Lady puts women last"

Being the Prime Minister is not just about who you are.  It's about what you do - for this country and all the people in it.  A woman Prime Minister should deliver for women in the country she will now lead.

 

8 U-turns PM Theresa May should do for women

So now, after the disastrous and divisive referendum campaign, we have a new Prime Minister.  And for only the second time in our history it will be woman.  I offer...

On Monday Southern Rail introduced their temporary timetable. Constituents using East Dulwich, Peckham Rye and Queens Road Peckham stations, will only have 3 Southern rail services to London Bridge between 6am & 9am and only 3 services between 5pm & 7pm from London Bridge to Queens Road Peckham, Peckham Rye & East Dulwich.

I have been contacted by a number of constituents who are deeply worried about the disruption and the impact that these changes will have on: 

  • Their working & family lives

  • Their childcare provision & arrangements

  • Their finances

  • Safety & overcrowding fears

This dramatic and sudden loss of service is simply unacceptable and I urge the Government to strip Govia Thameslink of the franchise.

Today I spoke in the Govia Thameslink Rail service debate in the House of Commons:

'I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on securing this debate and I absolutely 100% agree with him on behalf of my constituents that use East Dulwich, Peckham Rye and Queens Road. They will identify completely with the level of total exasperation and frustration. He has diligently gone through all this and has done all the right things, but his constituents’ situations are simply getting worse and are set to get worse still, with disruption to family and working life and downright safety issues. I simply lend him my support and say that my constituents are every bit as desperate as his. We have no tube and we have congested roads, so they cannot go by bus. People cannot lead their lives like this. I agree with him that it should be stripped of the franchise'.

You can read the full debate here.

Govia Thameslink Rail Service Debate

On Monday Southern Rail introduced their temporary timetable. Constituents using East Dulwich, Peckham Rye and Queens Road Peckham stations, will only have 3 Southern rail services to London Bridge between...

Because of Southern Rail’s continuing failure to provide a reliable service I will now be urging the Government to strip Govia Thameslink Railway of its franchises in advance of its renewal date, with an accelerated transfer of Greater London services to Transport for London.

You can read a copy of the Early Day Motion 298 here

Govia Thameslink Franchise Review - Early Day Motion 298

Because of Southern Rail’s continuing failure to provide a reliable service I will now be urging the Government to strip Govia Thameslink Railway of its franchises in advance of its...

Following the announcement by Southern Rail that they will be introducing a temporary timetable to services from Monday 11th July, I have today written to the CEO of Govia Thameslink who are responsible for the operation of Southern Rail.

Here's my letter:


 

Charles Horton

Chief Executive Officer

Govia Thameslink Railway Limited

Hertford House

1 Cranwood Street

London

EC1V 9QS

 

Friday 8th July 2016

 

By email and post to: charles.horton@gtrailway.com

Dear Charles,

Re: Southern timetable changes

I write following Southern Rail’s announcement of a temporary timetable starting on Monday 11 July which will affect routes serving my constituency.

On Monday, constituents using East Dulwich, Peckham Rye and Queens Road Peckham stations, will only have 3 Southern rail services to London Bridge between 6am & 9am and only 3 services between 5pm & 7pm from London Bridge to Queens Road Peckham, Peckham Rye & East Dulwich.

This dramatic and sudden loss of service is simply unacceptable. 

Since the announcement I have been contacted by a number of constituents who are deeply worried about the disruption and the impact that these changes will have on: 

  • Their working & family lives

  • Their childcare provision & arrangements

  • Their finances

  • Safety & overcrowding fears

My constituents depend on these overland services. They cannot rely on other ways of travelling. The buses are slow because roads are heavily congested and there is no tube. They deserve a rail service they can rely on.

They already continue to suffer from Southern Rail’s ongoing disruptive, poor and unpredictable service and the introduction of this ‘temporary timetable’ on Monday is the final straw.

Because of Southern Rail’s continuing failure to provide a reliable service I will now be urging the Government to strip Govia Thameslink Railway of its franchises in advance of its renewal date, with an accelerated transfer of Greater London services to Transport for London.

Yours sincerely

Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP

 

Southern Rail & Govia Thameslink - Unacceptable failure to provide a reliable service

Following the announcement by Southern Rail that they will be introducing a temporary timetable to services from Monday 11th July, I have today written to the CEO of Govia Thameslink who...

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So now, by a narrow margin, the UK has voted to leave the EU.  Those arguing for "Brexit" said our warnings of the problems if we left the EU were exaggerated and dubbed them "Project Fear". But now we see "Project Fear" is turning into "Project Fact".  Uncertainty is hanging over our economy and businesses are holding back investment decisions.  The pound has fallen in value pushing up the cost of holidays in the EU this summer.  As the economy falters, there's less public money available for our vital public services like support for the disabled and for the NHS. 

Now that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has resigned, The Conservatives are plunged into a leadership election.  But that does not mean that everything should be "on hold" till the new leader is declared in September.  Immediate action is required and despite their inner turmoil and mutual recriminations the Conservatives are still, after all, the Government.  These are just some of the things they should be doing and what Labour, as the Official Opposition, should be pressing them to do:

•They should be starting now to talk to diplomats in non-EU countries to sound them out for future talks on making trade deals.  Official talks can't start till we are formally out of the EU but we should be starting the informal discussions now

•The same goes for the EU.  They are our biggest trading partner and we will need to be able to trade with them post-Brexit.

•We need to give guarantees for EU citizens who've been settled here, working here, bringing up their families here, that they will continue to have residence rights.  It is not right to hang insecurity over them by using them as a bargaining chip as we try and secure the position for our UK citizens who are settled in Spain, France and Italy. 

•The government should guarantee that we will keep in step with the EU when it comes to improvements in workers’ rights, like maternity leave and paid holidays.  As the EU continues to improve rights at work we must not fall behind and end up with our workers becoming the least protected and supported in Europe. The EU Directives and European Court Judgements won't bind us but we should adopt their rulings.

•The government should guarantee that we will also keep in step with the EU on environmental rights and climate change.  As the EU makes further progress in the battle against climate change and to protect our environment, we mustn't become the "dirty man of Europe".  We won't be bound by Directives such as the Bee Directive in future.  But we should implement them voluntarily.

•The government promised more money for the NHS if we left the EU.  They must be made to deliver on that.

•The government must tackle the xenophobia, racism and division that their referendum has engendered.

This is the agenda we should be taking forward as the Official Opposition. But Jeremy Corbyn, as our Labour leader is not doing so as he does not have leadership qualities and has lost the confidence of Labour MPs.

Southwark voted strongly to Remain in the EU but we lost.  But the government must pull its finger out to mitigate the worse effects of Brexit and Labour must change our leadership and get our act together to make them.  

 

Project Fear turns into Project Fact - Government must deliver on pre-Brexit pledges

So now, by a narrow margin, the UK has voted to leave the EU.  Those arguing for "Brexit" said our warnings of the problems if we left the EU were...

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Please find my monthly report for June here

 

 

June 2016 Report

Please find my monthly report for June here    

It is with great regret that I call on Jeremy Corbyn to stand down as leader of the Labour Party.  Jeremy has many great qualities but he is not a leader. The party and the country needs a strong united Labour Opposition at this immensely challenging time.  Jeremy earned the right to take up the leadership of the party with a big majority.  But he has failed and he has no right or mandate to stay in office despite his failure and take the party down with him.  Leading the party is a privilege not a right. You earn the opportunity to lead by being elected, to lead the whole party, our voters, members, councillors and MPs. But winning the leadership election does not give you the right to continue in post if you fail.  If Jeremy goes now, he will earn the respect and admiration of the party. If he stays he will be responsible for damage to the party on the gravest scale.  No-one has the right to do that.  Being leader of the Opposition is an immensely difficult task.  Much harder than it looks.  The starting point should be to support the leader and help them succeed. And that is what I have done over the past 3 decades and with 6 leaders through thick and thin.  But I have no right to stand by and let our party collapse in disarray.  That is what has happened under Jeremy and that has to stop.  I urge Jeremy to stand down.

Statement re Jeremy Corbyn

It is with great regret that I call on Jeremy Corbyn to stand down as leader of the Labour Party.  Jeremy has many great qualities but he is not a...

I never thought I would see the day when I wished a Tory Prime Minister would win a vote, but last Thursday I did, and I think the country will pay a bitter price for the fact that he lost this one. Leaving aside the constitutional turmoil, the damage to the economy and the uncertainty that hangs over Britain’s place in the world, the leaders of the Brexit campaign have engendered an atmosphere where some people believe it is open season for racism and xenophobia. Will the Prime Minister say very clearly that, when it comes to the difficulties of getting a job or problems with the NHS, housing or schools, those things are the responsibility of his Government to sort out and not the fault of migrants from the EU or indeed anywhere else?

 

The Prime Minister

May I first praise the right hon. and learned Lady for her decision to cross party lines and to appear with others on platforms to make the argument? She made it very persuasively, and I think it is right that she did. She is absolutely right that we must be very clear about our commitment to tolerance and diversity, and about our complete intolerance of racism and the hateful hate crimes that we have seen in recent days. I know that that is the view of hon. Members in this House, whatever side of the debate they were on, but that message needs to go out loud and clear.

EU Referendum - Question to the Prime Minister

I never thought I would see the day when I wished a Tory Prime Minister would win a vote, but last Thursday I did, and I think the country will...

The U.K. has voted to leave the EU and there will now be economic and political turbulence.   

I am deeply disappointed by the result of the referendum.

  • I campaigned hard for us to remain in the EU. 

  • The overwhelming majority of Labour supporters backed the UK remaining in the EU and

  • 73% of Southwark residents backed remaining in the EU. 

But we have to acknowledge the result and strive for the best future for this country in the circumstances which now face us.

The leaders of the Leave campaign promised that:

  • There would be no shock to the economy and that it would grow

  • People will not be hit by price increases

  • That pay will go up for low paid workers

  • That they'd invest more in the health service

  • That they'd have a fair immigration policy

  • That they would not unravel the rights at work that the EU guarantees

They must be held to account to deliver on those promises.

We, in the Labour Party, must ensure that the burden of the economic problems which the country  now faces does not fall hardest on those who can least afford it.

We must not let the Tories allow the poorest regions to fall further behind.

And in London, all politicians, both MPs, GLA members and councillors, must work together to support London's economy and services.

And we must banish the intolerance and hatred which was engendered by the leadership of the Leave campaign and which must be no part of the politics of our democracy.

EU Referendum result

The U.K. has voted to leave the EU and there will now be economic and political turbulence.    I am deeply disappointed by the result of the referendum. I campaigned hard...

Jo’s death is an absolute tragedy. She was dynamic and fearless. Elected only a year ago she was a beacon among the new generation of young Labour women MPs. So full of promise for the future, so committed to progressive politics. Jo’s politics were always about bringing people together and never about creating divisions.

She put into practice her belief that politicians must be amongst the people they represent and she was, in every town, village and community in her constituency.

We were immensely proud of her and are devastated by her loss.

Her children will now have to grow up without their mother but we will make sure that they know what an amazing, progressive and principled politician their mother was and how much we admired her.

My deepest sympathy goes to Brendan and to Jo's family.

Statement re the tragic death of Jo Cox MP

Jo’s death is an absolute tragedy. She was dynamic and fearless. Elected only a year ago she was a beacon among the new generation of young Labour women MPs. So...

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With one week to go until we head to the polls on June 23, to vote on whether to stay in or leave the European Union, it’s clear that many people still haven’t made up their minds.

I strongly believe that it is in Britain’s national interest that we remain at the heart of the European Union.   Labour is the party that hates inequality, unemployment and unfairness and loves the NHS and opportunities for all and Labour wants us to stay in the EU.

Because we’re in the EU, businesses in this country can attract investment which creates jobs – over half a million jobs in London depend on our membership of the European Union.

Because we’re in the EU, we can sell what we make, and our services, in every EU country – a marketplace of 500 million people.

Because we’re in the EU, people have better rights at work. The EU guarantees the right to paid holiday, paid maternity leave and rights for part-timers.  It’s the EU that made our governments pass those laws and so long as we remain a member no Tory government can try and take them away.  If we left the EU, there would be a risk to jobs and to rights at work. We need better rights at work, not to be fighting to keep those that we already have.

I’m not going to be put off by people calling it “Project Fear”.  I am fearful about jobs and rights.  Even the leaders of the Leave campaign say that they can’t guarantee that people wouldn’t lose their jobs if we left. We should not be putting jobs at risk.

The leaders of the Leave campaign have never fought for you.  They are the people that brought in the Bedroom Tax and have cut our NHS and council services. They want to scrap business regulations, get rid of the “social chapter”.  What they really mean is getting rid of your right to paid holiday, maternity leave and paternity pay.

Immigration is a big issue, but there’s more immigration from outside the EU than people coming from other EU countries.  If you’re worried about the NHS, or about housing – don’t blame immigrants. It’s the responsibility of Government to support the NHS and to build enough houses. Leaving the EU would make things worse by hitting the economy.

Labour wants us to stay in the EU for jobs, workers’ rights, to improve living standards and make sure we have enough public money to pay for vital services.  I hope you’ll join me in voting to remain in the EU on 23rd June.

We're a stronger Britain staying in Europe

With one week to go until we head to the polls on June 23, to vote on whether to stay in or leave the European Union, it’s clear that many...

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We want to be able to walk the streets safely and sleep safely in our beds, but we don’t want the executive to be tempted to abuse their power. I spoke in the House of Commons today in support of a number of amendments put forward by myself and members of the Joint Committee of Human Rights, which I Chair. The committee considered evidence from experts before putting forward these amendments.  You can read my speech below or watch it here.

More about the Committee’s work on this Bill here

House of Commons Library briefing on the Bill here

Amendments to the Bill including those tabled by JCHR Members here

Track progress of the Bill here

Investigatory Powers Bill – Amendments 131-132 & 133-136 – Thematic Warrants

We want to be able to walk the streets safely and sleep safely in our beds, but we don’t want the executive to be tempted to abuse their power. I... Read more

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Authorising intercept warrants and reviewing those warrants should not be done by the same people.  I spoke in the House of Commons today in support of Amendment 146 which seeks to separate those powers.  The Joint Committee of Human Rights, which I Chair, considered evidence from experts before putting forward this and other amendments.  You can read my speech below or watch it here.

More about the Committee’s work on this Bill here

House of Commons Library briefing on the Bill here

Amendments to the Bill including those tabled by JCHR Members here

Track progress of the Bill here

Investigatory Powers Bill - Amendment 146 – Oversight Arrangements

Authorising intercept warrants and reviewing those warrants should not be done by the same people.  I spoke in the House of Commons today in support of Amendment 146 which seeks... Read more

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---CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY---

 

Thanks Tim.  I strongly believe that it is in Britain's national interest that we remain at the heart of the European Union. I want the people who back Labour to know why Labour backs us being in the EU.

 

I've been a dyed in the wool member of the Labour Party since I was in my twenties - and, believe me, that was not recently.  I joined Labour because it's the party that hates inequality, and unemployment and unfairness and loves the NHS and wants opportunities not just for some, but for everyone.    It's not surprising that Labour supporters have struggled to catch a glimpse of why Labour backs the EU as the media has been dominated by the row in the Tory party.

 

But let me say why Labour is convinced The UK is better In.

 

Because we're in the EU, businesses here can attract investment which creates jobs.

 

Because we're in the EU, we can sell what we make, and our services, in every other EU country.

 

And that has meant our economy has grown and there have been more jobs.

 

Because we're in the EU, people have better rights at work.  The EU guarantees those rights.  It's the EU that made our governments pass laws to ensure employers give paid holiday, paid maternity leave, rights for part-timers.  So long as we're in the EU no Tory government can try and take those rights away.

 

And let me say what a risk it would be to jobs, and to rights at work, if we came out of the EU.  And I'm not going to be put off by people calling it "Project Fear".  I am fearful about jobs, and women's rights at work, and I make no bones about it.

 

The leaders of the campaign that wants us to leave the EU say that they can't guarantee that people wouldn't lose their jobs - but it's a risk worth taking.  But it's not their jobs at risk.  We need more jobs not fewer. Let's not make getting a job harder.

 

And I'm fearful about our rights at work if we left the EU and so are the Trade Unions - and with good reason. Look at the leaders of the leave campaign.  They never fought for your rights at work - they've fought against them.  They say they want to get rid of the "social chapter" and cut "red tape" and scrap regulation.  They're talking about your right to paid holiday, your maternity leave, your paternity pay.  We need better rights at work, not to have to start fighting to defend the rights that we already have.

 

So I challenge them today - you've said you want to "cut red tape" and scrap "£600m of regulation.  Don't speak in code.  Be honest about it.  Admit that means you would abolish the rights to maternity leave and paternity leave, scrap the laws that stop employers treating part-timers as second class citizens and which make employers pay for holiday leave.

 

Immigration is a big issue so I want to put out a fact.  There's more immigration from outside the EU than people coming from other EU countries. 

 

If you're worried about the NHS - don't blame immigrants.  The person from Ireland, or Spain or Portugal is more likely to be the nurse at your bedside than queuing in A and E.  So don't blame the EU for problems in the NHS - that's down to the government

 

If you're worried about housing, that's not the fault of migrants that's the responsibility of government. It's not the job of the EU to sort out housing - that's the job of government.

 

Labour wants us to stay in the EU for jobs, to protect rights at work and improve our living standards and now Natalie Bennet is going to say why she wants us to remain in the EU. 

 

END

 

 

Labour believe that it is in Britain's national interest that we remain at the heart of the European Union

  ---CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY---   Thanks Tim.  I strongly believe that it is in Britain's national interest that we remain at the heart of the European Union. I want the people...

 

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This afternoon I Joined Chuka Umunna MP for Streatham, Seb Dance MEP for London Region & Florence Eshalomi AM for Lambeth & Southwark, for a campaigning session in Faraday ward as part of the Labour In campaign.

Labour says Britain is better off in Europe, here are the facts:

  1. Over 3 million British jobs are linked to our trade with the EU.
  2. Almost half of all British exports in goods and services go to countries in the European Union.
  3. British Households would be worse off by around £4,300 a year if we left the EU.
  4. British workers are guaranteed protections at work because of the EU.
  5. Britain's influence as a world power is strongest as part of the European Union

We were also joined by Councillors Mark Williams (Brunswick Park), Barrie Hargrove (Peckham), Samantha Jury-Dada, Lorraine Lauder & Paul Fleming (Faraday) and a great team of Camberwell & Peckham Labour members.

 

Labour In - Britain Better Off In Europe

  This afternoon I Joined Chuka Umunna MP for Streatham, Seb Dance MEP for London Region & Florence Eshalomi AM for Lambeth & Southwark, for a campaigning session in Faraday ward as part...

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Along with Neil Kinnock, Margaret Beckett, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown & Ed Miliband I today joined former Labour Leaders to make the progressive case for British membership of the EU, urging every person who seeks a progressive future for Britain to Vote Remain on June 23rd.
 
We argue that the EU has delivered significant benefits for working people, including more jobs, protections at work, and lower prices. If we remain in Europe, those benefits will continue to pay dividends for British people. If we leave, we say: “Labour communities would suffer most: from spending cuts, neglect for the needy and a bonfire of workers’ rights”.
 
It comes as Labour joins the other political parties in urging people to register to vote in the referendum before the deadline on Tuesday (7th June). 
  
The full text of the letter to The Guardian newspaper reads:
 
“Labour's values are inherent to Europe's virtues.
 
“Europe protects people at work; stimulates jobs and innovation; keeps prices lower; leads global action against climate change; makes us safer against terrorism; and magnifies Britain's voice and values in the world.
 
“By strengthening working people's wellbeing through common endeavour, our Party's founding purpose is aligned with Europe.
 
“But make no mistake: this would be lost if we leave. Labour communities would face a double threat: the return of recession, led by a Tory Government with an emboldened right wing.
 
“In such circumstances Labour communities would suffer most: from spending cuts, neglect for the needy and a bonfire of workers' rights.
 
“Those Labour seeks to represent - the hardworking, ambitious majority - have the most to lose if we leave. But also the most to gain if we Remain.
 
“A Britain stronger in Europe can be our future: leading and shaping our world; spreading opportunities by being in the world's largest trading market; investing in our children; protecting our identity but pursuing our interests and ideas in equal measure in a globalised world.
 
“This should be our future. But we need to vote for it. If Labour stays at home, Britain leaves. And a vote to leave is a vote for a profound and permanent loss the whole country would feel, whether through lost jobs or lost generations. Only Labour can save Britain from Brexit.
 
“We have each seen the benefits of Europe. More importantly, as those who have led Labour, we understand our party's values and its people. Each are strengthened by Britain being in Europe.
 
“That’s why we join with our present Leadership in urging every person who seeks a progressive future for Britain to Vote Remain on June 23rd”.
 
 Ends

Labour's values are inherent to Europe's virtues

  Along with Neil Kinnock, Margaret Beckett, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown & Ed Miliband I today joined former Labour Leaders to make the progressive case for British membership of the EU, urging...

 

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Investigatory Powers Bill: Joint Committee on Human Rights welcomes direction of travel, but proposes improvements

Overall the Joint Committee on Human Rights welcomes the steps which the Bill takes towards providing a clear and transparent legal basis for the investigatory powers already used by the security and intelligence agencies and law enforcement authorities, and towards enhanced safeguards. But the Bill could be improved to enhance further the compatibility of the legal framework with human rights, says a report published today.

Bulk Powers
On the current state of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights the Committee does not consider the bulk powers in the Bill to be inherently incompatible with the right to privacy (Article 8): they are capable of being justified if they have a sufficiently clear legal basis, are shown to be necessary, and are proportionate in that they have adequate safeguards against arbitrary use. The Committee welcomes the Government’s publication of a detailed operational case [link] and recommends that it should be reviewed by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, who should report before the Bill completes its passage, and thereafter every five years on whether there is a continuing need for the bulk powers.

Thematic Warrants
The Committee recognises the value of warrants which extend to people or places that are unknown at the time the warrant is issued (“thematic warrants”), but considers that the clauses concerning the subject matter of targeted interceptions and targeted equipment interference warrants are too broadly drafted: the description in the warrant must be sufficiently specific to enable any person unknown to be identified and to prevent the possibility of large numbers of people being potentially within the scope of a vaguely worded warrant. As presently drafted, anyone who is part of “a group of persons who share a common purpose” can be the subject of a warrant, and there is nothing in the Bill to prevent the group being defined so broadly (for example, protesters) as to extend to very large numbers of unidentified people.

Modifications to warrants for targeted interception
As currently drafted, the Bill allows for major modifications to a warrant (such as adding the name of a person) to be made without judicial approval, which is the vital safeguard against arbitrariness.  The Committee recommends that major modifications to warrants should not take place without approval by a Judicial Commissioner.

Confidential communications

MPs
A key role of Parliament is to hold the Government to account and the Bill must provide sufficient safeguards to prevent the Government from abusing its powers of surveillance in a way which undermines the legislature’s constitutional role.  Members of the public should also be able to expect their communications with members of Parliament to remain confidential.  The Committee does not believe that consulting the Prime Minister before interference with communications of Members of Parliament provides an adequate safeguard: in addition the Speaker or Presiding Officer of the relevant legislature should be given sufficient notice of the decision to interfere with such communications to enable them, if they so wish, to be heard before the Judicial Commissioner. As well as the House of Commons, this includes the House of Lords, the devolved legislatures and the European Parliament.

Lawyers
More robust safeguards are needed for lawyer-client confidentiality.  Preserving the “iniquity exception” to legal professional privilege – where communications concerned with furthering a criminal purpose are not legally privileged – makes it unnecessary for the Bill to provide for targeting confidential communications between lawyers and clients and the Committee recommends that those provisions be removed from the Bill. The Committee also recommends strengthening the safeguard for legally privileged items which are likely to be included in intercepted communications, with the insertion of a threshold test reflecting the strong presumption against interference.

Journalists’ sources
While recognising the real difficulty of defining journalism in the digital age, the Committee is concerned that safeguards for journalists’ sources (in the Bill) are inferior to similar safeguards in other contexts: the Bill should provide the same level of protection for sources as currently exists in relation to search and seizure under PACE 1984, including an on notice hearing before a Judicial Commissioner, unless that would prejudice the investigation.

Separation of functions: authorisation and inspection
The Committee believes that the new system of oversight should provide for a clear separation of function between the prior judicial authorisation of warrants and ex post inspection and review. The Committee recommends that the Investigatory Powers Commissioner should have a duty to ensure that these two distinct functions are carried out by different Commissioners.

 

 

JCHR Chair Harriet Harman said:

 

“The Bill provides a clear and transparent basis for powers already in use by the security and intelligence services, but there need to be further safeguards. Protection for MP communications from unjustified interference is vital, as it is for confidential communications between lawyers and clients, and for journalists’ sources, the Bill must provide tougher safeguards to ensure that the Government cannot abuse its powers to undermine Parliament’s ability to hold the Government to account.”

 

More about the Committee’s work on this Bill here
House of Commons Library briefing on the Bill here
Amendments to the Bill including those tabled by JCHR Members here
Track progress of the Bill here

NB Report stage in the Commons Monday 6 June.

 

 

Investigatory Powers Bill: Joint Committee on Human Rights welcomes direction of travel, but proposes improvements

    Investigatory Powers Bill: Joint Committee on Human Rights welcomes direction of travel, but proposes improvements Overall the Joint Committee on Human Rights welcomes the steps which the Bill...

QueensSpeech_HH.jpg

Today's debate on the Queen's speech was on 'Europe, Human Rights & Keeping People Safe at Home & Abroad'. Here is my speech from earlier:

 

"I would like to say a few words about the counter-extremism Bill and human rights. First, however, I pay tribute to the shadow Foreign Secretary for his speech, with which I strongly agreed. It was profound, principled and progressive, and without wanting him to think that I want some sort of promotion—I am so beyond that at this point—I should say I thought it was exceptionally good. He does great credit to our party, to the House and to politics, and I thank him for what he said.

I was glad to hear the speech by the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), who is a weighty Member of this House and speaks as a former Home Secretary, Justice Secretary, Health Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is well and truly a “former”, and I agreed with an awful lot of what he said. In fact, I agreed with everything he said about prison reform and Europe. I find that quite traumatic, because when I was first in the House, he was sitting in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet and was not to be agreed with on everything, or indeed anything. However, today I agreed with what he said. I also now find myself elevated to the status of a “former”, albeit not one as weighty as the right hon. and learned Gentleman. In this House, one thing about “formers” is that we must crack on with our speeches and not make them too long—that was a reference to the right hon. Member for Gordon (Alex Salmond), not to the right hon. and learned Members for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) and for Rushcliffe.

I want to mention two measures in the Queen’s Speech. The first is the counter-extremism Bill. I have the privilege of chairing the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and I am glad to see that the hon. Member for Derby North (Amanda Solloway), who sits on the Committee and has a particular interest in mental health and human rights, is also in the Chamber.

The Government have a duty to protect us—a responsibility that any and every Government take with the utmost seriousness. That is undoubtedly uncontested ground, but when it comes to how to tackle terrorism, specifically the task of countering Daesh-inspired terrorism, ​there is no consensus. The Government’s approach, set out in the counter-extremism strategy, appears to be based on the assumption that there is an escalator that starts with religious conservatism and ends up with support for jihadism, and that religious conservatism therefore is the starting point in the quest to tackle violence. However, it is by no means proven or agreed that extreme religious views, in particular religious conservatism, are in and of themselves an indicator of, or even correlated with, support for jihadism. If there are to be, under the new Bill, banning orders, extremism disruption orders and closure orders, it has to be clear that they are banning disruption and closing something that will lead to violence, not just something of which the Government disapprove.

The second issue is that if the Government are going to clamp down on Islamic religious conservatism in the cause of tackling violence, is that discrimination that can be justified, or will it serve merely to give rise to justified grievance? Everyone seems to agree that the most precious asset in the fight against terrorism is the relationship between the authorities—the police, the schools and the councils—and the Muslim communities of this country. We must guard against any undermining of the relationship between the authorities and the Muslim community, which would thereby make the fight against terrorism even harder. The last thing we must do is anything that fosters the alienation that can lead to radicalisation.

The third issue is the problem of taking conservative religious views in the Muslim community as an indicator of future terrorism if the same beliefs in evangelical Christianity or Orthodox Judaism would not be seen as prompting the need for any action. Are the Government going to discriminate and seek to justify that, or will they be indiscriminate and annoy and concern everybody?

The fourth issue is the question of definition. This was hinted at by the hon. Member for Gillingham and Rainham (Rehman Chishti) in his intervention. Even if there was reliable evidence of the escalator from extreme views to violence, if the law, in the form of banning orders, closure orders and extremist disruption orders, is to be invoked, there needs to be clarity and consensus around the definition. It is far from clear that there is an accepted definition of what constitutes non-violent extremism, or, indeed, extremism. In the counter-extremism strategy, the Government describe extremism as the:

“vocal or active opposition to our fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs”.

Now, I am not tolerant of the beliefs of those who are homophobic and I do not respect those who regard women as inferior. Which is the extremism: their beliefs or my intolerance of their beliefs? If we denounce our judiciary as biased Islamophobes, is that undermining the rule of law or is that the exercise of free speech? I have done a certain amount of denouncing the judiciary for all sorts of things in the past, but I would not have regarded myself as extremist—I was just pointing out that they were sexist and needed to be replaced by many more women judges.

The fifth issue is whether it is better to suppress views or to subject them to challenge. Many in the higher education sector say that for their students they believe ​it is better to challenge abhorrent views rather than to repress them, but do we allow the same approach for school-age children? Some have argued that it simply should be seen as a question of child safeguarding, but although there is a consensus around the nature of child neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse, from which children have to be safeguarded, there is no such consensus around the definition of extremism from which children should be safeguarded. We can all understand the definition of safeguarding; it is just a question of what we are safeguarding children from. In relation to extremism, there is no such shared consensus or definition. The difficulty around these issues should lead the Government to tread with great care. They should publish the Bill in draft and allow extensive debate and discussion. We should listen with particular attention to those who would be expected to apply for and enforce these orders, such as the police, educational establishments and councils, and to the Muslim community.

I completely agree with everything that the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield said about the repeal of the Human Rights Act and its replacement with a British Bill of Rights. We have not yet seen the consultation, but, when we do, it will again be important that the Government tread carefully. They should ensure that human rights remain universal, rather than simply retaining the popular and carving out the unpopular. The legal protection of human rights is important for everyone, even those who are justifiably the subject of public hostility.

The Government should not do anything that makes it more difficult for people here to enforce their rights in the UK courts, as the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe said. I had to trek all the way to Strasbourg to get my rights. Had we had the Human Rights Act, I would have been exonerated seven years earlier and at much less expense to the Government. Neither should they do anything that would disrupt the devolution settlement in Scotland or the peace agreement in Northern Ireland, of which the Human Rights Act is part, as was made clear to us on our visit to Scotland and in evidence submitted to our Committee from Northern Ireland.

The Foreign Secretary acknowledged that this country is seen as a champion of human rights around the world, and the Government should be mindful of how what the UK does affects those in other countries who are fighting for their rights but who do not have the democracy and rights we have. Our adherence to the framework of international human rights standards, which includes the European convention, is a beacon to which those campaigning for rights in other countries look and demand in their own countries. That was made clear to us when we visited the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, where people, whether from Poland or Russia, basically told us, “If you leave the European convention, we’re done for.” If our Government were to abandon the convention, it would have a devastating effect on the progress of human rights in other countries.

No Government like any court telling them what to do. Legislators, elected as they are, do not like to be constrained by unelected judges. Parliament does not like to be so restrained. Governments, having got elected and into government, like even less to be constrained. That feeling is multiplied when the judicial ruling comes from—perish the thought!—abroad, but even the best ​intentioned Government need to be subject to the rule of law. Governments can abuse their power, on purpose or by mistake, so oversight by the courts is essential. International standards, presided over by international courts, are important abroad and to us too. If the Government do not agree with a court ruling, they can gnash their teeth or try to get the court to think again in a subsequent case, but their disagreeing with a judgement does not justify their rejecting the jurisdiction of the court concerned.

In conclusion, it is easy to promise to tackle extremism, to whip up hostility to court rulings and to make “human rights” dirty words, but when it comes to legislating on counter-terrorism and amending our human rights framework the Government need to tread carefully, consult widely and work on the basis of consensus. What I have heard in the debate so far gives me confidence that there are Members on both sides of the House, as there are in the House of Lords, who will make sure the Government do exactly that."

 

You can read the full debate here.

Queens Speech Debate: Government need to tread carefully and consult widely on counter-extremism and human rights

Today's debate on the Queen's speech was on 'Europe, Human Rights & Keeping People Safe at Home & Abroad'. Here is my speech from earlier:   "I would like to...

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