Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons

Current News

What is it like to be a British citizen wrongfully detained? For the first time since the Windrush scandal broke this afternoon a parliamentary select committee heard from people wrongfully swept up in the Government's net and detained, Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan. As Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights I invited them to speak to our committee to tell us of the intolerable stress and suffering they faced because the Conservative Government incorrectly targeted them as ‘illegal immigrants’. They told us how difficult it had been being asked to produce pages and pages of documentation they had never needed before, and when they couldn't the devastation and fear of losing their jobs and being detained.

Shockingly they said no one explained the reasons for their detention and release. I've written as the Chair of the Committee to the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, to ask for the release Anthony Bryan and Paulette Wilson's entire Home Office case files to them, within 7 days and to summon him to come and give evidence to our committee and explain why these law abiding British people were threatened by the Government and in some cases locked up. It is not acceptable that the Home Office ‘did not know’ how many people from the Windrush Generation had been wrongfully detained.

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Windrush Generation wrongly detained ask for their Home Office files - my letter to Home Secretary

What is it like to be a British citizen wrongfully detained? For the first time since the Windrush scandal broke this afternoon a parliamentary select committee heard from people wrongfully swept up in the... Read more

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Monthly report April/May 2018

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My Tribute to the House:

Tessa Jowell was the embodiment of that old women’s movement saying: “The personal is political.” For Tessa, the personal and the political were completely intertwined. Her devotion to her children and her stepchildren was what underpinned her drive for Sure Start children’s centres, with parenting support at their heart. Her enjoyment of her family and their prowess in sport was what lay behind her wanting to get the Olympics for the UK. She wanted them and the Paralympics to be shared and to inspire every child and young person across the country.

Tessa had a unique personal style. She befriended people who were struggling, had difficulties or were powerless, whom she felt she could support, but she also befriended the powerful in order to get them to back her progressive causes. She was no softie, though. Everybody has quite rightly said how charming and nice she was, but there was steel behind those clear blue eyes. As her constituency neighbour for 23 years, we went to countless meetings together and worked together on countless campaigns. She was always courteous and polite to the police, the schools, the hospitals and the council, but if ever she felt that they were obfuscating or letting people down, she would be tougher than anybody. She was true Labour, as an activist, as a councillor, as a Member of this House and as a Member of the Lords, but she was never afraid to work cross-party for the causes that she supported or to forge friendships across parties. We are so sad for her family, especially David, Jess and Matthew, but I know they will be strong because she will have prepared them for the loss they faced, just as she supported, on behalf of the Government, those who faced loss after the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks. We send them all our sympathy.

All around the country there will be people who are listening to these tributes and who have heard of Tessa’s death who worked with her, who knew her and who will be feeling sad but also immensely proud that they can say, “I knew Tessa Jowell.”

Tribute to Dame Tessa Jowell, former Southwark MP

My Tribute to the House: Tessa Jowell was the embodiment of that old women’s movement saying: “The personal is political.” For Tessa, the personal and the political were completely intertwined....

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A house in Herne Hill proudly bears a blue plaque commemorating Sam King, a freeman of the borough of Southwark, the first black Mayor of Southwark, longstanding councillor and outstanding member of the local community. Originally from Jamaica he came to this country on the Empire Windrush in 1948 and raised his 2 children and 3 grandchildren here. Sam exemplified that generation of patriotic British people from the Caribbean who came here to help us rebuild after the Second World War.

In recognition of that they had a right to stay indefinitely as British citizens. So everyone has been dismayed and outraged at what has been done to them. Having worked here, paid their taxes and raised their families here over the decades they were swept up in the net supposedly designed for illegal immigrants. Challenged to produce pages and pages of documentation from years gone by. Those who couldn’t produce this documentation weren’t able to claim their pensions, receive NHS treatment or claim benefits and many landlords evicted them as illegal immigrants and employers sacked them from their work. And this has hit people from the Windrush Generation living in Southwark.  Like the man who came from Jamaica at the age of 19, served in the British Army for 12 years, brought up 3 children, but after living here for 50 years was told he could not have a passport unless he paid a fee and ‘became a British citizen’. The point is he already was a British citizen.  I’ve protested on his behalf and am pressing the Home Secretary for a quick response.

Despite the fact that it’s been months since this scandal was first exposed by campaigners such as Tottenham MP David Lammy, Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott MP and Amelia Gentleman of the Guardian, the Government still haven’t dealt with this mistake and don’t even appear to know the number of people who have been detained and deported.  

Together with 140 other MPs I’ve written to the Prime Minister urging her to immediately guarantee the rights of the Windrush Generation. As Chair of Parliament’s Select Committee on Human Rights I’ve summoned new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, to come and give evidence and explain why these law abiding British people were threatened by the Government and in some cases locked up.  

We are calling on the Government to immediately and fully compensate people for their financial loss and emotional distress. This has been a shameful episode and one which should cause a rethink about how the immigration system, whilst clearly maintaining firm borders, must respect and uphold human rights.  

South London Press article - The Government must fully compensate Windrush Generation wrongly targeted

A house in Herne Hill proudly bears a blue plaque commemorating Sam King, a freeman of the borough of Southwark, the first black Mayor of Southwark, longstanding councillor and outstanding...

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Touring the sensational new Camberwell College of Arts building on Peckham Road and talking with the University of the Arts London team about ensuring local people share the benefits from this millions of pounds public investment.

I also visited the art show put on by Foundation year students at the CCA Wilson Road campus and very much admired this great work from local student and alumni of Dog Kennel Hill Primary School.

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Touring Camberwell College of Arts' sensational new facilities

Touring the sensational new Camberwell College of Arts building on Peckham Road and talking with the University of the Arts London team about ensuring local people share the benefits from this millions...

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On Saturday 5th May 2018 at just after 6pm 17 year old Rhyheim Ainsworth Barton was tragically shot on Cooks Road and later died outside Aberfeldy House on Warham Road.

Rhyheim lived with his mother and younger sister in Southwark, he was an aspiring architect and a keen rapper.

This is such a tragic loss of such a young life.

No parent should have to worry about their child being safe in their local area and the police are doing everything they can to identify the perpetrators of this terrible crime and bring them to justice.

I have visited Rhyheim's devastated mother, Pretana, to pay my respects and offer my assistance to the family and I remain in regular contact with the police who tell me they have deployed extra officers for community reassurance as well as for the absolute necessity of bringing the killers to justice.

On 8th May I attended a community briefing on the Brandon Estate with Rhyheim's family; local residents; TRA Chair, Sheila Benjamin; Southwark Police; Southwark Council Leader, Cllr Peter John; Rhyheim’s local MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Neil Coyle; David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, who is leading on tackling youth crime in Parliament; and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London. We stood together in memory of 17 year old Rhyheim and discussed action to prevent any more young people from losing their lives.

Enough is enough. No more families or communities can mourn the loss of a child to violent crime. I will continue to work with the local community and parliamentary colleagues to call on the Government to reverse cuts to youth centres, police officers and schools to prevent further tragedy.

If you think you saw or heard anything on the evening of Saturday 5th May that could help the police with their investigation I urge you to come forward. Any information you provide could help ensure other families do not have to go through the pain that Rhyheim’s mother is going through.

I know people sometimes hesitate to come forward. If you do not want to contact the police directly you can pass information entirely anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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Tragic fatal shooting of Rhyheim Barton, aged just 17

On Saturday 5th May 2018 at just after 6pm 17 year old Rhyheim Ainsworth Barton was tragically shot on Cooks Road and later died outside Aberfeldy House on Warham Road. Rhyheim...

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Great to join Dulwich Hill candidate Jon Hartley and Champion Hill candidate Peter John on election day. Lots of support for the Dulwich Hill Labour team - best of Luck Jon and Maggie Browning! 

Local Election Day in Dulwich Hill Ward

Great to join Dulwich Hill candidate Jon Hartley and Champion Hill candidate Peter John on election day. Lots of support for the Dulwich Hill Labour team - best of Luck Jon and...

HH_Maudsley_01.05.18_ii.jpgOn #InternationalWorkersDay2018 I met Catia & Daniela from the Maudsley Hospital cleaning and catering team, Nadine Houghton, GMB Union Southern Region Organiser, and the Managing Directors of ISS services, who employ the team at the hospital, to demand improvements in staff pay and working conditions.

The cleaning & catering team provide such an important part of the vital care mentally ill patients get at the Maudsley and it is right that the ISS management listened to their concerns about people being on different contracts for the same work, staff workloads and agreed to do all they can to be more accessible.

We will be holding a follow up meeting to get the cleaning team, the Maudsley Council of Governors and ISS managers in one room so the cleaning team can continue to raise their concerns and all parties can work together to move forward harmoniously and in a way which is fair to the hardworking cleaning and catering team.

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Maudsley cleaning & catering team deserve fair pay and conditions

On #InternationalWorkersDay2018 I met Catia & Daniela from the Maudsley Hospital cleaning and catering team, Nadine Houghton, GMB Union Southern Region Organiser, and the Managing Directors of ISS services, who employ the team at the hospital, to demand...

In my role as Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I have written to the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP asking him to appear before the Committee on 16 May.

One of the core fundamental human rights is the right not to be detained unlawfully. The recent Windrush scandal has raised concerns that people have been detained unlawfully. The Home Secretary needs to explain how the Home Office are ensuring rights are being respected within the immigration detention system.

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Joint Committee on Human Rights calls on new Home Secretary to answer questions on Windrush

In my role as Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I have written to the new Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP asking him to appear before the Committee on 16...

On Monday I signed a joint letter alongside more than 200 MPs calling on the Government to enshrine the rights of the 'Windrush generation' in law by statutory instrument. The Home Secretary must provide proper clarity for the 'Windrush community'. Their status remains in limbo, whilst the Government fails to act. 

Please find the full letter below:

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Joint Letter to the Home Secretary - Government must enshrine the rights of the Windrush Generation in law

On Monday I signed a joint letter alongside more than 200 MPs calling on the Government to enshrine the rights of the 'Windrush generation' in law by statutory instrument. The...

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Fantastic local support in Earlsfield this morning for candidates Jo Rigby, Graeme Henderson and Alan McDonald ahead of the local elections on May 3rd. We were joined by Sadiq Khan Mayor of London, MP for Tooting, Dr Rosena Allin Khan and terrific team of local members. 

Campaigning in Tooting

Fantastic local support in Earlsfield this morning for candidates Jo Rigby, Graeme Henderson and Alan McDonald ahead of the local elections on May 3rd. We were joined by Sadiq Khan...

Tabled today for answer Tuesday at latest

Questions to Home Secretary RE: Windrush Generation

Tabled today for answer Tuesday at latest

My letter to Home Secretary, Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd MP:

My letter to Home Secretary RE: Windrush Generation

My letter to Home Secretary, Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd MP:

Today, I attended the unveiling of the new statue of leading Suffragist Millicent Fawcett. It is the first ever statue of a woman in Parliament Square, and and the first ever statue there to be created by a woman artist, Gillian Wearing OBE.

It is vital that we increase the numbers of statues commemorating women. Only 90% of statues in public places in London are of women. We need to start celebrating the great women in our history otherwise they will remain 'hidden from history'. Celebrating the life of Millicent Fawcett is a great place to start in rectifying this.

The event was well attended by members of the public and parliamentarians, who listened to speeches from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Prime Minister Theresa May and Caroline Criado Perez, whose petition to get the first statue of a woman in Parliament Square was signed by almost 85,000 people.

 

Courage Calls To Courage Everywhere - Unveiling of New Millicent Fawcett Statue

Today, I attended the unveiling of the new statue of leading Suffragist Millicent Fawcett. It is the first ever statue of a woman in Parliament Square, and and the first ever...

Domestic Violence refuges are critical local services and save lives but have been devastated by the savage Tory cuts to Local Government. Proposed Government changes to housing benefit will only place further strain on refuges’ resources. Women’s Aid report that 40% of refuge services closing their doors for good. Urgent action is needed to save women’s refuges and fund them for the long term.

During this morning’s episode of the Victoria Derbyshire Programme I called on the Government to include a fixed percentage of Gross National Income reserved for Government funding for Domestic Violence Refuges in their new Domestic Violence Bill. This would end the ‘hand-to-mouth’ for domestic violence funding, which has persisted for too long.  Similar to the way the government funds the international development budget.

The Government’s Domestic Violence Bill will be published after a 12 week consultation, which closes on the 31st May. You can find out more here.

The Domestic Abuse Bill "needs to end the hand-to-mouth funding for refuges"

Domestic Violence refuges are critical local services and save lives but have been devastated by the savage Tory cuts to Local Government. Proposed Government changes to housing benefit will only...

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Today I asked an Urgent Question in the House of Commons to the Minister for Women, Victoria Atkins MP, to ask the Government to set out what action they are taking to close the gender pay gap.

You can see a full transcript of the Urgent Question here.

Full text of my response to the Minister:

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question, and I thank the Minister for her obvious commitment to this issue. It was Labour legislation that enacted gender pay transparency, but it was her Government who implemented it. It is important that they did that, because it has laid bare what women have always known but previously did not have proof of, which is that there is systematic pay discrimination. It is now clear: eight out of 10 employers pay men more than they pay women—and that is across every sector, including the retail sector, which would not exist without women’s work. Why on earth should women in Tesco put up with £8 an hour on the checkout when men in the stores get up to £11.50 an hour?

Although it pains me to say this, the trade unions that need to be part of the negotiations to narrow the pay gap need to get their house in order. How can women members of Unite believe that that union will champion their rights to equal pay if there is a 30% pay gap in the union itself? The NASUWT, a teachers union, pays its male staff 40% more than it pays women, so it too has to take action. As for the public sector, let us look at the University of Liverpool. Its public policy is to narrow the pay gap, but the University of Liverpool pays men 90% more in bonuses than it pays women. That has to stop.

Does the Minister agree that we are no longer interested in rationalisations, explanations or justifications? The time for excuses has passed. We want stretching targets year on year to narrow the gap. Will she join me in congratulating the women in the House who have spoken up on this issue, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy), among many others, including the Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, the right hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller), and Labour’s Front-Bench team, who have been pushing on this issue? Will she congratulate all the women outside the House who have been pushing on this, not least women in trade unions and the BBC women?

May I give the Minister some sisterly advice on what she should do to really focus on this issue? First, she should stay on the back of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and make sure that it uses all its powers and has the resources to take action. Secondly, she should suggest to the Prime Minister that she has a Cabinet session on the gender pay gap, with all Secretaries of State required to come to Cabinet and say what stretching targets they are going to impose in their Departments and the sectors for which they are responsible. Thirdly, she should commandeer Downing Street for a summit at which business and trade unions can tell her what they are going to do to narrow the pay gap. If she does all that, she will have a great opportunity and a great responsibility, because if she drives forward on narrowing the pay gap, that is not only fair and just but the most important thing to help low-income families and tackle child poverty.

We've got the figures, now we need action to close gender pay gap - UQ to Women's Minister

Today I asked an Urgent Question in the House of Commons to the Minister for Women, Victoria Atkins MP, to ask the Government to set out what action they are...

The Government's treatment of the 'Windrush Generation' who arrived in Britain from countries in the Caribbean in the 60s and 70s is unacceptable and cruel. People who have lived, worked, paid taxes and raised families in this country for decades are facing detention, deportation and the denial of medical care due to the Home Office’s Hostile Environments policy. It is appalling the Government has taken so long to act to clarify their status.

Yesterday I wrote jointly with David Lammy MP and 140 MPs to the Prime Minister urging her to take swift action to make an immediate commitment to recognise and secure the rights of Commonwealth citizens.  

Please see our letter to the Prime Minister below:

 

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Government must urgently guarantee Windrush people's status - Letter to the Prime Minister

The Government's treatment of the 'Windrush Generation' who arrived in Britain from countries in the Caribbean in the 60s and 70s is unacceptable and cruel. People who have lived, worked, paid taxes and raised families in... Read more

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The differences in pay received by men and women in television has been starkly revealed as television and production companies publish their gender pay data.

I joined a panel event this evening hosted by the Royal Television Society to discuss what the figures show, the implications for companies and the sector more broadly, and what can and should be done to narrow the gender pay gap.

The event was Chaired by Jane Martinson, Guardian columnist and journalist and we were joined by fellow speakers Jane Corbin, BBC current affairs journalist, Sian Kevill, former BBC executive and founder, Make Productions and Charlotte Sweeney OBE, Expert adviser on equality, diversity and inclusion.

Mind the Gender Pay Gap RTS Panel Event

The differences in pay received by men and women in television has been starkly revealed as television and production companies publish their gender pay data. I joined a panel event...

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Great support in Goose Green Ward, Southwark for brilliant Labour candidates, James McAsh, Victoria Olisa and Charlie Smith. Lots of issues discussed with local residents including traffic, burglaries and love for the NHS.

Thanks to the terrific local members and to Champion Hill candidate Sarah King for joining us ahead of the local elections on May 3rd. Best wishes!

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Goose Green Campaigning

Great support in Goose Green Ward, Southwark for brilliant Labour candidates, James McAsh, Victoria Olisa and Charlie Smith. Lots of issues discussed with local residents including traffic, burglaries and love for the NHS. Thanks...

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Great to join Abbey Ward candidate Nicky Massey in Cambridge ahead of the local elections on May 3rd. Daniel Zeichner MP and the brilliant local labour team joined us as did former MP for Cambridge Anne Campbell. The support on the doorstep was terrific. Best wishes for the election!

Campaigning in Cambridge - Local Elections

Great to join Abbey Ward candidate Nicky Massey in Cambridge ahead of the local elections on May 3rd. Daniel Zeichner MP and the brilliant local labour team joined us as did former MP for...

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