Harriet Harman

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

Current News

In Parliament I am leading a campaign to raise awareness of the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from the Government Secondary School in north-eastern Nigeria on 14th April.

I welcome the Government’s condemnation of the attack and pledge to support the Nigerian Government in its efforts to locate and safely return the missing schoolgirls.  But there is still a chronic lack of information on their whereabouts – and it has been over three weeks since the abduction. 

That is why I have written to the Nigerian High Commissioner to the UK and asked for a meeting, to raise my and my constituents’ concerns and to hear what the Nigerian Government is doing to bring the girls back.  I have also written to the Women’s Minister, Nicky Morgan MP, to see how this issue can be raised internationally with UN Women, and to the British High Commissioner to Nigeria for further information about what is being done to return the schoolgirls.  On Thursday 1st May I tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament, which I hope all MPs will sign.

See below for my letter to the Nigerian High Commissioner -

HHHC

Missing Nigerian schoolgirls - 06/05/2014

In Parliament I am leading a campaign to raise awareness of the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls from the Government Secondary School in north-eastern Nigeria on 14th April. I welcome the Government’s...

Backstage High House Production Park

The High House Production Park is a new charity to support a centre of excellence for creative industries in Thurrock - to inspire a new generation. This has been established through the partnership of Royal Opera House, ACME Studios, Creative and Cultural Skills, alongside Thurrock Council. I joined John Kent, labour Leader of Thurrock Council and Polly Billington, Labour’s candidate for the 2015 General Election for a tour of the Park.

Visit to High House Production Park – 6/05/2014

The High House Production Park is a new charity to support a centre of excellence for creative industries in Thurrock - to inspire a new generation. This has been established... Read more

Today the Lib Dems held their local election launch. Harriet Harman MP, Labour's Deputy Leader, responding to the Lib Dem local election launch, said:

"The Lib Dems are a party of broken promises. Nick Clegg says they're different from the Tories, but the truth is they've backed David Cameron all the way.

"From trebling tuition fees when they promised to abolish them, increasing VAT when they promised not to, backing the bedroom tax, cutting tax for millionaires and undermining the NHS, the Lib Dems are not a constraint on the Tories - they are their willing helpers."

Lib Dems are a Party of Broken Promises – 06/05/2014

Today the Lib Dems held their local election launch. Harriet Harman MP, Labour's Deputy Leader, responding to the Lib Dem local election launch, said: "The Lib Dems are a party...

Labour's London Manifestos for this week's elections show a striking commitment from our councillors to arts, culture and the creative industries.  This is a big, and welcome, change from what you would expect to have seen in London Labour Council Manifestos 10 years ago.

An analysis of Labour's manifestos show that commitment is based on the view that councils must support the arts, culture and creative industries in their area because it is important • for young people • for jobs and regeneration and • for building a sense of local communities.

The manifestos include Labour promises • to award scholarships to enable young people from low income backgrounds to study foundation arts courses • ensuring all primary children get music tuition • to use council powers to make open spaces available for festivals and events for music and literature • to use their planning and regeneration role to create cultural hubs and work spaces for arts micro-businesses.

It is all the more important that Labour councillors are stepping forward now to protect the arts and culture because the government has undermined access to the arts by • cutting the Arts council • downplaying arts in the curriculum.

This Labour council commitment to arts and culture is all the more notable as it comes at a time when there is an unprecedented central government cuts in council funds.  It clearly draws on the pioneering work of Labour Cities such as Gateshead, Newcastle and Manchester who have used arts and culture as a route to regeneration, and draws on great benefits which came from the last Labour government's support for the arts.

As Shadow Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, I set up, working with the Local Government Association Labour group, the Creative Councillors Network.  This brings together the culture lead in all Labour groups to strengthen the case for council support for the arts and share best practice in how to support arts and culture at a time of constrained council budgets.

See below examples of support for the arts and culture from Labour London Council Manifestos:

Labour understands the importance of cultural learning to young people:

  • Southwark Labour will award scholarships to local young people from low income backgrounds to study art foundation courses in Southwark
  • Newham Labour will continue with the Every Newham Child a Musician programme giving every child in year 5 a free instrument and three years’ free tuition.  Their programmes include encouraging children to play chess to aid their concentration and analytical skills and they recently launched a programme to ensure all Newham kids get a chance to experience London’s world class theatre
  • Haringey Labour will invest to ensure that children who have benefitted from music lessons in years 4 and 5 can continue them into year 6, free of charge
  • Islington Labour will expand schemes to raise young people’s aspirations and confidence – they will roll out a highly successful programme of classical music tuition from Highbury Grove (as a result in the top 100 state schools in England) to more of Islington’s schools so that children from all backgrounds get the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument
  • Camden Labour is working to open up access to local cultural venues to Camden children and will create new apprenticeships in the local music industry for young people
  • Hackney Labour will continue the Mayor’s Music Awards for primary and secondary schools. Hackney Labour will support the work of Loughborough University and Hackney Community College to establish a new shared campus to provide a pathway for local people into the new creative and technology jobs being established in the iCITY/Here East development
  • Kensington and Chelsea Labour will re-focus spend on arts programmes for grassroots events and young people’s and children’s projects
  • Enfield Labour will celebrate young people’s innovation and creativity with science, arts and music awards
  • Tower Hamlets Labour will forge partnerships with the aim that each young person will have the opportunity of at least one visit a year to a museum or gallery and look at how to support music and cultural experience for school children.
  • Camden Labour will continue to fund their nationally renowned music service and work to open up access for all Camden children to their diverse range of cultural venues, large and small.  They are developing apprenticeships with the local music industry for the borough’s young people.
  • Hillingdon Labour will ensure the Hillingdon Music Service goes from strength to strength and work with schools, colleges and universities which have cultural facilities that could be of benefit to the wider public to enable better community use.  They will put young people in the driving seat to co-produce services and look at expansion towards the arts and cultural activities
  • Kingston Labour will roll out music programmes to more of Kingston’s schools so that children from all backgrounds get the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument, and attract new funding for youth services to protect  opportunities for young people through drama and music from cuts.
  • Westminster Labour will introduce more after school and holiday activities for children and encourage excellence in all cultural activities enjoyed by young people.  They will support the Westminster Choral project in primary schools and establish a Westminster Youth Orchestra to develop musical excellence, the enjoyment of making music together and to give young people the opportunity to show their talents locally.

Labour understands the importance of arts and the creative industries to local regeneration

  • Tower Hamlets Labour appreciate that successful creative industries rely on a rich cultural and artistic environment and will lead on encouraging the growth of cultural enterprise galleries and promoting events to celebrate the borough.  They will maximise the potential for the regeneration of Fish Island, while protecting its unique character as an employment and cultural location. They will nurture new entrepreneurs and creative industries through Start Up Centres providing affordable work space, mentoring and advice. 
  • Hackney Labour will ensure that the regeneration of Hackney Central, through the Hackney Fashion Hub, will create new workspaces, local jobs and improve the public space and work to deliver the regeneration of Hackney Wick, supporting the local creative business community
  • Camden Labour will use Camden’s ‘spare spaces’ to support artists and creative economy start-ups and will encourage and support the further development of the ‘knowledge quarter’ around Euston and King’s Cross, working with organisations such as the British Library and University of the Arts.  Their review of local planning policies will specifically look at giving support and protection to small cultural organisations.
  • Hillingdon Labour will seek to create a new Cultural Quarter to support their vibrant arts and cultural community
  • Haringey Labour will build on attracting a global architectural practice to the area which will help generate employment and regeneration and education for young people.
  • Islington Labour supports the development of new creative industries like ‘Tech City’ in Old Street and work to ensure that Islington’s residents directly benefit from the jobs and investment linked to the cluster
  • Lewisham Labour will attempt to create an environment in which the arts and digital media sectors can thrive, through their support of small and micro businesses

Labour knows the value that festivals, community venues and creative events bring to enliven local places for residents and visitors

  • Croydon Labour will establish a framework for more community-run arts and cultural events and bring back a summer festival to Croydon.  They support Fairfield Halls – a venue that has hosted groups from the Beatles to JLS – and are dedicated to providing a wider variety of local artistic venues.  They will work with community groups to make it easier for community-run events to take place in the borough and re-establish a vibrant fringe theatre for Croydon
  • Barnet Labour will do all it can to support and promote local arts and cultural events, including community festivals and support community organisations including local museums and theatre
  • Southwark Labour will  enhance and expand affordable studio and performance space
  • Greenwich Labour will refurbish the Borough Halls as a new centre for the performing arts, improve the standard and quality of performing arts venues, and establish a Heritage Trust to ensure the protection and investment in heritage buildings in the Royal Borough
  • Tower Hamlets Labour will support programmes of events that celebrate local heritage and diversity and bring people together, and will reintroduce the annual fireworks display in Victoria Park.  They will keep the borough’s Henry Moore sculpture “Old Flo” in the Council’s ownership and return it to Tower Hamlets, and seek lottery and other funding to expand their historic building restoration programme
  • Lambeth Labour will open Britain’s first black heritage centre in Windrush Square in 2014 – this was opposed by LibDem and Tory councillors
  • Sutton Labour will support local community and amateur theatre, support the use of parks for open air concerts and seek to protect existing free access to museums and historic buildings in the face of government cuts
  • Hounslow Labour will deliver a Hounslow Town war memorial for the 100th anniversary of WW1
  • Redbridge Labour will expand cultural services
  • Hillingdon Labour will seek to create borough museums in partnership with national bodies or through sponsorship
  • Haringey Labour will seek Lottery funding to refurbish the Victoria Theatre and BBC studios at Alexandra Palace
  • Waltham Forest will transform community facilities including museums and libraries – they have developed major cultural projects like the William Morris Gallery and hosted free events
  • Kingston Labour will work with local residents in support of a wider variety of venues and greater participation in the arts.  They will make it easier for arts and cultural events to take place and support campaigns and festivals to promote reading and books.
  • Islington Labour will support campaigns and festivals like Islington Reads and the Islington Word Festival to promote reading and books
  • Harrow Labour will create a cultural strategy for Harrow, filling this important gap left by the current Tory-led council

London Labour councils back arts and culture - 19/05/2014

Labour's London Manifestos for this week's elections show a striking commitment from our councillors to arts, culture and the creative industries.  This is a big, and welcome, change from what...

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Campaigning in Peckham on Thursday 1st May with Cllrs Cleo Soanes, Chris Brown and Barrie Hargrove, candidate Johnson Situ and local members.

Campaigning in Peckham - 1/5/14

Campaigning in Peckham on Thursday 1st May with Cllrs Cleo Soanes, Chris Brown and Barrie Hargrove, candidate Johnson Situ and local members.

Today, at Culture, Media and Sport questions in the House of Commons, I welcomed Sajid Javid to his new role as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and asked him to intervene with the Education Department to make the case for music in schools:

Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): I add my congratulations to the right hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Sajid Javid) on his promotion. His elevation to a seat at the Cabinet table sends out a strong signal that in this country, our politics must be for people from all communities, all ethnicities and all walks of life, and I wish him well in his job.

As the right hon. Gentleman takes over leadership of this important Department, we will be urging him to fight hard for the arts and to promote the crucial role that the BBC plays in the cultural life of this country. I want to ask him about young people and music. Creativity is being squeezed out of the curriculum; fewer pupils are taking music at GCSE and A-level; music services have been cut by almost 30%; and now the Department for Education wants to cut a further 12% of music resources available to schools through the education services grant. Will he intervene with the Education Secretary and make the case for music in schools?

Sajid Javid: I thank the right hon. and learned Lady for her warm welcome. The work that she did when in government, especially on equalities, has had a lasting impact and I welcome much of it. Music and arts in schools are important, and I have already had a discussion with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education on that issue. Action that we have already taken, such as ring-fencing funding for music in schools, is very helpful, but I want to see whether there is more we can do.

DCMS Questions - 01/05/2014

Today, at Culture, Media and Sport questions in the House of Commons, I welcomed Sajid Javid to his new role as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and...

HH Launch

In Redbridge, 500 local members joined together to launch Labour’s Local & European election campaign for 2014.
We were joined by Councillor Jas Athwal, Labour Group leader in Redbridge and Wes Streeting, Parliamentary prospective candidate for Ilford North.

Launch of local & European elections 2014 – Redbridge - 01/05/20

In Redbridge, 500 local members joined together to launch Labour’s Local & European election campaign for 2014. We were joined by Councillor Jas Athwal, Labour Group leader in Redbridge and... Read more

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On Saturday morning I celebrated the 100th anniversary of 'Arment's' Pie & Mash Shop in Westmoreland Road, Walworth. Great turnout from the local community. Thanks to owners Roy and Cheryl for such a great day.

Celebrating 'Arments' Centenary in Walworth - 12/04/2014

On Saturday morning I celebrated the 100th anniversary of 'Arment's' Pie & Mash Shop in Westmoreland Road, Walworth. Great turnout from the local community. Thanks to owners Roy and Cheryl... Read more

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We were joined by Labour councillors and Labour Party members. On Saturday I was out campaigning with Southwark Labour Party members in Rotherhithe.

Campaigning in Rotherhithe - 12/04/2014

We were joined by Labour councillors and Labour Party members. On Saturday I was out campaigning with Southwark Labour Party members in Rotherhithe.

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This morning I visited Canada Water Library & Culture Space with Council Leader Peter John, Council Lead for Culture & Arts Veronica Ward and Aine Gallagher. It's one of Southwark Council's flagship libraries which recently celebrated its one millionth visitor. Since opening in November 2011 the library has had a monthly average of 37,000 visitors and provides not only as a popular learning space for the local community, but also a cultural space which hosts live music, theatre and author events. Thanks to Pam Usher and Linda Foster for showing us around.

Canada Water Library & Culture Space - 10/04/2014

This morning I visited Canada Water Library & Culture Space with Council Leader Peter John, Council Lead for Culture & Arts Veronica Ward and Aine Gallagher. It's one of Southwark... Read more

Southwark Council is right to be setting up a Childcare Commission, chaired by local MP Tessa Jowell, to look at how all families can have access to good quality, affordable, flexible childcare. For all the progress on childcare made in recent decades, that is slipping back under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition. Something needs to be done.

Since 2010, there are more children under 5 in Southwark but fewer childcare places. 15 hours a week free childcare is just not enough for many mothers to get a job or work the hours they need.  And childcare is too expensive for many families. The average cost of a part time nursery place in Camberwell & Peckham for a child under 5 is £110 a week. For a mother on average local earnings this is almost 40% of her pay on childcare. And some parents have to give up work and rely on benefits.  As mothers, whose pay has stagnated, save money by cutting back on the hours of childcare they use, they rely more on a patchwork of family and friends.  And this undermines the continuity of care for the child.

Many parents have let me know the problems they have trying to balance work and childcare. For example, a self-employed single mother of 2 children from Peckham told me that the 15 free hours don’t offer enough flexibility to allow her to expand her mobile hairdressing business. So she has had to reduce her working hours to look after her children – just like her mother had to.

A mother of 3 children from Camberwell said that she had left her senior role in a national charity to become a professional child minder and look after her own children at the same time because she couldn’t make work pay and afford the childcare she needed.

When I first became an MP in the 1980's, one of the biggest complaints from local mothers bringing up young children on their own was the lack of childcare. There were no community nurseries and no help with the cost of the very few private nurseries, or with the cost of childminders.

When we got in to government in 1997, our National Childcare Strategy – through childcare tax credits, Sure Start Centres and nurseries in the NHS and colleges – led to a massive increase in childcare provision.

Today the Government is cutting back on childcare tax credit - which helps parents pay nursery or childminders fees - and the Government Grant to Southwark for children services like Sure Start. The price is being paid by children and parents and a growing benefit bill.

That's why Southwark Council is working hard to protect children's services and why we, if we get back into government, will guarantee parents 25 hours free childcare.

Southwark News column: Childcare in Camberwell & Peckham - 10/4/2014

Southwark Council is right to be setting up a Childcare Commission, chaired by local MP Tessa Jowell, to look at how all families can have access to good quality, affordable,...

Milton Keynes Launch_10042014

Over 150 people attended the launch of Labour’s Milton Keynes Local Election campaign at the MK Academy in Leadenhall last night.  These are very important elections for Milton Keynes with all 57 councillors up for election on the newly expanded Milton Keynes Council.

Launching Labour’s Milton Keynes Local Election Campaign – 09/04

Over 150 people attended the launch of Labour’s Milton Keynes Local Election campaign at the MK Academy in Leadenhall last night.  These are very important elections for Milton Keynes with... Read more

KieronBryan

Today Kieron Bryan, a freelance journalist who was detained in Russia after his arrest with Greenpeace activists in September 2013, visited Parliament with his brother Russell and his parents Ann and Andy. Chris Bryant MP, who also campaigned to free Kieron, joined us.

In Parliament I led a campaign to free Kieron, who lives in Peckham, as he was employed on a short-term contract to document a protest and was not a threat to the Russian state. Kieron spent two months in detention and one month on bail until the charges were dropped in December last year and he was allowed to return home to his family. We talked about Kieron's experience in Russia and his future journalism plans.

Meeting Kieron Bryan - 09/04/2014

Today Kieron Bryan, a freelance journalist who was detained in Russia after his arrest with Greenpeace activists in September 2013, visited Parliament with his brother Russell and his parents Ann...

Every week people ask me for help with housing problems, and for a lot of people the biggest concern is the cost. Whether they’re young people who’ve grown up in Southwark and want to find a place of their own, young couples hoping to start a family or people who’ve found jobs in Southwark and need to find somewhere to live, there is a pressing need for homes that people can afford.
 
With over 20,000 people on the council housing waiting list, and house prices sky high, many turn to the private rented sector. Because Southwark is so close to the centre of London the average cost of a privately rented two bed flat is £2,000 a month. Such high rents mean that many local people are forced to move away.
 
Here are some examples of people who’ve recently contacted me about their housing problems with renting in the private sector
 
-A lone mother and her teenage daughter were evicted from their Peckham flat.  She’d had many problems with the flat, including damp and mould as well as faulty electrics, and asked her landlord to deal with these problems. He didn't and instead he evicted them. They've been looking for a new home ever since but can’t find anywhere they can afford. She works as a care assistant and her hours are changeable so many landlords are reluctant to let to her. They are now living in a hostel as she continues to look for a new home.
 
-A couple who have lived in their Walworth home for over 20 years face eviction as their private landlord has decided to sell the property. The couple, a student and a part time cleaner, don’t know how they are going to find an affordable home with rents as high as £1,500 a month for a one bedroom flat in their area. Their landlord has agreed to let them stay while they look for somewhere else but they will have to move away from Walworth to an area where rents are cheaper.

-A lone mother from East Dulwich with an 11 year old son faced eviction last year because her landlord raised their rent from £850 to £1,100 a month. She couldn't afford this increase as she works part time as a sales assistant at Argos, and she couldn’t find anywhere else in the local area that she could afford. She didn't want to move away from her friends, her job and her son’s school but in the end she had no choice. She found an affordable home in Croydon but had to uproot her family and find a new school for her son.
 
London is facing a housing crisis, with a chronic lack of affordable housing across the capital. Under this Government, the situation is getting worse with cuts to housing benefit and not enough new houses being built. As the need grows, it gets even harder for the Council to help people with their housing.  So it is all credit to Southwark Council that they are tackling this by clamping down on bad landlords and building 11,000 new homes - when the Lib Dems ran the Council, they only built one new home! This is the most ambitious social house building programme anywhere in the country.
 
The next Labour government will deal with the chronic insecurity of Britain’s private rental market. We will stop sky high rent increases and make long term tenancies the standard. This is Labour’s fair deal for rented housing - so that people can settle down, know where their children will go to school, and know they won’t be priced out of their home.
 

Southwark News column: Housing in the private rented sector - 8/

Every week people ask me for help with housing problems, and for a lot of people the biggest concern is the cost. Whether they’re young people who’ve grown up in...

Door Knock

This evening I joined Jo Baxter, Cllrs Mark Glover & Nick Dolezal and council candidates Jamille Mohammed and Jasmine Ali to campaign on the doorstop of Gordon Road in Lane ward.

Campaigning in Lane Ward - SE15 - 03/04/2014

This evening I joined Jo Baxter, Cllrs Mark Glover & Nick Dolezal and council candidates Jamille Mohammed and Jasmine Ali to campaign on the doorstop of Gordon Road in Lane... Read more

Door Knock

This evening I joined Jo Baxter, Cllrs Mark Glover & Nick Dolezal and council candidates Jamille Mohammed and Jasmine Ali to campaign on the doorstop of Gordon Road in Lane ward.

Campaigning in Lane Ward - 03/04/2014

This evening I joined Jo Baxter, Cllrs Mark Glover & Nick Dolezal and council candidates Jamille Mohammed and Jasmine Ali to campaign on the doorstop of Gordon Road in Lane... Read more

Creative Writing_04042014

In Carlisle, in the run up to the Council elections in 2012, one of the Labour group’s central pledges was to create a vibrant arts and culture hub to help the economic recovery of the city. I joined Lee Sherriff, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate for Carlisle and Colin Glover, Leader of the Council to see the Old Fire Station as work gets underway to create a new £1million art venue for the city. Whilst I was there I met with some of the creative groups who are already using the venue.

Arts and Culture in Carlisle – 03/04/2014

In Carlisle, in the run up to the Council elections in 2012, one of the Labour group’s central pledges was to create a vibrant arts and culture hub to help... Read more

Canvassing Carlisle_04042014

On 10th April there will be a County Council by-election in Belle Vue ward in Carlisle. I joined Labour’s candidate Christine Bowditch, Lee Sherriff, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate and Labour members for campaigning in the area. People on the doorstep raised the lack of jobs for young people, and rising costs to their food and energy bills.

Campaigning in Carlisle – 03/04/2014

On 10th April there will be a County Council by-election in Belle Vue ward in Carlisle. I joined Labour’s candidate Christine Bowditch, Lee Sherriff, Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate and Labour members...

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Today I met with the Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John. We discussed the regeneration plans for Peckham, local policing, school choice, childcare and the Council's future plans re: housing, education and public health.

Meeting Southwark Council Leader Peter John - 31/3/2014

   Today I met with the Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John. We discussed the regeneration plans for Peckham, local policing, school choice, childcare and the Council's future plans...

Summit

Over 100 women attended the Welsh Women's summit ahead of Welsh Conference today.

Welsh Women's Summit - Wales Conference - 28/03/2014

Over 100 women attended the Welsh Women's summit ahead of Welsh Conference today. Read more

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