Harriet Harman

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

Current News

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Parents tell me they want continued improvement at Hollydale Primary School, not Tory cuts. 

Campaigning at Hollydale Primary School

Parents tell me they want continued improvement at Hollydale Primary School, not Tory cuts. @SPACE_FairFund

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Brilliant to be back in Bermondsey and Old Southwark to join hundreds of local Labour members, Florence Eshalomi AM, Seb Dance, MEP and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at the launch of Neil Coyle's campaign for re-election. Neil has been a brilliant representative for the people of Bermondsey and Old Southwark in Parliament and we have worked together for Southwark on campaigns for better transport and to protest Tory school cuts to education. 

 

Backing Neil Coyle's campaign for re-election in Bermondsey &Old Southwark

Brilliant to be back in Bermondsey and Old Southwark to join hundreds of local Labour members, Florence Eshalomi AM, Seb Dance, MEP and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at the...

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Chilly day but warm reception for Labour, with Councillors Lorraine Lauder, Samantha Jury-Dada and Paul Fleming at St Peter's Primary School in Faraday this morning. 

Campaigning at St Peter's Primary School

Chilly day but warm reception for Labour, with Councillors Lorraine Lauder, Samantha Jury-Dada and Paul Fleming at St Peter's Primary School in Faraday this morning. 

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The Joint Committee on Human Rights has today released a report calling on the Government to bring forward legislation in the next Parliament to address the shocking rise in self-harm and suicide in prisons. The number of self-inflicted deaths in prison in England and Wales has risen steadily from 58 in 2010 to 119 in 2016, with a particularly sharp increase in the number of self-inflicted deaths amongst women prisoners. 

Recommendations

The Committee said the following changes need to be made to legislation:

  • A legal duty on the Secretary of State to specify and maintain a minimum ratio of prison officers to prisoners in each establishment.
  • A prescribed legal maximum time that a prisoner can be kept in their cell.
  • A mechanism to ensure the Secretary of State’s accountability to Parliament for overcrowding.
  • A mechanism to ensure the Secretary of State’s accountability to Parliament for maintaining the specified levels of staffing.
  • Provision to be made in the Prison Rules to enable young offenders, and prisoners with mental health conditions which place them at risk of suicide, to make free phone calls to a designated family member or friend.
  • A legal requirement to ensure that young prisoners and those with mental health conditions have access to a key worker.

Any new legislation should make explicit that one of the purposes of prison is to treat prisoners with humanity, fairness and respect for their dignity.

Chair's comments

The Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP, said:

"The introduction of legislation would do something that should have been done a long time ago, but that is now urgent, which is to end the death toll of people with mental health conditions who take their own lives in our prisons.

When the state takes someone into custody, we have a duty to keep them safe—their life becomes our responsibility—yet prisons are not a place of safety. Last year, 12 women and 107 men took their own lives while in prison in the custody of the state.  Every single one of these deaths is an absolute tragedy for each individual and their family.

Successive Governments have welcomed reports and proposals on this issue.  They have changed policy and issued new guidelines, but nothing changes, except the death toll, which rises. In 1991, we had the Woolf report; in 2007, the Corston report; in 2009, the Bradley report; and in 2015, the Harris report. It is not that we do not know what needs to be done; it is just that we have not done it.  We must recognise reality.

There is no point in having more reviews, new policies or new guidance; we must make sure that the changes we all know are needed actually happen in practice. For that to happen, we need a legal framework to be introduced in the next Parliament that will ensure that the necessary changes take place because they are required by statute."

Further information

Image: Ministry of Justice

Government must address crisis of self-inflicted deaths in prison

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has today released a report calling on the Government to bring forward legislation in the next Parliament to address the shocking rise in self-harm and suicide...

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Out with the Faraday Labour team and local councillor Lorraine Lauder talking to residents on the Taplow Estate and East Street market today!

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Visiting Taplow Estate and East Street Market

Out with the Faraday Labour team and local councillor Lorraine Lauder talking to residents on the Taplow Estate and East Street market today!    

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Busy school gate campaigning Michael Faraday Primary with Faraday Labour Councillors Paul Fleming, Samantha Jury-Dada and Lorraine Lauder this morning. The school was rebuilt under the last Labour Government. 

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Campaigning at Michael Faraday Primary School

Busy school gate campaigning Michael Faraday Primary with Faraday Labour Councillors Paul Fleming, Samantha Jury-Dada and Lorraine Lauder this morning. The school was rebuilt under the last Labour Government. 

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Busy Ilderton school gate this morning with parents, Councillor Evelyn Akoto and Councillor Richard Livingstone. 

Meeting parents at Ilderton Primary School

Busy Ilderton school gate this morning with parents, Councillor Evelyn Akoto and Councillor Richard Livingstone. 

Crawford_3_25.4.2017.JPGSpeaking to parents at Crawford Primary School in Camberwell this morning with local councillor at Kieron Williams. Clear that the great progress for children at Crawford is being threatened by Tory cuts. 

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Crawford Primary School campaigning

Speaking to parents at Crawford Primary School in Camberwell this morning with local councillor at Kieron Williams. Clear that the great progress for children at Crawford is being threatened by...

SE5_Forum_photo_3.jpgHelen Hayes MP, SE5 Forum, Camberwell Green councillor Kieron Williams and I have been working together to campaign to re-open Camberwell Station which sits on the Thameslink Line and is located on Camberwell Station Road. 

This would come as welcome relief to people in Southwark, who have suffered from poor transport links for years, especially following the disappoint of the proposal for the Bakerloo Line extension to only serve Old Kent Rent and with the ongoing Southern Rail chaos.

Helen Hayes MP and I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling MP to request an urgent meeting to call on the Government to re-open the station.

Find out how you can get involved in the campaign at www.openourstation.uk and sign the e-petition herewww.change.org/p/department-for-transport-re-open-camberwell-railway-station-london-se5

On Twitter you can follow the campaign using the hashtag #CamberwellStation and the campaign Twitter account @OpenOurStation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campaigning to re-open Camberwell Station

Helen Hayes MP, SE5 Forum, Camberwell Green councillor Kieron Williams and I have been working together to campaign to re-open Camberwell Station which sits on the Thameslink Line and is... Read more

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Speaking to residents about local issues at Peckham Rye Station this morning - thanks to Southwark Labour members for joining me.

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Peckham Rye Station Campaigning

Speaking to residents about local issues at Peckham Rye Station this morning - thanks to Southwark Labour members for joining me.  

Capture.JPGGreat to meet residents on the Friary Estate this morning and listen to local concerns with Livesey ward Councillor Richard Livingstone and Labour members.

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Friary Estate Walkabout

Great to meet residents on the Friary Estate this morning and listen to local concerns with Livesey ward Councillor Richard Livingstone and Labour members.

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Good to talk to parents, children and headteacher Manda George about local issues at Rye Oak Primary this morning with local Lane Councillor Jasmine Ali. Staff at Rye Oak Primary have been doing great work but Government cuts of £1,000 per pupil funding mean they've already had to cut support staff & increase class sizes to thirty plus. Labour will oppose school cuts all the way.

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Rye Oak Primary School visit

Good to talk to parents, children and headteacher Manda George about local issues at Rye Oak Primary this morning with local Lane Councillor Jasmine Ali. Staff at Rye Oak Primary...

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Parliamentary Report - March/April 2017

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IMG_0327.JPGGreat to talk to local parents, children and headteachers Gregory Doey and Julie Ireland at Pilgrims' Way Primary School this morning with the Government's cuts to education are now threatening that progress - Pilgrims' Way is facing a £1,110 cut in per pupil funding from 2015-20. I will continue to support the Southwark Parents Against Cuts to Education group and work my Labour colleagues to fight these cuts all the way.

Pilgrim's Way Primary School Visit

Great to talk to local parents, children and headteachers Gregory Doey and Julie Ireland at Pilgrims' Way Primary School this morning with the Government's cuts to education are now threatening that...

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Legislation and enforcement need to be improved to ensure adequate protection of workers' human rights, a new report published today by the Joint Committee on Human Rights has found. The report proposes providing more accessible and effective mechanisms to improve access to justice in cases where human rights may have been breached. 

Stronger Legislation

  • The National Action Plan is the UK's statement of intent on human rights - it must be more ambitious and set specific targets by which to measure progress
  • The Government should introduce legislation to impose a duty on all companies to prevent human rights abuses, as well as a criminal offence of 'failure to prevent human rights abuses' similar to offences created for bribery in the Bribery Act 2010
  • The Government should introduce legislation to enable prosecution of a parent company where human rights abuses are found further down the supply chain
  • The Government's proposed 'Great Repeal Bill' must replicate the human rights protections enshrined in EU law
  • The Government should support the proposals contained within the Modern Slavery (Transparency in Supply Chains) Bill (requiring commercial businesses and public bodies to include a statement on slavery and human trafficking in their annual report and accounts)
  • Human rights must be a key component of future trade deals

Stronger Enforcement

  • The Government should extend protections provided by the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority to other industries, such as construction
  • Government procurement must lead by example and exclude companies who do not undertake appropriate due diligence to ensure human rights standards are met
  • The Government should give local authorities the powers to close down business premises found to exploit workers (e.g. where there has been found to be underpayment of wages, lack of employment contracts or where there is a significant disregard of health and safety regulations)

Clearer Routes to Justice

  • The UK National Contact Point (NCP) must be given the resources and government support to be an effective route to justice
  • Tribunal fees must be reduced to remove the disincentive for individuals to bring legitimate claims for discrimination and other abuses

Chair's comment

On publishing the report, Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP commented:

"No one wants to be wearing clothes made by child labour, or slave labour. UK companies need to have high standards abroad as well as here at home and they must ensure that there are not human rights abuses in their supply chain.

More can be done by the UK Government to ensure that human rights are respected by UK companies in their operations outside the UK. The Government must toughen up the law with a new legal duty on businesses to respect human rights when they are operating abroad. Victims of human rights abuses must have access to the courts. And the Government should ensure that when it buys on our behalf it doesn't do so from suppliers who are abusing human rights.

Over the course of this inquiry we were pleased to hear of the growing importance of human rights issues to businesses, consumers and government. Indeed, developments such as the Gangmasters Licencing Authority and Modern Slavery Act have caused real improvements. Yet, all too often, cases were brought to our attention where people were making the products we use every day in conditions that are simply not acceptable. In the UK, this can mean pay below the minimum wage and dangerous working conditions; in other countries it can mean virtual slavery and long-term damage to the natural environment.

The UK must build on work already done and create human rights protections that demand high standards of businesses. Businesses must be required by law to demonstrate how they are ensuring human rights are respected in their operations - if they do not then public bodies must exclude them from procurement opportunities.

Access to justice must be improved and companies must feel the effects of their actions. We would like to see laws enacted to allow victims to bring claims against companies where they have failed to prevent human rights harms from occurring.

Article 50 has been triggered. We are removing ourselves from the oversight of EU law and looking to develop new trading opportunities around the world. Human rights protections must not be lost in the rush. The 'Repeal Bill' must replicate human rights currently protected by EU law. Human rights protections must be a central pillar of future trade deals. If the conditions under which the things we buy are considered unacceptable in the UK then we must not simply export the problem to another country.

We have to make sure that when human rights abuses occur they are uncovered. Routes to access justice must be understood and achievable for those affected. The UK National Contact Point must become the advocate of human rights it is intended to be and the Government must give them the support they need to do this. The Government must further enable victims to seek justice. Excessive charges for access to a tribunal is an often insurmountable barrier. We are talking about exploited workers entering a complex system for the first time. They need support, not charges that they cannot afford to pay."

Case study: Textiles production in Turkey and the UK

A key finding in the report is the importance and difficulty in enforcing best practice throughout supply chains. Major high street retailers will regularly outsource the production of their fashion lines to factories, who may then further subcontract production elsewhere.

Over the course of the inquiry, the Committee spoke to major high street retailers and visited factories in Turkey and Leicester.

The emergence of "fast fashion", where styles seen on the catwalk are available cheaply in shops in a matter of weeks, has shifted production back to the UK where suppliers are able to offer quicker turnaround times than competitors thousands of miles away. Research by the University of Leicester has indicated that this new sub-industry is characterised by frequent violations of work and employment regulations.

"The majority of garment workers are paid way below the National Minimum Wage, do not have employment contracts, and are subject to intense and arbitrary work practices."

Centre for Sustainable Work and Employment Futures, University of Leicester

"What the employers do is that they make her sign a paper that she will work either 16 or 20 hours a week at minimum wage. Then they will give her a draft copy of wage slip which will again show that she works for example 20 hours and is paid £7.20 an hour...She worked on average 60 hours a week but only got paid £3 sometimes £3.50 an hour. In that time she also suffered severe back pain because of the number of hours she worked. She was always paid cash."

Written evidence received by JCHR from Ms Sarita Shah

In their evidence to the Committee, major retailers including ASOS, M&S and NEXT placed human rights issues high up their agenda, and noted the increased importance of ethical production to consumers. In many instances, sub-contracting has been explicitly prohibited in contracts and retailers have taken remedial action to improve conditions. However, supply chain dynamics, and the uneven distribution of costs and benefits between retailers and manufacturers cannot be discounted as a major factor. According to local manufacturers in the UK, buyers did not understand the real costs of production and often compared costs to those available overseas. A skewed playing field had been created whereby profit margins for suppliers were so small they left no room for improved wages or working conditions.

Harriet Harman commented:

"When high street retailers spoke to the Committee they told us that maintaining human rights in their supply chain was high up on their agenda, and it is becoming more important to consumers as well. However, serious concerns remain about the lack of speed and ineffectiveness of the action that some companies take when problems emerge. We must guard against any negative impact of the demand for quick, cheap fashion. The buck has to stop with businesses: they must demand that their suppliers pay good wages and have safe working conditions."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

Government needs to step in to protect workers' human rights

Legislation and enforcement need to be improved to ensure adequate protection of workers' human rights, a new report published today by the Joint Committee on Human Rights has found. The report... Read more

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Today, along with my parliamentary team, I attended the Service of Hope at Westminster Abbey. The service brought together people of all faiths in Commemoration of those who died or were injured in the attack on the 22nd March, it also gave recognition to the voluntary agencies who gave their support to all those involved.

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Service of Hope at Westminster Abbey

Today, along with my parliamentary team, I attended the Service of Hope at Westminster Abbey. The service brought together people of all faiths in Commemoration of those who died or were...

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Today I visited the great team at Kings College Hospital to say thank you for their amazing care of those caught in the Westminster attack on March 22nd. Nick Moberly, Chief Executive of Kings College Hospital Trust hosted the meeting and we were also joined by Helen Hayes MP for Dulwich & West Norwood.

 

It was a privilege to meet and hear from the team on duty that day:

Mr Robert Bentley, Clinical Director of Trauma and Emergency Surgery

Dr Shelley Dolan, Chief Nurse and Executive Director of Midwifery

Jennifer Watson, Director of Nursing

Mick Dowling, Head of Nursing, Critical Care

Frankie Northfield, Head of Physiotherapy

Kevin Dennison, Head of Nursing, Planned Surgery and Ophthalmology

Sister Isabella Jewel, Ward Sister, Katherine Monk Ward

Dr Sean Cross, Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist

Harvey McEnroe, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Network Care and Silver Command during the incident

Malcolm Tunnicliff, Clinical Director, Emergency Medicine

Jacqui Sahiri & Tracey MacCormack from the Midwifery team. With the lock down of St Thomas’, King’s received their expectant mothers.

Nicola Torrens, Pharmacy Team Leader in A&E

Anna Oviedova, Neurosurgery Registrar

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Visit to Kings College Hospital following the Westminster attack

Today I visited the great team at Kings College Hospital to say thank you for their amazing care of those caught in the Westminster attack on March 22nd. Nick Moberly,...

Simon_Messinger_Flo_Eshalomi_28.3.2017.jpgThis morning Florence Eshalomi AM and I met Southwark Borough Commander Simon Messinger to discuss the Met's proposal to merge Southwark and Lambeth for policing, as part of a wider proposal to reduce borough commanders in the capital from 32 to 12. We expressed our concern about the impact of this on the relationship between Southwark police, and the local community and council, and will continue to oppose these proposals.  

Met plan to merge Southwark and Lambeth for policing

This morning Florence Eshalomi AM and I met Southwark Borough Commander Simon Messinger to discuss the Met's proposal to merge Southwark and Lambeth for policing, as part of a wider...

St_Georges_Primary_School_1_USE_28.3.17.jpgGreat to meet parents and children from St George's Primary School this morning, as well as the new Headteacher Stephen Scott. He and his team are doing good work in taking the school forward but they have a very difficult job to do with the Tory cuts to per pupil funding of £875 by 2020. We'll be working together to oppose the Government's school cuts.

St George's Primary School Visit

Great to meet parents and children from St George's Primary School this morning, as well as the new Headteacher Stephen Scott. He and his team are doing good work in taking...

HH_speech_-_Westminster_terror_attack_23.3.17.jpgI want to thank the Prime Minister for her words here today and also her words on the steps of Downing Street yesterday. At this very difficult and important time she spoke for us all, so I thank her for that. We’re so proud of the bravery of PC Keith Palmer. So sad for his grieving family. But so grateful for what he did to keep us safe, and I’d like to add my tribute to all the police here in Westminster and the parliamentary staff, who acted with such calmness and professionalism yesterday, and I’d like to pay tribute too, to the emergency trauma team at King’s College Hospital, who are caring for the injured.

This was a horrific crime, and it has cost lives and caused injury, but as an act of terror it has failed. It has failed because we are here and we are going to go about our business. It’s failed because despite the trauma that they witnessed outside their windows our staff are here, and they are getting on with their work. It failed because as the Prime Minister so rightly said we are not going to allow this to be used as a pretext for division, hatred and Islamophobia.

This democracy is strong and this Parliament is robust. This was a horrific crime, but as an act of terror it has failed.

Westminster Attack - Statement in the House of Commons

I want to thank the Prime Minister for her words here today and also her words on the steps of Downing Street yesterday. At this very difficult and important time...

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