Harriet Harman

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

Current News

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***Check against delivery***

Thanks very much to Les Allamby for inviting me today and for his input and support of the work of our Joint Committee on Human Rights.

I’m delighted to be here to pay tribute to, and support, the work of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission

I well remember when the Commission was established in 1999 as part of the peace process. But there had been a movement for human rights and equality in Northern Ireland long before that.   And strong links with the human rights movement in the rest of the UK.  In the 1970s when I was legal officer at NCCL (now Liberty) there was an active Northern Ireland Committee examining, and challenging, everything to do with human rights from job discrimination to internment without trial.

Because of the divisions between the Catholic and the Protestant community (republican/loyalist) and the accompanying violence and intimidation, the context for your promotion of human rights was highly challenging but also hugely important.  You have had to defend rights in a very difficult context of and amidst controversy caused by issues such as those surrounding parades, protests and blasphemy 

So I start by acknowledging the brave work on human rights and equality that has been done within and between Northern Ireland’s different communities.

Your Commission has, over the years, dealt with all the issues that the EOC, CRE and now the EHRC does - of sex discrimination and racism.

You have, like other commissions, moved forward on issues which are newly commanding focus on the rights agenda such as age discrimination, disability discrimination, gay rights, Female Genital Mutilation and human trafficking.


Highlighting the NI women who’ve fought for their rights

I have admired, in particular, the work over the years of the Women’s Movement in Northern Ireland. 

As we campaigned for laws prohibiting sex discrimination and unequal pay and for their rigorous implementation - I knew of and admired the work of Inez McCormack, who along with many others, blazed a trail for women in Northern Ireland.

And though the context of the campaign for women’s equality in Northern Ireland was very different from our situation in the rest of the UK, many of the battles were the same. 

And the women’s movement had the same energising effect on all of us - all over England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland, and our arguments were the same.  We wanted nothing less than the transformation of women’s role - in the home, at work and in society.

When I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s the summit of aspiration for a girl was to get a husband

And when you’d achieved that lofty ambition - to look after him, the home and the children.

Education was wasted on a girl - or worse, was dangerous as it might jeopardise her ability to snare the husband.  No man would want a wife who was too clever by half.  And certainly not cleverer than him.

Women worked - but didn’t have careers. Women who’d gone out to work when they left school “gave up to get married”. (Example of woman in Scotland).

But for the unfortunate few who had failed to achieve a husband - there was a whole language around these women.  Spinsters, left on the shelf, wallflowers.

My own mother - one of the very few who went to university, qualified as a barrister but she gave up the law when she got married.  Solicitors explained to her that clients thought they were getting second best and would lose their case with a woman barrister.  And anyway she had a more pressing role which was to make my father’s breakfast and dinner.  

So she gave up - and her wig and gown was consigned to our dressing up box.

 

The Women’s Movement - rejecting subordination to men

But I was part of a new generation of women who weren’t going to put up with this.

Not the man as “head of household”

Not take a vow to “obey”

Not his right to beat her

Not defined by what you look like

Not have to choose between family and work - but do both

And to do that we needed to break into men-only areas in every walk of life

Men only judiciary

Men only trade union movement and business leaders

Men making decisions in councils, in Parliament and governments

 

Demanding an equal say

We demanded this as a matter of principle

Because to exclude women was discrimination

But also because it would lead to better decisions

This was challenging the established order and was fiercely resisted.

It was even controversial to count the numbers.  (E.g. in FTSE 100 counting women on boards and the number of men only boards).

Women in councils

League tables

Women in Parliament

I got selected - and elected

But, because of terrible results for Labour in 1983 no other young feminists came in

Pressing for more women

Hard to make a difference if outnumbered.

 

When I was first elected in 1982 it was to a House of Commons of 97% men.

And of MPs from NI constituencies it was 100% men.

Women’s voices were simply not heard.

We thought it was not enough to get the vote so that we could vote for men - wanted to have our own voice.

 

Labour women struggled for women’s representation, in the party of women and equality.

All regions, women from trade unions and professional women.

Making the case - but no change.

Then, we tried one woman on every shortlist - but no change

Then, Shortlists 50% women - but no change

So, All Women Shortlists

1997 over 100 women Labour MPs (still none in Northern Ireland)

 

Slow - but steady - progress

So women had got into Parliament.  But still women lacked influence as they were the most junior

But, over time, women moving up in the civil service

Moving up as special advisors

Into the political commentariat

And as more women were elected, on all sides of the House of Commons, the momentum gathered for a steady march of progress. 

*a national childcare strategy

*doubling maternity pay and leave and introducing paternity leave

*new laws on domestic violence

In the 30 years since I became an MP...what we have now is a transformed political agenda but the practical reality is we still need much more to change.

  • There’s an acknowledgement that domestic violence is a terrible thing - but still pervasive.  Still 2 women a week are killed by a current or former husband or partner and every day refuges are being forced to turn women away.
  • There’s an acknowledgement that women are entitled to equal pay - but they still don’t get it.  Once they’ve had their first child, let alone their second, their pay and prospects suffer and never recover.
  • There’s an acknowledgement that women need time off when they have a baby - but maternity pay is so low that still most women can’t afford to take all their maternity leave and woefully small take up of paternity leave.  And, as yet, there is no maternity or paternity leave for MPs or councillors. We’re hoping to change that now and Sylvia Hermon and Emma Little-Pengelly are both supporting us with that.
  • There’s a recognition that childcare is essential but there are still women tearing their hair out to trying to find, or afford, good quality, flexible childcare…or unable to work.

So in the decades ahead we must, having won the arguments, win the practical change.  Next year as we celebrate the centenary of the first women winning the right to vote we must step up our ambition not just to “get into the room” but to insist on change.  Less persuasion and more insistence.  Less requests, more demands. Less suggesting, more asserting.

 

Solidarity between women in the cause of progress

One of the most fundamental tenets of the women’s movement of the women’s movement has always been solidarity between women.

Back in the 1970s the notion of “sisterhood” was a new and surprising thing.  When I was growing up, other women were regarded as deadly rivals, mostly in completion to get the husband.  There was plentiful language to describe women’s rivalry - such as “scratching each other’s eyes out.”   My sister was applying for work as a lawyer in the 1970s.  This was before the Sex Discrimination Act banned overt discrimination against women.  So she applied to a firm where she knew they already had a woman.  Phoning them and asking to apply for the job she was told that they wouldn’t consider her - because she was a woman.  But, she said, you do employ women, you’ve got one.  That’s precisely why, they said.  We’ve already got one and if we had another you’d only fight.  There was no sense that women could support each other. 

But the determination that we would stand together in solidarity, working together in common cause was one of the transformative elements of the women’s movement.  The women’s movement changed how we saw ourselves, how we saw our relationships with men and how we related to each other.

We were going to insist on pressing forward in every aspect of life - in factories in offices, in the law and universities, in councils and in parliament – and in our homes. And the way we were going to do this was by working together as women.  Women not as rivals but as allies in the difficult and often painful quest for change. 

And that solidarity was to all women - not just those near at hand but those from other walks of life, women in different countries and from other parts of the country.    So we looked over to our sisters in Northern Ireland.  And they looked over to us.  So many things about our lives were different.  But so much of our ambition was the same.  And instinctively we were, and are, in solidarity with women’s quest for change here. 

 

New solidarity between women in Parliament with women in NI

Relations between the government in Westminster and decision-making in Northern Ireland was and remains, extraordinarily sensitive and complex, deeply entwined with the peace process.  Which we all wanted to see succeed.  Often when women in Northern Ireland reached out to us for support we were warned by our colleagues in parliament, “that’s got to be decided in Northern Ireland - if you interfere you’ll jeopardise the peace settlement.”  Of course it is fundamental to us that we support devolution and decision-making by Northern Ireland’s own representatives.  But there’s a new dimension to the sense of solidarity between women in Westminster with our sisters in Northern Ireland which I think marks a turning point.   The preparedness of Parliament to engage in the issue of abortion for Northern Irish women is testament to that.  In a PLP which is now 45% women and where there are young women on all sides of the House who are what I describe as “daughters of the women’s movement”, there is now a refusal to accept being told to stay out of it,  just accept what male-dominated Northern Irish politics dictates and don’t intrude.  

 

Women should decide their own destiny

And another tenet of the women’s movement was that we should decide for ourselves, as women.  And that men should not tell us what to do.

The slogan on the banners that we marched under in the 1960s in support of the Abortion Act was “not the church, not the state, women must decide their fate.”  We could have added - if it rhymed, when it comes to women’s lives, women - not men - should decide.   In those days there was a natural expectation that men made decisions and women abided by them.  In the early 1980s as a new MP I did a survey of the expert committees which advised government.   It was men in government being advised by male advisory committees.  Men, it seemed were the experts on everything - the mines, the motorways, the money supply.  It was the last straw when I discovered that even on the maternity services advisory committee it was all men!  But it seems that they were the experts on giving birth too and had the say so on abortion.

When I look back at all the progress we made I can see that there are some lessons I’ve learnt.


Solidarity “despite” devolution

One of them is that you’re always told that there’s an overriding reason that you shouldn’t “interfere” in support of other women.  There’s always a political imperative advanced that though it might be right in principle, it’s not right at this particular point to act in support of that quest for equality.   Heeding those voices is applauded as “realistic” as “teamly”.  But the reality is that lack of solidarity weakens equality movements and postpones the day when people achieve the rights that they seek.

So, we were warned that putting gay marriage in the Equality Act would anger the Catholic Church in Scotland and thereby unsettle the Labour vote.   We were warned that using our votes to support the demand of women in Northern Ireland for abortion would destabilise the finely balanced, all important political equilibrium within Northern Ireland and between Britain and Northern Ireland.  And jeopardise the peace process.  So we mustn’t get involved.

We have always deferred on questions of devolution.  That was the reason we didn’t, for example, extend the Equality Act to Northern Ireland.  But the question we’re asking now is, where does that leave you?  If it leaves you failing to extend equality to gay couples how can that be right? If it leaves women in Northern Ireland without our support for abortion rights, rights that we in the rest of the UK have had since 1967, how can that be right?   If it leaves women in Northern Ireland held back by male dominated politics, how can that be right?

There’s a new sense amongst women in Westminster that we will not step aside when our sisters in Northern Ireland call for our support.  I don’t know whether that is because there are now more women MPs on all sides and that brings with it a new assertiveness, or whether it’s because the new generation of women are that much more distant from the violence of the division in Northern Ireland.  But, whatever the reason, I think it promises significant and welcome change.  And the manifestation of this came with the change on abortion in England for Northern Irish women.  The government had to accede to the demands, ably led by Stella Creasy MP, for women from Northern Ireland to get NHS abortions in England because if they didn’t we would vote on it, we had the numbers and they would lose.   

Those who oppose change can, in my view, no longer rely on the assumption that Westminster will step back from supporting demands for rights in Northern Ireland because of our support for devolution.   Women’s rights, gay rights are human rights, human rights are universal and we must champion them in every part of the UK as well as every part of the world.  We will call on your solidarity as we struggle to take things forward.  And I can say with confidence that you can call on our support.  So let’s work together closely.  And I’m sure we can identify opportunities to turn that solidarity into action.

 

No borders between sisters - Speech at Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission annual statement launch

***Check against delivery*** Thanks very much to Les Allamby for inviting me today and for his input and support of the work of our Joint Committee on Human Rights. I’m...

The local hospital in my constituency, King’s College Hospital, has one of the busiest and best A&E departments in London.

Staff are working hard every day to provide excellent care, and are consistently meeting cancer treatment waiting times of 62 days and improving intensive care, despite the pressure inflicted by Tory cuts.

I recently met with the Chief Executive of King’s, Nick Moberly. He told me significant work is underway to improve homecare for people after operations, increase the number of beds available and streamline the linkup between different emergency departments.

King’s do an excellent job with the limited money they have and recently took on the running of the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley and its A&E department, which is being turned around under their management.

This year has been particularly hard for the staff at King’s. On top of the deep Tory cuts all hospitals face, staff at King’s have been through the unprecedented trauma of looking after 23 victims of the Westminster and Borough Market terror attacks and 12 victims of the horrific Grenfell Tower fire, and have demonstrated the utmost calmness, professionalism and care.

But King’s are not immune from funding pressures, and these have led to difficulties in meeting the 4 hour waiting target for treating people in A & E. Across London – district nurses have halved under the Tory government and inevitably it’s been nurses in emergency care who have to pick up the slack when they aren’t there.

More than 40% of newly recruited nurses are leaving full time employment within their first year and the overall number of nurses and health visitors is now lower than when the Tories entered government in 2010.

King’s have worked hard to reduce their staffing shortage, but the hospital are still short of 528 nurses and midwives.

According to the Royal College of Nursing, the main reasons nurses are leaving the job they love are rising workload and staff shortages.

The Tories fail to acknowledge that it is dedicated hospital workers, doctors, and nurses who deliver the NHS. Instead of paying them fairly the government has made them bear the brunt of their cuts, enforcing a 1% pay cap which has cut the value of nurses’ wages by 14% since 2010.

The Tories’ own figures show the number of nurses quitting because of worries about their finances or their health has doubled. This crisis is all of the government’s making.

NHS staff need to be paid fairly, not least to ensure they can afford to rent or buy homes near the hospital they work in. What does it say about the government’s priorities that in the Budget last month they could only find £350 million to help the NHS cope with the winter crises and made no commitment on staff pay?

Yet they were able to find 11 times that amount to spend on a disastrous ‘no deal Brexit’ which will only further hit NHS staffing levels as EU citizens, who make up 14% of the NHS workforce in London, are put off coming here.

NHS Staff Need To Be Paid Fairly

The local hospital in my constituency, King’s College Hospital, has one of the busiest and best A&E departments in London. Staff are working hard every day to provide excellent care,...

 

It was great to meet booksellers and book lovers from all around the country at the Parliamentary Book Awards last night. It has been a joy to work with the Penguin Books team. Thank you to the Booksellers and Publishers Associations for hosting this amazing event.

Parliamentary Book Awards 2017: 'A Woman's Work' - Best Memoir By A Parliamentarian

  It was great to meet booksellers and book lovers from all around the country at the Parliamentary Book Awards last night. It has been a joy to work with the...

This morning I met with the Chief Executive of King’s College NHS Trust, Nick Moberly to discuss the provision of local health services at King's College Hospital.

We discussed efforts to improve the experience of people being safely transferred home after operations and to improve the linkup between different emergency departments. We also talked about the current shortage of midwives and nurses facing King’s College Hospital.

Nick and the local NHS Trust are doing all they can to improve care despite deep NHS cuts. I will continue to liaise closely with them on local health issues and press the Government to provide the NHS with the money it so desperately needs.

Visit to King's College Hospital

This morning I met with the Chief Executive of King’s College NHS Trust, Nick Moberly to discuss the provision of local health services at King's College Hospital. We discussed efforts...

HARRIET HARMAN REPORTS ON HER ETHIOPIA VISIT:  “DONALD TRUMP’S ABORTION LAW WILL COST THE LIVES OF ETHIOPIAN WOMEN"

After meeting Ethiopian women MPs and students and visiting hospitals, clinics and refugee camps to look at abortion, contraception and maternal health, Harriet Harman MP says that Trump’s executive order to stop US money going to abortion services will cost the lives of women. 

As one of his first acts as President, Donald Trump committed the US to the “Mexico City Policy”. This prohibits any US Federal funds going to non-governmental organisations that provide abortion counselling or referrals, advocate to decriminalise abortion, or expand abortion services. As an organisation working on sexual and reproductive health and providing advice and facilities for abortion and contraception in 37 countries around the world, Marie Stopes International is facing cuts of £30m, 17% of their total income.

In her report published today, ‘Ethiopia: Women’s Rights are Human Rights’, Harman says that Marie Stopes International being forced to cut back their work because of the loss of US Government money will mean:

  • 88,467 more unplanned pregnancies in Ethiopia
  • 27,425 more abortions 
  • 15,822 more unsafe abortions -  putting women lives at risk
  • and 82 more maternal deaths every year in Ethiopia.

While these funds can no longer go to non-governmental organisations which provide abortion, Trump’s executive order means funds will instead go to organisations such as evangelical organisations which advocate abstinence and other measures which don’t work and set back women’s development.  

Harriet Harman said: 

“The Ethiopian Government has worked hard with international NGOs to reduce the risk of unsafe abortions and maternal deaths, but Donald Trump cutting off funds for Marie Stopes and other similar organisations is turning the clock back on this progress and endangering women’s lives.

“This is not only a threat to the women I met in Ethiopia, Marie Stopes International prevents 21,000 maternal deaths in 37 countries around the world every year. Trump’s executive order is directly threatening each one of these women’s lives and families that could be torn apart.  

“It’s not Donald Trump – and the men-only advisory team beaming as he signed on the dotted line – who should be making choices about women’s health. Women should be able to make those choices themselves, wherever they are in the world. 

“I am urging the Prime Minister to call on Donald Trump to reverse this cruel and dangerous executive order and if she were a woman PM prepared to stand up for women around the world this is what she would do”.

 


ENDS

Report on Ethiopia visit 2017 - Women's Rights are Human Rights

HARRIET HARMAN REPORTS ON HER ETHIOPIA VISIT:  “DONALD TRUMP’S ABORTION LAW WILL COST THE LIVES OF ETHIOPIAN WOMEN" After meeting Ethiopian women MPs and students and visiting hospitals, clinics and refugee camps...

A number of people have contacted about the important issue of the status of animals as sentient beings in law. On Thursday 15th November I voted in favour of New Clause 30 to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to transfer the EU Protocol on animal sentience into UK law, so that animals continue to be recognised as sentient beings after the UK leaves the EU. I am dismayed that the Government voted against this by 313 votes to 295.

Please be assured that I will continue to work with MPs from all parties to ensure that Brexit does not result in the weakening of existing animal welfare standards.

Voting to Enshrine Animals as ‘Sentient Beings’ Post-Brexit

A number of people have contacted about the important issue of the status of animals as sentient beings in law. On Thursday 15th November I voted in favour of New...

A number of people have contacted about the impact of the Tory pay cap for public sector workers.

We are all indebted to the professionalism and dedication of those that work in our public services. They do a brilliant job in difficult circumstances and are well overdue a real terms pay rise. I have consistently opposed the Government’s public sector pay cap and voted to scrap the 1% pay cap in Parliament on Wednesday 13th September.

Whilst I welcome the Government lifting of the 1% pay cap I am concerned that their proposed pay increase will be nowhere near enough for the 5 million people working in the public sector whose wages are on average over £1,000 a year lower in real terms than in 2010.

The Government’s policy of pay restraint has created a workforce crisis in our NHS and schools. I will be working with my Labour colleagues to put increasing pressure on the Government to give public sector workers the pay rise they deserve in the Autumn Budget on Wednesday 22nd November. 

Give Public Sector Workers the Pay Rise They Deserve

A number of people have contacted about the impact of the Tory pay cap for public sector workers. We are all indebted to the professionalism and dedication of those that...

GC_Report_Oct-Nov_2017_GE_FINAL_RS-page-001.jpg

Monthly Report October/November 2017

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A number of constituents have contacted me about Jim McMahon and Labour’s campaign for votes for 16 and 17 year olds. I fully support Jim McMahon’s Bill. I was disappointed the Government talked the bill out and prevented a vote on this important issue on Friday 3rd November.

The Scottish Referendum in 2014 showed us what enfranchising 16 and 17-year-olds can mean - over 80% of them registered to vote in the independence referendum there, and they participated and brought energy and vitality to the debate.

Labour tried to make it so 16 and 17 year olds could vote in the EU Referendum too. We believe we should encourage 16 and 17 year olds to participate in a democratic decision that will determine their future as much as it will ours. However, unfortunately the Government did not allow them to vote and now many young people will feel they have to deal with a future they did not want.

A Labour Government will lower the voting age to include 16 and 17 year old and please be assured we will continue to press the Tory government on this issue.

Votes at 16

A number of constituents have contacted me about Jim McMahon and Labour’s campaign for votes for 16 and 17 year olds. I fully support Jim McMahon’s Bill. I was disappointed...

Following nominations and elections among MPs, Ms Harriet Harman has been elected Chair of the committee for the 2017 Parliament.

She was the sole nomination for the position and was therefore declared elected, unopposed.

Ms Harriet Harman will formally take up position as chair of the Committee in the next meeting.

Chair's comments

"I'm delighted to be re-elected as Chair of Parliament's Human Rights Committee. 

It's all too easy to think that our human rights here are inviolable and its only in other countries that there are human rights abuses. And some even use "human rights" as a term of abuse. 

But we have to remain vigilant and the role of our committee is to scrutinise the government to ensure that it upholds our fundamental human rights."

 

Delighted to be Re-elected as Chair of Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights

Following nominations and elections among MPs, Ms Harriet Harman has been elected Chair of the committee for the 2017 Parliament. She was the sole nomination for the position and was...

A number of people have contacted about the important issue of the Government’s Brexit Impact Assessments. On Wednesday 1st November MPs unanimously passed a Labour motion demanding the Government releases the 58 Brexit impact studies.

Labour has been absolutely clear since the referendum that ministers could not withhold vital information from the public and Parliament about the impact of Brexit on jobs and the economy.

It’s completely unacceptable for the Tories to have wasted months avoiding responsible scrutiny and trying to keep the public in the dark. The reality is that it should not have taken an ancient Parliamentary procedure to get ministers to listen to common sense.

The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis MP must now urgently respond to Parliament’s vote and publish these papers in full without redactions and Labour will continue to press the Government until they do so.

Government Must Publish Brexit Impact Assessments

A number of people have contacted about the important issue of the Government’s Brexit Impact Assessments. On Wednesday 1st November MPs unanimously passed a Labour motion demanding the Government releases...

Urgent_care.JPG

This morning, I asked the Leader of the House of Commons to make a statement about her plan to tackle sexual harassment in Parliament.

You can watch the whole debate here or read a full transcript here

Urgent Question on Sexual Harassment

This morning, I asked the Leader of the House of Commons to make a statement about her plan to tackle sexual harassment in Parliament. You can watch the whole debate...

I co-signed a joint letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd calling on the Government to bring forward legislation to introduce buffer zones outside abortion clinics and pregnancy advice bureaux to protect women.

A full copy of the text of the letter can be found below:

 

Dear Amber, 

RE: Buffer zones and women’s access to essential healthcare

I am writing to you, alongside my colleagues, subsequent to our recent exchange in the Chamber on the topic of buffer zones and persistent protests outside clinics that provide family planning and abortion services.

On the eve of the 50th Anniversary of partial legalisation of abortion in UK, shockingly women daily face abuse when undergoing terminations. In my own constituency, there have been groups of people stood outside the clinic at Mattock Lane for the past 23 years – following women, calling them ‘murderers’, and telling them that if they ‘change their lifestyles then they won’t end up back here’. In my colleagues’ constituencies they stand with oversized signs with distressing and graphic images of aborted foetuses, they film women entering and leaving clinics, and they distribute false medical information. In your own constituency, they livestreamed their actions during a protest near Hastings’ abortion clinic.

This is not a protest in the usual sense of the word. These people are not seeking to change the law – they are not campaigning to change the minds of our colleagues, or encourage parliament to review the legislation. Instead, they are targeting individual women who have come to a difficult decision and who are seeking to access lawful healthcare.

Existing legislation already provides for arrest when protesters are intentionally causing harassment, alarm or offence; it allows police to disperse protesters who are causing harassment, alarm or distress; and it prevents against harassment. But these powers are simply not being used.

In the case of harassment, existing legislation places an almost insurmountable burden on women accessing abortion care – to be subject to harassment more than once by the same people, to call the police, and to agree to talk to not only them but also a public court of law about her abortion. The expectation that a woman should be forced to make public her healthcare history in order to obtain justice against those harassing her is patently unreasonable.

As you know, last week, Ealing Council voted to make use of anti-social behaviour powers as a last-ditch attempt to stop the 23-year long harassment in their Borough. This was based on gathered evidence – videos, clinic logs, and testimony from residents. It has been a long process – several years of work by highly committed volunteers who wouldn’t take lack of action from central government as an answer to their efforts.

I know that you are eagerly awaiting the outcome of Ealing’s action - but this exhaustive work should not have to be the norm. As a society we should not be forced to rely on Good Samaritans and grassroots campaigners taking the time to do the job of government and protect our citizens from gendered street harassment. Because that’s what these protests are – a way of telling women that the decisions they make about their bodies and own futures are unacceptable, and that they deserve to have attention drawn to them in the most public, misogynistic, unsolicited way possible.

That is why I am asking you to bring forward legislation to introduce buffer zones outside abortion clinics and pregnancy advisory bureaux – not to stop protests, but to ask protesters to instead make use of any of the many places they could protest – from parliament square to town centres to Speaker’s Corner. The women accessing clinics are not seeking debate – they are trying to make their own personal decision about their own pregnancy. And it must be our job as parliamentarians to protect that right.

Yours Sincerely,

Rupa Huq MP

 

Jess Phillips MP

Chair of the Women’s PLP

 

Harriet Harman MP

Mother of the House of Commons

Letter to the Home Secretary Calling on Her to Ensure The Safety Of Women at Abortion Clinics

I co-signed a joint letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd calling on the Government to bring forward legislation to introduce buffer zones outside abortion clinics and pregnancy advice bureaux to...

We have a moral obligation to provide a space of sanctuary to those forced from their homes, by war, famine or other disasters. The current rules do not reflect the right to family life and instead force refugees to choose between their safety and their family. The importance of family relationships do not depreciate with age and our laws should reflect this, rather than prolong the suffering of those that have already been through so much.

Please be assured that I will continue to support efforts to improve the law on family reunification.

Government Must Improve the Law on Family Reunification

We have a moral obligation to provide a space of sanctuary to those forced from their homes, by war, famine or other disasters. The current rules do not reflect the...

A number of people have contacted about the difficulty of older people in getting to and from hospital appointments. I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, about the restrictions on the use of Freedom passes for disabled people.

Mobility to access health appointments is essential for the wellbeing of older people, however Tory cuts are making it increasingly difficult for older people to access the healthcare they need. Deep cuts of almost 50% to local government budgets has forced local councils to cut dedicated transport options for older people as well as support for local bus services. The £22 billion worth of cuts to the NHS by 2020 has similarly forced local trusts to make up the losses with new revenues, including hospital parking charges.

A Labour Government would take action to combat the problems older people face in getting to and from hospital. Our commitment to supporting municipal not-for-profit bus companies will stop insufficient profit margins being an obstacle to bus coverage and will improve bus regularity. A Labour Government would also abolish hospital parking charges.

I will continue to work with Labour colleagues to put pressure on the Government to better fund public transportation and dedicated services for our older people.

Government Must Do More to Help Older People Get to Hospital Appointments

A number of people have contacted about the difficulty of older people in getting to and from hospital appointments. I have written to the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris...

GC_Report_Sept-Oct_2017_GE_FINAL-page-001.jpg

Monthly Report September/October 2017

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It was great today to welcome members of the Southwark Pensioner Action Group (SPAG) to Parliament to meet with Helen Hayes MP, Neil Coyle MP, the Mayor of Southwark, Charlie I to discuss their concerns about the pension age, NHS waiting times, Tory cuts to social care, the ‘dementia tax’ and the availability of adaptable housing.

The Conservative Government is failing older people, leaving many in limbo with their pensions and not knowing if they will need to sell their homes to pay for their care in later life. I will continue to champion older people’s rights and fight against the Tory cuts that are holding older people back.

Southwark Pensioners' Parliament 2017

It was great today to welcome members of the Southwark Pensioner Action Group (SPAG) to Parliament to meet with Helen Hayes MP, Neil Coyle MP, the Mayor of Southwark, Charlie...

This morning, I visited St. Francis Catholic Primary School to meet parents to discuss their concerns and speak to co-Headteachers Mrs R. Atkinson and Mrs C. Molloy about parking and traffic issues on Friary Road. The problem is Friary Road is a dead end street and people are driving down it making 3 point turns, sometimes mounting the pavement and endangering children. I am writing to Deborah Collins, Strategic Director of Environment and Social Regeneration at Southwark Council, to ask what the council is doing to improve signage and enforcement of yellow lines on Friary Road in order to ensure our children are safe on their way to and from school.

Visit to St Francis Catholic Primary School

This morning, I visited St. Francis Catholic Primary School to meet parents to discuss their concerns and speak to co-Headteachers Mrs R. Atkinson and Mrs C. Molloy about parking and...

At the meeting of the APPG on Ethiopia and Djibouti this morning I met the Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK, his Excellency Ambassador Hailemichael. There is a large and vibrant Ethiopian diaspora community in Camberwell and Peckham and I have visited the Horn of Africa when I was Shadow Secretary of State for International Development in 2011.

We discussed the Ethiopian Government’s progress on moving towards equal participation in primary, secondary and university level education for boys and girls and Government action to reduce the number of people living in poverty, which has decreased from 60% to 20% since 2003. Ambassador Hailemichael told us Ethiopia is the fastest growing economy in the world and about steps the Government is undertaking to improve gender equality, including the establishment of a separate bank for women with higher interest rates to help them save and programmes to help women and girls affected by FGM, which has been outlawed for over a decade in Ethiopia. 

Meeting with the Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK

At the meeting of the APPG on Ethiopia and Djibouti this morning I met the Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK, his Excellency Ambassador Hailemichael. There is a large and vibrant...

Just in the last year alone Victim Support South London have been supporting over 500 victims and their families in Camberwell and Peckham who have suffered from crime including violence, burglary and elderly people targeted by fraudsters. Despite Tory cuts to The Met Police and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, Victim Support are working hard to ensure that victims get their vital services. I met with them to talk about strengthening the forthcoming Domestic Violence Bill.

Both organisations were clear to me that the defence using sexual history smearing of victims is deterring women and men who are victims of sex crimes going to court and for those who do take cases to court it is immensely damaging to their confidence and self-respect. I am working with a coalition of women’s rights charities, MPs from all parties and members of the House of Lords to change the law to restrict the use of victims’ previous sexual history in court and prevent victims being put in the dock when it should be the person accused who is on trial.

 

Hearing from Victim Support South London

Just in the last year alone Victim Support South London have been supporting over 500 victims and their families in Camberwell and Peckham who have suffered from crime including violence,...

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