Harriet Harman

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

Current News

Figures recently uncovered by Camberwell and Peckham MP Harriet Harman show that local people are being prevented from getting work by delays in processing applications by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Constituents that have been in contact for help on this include:

Mr Z, a chauffeur, whose private hire driving license expired at the end of 2015. His application was delayed because his DBS check had not been processed.  He was losing income and worried about how he was going to pay his rent and other bills.

Dr Q was offered a job in a North London hospital but was unable to work for over 4 months due to delays with her DBS application. Dr Q had to use her savings to pay for essential bills and reached a point where she had to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance.

In her letter to the Home Secretary today, Harriet Harman MP said:

“I have been contacted by a number of constituents who have had to wait many months for their applications to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) to be completed.

These include a doctor who had to use her personal savings to pay for essential bills as she couldn’t work until the check was complete and eventually had to sign on and claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance to support herself while she was waiting. It is not right that people who have done nothing wrong are being put under such financial hardship when trying to find work.

Earlier this month, I submitted a written parliamentary question asking how many applications to the DBS from people living in Camberwell and Peckham have taken more than 60 days to process. Karen Bradley MP answered that between February 2015 and the end of January 2016, 2,371 applications from Camberwell and Peckham have taken over 60 days to be completed.”

Harriet Harman MP demands that Home Secretary takes action as delays in criminal checks stop more than 2k local people getting work

Figures recently uncovered by Camberwell and Peckham MP Harriet Harman show that local people are being prevented from getting work by delays in processing applications by the Disclosure and Barring...

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The panoramic views from Nunhead Reservoir are second to none, and today I visited the site with Peckham Rye Councillor Renata Hamvas, Richard Aylard (Director of External Affairs & Sustainability) and other senior representatives from Thames Water. We discussed the history of the site and what options there are for public access.  I am pleased that Thames Water have agreed to meet with the local community to discuss the possibilities of opening the site to the public.

Nunhead Reservoir is a private site owned by Thames Water. It regularly falls victim to vandalism, break-ins, graffiti and littering.

Nunhead Reservoir: Visit with Thames Water & Cllr Renata Hamvas

The panoramic views from Nunhead Reservoir are second to none, and today I visited the site with Peckham Rye Councillor Renata Hamvas, Richard Aylard (Director of External Affairs & Sustainability)... Read more

You can find my article for Newsweek here.

Harriet Harman: This New Law on Gender Pay was Labour's Doing

You can find my article for Newsweek here.

Please find my monthly report for January 2016 here.

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January 2016 Report

Please find my monthly report for January 2016 here.

Nunhead Reservoir is owned by Thames Water and is not open to the public however there has been growing local interest in whether this site could become a public site. Open space is at a premium in our crowded city and would be much appreciated by local residents.  Thames Water are a private company but should be a good corporate citizen in our local area while protecting public health and safety.

In her letter to Thames Water, Harriet Harman MP said:

“There is a growing local interest in Nunhead Reservoir being opened to the public for recreational and leisure use.

I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions:

-       Why isn’t Nunhead Reservoir open to the public? 

-       Can a way be found to enable public access without compromising public health and safety?

-       Are Thames Water considering allowing any public access to Nunhead Reservoir?

I would be happy to meet on site with you or a representative of Thames Water as well as representatives from Southwark Council to discuss this further. But in the meantime, I look forward to hearing from you with an update to my questions.”

Harriet Harman calls on Thames Water to allow public into Nunhead Reservoir open space

Nunhead Reservoir is owned by Thames Water and is not open to the public however there has been growing local interest in whether this site could become a public site....

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Over 6000 students in Southwark (academic year 13/14) and 500,000 nationally currently receive Student Maintenance Grants of up to £3,387.  These include higher education students at Southbank University and Camberwell College of Arts, medical students at Kings College Hospital and young people studying at institutions such as LeSoCo. 

This Conservative Government said nothing about abolishing maintenance grants in their manifesto.  But as soon as they were elected they announced that they would be axed. I immediately opposed this while Interim Leader and condemned the proposed abolition in my budget response to the Chancellor in June 2015. The Labour Party campaigned against these changes and we all voted against abolition of maintenance grants.

Student Maintenance Grants provide vital support for students in Camberwell and Peckham and nationally to pay for rent, food, energy bills and study materials. Already, 77% of students work alongside their studies to help ease the financial burden of university. These changes will force students to spend more time working to support themselves and less time studying to get a good degree. 35% of students told the NUS that they would not have gone to university if they had not had access to maintenance grants.

Students from the lowest income families will be hit hardest and this further undermines the Tories' absurd claim to being a One Nation government.  Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Angela Eagle MP said: “Abolishing maintenance grants is an assault on aspiration, an assault on opportunity and an assault on those who want to get on in life.”

It is unfair that students from poorer families should leave university with higher debts than their better-off peers. These students will now have up to £53,000 of debt after a three year degree.  The Conservative Government are giving tax cuts to millionaires at the same time as piling more debts onto poor students [and it isn’t fair]. This Government is not on the side of people working hard and trying to get on in life. In 2010, the Coalition Government trebled tuition fees but said that poorer students would still be able to afford to go to university through the availability of maintenance grants. 

The Government knows that maintenance grants are essential to levelling the playing field of education yet they have attempted to avoid scrutiny and force these sweeping changes through in a committee without a full debate or a vote. Last week, the Labour Party forced the Government to debate and vote on this issue.  But the Government pressed ahead and forced these changes through anyway.

I voted against the abolition of maintenance grants and will continue to back students, universities and colleges and everyone who is campaigning to get the government to change their mind. Southwark students from low income families have every bit as much a right to go to university or further education as students from better off backgrounds.  It is important for the economy of this country that everyone is able to fulfil their full potential and are not held back from pursuing higher education because they can’t afford it.

Tories hit poor students

Over 6000 students in Southwark (academic year 13/14) and 500,000 nationally currently receive Student Maintenance Grants of up to £3,387.  These include higher education students at Southbank University and Camberwell...

Yesterday the Court of Appeal ruled that the Bedroom Tax, brought in by the Coalition Government, was unlawful and discriminatory. The Conservative Government are going to appeal to the Supreme Court but they should accept the court’s ruling and not put the families who took their cases to court through any more misery.  The Government should admit that their bedroom tax is unfair and unjust.

Harriet Harman MP said:

“This Conservative Government has been told by the Court of Appeal that the Bedroom tax is unlawful and discriminates against people with severe disabilities and victims of domestic violence.  But it is still intending to waste public money on taking an appeal to the Supreme Court.

While it is disappointing that Labour is not in government and able to abolish the bedroom tax it is important that our Equality Bill is there to protect the hardest hit families.

I remain strongly against the bedroom tax and will continue to vote against it and in support of exceptions for people who need an extra room. It’s wrong for the Government to impose financial hardship on low income families while giving tax cuts to millionaires.

3,233 families in Southwark, over 45,000 families in London and nearly half a million families across the country are being hit hard by the bedroom tax. In Southwark, tenants are paying over £1000 a year for a spare room in their homes. This is a considerable amount of money and especially for those on low incomes.  The Government has been trying to justify this discriminatory policy by saying that it will shorten waiting lists, but with council houses being bought quicker than they are being built this is just not right.

Southwark Council has done their best to protect local people, but cuts by the Government to council funding are bringing councils across the country to their knees. This ruling doesn’t end the bedroom tax for all, but it will be a welcome relief for some of Southwark’s most needy families.”

Harriet Harman MP hails Equality Act court ruling against Bedroom Tax

Yesterday the Court of Appeal ruled that the Bedroom Tax, brought in by the Coalition Government, was unlawful and discriminatory. The Conservative Government are going to appeal to the Supreme...

You can see my quarterly casework report for October - December 2015 here.

Quarterly Casework Report - October to December 2015

You can see my quarterly casework report for October - December 2015 here.

At Cabinet Office questions in the House of Commons, I asked Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) to guarantee that the voice of Scotland would be heard in the Government's consultation on the Human Rights Act:

"Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab):

The Cabinet Office is responsible for the guidelines on Government proposals. As the Joint Committee on Human Rights discovered when we went to Scotland earlier this month, there is a strong feeling about the consultation on the Human Rights Act 1998. Will the right hon. Gentleman make sure that the voice of people in Scotland is heard, and that they will not be gagged by the fact that the consultation will be issued during purdah following the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament? Will he give such a guarantee?

Mr Letwin:

As the right hon. and learned Lady will know, the consultation principles, which we have recently promulgated—I spoke to the Joint Committee about them recently—have the effect that every Department should make sure that all consultations are proportionate, and that we make due allowance for any time during which it would be difficult for people to respond so that we get a full and adequate consultation on every occasion."

You can watch my question to the Minister and his answer here.

Scotland's voice must be heard in Human Rights Consultation - Question to the Cabinet Office

At Cabinet Office questions in the House of Commons, I asked Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP (Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) to guarantee that the voice of Scotland would...

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Camberwell & Peckham Casework October - December 2015

Read more

Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP has today written to the Charity Commission following accusations that Gilbert Deya Ministries, which is based in Peckham, is selling Aldi branded olive oil to members of the public claiming that it can cure HIV, cancer and infertility.

In her letter to the Charity Commission, Ms Harman said:

“I understand that the Charity Commission is undertaking a regulatory compliance case regarding Gilbert Deya Ministries. 

I am very concerned about further allegations that have arisen that Gilbert Deya Ministries is involved with selling oil to the public claiming that it can cure HIV, cancer and infertility.  It is wrong to exploit ill and vulnerable people in order to make money.”

Harriet Harman MP has asked the Charity Commission if they are investigating these new accusations and when they anticipate reaching a conclusion.

Harriet Harman MP writes to Charity Commission on Gilbert Deya Ministries

Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP has today written to the Charity Commission following accusations that Gilbert Deya Ministries, which is based in Peckham, is selling Aldi branded olive oil...

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Camberwell & Peckham Casework 2015

  Read more

At Justice Questions in the House of Commons, I asked Dominic Raab MP (Minister for Human Rights and Civil Liberties) about the Governments consultation plans on the Human Rights Act:

"Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): The Minister is yet to issue his consultation on the repeal of the Human Rights Act and its replacement with a British Bill of Rights, but it is eight weeks until the Scottish Parliament is dissolved and goes into purdah—it is the same with Northern Ireland and Wales. Will he give an absolute guarantee that he will not squash out Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales from this important consultation by issuing his proposal before, or worse still during, the election purdah period? Will he give that absolute guarantee?

Mr Raab: There will be no squashing out of any of the devolved Administrations. We are already in detailed soundings. When we come to our consultation, there will be full consultation with all the devolved Administrations. There are clear rules and Cabinet Office guidance on purdah, and we will be mindful of them."

You can watch my question to the Minister and his answer here.

 

 

 

 

 

Parliamentary Question to Dominic Raab MP (Minister for Human Rights and Civil Liberties)

At Justice Questions in the House of Commons, I asked Dominic Raab MP (Minister for Human Rights and Civil Liberties) about the Governments consultation plans on the Human Rights Act:...

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Samantha Jury-Dada was today elected as Councillor for Faraday Ward. Congratulations to Samantha and to all the local members, councillors and everyone that campaigned to get her elected!

Faraday Result

Lab - 1072

LD - 255

Con - 117

Green - 138

UKIP - 93

Dean Porter - 47

APP - 38

Turnout 22.8%

 

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Results - Faraday By-Election

Samantha Jury-Dada was today elected as Councillor for Faraday Ward. Congratulations to Samantha and to all the local members, councillors and everyone that campaigned to get her elected! Faraday Result...

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Great to join Samantha Jury-Dada, Labour's candidate for Faraday ward, as well as local councillors and members campaigning to get Samantha elected on Thursday 21st January.

Samantha Jury-Dada said:

"Living locally off East Street, I want the best for my area and our community. I'll fight for a better Walworth - improved housing, better buses and opportunities for young people."

Campaigning in Faraday by-election

Great to join Samantha Jury-Dada, Labour's candidate for Faraday ward, as well as local councillors and members campaigning to get Samantha elected on Thursday 21st January. Samantha Jury-Dada said: "Living... Read more

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The Joint Committee on Human Rights writes to Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove, seeking assurance that the consultation period for the Government’s proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a revised Bill of Rights will not overlap with the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament and pre-election purdah period for the Scottish Government.

The current session of the Scottish Parliament will end at midnight on 23 March 2016 and dissolution will begin immediately after that on 24 March 2016. The Scottish Parliament and its committees will be unable to contribute to the consultation once dissolved.

The Electoral Commission has already published the timetable for the Scottish Parliament elections on 5 May 2016 and guidance issued for the purdah period in 2011 stated that this period began with dissolution so in 2016 purdah will begin on 24 March 2016. 

There is further information in the section on consultations in the purdah or “pre-election” guidance issued in February 2011 before the last Scottish Parliament elections (see Note 9, p15).

Concern arose following a visit the JCHR undertook to Edinburgh last week to meet the Scottish Parliament's European and External Relations Committee, the Scottish Human Rights Commission, representatives from The Scottish Youth Parliament, Trade Unions, NGOs, academics and lawyers to discuss, amongst other things, the Government's proposal to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a Bill of Rights.

The letter (found here) notes Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove’s previous promise to JCHR to engage with the devolved administrations and consult with all citizens of the United Kingdom, in his letter dated 27 November, and seeks assurance that no part of the consultation period will overlap with purdah/dissolution. The JCHR letter further notes that this will be a matter of importance not only for Scotland but also for Wales and Northern Ireland.

Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP, Chair of the JCHR, said:

"There has been a lot of debate in Scotland about the proposal to repeal the Human Rights Act.  The Scottish Parliament has, through its European and External Relations Committee, considered the issue of the potential implications for Scotland of the repeal of the Human Rights Act and its replacement with a British Bill of Rights in some considerable depth. [The] Government's forthcoming consultation would undoubtedly benefit from their contribution.

We are concerned to ensure that the voice of Scotland is fully heard. We need to be able to hear from them to benefit from their views and experience."

Bill of Rights: ensure Scotland's voice is fully heard

The Joint Committee on Human Rights writes to Secretary of State for Justice Michael Gove, seeking assurance that the consultation period for the Government’s proposals to repeal the Human Rights Act...

Today MPs voted on whether or not to abolish maintenance grants of up to £3387 which go to the poorest students to make sure that students from low income households can go into further and higher education.

Now the Conservative Government have abolished these maintenance grants. Currently over 6,000 Southwark students depend on maintenance grants for financial support to help them get educational qualifications.

Speaking after voting against the abolition of maintenance grants today, Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP said:

“Im disappointed that 6230 (academic year 13/14) students from Southwark, and over 500,000 nationally, will be affected by the abolition of maintenance grants that this Conservative Government have just forced through.

Whilst interim leader in June 2015 I condemned abolition of maintenance grants in my budget response to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Grants provide vital support for students in Camberwell and Peckham and ensure that poorer students do not leave university with greater debts than their more privileged peers. You can read my speech here.

The government should be doing all it can to ensure that those from the poorest backgrounds reach their full potential. This change would do the opposite, and could make poorer students think twice about going into higher education due to the considerable debts they will rack-up in the process.

Southwark students have every bit as much a right to go to university as students from better off backgrounds.  It’s important for the economy of this country that everyone is able to fulfil their full potential and are not held back from higher education by lack of funds.”

Over 6k Southwark students to lose out as Government axes maintenance grants for poorest students

Today MPs voted on whether or not to abolish maintenance grants of up to £3387 which go to the poorest students to make sure that students from low income households...

Harriet Harman MP has today written to Southwark Council calling on them to review their reimbursement and compensation policy for estate residents in Camberwell and Peckham following the continuous disruption to hot water and heating services.

This is a major problem as nearly 4000 properties have been affected in Camberwell and Peckham in the last 18 months.

Harriet Harman MP for Camberwell & Peckham said:

 “My constituents are experiencing repeated problems with their heating and hot water services this winter. I have today written to Councillor Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for Housing at Southwark Council asking him to review the Council’s reimbursement and compensation policy to ensure that the process for affected residents is straightforward, fair and efficient.

  • Residents should not have to apply to the Council for compensation when it is clear that there is a loss of an essential service like heating, hot water or gas. The council should automatically compensate them.
  • Residents should be reimbursed for the additional energy costs incurred during the period without heating and hot water.
  • Residents expect a reliable heating and hot water service and it is inconvenient for them to have to deal with these disruptions on such regular basis.
  • There should not have to be a consecutive period of 24 hours without heating and hot water before a rebate is given.
  • The compensation process is taking too long. It has taken nearly a year for all residents on the Gloucester Grove and North Peckham Estates to receive their agreed compensation, and some people may have moved out and not received what they are owed “

Harman calls for a review of Southwark Council’s compensation policy following repeated heating and hot water disruptions

Harriet Harman MP has today written to Southwark Council calling on them to review their reimbursement and compensation policy for estate residents in Camberwell and Peckham following the continuous disruption...

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The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today visits Edinburgh to hear the views of a range of stakeholders in Scotland, including the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Affairs Committee, the Scottish Youth Parliament, legal experts and human rights campaigners.

The visit aims to raise awareness of the Committee’s work and encourage involvement in their future inquiries.

The JCHR is a joint committee of the House of Commons and House of Lords. Its remit is to scrutinise government policy and legislation on human rights, including the response to judgements of UK and European courts on human rights issues.

The Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into the use of drones for targeted killing and is expected to launch an inquiry into the Government’s proposed UK Bill of Rights in the near future.

Ahead of the visit, Committee chair Harriet Harman said:

"We are pleased to be in Scotland to meet with the lawyers, campaigners and officials who we hope will make a valuable contribution to our future inquiries. The foundation of our work is well informed evidence provided by those with first-hand experience of the subject. It is particularly important that we build links here so that our reports give full consideration to the impact of human rights policy on the whole of the United Kingdom, including the devolved nations and independent legal systems within it."

Joint Committee on Human Rights visits Holyrood

The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) today visits Edinburgh to hear the views of a range of stakeholders in Scotland, including the Scottish Parliament’s European and External Affairs Committee,...

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Today the Prime Minister appeared at the House of Commons Liaison Committee. The Liaison Committee is a body made up of all the chairs of Select Committees.

In my role as Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights I questioned the Prime Minister on:

  • If he would publish a coherent policy on targeted drone strikes
  • And if he would allow the Intelligence and Security Committee to properly scrutinise these targeted killings

You can watch the full hearing here: http://bit.ly/1RJsmd6 - my questions are at 16:26.

After the session I said:

 “The PM sought to give the impression today that he is allowing the ISC to scrutinise the targeted killing of Reyaad Khan in Syria in August.

But under questioning from the Liaison Committee Chair Andrew Tyrie MP he was forced to admit he is not allowing this scrutiny.

It’s not acceptable that he is clearly frustrating the scrutiny work of the ISC who he appointed and who are all security cleared.”

You can read a press article on the hearing here: http://bit.ly/1RKzo0Z

 

Questions to the Prime Minister on drone strikes at Liaison Committee

Today the Prime Minister appeared at the House of Commons Liaison Committee. The Liaison Committee is a body made up of all the chairs of Select Committees. In my role...

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