Harriet Harman

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

Current News

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As we mark the NHS turning 70 this month it’s impossible to look back and overstate just how much its creation by the then Labour government meant to people’s lives in Britain in 1948, and still means today.

Before its introduction only people who earned enough could see a doctor or get treatment. For the first time in 1948 the NHS meant people who couldn’t afford to take their sick children or elderly relatives to the GP suddenly found that they could get the treatment they needed and women who hadn’t been able to afford to have their babies in hospital safely could now do so.

70 years on the NHS has grown to 1 million dedicated and compassionate staff, it is a beacon of equality around the world and remains our most cherished national institution. The NHS represents that sense that we all have a duty to each other, we pay in collectively and it is there for us whenever we need it. 

But after 8 years of Tory government all around us now we see the effect of the cuts. For example at King’s College Hospital, which is a fantastic and important hospital for people locally, A & E waiting times are missed, cancer treatment targets are missed, there’s been an increase in cancelled operations, and the chair, Sir Bob Kerslake, resigned in December because he said it was impossible to cut the amount government are asking them to cut without affecting patient care.

We see cuts at the Maudsley Hospital pushing down the pay and conditions of those contracted to work there and large numbers of vacancies in nursing staff. Particularly worrying is that when I visited psychiatrists at the hospital they told me that when they have someone who is psychotic and paranoid who needs to be sectioned because they’re at risk to themselves or others in the community, cuts to policing mean there are a shortage of police to go with doctors to safely take the person to the Maudsley and sometimes they have to wait weeks before they get the treatment they so desperately need. During that time that person and their family suffer terribly and sometimes are at risk of violence. The Maudsley team only decide to section someone if they have tried everything else and that person is in crisis.  They can’t wait. I have written to the Minister to demand that she tackle these unacceptable delays and am liaising with the police as well. 

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, claims the Government is spending more than ever on the NHS. But in reality they have cut £20 billion since 2010 and spend 3% less a year than was spent by the last Labour government. When Labour got back into Government in 1997 we made one of our key 5 pledges cutting waiting times and we trebled investment in the NHS. Soon waiting times were coming down and people were no longer coming to my advice surgery asking for help with cancelled operations or unable to get on a GP’s list. More was invested in community services, mental health and GP practices, crumbling hospitals were rebuilt and staffing was massively increased.

That’s why there’s such a need for Labour to get back into government. To not only protect, but advance the NHS.

The 70th anniversary of the NHS is a time to reflect and recognise that, though healthcare has completely changed, the principles at its foundation are as important as ever. I have made the NHS my constituency priority for 2018 and am working with Labour Southwark MPs Helen Hayes and Neil Coyle and Southwark Council to use this anniversary year to intensify our support for our local NHS and our demands to the Government to give the NHS the money it needs.

Southwark News Column: NHS at 70

As we mark the NHS turning 70 this month it’s impossible to look back and overstate just how much its creation by the then Labour government meant to people’s lives...

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Monthly report - June/July 2018

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Liberal Democrat MP, Jo Swinson, was "paired" with Tory chairman Brandon Lewis so she could be at home with her new baby son Gabriel during the Trade Bill vote. This should have meant neither her nor Brandon Lewis votes so their absences cancel each other out and this does not unfairly impact the result of the vote or discriminate against her because she has just given birth. But despite this agreement Brandon Lewis MP did turn up and voted with the Government.

This shambles should put it beyond doubt that pairing is not the answer for MPs having babies. We’re elected as MPs to vote on behalf of constituents and MPs having babies shouldn’t lose that right. In Prime Minister’s Questions today I pressed Theresa May to urgently bring forward a vote on proxy voting for baby leave. There are loads more parliamentary babies in the pipeline and more crucial votes coming up. It’s time to sort it out. This one is overdue.

 

MPs who are new parents must not miss out on important votes

Liberal Democrat MP, Jo Swinson, was "paired" with Tory chairman Brandon Lewis so she could be at home with her new baby son Gabriel during the Trade Bill vote. This...

Harris_Peckham_17.07.2018.PNGCllr Jasmine Ali, Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Children and Schools and I met the Executive Head at Harris Academy Peckham secondary school, Rebecca Hickey, to discuss progress at the school and working with local parents to improve first preference applications to the school and hear from students on the important local issues they’re concerned about like youth violence, mental health and energy drinks.

I’m looking forward to the students shortly visiting Parliament to see us at work.

 

Harris Academy Peckham visit

Cllr Jasmine Ali, Southwark Council Cabinet Member for Children and Schools and I met the Executive Head at Harris Academy Peckham secondary school, Rebecca Hickey, to discuss progress at the school and...

The Joint Committee on Human Rights, of which I am chair, today publishes our report highlighting serious concerns with the new powers in the Government's Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill currently going through parliament.

The Government have got an important job to keep us safe from terrorism. But it must also safeguard human rights.

The Committee believes that this Bill goes too far and will be tabling amendments in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.  

New powers are too vaguely defined

Having taken evidence from Max Hill QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and Corey Stoughton, Advocacy Director at Liberty, we are concerned that some of the new powers are too vaguely defined and do not have sufficient safeguards to protect human rights. 

Findings of report

Clause 1

The Joint Committee acknowledges the importance of the Government’s power to proscribe organisations but is concerned that criminalizing ‘expressions of support’ for proscribed organisations could prevent debate around the Government’s use of its proscription powers.

Clause 2

Proposes to criminalise the publication of images online which arouse suspicion that a person is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation (e.g. a photograph of an ISIS flag hanging on someone’s wall posted to the internet) goes too far and also risks violating the right to freedom of expression

Clause 3

This clause criminalises viewing terrorist material online where such material is viewed three or more times.

The Committee believes that this is a breach of the right to receive information.

Committee concerns

The Committee believes that there need to be greater safeguards for the increased period that the Bill gives for the retention of biometric data (such as fingerprints and DNA).

At the same time as it increases the powers to retain data, the Bill abolishes the oversight of the Biometric Commissioner.

This risks violating the right to privacy of persons who have neither been charged nor convicted.

The Committee is concerned that powers to stop and search at ports are defined too widely.

These powers can be used to stop people to decide whether they threaten the economic well-being of the UK.

On these grounds, the Committee has serious concerns that the Bill as it stands does not comply with Convention rights.

Committee recommendations

The Committee therefore recommends that:

  • Clause 1 of the Bill, at a minimum, is amended to clarify what expressions of support would or would not be caught by this offence and to ensure that the offence does not risk criminalising debates disproportionately: for example in a way which would prevent someone putting forward a case for why a particular organisation should no longer be proscribed
  • Clause 2 should be deleted or at a minimum amended to safeguard legitimate publications (e.g. for journalists and other legitimate activity which should not be criminalised)
  • Clause 3 at the very least, should be amended to ensure that it only captures those viewing material with terrorist intent and to clarify the defence of reasonable excuse
  • The increase in maximum sentences for certain terrorist offences must be justified
  • The enhanced notification scheme for registered terrorist offenders needs stronger safeguards
  • The Prevent programme should be subject to an independent review
  • The removal of the Biometric Commissioner's oversight of DNA material and for extending the retention period from two to five years without clear notification and review options must be justified
  • The stop and search powers must be circumscribed and subject to more robust safeguards.

 

LINKS:

 

Serious concerns that new powers in Counter-Terrorism Bill do not comply with human rights

The Joint Committee on Human Rights, of which I am chair, today publishes our report highlighting serious concerns with the new powers in the Government's Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill currently going...

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Meeting Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group management team to discuss progress on reducing GP and operation waiting lists, improving children’s mental health services and action they’re taking to ensure that the governing board of local health bodies like the CCG reflect the diverse community in Camberwell and Peckham. There are no black people on their board and I am concerned they must be representative of our community at all levels of the organisation.

 

Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group - Visit

Meeting Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group management team to discuss progress on reducing GP and operation waiting lists, improving children’s mental health services and action they’re taking to ensure that the governing...

The Home Office provided ‘no credible explanation’ as to why two children of the Windrush generation, Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan, were wrongfully locked up twice, depriving them of their human right to liberty, according to a report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights published today.

The Committee, made up of MPs and Peers Chaired by Harriet Harman MP, took evidence in person from Ms Wilson and Mr Bryan, (who have been settled in the UK since childhood) and examined their Home Office cases files. From the outset, the files contained all the evidence that showed that the Home Office had no right to detain them. But the Home Office still wrongly detained them, twice. The analyses of the two case files are set out as appendices to the report.

In evidence to the Committee, the Home Secretary said that he was sorry for what had happened. A senior official from the Home Office called the handling of these cases a ‘mistake’ but could give the Committee no account of any action that had been taken at the department to address the very serious shortcomings in these cases.

Chair of the Committee, Harriet Harman MP, said:

“Our report presents the Home Secretary with an opportunity to address the systemic problems with wrongful detention at the Home Office. Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan were both locked up, twice, when the state had no right to deprive them of their liberty. The Department simply ground forward through their processes, clearly traumatising Ms Wilson and Mr Bryan in the process.

“The Home Secretary’s personal commitment to human rights is important. This report should alert him to the scale of human right violations within the powerful department he now leads.

“It is simply not plausible that these cases were just ‘mistakes’. The Home Office did not behave like a department which had discovered it had made a terrible mistake, demonstrating a systemic failure when it comes to detaining individuals and depriving them of their liberty. What happened to these two people was a total violation of their human rights by the state’s most powerful government department. It needs to face up to what happened before it can even begin to acknowledge the scale of the problem and stop it happening again.”

The Committee recommends that:

• The Home Office should review its use of detention for immigration purposes to ensure it doesn’t use it unlawfully and that it is only using these powers where necessary and proportionate.
• There should be a fundamental change in the law, culture and procedures to protect human rights in the work of the Home Office.
• A more humane approach to dealing with people who come into contact with the immigration enforcement system is needed.
• There should be more accountability when initiating or prolonging detention and stronger safeguards overall to prevent against wrongful detention.
• There should be more opportunities to challenge wrongful detention and clear parameters to limit the use of detention.
• Detention should only be used if the Secretary of State is satisfied that he has a power to detain.
• The Government should act immediately to set up a hardship fund to help individuals from the Windrush generation facing financial hardship, as recently recommended by the Home Affairs Committee.

The Committee intends to conduct a further inquiry into the UK's immigration detention system in the Autumn, in which the Committee will consider concerns around the safeguards in the immigration detention system in the UK, including the UK’s lack of a set time limit to immigration detention, which is unusual.

In a recent letter sent to the Home Office, the Committee asked to examine the case files of all those who have been wrongfully detained from the Windrush generation.

Notes to editors:

Harriet Harman MP, Chair of the Committee, wrote to the Home Secretary Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP asking the Home Office to share the case files of individuals who had been detained from the 63 Windrush deportation cases. The Home Secretary previously told the Committee in evidence that the cases of Anthony Bryan and Paulette Wilson – whose Home Office case files were supplied to the Committee- were “appalling and wrong in so many ways.”

FURTHER INFORMATION

Committee Membership is as follows:

Ms Harriet Harman MP (Chair) (Labour)
Fiona Bruce MP (Conservative)
Ms Karen Buck MP (Labour)
Alex Burghart MP (Conservative)
Joanna Cherry MP (SNP)
Jeremy Lefroy MP (Conservative)
Baroness Hamwee (Liberal Democrat)
Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon (Labour)
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne (Conservative)
Baroness Prosser (Labour)
Lord Trimble (Conservative)
Lord Woolf (Crossbench)

Website:http://www.parliament.uk/jchr

Home Office approach to Windrush detention cases has been “shocking” concludes Joint Committee on Human Rights

The Home Office provided ‘no credible explanation’ as to why two children of the Windrush generation, Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan, were wrongfully locked up twice, depriving them of their...

Today I signed a joint letter to the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, with more than 150 other MPs, calling on him to confirm that he will continue his predecessor's plans to undertake a review into harassment and intimidation near abortion clinics. We must protect women accessing lawful healthcare.

Government must commit to review into intimidation outside abortion clinics - letter to Home Secretary

Today I signed a joint letter to the new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid MP, with more than 150 other MPs, calling on him to confirm that he will continue his predecessor's plans to undertake...

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Together with Helen Hayes MP, SE5 Forum, South London and Maudsley, King’s College Hospital, Camberwell College of Arts and Southwark Council I am campaigning to re-open Camberwell Station.

This is urgently needed to alleviate delays and dangerous overcrowding at neighbouring stations and especially as there is no tube in Camberwell and Peckham.

Today Helen and I delivered a petition of over 2000 local people’s signatures in support of re-opening the station to Jo Johnson MP, the Minister for Rail.

He told us Transport for London are currently considering the case for re-opening the station and we have written to Commissioner, Mike Brown, to reiterate the intense local concern there is that the station should be re-opened to cope with increasing demand.

Presenting local residents' petition to re-open Camberwell Station

Together with Helen Hayes MP, SE5 Forum, South London and Maudsley, King’s College Hospital, Camberwell College of Arts and Southwark Council I am campaigning to re-open Camberwell Station. This is urgently needed...

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All credit to Abu & Fred Kamara who chair the Crawford Estate tenants association and do fantastic work for the local community. I’m helping residents sort overcrowding & damp problems following my visit with Cllr Dora Dixon-Fyle MBE on June 19th.

Crawford Estate Walkabout

All credit to Abu & Fred Kamara who chair the Crawford Estate tenants association and do fantastic work for the local community. I’m helping residents sort overcrowding & damp problems...

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