Harriet Harman

Labour Member of Parliament for Camberwell & Peckham

Current News

Today I visited Old Kent Road Fire Station to discuss fire safety, support for victims of domestic violence and fire brigade funding cuts with the Southwark Borough Commander for Fire Richard Welch. Thanks to all at Southwark Fire Brigade for the vital work they do.

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Meeting Southwark Borough Commander for Fire Richard Welch

Today I visited Old Kent Road Fire Station to discuss fire safety, support for victims of domestic violence and fire brigade funding cuts with the Southwark Borough Commander for Fire Richard Welch....

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December 2016/January 2017 monthly report

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Camberwell & Peckham people have had a raw deal on transport services for years. Today I met SE5 Forum & Helen Hayes MP to campaign to re-open Camberwell Station. This is important especially following the disappointment of the decision for the Bakerloo Line extension. I’m writing to the Transport Minister to demand a meeting to call for the re-opening of the station.

 

 

 

Campaign to Re-open Camberwell Station

Camberwell & Peckham people have had a raw deal on transport services for years. Today I met SE5 Forum & Helen Hayes MP to campaign to re-open Camberwell Station. This is important... Read more

BP_USE.jpg This morning I joined Brunswick Park Ward Councillors Mark Williams and Ian Wingfield, and the local campaign team in Brunswick Park to talk to residents in Benhill and Samson Road.

Lots of issues were raised including the NHS, housing, aircraft noise & Brexit.

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Brunswick Park ward campaigning

 This morning I joined Brunswick Park Ward Councillors Mark Williams and Ian Wingfield, and the local campaign team in Brunswick Park to talk to residents in Benhill and Samson Road. Lots of issues were raised including...

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As people go back to work after Christmas, they will be thinking they can’t face another year of Southern Rail travel chaos like the last one.

Throughout 2016 I have been inundated with emails from constituents who are desperately worried about the Southern Rail disruption and the effect this is having on their working & family lives, their childcare arrangements, their finances and safety from overcrowding. One woman told me she’d missed hospital appointments as a result, others tell me they’re constantly worried about how late they will be to pick up their children from school and nursery, or that they miss out on putting their kids to bed on weeknights.

Anyone who lives and works in South London will be well aware that Southern’s problems started well before the recent industrial action. Trains have been cancelled, late or dangerously overcrowded every week for the best part of two years, whether there are strikes scheduled or not.

It is typical that the Government blames the unions, but that won’t get people into work on time. The truth is that ministers are defending a failed franchise for political reasons when they should be sticking up for taxpayers and commuters.

It is bitterly disappointing that so far the Government has refused the proposed settlement to solve the problem and hand the franchise to Transport for London. It makes sense to have Southern Rail as part of London’s integrated transport system. TfL has a proven track record – on rail services that TfL has already taken over, delays are down and customer satisfaction – independently measured – is up. But the Government have put narrow partisanship ahead of commuters’ interests.

The ongoing chaos on Southern Rail services is a disgrace and fails commuters who just want to get into work and home to their families. It is not acceptable for Southern to say they ‘strongly advise people not to travel’ on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday in a working week. For many that simply isn’t possible.

Passengers can’t continue to suffer like this.  That’s why I’ve urged the Government to strip Govia Thameslink of the franchise, written to the CEO of Govia about their inability to provide a reliable service, and on 13 July 2016 I spoke in the Govia Thameslink Rail service debate in the House of Commons.

I’ve also asked the Government to meet the unions urgently without any preconditions and before further strike action to explore how Govia Thameslink Rail can settle the dispute with the unions.

I will continue to work closely with my Labour colleagues Helen Hayes MP, Neil Coyle MP, Cllr Peter John and Florence Eshalomi AM to hold the Government to account on the Southern Rail misery and to push for an accelerated transfer of Govia Thameslink Greater London services to Transport for London.

Southwark News column - Southern Rail

As people go back to work after Christmas, they will be thinking they can’t face another year of Southern Rail travel chaos like the last one. Throughout 2016 I have...

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More than 27,000 London children missed out on their first choice of school.

 

It’s been another year of parents and children missing out on the schools of their choice. Almost a third of parents in London missed out on their first choice secondary school again this year – leaving 27,042 children unable to attend their first choice school. And this is a problem which only seems to be getting worse.

 

My report out today shows that 41% of parents in Southwark are not getting their children into their first choice secondary school.

 

This year only 59% of parents in Southwark got their first preference secondary school compared to a national average of 84.1%. This is the sixth lowest of all the local authorities in England and means 1,157 children in Southwark were left without their first choice of school.

 

I have written to the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Justine Greening MP with a copy of this report to raise this continuing problem and to press her to back Southwark Council up in their action to improve secondary schools in the borough. The Government must ensure the right steps are being taken to make sure every school is a good school that parents want to choose.

 

I have received lots of emails from my constituents – including many teachers - who are very concerned about the Government pressing ahead with academisation and about the £3bn in savings the Government is expecting schools to find by 2020. 

 

Notes to Editors:             

1.            Harriet Harman MP today publishes her annual school choice report ‘Are parents in Camberwell & Peckham getting the choice of secondary school they want for their child?’

 

2.            In 2016 only 59% of parents in Southwark got their first preference secondary school, compared to the national average of 84.1%. That is the sixth lowest of all the local authorities in the country and means 1,157 children in Southwark were left without their first choice school. In comparison 98.7% of parents in Northumberland got their first preference.

 

3.            In London as a whole almost a third of parents now miss out on their first choice - only 68.8% of parents got their child into their first-choice secondary school this year, leaving 27,042 children without their first choice. In inner London boroughs the situation is even worse - just 65.6% of parents received their first preference and 10,000 children were left without their first choice school.

 

4.            In 2015, 25,931 children in London missed out on their first choice secondary school.

 

 

School Choice Report 2016 - Are parents in Camberwell & Peckham getting the choice of secondary school they want for their child?

More than 27,000 London children missed out on their first choice of school.   It’s been another year of parents and children missing out on the schools of their choice....

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Southern Rail passengers can't suffer another year of travel chaos like the last one. That's why I'm backing Tim Loughton MP's Rail Ombudsman Bill for automatic rail compensation and penalties for late trains. The Bill aims to make claiming compensation for late trains easier and would set up a new Rail Ombudsman to rule on complaints.

The proposals would mean that every time a train is late or cancelled the train operator would be charged an automatic penalty. This money would go into a compensation pot for passengers to claim. Any money left over would go towards funding the ombudsman and to set against fare increases.

Rail Ombudsman Bill

Southern Rail passengers can't suffer another year of travel chaos like the last one. That's why I'm backing Tim Loughton MP's Rail Ombudsman Bill for automatic rail compensation and penalties...

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November/December Monthly Report

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The Joint Committee on Human Rights today releases its report on the human rights implications of Brexit. The Committee calls on the Government to give an undertaking to protect the residency rights of EU nationals in the UK. 

While many fundamental rights are underpinned by EU law, the Committee says that it is not clear whether the Government intends to remove any rights which UK citizens currently possess under EU law - and, if so, which rights are under threat. The Committee demands that any future legislation should include safeguards and Parliament should have the opportunity to debate, amend and vote on any proposed changes to fundamental rights.

Residence rights

It is estimated that there are currently 2.9 million EU nationals resident in the UK.

The Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox has reportedly described EU nationals in the UK as one of the "main cards" in Brexit negotiations and Minister for Human Rights Sir Oliver Heald told the Committee that the Prime Minister was seeking an "early agreement" on the status of UK nationals in Europe and EU nationals in the UK. He confirmed that the Government’s view was that to agree a unilateral position on the issue would not be helpful.

JCHR Chair Harriet Harman said:

"The Government must not use human rights as a bargaining chip. Moreover, the Government will continue to have obligations under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as we set out in our Report. The UK Government could not deport the large numbers of EU nationals currently in the UK.

"In the unlikely and unwelcome event that the Government sought to deport EU nationals there could be the potential for significant, expensive and lengthy litigation leading to considerable legal uncertainty for a prolonged period of time. These cases would have the potential to clog up and overwhelm the court system."

The actual position of such individuals is underpinned by the Human Rights Act and will depend on length of residence and other factors, but Government intentions for both UK and EU citizens remain far from clear.

Under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), individuals are entitled to respect for their private and family life and home. However, these rights are not absolute and do not provide the same protections as offered by EU law, and restrictions on them can be justified in certain circumstances where they would not be under current EU law.

However, even with restrictions it would not be possible for the Government to establish a rule that would allow the deportation of EU nationals merely on the grounds that they had only been resident for a fixed period of time. Other factors such as family connections and the residence rights of children would be relevant and each case would need to be considered on its own facts.

How to protect fundamental rights in the future

The Committee recommends that the Government should set out a full and detailed list of fundamental rights currently guaranteed by virtue of the UK’s EU membership and what approach it intends to take towards them.

It further recommends that:

  • There should be no opportunity for the Government to repeal fundamental rights by secondary legislation for reasons of expediency: if rights are to be changed there should be parliamentary accountability, with an opportunity for both Houses to debate, amend and vote on such changes;
  • The Government should issue detailed statutory guidance on the status of existing case law. It will also have to determine how it will approach the status of future EU law and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decisions to ensure that it is not isolated from developments emanating from the EU.  

The question of how fundamental rights will be enforced going forward will also be of central importance.

Trade agreements

The EU has included human rights clauses in trade agreements for many years. The Committee recommends that when the UK exits the EU, and enters into trade agreements with other states, the Government should, at the very least, ensure that standards included in current agreements are maintained.

Harriet Harman said:

"Any dilution of human rights standards would be extremely undesirable. There is an argument to be made that if the UK enters into any new agreements, this is an opportunity to raise standards."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

Human rights should not be a bargaining chip for Brexit

The Joint Committee on Human Rights today releases its report on the human rights implications of Brexit. The Committee calls on the Government to give an undertaking to protect the residency rights...

Today Harriet Harman QC MP breaks the record for the longest continuous service as a woman MP in the House of Commons.

Harriet Harman was first elected at a by-election on 28 October 1982. She has been an MP for 34 years and 49 days. She was elected in Peckham in 1982, and since boundary changes in 1997 has been the MP for Camberwell and Peckham.

Today she overtakes Gwyneth Dunwoody as the female MP with longest continuous service since women were first elected to the House of Commons in 1918.

Gwyneth Dunwoody served continuously from 28 February 1974 until her death on 17 April 2008.(1) She still holds the record for the female MP with the longest total service as she was also an MP from 31 March 1966 to 18 June 1970. Her total service amounts to 38 years and 128 days.

Since 1918, 455 women have been elected to the House of Commons. Harriet Harman was the 111th in 1982. She has been in the House of Commons with 368 of the other 454 women MPs at some point in her career.

In 1997, Harriet Harman was one of five women appointed to Tony Blair’s first Cabinet. Before this just ten women had served in Cabinet since 1929, when Margaret Bondfield became the first women to be a Cabinet minister.(2) Following appointments to Theresa May’s Cabinet in July 2016, the total number of female Cabinet ministers, since 1929, now stands at 43.

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In 2007 she was elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, and Gordon Brown appointed her to his Cabinet as Leader of the House of Commons.

She remained Deputy Leader of the Labour Party until September 2015, and in that period Harriet Harman served twice as acting leader of the Labour Party. In that role she asked questions of the Prime Minister on a number of occasions. On the last occasion, on 9 September 2015, David Cameron paid tribute, describing her as “a fierce champion for a range of issues, most notably women’s rights, where she has often led the way in changing attitudes in our country for the better”.(3)

In October 2015, Harriet Harman was chosen by the Joint Committee on Human Rights to be its Chair.

By Richard Kelly, Parliament and Constitution Centre, House of Commons Library.

Notes:

(1) Gwyneth Dunwoody’s service also amounts to 34 years and 49 days but because of the way leap years fall, her service amounted 12,467 days. On 16 December 2016, Harriet Harman marks her 12,468th day as an MP

(2) House of Commons Briefing Paper, Women in Parliament and Government, SN01250, December 2016

(3) HC Deb 9 September 2015 c395

Picture credit:
Women Secretaries of State by John Ferguson
2010 | Photograph (WOA 7169)
Parliamentary Art Collection

Vote 100 blog - marking 34 years in Parliament

Today Harriet Harman QC MP breaks the record for the longest continuous service as a woman MP in the House of Commons. Harriet Harman was first elected at a by-election on 28...

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