Harriet Harman

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

Current News

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You can read my Parliamentary Special Report on the Afghanistan Crisis here.

Afghanistan Crisis - Parliamentary Special Report

You can read my Parliamentary Special Report on the Afghanistan Crisis here.

The Government must increase the 5,000 Afghanistan Resettlement Scheme cap – My question to the Foreign Secretary.

You can watch my speech here.

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The Government doesn't even know how many Afghans have asked to come to the UK under the scheme for those threatened by the Taliban.

My speech in full:

Ms Harriet Harman

(Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab)

I thank the Foreign Secretary for his statement. May I ask him about the number of requests the Government have already had in respect of Afghan citizens who do not qualify for the ARAP scheme as they did not work directly for us, but who want and need to flee here from Afghanistan and have already asked? I know that the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme is not yet open, but he must already know how many have, through Members of this House or other organisations, already asked to come here because of the Taliban. Can he tell us how many have done so? How will the Government decide who is going to get into the 5,000 cap? The criteria for the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme are yet to be announced, but we know that it is for those who are highly vulnerable to the Taliban because of what they have done in support of the values we and the previous regime were committed to, in particular, women and girls, equality, democracy and human rights. There are bound to be so many more than 5,000, so how will the Government in practice decide between those who will be the lucky 5,000 and be allowed to come here, and those who, although meeting the criteria, will, because of the 5,000 cap, be refused and face a terrible fate at the hands of the Taliban? The reality is that the unless the Government increase the 5,000 cap, the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme is going to end up as a lottery of life and death.

Dominic Raab

I know how passionate the right hon. and learned Lady is about this issue and how assiduous she has been on it. It is difficult to give a precise number of the applications and claims, not least because there is some duplication in the multiple emails and correspondence we have had. She is right to say—frankly, this would be true even if we doubled or tripled the quota—that the number of people who flee Afghanistan is going to outstrip what the UK would be able to take alone. That means that we need to look very carefully at the criteria, as the Home Secretary and I are doing across Government, to make sure that we prioritise the most vulnerable and those with a particular link to the UK, as well as co-ordinating with the United Nations. Further details will be set out by the Home Secretary.

As I mentioned earlier, the UK is doing our bit, alongside the aid we are providing, including to support third countries that take refugees. The UK will not be able to deal with the demand alone—of course we would not do so—but by taking action and showing leadership, we will help to corral and cajole other countries to follow suit. That is how we will have a comprehensive and effective response to the Afghanistan situation.

Afghanistan Statement - Foreign Secretary

The Government must increase the 5,000 Afghanistan Resettlement Scheme cap – My question to the Foreign Secretary. You can watch my speech here. The Government doesn't even know how many Afghans...

Today in Parliament I urged the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, to do all that is possible to rescue UK nationals, including Camberwell and Peckham constituents stranded in Kabul.

The UK has a moral obligation to evacuate those who worked with and for us and called for a generous refugee resettlement. Read my speech in the Afghanistan debate below and click here to watch.

Courageous Afghan women are standing their ground. If the Foreign Secretary wants to help, don't just speak to men. Pick up the phone to those women, ask them what we can do and then do it!

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11.19am
Ms Harriet Harman 
(Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab)

It is an honour to follow the Father of the House.

I strongly agree with what was said by the Leader of the Opposition and by the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs May), who speaks with the experience of having served as Prime Minister. I particularly agree with what she said about the threat of terrorism and the need fully to reinstate our aid budget, the issues for NATO and the proud legacy of our troops.

We have all looked on in horror as the events in Afghanistan have unfolded. I join everyone who is urging the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to do everything they can to help UK nationals, including my constituents, who are stranded and in hiding in Kabul, desperately needing to get back home to the UK. We urgently need to evacuate those who worked with us, who thereby feel that they are vulnerable and to whom we have a moral obligation. The Government are setting up a refugee resettlement programme. I urge them to make a realistic and generous assessment of the scale of the need and to work with all local authorities that want to play their part in giving a warm welcome to those who are fleeing. The Government also need to work, of course, with NATO countries and more widely on an international resettlement programme.

We need to think about those who cannot or do not want to leave, particularly women and girls. When the Taliban were last in control, there were literally no girls in school. Now—at least, up until the Taliban took over again—40% of schoolchildren are girls; over the last 20 years, there has been a whole generation of girls who have been educated, and a whole cohort of young women who have been able to work and want to continue to do so.

When the Taliban were last in control, there were no women in public life—no women to speak up for other women. Women were silenced. Now there are 69 women Afghan MPs. Indeed, three years ago, one of them—Elay Ershad—came to this Chamber to speak from the Front Bench while participating in our Women MPs of the World conference, and was welcomed by the former Prime Minister to No. 10 Downing Street. The President has fled but Elay is staying in Kabul with her daughters, in solidarity, she says, with her people. What courage. The Afghan army has retreated, but so many Afghan women are standing their ground. All those women politicians and activists are determined not to let the progress of the last two decades be crushed. They now face great jeopardy. I know that the whole House, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary will express publicly our solidarity with and admiration for Afghan women MPs, who, as parliamentary pioneers—having stepped forward into public life to make a reality of democracy for that half of the population of Afghanistan who are women and girls—are now, in the face of such an uncertain future, determined to protect and defend those rights.

As to what we can do, I would say: do not just listen to the male leaders about what we need to do for women. I say to the Foreign Secretary, do not just speak to the men; pick up the phone to those women Afghan MPs, ask them what we can do to support women and girls in Afghanistan, and then do it.

Afghanistan debate - Recall of Parliament

Today in Parliament I urged the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, to do all that is possible to rescue UK nationals, including Camberwell and Peckham...

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175 Westminster women MPs pledge support for the 69 Afghan women MPs. They are standing their ground and fighting for women and girls and democracy. Read my letter here.

Westminster women MPs pledge support for Afghan women MPs

175 Westminster women MPs pledge support for the 69 Afghan women MPs. They are standing their ground and fighting for women and girls and democracy. Read my letter here.

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You can read my 2020/2021 Parliamentary Annual Report here.

Parliamentary Annual Report 2020/2021

You can read my 2020/2021 Parliamentary Annual Report here.

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Read the 10 Point Plan To Get There.

The UK is a hugely important venue for EU artists. With world -famous music festivals, orchestras, and concert halls, to list just a few, the UK is a central destination not just for performers but also audiences. 12.6 million tourists are drawn to the UK every year for festivals and gigs during the course of which they spend £4.7bn, and sustain over 45,000 jobs in music tourism.

The restrictions in place upon EU musicians travelling and working effectively in the UK puts at risk the vibrancy of the UK music scene, as well as affecting all those who rely on the live music industry for their livelihoods. The visa requirements are bureaucratic and compared to those that EU musicians face elsewhere in Europe make travelling and performing here a much less appealing prospect.

By restricting those who can perform in the UK, inevitably what is on offer to audiences will be impoverished. Our arts and culture benefits from the cross fertilisation of the interaction between UK and EU artists, and EU artists enrich our own cultural environment. This is now at risk.

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Visa- and Permit-Free Access to the EU for Touring Musicians: A necessity for the UK’s music

Read the 10 Point Plan To Get There. The UK is a hugely important venue for EU artists. With world -famous music festivals, orchestras, and concert halls, to list just a...

Covid_11.jpgRead my eleventh Coronavirus Crisis Report here.

Coronavirus Crisis Parliamentary Report 11

Read my eleventh Coronavirus Crisis Report here.

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Read my tenth Coronavirus Crisis Report here.

Coronavirus Crisis Parliamentary Report 10

Read my tenth Coronavirus Crisis Report here.

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Read my ninth Coronavirus Crisis Report here.

Coronavirus Crisis Parliamentary Report 9

Read my ninth Coronavirus Crisis Report here.

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Read my eighth Coronavirus Crisis Report here

Coronavirus Crisis Parliamentary Report 8

Read my eighth Coronavirus Crisis Report here. 

Covid_7_Pic.jpgRead my seventh Coronavirus Crisis Report here.

Coronavirus Crisis Parliamentary Report 7

Read my seventh Coronavirus Crisis Report here.

His Excellency
Ambassador Liu Xiaoming
Embassy of China
49 Portland Place
London
W1B 1JL


04 September 2020


Your Excellency,


RE: Oppression of the Uyghur people


We are writing to express our extreme concern at the treatment of the Uyghur people in
Xinjiang.


We understand that approximately one million people have been detained and held in detention camps. Those who have escaped give horrifying testimony of religious persecution, physical abuse and torture. Sickening footage was shown to you on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show in July of a large number of people blindfolded, kneeling and shaven, waiting to be loaded on to trains. The similarities between this video and historical footage of Nazi concentration camps are truly chilling.


Your interview followed further shocking accusations that the Chinese Government is actively pursuing a policy to reduce the Uyghur population with Uyghur women facing forced sterilisation, forced abortion and the forced removal of their wombs. It has even been reported that birth rates have fallen by 60% in some Uyghur areas.


The Chinese Government’s actions must be stated for what they are: a systematic and calculated programme of ethnic cleansing against the Uyghur people.


When the world is presented with such overwhelming evidence of gross human rights abuses, nobody can turn a blind eye. We as Parliamentarians in the United Kingdom write to express our absolute condemnation of this oppression and call for it to end immediately.


Yours sincerely,

Siobhan McDonagh MP

Harriet Harman MP 

+ 133 other cross-party MPs and Peers

 

End the oppression of the Uyghur people - our letter to Chinese Ambassador

His ExcellencyAmbassador Liu XiaomingEmbassy of China49 Portland PlaceLondonW1B 1JL 04 September 2020 Your Excellency, RE: Oppression of the Uyghur people We are writing to express our extreme concern at the...

Read my fifth Coronavirus Crisis Report here. 

Coronavirus Crisis - Parliamentary Report 5

Read my fifth Coronavirus Crisis Report here. 

Government must extend self employment income support scheme

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Government must set up special Nurseries Fund - my letter to the Chancellor

Read more

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There is a lot of confusion and uncertainty about when nurseries can open again. The prime minister mentioned schools in his statement setting out his ‘roadmap for easing lockdown’ but said nothing about nurseries.

We all know how important nurseries are, both for children’s development and enabling parents to work. This is particularly so for people in Camberwell and Peckham and our nurseries are greatly valued.

Under the Coronavirus bill passed by parliament in March, the government instructed nurseries to close during the COVID-19 lockdown to adhere to social distancing guidance and help halt the spread of the virus. Only those caring for vulnerable children and the children of key workers were allowed to stay open. Of the 114 nurseries in Southwark, just 20 remain open.

I have been contacted by parents and nurseries in Camberwell and Peckham desperately worried about the long term future because of the lack of clarity from the government on what financial help is available to them throughout the crisis, and the absence of any indication of how long they will be required to stay closed.

Nurseries in Camberwell and Peckham were already financially very precarious before the Corona crisis. For years low income families have had to subsidise this government’s lack of investment in childcare provision. Nurseries’ unexpected and significant loss of income due to Covid is putting serious pressure on already overstretched budgets. Nurseries are experiencing unsustainable losses through no fault of their own and some tell me they expect to lose half of their income.

I have offered every nursery that has had to close in Camberwell and Peckham my support and asked whether they are confident that they will indeed be able to re-open at the end of the lockdown, whether they and their staff are getting the financial help they need, or if they are being forced to rely on bank loans.

Without knowing what support will be available nurseries tell me it’s impossible to plan ahead and to give their staff the assurances they need about their pay and job security. Many fear they will shut permanently, as staff will be forced to leave the profession to find alternative income.

I’m calling on the chancellor to create a special ‘nursery fund’ to ensure our invaluable nursery provision survives this lockdown and that nurseries will still be there to reopen as soon as the restrictions are lifted. The government has put in place a special fund for zoos. They should do so for nurseries because if the government does not commit to a significant financial package of support for early years providers they may not survive this crisis.

This would be disastrous for parents and the entire economy as without childcare millions of people will be unable to start going back to work as the lockdown eases.

The Corona crisis has exposed the problems in nursery provision that were already there. Increasingly people are realising that childcare is the missing part of the welfare state – a product of an old reality decades ago, where it was assumed women did not get to go out to work, but stayed home to look after children. As we emerge out of this crisis we need a universal free childcare system to give all children a great start, reflect the reality of working parents’ lives today and liberate parents from the expense and worry of juggling home and work.

Government must end confusion and uncertainty over childcare - Southwark News column

There is a lot of confusion and uncertainty about when nurseries can open again. The prime minister mentioned schools in his statement setting out his ‘roadmap for easing lockdown’ but...

British Airways must support worried staff in pandemic, not take advantage of crisis - My letter to CEO

Government must protect pregnant women at work - COVID19 - Letter to Prime Minister

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Read my third Coronavirus Crisis Report here.  

 

Coronavirus Crisis Report 3

Read my third Coronavirus Crisis Report here.    

Coronavirus Crisis Report 2

Read my second Coronavirus Crisis Report here.    

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