Harriet Harman

Parliament has been dissolved until after the General Election and I am no longer an MP

Current News

Child sex offenders to lose parental rights over their own children

Despite being firmly in a pre-election period it’s still possible for MPs to be making changes.

One of the major pieces of legislation currently going through Parliament that presents opportunities for that is the Government’s wide-ranging Criminal Justice Bill. With that in mind I put forward a proposal to change the law to protect children of convicted child sex offenders by taking away their father’s parental rights – and I’m pleased to say the Government has accepted it.

It will be hugely significant and will lay down that fatherhood is a privilege not a right, and you will forfeit it if you are a danger to children.

It’s long been recognised that children need protecting from sex offenders. So in the 1990s we introduced the Sex Offenders Register and banned them from working with children. But the glaring anomaly is that, while those measures protect other people’s children from a sex offending man, there has been no protection for his own children. It’s been left to the mother to go to court to try and protect her children.

A spotlight was put on this by BBC reporting of a recent family court case in Cardiff. When the father of “Bethan’s” daughter was sent to prison for child sexual abuse, Bethan was horrified to discover that – despite being in prison – he still had rights over their child. When he was sentenced, he was given an order banning him from any future contact with children, but that ban did not extend to his own. Bethan spent £30,000 going through the family court fighting to protect her child from him. 

BBC reporting in this was crucial. You can’t put public policy right unless you can see it going wrong. The limited, careful opening of the family courts and the diligent reporting by the BBC’s Sanchia Berg meant this awful anomaly was exposed.

I heard Bethan’s story on Radio 4’s Today Programme and seeing that there was an opportunity for change, I tabled the new clause and got the support of former Tory cabinet minister Maria Miller and Caroline Nokes, a Tory select committee chair.

The Lord Chancellor has now agreed it so that in future when a man commits the most serious of sex offences, rape of a child, he will be automatically deprived of his parental rights. He will be able to get them back only if he is able to persuade the Family Court that it is in the child’s best interests for his parental rights to be restored. In the case of a child rapist that is unlikely.

The patriarchal hangover whereby a father’s rights over his child were sacrosanct will, at long last, give way to the priority of protecting the child.

The new law will start at the most extreme end of abuse. And can, in due course, be extended to other offences. The Criminal Justice Bill is expected to pass into law in the coming weeks.

May Southwark News Press Column

Child sex offenders to lose parental rights over their own childrenDespite being firmly in a pre-election period it’s still possible for MPs to be making changes. One of the major pieces...

 

Parents urgently need affordable, high-quality childcare – let’s turn the page on Tory failure

Affordable, high-quality and accessible childcare is important not just because it enables parents to work, but because it gives every child a fair start in life.

Childcare should be as much part of our economic infrastructure as transport – a functioning childcare system is as important as the rails and the roads which take us to work.

Without it many parents, mainly mothers, will miss out on work, or earn less than they should – and the economy will not grow to its full potential.

Sadly, many parents in Camberwell and Peckham tell me they simply cannot find the childcare they need. A report this week by the Fawcett Society showed 85% of UK mothers cannot get the hours or days they need. Under the Conservatives childcare has become less workable for the majority of UK families.

While the recent expansion of free hours was welcome, nursery leaders tell me they are struggling to meet parents’ demand and lay on the new hours due to a lack of staff. How after 14 years do the Tories still have no strategy for increasing the early years workforce?

Offering families free funded childcare hours are no good if nurseries can't safely staff them: families across the country urgently need a credible long-term solution so they can plan their lives. This is what Labour will deliver.

The last Labour government’s National Childcare Strategy led to a massive increase in childcare provision. There were 2,500 more childcare places in Southwark alone.

We did this through childcare tax credits, Sure Start Centres and nurseries in the NHS and colleges. And the benefits of these changes stayed with children for life. A recent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that children from low-income families who grew up near a Sure Start centre did better than their peers at GCSEs. This is the difference a Labour government will make. 

The next Labour government will once again make childcare our priority – we know it is government’s responsibility to deliver on this. We will work with local authorities to boost the availability in places where provision is currently letting so many families down. It is not right that in 2024 Britain lags far behind other European countries in terms of the amount of free hours parents are able to access. 

Let’s turn the page on Tory failure and treat childcare like we would any other crucial pillar of the country’s infrastructure, so all new families get the best possible start.

May South London Press Column

  Parents urgently need affordable, high-quality childcare – let’s turn the page on Tory failureAffordable, high-quality and accessible childcare is important not just because it enables parents to work, but...

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Parliamentary Report February 2024

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You can read my January 2024 report here

Parliamentary Report January 2024

You can read my January 2024 report here. 

You can read my December 2023 report here.

Parliamentary Report December 2023

You can read my December 2023 report here.

You can read my November 2023 report here

Parliamentary Report November 2023

You can read my November 2023 report here. 

October was Black History Month. This is the opportunity each year to celebrate the contribution that black people have made, and continue to make, to our society and our communities.

Nowhere is the contribution of black people more obvious than in Southwark, one of the most diverse boroughs in the country. According to data from the most recent census, 25% of Southwark residents reported their ethnic group as “Black, Black British, Caribbean or Africa”, well above the London average of 14% and the UK average of 4%. And Southwark has a very high proportion of residents who were born outside the UK, with 11% of Southwark residents born in Africa, substantially higher than the London and UK averages.

But Black History Month is also an opportunity to focus on the fact that there remains significant progress to be made before we can be satisfied that black people can consider themselves treated on equal terms with white people.

An awful problem which needs to be tackled urgently is that black women are at significantly greater risk of dying in childbirth than white women. Black women have consistently been the ethnic group most at risk during childbirth and the most recent data shows that black women are 3.7 times more likely than white women to die. An inquiry by the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) into black people, racism and human rights commissioned polling which reported that 78% of black women felt that the NHS would not give them equal treatment, and the JCHR called for there to be an NHS target to end this discrepancy.

We not only need a clear target to close this gap but we must also have regular and publicly accessible monitoring of maternal mortality rates; the NHS must set clear targets to close the gap; we must work to close wider health and social inequalities; and we have to address the differential delivery of care that is the experience of too many black women.  

Black people also understandably still do not feel that the criminal justice system treats them equally. In the same inquiry, the JCHR found that 85% of black people are not confident they would be treated the same as a white person by the police. And the release of Baroness Casey’s report into the Metropolitan Police earlier this year revealed that racism, misogyny and homophobia are rampant.

Sir Mark Rowley, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has vowed to reform the police. And as a London MP I will be holding him to account on that promise. Until such time as the Met have rid the force of racists they won’t command the confidence of black people or the wider community.

And black people are at a disadvantage in the labour market. Black people are more likely to be in insecure work, such as zero-hour contracts. And black African women are more disadvantaged than their white counterparts, earning 26% less than the average male worker compared to 14% for white women. Labour has announced that if we get into government we will tackle this, including with the introduction of the mandatory publication of ethnicity pay gaps for firms with more than 250 employees.

There is still much to do. But it is encouraging that in Peckham we are seeing increasing numbers of impressive black leaders in positions of power to lead that change. Not least the local borough police commander Seb Adjei-Addoh, who is the first black officer in charge of Southwark. And my successor as the Labour candidate for Peckham, Miatta Fahnbulleh, who is set to become the first black MP in Peckham and would be a truly brilliant representative of all her constituents.

Black History Month 2023

October was Black History Month. This is the opportunity each year to celebrate the contribution that black people have made, and continue to make, to our society and our communities....

You can read my October 2023 report here

Parliamentary Report October 2023

You can read my October 2023 report here. 

You can read my Parliamentary Annual Report 2022/2023 here

Parliamentary Annual Report 2022/2023

You can read my Parliamentary Annual Report 2022/2023 here. 

On 30th October I spoke at the AI Fringe on the importance of designing AI for those at the margins. You can read my speech here

Speech at the AI Fringe

On 30th October I spoke at the AI Fringe on the importance of designing AI for those at the margins. You can read my speech here. 

The terrible news of the blast at the Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital on 17th October came as we are still mourning the terrorist attack on Israel on 7th October; Jews mutilated, slaughtered and taken hostage. Every minute of every hour of every day their families hope for good news but fear the worst. They know the lives of their loved ones are in the hands of murderers. It’s unimaginable agony. Israel has a right, a duty, to defend itself from Hamas, keep its people safe and bring hostages home. And it is clear that if Hamas had a single concern for human life, a single concern for the safety of the Palestinian people, then they would never have taken these hostages, and they should release them immediately.

We have heard accounts on the media, including from charities working in Gaza, of the harrowing humanitarian crisis now occurring; children fleeing their homes and hospitals unable to function. The lights are going out and the innocent civilians of Gaza are terrified that they will die in the darkness, out of sight. International law must always be followed. Hamas are not the Palestinian people and the Palestinian people are not Hamas. Sufficient medicines, food, fuel and water must get into Gaza immediately. This is an urgent situation and innocent Palestinians need to know that the world isn’t simply watching but acting to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

Since Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel, the UK has seen a disgusting rise in antisemitism; Jewish businesses attacked, Jewish schools daubed with red paint and Jewish families hiding who they are. And we’ve seen an appalling surge in islamophobia with racist graffiti, mosques forced to ramp up security and British Muslims and Palestinians spoken to as if they were terrorists. Every British Jew and every British Muslim has the right to live their life free from fear and free from discrimination here in their own country.

We must have grave concern that this conflict will escalate in the Middle East, where there has been too much bloodshed and darkness for too long. A two-state solution, a Palestinian state alongside a safe and secure Israel, feels more distant than ever but it remains the only way through. We must work our hardest to ensure that the voices of division and despair are side-lined and that, however difficult it seems, the hope of a political path to peace is maintained.

This is a crisis where lives hang in the balance and when the enemies of peace and democracy would like nothing more than for us to become divided and to abandon our values. During this grave crisis, the UK must strive to speak with one voice in condemnation of terror, in support of Israel’s right to self-defence, and for the dignity of all human life, which cannot be protected without humanitarian access to those suffering in Gaza and the constant maintenance of the rule of international law.

Middle East Conflict

The terrible news of the blast at the Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital on 17th October came as we are still mourning the terrorist attack on Israel on 7th October; Jews mutilated, slaughtered and...

You can read my September 2023 report here

Parliamentary Report September 2023

You can read my September 2023 report here. 

On Wednesday 13th September I gave the Sororal Address at the 2023 TUC Conference. You can read my speech below and watch it here

 

[Check against delivery]

 

Thank you Congress for that kind introduction. Maria, I thought we’d never speak on the same platform again as last time I pre-emptively announced her forthcoming civil partnership with Angela Eagle.  Sorry about that Maria!  I promise no breach of confidence this time. 

Congratulations to Paul who’s made a cracking start in his new role as General Secretary of the TUC.   

And it’s a pleasure to be here with you in your great home city of Liverpool.

I’d want to add my tribute to your outstanding former General Secretary, Frances O’grady, She’s now chairing our Equal Pay Commission and has been a beacon for women across the trade labour movement. 

It’s inspiring to see here at congress the new generation of women union members and the new women General Secretaries who are fearlessly taking your unions forward. You are pioneers.

Women used to be shut out of union leadership and now they’ve pushed the door open.

As good as it as to have this. For the men here don't breathe a sigh of relief. You’re not off the hook. We used to shut men out of the women’s movement, but now we are calling on you to step forward and back your sisters up, not just to be passive bystanders but to be active male allies.

It is a huge privilege for me to bring you greetings and solidarity from all your friends, colleagues and comrades in the Labour Party.

From my time giving legal advice to the Trico equal pay strikers in the 1970s and the Grunwick workers in the 1980s I’ve always known that employees are powerless without the collective strength of their union. 

Labour is deeply proud of you, our brothers and sisters in the trade union movement.

We won’t forget what you and your members did during the pandemic, the sheer bravery of those key workers when covid was spreading like wildfire and there was no vaccination in sight.

Cleaners, postal workers, teachers, teaching support staff, delivery workers, utility workers, NHS workers…and many more

These people to whom we owe so much, who you in the this room represent. 

And we have not forgotten how you fought for those workers to be able to have as much protection as possible as we stayed safe at home while they had to go out to work.

And as the government have wrecked the economy and ground down people’s living standards, showing themselves to be completely out of touch. 

You, in the trade unions have

  • shown you understand the concerns of working people,
  • you’ve listened to their struggles
  • you've spoken out for them
  • You’ve supported them
  • you have fought for their pay at the negotiating table and
  • you have delivered.

You have shown that you truly are the strong champion at work that people need and you have shown that the trade union movement is as necessary today as it ever was.

The enduring link between the trade unions and Labour is based in our history but it’s vital for today and our future.

We share values and hopes.  We work together to achieve them.

So, thank you to those who've served on our National Executive Committee, who've toiled on the National Policy Forum and provided expert policy advice.

Thank you for your support for our MPs and our councillors and for campaigning for the Labour Party throughout England Scotland and wales, and

Thank you to your members who choose to pay the political levy to contribute invaluable financial support.

You and your members will help us get into government and help us deliver when we are in government. We never take that for granted.

You heard from Angela yesterday. What an amazing woman she is.  You can see why she terrorises the Tories and makes me feel like a shrinking violent.

She’s a living example of the difference a labour government can make. 

And with crumbling schools and endless hospital waiting lists, we are long overdue for the next Labour government and the change that would bring.

Real, transformative change.

And that will be evident in our New Deal for Working People.

No-one can do their best work if they’re wracked with fear about the future.

Or if a proper safety net doesn’t support them in times of sickness and poor health.

That’s what Labour’s New Deal for Working People is about.

Our clear commitment to start improving the lives of working people as soon as we take office.

In the first 100 days a Labour government would:

  • Give workers their rights from day one
  • Improve maternity and paternity rights, and rights for pregnant women and new mothers returning to work
  • Build on Labour’s Equality Act to require organisations to report not just on their gender pay gap but on their ethnic pay gap too
  • End Fire and Rehire

And Congress, the evidence is clear.

In Countries that have stronger collective bargaining…

That have stronger worker rights…

That have a fairer share of wealth...

You get a stronger economy too.

So we will

  • Strengthen collective bargaining rights
  • Make it easier for trade unions to organise in workplaces
  • Repeal anti union laws, including the pernicious Minimum Services legislation the Tories pushed through earlier this year, attacking working people’s fundamental rights to take industrial action
  • And give the trade unions a strong voice – along with business – in a new Industrial Strategy Council

As Keir has said: ‘An economy that is strong for working people, cannot weaken the institutions that give working people strength’.

You don't have to choose between a strong economy and a fair society. Economic prosperity and social justice go hand in hand.

To do this we have to win and with you, that is what we will work ceaselessly to do.

Before I finish, I’d like to mention a dedicated Labour and trade unionist who’s no longer with us and who we all dearly miss.  And that is Jack Dromey.

I want to thank you for the outpouring of respect and affection so many of you, from all around the country, showed for him after his death last year.  It meant so much to me and to our family.  More than I can say.

But we know, don’t we, what Jack would be saying to us.

He’d be saying,

“We are so close now- Don't mess it up

Working people are depending on us.

Work together - don't argue

It’s within reach - We can do it”

And to me, of whom he was so supportive, he’d say

“That was a remarkable speech you made to the TUC, probably your best yet!”

But I’ll leave you to be the judge of that!

Let’s get that change,

let’s get that new government,

Congress, let’s do it!

Thank you.

Speech to 2023 TUC Conference

On Wednesday 13th September I gave the Sororal Address at the 2023 TUC Conference. You can read my speech below and watch it here.    [Check against delivery]   Thank...

Closing Southern Rail and Southeastern Railway ticket offices will hit women, elderly and disabled. These plans must be ditched.

I wrote to the CEOs of Southern and Southeastern expressing my concern and opposition. 

I am writing to you to express my strong opposition to plans to close railway ticket offices in
Camberwell and Peckham, including Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye, Nunhead and Queens
Road Peckham.

Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye are busy interchange stations, where the loss of ticket staff
would be particularly damaging, and Denmark Hill is the station for King’s College Hospital,
meaning it is frequently used by people with medical impairments that mean they need
additional support from station staff already.

I have been contacted by numerous constituents with a range of concerns about proposed
closures to railway ticket offices. One in nine tickets are still sold at physical ticket offices
and changes to staffing would disproportionately impact disabled and elderly people. The
Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has said that the mass closure of rail ticket
offices “would have a hugely detrimental impact on blind and partially sighted people’s
ability to buy tickets, arrange assistance and, critically, travel independently”. Only 3% of
people who are partially sighted said they could use a ticket machine without problems. 58%
said it would be impossible.

For many people, public transport is essential for their independence and ability to be part of society. Making it less accessible risks having a significant financial, social and professional impact on their lives, exacerbating already-damaging social inequalities.

This point has been illustrated by one of my constituents, who posted their response on
twitter as the consultation itself was inaccessible to them. I have attached their illustration to this letter. It is a striking visual depiction of the impact these office closures will have on people who are already underserved by our public  transport. I hope you take careful note of it.

The proposal that staff should be out and about on the station instead of a ticket office raises a number of issues. How would a woman on her own at night know if the person who purports to give her information about train services is actually an employee? That is of course clear if she’s talking to someone in a ticket office. If a blind person approaches the ticket office, they will know the bona fides of the person they are talking to. They would not be able to verify the identity of someone on the station platform or concourse. Also taking employees out of the ticket office that will create vulnerability of station staff, particularly women, who will not have the protection of being in a ticket office. 

These proposed changes come after people across the country have faced worse services at higher costs. I would be grateful if you could provide information on:

  • What will happen to the staff who will no longer be in the ticket offices?
  • What additional provisions are you introducing to ensure that no-one is adversely
    affected by these proposals?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Picture credit: https://twitter.com/touretteshero/status/1684131272510042113;
@touretteshero; https://www.touretteshero.com/ 

Strong opposition to proposed rail ticket office closures

Closing Southern Rail and Southeastern Railway ticket offices will hit women, elderly and disabled. These plans must be ditched. I wrote to the CEOs of Southern and Southeastern expressing my...

You can read my July 2023 report here

Parliamentary Report July 2023

You can read my July 2023 report here. 

On Thursday 15th June the Privileges Committee, which I chaired, published its final report in its investigation into whether former Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP misled Parliament when he said that there were no parties in No. 10 during lockdown and that no rules or guidance were broken. You can read the report here.

The committee found that Boris Johnson:
- Deliberately misled the House of Commons
- Deliberately misled the committee
- Breached the committee’s confidence
- Impugned the committee and thereby undermined the democratic process of
the House of Commons
- Was complicit in the campaign of abuse and attempted intimidation of the
committee

And recommended if he were still a Member of Parliament, he should have been suspended from the House of Commons for 90 days. The committee also recommended that he not be entitled to a former member’s pass.

On Monday 19th June the House of Commons debated the committee’s report and voted overwhelmingly to endorse its conclusions and recommended sanctions. I spoke in that debate, and you can watch my contribution in full here.

Privileges Committee Final Report - conduct of Rt Hon Boris Johnson

On Thursday 15th June the Privileges Committee, which I chaired, published its final report in its investigation into whether former Prime Minister Boris Johnson MP misled Parliament when he said...

You can read my June 2023 report here

Parliamentary Report June 2023

You can read my June 2023 report here. 

Harriet is assisting a constituent and members of her family in relation to an incident on 9th May involving Met Police officers. Harriet’s constituent is an elderly woman in her 90s suffering from dementia.

On 9th May Met Police officers were called to the neighbour’s flat. 8 police officers came to the flat. During the incident the constituent was threatened with a taser, which is known as “issuing a red dot challenge”, handcuffed and had a spit hood pulled over her head before being put in an ambulance and taken to King’s College Hospital. 

A complaint has been made to the Independent Office for Police Conduct by the constituent’s family and is being investigated.

Harriet is continuing to support her constituent and her family. As this is a matter of public interest Harriet has put this information into the public domain but is giving no further details in order to preserve the family’s privacy after this distressing incident. 

Complaint against Met Police for handcuffing, threatening with a taser and putting spit hood on elderly constituent.

Harriet is assisting a constituent and members of her family in relation to an incident on 9th May involving Met Police officers. Harriet’s constituent is an elderly woman in her...

19th May 2023

With Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, I have today published a Bill to reform the regulations governing police conduct and dismissal. The Police Reform (Performance and Disciplinary) Bill has the support of Members of Parliament from Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and you can view it here

The current procedures for disciplining and dismissing police officers are not fit for purpose. The shortcomings in existing police procedures and regulations have been highlighted by, amongst others,  Baroness Casey of Blackstock, the College of Policing Chief Constable Andy Marsh and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, Sir Mark Rowley.   

In her review, Baroness Casey recommended that the Government should expedite work to provide the Commissioner with new powers to support his efforts to rapidly reform and clean up the Metropolitan Police. The changes this Bill would introduce are a direct response to the Casey review and the requests by Sir Mark Rowley for increased powers. The Bill has been developed by the Mayor of London and drafted by King’s Counsel.

The Bill would introduce reforms to:  

  • Automatically dismiss a serving officer who is convicted of a serious criminal offence  (all indictable and either-way offences + violence and Domestic Abuse if summary only)   
  • Automatically suspend an officer charged with a serious criminal offence (offences as above) 
  • Automatically dismiss a serving officer who fails vetting (strengthen and streamline current provisions – learning from MPS existing work) 
  • Give Chief Constables the power to reopen misconduct investigations 
  • Provide that Regulation 13 should be used to dismiss an officer whilst in their probation period (including for misconduct) 
  • Introduce a Duty of Candour, which would require an officer to proactively report any wrongdoing (by self or others)   
  • Provide Chief Constables the right of appeal to a Police Appeals Tribunal following a misconduct hearing when the sanction is inadequate 
  • Reduce the performance process to a two stage process, from the current three stage + three appeals 
  • Strengthen the pension forfeiture rules so that a criminal offence does not have to be committed ‘in connection’ with their service in order for an officer to lose their pension  
  • Create a ‘duty to handover’ to obtain relevant information from an officer’s personal phone during a misconduct investigation  

Sadiq and I have written to the Home Secretary to offer her the legislative package to introduce in Parliament. The Bill stands ready to be made into law, to give police chiefs in England and Wales the powers they need and have explicitly asked for, so that they can start to build public trust in the police.

 

New Bill to reform Met Police standards

19th May 2023 With Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, I have today published a Bill to reform the regulations governing police conduct and dismissal. The Police Reform (Performance and Disciplinary)...

You can read my May 2023 report here

Parliamentary Report May 2023

You can read my May 2023 report here. 

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