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. 

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