Harriet Harman

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

Current News

You can read my report by clicking here.

Report on my constituency activities September 2014 - 19/09/14

You can read my report by clicking here.

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I joined Southwark Labour Party members and councillors on Saturday 13th September at the Beormund Community Centre in Bermondsey for Southwark Labour's annual conference.

Southwark Labour Borough Conference - 13/9/14

I joined Southwark Labour Party members and councillors on Saturday 13th September at the Beormund Community Centre in Bermondsey for Southwark Labour's annual conference.

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London Assembly Member, Val Shawcross, local councillors Richard Livingstone and Evelyn Akoto, and Southwark Council resident services officers Melvina Powell and Andrew Johnson on the Tustin Estate in Livesey.

Tustin Estate Advice Surgery - 11/9/14

London Assembly Member, Val Shawcross, local councillors Richard Livingstone and Evelyn Akoto, and Southwark Council resident services officers Melvina Powell and Andrew Johnson on the Tustin Estate in Livesey.

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On Wednesday 10th September I visited the Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell to meet the new Chief Executive of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Dr. Matthew Patrick. SLaM provides the widest range of mental health services in the UK and is at the forefront of tackling the stigma of mental health.

South London & Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) visit - 10/9/2014

On Wednesday 10th September I visited the Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell to meet the new Chief Executive of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), Dr. Matthew Patrick....

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It was good to see so many members and councillors out campaigning in The Lane ward in Peckham on Saturday morning when we visited the Pelican Estate.

Campaigning in Peckham - 6/9/14

It was good to see so many members and councillors out campaigning in The Lane ward in Peckham on Saturday morning when we visited the Pelican Estate.

Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP

House of Commons London

SW1A 0AA

Bedroom Tax costing Southwark households £3.75 million - 2/9/14

Rt Hon Simon Hughes MP House of Commons London SW1A 0AA Read more

Government must reach out to diaspora groups in Ebola crisis

We have started seeing on the TV news disturbing reports of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  So far, we have heard that nearly 1,300 people have died from the virus and that 2,200 people have been infected in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea and Liberia.  The Presidents of Liberia and Nigeria have declared a national state of emergency in their countries and Guinea has closed its borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia.  The World Health Organisation – based at the UN – has declared Ebola a global public health emergency.   

Because Ebola is infectious and there is as yet no vaccine which can protect you from it or treatment that can cure you if you get it, senior government ministers here have been meeting to discuss it.  So far Cobra – the government’s emergency committee which brings together ministers from across government departments – has met twice and been chaired by the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond MP.  Of course it’s important that they are doing this.  The UK is a major participant in the World Health Organisation.  And it’s important that they consider what the impact of the Ebola outbreak might be on the UK and how we can protect ourselves from it. 

Everyone should be concerned to see people hit by a horrible disease and anyone planning to go to any of the affected countries will look to our government to get the best advice about what is safe.  Southwark is home to many people from Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia and Guinea.  These diaspora communities, who are well established here, retain strong ties with their countries of origin.  Many do business with their country back home.  Many still have family and friends there.  And many visit, for family reasons or for business. 

So it is disappointing that the Government has not engaged with our local diaspora communities in order to tell them the decisions our government is making about contingency plans and hear their hopes and concerns.  I’ve asked the Foreign Secretary to convene a meeting of the leaders of the diaspora communities.  So far he has not taken up that suggestion.  I've written to the Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening MP and asked her to ensure that our government does as much as possible to help these countries protect themselves from the spread of infection. 

The health care systems in West Africa do invaluable work but they are very thinly stretched even without the Ebola epidemic.  DFID supports numerous vital health care projects – many of which I've seen on my visits to West Africa.  But what more are DFID doing to help in West Africa at the time of risk from this disease?  As yet I have not heard back from the Secretary of State - which is disappointing.  The Government should be doing everything it can to protect us from this disease.  They should be doing everything they can to help those in the affected countries.  But they should also be talking to the diaspora communities here.  And so far they have failed to do that. 

Southwark News column: Ebola crisis - 28/8/14

Government must reach out to diaspora groups in Ebola crisis We have started seeing on the TV news disturbing reports of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  So far, we...

As high profile celebrities – like Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall and Max Clifford – go to prison for sexually abusing children, there's been much talk of "historic" sex abuse.  But for the people who were sexually abused as children and who are now adults, it is usually anything but "historic".  The effects of child abuse can stay with the victim long into their adulthood.  Some say the torment of emotions they are left with give them feelings of inability to trust other people in relationships, despair they were not listened to or believed at the time.  Angry they had no-one to protect them, or to confide in.  Doubts and feelings of self-loathing about why they "let it happen" or "didn't stop it".

If you've suffered sexual abuse as a child, reported it and were not believed or told to keep quiet about it, it is often the case that the accusation of lying makes the suffering of the abuse even worse. 

So prosecuting abusers – even decades later – is vital. 

These trials send out an important message to other abusers, that you can’t get away with it just because the victim is vulnerable and it was long ago.  Even if it takes years, the law will catch up with you. 

And it is only when abuse is proved in a court that the institutions that have been used by the abuser face up to what's gone on and take action.  It took years for the Catholic Church to acknowledge the true scale of sex abuse by priests.  Now, after the Jimmy Savile revelations, the BBC and Hospitals are much more careful.  And it will be the case with other institutions

So, even though trials of offences which took place long ago are more difficult, and the offender is now elderly, it is still important to prosecute.

People often say it’s unfair to name the suspect while the victim remains anonymous.  But in our legal system justice must not only be done but “be seen to be done”.  It is dangerous to let the criminal justice system try a defendant in secret.  So, traumatic though it is for the defendant, especially if they are acquitted, it is important for the accused to be named.  You can’t have one rule for sex offences trials and another for other trials.  That would imply that, uniquely in sex cases, the victim is likely to be lying.  And when the defendant’s name is reported it often gives other victims the confidence to come forward thereby helping the prosecution and ensuring that that victim gets justice.

Some people say that this latest spate of sex abuse trials is a witchhunt.  My view is that it is justice for people who were abused as vulnerable children, will protect other children in the future, and is long overdue.

South London Press column: Victims of child abuse - 25/07/2014

As high profile celebrities – like Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall and Max Clifford – go to prison for sexually abusing children, there's been much talk of "historic" sex abuse.  But...

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Southwark Pensioner's Centre celebrated its 100th anniversary with a 'Party in the Park' on Camberwell Green for its members, volunteers and supporters.

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Southwark Pensioner's Centre 100th Anniversary - 25/7/14

Southwark Pensioner's Centre celebrated its 100th anniversary with a 'Party in the Park' on Camberwell Green for its members, volunteers and supporters.

Report on my constituency activities July 2014 - 18/07/2014

You can read my report by clicking here

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