Harriet Harman

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

Current News

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On Saturday I attended the annual Southwark Civic Awards ceremony at Southwark Cathedral. The awards are for local people - nominated by their local community - in recognition of their service to the community. The ceremony was followed by the inauguration of Southwark's new Mayor Cllr Sunil Chopra and Deputy Mayor Cllr Neil Coyle.

Southwark Civic Awards & Mayor Making Ceremony - 7/6/14

On Saturday I attended the annual Southwark Civic Awards ceremony at Southwark Cathedral. The awards are for local people - nominated by their local community - in recognition of their...

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On Saturday I attended the annual Southwark Civic Awards ceremony at Southwark Cathedral. The awards are for local people - nominated by their local community - in recognition of their service to the community. The ceremony was followed by the inauguration of Southwark's new Mayor Cllr Sunil Chopra and Deputy Mayor Cllr Neil Coyle.

Southwark Civic Awards & Mayor Making Ceremony - 07/06/2014

On Saturday I attended the annual Southwark Civic Awards ceremony at Southwark Cathedral. The awards are for local people - nominated by their local community - in recognition of their...

One of the most important things for most people is our NHS. From cradle to grave, we need to know our health services are there when we need them. And most people’s regular contact is with their GP. People want to be able to get an appointment quickly, see the same doctor each time and feel that their doctor has enough time for them.
 
People in Southwark tell me that they are finding it harder to see their GP. A teacher from Peckham complained she had to wait over 3 weeks for an appointment that she could fit in with her work. But her symptoms worsened and she tried to get an appointment sooner. She rang first thing in the morning but all appointments for that day had already been booked by 8.10am. She was told by the receptionist to call again the next day and ‘hope to be one of the lucky ones’.

A woman from Peckham Rye complained she had to wait almost a month for an appointment. She was told when she called that she could call again the next day to see if an appointment was available but this was inconvenient for her because she starts work early in the morning. In the past, she has even been late to work because she couldn’t get through on the phone when trying to make a same day appointment. 
 
People need to be able to see their GP promptly to avoid worry, get an early diagnosis and treatment, and it should not be a struggle to get an appointment when you need it. People should not have to take time off work to see their GP and lose pay or suffer anxiety, or be forced to go to A&E when it isn’t an accident or an emergency.
 
A survey at my advice surgery showed three quarters said they had to wait over 48 hours to get a GP appointment and over half were not able to get an appointment on the same day. Most worryingly, over half of the constituents surveyed said they had had to go to A&E because they couldn’t see their GP in time.
 
When Labour was in Government, 80% of patients got a GP appointment in 48 hours. Only 20% had to wait longer. Now 60% have to wait more than 48 hours to see their GP.
 
As your local MP, I’ve worked hard over the years with other South London MP’s to improve our NHS. My worry is that with this Tory/Lib Dem Government we are slipping back.
 
That is why the next Labour government will invest in GP surgeries and give people the right to an appointment within 48 hours, and on the same day for those who need it.

Southwark News column: GP access - 5/6/14

One of the most important things for most people is our NHS. From cradle to grave, we need to know our health services are there when we need them. And...

Everyone was horrified to see that over 200 girls had been abducted from their school in northern Nigeria. But it has been particularly heart-rending for the many Southwark residents who come from Nigeria and who still have family there. It’s been over a month since they were taken. The video broadcast by their captors must have been yet more torture for the parents who await their return.

They were taken by a militant group called ‘Boko Haram’, who are against Western education and are against any girl going to school.

It is the right of every child - boy and girl - to get an education. 

The most important thing now is to find the girls and bring them home. That is vital not just for each and every one of them. But it’s also important for all the other boys and girls in northern Nigeria. If Boko Haram are able to get away with this terrible crime, then parents in northern Nigeria will become fearful of sending their children to school - especially their daughters.

It’s essential not just for each child, but for Nigeria's future, that all girls in Nigeria go to school.  A country cannot develop and prosper economically if half the population - its women - are kept in illiteracy and ignorance. 

Given the gravity of the crime against so many young girls, it was extraordinary how long it took the Nigerian government to take action. And for too long the international community did not seem to be responding.

There's no doubt that the Nigerian government face difficulties with Boko Haram in northern Nigeria. That's why help from other countries internationally is so vital. Think of the massive international effort to find the missing Malaysian Airways plane with search equipment mobilised from all around the world.
To mobilise international action and to show the Nigerian government that we in the UK want them to do everything they can to get the girls back, and after discussions with my Nigerian constituents, I started a campaign in Parliament. I took up the case of the Nigerian girls with the Foreign Secretary William Hague and the Women’s Minister, I wrote to the Nigerian High Commissioner, and tabled a motion in Parliament which was signed by 94 Members of Parliament from all the political parties calling on the Government to support Nigerian efforts to find the girls and bring them home safely.

Our government has now sent a team of experts to help the Nigerian authorities and I welcome this. But we need to keep up the support and the pressure. I hope everyone will sign petitions and write to our government urging action.

This is not just a Nigerian issue. We must stand together in solidarity and back the right of every girl to receive an education. And we must leave no stone unturned until these girls are back with their families.

South London Press column: Missing Nigerian Schoolgirls - 23/05/ 2014

Everyone was horrified to see that over 200 girls had been abducted from their school in northern Nigeria. But it has been particularly heart-rending for the many Southwark residents who...

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On Saturday I was out campaigning in Rotherhithe with Neil Coyle, Parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey & Old Southwark, Val Shawcross AM, Southwark Council Leader Peter John and local Labour councillors, candidates and Party members.

Campaigning in Southwark - 17/05/2014

On Saturday I was out campaigning in Rotherhithe with Neil Coyle, Parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey & Old Southwark, Val Shawcross AM, Southwark Council Leader Peter John and local Labour councillors,... Read more

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Campaigning in Peckham on Thursday 1st May with Cllrs Cleo Soanes, Chris Brown and Barrie Hargrove, candidate Johnson Situ and local members.

Campaigning in Peckham - 1/5/14

Campaigning in Peckham on Thursday 1st May with Cllrs Cleo Soanes, Chris Brown and Barrie Hargrove, candidate Johnson Situ and local members.

Southwark Council is right to be setting up a Childcare Commission, chaired by local MP Tessa Jowell, to look at how all families can have access to good quality, affordable, flexible childcare. For all the progress on childcare made in recent decades, that is slipping back under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition. Something needs to be done.

Since 2010, there are more children under 5 in Southwark but fewer childcare places. 15 hours a week free childcare is just not enough for many mothers to get a job or work the hours they need.  And childcare is too expensive for many families. The average cost of a part time nursery place in Camberwell & Peckham for a child under 5 is £110 a week. For a mother on average local earnings this is almost 40% of her pay on childcare. And some parents have to give up work and rely on benefits.  As mothers, whose pay has stagnated, save money by cutting back on the hours of childcare they use, they rely more on a patchwork of family and friends.  And this undermines the continuity of care for the child.

Many parents have let me know the problems they have trying to balance work and childcare. For example, a self-employed single mother of 2 children from Peckham told me that the 15 free hours don’t offer enough flexibility to allow her to expand her mobile hairdressing business. So she has had to reduce her working hours to look after her children – just like her mother had to.

A mother of 3 children from Camberwell said that she had left her senior role in a national charity to become a professional child minder and look after her own children at the same time because she couldn’t make work pay and afford the childcare she needed.

When I first became an MP in the 1980's, one of the biggest complaints from local mothers bringing up young children on their own was the lack of childcare. There were no community nurseries and no help with the cost of the very few private nurseries, or with the cost of childminders.

When we got in to government in 1997, our National Childcare Strategy – through childcare tax credits, Sure Start Centres and nurseries in the NHS and colleges – led to a massive increase in childcare provision.

Today the Government is cutting back on childcare tax credit - which helps parents pay nursery or childminders fees - and the Government Grant to Southwark for children services like Sure Start. The price is being paid by children and parents and a growing benefit bill.

That's why Southwark Council is working hard to protect children's services and why we, if we get back into government, will guarantee parents 25 hours free childcare.

Southwark News column: Childcare in Camberwell & Peckham - 10/4/2014

Southwark Council is right to be setting up a Childcare Commission, chaired by local MP Tessa Jowell, to look at how all families can have access to good quality, affordable,...

Door Knock

This evening I joined Jo Baxter, Cllrs Mark Glover & Nick Dolezal and council candidates Jamille Mohammed and Jasmine Ali to campaign on the doorstop of Gordon Road in Lane ward.

Campaigning in Lane Ward - SE15 - 03/04/2014

This evening I joined Jo Baxter, Cllrs Mark Glover & Nick Dolezal and council candidates Jamille Mohammed and Jasmine Ali to campaign on the doorstop of Gordon Road in Lane... Read more

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Today I met with the Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John. We discussed the regeneration plans for Peckham, local policing, school choice, childcare and the Council's future plans re: housing, education and public health.

Meeting Southwark Council Leader Peter John - 31/3/2014

   Today I met with the Leader of Southwark Council, Cllr Peter John. We discussed the regeneration plans for Peckham, local policing, school choice, childcare and the Council's future plans...

This morning I met Chief Superintendent Zander Gibson, the new Police Borough Commander for Southwark. We discussed police numbers, victim confidence to report rape and serious sexual assault, race relations and recruitment, and police engagement with young people and community stakeholders.

Meeting Southwark Police Borough Commander Zander Gibson - 26/03

This morning I met Chief Superintendent Zander Gibson, the new Police Borough Commander for Southwark. We discussed police numbers, victim confidence to report rape and serious sexual assault, race relations...

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