You can find out what I have been up to in Parliament and my work in Lewisham, or read my latest blog posts below.
Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli detention.
I share your concerns and agree that more needs to be done about this. No child, no matter what their nationality or where they are in the world, should be subjected to physical or psychological violence, blindfolded, painfully restrained, or subjected to coercive force or threats.
In 2012, the independent Children in Military Custody report outlined no fewer than 40 recommendations for how Israeli authorities should improve the way they deal with arrests, interrogations, bail hearings, sentencing and the investigation of complaints. However, over half a decade later, only one of these recommendations is believed to have been implemented.
The recent arrest of Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi has served to highlight these issues once again. I believe it is time for the UK Government to step up and demand that Israeli authorities not only implement the remaining recommendations of the Children in Military Custody report, but also respect their ongoing obligations under international law – in particular, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. There should also be an independent investigation into reports of ill-treatment of young people in Israel’s military detention system and I believe the UK Government must call for this immediately.
Without this kind of insistence on basic protections for the rights of Palestinians, we will never make the progress we all want to see towards a long term, sustainable peace in the Middle East. I can assure you that my Labour colleagues and I will continue to press the Government on the actions it is taking.
Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli detention. I share your concerns and agree that more needs to be done...
Today I have written to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, to express major concerns about the current state of funding for mental health services. You can read my letter in full below.
I have also sponsored an Early Day Motion tabled by my Dulwich and West Norwood colleague, Helen Hayes MP, which outlines our concerns and calls on the Government to take action.
I am aware that there is currently a lot of concern in the constituency over mental health provision for children and young people in particular. This is a crucial issue and I totally agree that supporting children’s mental health should be a priority.
In recent years, referrals to CAMHS have increased by two-thirds nationally and the number of young people presenting to A&E units with psychiatric conditions has doubled, yet two thirds of young people referred to specialist mental health services by their GP receive no help and a third are not even assessed. Despite repeated commitments by our Prime Minister to address this issue, the reality remains that mental health services are inadequate.
Funding arrangements for CAMHS are complex with funds mainly coming from the NHS (via the CCG) and the council. Due to huge cuts to its budget from central government, Lewisham Council has been forced to cut its funding to Lewisham CAMHS by £94k this year and plans to cut £150k over the next two years.
I will be attending a public meeting tonight to listen to people’s concerns and also raised this at a recent meeting with council offices and the other Lewisham MPs. It is vital that young people are able to access appropriate support and treatment at the earliest possible opportunity. I will continue to lobby the council and central government to ensure that this happens.
Today I have written to Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, to express major concerns about the current state of funding for mental health services. You can read...
The independent Preparing for Brexit Report, commissioned by the Mayor of London, found that a hard Brexit will lead to the loss of 56,500 more jobs in London alone than if the UK remains in the Single Market and Customs Union.
I asked David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, whether he agreed this was clear evidence that a hard Brexit would be catastrophic for employment. The Minister disagreed, saying there was no evidence. Perhaps it's time the Government provide the substantial impact assessments we were promised to back that up...
The independent Preparing for Brexit Report, commissioned by the Mayor of London, found that a hard Brexit will lead to the loss of 56,500 more jobs in London alone than...
On 1st and 2nd February world leaders met in Dakar for a replenishment conference hosted by the presidents of France and Senegal in support of the work of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Global investment into education, particularly girls’ education, is an important issue to me and I know many of my constituents feel the same. I therefore thought I’d share my thoughts on the topic here.
In the UK, we have a proud history as a world leader in helping to transform the global education agenda. In the last 15 years, the UK has supported 11 million children through education and we remain one of the biggest donors to education internationally, including being the largest founder contributor to GPE. So far, the GPE has delivered education to a remarkable 72 million primary school children and has helped 38 million additional girls access school.
The Labour Party Manifesto 2017 expressed full support for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which includes Goal 4 (Education). However, according to UNESCO the gap in the level of global funding necessary to achieve Goal Four is $39 billion per year.
Furthermore, over 263 million children worldwide are not in school, while hundreds of millions more are not learning due to the poor quality of their education. This figure includes 130 million girls, and their exclusion makes it more likely they will contract HIV, marry as children and give birth to babies who will die young.
These shocking realities remind us of how far we are still yet to go and I firmly believe we must build upon our commitments on investment into education.
As rightfully stated by our Shadow International Development Secretary, global education is "a vital tool in ending poverty, improving health outcomes and tackling gender inequality by empowering girls."
The commitments made by the UK and many other nations at the GPE conference are incredibly promising for the educational outcomes of children and girls around the world. I hope that the Government will continue to demonstrate the UK's leadership on this issue by stepping up as a strong advocate for global education.
On 1st and 2nd February world leaders met in Dakar for a replenishment conference hosted by the presidents of France and Senegal in support of the work of the Global...
Many constituents have recently contacted me regarding the detention of vulnerable adults and torture survivors under the current immigration system.
I share concerns over this issue entirely. Time spent in detention can be a highly retraumatising experience for torture survivors, and without access to specialist medical and therapeutic support in detention, their physical and mental health can further deteriorate.
This is simply inhumane and unacceptable and I firmly believe that current immigration policy must be revised to ensure greater protections for torture survivors.
An independent review commissioned by the Government in January 2016, the Stephen Shaw review, concluded that detention policy is in ‘urgent need of reform’ and noted a strong support for a time limit on detention starting at 28 days.
While the Immigration Act 2016 was being considered in Parliament, the House of Lords, through Opposition support, passed an amendment to introduce a 28-day limit on immigration detention, unless extended by a court in exceptional circumstances. The amendment was subsequently defeated by Government MPs and removed from the legislation.
However, a recent High Court judgement against the Government has ruled that the Home Office’s redefinition of torture in its flagship Adults at Risk immigration detention policy is unlawful.
At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto which committed to end indefinite detention in our asylum and immigration system.
Many constituents have recently contacted me regarding the detention of vulnerable adults and torture survivors under the current immigration system. I share concerns over this issue entirely. Time spent in...
The Post Office is currently running a consultation on the future of Lewisham High Street Post Office and local residents are encouraged to have their say on proposed plans.
The Post Office is currently running a consultation on the future of Lewisham High Street Post Office and local residents are encouraged to have their say on proposed plans. Read more
Yesterday I was lucky enough to be drawn in the ballot for PMQs and used the opportunity to raise the Youth Violence Commission with the Prime Minister.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to be drawn in the ballot for PMQs and used the opportunity to raise the Youth Violence Commission with the Prime Minister. Read more
It's been a very busy start to 2018 - here I've outlined my contributions in parliament since the beginning of the year which I have not yet shared on my website.
1. Universal Credit
On Tuesday 9th January I took part in a Westminster Hall debate on the effects of Universal Credit on the private rented sector.
I raised the case of some constituents who were denied benefits for six months due to confusion around their change over to universal credit. They were then told by the DWP that they would only be getting four weeks of backdated payments. It was only after my office intervened that they were given the full backdated payment and avoided being evicted from their home. You can watch my contribution here.
The move to universal credit has been disastrous for many families across the country and my office has dealt with over 30 cases of people having to wait weeks to receive their first payment.
You can watch my question here.
2. BBC Equal Pay
Also on 9th January, I raised the issue of BBC equal pay.
The BBC website has reported that since 2011 so few equal pay cases have been formally recorded as having a successful or an unsuccessful outcome at tribunal that the Ministry of Justice has both figures at 0%. We know that these figures do not reflect the reality and that a large proportion of cases are either withdrawn or settled away from tribunal. I asked the Secretary of State whether he agrees that this method of reporting prevents us from having a true understanding of the actual figures involved.
You can watch my question here.
3. Mental Health in Prisons
On 10th January I took part in a Westminster Hall debate on Mental Health in Prisons.
The average cost of a new prisoner is £119,000 a year and the ongoing cost is in excess of £40,000 a year. I therefore believe it is exceptionally important to invest in mental health provision before people end up in prison. Making sure we assess the numbers who are in prison and having accurate records means we are able to do that beforehand.
You can watch my question here.
4. Temporary Accommodation
Also on 10th January I raised the issue of voter registration in temporary accommodation at Cabinet Office questions.
Over 75% of the almost 200 families who have contacted me about their housing issues in temporary accommodation are not on the electoral register, meaning vast swathes of our residents are losing their right to vote in elections. As this Government continue to fail when it comes to housing, I feel ministers should look in to this issue as a matter of urgency to ensure as many residents are able to exercise their democratic right come election time.
You can watch my question here.
5. Knife Crime Epidemic
On 11th January I raised the issue of youth violence during business questions.
On New Year’s Eve, another four young men were tragically stabbed and killed in London. I asked the Minister when the Government will publish its serious violence strategy and urged that the Government look at the root causes of youth violence as part of that strategy.
You can view my question here.
6. County Lines
On 17th January I took part in a debate on County Lines Exploitation.
I asked the minister whether databases are being shred and there is cross-working among the different areas, and how the Government will ensure that manage that better.
You can view my question here.
7. Knife Crime Epidemic
Most recently, on 18th January I raised the issue of knife crime again during business questions.
In 2017, 80 people were stabbed and murdered in London, and there were 37,000 knife-crime offences—an increase of 26%. This is an epidemic which demonstrates that the current approach is not working, and a new approach is needed. We need a cross-departmental debate in Government time on how to tackle the root causes of youth violence.
You can watch my question here.
It's been a very busy start to 2018 - here I've outlined my contributions in parliament since the beginning of the year which I have not yet shared on my website. ...
I've had lots of emails recently from constituents with concerns about the EU Withdrawal Bill and the Labour Party's position on Brexit.
I thought it would be helpful to share Keir Starmer's (Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU) speech at the end of the EU Withdrawal Bill's Third Reading in Parliament. Here, Keir outlines the six chief defects with the EU Withdrawal Bill and the Labour Party's position.
You can watch the full speech below:
I've had lots of emails recently from constituents with concerns about the EU Withdrawal Bill and the Labour Party's position on Brexit. I thought it would be helpful to share...
On Friday 19th January, my colleague Karen Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill 2017-19 will receive its second reading in the House of Commons. The Bill seeks to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 to require that residential rented accommodation is provided and maintained in a state of fitness for human habitation.
This Bill is long overdue. While the majority of landlords provide decent homes that tenants are happy with, there is currently no established minimum standard for private renters.
Instead, tenants are reliant on over-stretched council environmental health teams to stamp out dangerous homes, rather than being able to take matters into their own hands. This Bill will enable tenants to themselves take legal action against landlords who fail to maintain rented homes to a safe standard.
Since the tragedy at Grenfell, I have repeatedly raised the issue of tower block safety in Parliament and Lewisham Council have carried out safety checks in blocks throughout the borough. This is of course at great expense to the Council, and still, no Government funding has been offered.
I recently questioned Sajid Javid whether the Government was attempting to bankrupt councils, which you can watch here.
Last year, Conservative MPs voted against a similar Labour amendment to the government’s Housing and Planning Bill, designed to ensure that all rented accommodation was safe for people to live in, which was defeated by 312 votes to 219. Speaking at the time, the local government minister, Marcus Jones, said this would result in “unnecessary regulation and cost to landlords” that would deter further investment and push up rents for tenants.
At the General Election, I stood on a manifesto which pledged a consumer rights revolution for renters to bring private renting into the twenty-first century, by introducing minimum standards to ensure that rented homes are free from serious faults such as unsafe wiring and appliances, problem damp and vermin. It also promised to name and shame rogue landlords and introduce tough fines for those who fail to meet minimum standards.
After seven years of failure on housing, I am pleased that the Government have chosen to back the Bill. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the debate on Friday, due to several longstanding constituency commitments, though many of my Labour colleagues will indeed be present and I fully support the Bill which I believe will create a more robust, secure and safe private rented sector.
On Friday 19th January, my colleague Karen Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill 2017-19 will receive its second reading in the House of Commons....