You can find out what I have been up to in Parliament and my work in Lewisham, or read my latest blog posts below.
A number of constituents have been in touch with me recently with concerns over the illegal trapping of migrating birds on Ministry of Defence (MOD) sites in Cyprus.
As noted by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), around 800,000 songbirds are trapped and killed in the UK Sovereign Base Area (SBA) of Dhekelia every autumn - many of which are from rare and declining species. I agree this is an alarming issue.
A petition in spring 2017 calling on the MOD to stop this illegal slaughter received over 24,000 signatures. Responding to the petition, the Government stated that the SBA authorities were taking a number of actions to tackle bird trapping in the area, including pursuing over 80 convictions for poaching offences, and conducting major operations to clear the netting used by trappers. These operations have led to the seizure of over 1,000 mist-nets and more than 450 limesticks – twigs coated with glue to trap birds – as well as other trapping equipment.
The Government further stated that despite hostility from elements in the local community, the SBA authorities will continue with efforts to remove the invasive acacia bushes that trappers on the island have used to attract and catch birds. I note, for example, that in recent months, operations from the SBA have successfully destroyed over 3 kilometres of irrigation equipment used to grow acacia in the SBA.
Nevertheless, I appreciate the calls that the RSPB and others have made for the UK Government to meet its responsibilities on UK territory and stop the illegal slaughter of wild birds.
A number of constituents have been in touch with me recently with concerns over the illegal trapping of migrating birds on Ministry of Defence (MOD) sites in Cyprus. As noted...
Like many, I am horrified by instances of violence and abuse against emergency service workers – those paramedics, nurses, police, firefighters and more, who work hard to protect us all. We have seen this right here in Parliament, where PC Keith Palmer was tragically murdered earlier this year. We also witnessed two other cases of similar nature – whereby a British Transport police officer was stabbed when he faced the London Bridge Attackers, followed by a Met Officer, stabbed when he came to defend the public that same day, despite being off duty.
There have been far too many cases as such and it is incomprehensible that any of our emergency service workers should be subjected to any form of abuse.
Due to constituency commitments I was unable to attend the debate on Chris Bryant MP’s Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill on Friday 20th October, though plenty of my Labour colleagues were present. The bill was first introduce to Parliament last year by our colleague Holly Lynch, but sadly it did not progress due to time constraints. I have been very supportive of the bill form the beginning and am delighted that this time it passed its second reading and will now proceed to the committee stage.
At the debate, Chris Bryant rightfully stated that an attack on an emergency worker “is an attack on us all. And when we are all attacked, we all stand firm together.” I would like to reassure constituents that my Labour colleagues and I will continue to push for greater protections for our brave national heroes.
Like many, I am horrified by instances of violence and abuse against emergency service workers – those paramedics, nurses, police, firefighters and more, who work hard to protect us all....
After the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, the Government promised funding for councils to ensure every tower block was safe. During the Urgent Question on Grenfell Tower today, I asked Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, why funding from Government still has not appeared.
After the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, the Government promised funding for councils to ensure every tower block was safe. During the Urgent Question on Grenfell Tower today, I asked... Read more
Earlier today we held the Youth Violence Commission's first parliamentary evidence session on the role that youth services can play in tackling youth violence, and the current challenges the sector faces.
Earlier today we held the Youth Violence Commission's first parliamentary evidence session on the role that youth services can play in tackling youth violence, and the current challenges the sector... Read more
After two years of trying, today I was finally successful in the ballot for Prime Minister’s Questions!
I used the opportunity to raise the case of a woman who came to my office fleeing domestic violence. She had all her belongings with her, but no money and nowhere to stay that night.
My caseworker tried to find her a bed in a refuge, but every single one in London was full. I asked the Prime Minister what advice she would have given to my constituent.
After failing to give a direct answer, the PM claimed that the Government has been putting more money into refuges - this is not what we are seeing on the ground. She also stated that the Government will be using new legislation (the Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill) to look at what more can be done to protect victims and hold perpetrators to account.
I will be watching the Government’s progress on this very closely. It is clear a huge amount needs to be done before victims can be guaranteed the support they deserve.
After two years of trying, today I was finally successful in the ballot for Prime Minister’s Questions! I used the opportunity to raise the case of a woman who came...
A number of people have contacted me recently to raise their concerns about care home standards.
I am very concerned about the current state of adult social care in England. In July, 3,200 care services were rated as “requires improvement” and more than 340 as “inadequate”. That means that some 92,000 vulnerable people are receiving poor care and some 10,000 people are receiving inadequate care.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services found that £4.6 billion had been cut from adult social care budgets since 2010. The Health Foundation has also said that that six years of real-terms reductions in social care budgets have left 400,000 fewer people receiving essential help. This shows the Government’s neglect for one of society’s most vulnerable groups.
In October, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published its annual state of care report, revealing that the number of nursing homes beds has fallen by 4,000 in two years. The number of people not getting support for their social care needs has also risen by 18% and the future quality of care has been described as “precarious”. I believe such figures are simply unacceptable.
The CQC report is evidence of the Government’s inability to maintain health services at the standard patients and their families both expect and deserve. Reductions in social care budgets since 2010 have also caused problems for the recruitment and retention of staff, which is at the heart of the poor care that is being reported.
At the General Election I stood on a manifesto that promised an extra £8 billion to tackle the immediate financial gap in social care, including an additional £1 billion for the first year. This would ensure care staff were paid the National Living Wage and extend publicly funded social care to 36,000 people with the highest needs.
I am aware that Independent Age is working with Healthwatch England to improve the information available to help local people assess the quality of care homes.
I can assure you my Labour colleagues and I will keep up pressure on the Government to provide our health and care system the resources it needs to provide the best possible care. I very much hope the Chancellor will use his budget in November to finally put the NHS on a secure financial footing for the long term.
A number of people have contacted me recently to raise their concerns about care home standards. I am very concerned about the current state of adult social care in England....
Many of you have contacted me recently expressing concerns over human rights in Myanmar and persecution of the Rohingya community. According to the UN, over half a million people have fled Rakhine State for Bangladesh since August, a situation described by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”.
Like many, I am horrified by widespread allegations of torture, killing, arson, rape and many other forms of violence against the Rohingya community. Human Rights Watch revealed the scale of destruction to the Rakhine State through burning villages by releasing satellite imagery this August.
Following the escalation in violence from 25 August 2017, the Government has announced a suspension of military cooperation with Myanmar’s armed forces in response to calls from colleagues in Parliament and many others. Our shadow Foreign Office Minister, Liz McInnes MP, described this announcement as “welcome, albeit belated”.
Immediately, the Government must now continue to put pressure on the civilian and military authorities in Myanmar to help bring the violence to a complete close. It is also vital that those displaced urgently receive the food, water and medicine required to combat the crisis they face. We must press the Myanmar authorities to allow the currently denied access of NGOs and humanitarian organisations into the area.
Once this has been achieved, the process of establishing a lasting peace must begin, through building on the recommendations of the recently published report by the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, including a formal recognition of the rights and freedoms of the Rohingya people.
I was glad that Jeremy Corbyn spoke out about this in his speech to Labour Party Conference, calling on Aung San Suu Kyi to end the violence, rightfully stating “the Rohingya have suffered for too long”.
I will continue to keep up pressure on the Government on these essential stages of action and follow this issue closely, keeping my website updated on any further developments.
Many of you have contacted me recently expressing concerns over human rights in Myanmar and persecution of the Rohingya community. According to the UN, over half a million people have...
As winter approaches, an increasing number of constituents have been in touch with me about household energy bills and price increases. I have long supported a cap on energy price rises and believe we should go even further to lower bills.
Since 2010, household energy bills have increased by 9.2% in real terms, while this year all of the “big six” energy companies have also announced dramatic increases. In my view, such large increases cannot be justified.
An investigation into the energy market conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority last year, found that 70% of big six customers are on expensive default standard variable tariffs. It also revealed that households had been paying £1.4 billion a year more for energy than they would have if the market was operating responsibly.
The big six energy companies have been exploiting customers in pursuit of generating excessive profits for too long. The market is clearly failing, whilst all people want, and deserve, is reliable and affordable energy.
During the past election the Prime Minister pledged to introduce a cap on energy bills that would save 17 million households up to £100 a year. However, it has yet to act on this and it remains unclear when and how it will do so. After months of uncertainty, we need action. The Government must legislate for a price cap.
At the General Election, I stood on a manifesto that promised to introduce a cap to ensure that the average dual-fuel household energy bill remains below £1,000 per year, while we move to a fairer system for bill payers. If such a cap had been in place since 2010, it would have saved the average consumer £1,149 so far and a further £142 per year in future. I also committed to bringing energy back into public ownership, to make it more affordable and accountable to local communities.
I can therefore assure you that I will continue to push for further action to ensure fair energy bills.
As winter approaches, an increasing number of constituents have been in touch with me about household energy bills and price increases. I have long supported a cap on energy price...
Many of my constituents have been in touch recently over waiting times for Universal Credit. I agree that the handling of this issue by the Government is unacceptable and is of great concern to many people in Lewisham Deptford.
As you will know, it currently takes five to six weeks for claimants to receive their first payment after applying for Universal Credit. The Government considers this waiting and assessment period as fundamental to its policy, designed to mirror the world of work and prevent welfare dependency. However, clearly, the design and management of the Universal Credit system is flawed and is having a disastrous impact.
I understand that waiting times are proving incredibly frustrating and problematic for people in practical terms. Figures from the Government itself show that nearly half of new Universal Credit claimants required an advance on their payment and nearly a quarter did not even receive their first payment in full and on time. Furthermore, they show that 49% of claimants in arrears said they fell behind in their payments after making their claim, highlighting waiting time as a key reason.
The disastrous terms of the Government’s implantation of Universal Credit is proving counterproductive to its purpose by causing further problems. As stated by Citizens Advice, over half of those helped onto Universal Credit were forced to borrow money while waiting for their first payment. Advances available to those in need must also be paid back. I believe it is unacceptable for people to be unfairly pushed into additional debts in this way.
The Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest foodbank network, has said that the waiting time is responsible for a rise in the demand for charity food. Our Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary has condemned the “shambolic roll-out” of Universal Credit which is “pushing so many families into poverty”. Even some Government MPs have argued that the roll-out of Universal Credit must be halted, in order to stop the distress caused by the Government’s mishandling of this programme.
At the June 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that committed to reforming and redesigning Universal Credit. I remain committed to calling for action on this issue and pressuring the Government to end the six week wait.
Many of my constituents have been in touch recently over waiting times for Universal Credit. I agree that the handling of this issue by the Government is unacceptable and is...
Many of my constituents have contacted me recently about the Capped Expenditure Process (CEP). I share these concerns and believe that the Government should cancel the CEP immediately.
In June this year, various NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups, as well as the Health Service Journal, reported that a number of health regions have been placed into a CEP. The British Medical Association has described the CEP as a new regulatory intervention “designed to radically and rapidly cut spending in geographical areas with the largest budget deficits.”
I am very concerned over the lack of transparency provided by the Government on these plans – despite having been going on since at least April, there has been no announcement from the Health Secretary, and full details remain unpublished. The Government has also confirmed that no consultation has taken place regarding the process.
Worryingly, the CEP appears to be another example of hidden cuts. The House of Commons Library published a report in September discovering that, in addition to reviewing existing financial plans, CEP areas were also asked to consider closing or redesigning services and restricting access.
As we approach winter, I am aware of concerns over how our health service will cope – I wrote previously about this issue here. Further spending reductions will inevitably result in waiting times drawn out, wards closed, staff numbers cut, units shut and treatments rationed or restricted.
However, I can assure that, should our health services come under threat in Lewisham Deptford (as with Lewisham Hospital), I am prepared to fight hard against this.
Many of my constituents have contacted me recently about the Capped Expenditure Process (CEP). I share these concerns and believe that the Government should cancel the CEP immediately. In June...