You can find out what I have been up to in Parliament and my work in Lewisham, or read my latest blog posts below.
On Tuesday 5 December I attended a parliamentary reception to mark 200 years since Parkinson’s was first recognised as a condition.
On Tuesday 5 December I attended a parliamentary reception to mark 200 years since Parkinson’s was first recognised as a condition. Read more
December 4th (Day 4)
Day 4 of the committee stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill focused on Clause 11 of the bill, which sets out restrictions on what the devolved legislatures can and cannot legislate on after the UK leaves the EU.
Labour has repeatedly emphasised that, as drafted, the Bill would side-line the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, threaten the devolution settlement and unnecessarily hoard powers in Whitehall.
On Monday we voted on Amendment 42 (tabled by Labour) which would have removed the proposed restrictions on the ability of devolved Parliaments to legislate in a way which contradicts retained EU law.
We also voted on Amendment 72 (tabled by the SNP) which would have required the consent of the relevant devolved legislatures before the restriction in Clause 11 came into force. Labour supported this amendment.
Unfortunately both of these amendments were defeated by the Government.
December 6th (Day 5)
Day 5 was split into two sections. The first focused on Northern Ireland and the remaining devolution issues in the bill. The second focused on financial matters arising from the bill, including the divorce payment that is being negotiated as part of the Article 50 process.
In the first part of the debate, Labour tabled amendments which would have protected the Good Friday Agreement after the UK leaves the EU. The Government rejected all of the tabled amendments on the basis that corrections to EU laws need to be co-ordinated by the UK Government to ensure continuity. The minister responding did, however, state that he thought an agreement with the devolved administrations would be reached soon.
In the second half, we tabled amendments calling for transparency over the settlement. New clause 80 called for any financial settled to be assessed by the Office for Budget Responsibility and the National Audit Office and for the House of Commons to have the chance to scrutinise and vote on it.
Amendment 339 would have prevented tax or fee raising powers from being established via tertiary legislation (i.e. when Parliament confers the power on a public authority to legislate).
Both of these were put to the vote but the Government defeated them with the support of the DUP. The fight continues.
Further Information on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill can be found here.
December 4th (Day 4) Day 4 of the committee stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill focused on Clause 11 of the bill, which sets out restrictions on what the devolved...
This week I joined more than 60 MPs and peers at Cats Protection's Christmas parliamentary reception to celebrate the charity’s work speaking up for cats.
This week I joined more than 60 MPs and peers at Cats Protection's Christmas parliamentary reception to celebrate the charity’s work speaking up for cats. Read more
I recently received a large number of campaign cards from RCN members contacting me about the cap on nursing pay. I know this is an issue a lot of people in the constituency care about so I thought I would share my latest response here.
Nurses do a fantastic job in extremely difficult circumstances, yet they have now faced years of pay restraint. The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) estimates that since 2010 there has been a real-terms drop in earnings of 14%.
In Autumn Budget on November 22nd Chancellor Philip Hammond agreed to fund pay awards for NHS staff, but he did not specify how much new money is to be made available. The Government also said that any pay increase would be “on the condition that the pay award enabled improved productivity in the NHS”, a move which has been criticised by the Chief Executive of NHS England.
I believe the Government has been taking NHS staff for granted for far too long. Nurses are being asked to do more for less, which has resulted in a recruitment and retention crisis. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service recently confirmed that applications to study nursing fell by 23% this year and the Nursing and Midwifery Council has also found an increase in the number of nurses and midwives leaving their professions
The 2017 Labour manifesto pledged to end the public sector pay cap and make a return to public sector pay being agreed through collective bargaining and the evidence of independent pay review bodies. I also supported an Opposition amendment in the House of Commons which called on the Government to give public sector workers a fair pay rise. Unfortunately, the Government voted against the amendment and it was defeated.
My Labour colleagues and I will continue to do all we can to ensure that nurses and other public sector workers are paid at a level which recognises the skill and dedication they bring to their jobs.
You might also be interested to see the blog I wrote on this subject back in February.
I recently received a large number of campaign cards from RCN members contacting me about the cap on nursing pay. I know this is an issue a lot of people...
Last week the Department for Transport published its Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the South Eastern Rail Franchise. Rail operators are being invited to bid to take over the franchise in April 2019 when Southeastern’s contract runs out.
Last week the Department for Transport published its Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the South Eastern Rail Franchise. Rail operators are being invited to bid to take over the franchise... Read more
Once again, this year I decided to spend Saturday visiting a range of local businesses as part of Small Business Saturday. It was a great chance to chat to local business owners, get my hair and nails done, buy some Christmas gifts and visit a new local bar.
Now in its fifth year, Small Business Saturday aims to highlight and celebrate small businesses and recognise the important contributions they make to the local economy, in bringing jobs, growth and innovation. Buying goods from local businesses is a fantastic alternative to buying from the usual large supermarkets and a great way to support these business owners.
I began the day by getting my nails done at Deeplex Hair Salon in Deptford, then grabbing a coffee from London Velo for a caffeine kick before browsing the busy Deptford High Street. Afterwards, I headed down to Brockley for a haircut from the lovely team at Aqua Hair Salon. I then went on to purchase some unique gifts from the Ladywell Christmas Market, Honeybourne’s, and the ‘Crafternoon’ at PLACE – of course stopping for another coffee at the Good Hope Café! I finished the day with a drink from Suttons Radio, a fantastic new bar in Lewisham. Overall, the day was a great success and I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to meet with many local business owners.
Amidst the uncertainty of Brexit, it’s great to see so many local businesses working hard and caring about the area’s prosperity - and doing so with Christmas spirit! I’m proud that the number of businesses in Lewisham Deptford continues to grow at a faster rate than the UK average, providing an increasing number of jobs and a range of amenities and services for local people. Currently there are around 3,900 businesses in the constituency with fewer than 10 employees, that’s 95% of all businesses. A further 4% of businesses have 10-49 businesses, higher than the UK average.
If you live in the local area, why not pop into a small business and see what they have to offer? As always, I hope to continue to support many more local businesses.
Once again, this year I decided to spend Saturday visiting a range of local businesses as part of Small Business Saturday. It was a great chance to chat to local...
Every Friday the South London Press invites an MP from south of the river to write a column based on a subject of their choosing. It was my turn this week and I wrote about my reaction to the budget and what it means for people in the run up to Christmas.
In the run up to Christmas I often find my mind turning to charity. Our voluntary sector in Lewisham Deptford is brilliant, with some amazing individuals and organisations working tirelessly to make a real difference to their local community. I recently attended the Mayor of Lewisham’s Awards for Voluntary Contribution where nearly one hundred Lewisham residents were commended for the volunteering they do locally, working for little or no recognition and often on top of full-time work or other commitments.
The charities ranged from those working with young people to those providing benefits advice, caring for the elderly and providing mental health support and assistance to homeless people. It seemed especially apt to be attending this event so soon after the Chancellor’s November 22nd Budget announcement, in which too many of these areas were ignored, cut or underfunded yet again by a Government that keeps showing us just how out of touch with reality it is.
The Government has left the NHS drastically underfunded yet again, producing less than half of the £4 billion that NHS England has said it will need to look after patients properly next year. We are facing a social care crisis, with £6 billion cut since the Tories came to power. Yet the Chancellor failed to mention social care once in last week’s Budget. Mental health services have also been cut across the country, leaving charities to fill the gaps.
Since the roll out of Universal Credit, claimants have been waiting up to six weeks for their first payment, leaving many in mental distress, struggling to afford food for weeks and often at threat of eviction. Food bank use has increased in areas where Universal Credit is being rolled out, yet the Government ignores the evidence and has again refused to pause the roll out of Universal Credit until these problems are fixed.
After seven years of austerity, too many areas that were previously seen as statutory services are now left to the goodwill of individuals and charities to provide in their local areas. Councils across the UK are being pushed dangerously close to bankruptcy, as they delve into their reserves in attempts to fund frontline services. In Lewisham, we can be proud of our thriving voluntary sector and the fantastic individuals that give up their time to help others in need. But as a society, we should be outraged at a Government that fails to provide the basic services needed by the most vulnerable in our communities.
Every Friday the South London Press invites an MP from south of the river to write a column based on a subject of their choosing. It was my turn this...
Thank you to everyone who has emailed asking me to commit to supporting the continued legal recognition of animal sentience.
The Labour Party has a strong record on animal rights and we are not about to change that now. We have a moral duty to treat the animals we share our planet with in a humane and compassionate way and Brexit must not lead to any watering down of existing standards on animal welfare.
As many of you know, Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union protects the legal status of animals as sentient beings. In its current form, the Draft European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will not ensure its preservation in UK law.
Last week (November 15th) I voted in favour of New Clause 30 which sought to amend the bill and retain the rights and obligations contained in Article 13. I also support Amendment 350, which has been tabled by the Official Opposition and will be debated over the coming weeks. This amendment would similarly ensure that the Government is held to the animal welfare standards enshrined in Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Unfortunately, when New Clause 30 was pressed to a vote it was rejected by the Government and defeated. The Minister argued that animals are already recognised as sentient beings under domestic law and that this will continue to be the case. The Government has since said that it will ensure any necessary changes required to UK law are made to ensure animal sentience is recognised after we leave the EU.
I believe this is inadequate and that the Government should reverse its decision and amend the Repeal Bill without further delay. I will therefore support Amendment 350 if it is pushed to a vote during the Bill's remaining stages.
I also intend to support amendments that aim to ensure there is no weakening of EU-derived rights - including on animal welfare standards - because of Brexit; and I can assure you that I will continue to press for existing standards on animal welfare to be transposed into British law and strengthened where necessary.
Thank you to everyone who has emailed asking me to commit to supporting the continued legal recognition of animal sentience. The Labour Party has a strong record on animal rights...
The Budget yesterday did nothing but paper over the glaring issues facing our country with insufficient policy pledges. The government continues to ignore the fact wages are falling, public services are failing and the economy is stagnating. As Jeremy Corbyn said to MPs yesterday, “the reality is, this is a government no longer fit for office”.
The Budget yesterday did nothing but paper over the glaring issues facing our country with insufficient policy pledges. The government continues to ignore the fact wages are falling, public services... Read more
Since the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill returned to the Commons last week for its committee stage reading, I have received over 400 emails from constituents asking me to support various new clauses and amendments. As a whip I am not allowed to add my name to amendments, but I thought it would be helpful to summarise everything we have voted on so far.
Since the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill returned to the Commons last week for its committee stage reading, I have received over 400 emails from constituents asking me to support various... Read more