You can find out what I have been up to in Parliament and my work in Lewisham, or read my latest blog posts below.
I have recently received emails about marine protection around the UK Overseas Territories and the related #BackTheBlueBelt campaign.
I strongly support action to safeguard habitats and species in the blue belts of the seas and oceans surrounding the UK.
The UK Government has said that it is on track to deliver its Blue Belt manifesto commitment to work with Overseas Territory Governments to create a Blue Belt of marine protection, and has stated that by 2020, it will have protected 4 million square kilometres of ocean around our Overseas Territories.
Our seas and oceans face a changing climate, and a long-term, strategic approach will be essential. I hope that the UK Government will continue to reaffirm its commitment to conservation and express support for the goals of establishing a marine protected area around the South Sandwich Islands in 2018 and a fully protected area in at least 50% of Ascension Island's waters in 2019. I also hope that it will continue to make progress on the Blue Belt Programme more widely.
I would like to assure my constituents that I will continue to press the UK Government to protect Blue Belts and take the boldest possible action to combat the pollution of our precious seas and oceans.
I have recently received emails about marine protection around the UK Overseas Territories and the related #BackTheBlueBelt campaign. I strongly support action to safeguard habitats and species in the blue...
Many people have been in touch with me recently with concerns over the planned demolition of Bedouin villages in the West Bank. I believe that the expansion of Israeli settlements on occupied land, including the proposed demolition of the village of Susiya, is both illegal and immoral, and represents a real threat to the creation of two states as a way of ending the conflict.
The UN has stated that demolitions of Palestinian-owned structures in Area C of the West Bank average 11 every two weeks. The UK Government has said that it is gravely concerned at the humanitarian impact of the planned demolition in Susiya, and has repeatedly raised concerns with the Israeli Government urging it to stop this counter-productive policy. I welcome its interventions on this issue.
Reports also suggest that British representations prior to the Israeli Prime Minister's visit in early November helped to postpone the demolition – showing that when we speak out, we can have a positive effect. I am concerned, however, that the US President's lack of interest in this issue has been taken as a green light by some in the Israeli Government to proceed with demolitions as they please.
Therefore, it is vital that the UK Government continues to exert pressure on the Israeli Government, and I hope it will encourage the Israeli authorities to engage in dialogue with Bedouin communities to agree a satisfactory resolution to this matter.
Unfortunately I was unable to attend the recent debate on this issue, but I have asked this question to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and this is the response I received:
“What recent assessment he has made of the humanitarian effects of the proposed demolition of the village of Susiya in the South Hebron hills?”
We are gravely concerned by the humanitarian impact of proposals to demolish the village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills. The demolition could leave up to 100 people, half of them children, without shelter. Demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians; call into question Israel’s commitment to a viable two-state solution; and, in all but the most exceptional of cases, are contrary to International Humanitarian Law. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv have repeatedly raised our concerns with Israeli Ministers and senior officials, and urged them to cease this counter-productive policy, and provide a clear, transparent route to construction for Palestinians in Area C.
I share the frustration and disappointment of many at the lack of progress on the peace process and I can assure that I will continue to follow any developments closely.
Many people have been in touch with me recently with concerns over the planned demolition of Bedouin villages in the West Bank. I believe that the expansion of Israeli settlements...
Today I joined Gill Furniss MP, Shadow Postal Affairs Minister, in thanking our local posties for their hard work and dedication in collecting, sorting and delivering our post during the busiest period of the year.
Under the Tories, postal workers have faced worsening pay and conditions. Over the past four years the Post Office has been implementing a series of significant cost-cutting measures with closures, franchising, job losses and cuts to staff terms and conditions. We are currently seeing this right here in Lewisham Deptford at New Cross Gate Post Office.
Today I joined Gill Furniss MP, Shadow Postal Affairs Minister, in thanking our local posties for their hard work and dedication in collecting, sorting and delivering our post during the... Read more
Last week I joined Dogs Trust, for its House of Commons reception, where the charity asked MPs for their support in the fight against Puppy Smuggling.
Last week I joined Dogs Trust, for its House of Commons reception, where the charity asked MPs for their support in the fight against Puppy Smuggling. Read more
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...