The ongoing conflict in Yemen continues to be an issue of high concern to many people in Lewisham Deptford.
The visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the UK has rightly drawn attention to the ongoing suffering and dire humanitarian situation in Yemen, where over 10,000 people have been killed since 2014 and several million are at risk of famine.
I have previously expressed my deep concern about potential violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) in Yemen, including air strikes on civilians by the Saudi-led coalition which you can read here.
I firmly believe that we need an independent, UN-led investigation into these alleged violations and that the Government should impose an immediate suspension on any further arms sales for use in the Yemen conflict until such an investigation has concluded.
Human rights should be at the heart of our foreign policy and it is vital that a peaceful, negotiated resolution can be urgently secured.
I can assure my constituents that my Labour colleagues and I will continue to pressure the Government to use its influence to secure a UN resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire and resumption of peace talks in Yemen. I will be keeping my website updated on any further developments.
The ongoing conflict in Yemen continues to be an issue of high concern to many people in Lewisham Deptford.The visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the UK has...
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.
Update 28th February 2018
I submitted a written parliamentary question on this issue and have now received a response from Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State for the Middle East at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (128173):
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to the recent arrest of Ahed Tamimi, if the Government will seek the establishment of an urgent independent investigation into allegations of ill-treatment of young people in Israel's military detention system. (128173)
Tabled on: 19 February 2018
Israel’s treatment of Palestinian minors in military detention remains a human rights priority for this Government. While we do not have plans to establish an investigation, we have repeatedly and publicly called on Israel to fulfil its international legal obligations. Israel should implement the protections and due process that children are entitled to under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a State Party. We continue to closely follow the case of Ahed Tamimi and, while it is ultimately a matter for the Israeli authorities, we have raised our concerns with the Israeli Ambassador to the UK and the Israeli Ministry of Justice.
The answer was submitted on 27 Feb 2018 at 17:36.
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...
Thank you to everyone who has contacted me regarding the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill, which is due to have its second reading in the Commons on Friday 16th March.
I very much agree that more needs to be done to reunite families and I share concerns about the efficiency of the processes in place for those who are entitled to join family in the UK, particularly children. As we know, unaccompanied migrant children are highly vulnerable to trafficking, sexual exploitation and other forms of abuse.
As you may recall, during the passage of the Immigration Act 2016 in the last Parliament, a number of attempts were made to review the rules around family reunion for refugees including options for extending the criteria. It is incredibly disappointing that the Government rejected these proposals and reiterated that it has no plans to extend the family reunion criteria.
The manifesto I stood on at the 2017 General Election promised to produce a cross-departmental strategy to meet our international obligations on the refugee crisis, and I hope this is something that the Government will consider. I believe we need effective action to alleviate the refugee crisis and continue to uphold the proud British tradition of honouring the spirit of international law and our moral obligations by taking our fair share of refugees.
I am planning to be in Parliament for the bill on March 16th and will continue to follow the Government’s response to the refugee crisis closely.
Thank you to everyone who has contacted me regarding the Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill, which is due to have its second reading in the Commons on Friday 16th March.I very much...
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...
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...
Many constituents have been in touch with me recently regarding the Trade Bill, which received its second reading in the House of Commons on 9 January. The Bill arises from the Government’s decision to leave the customs union and therefore the need to establish provisions relating to our trade arrangements once the UK ceases to be a member of the European Union.
Labour is committed to transparency in trade policy, with full parliamentary scrutiny of future UK trade and investment agreements. However, the Government has published a Trade Bill that seeks to concentrate power in the hands of the executive, against the interests of Parliament and of wider democracy.
I believe it is important that trade negotiations are informed by a prior comprehensive, independent sustainability impact assessment of the social, economic and environmental consequences of any potential deal. I believe that there should also be consultation with industry groups and civil society organisations.
The current Trade Bill however fails establish a suitable framework for future trade agreements, setting out only time-limited arrangements intending to replace current EU arrangements in the meantime.
Nevertheless, I can assure that I and my Labour colleagues will keep up pressure on the Government on any proposed upcoming trade agreements and ensure they are scrutinised fully.
The Trade Bill passed its second reading on 9 January and will proceed to committee stage.
Many constituents have been in touch with me recently regarding the Trade Bill, which received its second reading in the House of Commons on 9 January. The Bill arises from...
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...
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...
Thank you to everyone who emailed me regarding the second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. As always, I have received hundreds of emails from constituents who voted to remain in the EU and (like me) have major concerns about Brexit.
My Labour colleagues and I believe that, as drafted, this bill is fatally flawed. It puts huge and unaccountable power into the hands of government ministers, side-lines Parliament on key decisions and puts crucial rights and protections at risk. Far from bringing control back to Parliament, it would result in a power-grab for Tory Ministers.
As you may already be aware, on Monday evening I voted against allowing the bill to progress to the next stage. Unfortunately, the Tories managed to scrape together enough votes to pass it by 326 votes to 290. We must now seek to amend this deeply flawed bill during the committee stage. MPs (including some senior Tory backbenchers) have already tabled more than 150 amendments.
On Tuesday night the Government attempted another power grab, this time looking to side-line opposition in Parliament by rigging the select committee system so that they are guaranteed a majority on each committee.
Previous governments have passed motions to ensure they retain a majority on committees, but they have always been linked to the Government maintaining an overall majority in the House of Commons. As you know, the current Tory Government does not have a majority in the House and is relying on its agreement with the DUP.
Despite our best attempts, the Government also won this vote by 320 to 301.
The minority Tory Government is fast losing its moral authority and the very people who told us Brexit was about restoring parliamentary sovereignty are now voting through measures that will side-line Parliament and grant ministers unprecedented powers.
Labour recognises that legislation is needed to ensure there are no gaps or drop in rights and protections as we leave the EU. But I can assure you that we will not give the Government a blank cheque to drive through this divisive and deficient bill.
Thank you to everyone who emailed me regarding the second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. As always, I have received hundreds of emails from constituents who voted to...
Thank you to everyone who has contacted me recently regarding the UK Government’s commitment to spending 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) each year on Official Development Assistance.
As I am sure you are aware, during the 2010-15 Parliament, the UK became the first G7 country to enshrine in law a target to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid and did so with cross-party support. The development and improvements in hundreds of millions of people’s lives that have resulted from this commitment have been a credit to humanity. For example, from 2010-15, British aid supported 11 million children through school and helped more than 60 million people to access clean water, better sanitation and improved hygiene conditions. UK support during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, meanwhile, halted the spread of the disease. Such achievements should be a source of pride for everyone in the UK. I therefore remain profoundly committed to spending 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid.
I share people’s concerns at recent questioning of the UK’s foreign aid budget. It is worrying that while the Government has committed to maintaining the 0.7% target, its plans also suggest a shift away from the current cross-party consensus on international development. For example, the Government has stated its intention to attempt to change international definitions of development assistance. It has further stated that if it fails to do this, it will change the law to allow it to use its own definition of development assistance. I am concerned that this is an attempt to use overseas aid intended for poverty reduction for things such as security and counter-terrorism, and to plug funding gaps in other departments.
It is vital that we continue to abide by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development definition of aid and use our overseas assistance to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries. Abandoning this global standard would undermine the purpose of the 0.7% commitment and send the wrong message to the rest of the world.
Thank you to everyone who has contacted me recently regarding the UK Government’s commitment to spending 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) each year on Official Development Assistance. As I...