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- 26 October 2017
In March this year I voted against the triggering of Article 50, which started the clock ticking on our exit from the EU, because I simply did not believe the Government was ready to do so. It hadn’t done its homework; hadn’t clarified what kind of Brexit deal it wanted; wasn’t prepared for negotiations. As each day goes by and the chaos at the heart of government is revealed, I become more and more convinced I was right to do so. I am not the only one. "If you wanted to avoid being screwed in the negotiations in terms of the sequencing, if I can put it brutally, you had to negotiate with the key European leaders and the key people at the top of the institutions and say: ‘I will invoke Article 50, but only under circumstances where I know exactly how its’ going to operate’. That’s not what we did." - the UK's former top Brussels diplomat Ivan Rogers.
- 26 October 2017
I have joined over 100 MPs in calling for Oxford and Cambridge to take urgent action to widen its admissions base after recent revelations that Oxbridge’s undergraduates remain largely white, wealthy and from the south of England. I am particularly appalled that nearly one in three Oxford colleges failed to admit a single black British A-level student in 2015. I firmly believe that all our universities need to ensure they are open to all students, regardless of race, economic background or geographical origin. As supposedly world-leading higher education institutions, Oxford and Cambridge must do more to reach out to talented individuals from less privileged backgrounds and ensure that their student population reflects the diversity of Britain as a whole.
- 26 October 2017
I welcome the Government’s u-turn on its plan to cap housing benefit for those living in social housing and supported homes – a u-turn that came when Labour called an Opposition Day debate on the issue. People in these houses are often vulnerable, with one in five people living in supported housing suffering from mental illness, and many who are fleeing abusive relationships or are in other situations of turmoil. Since the Government announced plans to cap the benefit, construction in over 85% of new supported housing schemes were put on hold because they didn’t have financial security to ensure their sustainability. Theresa May must now act quickly and provide investment into supported housing to mitigate the damage.
- 25 October 2017
Later today, a 10-Minute Rule Bill prohibiting live animal exports will be introduced in the Commons, which I fully support. During the EU referendum, I was very cynical about the way in which Brexiteers claimed this could only be done once the UK left the EU. While the UK cannot ban it unilaterally if we are part of the EU, this was pretty disingenuous when the Government had failed to support efforts by EU countries and the European Parliament to limit journeys to 8 hours (which would have brought most UK exports of live animals to an end) or strengthen the rules. This cannot become yet another empty promise that was made during the referendum campaign. I am determined to ensure it is not reneged on, and will keep on holding the Government’s feet to the fire on this until we can bring this barbaric and cruel trade to an end.
- 24 October 2017
Last week, Labour’s motion calling for the Universal Credit roll-out to be halted so that serious concerns about its impact could be addressed, passed the House unanimously, 299 votes to none. The Government abstained from the vote but made clear its intention to ignore the result. The Speaker made clear his displeasure at the Government’s tactics and has now allowed Labour’s application for an urgent debate under Standing Order 24, which will take place later today. The introduction of universal credit in its current, flawed form, is causing destitution and distress in areas where it has been piloted. These flaws must be fixed before it’s rolled out in Bristol, and I will be wholeheartedly supporting Labour’s motion today.
- 24 October 2017
We need radical action to fix our broken housing system and build the homes we need. I’m glad to see that the Communities Secretary is calling for significantly more borrowing to fund the building of hundreds of thousands of new homes. The Labour Manifesto was clear that a long-term investment like this will pay off over the long-term. I hope that the Chancellor listens ahead of the Budget on November 22nd.
- 20 October 2017
I am supporting Chris Bryant’s Bill Private Members Bill to be debated today which will create a new offence of assaulting an emergency worker. This is currently a major problem and deserves to be taken more seriously; there were 23,000 assaults on police officers last year, meaning the average police officer is assaulted 19 times a year, and over 70,000 assaults on NHS staff in 2016. The bill will provide protection to police officers, firefighters, doctors, paramedics, and nurses by sending a message in the strongest possible terms that assaults on emergency workers are completely unacceptable. I hope it passes Second Reading today.
- 19 October 2017
It was great fun visiting Briarwood Primary School last week: a special school which had just been awarded the Gold Standard Artsmark award by the Arts Council for successfully integrating arts learning into their entire curriculum. As well as popping into the classrooms, we also took part in a music session with pupils, making music with iPads as well as more conventional instruments. Thank you Bailey for showing us around the school!
- 18 October 2017
Today in the Commons we will be putting pressure on the Government to halt the roll-out of Universal Credit until some key concerns have been addressed, including the fact that some claimants may have to wait up to six weeks before receiving any money. All four of us Bristol MPs have written to the Minister, urging him to think again, and I will be voting for the Labour motion tonight. I hope the Government listens not just to us but to critics on its own side, including former Prime Minister John Major, making a very rare intervention on domestic issues.
- 18 October 2017
Great news, the Government has announced it intends to ban all sales and exports of ivory! I will be making sure they stick to their timetable, so that soon after the 12 week consultation on implementing this policy the trade is banned for good.
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