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- 13 March 2018
Last night the Prime Minister gave an urgent statement to Parliament on the recent poisoning in Salisbury, where she said that it was highly likely Russia was responsible for the attack. She will be making a further statement to the Commons tomorrow. The seriousness of this cannot be overstated. Sergei Skripal and his daughter were exposed to a nerve agent and are still in a critical condition, and more than 20 people have now had to seek hospital treatment after coming into contact with them, including the police sergeant Nick Bailey who rushed to their aid. I stressed to the Prime Minister that there are many decent Russians bravely speaking out against Putin’s regime, and asked what support we can give to them. I have long had an interest in Russian issues; I studied Russian at university, have visited Russia many times, and am Secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Russia. In 2012 I visited Moscow to attend the trial of members of the protest group Pussy Riot. A s
- 09 March 2018
I am pleased to add my name in support of amendments to the forthcoming Financial Guidance and Claims Bill (FGC) tabled by my Labour colleague Luciana Berger, which would provide crucial support to tens of thousands of people with mental health problems. One of the functions of the FGC Bill is to pave the way for the creation of a Breathing Space debt respite scheme, which would give people who seek debt advice a six week break from fees, charges or collections activity, providing an opportunity to get on top of their finances before they spiral out of control. While I welcome this initiative, it does not go far enough to protect the thousands of people in mental health crisis who are too unwell even to seek debt advice. New analysis of national data by the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute estimates that 23,000 people in England were struggling in problem debt last year whilst in hospital for their mental health. These amendments would extend the scheme to everyone in receip
- 08 March 2018
International Women’s Day is an important opportunity to celebrate the success of women in all walks of life. However, 100 years after some women received the right to vote, there is still much to be done to improve gender equality both in Britain and around the world. The recent #metoo campaign has highlighted the shocking prevalence of sexual harassment that women from all walks of life face in their professional and private lives, and gender-based violence is still, sadly, very much part of too many women’s lives. Many women still face discrimination in the work place, as this Guardian article on gender pay gaps demonstrates. Gender discrimination of any kind has no place in 21st century society,and today is about saying that loud and clear.
- 05 March 2018
This morning, Theresa May gave a speech on housing in which she said the lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest problems we face. This comes from a Government which has overseen the lowest levels of housebuilding since the 1920s, despite a nationwide housing crisis. Housing lists are vastly oversubscribed, and home-ownership is but a pipe dream for so many. May is also wrong to blame local authorities for low-levels of house building, as councils who do want to build housing are hamstrung by a range of rules, whereas the Government is not. Councils don’t keep all the money from council houses sold under Right to Buy, and a significant amount of the money goes back to the Treasury with each sale. Councils are also unable to borrow in order to fund house-building. Despite this, Labour-run Bristol City Council is set to smash its 2000 homes a year election promise, with 3,500 homes forecast to be built in 2020, of which 1000 will be affordable. When it comes to sorting out
- 03 March 2018
I was glad to be able to speak in support of banning live animal exports during a Westminster Hall debate on Monday. Live exports is a practice that creates a huge amount of cruel and unnecessary suffering for the animals involved. The animals often have to travel hundreds of miles in cramped conditions, with little access to food or water. And even when they reach their destination, this is often in countries with low or non-existent animal welfare standards. It’s good that The Labour Party supports a ban of the practice after we have left the EU, however it’s disappointing that the SNP does not, and that the Government only supports a ban of export for slaughter and not for fattening. You can watch the full debate here:
- 02 March 2018
I recently submitted a Parliamentary Question asking Gove whether he would ban the sale of electronic shock collars for pets. The Scottish and Welsh Governments have already taken action to ban their use, and it's time that Westminster follows suit. Labour’s recent Animal Welfare Plan included a ban on shock collars, and there are also positive reports that Gove is considering introducing a ban. I’m pleased to support Tommy Sheppard’s campaign to introduce a ban and I urge you to sign the petition below.
- 27 February 2018
I welcome yesterday’s announcement that Labour backs a Customs Union with the EU, which is by far and away our largest trading partner. Other countries in Europe but outside of the EU, like Norway, recognise the benefit of maintaining tariff-free trade with the EU, and I am glad that the Labour Party has too. This would ensure that car and aerospace parts can move without any tariff being placed on them whatsoever. The Government’s current policy of taking the UK out of the Customs Union puts this at risk, and all so that it can cut a deal with the United States that threatens our environmental and workplace standards. This shift in policy from Jeremy Corbyn recognises the economic reality that the UK faces as it leaves the EU.
- 22 February 2018
I was shocked, but not entirely surprised, to read the Guardian’s investigation into the appallingly low hygiene standards in the USA’s meat production sector. I was happy to provide a comment for the article, as well as write a letter to Michael Gove and Liam Fox to seek assurance that this ‘dirty meat’ would not find its way into UK supermarkets in the event of a free trade deal being struck after Brexit. Investigators reported incidents including pig carcasses piling up on dirty floors after equipment breakdowns, meat riddled with faecal matter and abscesses, and chicken that had been dropped onto the floor being doused with chlorine before being returned to the production line. This is, to be frank, disgusting. If Gove and Fox don’t provide the public with certainty that this sort of product will be kept out of the UK, then they are putting the health of the public – not to mention countless jobs and businesses – at risk.
- 18 February 2018
I’m pleased to support the Women’s Institute #WIFoodMatters campaign, which is calling on all supermarkets to publish their food waste statistics, across their supply chains, and in a format that is accessible to consumers. As Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Food Waste, I have been an active campaigner for businesses to reduce their levels of food waste. It’s great to see the recent upsurge of interest in the issue, with Tesco pledging to end edible food waste by March 2018 and Aldi pledging to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. However there is much more progress that needs to be made. Publishing food waste statistics will provide some much needed transparency to the issue, enabling consumers and charities to apply pressure onto businesses.
- 17 February 2018
Please follow the link below to read about the environmental and animal welfare-related work that I have been doing over the last few months. There has been a lot of activity recently on these topics in Parliament. I have sat on Select Committee hearings on the Animal Sentience Bill, green finance, F-gases, disposable plastics and China’s ban on waste imports. I also sponsored a debate on environmental education, as well as speaking in debates on chemicals regulation and the framework for agricultural policy after Brexit, and supporting campaigns for Lucy’s Law and a plastic-free Parliament. You can read all about it here, and sign up if you’d like to be kept informed in future.
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