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- 03 February 2018
On Thursday the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee released its report on the Animal Welfare (Sentience and Sentencing) Bill, following our recent inquiry. The report makes it clear that the draft Bill was presented to the public in a far from finished state, with key terms in Clause 1, which deals with sentience, left undefined. Whilst higher sentences for animal cruelty to five years are welcome, the vagueness of the rest of the Bill, and the inevitable wrangles over its scope and meaning, will only serve to delay their introduction. The EFRA Committee has therefore recommended that the Government splits the Bill, and deals with sentience and sentencing as the separate issues that they clearly are. I would like both measures to be as ambitious as possible, with legislation on sentience not just protecting the current position under Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty, but strengthening it.
- 02 February 2018
Surfers Against Sewage has just demanded that the UK parliament cut its use of single use plastics. Freedom of Information requests they submitted revealed that over 1 million coffee cups and 22 thousand plastic straws were used in the Commons and Lords just last year. I was very happy to be able to support the launch of this campaign, which comes after a report was released by the Environmental Audit Select Committee - of which I am a member - that puts pressure on the Government to introduce a 25p ‘latte levy’ on disposable coffee cups. I strictly only use a reusable coffee cup now, and I urge everyone to start making these small changes to their daily routine as well – they cumulatively have a huge impact on protecting the environment from rubbish and pollution.
- 02 February 2018
Last week at the Council of Europe I spoke briefly in a debate on good football governance, urging clubs to consider human rights when negotiating big money sponsorship deals. As an example I highlighted Liverpool FC’s deal with Tibetan Water Resources Ltd, a Hong Kong registered company which sources its water from a Tibetan glacier. I spoke of the oppression of the Tibetan people, the destruction of Tibetan culture, and environmental concerns about the impact of climate
- 01 February 2018
The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Select Committee has just concluded its pre-legislative scrutiny of the new Animal Welfare (Sentience and Sentencing) Bill. This Bill was hastily drafted after the row just before Christmas when the Government voted down an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill on animal sentience: a principle that is recognised in Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty but is not specifically recognised in UK law. This Bill aims to rectify that, but as currently drafted it is clearly not fit for purpose. There are too many question marks over what the undefined terms in Clause 1 – dealing with sentience - mean, and how widely it could be interpreted. There are calls to extend the principle to, for example, crustaceans and octopi. Clause 2, which increases maximum sentences for animal cruelty, could also be more ambitious in its scope. The consultation ended yesterday (January 31st) and the EFRA Committee’s verdict is under embargo until midnight. I look forward to
- 31 January 2018
I’m pleased to say that I’m now a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Rohingya. The APPG was founded by Anne Main MP, who also chairs the APPG Bangladesh. She has recently written to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to express her concerns about the proposed repatriation of Rohingyas to Burma. I share these concerns, particularly given the Rohingyas have not been able to actively feed into the repatriation process. The Rohingya people have endured horrific violence, and many of the camps where they are staying are facing outbreaks of disease. Over 640,000 Rohingya are thought to have fled from Burma to Bangladesh since last August. See below for the FCO’s response to Ms. Main’s letter. I look forward to working with my Parliamentary colleagues to help offer a safer and more secure future for the Rohingya.
- 31 January 2018
I was appalled to read that the EUGT (European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector), which is funded by Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler, had commissioned tests in which both humans and monkeys were exposed to toxic diesel fumes – in some cases for several hours in airtight rooms. Exposing people to such health risks, as well as experimenting on animals in this way – especially primates - are completely unacceptable practices and should be ended. This comes soon after Volkswagen’s ‘diesel-gate’ scandal, in which it was found that Volkswagen had fitted devices to their cars to cheat emissions tests. I’m glad that the company is being held to account for its unethical practices, but stronger checks must be put in place to ensure that we don’t see any re-occurrence.
- 30 January 2018
During World War 1 and World War 2 over 80,000 Sikhs died and 100,000 were injured fighting for Britain. The campaign to start a war memorial to especially commemorate the military service of Sikhs will be the first of its kind, and the event had over 100 attendees. £375,000 was pledged to the cause on the night, and Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, promised to find a home for the memorial in Central London.
- 30 January 2018
The Government’s own Brexit analysis has been leaked and it is reported to show that any deal - a Free Trade Agreement, WTO rules, no deal - would impoverish every single region of the UK and virtually every single sector of our economy. David Davis must publish this analysis now so that Parliament can carry out its proper role in scrutinising the decision-making of Government. This isn’t “Project Fear”. As leaving the EU draws closer, we must be in full possession of the facts to ensure that decisions are taken in the interest of the many, not the few.
- 29 January 2018
I recently attended the launch of Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List, which highlighted the persecution suffered by Christian communities across the globe. In particular, Open Doors are concerned about the growing use of non-violent persecution, from the surveillance of Christians in North Korea to the demolition of churches in Sudan. This kind of persecution is especially worrying because of its insidiousness and pervasiveness – and because it can so easily facilitate and become actual violence. Of course, violence against Christians remains high, but non-violent persecution is a daily reality for Christians across the world. More than 200 million believers in the 50 countries where it’s most difficult to be a Christian experience high levels of persecution because of their faith. To find out more about the work Open Doors is doing to address this, you can read the full World Watch List report below
- 26 January 2018
This week I’m in Strasbourg attending the Council of Europe, the pan-European body first set up in 1949 to promote human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. Today I spoke in the session on Israel and Palestine. I criticised the detention of Palestinian children and highlighted the case of Ahed Tamimi. I emphasised that Israel has the right to protect itself, but this does not excuse the demolition of Palestinian homes and the construction of illegal Israeli settlements. This, and the consequent fragmentation of the West Bank, threatens hopes of ever achieving a two-state solution. President Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem is a provocative and dangerous move, that risks further destabilising the situation. We need both Israel and Palestine to be part of a process to bring about peace and stability in the region.
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