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Kerry McCarthy
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News from Westminster

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- 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.
- 25 January 2018
On Friday, I was in Parliament to support 2 important bills taken forward by backbench colleagues. One of them was Frank Field’s Holiday Hunger Bill, that would give local authorities the legal duty and resources to ensure children have access to free food and fun activities in the school holidays (as they do during term time). Although the Government opposed it, it did concede to a programme of pilot projects and research into how best to ensure more children from disadvantaged families benefit from meals and activities during the holidays. Feeding Bristol is gearing up to have schemes in place in every area of need for the summer holidays 2018. I very much hope we can apply for these funds and to be a pilot area, and will keep an eye out on the information the Government has promised on how areas will be selected. But this is very welcome news, and credit to everyone who has campaigned for the Bill.
- 25 January 2018
Today the Office for National Statistics has released annual crime statistics, which contains some shocking revelations. The total number of crimes being committed has risen by 14% in the past year with sharp rises in violent crime and sex offences, and the number of robberies has risen by 29%. Government cuts to the budget of police forces across the country are making this worse and limiting the police’s ability to keep us safe. Locally, Avon and Somerset Police had to make £65 million worth of cuts and there are now 655 fewer police officers than there were in 2010. I’ve been demanding that the Government increases the funding for our police. Please sign my online petition in support here - https://www.change.org/p/the-house-of-commons-increased-fun…
- 22 January 2018
This is good news, although it was forced on the Government which is why they released it on Friday; that people with mental health issues who have problems travelling alone will get more in Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for mobility. This brings them into compliance with a tribunal’s ruling in 2016 which said people who suffer "overwhelming psychological distress" when travelling alone should qualify more easily for PIP. It is welcome that the Government is abiding by the ruling, but it shouldn’t have taken them so long to do so.
- 21 January 2018
The Dogs Trust recently released its third investigation into the puppy smuggling trade, and the findings are harrowing. Puppies are smuggled into the UK from across Europe, often having been bred in industrial-scale puppy farms, and suffering long journeys in cramped, filthy conditions with no food or water. The Dogs Trust found instances of dogs being sedated to get them through customs and vomiting due to heat stress. It’s crucial that you’re aware of the tell-tale signs that the puppy has been illegally smuggled when buying a puppy. Be sure to ask the following questions, and if in doubt contact your local authority or the RSPCA (England & Wales): Ask about the puppy’s age: puppies are not allowed to leave their mum until after 8 weeks old. Ask about the puppy’s microchip: all puppies must be microchipped, with the details of the chip registered to the breeder. Ask about the vaccinations and worming treatments the puppy has had, and make sure to get the associated paperwork
- 20 January 2018
Only a minority of people choose to participate In the so-called “sport” of grouse shooting, but their hobby affects us all. As moorland is burnt or drained by grouse moor managers, the risk of flood increases hugely – and has already caused flooding in areas such as Hebden Bridge. The burning of moorland also releases huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, that contributes to climate change. And, as well as millions of game birds dying each year, shooting is associated with the illegal persecution of hen harriers; England has enough habitat to support 330 breeding pairs of hen harriers, in 2016 there were only 4 pairs recorded. In 2016 I spoke in Parliament in support of a ban on driven grouse shooting, and just this month we’ve had the great news that Bradford Council has voted to ban the practice on Ilkley Moor. I urge you to sign the latest petition below that calls on the Government to introduce a nation-wide ban.
- 19 January 2018
Today I was in Parliament to support Karen Buck’s Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill, which will establish a minimum standard for private landlords to let out their property. Too many people today rent properties which are simply not fit to live in, with widespread problems of damp and mould, leaks, or other unsafe conditions. Given that the Government has blocked this change twice in the past, I’m delighted this Bill has just passed its Second Reading with Government support. It now has to go through Committee stage, Third Reading, and pass through the Lords, but the fact that it now has Government backing means it shouldn’t be too long before it becomes law – and not before time!
- 18 January 2018
Brilliant to hear that the Government is bringing the Agent of Change principle into planning law to protect small venues! This will come as a big reward to music campaigners who have been fighting for this for years, such as the Music Venue Trust and Chris Sharp from The Fleece Bristol. There are other challenges facing small music venues, and I will continue to campaign on those, but this is a very welcome move.
- 17 January 2018
As of this week, new EU rules on payment services apply which will: - prohibit additional charges for payments with credit or debit cards, both in shops or online - introduce strict security requirements for e-payments - enhance consumers' rights This is what 28 European Countries working together can deliver for consumers, but something which a single state working on its own will struggle to do. In fact, although it’s now trying to claim credit for this, the truth is, the UK Government played an obstructive role during negotiations, having been ‘got at’ by business interests. If our Government had had its way, these changes wouldn’t have happened. Many of our country’s problems can only be solved by countries coming together and working collaboratively on these issues whether it’s tackling tax havens, combating terrorism, or developing technology and new cross-border businesses, which is why Brexit is such a tragedy.
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