The Government is out of touch and out of ideas. They are imploding over their badly planned and illogical immigration policies. This comes after the Supreme Court ruled that the British Government’s plan to deport migrants to Rwanda was unlawful. The Conservatives’ their next course of action is to fight amongst themselves over how they will respond to the Court ruling. Consequently, the Government could at some point introduce “emergency legislation” to enable Parliament to prevent legal challenges from blocking the policy.
The long-awaited departure of Suella Braverman as Home Secretary has left the Tory party in chaos. As a result, it has been reported that up to 40 Tory MPs may rebel by backing an amendment to override the ECHR if the Government does not explicitly legislate for this when it finally produces its Rwanda plan.
Meanwhile, Suella Braverman’s successor as Home Secretary, James Cleverly, has become side-tracked over the unacceptable remarks he made during PMQs. The way the Government has managed the small boats crisis and immigration, in general, highlights how they are just incapable of governing.
Throughout the past month the Covid inquiry has been taking evidence from those involved making key decisions during the pandemic. In the past week the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham gave evidence highlighting Government’s chaotic approach. Current and former Cabinet Minister also gave evidence. Boris Johnson is expected to appear towards the middle of next week. Rest assured I will be keeping a very close eye on what is said. Those who govern us must be held accountable for their actions.
Therefore, please see below for my December Newsletter detailing what I have been up to in Parliament and in the local area over the past month. It is followed by my Annual Newsletter for an overview of significant work I have carried out on behalf of Lewisham East in 2023.
After thirteen years of the Conservatives, the economy simply is not working. Despite all the promises made, most people are worse off and public institutions are crumbling. This Autumn Statement could have been a chance to restart the economy and tackle the cost-of-living crisis. Yet the Autumn Statement grossly underachieved this.
In the debate on the Autumn Statement, I stated that the Chancellor has once again failed to address what really matters, such as peoples living standards and increased use of food banks. I ended by calling for a general election. You can read my speech here.
Israel – Gaza
The scenes we have witnessed for nearly 2 months have been heartbreaking. There has not been a day go by where I have not thought about what has happened in Israel and in Gaza. That’s why on three separate occasions I have called on Government Ministers to do all they can to ensure that aid is delivered to those who need it. You read these exchanges here and here. I have also highlighted unacceptable violence in the West Bank which you can read here.
You will all know there was recently a vote initiated by the SNP to create divisions within the Labour Party over Israel and Gaza. It was a very tough decision but in the end, I chose to abstain. You can read my reason for doing so here. My statement, contains Labour’s motion which stated the need to address the steps that may eventually lead to an enduring cessation of fighting and the lasting peace of a two-state solution. It is for these reasons that I voted for Labour’s amendment.
Shadow Minister for Youth Justice
As the Shadow Minister for Youth Justice, I have been examining all the issues that impact my brief. I have therefore met with various stakeholders including the Law Society, the Association of Young Offending Team Managers and the Howard League for Penal Reform to name a few. I also recently visited Highbury Youth Court. I will also be looking to visit Young Offenders Institutions in the months ahead.
The issues I have identified that need addressing include preventing reoffending, violence in the youth estate, disproportionality in the youth estate, keeping vunerable girls safe, concerns of joint enterprise and the impact of this on sentencing on children.
I pressed the Minister on violence in the youth estate on floor of the House of Commons, you can watch the exchange here.
I have been alerted that whilst NHS England has extended the shingles vaccine to those reaching 65, those aged 66-69 have been excluded. Medical complications relating to shingles are not only bad for the people but they take up vital NHS resources at a time when the NHS is under severe strain
I therefore took the decision to write to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to seek clarification on this exclusion and question whether current eligibility criteria will be extended. You can read this letter here.
Shortage of ADHD medication
There has been widespread attention to the fact that there has been a severe shortage of ADHD medications for both children and adults. I know this has been impacting many in the local area. As a result, I wrote to the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care urging her to tackle this shortage. You can read my letter here.
Following this I tabled questions relating to the ADHD medication shortage which I have now received responses for. You can view them by clicking the following links:
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Drugs
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Drugs
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Drugs
I intend to keep the pressure up so this shortage is resolve and to ensure that it does not happen again.
Prime Minister’s Questions
This month I asked Rishi Sunak a question regarding the turnover in Housing Ministers since 2010. It is hardly surprising that this country has been unable to respond to a housing crisis when the Minister responsible changes more than once a year.
You can watch my question here. In no way does his answer fill me with confidence that the Conservatives will improve new home ownership rates.
Annual Constituency Newsletter for December 2023
Throughout last year and this year the biggest issue impacting everyone in Lewisham East and across the country has been the cost-of-living crisis. Throughout my work I aim to highlight the suffering this crisis is causing people and why the Government needs to urgently address it.
Earlier this year I brought it to the attention of the Prime Minister which you can see here, and even this week I made a speech in the Chamber relaying that the Autumn Statement would help people in Lewisham East get by, which you can read here.
Rather than addressing the cost-of-living crisis the Autumn Statement the Chancellor has lifted the lid on 13 years of Conservative economic failure.
At the start of the year I was parliamentary Private Secretary to David Lammy, Shadow Foreign Secretary. In this role, I assisted the Shadow Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office team in ensuring the smooth running of its Parliamentary duties. This was at a time of a war in Europe that is still ongoing against a backgdrop of an unstable global international environment.
Whilst this was an important role, I was delighted to be promoted to Shadow Minister for Youth Justice. Currently violence is skyrocketing in Young Offender Institutions and there is not enough support for children to stop them entering the criminal justice system and from reoffending. That is why I want to work towards acheving a Labor Government, so we can deliver a justice system that protects and works for children and young people.
Sickle Cell and Thalassemia All-Party Parliamentary Group
In June I was re-elected as chair of the Sickle Cell and Thalassemia All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). This APPG is committed to implementing the recommendations of the No One’s Listening Report. This report published in late 2021 by the APPG and the Sickle Cell Society found shocking failures and evidence of attitudes underpinned by racism whilst treating Sickle Cell patients.
Whilst progress in implementing the recommendations of the report has been slow serious work has been taking place. In the new year I will be writing to Ministers, the NHS and other bodies to ascertain if they have accepted and implemented the recommendations. If not I will urge them to do so.
I also held a roundtable for Sickle Cell patients as well as a Parliamentary sharing event for NHS England (London region) and stakeholders. Additionally, I recently held a Parliamentary reception on behalf of the Lancet for the launch of their commission on Sickle Cell. Despite the World Health Organisation declaring Sickle Cell a global public health priority 17 years ago greater, political commitment, investment & partnerships are needed to tackle this worldwide. It was a pleasure to organise this event.
Children in Police Custody All-Party Parliamentary Group
It has been a busy year getting the APPG on Children in Police Custody up and running. In March, we launched the APPG’s inquiry into Achieving the Rights of Children in Police Custody and have since taken oral and written evidence from young people who have experienced police custody, police officers, lawyers and many other stakeholder organisations involved in this area.
It has been moving to hear from children and young people and to draw on the important work done by practitioners and organisations. We are aiming to finish the inquiry and begin reporting next year – and hopefully feed some of the APPG’s recommendations into achievable policy priorities for the Home Office which will no doubt make for a busy year ahead.
Victims and Prisoners Bill
Before accepting the role as Shadow Youth Justice Minister, I was on the committee to scrutinise the Victims and Prisoners Bill. During the committee session, I pressed the Government on their new Victims code, introducing a Public Advocate following a major disaster and concerns on how Policing and Crime Commissioners can cope with providing their services in accordance with the new Victims Code without additional resources. I also tabled amendments which I am pleased that the Government has engaged with me on them.
Due to my new position, I am unable to do more work on this Bill. Nevertheless, I am still keeping myself up to date on this important legislation, which the Government could have done so much more on.
This year we have seen global conflict in so many regions in the world. As a result I have done my best to press the Government on ways they can help ease the suffering caused by widespread violence. You can read my contributions in the chamber using the following links:
- RAF Aid Flights to the Middle East
- Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
- Occupied Palestinian Territories: Humanitarian Situation
- Pakistan: Evacuation of Afghans
- Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme
- Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy
- State Hostage Taking
Local Environmental Protection
In late August the Ultra-Low Emission Zone was expanded to outer London. I have endorsed the policy many times and I was pleased that the launch was held in Lewisham East. Thousands of people die a year from air pollution, but these deaths are preventable. We must act now to ensure no more Londoners tragically lose their lives over clean air.
I also was pleased that Newham Council blocked London City Airport’s planning application to increase passenger numbers and amend its opening hours. This came after I wrote to Newham’s Council Leader and encouraged other local MPs to do so. You can read the letter here.
Lewisham East is under a double flight path. Living under a flight path has created mental as well as physical problems for my constituents. Expansions must be measured against the need to take action to tackle the climate emergency and improve our air quality.
Ticket Office Closures
Like many of you I was shocked that Blackheath, Catford Bridge, Hither Green and Lee ticket offices were due to close under Government backed plans. This comes after Southeastern’s highly unsatisfactory timetable came into effect in late 2022.
As a result, Vicky Foxcroft MP, Ellie Reeves MP and I wrote to the Secretary of State to relay our concerns which you can read here.
When the Government announced a U-turn on this I was relieved. However, as I said in my previous newsletter, rather than wasting everyone’s time, the Government should have been working with Southeastern to improve customer experience for local people.
This year we marked the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the passengers of the HMS Empire Windrush in the UK. During the anniversay I paid tribute to the whole Windrush Generation. These people from Commonwealth countries moved to the UK to help rebuild the country after the war. Many faced huge adversity, but their commitment to our future was unwavering.
At the beginning of 2023, I pressed the Government on their inaction to implement all 30 recommendations in the Wendy Williams review. You can read this interaction here.
As part of the second Windrush generation I was also proud to speak at Catford Broadway to celebrate Windrush Day.
Only under a Labour Government, will the Windrush Compensation Scheme be fixed so that those who suffered from the Windrush scandal receive justice.
Friends of the Pond
Earlier this year I was contacted by a group of concerned residents regarding the state of the pond next to Homebase in Catford. I was so moved by how what was such a peaceful and fantastic area of had been neglected. As a result, I was wrote an article calling for the need for Homebase to restore the pond to its former glory which you can read here.
After meeting Homebase alongside local councillors I have seen a notable improvement. However if the upkeep of the pond starts to decline once more, I won’t hesitate to call for urgent action. Local people deserve to enjoy natural beauty spots.
Thank you for reading this newsletter.
I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!