I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and I wish you a happy New Year.
In the build-up to Christmas, I was privileged to attend so many wonderful events and services throughout Lewisham East.
Now that we have entered the new year, it is no secret that 2024 will be a general election year. The country deserves change and people need to be able to make their verdict on this failing Government. It should not be delayed until the autumn. At every step the Labour Party have taken towards a politics that puts the country first, the Tories have moved in the opposite direction.
As you may be aware, Keir Starmer made an important speech last week, which you can watch here. He pledged to restore standards in public life but also to set out how a credible Labour Party can undo the damage caused by nearly 14 years of Conservative mismanagement. The Conservatives under Rishi Sunak leadership are just offering more of the same.
In his new year’s speech last year the Prime Minister made 5 pledges. Yet he has only fulfilled 1 out of 5, which was to halve inflation. Moreover, it was already predicted that inflation was going to be halved before he promised it. Meanwhile, our economy is underachieving, we have high levels of debt, huge NHS waiting lists and a broken asylum system. His pledges to address these issues remain unmet.
Last year was a tough year with the cost-of-living crisis continuing to impact many people alongside the increased use of food banks. Consequently, my determination to deliver a Labour Government that will address the problems facing people has never been stronger.
In 2023 I was delighted to have been appointed as a Shadow Minister for Youth Justice. I am working with colleagues to challenge the Government on areas of failure within criminal justice, from supporting victims to court backlogs, high remands, overcrowding in prisons, a lack of probation officers and reducing reoffending. We need a high-quality justice provision, that has victims at the heart of the service and is focused on reform and rehabilitation of offenders.
Please read below about my work in Parliament since I wrote my last newsletter.
If there is anything that you would like to raise with me or to make me aware of, please email me via email@example.com
The cost-of-living crisis continues to hit local people. But the Government’s response continues to be inadequate. I raised this at Work and Pensions Oral Questions before Christmas querying why the Government has scrapped the Household Support Fund despite appalling levels of child poverty. You can watch me press the Minister here.
Furthermore, for the first three months of 2024 the typical annual energy bill for a household across Britain has increased to £1,928 per year. Yet I am worried that so many members of the Government are detached from reality. This is why I asked a Parliamentary question on the Prime Minister’s use of helicopters and whether this is a good use of taxpayer’s money. You can view this question here.
I am concerned to hear that so many people have been struggling financially. If you are also struggling, you may find the following links useful:
- Lewisham Council – Lewisham Household Support Fund / Single Support Grant / Cost of living crisis
- Good Food Lewisham – Community Meals and Food Support
- South East London Community Energy – Energy Advice Service
- Lewisham Local – Lewisham Warm Welcomes
Israel / Gaza
The scenes of human loss and suffering in Israel and Gaza has been horrendous to watch. Everyday since this tragedy began it has been in my thoughts. You can read my latest statement on this appalling situation on my website, where I publish my views and positions. Please note that due to the wide range of issues facing my constituents, I can only publish these statements periodically. But when they are published, I aim to make them as comprehensive as possible.
Rwanda and Immigration
I am sure you have seen the developments over the Government’s Rwanda Scheme. It is shameful that the Government has given Rwanda more than £290 million via this unworkable scheme. Simply put, the Conservatives have broken the asylum system and they have no idea how to fix it.
Labour would end dangerous boat crossings by investing in a new elite cross border police unit to go after the criminal gangs. A Labour Government will also clear up the chaos in the asylum system by recruiting 1000 new caseworkers to clear the backlog and setting up a new Returns Unit.
Whilst the Government’s emergency legislation was passed in its second reading, I voted against it and I will be keeping a close eye on it continues to be debated in Parliament.
Sickle Cell & Thalassemia All Party Parliamentary Group
In December I chaired a meeting of the Sickle Cell & Thalassemia APPG. It was a productive meeting where we discussed:
- The Sickle Cell Society’s latest report on specialist Sickle Cell nursing workforce shortages. You a can read here
- Developing treatments
- A patient roundtable held in July
- Sickle Cell and Nutrition.
I also laid out how I will be continuing to follow up on the ‘No One’s Listening’ report, published by the APPG for Sickle Cell and Thalassemia and the Sickle Cell Society which found serious care failings in acute services. You can read the report here.
It was also great to end the year by attending an event to see the Sickle Cell Society awarded two large donations from Lewisham Bereavement Services.
I attended a Parliamentary event organised by Guide Dogs to celebrate their key campaign successes from 2023. This included the requirement for buses to be fitted with audio-visual announcements and extra funding for tactile paving on railway stations. For years I have called on the Government to do more on tactile paving and I will continue to work to improve accessibility for people with sight loss.
London City Airport
The first session of a public inquiry into an appeal to expand London City Airport took place on 5th December. The main changes the airport want to make are:
- to introduce an extra 6 – 7 hours for flights on Saturdays
- to introduce for 3 extra flights during the first half hour of operation, from 6.30 – 7am Monday to Saturday
I have previously gone on record stating my opposition to these changes. Last year I wrote to Newham Council urging them to reject London City Airport’s planning application. You can see my letter here.
On 12th December the Inquiry was postponed until 15th January. It will now run for a further 2 weeks.
I will continue to follow developments closely and I will act accordingly to ensure that residents lives are not disrupted further.
Candlelight Vigil for International Human Rights Day
On 10th December I joined the ‘Parliamentarians for Peace’ candlelight vigil held in Parliament alongside the Speaker of the House of Commons and MPs from multiple parties. This was organised to mark International Human Rights Day, and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights being adopted by the United Nations General Assembly.
With the devastating loss of life in the Middle East, Ukraine and in other wars across the world, it is vital to promote peace and what can be achieved by working together for the common good.
Further Education in Lewisham East
It was fantastic to welcome Christ the King Emmanuel Sixth Form College to Parliament recently and answer their questions. T-Levels and other qualifications are vital for our young people to achieve future success. This is why I asked a Parliamentary Question on data regarding the introduction of T-Levels. You can view my question here.
Thank you for reading this newsletter.