My week

My week in Parliament 9 - 15 October

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Meeting with Italian MPs 

Monday saw Parliament debate the vital EU (Withdrawal) Bill at its second reading. This Bill amounted to a power grab from the Conservative Government, which hopes to reduce the role of Parliament to an armchair observer. The Bill would have put vast powers into the hands of Government Ministers, evading all scrutiny. Given Labour amendments to the Bill were roundly rejected, I voted with the party against giving it a second reading. While I hoped that some pro-EU Conservative MPs would vote with Labour, it was disappointing to see them vote with the Government on a Bill they have criticised so much.

Earlier in the day I met with Italian MPs who were dealing with Brexit, along with Italians living in London, to discuss how I can help people living here and our partners in Europe as the UK exits the EU.

On Tuesday I met with Labour Friends of Israel to discuss their plans going forward, including their co-existence campaign ‘For Israel, For Palestine, For Peace’, where I was able to discuss how Parliament can support work towards peace in the region. As a member of both Labour Friends of Israel and Labour Friends of Palestine, I continue to work cross-party to call for peace.

The first meeting of the International Trade Select Committee was held on Wednesday morning, where I was able to join with colleagues across the party spectrum to explore the key themes that we will investigate in the coming Parliament. I look forward to future meetings and hearings, as well as producing reports to hold the government to account and add to the discussion on how best to transition out of the EU in a prosperous and ethical manner. One of my priorities lies in the education sector as an export and in particular taking student numbers out of the immigration target to facilitate important work in education and science without obstruction.

I was able to speak to students from St Mary’s Primary School, who then took a tour of Parliament, before Prime Minister’s Questions. At PMQs the Prime Minister continued to dodge questions about how average families are struggling to get by, ignoring a slew of data and warnings that low income families are being hit particularly hard.

After PMQs I joined EU citizens to campaign for their right to remain in the UK post-Brexit. Many constituents are living in paralysis, fearful that they will not be able to stay in the UK after Brexit, despite having contributed to our country and society for years. I continue to believe that an early agreement needs to be made on citizens’ rights to make sure people on both sides of the English Channel have security.

In the afternoon I met with Sophie Lindon, Deputy Mayor for Policing, to discuss police cuts which are hitting our streets and the rise in moped led attacks. The Conservative Party is rashly cutting the police budget, making it harder for the Metropolitan Police to do their job. That is why I have applied for a Westminster Hall Debate on Police Cuts in London, as well as having written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd about the closure of police stations, urging her to meet with me to examine the extent of the shortfall funding. 

I also attended the APPG on Crossrail 2 to discuss key issues and the how they fit into the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. Transport remains a crucial issue in London, presenting a challenging and exciting time and progress must be kept up on this key infrastructure commitment. I will continue to push for new rail provisions to help businesses and people keep moving in our city. 

An Official Opposition Day Debate was secured on Public Sector Pay in the NHS and Student Tuition Fee Rises. I continue to believe that the pay-cap in the NHS is wrong and that increases in student fees are harmful. Recent research published by the IFS has revealed that students from the poorest households would accrue debts of £57,000 by graduation, and that 77% of students would fail to pay off their debts even 30 years after leaving university.

On Thursday evening I held a pop-up surgery at Muswell Hill Synagogue where I was able to meet constituents and help with their cases. Please click here to find details of my next surgeries.

To end the week I attended the launch event of Singing for the Brain, hosted by the Alzheimer’s Society, where I spoke about the important work that is being done to help people afflicted by the disease and promote the Alzheimer's Society's emphasis on further research into this debilitating problem.

My week in Parliament 11 - 17 September

Meeting with Italian MPs  Monday saw Parliament debate the vital EU (Withdrawal) Bill at its second reading. This Bill amounted to a power grab from the Conservative Government, which hopes...

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The inaugural meeting of the APPG for Swimming.

As the House returned on Tuesday I appeared on Sky News to discuss Labour’s change in police on Brexit and keeping the UK in the Single Market and Customs Union for a transitionary period. I welcomed this change of position by Sir Keir Starmer as a more pragmatic approach to discussions ahead.

I was in Parliament later on Tuesday for an Urgent Question on violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar, where tens of thousands of Rohingya have fled devastating violence. I pressed Foreign Minister Mark Field on whether human rights had come up in trade negotiations, to which he assured the House that the UK’s diplomatic forces would be focussed on the humanitarian crisis. I will continue to monitor the situation and hold the Government to this pledge.

I sat in the Commons during a statement by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on the Korean Peninsula. I believe that diplomacy offers the best route forward and hope to see all parties engaging in constructive dialogue rather than a war of words.

During a Ministerial Statement on Grenfell, I asked Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, how many flat blocks in the private sector have failed fire safety tests in light of the news 165 out of 173 social housing blocks failed the tests.

I attended a briefing for MPs at the Department for International Trade on Wednesday morning to hear about the department’s ambitions and priorities for this Parliament. As many constituents may be aware, I have recently been appointed the the International Trade Select Committee, where I will hold the Government to account across a range of issues related to Liam Fox’s department.

Later in the afternoon I held the inaugural meeting for the Swimming APPG. I have received a lot of support from MPs and Lords after founding the APPG, which will aim to make swimming more accessible and affordable for everyone as a way to keep fit.

On Thursday Parliament debated the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. Labour put forward a sensible and well thought-out amendment to the Government’s Bill. The Government’s current approach to Brexit is reckless and irresponsible. It risks damaging our economy, isolating us from our European neighbours and creating a bonfire of workers’ rights and environmental protections. Most worryingly, the Government is using this bill to downgrade and subvert the role of Parliament by passing sweeping powers to Government Ministers to make decisions on Brexit. For these reasons, I voted against the Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill.

I held my first advice surgery since Recess ended on Friday, where I was able to meet constituents and help with their cases. Please click here to find details of my next surgeries.

My week in Parliament 5 - 10 September

 The inaugural meeting of the APPG for Swimming. As the House returned on Tuesday I appeared on Sky News to discuss Labour’s change in police on Brexit and keeping the...

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Last week my office held the Catherine West Summer School, where 16-19 year-olds were able to attend Parliament and learn about how Westminster politics interacts with our democracy and society. It was wonderful to see young, determined people take such an interest in Parliament and how we can work together to stop a Tory Brexit shambles and make our country more fair.

On Monday I signed an Early Day Motion that condemned the action by Picturehouse, a subsidiary of Cineworld Cinemas, in sacking three representatives that were involved in organising a strike at the Ritzy and other cinemas. Since becoming an MP I have campaigned alongside Cineworld staff for a fairer wage, and called on Picturehouse staff to be paid the living wage.

I am delighted to announce that I have been appointed to the International Trade Select Committee for this Parliament, which will scrutinise and hold to account the government as the UK leaves the EU and looks to make trade deals internationally. I look forward to undertaking this vital Parliamentary role and adding to the debate on how to conduct and bolster the UK’s international trade in an ethical manner.

During a debate on the anticipated executions of 14 people in Saudi Arabia, I intervened to press the government what impact the 38 per cent cut to the Foreign Office budget will have on dealing effectively with human rights in Saudi Arabia, or elsewhere in the world.

On Tuesday I pressed the government on what can be done to clamp down on tax avoidance, and specifically what is being done to tackle those large multinational companies that are promoting and facilitating tax avoidance schemes. You can view my intervention in Parliament here.

I also attended the All Parliamentary Party Group for British Jews on Tuesday. We will continue to ensure that Jewish issues and concerns are represented in Parliament. Later on, I chaired a discussion on dealing with China with the Henry Jackson Society, as well as protecting the UK’s vital infrastructure.

With a new Parliament, there are a string of new all-party groups. I have now founded the all-party group for swimming, the first of its kind. Swimming is a fantastic sport to keep us healthy, but is becoming increasingly unaffordable. I will fight to restore the “Swim for a pound” scheme. You can read my letter in the Guardian here

Over the weekend I was out in High Barnet to campaign for a Labour Gain at the next General Election. Labour has an inspirational and innovative plan to take our country forward in the 21st Century, investing in infrastructure, skills and people.

Parliament is now in recess for the summer. I will continue to work across the constituency, but please note that the last advice surgery will be Friday 28 July.

My week in Parliament 17 - 23 July

Last week my office held the Catherine West Summer School, where 16-19 year-olds were able to attend Parliament and learn about how Westminster politics interacts with our democracy and society....

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I was in the House of Commons on Monday, where Theresa May gave a statement on the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, which was followed by statements around the Conservative deal with the DUP.

Along with my colleagues, I believe that the offer to EU nationals comes too little and too late. Their right to remain should have been secured immediately after the referendum, and still now there is too little detail about when the relevant cut off date would be.

I am also concerned about the £1 billion deal with the DUP to prop up Theresa May’s weak government. While the investment may be necessary in Northern Ireland, austerity is failing across the UK too. There is also no clarification on where the money is coming from for the DUP deal.

Later, Sajid Javid gave a statement on Grenfell Tower. More and more high-rise buildings are failing combustibility tests. Ministers must submit a more thorough review of fire safety and guarantee the funds to help with the costs immediately. Fire safety tests must also apply to public buildings such as schools and hospitals.

For anyone concerned about fire safety in Haringey, please refer to Haringey Council’s website: http://www.haringey.gov.uk/news/fire-safety-drop-sessions-high-rise-tower-blocks

On Tuesday morning I hosted London Higher in Parliament to celebrate and showcase the fantastic work of London universities and their international staff, students and alumni.

I attended Haringey Mind Golf Day on Thursday to meet with those affected by and helping treat mental illness. Last year I became a patron of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health and having been trying to push the issue up the agenda, so it was great to meet those who I hope to work with to de-stigmatise mental illness and tackle it for younger and older people.

In the evening I spoke at the University of Arts in Holborn on how to tackle hate crime and bigotry in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. Data found that hate crime spiked after Brexit, which is unacceptable in our open and tolerant society.

Before that on Thursday I voted for Labour’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech, calling on reversing austerity in public services and recognises “no deal is the very worst outcome” in Brexit negotiations. I backed Labour’s calls for an end to the public pay freeze as well as a minimum wage of £10 per hour. I also voted for Chuka Umunna’s Queen’s Speech amendment backing the Single Market and Customs Union membership. I pledged during the General Election campaign to fight a Hard Brexit and at this stage believe nothing should be off the table, including Single Market membership. I have thoroughly enjoyed serving in the Shadow Foreign Office Team since September 2015 and I will continue to pursue my interest in foreign affairs and human rights in Parliament.

Fortimsere Fair was on Saturday where a tea for two with me was up for prize in the Silent Auction. Each year the fair raises critical money for schools that are becoming increasingly cash strapped. On Sunday I attended the Murugan Temple on Archway Road to celebrate the Hindu chariot festival.

My week in Parliament 26 June - 2 July

I was in the House of Commons on Monday, where Theresa May gave a statement on the rights of EU nationals living in the UK, which was followed by statements...

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The tragic attack on those leaving prayer at a Mosque on Sunday night shocked us all. While the attack seems to be on a particular group of people, it has hit all Londoners. The Muslim Welfare House is a bastion of our communities in North London and any strike on them is felt by us all. I want to once again thank all of our brave servicemen and servicewomen who have dealt with the threat in a compassionate and effective manner, and without whom our city would not be nearly as safe as it is. On Monday I joined David Lammy, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry at lunchtime prayers at Finsbury Park mosque to put on record our support for the community during this difficult time.

As an MP and a Londoner, I continue to feel the pain of all those who have been affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. I am relieved to hear that there will be a full inquiry into the reason the fire was so devastating, and hope that if any wrongdoing is found that perpetrators will come under the full force of the law. Something went horrifically wrong and the victims deserve answers. More urgently, the response must focus on rehousing those affected.

I was in Parliament on Wednesday for the Queen’s speech, which set out the government’s priorities over the next year. The government’s agenda is wafer thin for this Parliament after Theresa May had to drop her more contentious policies. I welcome the fact the Conservatives have ditched the triple lock on pensions and that the Prime Minister appears to have backed down on taking away winter fuel allowances from pensioners. There was further good news when we found that the Dementia Tax had been swiftly dropped, along with scrapping free school meals for infants.

In this Parliament, Labour will use every opportunity to block continuing Tory austerity, cuts to vital public services and attacks on pensions’ incomes. Wherever possible, we will look to win support for the policies set out in the manifesto, including reversing police cuts and giving NHS workers a payrise. Poverty and inequality are not inevitable; we can change it.

In Parliament I attended a reception for Mencap and Learning Disability Week, where I was able to talk to campaigners about their experiences of finding employment.

Later I attended LICS Mosque in N8 for the Iftar dinner in solidarity and celebration with the Muslim community. Our society has benefitted from multi-culturalism and I will always stand up from our diverse and tolerant society.

On Friday I held the first of my regular advice surgeries of the new Parliament. During the last Parliament our office handled thousands of queries from constituents facing problems, something hugely important to my job. If you need to see me, please come along to one of my regular surgeries held in Wood Green Library.

Before that I participated in a roundtable with the Federation of Small Business, discussing what the priorities are for small businesses this Parliament. Before the election I fought alongside the FSB on increases to business rates which has put many small, independent and cherished businesses in our community at risk of closure.

Saturday was the MidSummer Muswell, a festival that helps raise money for WAVE and The London Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy. It was great to see such community spirit and enjoy so many performances by local artists.

My week in Parliament 19 - 25 June

The tragic attack on those leaving prayer at a Mosque on Sunday night shocked us all. While the attack seems to be on a particular group of people, it has...

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There was a fantastic turnout for an event in Parliament hosted by my office to discuss women’s rights in Burma for International Women’s Day. Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, from the Burma UK campaign, shared her thoughts on the past, present and future for Women's Rights in the country, and how pressure from the international community is contributing to progress toward gender equality. Please sign up to my newsletter to hear about future events.

Earlier in the day I was able to join my colleague Rupa Huq, where she spoke about Bangladesh’s independence during a celebration in Parliament. It was fantastic to see so many people turning up to commemorate the 46th anniversary.

It was great to meet with MPs from New Zealand on Tuesday to foster closer ties and discuss how to improve policy, as I believe that as an MP our country should engage with others to learn from their experiences and exchange ideas. I also learned that it took over nine years for New Zealand to negotiate its trade agreement with China, which made me consider how long it will take for similar deals between the UK and other nations.

On Tuesday I was on frontbench duty where I pressed the government on democracy in Hong Kong. I asked the Foreign Minister: "According to the Basic Law of Hong Kong, the ultimate aim is for the city to select a Chief Executive by universal suffrage, yet two days ago a new Chief Executive was chosen by a committee comprising 0.03% of Hong Kong’s registered voters. As we prepare to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover, how can the House be confident that the Chinese Government are committed to progress towards genuinely democratic elections in Hong Kong?". 

I was in attendance at a parliamentary debate on schools funding in London on Wednesday morning. Some 70 per cent of London schools stand to lose significantly, so it was good to again be present in the Commons to press the government on its decision to implement a National Funding Formula.

Wednesday was another sad day in the process of leaving the EU as Prime Minister Theresa May sent a letter to the European Council confirming the decision and triggering Article 50. We now embark on the most important negotiations of our generation and Labour will hold the government to account every step of the way, as I wrote for the New Statesman last week. Labour will oppose any deal in the Commons vote if it does not deliver the “exact same benefits” that the UK has from the single market and customs union as it does now - as Brexit Secretary David Davies confirmed in January.

I did not come in to Parliament to make lives for disabled people more difficult, so, after an extended debate on Personal Independence Payments I made an intervention on behalf of constituents who have been through the extremely difficult situation of going through a tribunal when they are in pain. It is difficult for people in these situations to stand up for themselves in order to have their PIP reinstated. I asked the secretary of state to stop slashing public spending and degrading the lives of the sick, poor and disabled, given over two thirds of PIP judgements are getting overturned by courts in favour of claimants.

I was able to meet local residents when I was door knocking on Saturday in Highgate Ward, where there was a lot of support for Haringey Labour's campaign to stop more cuts to our local schools. I enjoy meeting with constituents and representing their views in Westminster. I want to thank the thousands of people who have contacted me since I was elected as your MP, and look forward to continuing to fight for those issues that are important to our constituency.

My week in Parliament 27 March - 2 April

There was a fantastic turnout for an event in Parliament hosted by my office to discuss women’s rights in Burma for International Women’s Day. Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, from the...

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The tragic events that unfolded last week in Westminster and the loss of life that followed was devastating. Terror will not disrupt the lives of Londoners and it was with a sense of remorse and solidarity that MPs returned to Parliament on Thursday. Thanks to brave police officers and NHS workers, we can continue to do our work. I would also like to thank my staff for their measured and calm response during an extremely distressing day in Westminster.

I started the week by participating in a cross-party roundtable discussion on mental health and youth justice. We know that street gangs associated with violence are concentrated in urban areas and their mental health has too often been overlooked, so it was great to attend the meeting and discuss how policy can be designed to help these people. Later in the week I met with Haringey Communities Against Violence, where I was able to meet people who live and work in Haringey with concerns and experience around youth and group violence. I am committed to engaging the community to developing a way to offer support that helps reduce gang violence.

I was able to make it to this term’s End of Term performance for the Training Steel Band, Intermediate Steel Band, Westside Steel Band and Steel Orchestra at Hornsey School for Girls, as well as go over to Fortismere School for an International Women’s Day event that celebrates the achievements of women and girls. The event was made all the more incredible as it was organised by the students themselves.

On Thursday I held my regular advice surgery. I continue to prize this part of my role and look forward to hearing from my constituents on any issues they have and assist where I can.

Attending the Mother's Day celebration on Friday at Edwards Passmore House in the afternoon was fantastic and extremely therapeutic. On Saturday I joined MEP Seb Dance and David Lammy MP to stand up to the politics of hate with a march on Parliament to celebrate the European Union. Labour has a number for tests for Brexit, and if they are not met the party will not support any final deal. In particular, the deal must deliver the same benefits the UK currently enjoys within the EU.

My week in Parliament 20 - 26 March

The tragic events that unfolded last week in Westminster and the loss of life that followed was devastating. Terror will not disrupt the lives of Londoners and it was with...

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I was upset to witness MPs vote against securing rights for EU citizens living in the UK or to give parliament a meaningful vote on the outcome of negotiations on Monday. Despite loud calls from the Labour party, the House of Lords and the public, the government will now plough ahead with the negotiations. I will continue, with my colleagues, to hold the government to account on the issues.

On a brighter note, it was a pleasure to speak on the benefits of increasing women in engineering at the Thames Tideway Exhibition Launch. Fighting for gender equality is central to my job, and it was great to share my views at the launch of a project that is expected to bring environmental benefits and new public space along the Thames.

I was glad to be in the chamber to vote for my colleague Diana Johnson’s Ten Minute Rule Bill on the decriminalisation of abortion, which will now pass onto a second reading.

On Tuesday morning I met with Colombian Ambassador H.E. Nestor Osorio, where we were able to discuss the ongoing peace process in his country and what the UK can do to support supporting the vital work being done.

After the meeting, I met with David Mowat, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, as part of a cross-party delegation that I organised to speak about a local Urinary Tract Infection Clinic, whose funding is at risk.

In the evening I spoke at the Labour Assembly Against Austerity meeting where I responded to Philip Hammond’s Spring Budget. This Budget conveyed a clear message: the government is not concerned about the daily struggles of people who are going to be made worse off as a direct consequence of their policies.

Over the weekend I took part in the March Against Racism to campaign against a toxic anti-immigration agenda. On Sunday I spoke at the Hornsey Parish Church on how I make judgements as an MP for their series examining how we make decisions.

My week in Parliament 13 - 19 March

I was upset to witness MPs vote against securing rights for EU citizens living in the UK or to give parliament a meaningful vote on the outcome of negotiations on...

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On Monday I flew out to the United States as part of a cross-party delegation to foster links with American Congressmen and Congresswomen. During the trip we were able to discuss important issues including trade links and shared security, as well as exchanging ideas about good domestic policy.

On Tuesday evening I gave a speech at the Women’s Information Network in Washington D.C., where I outlined my belief that the fight for gender equality must continue. I also took the opportunity to talk about Labour’s vision for a Budget that supports empowering women toward economic independence.

Wednesday saw Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond take to the dispatch box at the House of Commons. What he unveiled was a Budget that does not help the plight of a huge number of people, with the government still set on welfare freezes and intent on bringing back grammar school education. You can read my full response here.

On Saturday morning I attended Hornsey & Wood Green’s International Women’s Day event, where we discussed how society’s bias and expectation affect women’s ability to participate and lead in public life. I was also lucky enough to give out five awards to women at The Community Hub and was delighted to see such a great turnout and support from men and women across the constituency.

It continues to be a privilege to serve as your MP, and last week my office passed a milestone, having written 4,045 letters on behalf of our constituents on issues affecting their lives. I look forward to continuing to represent your interests in Parliament.

My week 6 - 12 March

On Monday I flew out to the United States as part of a cross-party delegation to foster links with American Congressmen and Congresswomen. During the trip we were able to...

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Catherine West MP

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