Policy responses

I've received lots of emails from constituents about the importance of parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals.

I quite agree. At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that promised proper transparency and parliamentary scrutiny of all future trade deals. That would mean parliamentary approval of negotiating mandates; proper consultation with trade union, industry and civil society stakeholders; comprehensive impact assessments of social, economic and environmental risks; a parliamentary committee to scrutinise treaties before the Government agrees to them; unrestricted access to the texts of trade treaties as they are being formulated; and a rigorous ratification process, with a debate and vote in the House of Commons chamber.

I believe the Government's Trade Bill should include meaningful parliamentary scrutiny of future trade deals. But it doesn’t. Instead it leaves trade policy entirely in the hands of Government Ministers. I do not believe this is acceptable in a modern democracy.

That is one of the reasons I opposed the Bill at Second Reading. I was very disappointed that at Committee Stage the Government voted down Opposition amendments that would have ensured proper oversight by Parliament. I am therefore pleased that New Clause 3 has been tabled prior to Report Stage of the Bill and that it replicates many of the Opposition amendments tabled at Committee Stage. If it is one of the amendments selected at Report Stage by the Speaker then I will be supporting it.

Trade Bill

I've received lots of emails from constituents about the importance of parliamentary scrutiny of trade deals. I quite agree. At the 2017 General Election, I stood on a manifesto that...

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The allegations about the Vote Leave and BeLeave campaigns are concerning and raise serious questions about the functioning of our democracy.  We need an urgent and thorough investigation and given the close involvement of members of the Government in the Vote Leave campaign, I believe it is vital that all investigations into potential breaches of electoral rules are wholly independent. 

The Electoral Commission should be given the extra powers and resources it needs to follow the evidence wherever it leads and should report to the House of Commons and the public directly. There must be no influence by interested parties.

Many constituents have contacted me to suggest these allegations highlight the need for a second referendum.  I have consistently stated that I believe leaving the EU is a mistake and I was one of a number of MPs who voted for an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill calling for a second referendum.  Sadly, we were defeated.  Whatever the findings of the Electoral Commission, I will continue to argue that the people should be given a final say on the deal that Theresa May brings back from Brussels

Fair Votes and the call for a second referendum

The allegations about the Vote Leave and BeLeave campaigns are concerning and raise serious questions about the functioning of our democracy.  We need an urgent and thorough investigation and given the...

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Many constituents have previously contacted me to express concerns about Thames Water putting pressure on customers to install smart meters in their homes. On 5 December 2016, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to raise these concerns, enquire about consultation procedures and establish if the scheme complies with consumer protection legislation.

Please click on this link to see below a copy of the response I received from Dr T Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary Of State for the Department Of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the 14 December 2016. It includes a fact sheet setting out the criteria for installing a meter and answers queries that a number of constituents have raised with me about opting out. Constituents can direct any specific further questions they have to the Consumer Council for Water, an independent organisation that represents customer interests which can be contacted via 0300 034 2222 or enquiries@accwater.org.uk

I went back to the Minister to seek clarification on what consultation process is legally required by utility companies. The reply is posted below.

Response on Installation of Smart Meters

Many constituents have previously contacted me to express concerns about Thames Water putting pressure on customers to install smart meters in their homes. On 5 December 2016, I wrote to... Read more »

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Over the past few weeks I have been contacted by a number of concerned constituents regarding the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV).

Indeed, I share a number of the concerns raised regarding the current proposals, and it’s an issue I’ve been following closely since I was first elected in 2015. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham and I have raised particular concerns with Haringey Council around the scale of the proposals, the percentage of affordable housing, the housing offer that would be made to council tenants who lose their home in any estate regeneration and the impact on businesses whose premises are included.

We both felt it was a very ambitious scheme at a very uncertain time, and required much more public debate. Copies of our joint letters can be found here.

Following Haringey Council’s agreement on a set of principles for the HDV, David Lammy MP and I held a meeting with Haringey Council’s Leader and Chief Executive where we sought specific guarantees, including:

-A firm commitment to a minimum of 40 per cent affordable housing. I believe, and will continue to argue, that these must be genuinely affordable homes – not the Tory Government’s idea of “affordable” which is anything but.
-No “right to buy” to be available on the new homes built so they’ll remain in public ownership for future generations.
-Overcrowded tenants being rehoused will be offered larger properties.
-Confirmation that no public land will be passed to the HDV without a clear Council Cabinet agreed business plan that sets out expectations for the number and type of homes, jobs and employment space as well as open space and community facilities.

This is positive and welcome progress, but there remains a number of questions to be answered, particularly around the financial risks involved with this project; the need to guarantee that current residents will have the right to return to new homes on the same estates on the same terms and also concerns surrounding Lendlease, the Council’s preferred bidder, and their past involvement in blacklisting of construction workers - concerns which many Trade Unionists and I share.

There is no question that we desperately need more genuinely affordable homes in Haringey - it is the number one issue that people come to see me about at my regular advice surgeries. After seven years of massive government cuts and a Tory Government that has presided over the lowest home building programme since the 1920s, I can understand why Haringey Council has felt the need to look at things differently.

However, in light of all of the above, I support calls for the decision to be put on hold for outstanding questions to be answered and to allow ample time for the issues the Council’s Housing and Regeneration Scrutiny Panel have raised to be fully addressed. I will continue to follow developments extremely closely and raise issues with Haringey Council as needed.

Haringey Development Vehicle

Over the past few weeks I have been contacted by a number of concerned constituents regarding the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV). Indeed, I share a number of the concerns raised...

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Many constituents have contacted me to express concerns about Thames Water putting pressure on customers to install smart meters in their homes. On 5 December 2016, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to raise these concerns, enquire about consultation procedures and establish if the scheme complies with consumer protection legislation.

Please see below a copy of the response I received from Dr T Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary Of State for the Department Of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.  It includes a fact sheet setting out the criteria for installing a meter and answers queries that a number of constituents have raised with me about opting out. Constituents can direct any specific further questions they have to the Consumer Council for Water, an independent organisation that represents customer interests which can be contacted via 0300 034 2222 or enquiries@accwater.org.uk

I continue to receive letters and emails from concerned constituents, and I have now gone back to the Minister to seek clarification on what consultation process is legally required by utility companies. I will post a copy of the response I receive on this page when available.

Installation of Smart Meters

Many constituents have contacted me to express concerns about Thames Water putting pressure on customers to install smart meters in their homes. On 5 December 2016, I wrote to the... Read more »

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I am very concerned about Government plans to sell off the Green Investment Bank and it’s a subject I’ve already raised with the Minister for Climate Change & Industry Nick Hurd during the urgent question Parliamentary debate on 11 January. I specifically highlighted my concerns about the ethics of Macquarie Bank, who have an appalling track record of failing to pay correct levels of tax, buying assets, stripping them, paying itself huge dividends and selling off what’s left. I asked the Minister his opinion of Macquarie’s recent activity at Thames Water where it shipped off hundreds of millions in dividend payments to investors, paid minimal taxes and made disappointing investment in the network. You can watch my intervention here: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/a874ad10-8dee-44a9-bd87-7d6923651e7e?in=13:21:11

You can also read my Guardian letter on the subject here: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/17/green-investment-banks-assets-must-be-protected

The Green Investment Bank is a real success story and it makes no sense to sell it off, when it could play a significant role helping to drive innovation, green energy and infrastructure, job creation and growth opportunities. The Government needs to abandon this ill-thought plan and I can assure you that, as your MP, I will continue to make the strongest case for them to do so at every opportunity.

 

Green Investment Bank

I am very concerned about Government plans to sell off the Green Investment Bank and it’s a subject I’ve already raised with the Minister for Climate Change & Industry Nick...

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Here's a copy of my letter to Ofcom in advance of the upcoming spectrum auction:

 

Make the Air Fair - my letter to Ofcom

Here's a copy of my letter to Ofcom in advance of the upcoming spectrum auction:   Read more »

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I can confirm I’ve already signed up to Fossil Free’s UK pledge.

It’s an incredibly important issue. The Governor of the Bank of England has warned of the impact of climate change on the value of investments, while the Financial Stability Board, which monitors the global financial system, has recognised investors' increasing need to consider climate change by establishing a Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). I believe the Government should take steps to make sure that the UK's financial regulators ensure that companies give investors effective information about the climate-related financial risks they face.

More widely, I am concerned that the Government is undermining clean energy investment in the UK. The Government's support for fracking, for example, risks locking us into an industry based on fossil fuels long after we need to have moved to clean energy. It also comes on top of cuts to support for renewable power and plans to increase taxes on businesses that have done the right thing by installing solar panels on the roofs of their buildings. These decisions have damaged the confidence of investors such as pension funds at a time when we should be working towards transitioning our energy industry to a low-carbon future. It is also disappointing that the Government has delayed publication of its emissions reduction plan, when it should be taking advantage of the international cooperation demonstrated by the Paris Agreement to drive forward with its plan for low-carbon investment in the UK.

I can assure you I will continue to support a low-carbon economy in the UK.

 

Fossil Free UK pledge

I can confirm I’ve already signed up to Fossil Free’s UK pledge. It’s an incredibly important issue. The Governor of the Bank of England has warned of the impact of...

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I'm extremely disappointed that the Secretary of State has gone back on proposals to allow Transport for London to take over Southeastern suburban rail services.  It's a real blow to commuters and I have written to the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP urging him to reconsider:

Give the Mayor of London control over suburban rail services

I'm extremely disappointed that the Secretary of State has gone back on proposals to allow Transport for London to take over Southeastern suburban rail services.  It's a real blow to... Read more »

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Here's my formal response to the Government's consultation on "schools that work for everyone", including proposals to allow existing selective schools to expand and new selective schools to open.

My response to the Government's consultation on "Schools that work for everyone"

Here's my formal response to the Government's consultation on "schools that work for everyone", including proposals to allow existing selective schools to expand and new selective schools to open. Read more »

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Catherine West MP

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