Another Monday, another statement by the Prime Minister. It’s incredible that despite the biggest defeat in Parliamentary history she seems to believe she can plough on regardless. The only difference from Plan A is it’s now called Plan B.
Power needs to be given back to the Commons to decide the next steps and I am supporting Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s amendment which seeks to give Parliament a vote on whether to seek an extension to Article 50. It’s very clear that the PM is trying to run the clock down and this Bill gives Parliament an opportunity to step in and avoid us ending up with No Deal by accident.
As one of the longest supporters of the campaign for a further public vote, I’m very pleased that Labour’s official amendment notes that this is now one of the only two remaining options. I hope it will receive cross party support.
On Tuesday I took part in a debate on college funding. I’m a strong supporter of the “raise the rate” campaign to raise the national funding rate for 16 to 18-year olds by at least £760 per student per year in the 2019 spending review. It’s crucial if we are to provide adequate student support services, protect a broad curriculum and provide the high-quality education students need to thrive in the workplace. I spoke out in the debate about the need to tie up further education with big public procurement programmes, for example Crossrail, the super sewers project and HS2, and raised my concerns about the 24% drop in the STEM offer in the college sector.
The failure of the central court’s IT systems this week has caused huge disruption and further disservice to the victims of crime, many of whom have already suffered the costs of delays from an overstretched, chronically underfunded, and crisis ridden criminal justice system. Labour brought an urgent question where I asked the minister if compensation would be considered for those that have been badly affected.
I took part in my first meeting as the new Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rare, Genetic & Undiagnosed Conditions where we discussed social care and the appalling struggles some families face receiving the support they need. The hearing will feed into NICE’s guidance development on ‘Children and young people with disabilities & severe complex needs’.
Universal credit has been an absolute disaster, making vulnerable people’s lives more difficult and increasing debt, rent arrears and food bank use in areas where it has been rolled out. I gave the closing remarks at Haringey Against Universal Credit’s public meeting at the Alevi Cultural Centre on Thursday and spoke about the work Labour is doing in Parliament to try and get a change of course. We’ve had some successes – I was one of over 100 Parliamentarians who signed a letter urging the PM, Chancellor and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to reconsider the two-child limit policy and am pleased there has been a partial rethink, but it only covers children born since 2016 so it’s ‘too little too late’. The entire programme needs to be paused and reviewed and a commitment given to ensure that nobody is left worse off.
I spent a wonderful afternoon helping students from Hornsey School for Girls with their orchard planting and met with the Chief Executive of Alexandra Palace to look around the fabulous new theatre and hear about their future plans. I attended the opening of the new Highgate Counselling Service and visited the Bounds Green Depot of Hitachi Rail Europe.
On Sunday, I took part in Haringey’s moving Holocaust Memorial Service. At a time of national crisis it was both sad and hopeful to gather together with the community to hear music, poetry and personal stories from survivors of totalitarianism and genocide.