I’m very pleased that none of the Stansted 15 went to jail when they were sentenced on Wednesday. But it’s still a concern that people who peacefully stood up for human rights should have been tried under legislation designed to deal with terrorists. Access to justice shouldn’t depend on actions taken by human rights defenders, but this Tory government’s “hostile environment” and “deport first, appeal later” policy has created a terrible injustice for people fleeing harm and persecution. I’m pleased that Labour’s Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakraborti has confirmed that a Labour Government would review the statute book to better guarantee the right to peaceful dissent.
Before a single victim of the Windrush scandal has received any compensation and before the Lessons Learned review has been published, we’re already seeing this Government try and deport people to Jamaica. Many of whom came here as children and have no links to the island. I spoke about the need for the Home Office to change their approach on the Victoria Derbyshire show on Tuesday morning and together with Labour colleagues, I’ve written to the Home Secretary calling for an immediate halt to deportation flights to Jamaica. Read my letter here
As a member of the International Trade Select Committee, I had the opportunity to quiz Liam Fox this week. I asked Dr Fox why MPs had to look for details of the Swiss-UK Trade Deal on the Swiss Government website as the Department for International Trade had failed to provide vital information to Parliament, despite requests for more information by MPs on the International Trade Committee to the Secretary of State in advance of Trade negotiations. It’s deeply troubling that the Government is withholding such vital information and evading scrutiny on proposed Trade negotiations.
I also asked how the Secretary of State intended to protect the NHS from future privatisation as health services is a key area which the US would wish to be a part of in any future trade deal. In a separate development, I am working with a number of other MPs to develop a list of key demands on trade policy with developing countries. Depending on the Brexit outcome, trade policy with developing countries will become increasingly important.
Tory dinosaur Christopher Chope struck again on Friday, blocking crucial legislation to protect children against female genital mutilation on a supposed point of principle whilst at the same time waving through his friend’s Bills. He’s got form, having done the exact same thing on the “upskirting” bill and I’d like to see the Tories take action against him and step in to give this important Bill Government time so it can progress.
One of the issues that led me to co-found a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Swimming was the inconsistency in primary school swimming provision, with a third of children still not being able to swim when they leave primary school. Swimming is so crucial to water safety and I was pleased to welcome the Minister Nadhim Zahawi to our APPG meeting this week where we discussed the collection of data. At the moment there’s no national system and no repercussions if schools don’t publish their attainment figures so it’s difficult to get a clear picture of the situation across the country.
I visited Earlham Primary School where I met the new leadership team and looked at exciting plans for new classrooms to be built for the children, dropped into Mind in Haringey’s Gala Event to show my support and held a meeting with Haringey’s Clinical Commissioning Group. Amongst other things we discussed concerns over the ongoing inadequate rating of the Staunton Group Practice, the need for investment in suicide bereavement and liaison support, mental health beds and the impact of Brexit on recruitment and retention.