The last week has been dominated by EU (as will the next few weeks I suspect), with four speeches last week alone from me on the topic. Other issues were the Queen’s Speech, human rights, Northern Ireland and seasonal workers in Kent!
The Queen’s Speech and Human Rights
The Queen came to Parliament this week to read the Government’s agenda for this session. It was a pretty threadbare programme. There were some headline catching items, like insurance for driverless cars and a few useful Bills are promised including long-overdue prison reform and improvements to the care system.
But there was not much else of real substance. The Tories are far too busy tearing themselves apart over Europe to concentrate on anything serious.
Like last year there was a single sentence on the issue of human rights, indicating that “proposals” would be brought forward for a “British bill of rights”. This year, the Queen’s speech included precisely the same commitment, using almost precisely the same language, as if it was groundhog day!
There is a reason for this. The proposals for reform of human rights law in the Conservative party manifesto 2015 are legally incoherent.
I explained why this is so in an article in the Guardian, which you can read in full here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/may/18/conservatives-human-rights-act
Human Rights and Northern Ireland
One important aspect of the debate about the future of human rights is the potential for repeal of the Human Rights Act to undermine the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Therefore on Tuesday I hosted a cross party meeting to launch a report on this issue: a packed room including politicians from Northern Ireland and including Domini Grieve for the Conservatives made for a great launch.
EU Referendum campaign in full swing
This was another busy week in the EU Referendum campaign. Whether it’s at Labour HQ manning the phone bank with Chuka Umunna and Karen Buck…
…or taking questions at an open public meeting at the Kentish Town Community Centre, our campaign to remain in the EU is in full swing!
I explained why I believed this was probably the most important decision we all face at the moment. There is so much at stake. Our lives and those of our children, will be shaped by whether we remain or leave! We just can’t afford to get this wrong.
On Wednesday I also took part in an EU debate at Freshfields law firm, speaking for the Remain side to around 400 staff.
I also had the great privilege this week of giving the Thompson’s annual lecture. I chose the EU, human rights and trade unions as my subject – emphasising the huge advantages the EU has helped deliver on employment rights and human rights protections, and that leaving the EU would put that all at risk.
UCLH – new facilities at a great local hospital
I had a meeting with Richard Murley (centre) Chairman of the University College London Hospitals and Sir Robert Naylor (left) the Chief Executive.
It was a chance to hear plans the Trust has to develop the hospitals that so many of us use on the Euston Road.
A new facility is being built to house Britain’s first proton beam. Patients presently have to go abroad to receive this treatment. But when it is completed they will be able to receive this specialised form of radiotherapy right here: a novel way of attacking complex and difficult to treat tumours.
It was also a chance to meet some of the nursing team who provide services for patients at the Macmillan Cancer Centre – purpose built and opened in 2012.
Hosting Bangladeshi MP, Mahjabeen Khaled
It was a real pleasure to welcome Mahjabeen Khaled, an MP from Bangladesh, to Parliament on Tuesday, along with my fellow MPs, Stephen Timms, Rushanara Ali and Steve Reid. We had an opportunity to discuss a number of issues, including key concerns like immigration and equality.
It was a busy schedule, but, as you see, we also found time to relax on the Terrace overlooking the Thames.
Progress conference at the TUC; meet your MP EU theme; the Thompson Foundation Lecture; and the Fabians.
The EU referendum is so important that I am taking every opportunity to talk to as wide a group of people as possible about the issues.
Last weekend I spoke at the Progress Conference, taking part in a panel discussion on the EU and security. I explained the significance of the EU Arrest Warrant and how, as Director of Prosecutions, I had found it a vitally important tool in our fight against terrorism and organised crime.
On Wednesday I hosted a ‘Meet your MP’ session in Kentish Town to discuss the EU.
Thursday I delivered the Thompson Foundation lecture at Unison. My theme was the risk to workers’ and employment-related rights if we exit the EU.
And this Saturday I spoke at the closing plenary of the Fabians conference.
Much more of the same over the next few weeks!
Finally, on Friday I visited farmers in Kent to talk about the immigration issues that face them and the future of seasonal workers. Fascinating…
Before rounding off with a public meeting on Friday evening in Dartford hosted by the local CLP. Packed with people and with questions!
More next week…