This week has been focused on the investigatory powers bill and then a trip to Glasgow, hosted by Scottish Labour.
On Tuesday the Home Secretary published the Investigatory Powers Bill - all 300 pages of it, along with 6 Codes of Practice. As Labour's lead on the Bill, my first task was to analyse and map the Bill against the 129 pre-legislative scrutiny recommendations! A long day. Although, I accept that new surveillance legislation is needed, the government seems to have ignored many of the criticisms made and Labour will robustly challenge throughout the passage of the Bill.
Two days later, I set off for two days in Glasgow, hosted by Scottish Labour. There I talked about refugees and immigration with the Scottish Refugee Council, members, the public and others. All part of my series of immigration talks across the UK.
I also found time for some campaigning with Scottish Labour: phone banks and then door knocking for MSP candidates and local council candidates.
As part of gathering information regarding migration I held a very useful meeting with the National Farmers Union. This was kindly organised by Nick Smith, Labour’s Shadow Minister dealing with Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Nick (on the right in this photograph) is an old friend of Holborn and St Pancras, having been an agent for Frank Dobson (my predecessor) and then a Camden Councillor.
The NFU say that the government’s abolition of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme was a big mistake.
The scheme had operated for the past 60 years, and farming well. It allowed students studying agriculture to come to Britain from Europe for a short period. They learnt skills, some English and eared some money, before going home.
But because the Conservatives saw it as a form of migration, it was abolished. This has left a real shortfall – says the NFU – and while they would like to employ British workers to meet the seasonal needs of picking fruit, flowers and vegetables, this is often just not available.
It is a real problem: just part of the complex picture of migration that I am getting to grips with as part of my brief as Shadow Minister.
Auden Place opposes the Housing Bill
There were strong views when Auden Place Tenants Association held a meeting with One Housing – their landlords.
The tenants love living in Primrose Hill and many spoke up to express their opposition to the Housing Bill now going through Parliament. It threatens imposing market rents on people living in these homes, many of whom have been there for years. ‘People are worried sick,’ was the view of one woman, who is keen to remain in the area and not be forced out.
One Housing listened and assured the residents that no decision had yet been taken. At the same time they refused to give an assurance that they would oppose the measures in the Bill when it finally became law.
I explained just how severe the impact would be on Camden.
‘This is a very political Bill,’ I told the meeting. ‘It will destroy our mixed communities, which everyone in Camden really appreciates. In twenty years time we will ask: “how did we let this happen!”’
The wind blew cold, but spirits were warm
On Saturday we were out and about in Kentish Town and Cantelowes wards, campaigning for Sadiq Khan. It was certainly not warm, but that didn’t deter anyone.
We met nearly 400 local people and our reception was generally positive. Sadiq is a great candidate and his priorities: housing, transport and a greener London, are ones we all share.
And thanks to Hummy Yummy for its delicious Lebanese lunch – restoring our energy for a second session in the afternoon!