This week the Housing and Planning Bill came before the House, and it is clear that this Government is trying to brush the Coalition’s last 5 years of failure on housing under the carpet. Instead of offering the only possible solution to the housing crisis – building more houses - the government is offering more of the same, a purely ideological approach, which will see vast swathes of council and housing association homes sold off through the new Right to Buy and the selling of the so-called “most valuable” council homes as they become empty. This legislation offers starter homes that will be unaffordable to those who need them most. This doesn’t tackle the high rents, insecurity or the problem that we are simply not building anything close to the quantity of homes that we need. This Government needs to deliver more homes, and tackle the deep-rooted problems of insecurity and affordability of housing across the UK.
Certain days are allocated to the Opposition to decide what we debate in Parliament and this week Andy Burnham led a debate on policing. Previously I volunteered as a Special Constable, and I will always value neighbourhood policing. It has been truly awful to see how the central Government cuts are now affecting local services, with Police forces up and down the country seeing their numbers drop. I feel there has been a real undervaluing of our Police force by this Government, a workforce which places themselves within harm’s way for public safety every single day.
However, locally we are rightly seeing ongoing investigations into our Police force and they must be held to account on these issues, whether it is justice for the families and victims of the Hillsborough disaster, Orgreave, or of child sexual exploitation. Fighting for justice must be a priority as well as public safety now and the Home Secretary should provide funds to allow families to get the answers they deserve. We must protect frontline services and the fact South Yorkshire will not be receiving the extra £30 million to deal with these issues is a tragedy.
This week I also met with Google and Twitter to discuss the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, which would mean internet providers would be required to store the URLs visited by users for 12months. The details in the Bill are raising concerns about whether the safeguards proposed are strong enough to protect civil liberties and this has been challenged by the Shadow Home Secretary.
The weekend saw Remembrance Sunday, a day that allows us to reflect on those that died in the terror of the world wars. It serves as a reminder of the great losses nations across Europe faced in the first half of the last century and the strength and importance of European relationships in maintaining peace within Europe since those devastating events. It also reminds us of those who have lost their lives in current conflicts and the unrest the world faces. I was proud to join many of the city’s service men and women at the Cenotaph in remembrance.
I appeared on Sunday Politics talking about the Labour Party, and also I was on Westminster Hour on Radio 4 talking about Europe and the Westminster tradition of maiden speeches, you can listen here