Lyn Brown MP

Member of Parliament for West Ham

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On the 5th February, I spoke about the tragic passing of Labour MP Harry Harpham and in favour of amendments to the Riot Compensation Bill supporting riot victims. Speech below.

 

If it is okay with you, Mr Speaker, I would like to associate myself with your kind and apposite remarks about Harry. My sympathies go to his wife Gill and all those who mourn him. My friends on these Benches are in real shock and great sadness at his passing.

I rise to speak to amendments 1, 2 and 3, which have been tabled by Mike Wood. I shall also speak to amendment 8, which has been tabled by my excellent right hon. Friend Mr Lammy.

Amendment 1 would ensure that victims of rioting had at least 42 days in which to make a claim for compensation and then a further 90 days in which to submit the necessary evidence. We support that amendment. The Bill is about supporting riot victims, and in order to do that we need to give them adequate time to complete claims for compensation. Can any of us imagine trying to rapidly process a legal claim when our papers have been destroyed, we have no access to our home or business, and our life has been completely and utterly turned upside down? That is exactly the situation in which many riot victims found themselves in 2011. That situation was made all the more difficult by the fact that so many of the victims were unaware that they were entitled to compensation. They needed the time to get their affairs in order.

In 2011, the Home Office appeared to recognise that a short time limit on claims was unfair, and extended the time limit from 14 to 42 days. Amendment 1 gives us certainty that any future victims will be guaranteed at least 42 days in future. That has to be right. The amendment also provides an additional 90 days for victims to gather the necessary evidence to complete their application for compensation. Three months’ breathing room seems entirely appropriate, given the total upheaval that can be wrought to businesses and individuals by the kind of rioting we saw.

My right hon. Friend—the magnificent Member for Tottenham—spoke movingly in Committee about some of the challenges faced by his constituents in 2011. Many had English as a second language, some had their health devastated by the riots, and all had their daily routines completely shattered. They desperately needed more time to put their lives back together before they could deal with compensation claims. I congratulate him on raising the issue of time limits in Committee. If the House accepts amendment 1 today, he will have played a vital role in ensuring that any future victims of rioting are not left in the lurch, as his constituents and those of my hon. Friend Mr Reed were.

 

 

Riot Compensation Bill

On the 5th February, I spoke about the tragic passing of Labour MP Harry Harpham and in favour of amendments to the Riot Compensation Bill supporting riot victims. Speech below.

On the 20th January, I spoke in the House against the Government's decision not to place poppers on the exemptions list to the ban on psychoactive substances. Speech below. 

 

Labour’s 2015 manifesto included a commitment to ban the sale and distribution of dangerous psychoactive substances. We believe that a blanket ban, with listed exemptions, is the most effective means of beginning to tackle the serious public health problem these drugs have brought about. That is why Labour supports this Bill. We have not agreed with the Government on every detail of it, but we have been united in wanting the most effective legislation possible to tackle the scourge of these disruptive substances and to curb the criminal fraternity who are pushing them on our young people.

I am greatly disappointed that the Government have chosen not to place poppers on the exemptions list, as I believe that will undermine the Bill and place poppers users, particularly men who have sex with men, at greater risk of greater harm. Despite our support for the general approach of the Bill, I have made it clear that we do not think that this legislation alone will tackle the issue. Maryon Stewart, an amazing woman, said in May:

“No law can offer the perfect solution to protect people from drugs; it is equally vital we all concentrate our efforts on making the public, young people in particular, more aware of the harms of these substances in schools, at university and during festivals.”'

I could not agree more. Sadly, the Government do not seem to agree that a comprehensive education and awareness strategy needs to go alongside the measures contained in this Bill. That is truly the only way in which we will effectively reduce demand, and thereby make measures controlling supply easier and more effective.

I thank my hon. Friend Andrew Gwynne for working closely with me on this Bill. His insights into the public health aspects of the legislation have been invaluable and it has been a pleasure to work with him. I also thank theMinister for Policing, Crime and Criminal JusticeMike Penning for the spirit of co-operation he has shown throughout the passing of the Bill and for his humour. I also thank the Scottish National party Members, who have been great to work with. This has been the first Bill I have led on, and it has been good to have them alongside.

This legislation was introduced in the other place, and I want to pay tribute to the excellent work done by my Labour colleagues there, particularly Lord Rosser, who led on the Bill for Labour. My colleagues in the other place were instrumental in improving the Bill by securing more comprehensive exceptions for academic and medical research. I am convinced that the input from the Labour Members has made a real difference to this Bill.

In conclusion, if the House is divided tonight, we will be voting for the Bill. Expert advice and experience from Ireland suggests that a blanket ban is the most effective means of beginning to tackle the pernicious industry in new psychoactive substances. We committed to banning new psychoactive substances in our manifesto, and I sincerely believe this Bill is a good first step in our battle to protect the public and our children from the serious health risks and harms that these dangerous drugs present. However, the fight against the harms brought about by new psychoactive substances is only just beginning, and I will continue to work for better drug education and awareness in this country as that fight continues.

Poppers and the Psychoactive Substances Act

On the 20th January, I spoke in the House against the Government's decision not to place poppers on the exemptions list to the ban on psychoactive substances. Speech below. 

Holocaust Memorial Day falls this week. Its theme is, Don’t Stand By.

It’s a day to remember the systematic, state-organised murder of six million Jews and millions of others, including Roma Gypsies, disabled people, homosexuals and the Nazi’s political opponents. We also remember subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

Holocaust Memorial Day is a time to reflect on our global shortcomings. We recognise the absolute horror of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides, yet we allow them to recur with such depressing frequency.

Britain is justly proud of its role in the Second World War. Britain fought fascism, accepted 90,000 refugees from Nazi Germany before the outbreak of war and gave homes to more than 10,000 German Jewish children between 1938 and 1939.

By 1939, Jews trapped in central Europe were desperately seeking safety. Many surrounding countries, including Britain, placed limits on the number of refugees they would take, condemning others to certain death.

Europe once again faces a refugee crisis. Millions of Syrians are fleeing a terrible civil war and Isis wreaks another genocide.

David Cameron, we are told, is considering plans to admit 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children into the UK. Help the Children charity has pleaded for this for months.

Yvette Cooper, who chairs Labour’s refugee taskforce, said, “We must not turn our backs on refugee children; alone and at terrible risk. I met 11 and 12-year-olds living in the Calais ‘jungle’, alone, separated from their parents, incredibly vulnerable to exploitation, sexual violence, disease and cold. Every day the prime minister sits on his hands, more children disappear into the hands of criminal gangs.”

After the Holocaust, the world united and said, “Never again”. Those words have become an empty, sorrowful slogan, not our solemn pledge to current and future generations, fearful in the face of implacable brutality.

Promises made after the Holocaust must be kept - January 2016

Holocaust Memorial Day falls this week. Its theme is, Don’t Stand By.


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