It’s been a busy week in Parliament. Boris Johnson’s EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill has passed, and, despite the attempts of the House of Lords and the Opposition to ensure that protections for EU citizens in the form of physical documentation and support to reunite child refugees with family in this country remained, the Tories voted against them.
It remains crucial that we have a strong opposition that will stand up for those people who will lose out from Brexit and to demand the Government work to mitigate any disadvantages they may face. This is the case for EU citizens who have contributed so much to our economy and our society, and also the many small businesses who rely on imports from and exports to the other countries in the EU. To this end, I met with Keir Starmer at the start of the week, raising the importance of a strong Labour presence in making Brexit work as best we can. Keir is also the candidate I am supporting in the Labour leadership contest. It’s great to see such an excellent field of candidates standing to be leader, but I believe that Keir is a man of intellect and principle with the qualities that will unite the Labour Party and communities across the country and bring the fight to the Tories.
This week, I was on the front bench during the Women and Equalities debate on Thursday morning, during which Labour MPs tackled the Government on their lack of support for 1950s women who are struggling following the unfair Tory changes to pension entitlements. Now that MPs have returned to Parliament and we have got the first couple of weeks under our belts, our work on the various All-Party Parliamentary Groups can begin again. I am pleased to have met again with the APPG on State Pension Inequality for Women and we will be resuming the fight against the hardship suffered by too many 1950s women in our communities.
Elsewhere in Parliament, we saw a well-attended Westminster Hall debate on the Report of the Commission on Justice in Wales. The report found that the cuts to the justice budget have severely and negatively affected Wales, with the Welsh Labour Government having to use its own money to try and make up for the loss in budget from the UK Government. It’s an issue that brings about passionate debate and some differing opinions, but one thing is certain – Tory cuts have done huge damage to our justice system.
MacMillan Cancer charity were in Parliament this week, and it was fantastic to meet up with my old friend and colleague Baroness Anita Gale. She’s been a tremendous campaigner on countless issues over the years, and it’s wonderful to see her with such an important charity supporting the vital work they do helping and cheering on with people battling cancer across the country.
Thursday saw the Holocaust debate in the House of Commons in the week where we remember the Holocaust and the millions of Jews and other groups such as the Roma, the disabled, gay men and women, and many others who were killed by the Nazis. These crimes did not come from nowhere; they were allowed to happen because society had been divided and those divisions were fed with hatred and propaganda. We must not let anything like this happen again. We must Stand Together – in the words of this year’s theme of the Holocaust remembrance – and work to protect the vulnerable from harm.
I was pleased to round the week off back in Neath, and to meet with the Friends and Neighbours (FAN) Community Alliance in Neath to discuss a community event on climate change. This fantastic group organise events in the community that bring people together and allow neighbours to get to know one another regardless of age, background or gender, and also facilitate volunteering in the community to help on issues such as climate change, protecting the local environment, and supporting one another. I’m really excited to be working with them and being able to promote such a worthwhile community endeavour.
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I hope you all have a lovely weekend!