Helen speaks in debate on Black History Month

I am proud to represent one of the most diverse constituencies in the UK. This month is Black History Month, and as we celebrate the immense and enduring contribution of black people to the UK over two thousand years, I am continuing to call on the Government to reform the history curriculum. Every student should learn the UK’s history of migration, including colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade; so that every child can find their own story in the history they learn.

Black Cultural Archives, the only national organisation dedicated to the collection, preservation and celebration of black British history is based on Windrush Square in Brixton in my constituency. BCA should be afforded the status of a national museum and archive, and I called on the government to make this commitment.  Black history is British history and it should be taught all year round.  You can watch my speech here >>

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Helen challenges the Prime Minister on financial support for workers in lockdown areas

Today I challenged the Prime Minister on the inadequacy of the support provided to people who are unable to work due to coronavirus restrictions, which sits in stark contrast with the vast sums of money he is happy to spend on private companies delivering failing services. The Government’s Job Support Scheme will only provide two-thirds of wages to staff if a business has been forced to close. But families are still required to pay 100% of their rent or mortgage and bills. In London, I know that many businesses will be facing difficult choices as Tier 2 restrictions lead to a loss of customers and many are desperately worried about how they will pay staff if they are forced to close.

At the start of this crisis, the Government promised to do whatever it takes to see the country through this crisis, but the Chancellor has now decided to abandon viable sectors across the country. We will face a tsunami of unemployment with all of the hardship and desperation that brings, unless the government urgently changes course and delivers the support families and businesses need. You can watch my question here>>

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Helen speaks in debate on planning reform

Our planning system has a vital role to play in tackling the housing crisis and addressing the climate and ecological emergency, but instead of seeing planning as a valuable toolkit for these critical challenges, the Tories see planning as red tape to be swept away as far as possible.  The Government has announced plans which amount to a devastating overhaul of our current planning system. These proposals would end the democratic voice of residents in decisions on planning applications, whilst extending the range of building that can take place without any planning permission at all, allowing developers to turn offices and shops into cramped, substandard housing.

Across Dulwich and West Norwood, there is an urgent need for high quality and genuinely affordable social housing. This can only be delivered through a planning system which establishes an ambitious vision for our country, sets high standard for design and environmental performance, and protects the buildings and spaces which local people value. Here is my speech from last week’s debate on planning in Parliament >>


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Helen calls on the Prime Minister to fix the delays in processing EWS1 certificates

For three years since the terrible tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire, the Tories’ approach to building safety has been shambolic.  Over the past year, I have been contacted by many constituents trapped in limbo, facing financial difficulty and unable to sell their home because mortgage companies now require a certificate, known as an EWS1 form, as a condition of lending on buildings which have external cladding. 

The problem comes because it is almost impossible to obtain an EWS1 certificate at present for the vast majority of buildings, resulting in many flats in buildings with cladding being un-sellable.  It is essential that the Government makes sure that every home is safe, but the current system isn’t doing that either.

The Government must act to stop this scandal which is causing misery for hundreds of thousands of people across the country. You can watch my question to the Prime Minister here>>

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Statement on Permitted Development Rights expansion

Our planning system is critical for delivering on some of the most important challenges we face.  The urgent need for new homes to address the housing crisis and the urgent need to tackle the climate and ecological emergency, decarbonise our economy and protect and enrich our natural environment.

To meet these challenges, we must have a planning system that establishes a strong vision, sets high standards for design and environmental performance, gives strong protections to the buildings, spaces and landscapes which people value, and actively supports the involvement and engagement of a diverse range of voices in decision-making.

Yet the Tories are not concerned with reforming the planning system so that it can address these urgent challenges.  They are applying the usual natural Tory instinct to deregulate, regarding the planning system as red tape to be cut through, rather than as a valuable toolkit which must be further improved to secure genuinely progressive, sustainable planning outcomes, particularly in terms of the provision of new genuinely affordable homes to rent and to buy.

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Statement on Internal Market Bill (2019-2021)

Over the past few weeks I have been contacted by many constituents who are deeply concerned about the implications of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill.

This Bill is hugely damaging to the UK.  It undermines the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, signed by Boris Johnson just a few months ago, it reopens the discussions about the Northern Ireland Protocol which had previously been settled, and it breaches international law, gravely damaging our global reputation as a law-abiding nation.

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Fill in the Blanks

It was a huge pleasure to introduce the amazing Fill in the Blanks campaign team to the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Kate Green MP.

Fill in the Blanks are an inspirational group of young people from south London campaigning for reform of the history curriculum, so that every child in UK schools is taught migration, colonialism and the transatlantic slave trade.

We had a great discussion on the vital important of history curriculum reforms, and I will be continuing to work with Fill in the Blanks to support their work. Fill in the Blanks started their campaign while they were on the Advocacy Academy fellowship. I am proud to be the patron of the Advocacy Academy which trains and mentors young people from south London to work for social justice.

You can find out more about their vital work and how to support them or (if you are a young person currently in year 11 or 12) how to get involved here: https://www.theadvocacyacademy.com/

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Helen supports #DontZapTheZip

At the start of the lockdown in March, when people were told to stay at home, Transport for London saw drop of 90% in its income from fares and charges. Instead of working with TfL and the Mayor of London to protect London transport, the Tories want to force TfL to scrap free travel for under 18s as part of a package of harmful conditions attached to emergency funding.

This will mean thousands of families having to pay an extra £15 a week for each child who catches the bus to school.

At a time when so many families are hard pressed and food poverty is increasing, this is entirely unacceptable and for the poorest families it will undoubtedly lead to some children missing out on time at school. I support the Child Poverty Action Group’s #DontZapTheZip campaign and calling on the Government to reverse this damaging decision. 
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Statement on the Overseas Operation Bill (2019-21)

I have been contacted by many constituents who are deeply concerned about the Government’s Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill.

The government says that the Overseas Operations Bill has been introduced to address the issue of prosecution of former members of the armed forces in relation to events which took place whilst on service overseas, many years after the period of service.  There is certainly some evidence that this is an issue which needs to be addressed.  However, the Bill as currently drafted does not deal with the core objective effectively, and introduces a range of measures which are deeply concerning.  This is an appalling piece of legislation which is deeply flawed.

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Helen calls on the Prime Minister to protect BAME people through a second wave

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced new restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus. I am proud to represent one of the most diverse constituencies in the country.

The disproportionate impact of coronavirus on black, Asian and minority ethnic residents has been one of the most shocking aspects of the pandemic and the government was warned multiple times that they needed to take immediate action to stop preventable deaths.

I challenged the Prime Minister on the intervention this weekend by the Chair of the British Medical Association who said that the government’s inaction will be lead to more preventable deaths over the coming months >>

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