Welcome to my weekly Parliamentary update. Below you will find a roundup of this past week’s Parliamentary business.
16 June 2023
On Thursday (15 June 2023), the House of Commons held a general debate on Pride Month.
Successive governments have made welcome legislative changes. The legacy of the 1997-2010 Labour Government on LGBT+ rights is, in my view, one of significant progress: repealing Section 28; the introduction of civil partnerships; laws to allow same-sex couples to adopt; allowing trans people to legally change their gender; and the introduction of the Equality Act that protects LGBT+ people from discrimination.
I support a full trans-inclusive ban on conversion therapy, strengthening and equalising the law so that anti-LGBT+ hate crimes are treated as aggravated offences, and modernising the progress of gender recognition to remove indignities while upholding the Equality Act, including its provision for single-sex spaces.
More widely, I support the appointment of an international LGBT+ rights envoy, a new deal for working people that will require employers to create and maintain workplaces free from LGBT+ harassment, and a fully costed plan to radically expand the NHS workforce, so that everyone, including LGBT+ people, can access the treatment they need on time.
Everyone deserves equality, dignity, and respect. Pride Month teaches us all that positive and enduring change for LGBT+ people is possible when governments have the bravery to deliver.
Fact check – asylum claims
On 5 June, the Home Secretary said “The asylum initial decision backlog is down by 17,000 and we are on track to abolish all legacy cases by the end of this year.”
In fact, it has gone up from 132,000 to 137,000 according to the official figures.
The Home Office has since clarified that the 17,000 figure refers to the backlog of initial decisions relating to asylum applications made before 28 June 2022, though this wasn’t made clear in the Home Secretary’s comments.
In my view we should be doing much more to crack down on the criminal gangs and speed up asylum decisions.
On Tuesday (13 June 2023), Labour secured an urgent question about turbulence in the mortgage market in recent days.
I am extremely worried that the UK’s homeowners are under increasing financial stress, with two-year fixed rates approaching 6%, products being withdrawn and the average mortgage holder facing an increase in payments of £2,300 this year.
I worry that this pressure has been multiplied by the irresponsible decisions taken by the Government last autumn in its mini-Budget. Since then, because inflation in the UK has been higher for longer than in many similar economies, the expectation is that interest rates will be higher for longer too, and that is what is driving up mortgage rates and piling on the pressure.
It is the British public who are paying the price for these decisions. We need a Government that will take responsibility and help hard-pressed homeowners.