Voting for peace in Israel and Palestine
I voted in the House of Commons on 15th November on amendments to the King’s Speech that addressed the concerning situation in Israel and Gaza. You can read the full text of Labour’s amendment below.
The recent events and conflict in Israel and Palestine are horrifying and have a backdrop going back centuries. Hamas’ barbaric terrorist attack on 7th October killed the highest number of Jews in a single day since the Holocaust. Over 200 Israelis are still being held hostage somewhere by Hamas. More than ten thousand people in Gaza have been killed, including thousands of children. Gaza’s people are in the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe on an unimaginable scale.
All of this death and destruction is devastating. That is why, I voted for an end to the violence and for humanitarian pauses as a necessary step towards an enduring cessation of fighting as soon as possible.
The Renters Reform Bill returned to the Commons
After four years of the government dragging its feet, I welcomed the long-awaited Second Reading of the Renters Reform Bill in late October. Many people from Bristol have written to me about how they have been affected by the rental crisis. Labour supports fundamental reform of the private rented sector and has called for this for many years.
I am disappointed that the Bill doesn’t go far enough. The new grounds for and protections from evictions are a welcome step, but the details remain vague. The most glaring gap is the delay in a ban to no-fault evictions. I was disappointed that Rishi Sunak has suggested that the promised ban on Section 21 eviction will be delayed until reforms to the judicial system are completed.
Despite its faults and gaps, the Renters (Reform) Bill is an important step forward, supporting renters facing the cost-of-living crisis, so Labour will engage constructively throughout its remaining stages.
Work on plans for a Citizens Assembly on Culture for the West Country
Recently, I met representatives from some of Bristol’s most treasured cultural institutions – Emma Harvey from Trinity Arts Centre, LaToyah Jackson from St Paul’s Carnival and David Jubbs from Citizens in Power.
We had a wonderful discussion about their plans to develop a to develop a Citizens Assembly for Culture for the West region. They will be working with WECA (West of England Combined Authority) to launch the Assembly in 2024. They informed me about the in-depth research, engagement with cultural and community stakeholders they have done to inform how the Assembly will work.
One of my roles as the next Culture Secretary under a Labour government will be to pose the question – where are the women, the people of colour and working class people. A Citizens Assembly will be a great way to hear diverse views on how we tackle structural inequalities and make all kinds of culture genuinely accessible to everyone.
I look forward to the launch next year.