Reflection on the attack at Westminster

YEP_230317.jpgThese were my comments on the attack at Westminster at 6pm on Wednesday 22nd March, which I wrote whilst in the Commons Chamber.

"At this stage, the circumstances are unclear and the facts are still emerging but our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of those who have died or been injured in this brutal, senseless and unforgiveable attack and those who have been traumatised by witnessing it. Our police and security services have yet again demonstrated their dedication and bravery in the face of danger. Our emergency services have yet again demonstrated their skill and compassion and showed how indispensable they are. The full picture is not yet clear but what is clear is that democracy endures and prevails over these sickening attacks on it."

You can also read my comments and those of other Leeds MPs published in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Leeds MP: 'Democracy endures and prevails over these sickening attacks on it'

 

 

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Speech on the Prisons and Courts Bill

SJT_RB_PCB_2Rg2400x300.pngOn 20th March I spoke in the Commons at the Second Reading of the Prisons and Courts Bill.

In it I set out how the bill comes at a time of crisis both in the prison service and in our courts and tribunals and that while there was much to support in the bill, it should have done much more.

That is why I set out how our prisons are suffering from overcrowding, violence and a failure to reform, whilst our courts have been hit by a cocktail of closures, legal aid cuts and tribunal fees and that that was the backdrop to the bill, which its content fails to address. 

Labour will be pursuing amendments at the Committee Stage to improve the Bill.

READ my contribution here

WATCH my contribution here

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Voting for Article 50

I have previously let my constituents know how I would vote in Parliament tonight. But I'm writing this for constituents in East Leeds who missed my previous statements and so may be still wondering how I voted in Parliament tonight on Article 50.

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Standing up for access to justice

A2J_400.pngOn 11th January, I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on Access to Justice, where I set out my concerns on the impact of Conservative Government policies of court closures, inflated court fees and reduced access to legal aid.

In the discussion, I said,

It is almost a year to the day since the publication of the annual report to Parliament from the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, in which he said:

“Our system of justice has become unaffordable to most.”

That is as clear and authoritative a judgment on the state of access to justice as could be hoped for. The reasons for that assessment are clear: employment tribunal fees, LASPO—the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012—and “Transforming Legal Aid”.

WATCH my speech here

READ my speech here 

 

 

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Debate on the Prison Service

RB_Prisons_250117b400x300.pngOn Wednesday 25th January I opened a three hour debate on the state of our prisons.

In my contribution I set out how Conservative Government cuts to the prison service had resulted in a significant reduction over 6,000 prison officers - a quarter of those working in the service in 2010 - resulting in restricted regimes, increased prison violence, and poor rehabilitation and reoffending results.

In concluding, I said,

'we need to be tough on crime, wherever it is found, and we need to protect the public. At the same time, we need to make prisons places where effective rehabilitation is a living, breathing reality. We want people to leave prison and become productive members of society, having left crime behind. At present, when it comes to the Prison Service, as in relation to so much else, this Government are failing. They are failing prison staff, they are failing prison inmates and their families, and they are failing the public. Ultimately, the mess this Government are making of our prison system means they are failing society. I commend the motion to the House.'

WATCH my speech here

READ my speech here

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Asking questions on Birmingham prison riot

RB_HMP_Birm_191216.pngAfter the twelve hour riot at HM Prison Birmingham on 16th December, I put a number of questions to Justice Secretary Liz Truss during a statement on Monday 19th December.

WATCH the speech here

READ the speech with the rest of the debate here, or below

I thank the Secretary of State for giving me advance sight of her statement. I want to pay tribute to the tornado teams, the prison officers and the emergency services, but the Secretary of State has a prisons crisis on her hands, and it would be helpful if she finally admitted this to the House and to the country. The riot at the privately run Birmingham prison on Friday has been described as

“probably the most serious riot in a B Category prison since Strangeways”,

which was back in 1990.

 

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Speaking up for domestic abuse victims in family law courts

RB_BBCD_150916_400x300.pngToday as Shadow Justice Secretary, I spoke in a vital debate on the experience of domestic abuse victims in the family law courts.

The debate focused on the Women's Aid report 'Nineteen Child Homicides' which launched their 'Child First' campaign, the aim of which is to 'put the safety of children where it belongs - at the heart all of all decisions being made in the family courts.'

The debate was heard from the gallery by Claire Throssell, a spokesperson for the Women's Aid 'Child First' campaign, whose children were killed by their estranged father in 2014.

The motion called on the Government to review the treatment and experiences of victims of domestic abuse in Family Law Courts.

WATCH MY CONTRIBUTION HERE

READ ABOUT THE WOMEN'S AID CHILD FIRST CAMPAIGN

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Justice Questions: Defending the Human Rights Act

There is a crisis in our prisons, in probation, in our courts and across the justice system and at Justice Questions in Parliament on September 6th, the new Justice Secretary Liz Truss had no new solutions.

I took the opportunity to defend Labour's Human Rights Act and to challenge the Justice Secretary on the Conservatives so-called Bill of Rights, on funding for victims' charities and the financial barriers facing people from ordinary backgrounds who want to get a job in law.

READ MY CONTRIBUTIONS HERE

WATCH MY CONTRIBUTIONS HERE, ON:

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Opposing courts and tribunal fees

RB_Court_and_Tribunal_Fees_400x300.pngParliament debated the Justice Select Committee report on Courts and tribunal fees on Monday 4th March, where I spoke as Shadow Justice Secretary for the first time in the Chamber.

In the speech I said the following:

'Many of us know of this from our own experience as MPs, with our constituency advice sessions overflowing with people who do not know where to turn when they cannot access or afford legal advice or legal representation. Legal aid has been attacked, employment tribunal fees have been introduced, and fees are being increased in divorce proceedings and in immigration and asylum cases.'

I also concluded in explaining why, despite the vote being to allocate the Ministry of Justice its Budget, we were voting against the Government, when I said:

'Many of us know of this from our own experience as MPs, with our constituency advice sessions overflowing with people who do not know where to turn when they cannot access or afford legal advice or legal representation. Legal aid has been attacked, employment tribunal fees have been introduced, and fees are being increased in divorce proceedings and in immigration and asylum cases.'

 

READ my contribution here

WATCH my contribution here

 

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Shadow Justice Secretary - reforming the law on homicide

RB_Reform_Homicide_Law_400.pngOn Monday 27th June I was appointed Shadow Justice Secretary.

I made it my priority to get on with the job in hand and I made my first speech in this role on Thursday 30th June, addressing a Westminster Hall debate on 'Reforming the law on homicide'.

WATCH the speech here

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