Parliament returned this week and began with the Queen’s Speech, which sets out the Government’s legislative agenda for the next parliamentary session. It was delivered by Prince Charles this year who announced the Government’s plans for 38 new bills. Sadly many of them are just headlines with no detail – like levelling up. I spoke in the Queen’s Speech and highlighted the real poverty in Hackney, which levelling up does not address. Hackney is the seventh most deprived borough but is only in the ‘priority two’ group in the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.

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The Government unveiled a number of bills at this year's Queen Speech aimed at 'levelling up' the country. However, levelling up must include inner city boroughs like ours. Hackney is the seventh most deprived local authority area in the country, but the Government is choosing to prioritise more affluent areas in its levelling up agenda. 

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Valerie’s law is a proposal named after a constituent, Valerie Forde, who was brutally murdered with her 23-month-old daughter, Jah-zara, by her ex-partner. Valerie’s law would mandate specialist cultural competency training for police officers, relevant government agencies, and domestic violence safehouse staff so that black and minority ethnic women affected by domestic abuse are appropriately supported.

 

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The Prime Minister has been referred to the Privileges Committee of the House of Commons, which looks into allegations that MPs have misled Parliament. This is the first time a sitting Prime Minister has ever been referred to the committee. Even the Prime Minister’s own backbenchers were lining up to criticise him for his shameful behaviour partying during lockdown.
 

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The Home Secretary cannot answer basic questions about how much taxpayers' money will be spent on sending victims of war and persecution to Rwanda. 

These plans are shameful, unworkable, and will not break the business model of people traffickers and smugglers.

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The Prime Minister and Chancellor have both been fined by the police for partying during lockdown. It beggars belief that when we were unable to visit dying relatives or even spend Christmas with our loved ones there were boozy parties going on in the heart of Government. The Prime Minister has failed to own up to his own involvement in these events, preferring to deflect responsibility to others.
 

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The Government finally published the much-delayed Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) review, which you can read here. Large headline funding figures were briefed to accompany the publication of the report, but much of this is not new funding.

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From 6 April people with biometric residence cards, biometric residence permits, and frontier working permits will have to prove their status online to work or rent in the UK. From this date, physical copies of these documents will no longer be accepted. However, many people struggle to use the online system. It is typical of the Home Office to have set up a system that does not understand the interactions that people will have to have whilst proving their status.

 

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