November marked the centenary of women first standing in Parliament. I was the 275th female MP to be elected to Parliament in 2005.

The 209 Women in Parliament exhibition, currently on display in Portcullis House until February, showcases portraits of the 209 female MPs currently elected into Parliament. My photograph was taken by local Hackney Photographer Rut Blees Luxemburg at a bus stop in Hoxton.

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The House of Commons and the House of Lords have both appointed members to a joint Committee to scrutinise the Draft Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill. I am one of the 12 members of the Committee.

A major refurbishment of the Palace of Westminster is needed to protect and preserve the heritage of the Palace and to ensure it can continue to serve as home to the UK Parliament and provide a better service to the public.  The Bill provides the oversight to the Restoration and Renewal Programme and the Committee has been appointed to scrutinise it.

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Last week I spoke at a Guardian event on how we can protect the NHS from future cyberattacks, following the WannaCry attack in 2017. 

The event brought together health service leaders and influencers to consider how best to protect vital NHS systems and services. 

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Last week I visited Blue Hut Youth Centre to listen to young people in Hackney talk about their fears, worries and aspirations. 

A big concern of the young girls was youth violence and knife crime in London, they talked about how they want the Government to listen to younger generations and budget for more money to be spent on youth centres like Blue Hut. 

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Colleges in Hackney and their staff deserve better funding and fair pay so they can continue to support local people and the national economy.

This week I met with students from New City College, which now runs Hackney Community College, to talk about the Love Our Colleges campaign. The campaign highlights the vital importance of Further Education Colleges.

Cuts to further education funding have led to courses closing and a significant reduction of free learning hours for adult learners. Further education colleges cannot afford any more funding cuts.

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Over 40,000 Hackney residents are EU nationals.

I am concerned that following Brexit, the Home Office will not be able to manage the number of immigration applications from EU citizens, given that it is already overwhelmed.

I recently asked a question in question time to the Department for Exiting the European Union.  

See the Minister’s response here.

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As many of you are aware, Universal Credit has rolled out in Hackney this month and replaces six other benefits with a single monthly payment. However, the introduction of Universal Credit is causing unacceptable hardship and difficulties for many people in Hackney and across the UK.

If you live in Hackney and need any advice on what Universal Credit will mean for you, visit the Hackney Council website https://www.hackney.gov.uk/universal-credit for useful advice.

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Many people in Hackney rely on the London Overground service to commute to and from work. However, the London Overground service is frequently missing out stops in Hackney, in order to reduce delay times.  

I have raised this issue with Transport for London and asked them to state how they will address this problem. It is unfair that Hackney residents face long delays on a regular basis.

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Last week I asked the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) if it is prepared for Brexit.

Many businesses are not being informed on what they will need to do if we leave the EU. Defra acknowledged that it had sent out more detailed communications later than it should have.

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I recently hosted an event with Afruca, a charity set up to tackle the exploitation of children particularly from the African diaspora. This event focused on tackling modern slavery and human trafficking in Europe. We heard about progress to tackle modern slavery in Malta, India, Ghana and Nigeria. Afruca also used this event to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Anti-Trafficking Agency (NAPTIP). It is important that in Hackney we play a role in raising awareness of the issue of modern slavery. 

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