Energy and Climate Change
Last week I was in court following on from my arrest at Balcombe last summer for peacefully protesting against fracking. I issued this statement ahead of the trial and this one at the end of the week.
The case was an opportunity to focus on the impact that fracking will have on climate change and make the case for alternatives. So during the week I also submitted an objection to the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s consultation on the environmental report for further onshore oil and gas licensing – arguing that shale gas and oil extraction should not be licensed, but if the Government was to go ahead it must be in accordance with the strictest licensing conditions.
And I tabled a new Early Day Motion about the importance of community energy in Sussex, in part to encourage support for the amazing Repower Balcombe, launched by local residents in a bid to supply the equivalent of 100% of Balcombe’s electricity demand through community owned, locally generated renewable energy.
Ending Domestic Abuse
A report out last week from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate and Constabulary found that survivors of domestic abuse are regularly let down by the police. I used the opportunity to contact the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner and Brighton & Hove’s Police Commander to urge them to sign up to a new Survivors Charter. This has been written with Womens Aid as part of a parliamentary inquiry into women’s access to justice. I am the first MP, whilst Brighton and Hove’s Rise and Survivors’ Network are amongst the first organisations, to sign the Charter, which aims to ensure that women and children know what to expect from the justice system as a minimum.
Concerned by reports that prisoners’ access to books is being restricted – apparently on security grounds – I’ve added my name to this petition and written to the Justice Secretary to object.
As the first gay marriages took place in our city over the weekend, I hadthis piece published in Pink News, paying tribute to all who had campaigned for such a historic win whilst also setting out why I think we still have a way to go for LGBTI equality.
Earlier this month I urged the Government to prioritise women's social and political participation in fragile states via the UN Commission on the Status of Women. So I was pleased by the outcome of the Commission, which includes calls for a stand-alone goal on gender equality and women’s rights.
Some of our local teachers were on strike over pay, conditions and pensions. I sent a message of solidarity to be read out at a rally at the Brighthelm Centre. I also published this blog.
I’ve also responded to constituents concerned about the teaching of creationism and pseudo science in free schools, and in breach of Department of Education guidelines about the teaching of evolution. There’s a worrying lack of oversight in our fragmented education system and I’ve repeated my call for schools that get tax payers money or any kind of Department of Education endorsement to be properly accountable.
I’ve been invited to be on a panel discussing our education system – it will take place at the Sallis Benney theatre on 23rd April and details are here.
Welfare and Cost of Living
Parliament finally got written confirmation of the leaked news that Atos will no longer be in charge of work capability assessments. What’s not clear is whether Atos are going to clear the vast backlog of cases before they hand over, or whether the new private contractor will take them on. And what will the Government to do ensure nobody is left months without financial assistance under the new contract? I’ll be asking the Minister if he has a plan and whether my constituents will be fairly treated in future.
MPs voted this week on the budget and I took the opportunity to oppose the Coalition on bankers bonuses. I also condemned all those MPs that voted for a welfare cap. I know from my surgeries, including one on Friday, that the imposition of an arbitrary cap is cruel and is causing needless suffering and hardship. All of us need help at some point in our lives, and I’ll continue to stand up for a social welfare system based on meeting people’s needs.
My mail bag was full of emails and letters from Brighton’s animal lovers last week. Thanks to all those who lobbied me about the rumoured vote on the Hunting Act. This blog sets out my position and my determination to strengthen the legislation, rather than weaken it as the Prime Minister proposes.
I also had lots of emails about a new parliamentary Bill to tackle puppy trafficking. I fully back the Bill and agree that introducing fixed penalty notices for illegal traders would go some way to ending the suffering so many puppies endure as a result of this trade.
I also support the RSPCA's call for changes to be made to border enforcement of the PETS scheme, so that there is a more robust way to defend against exploitation. And last week I wrote to Brighton and Hove Council to call on them to join the campaign for a change to licensing conditions on pet shops in order to ban the sale of puppies when the mother is not present. You can add your voice to the campaign by signing this petition.
Many of you lobbied me about the Government’s ongoing failure to stop the use of wild animals by circuses too. I will be part of a delegation delivering a letter to the Prime Minister nextmonth, demanding that he ensure the ban is brought in swiftly.
I was shocked to hear that bus services in the city are going to rise by 4% and have asked the head of Brighton and Hove buses for a meeting. I’ve also reiterated my call for the buses to be brought back into public ownership.
I’ve been in touch with local businesses this week about the forthcoming EDL March and ways to minimise disruption and violence for the city. I’ve been speaking to the police too and will continue to do what I can to ensure the lessons from previous years are learnt – as well as to signal to EDL that they are not welcome in our city.
If you are a local resident and want help with case work or to find out more about my activities locally please contact me at the office of Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Media Centre 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL. Tel: 01273 201 130. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hold regular surgeries across the constituency. If you want to book an appointment at a forthcoming surgery please call Liz Collis on 01273 201130. She coordinates my constituency office and is able to help with most local enquiries.
If you want to know about my parliamentary work please get in touch at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA. Tel: 020 7219 7025. Email: email@example.com