This week was the last week before Parliament is prorogued for the next Parliamentary session. Because most legislation that has not reached a certain stage ‘falls’ at prorogation, the Government has been hastily pushing through some of its most controversial Bills so that they can become law.  The result has been lots of late nights for me, but very little proper scrutiny or time for debate on some fundamentally important issues. Here is a summary of what has happened this week.

The Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill

Unfortunately it is not good news on this awful Bill

Labour Lords and MPs tried our best to curb this anti-democracy Bill’s worst excesses but to no avail. The Lords agreed amendments to prevent people being criminalised for peaceful protests that the police decide are “too noisy”, but three times the Government disagreed and overturned these amendments. Labour supported them, because we want to defend peaceful protests and the right for people to go about their business. We were defeated.

This Bill fails to take sufficient action to tackle the epidemic of violence against women and girls, and instead targets peaceful protests and even potentially criminalises people for singing too loudly in the street.

It is a disgraceful piece of legislation, I continued to oppose it to the final stages, but it has now been finally passed and will become law.

Health and Care Bill

It was not good news on this Bill either.

In the final stages of the Bill, I joined Labour MPs in opposing the Government on two issues: the healthcare workforce and a cap on social care costs.

Unfortunately the Government voted both of them down.

The Lords’ proposals were sensible and proportionate. They would have stopped the Government from burying its head in the sand over the workforce crisis in health and social care, prevent national politics from influencing local service changes and stop the ‘dementia tax’ which will see working-class people pay more to protect the assets of the wealthiest.

The last Labour government reduced waiting times from 18 months to 18 weeks. The next Labour government will secure the future of our NHS, providing the staff, equipment and technology it needs to treat patients on time.

Labour doesn’t just want to ‘fix the crisis in social care’ which a decade of Tory governments have created – we will transform it with a ten-year plan for investment and reform.

Elections Bill

I’m sorry to tell you that despite the best efforts of Labour peers to change it the Bill has now passed all stages in the Commons and will soon become law.

We supported two Lords Amendments that would have made this bad bill slightly improved. One would have protected the independence of Electoral Commission, and the other would have expanded the eligible forms of Voter ID that would have made it much more accessible.

Disgracefully, the Government voted down both changes.

On a more positive note, thanks to the hard campaigning efforts of the TUC, Trade Unions, Labour Lords and Labour Party MPs, we won major concessions before the Bill came back to us on the joint campaigning element of the Bill. Those provisions would have meant that spending by one entity in a joint campaign had to be counted by all entities, which made no sense at all. Fortunately they have been defeated by the Bill.

I was on the elections bill committee and proposed many amendments to try to stop the worst parts of this bill, but these were blocked all the way. I’m so glad that the Lords have opposed so many issues, including vote ID, but it is ironic that the main changes to the elections bill has been the unelected experts in the House of Lords.

The Elections Bill is a backwards Trumpian attempt to rig democracy in favour of the Conservative Party. It will reverse decades of democratic progress in the UK.

Kept Animals Bill

I end on some better news. The Kept Animals Bill passed its carry-on motion this week, which means it will survive prorogation and will continue its journey in the next session. This is good news, as the passing of this bill will help to improve the lives of animals dramatically. The Bill would specifically prohibit the export of animals or slaughter or fattening for future slaughter, make it a criminal offence to own primates as pets, and would outlaw the import of dogs with “cropped” ears.I support a vision where no animal is made to suffer unnecessary pain and degradation and where we continue to drive up standards and practice in line with the most recent advances and understanding.

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