Karen Buck MP

Working tirelessly for Westminster North

Karen Buck MP

Recent Activity

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I appreciate that a number of organisations and campaigns, including the 'Don't Spy on Us' coalition, have expressed a range concerns over this Bill.

I have long supported in principle the aim of delivering an up-to-date and comprehensive legal framework to enable the police and security services to have the powers they need in the digital age to prevent and investigate serious crime. However, I have also consistently believed that strong powers must be balanced with strong safeguards to protect privacy and long-held liberties. It is clear however that huge changes in technology have left our laws governing investigatory powers outdated, and the Snowden revelations also highlighted that a clearer legal basis, greater transparency and more tightly drawn definitions of all powers and capabilities are also needed.

Keir Starmer MP, who leads for Labour on this issue in Parliament, led a campaign to get a number of concessions from the government during the Commons stages. You can read his argument for modifying the bill here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/15/investigatory-powers-bill-labour-law?CMP=share_btn_fb#_=_

In addition, I am a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, and we produced a report on the Bill two weeks ago. You can read this on the JCHR webpage or here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201617/jtselect/jtrights/104/10402.htm

Some of the key changes to the Bill included:

*             the introduction of a new overarching privacy requirement, ensuring privacy is at the heart of the Bill;

*             a requirement for Judicial Commissioners to scrutinise the decision to issue a warrant, not just the process;

*             an agreement that NHS records should only be accessed in very exceptional circumstances;

*             and a commitment to introduce further safeguards for journalists and lawyers.

I accept that the bulk powers in the Bill are very wide and given the breadth of these powers, I completely accept that the way that government agencies will operate in putting them into effect needs to be properly supervised  and reviewed. I am pleased, therefore, that the Government has also accepted our calls for an independent review of the bulk powers, and has confirmed that this will be led by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC. 

It is also welcome that the Government has committed to working with my Labour colleagues to find an appropriate threshold for accessing communications data and internet communication records (ICRs), ensuring they can only be used when investigating serious crimes.

I accept that the Bill is not perfect and needs further changes, but also that not to have supported it overall earlier this month would have denied us these additional safeguards and left us with much weaker legislation. I believe we are now significantly closer to having a balanced, modern, world-leading framework for the use of investigatory powers that the country needs in the digital age.

Investigatory Powers Bill

I appreciate that a number of organisations and campaigns, including the 'Don't Spy on Us' coalition, have expressed a range concerns over this Bill. I have long supported in principle...

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I share the concerns of many constituents about the government’s plans to move The Land Registry into the private sector - and am pleased to confirm that I was a joint signatory to the letter published  recently in the Guardian :

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/03/scores-of-mps-demand-land-registry-privatisation-be-called-off

As you may be aware, the Government announced its plans during the Autumn Statement in November 2015, as part of its wider aim of securing £5 billion of corporate and financial asset sales by 2020. The Government recently consulted on these proposals and is currently analysing the feedback received. In 2014, the Coalition Government consulted on very similar proposals but abandoned its plans. Only 5% of respondents to the Coalition Government's consultation thought that privatisation would boost efficiency and effectiveness. Despite deciding against privatisation only two years ago, the current Government is again planning to sell off the Land Registry.

I appreciate there are widely held concerns about the Government's proposals - from across the House of Commons, from the Public and Commercial Services Union and also from the Competition and Markets Authority and the former Chief Registrar at the Land Registry. I am also aware that over 301,000 people have signed a 38 Degrees petition calling for the Government to drop its plans for selling off the Land Registry. This clearly shows the strength of opposition to the Government's proposals. In addition, 65 MPs from across the House have signed a letter calling on the Government to drop its plans.

I strongly oppose the sell-off of the Land Registry. I believe that privatisation is unnecessary, un-evidenced and unwanted. I am also concerned that this short-term privatisation will have long-term consequences. For example, I believe it could undermine confidence in Land Registry data, jeopardise its independence from commercial interests, and erode pay, terms and conditions for Land Registry staff. In addition, I believe privatisation will undermine the trust of homeowners, mortgage lenders and solicitors, and put at risk the essential neutrality, quality and transparency that the Land Registry offers. Privatisation would result in charges for property data and a new private monopoly that will only drive up costs for consumers.

Integrity, impartiality and accountability are all at risk of being overridden by profit. I am also very concerned by reports that the companies considering bidding for the Land Registry have links to offshore tax havens.

Land Registry is a well-run organisation which regularly receives a customer satisfaction rate of well over 90%. It provides an important public service and returns millions of pounds in profits to taxpayers. Indeed, the Land Registry has made a surplus in 19 of the last 20 years, and it paid back £120 million to the public purse last year. The proposed sell-off is therefore a short-termist measure that will hit public finances in the long term.

I hope that the Government will listen to the concerns that have been raised about its proposals. My colleague, the Shadow Housing Minister, has pledged to oppose the privatisation when it is brought forward as part of the Government's Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill.

I will follow this issue closely and continue wherever possible to oppose the Government's plans.

My response to Land Registry privatisation

I share the concerns of many constituents about the government’s plans to move The Land Registry into the private sector - and am pleased to confirm that I was a...

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I know from the emails that I have received on this issue that many people, pharmacists and patients alike,are concerned by the Government's plans to cut pharmacy funding by £170 million. I also appreciate the concerns have been raised by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Pharmacy Voice and the National Pharmacy Association about the impact of the Government's cuts on the quality, safety and access to care for patients. I share these concerns and am pleased that my colleagues in the Shadow Health Team have spoken out against these cuts and are calling for a more integrated approach to primary care funding. 

Pharmacies play a crucial role in our community. They have a significant impact on patient care and provide an essential service in dispensing both medication and the essential information and advice that can prevent people from having to visit their GP for common health problems. The Government say that pharmacies should take on more responsibility, in order to relieve pressure from other services. However, at the same time the Government is cutting funding for pharmacies. It is concerning that a recent YouGov survey has found that more than one in four people who would normally seek advice from their community pharmacy would visit their GP instead if the pharmacy was closed, thereby piling additional pressure onto already overstretched GP services.

The Government's plans are therefore contradictory and introducing cuts on this scale to community pharmacy services will not improve primary care outcomes. I am concerned that pharmacies will find it harder to provide the safe, good-quality services we all want to see. Indeed, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has warned that the proposed cuts will have a substantial impact on pharmacy business owners, their employees, and locums.

I know that many pharmacists and patients are concerned by the Government's plans. This was demonstrated by a petition presented to 10 Downing Street on 24 May 2016 and signed by more than 1.7 million people in support of local pharmacies. A further petition to Parliament, which calls on the Government to stop its cuts to pharmacy funding, has been signed by over 63,000 people. If this petition receives 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for a debate in Parliament.

The Government has consulted with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee and other stakeholders on its proposals, and the public phase of the consultation ended on 24 May 2016. I hope that the Government will listen carefully to the concerns that have been raised by organisations such as RPS, Pharmacy Voice and the National Pharmacy Association and also the large number of people who have signed petitions against the Government's proposals, before announcing its final decisions. The Government expects to publish its final decisions in July 2016 and I will follow this closely.

The NHS is under enormous pressure and I am very concerned that the only way the Government will achieve its planned £22 billion worth of efficiency savings in the NHS will be by cutting staff, cutting pay and closing essential services such as community pharmacies. I believe that a different, co-ordinated approach to planning and investment is needed across primary care to ensure that patients get the most out of the NHS and pharmacies. 

My view regarding the Government's proposals to cut pharmacy funding by £170 million

I know from the emails that I have received on this issue that many people, pharmacists and patients alike,are concerned by the Government's plans to cut pharmacy funding by £170...


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