Karen Buck MP

Working tirelessly for Westminster North

Karen Buck MP

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Best wishes for a very happy Eid

Karen Buck MP

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Eid Mubarak 2016

Best wishes for a very happy Eid Karen Buck MP    

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Voters in Westminster declared an overwhelming preference for remaining in the EU in the recent referendum, and as someone who campaigned for ‘Remain’ I was saddened and disappointed by the outcome. Britain’s place is in Europe however imperfect its institutions. I fear the damage Brexit will inflict on the economy and on London.  I am angry at the ugly and deceitful nature of aspects of the ‘Leave’ campaign - from the infamous UKIP poster to the promise (now dropped) that leaving would free up £350m a week for the NHS.  On top of this, like others, I am sickened by the reports of xenophobic abuse and worse that have occurred in recent weeks.

It is obvious that ‘Leave’ campaigners had no proper plan and that the alternatives (and their costs) were not properly set out before the public. Membership of the EEA may offer the trading options we would prefer but this would almost invariably come with conditions, including free movement, which proved unpalatable to many voters. No perfect option exists. Meanwhile, uncertainty has already hit investment and the value of the pound and there are clear signs of economic slowdown.

I am afraid it may not be clear for a while exactly how we can secure the best outcome. However, there are some key points that can be made now:

  • The position of European nationals living in the UK must be guaranteed. People’s lives, jobs and families cannot be left in limbo. I’ve raised this in Parliament and was pleased that our Parliamentary motion forced the government to withdraw their opposition, even though this is not legally binding.
  • There must be zero-tolerance of racial abuse and harassment. The Mayor of London has taken the strongest possible stand on this, but we can all play our part.
  • The British people should have another say- but it would be wrong to ‘re-run’ the referendum. I understand why there are calls for an early 2nd referendum but I am deeply cautious. There may well be some signs of ‘buyer’s remorse’ but could anyone really predict the outcome of a re-run? Anyway, we simply cannot just dismiss the verdict of voters in such a huge democratic exercise, nor the fears and the sense of cultural and economic alienation apparent in parts of our country. We have to take forward the debate about our future relationship with Europe (for there will be one) in a way that listens to the genuine concerns of the voters in the majority of constituencies across the country who opted for ‘Leave’. We must try to build a new consensus.

Meanwhile, there are decisions to be made, such as when the Government invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - the process which, once triggered, makes Brexit a matter of law.  The assumption must be that once the Article 50 notification is given, the UK will be out of the EU in two years or less, with all that implies for trading and other arrangements that have to be renegotiated.  Parliament has a huge role to play in this and there should be a vote in Parliament before Article 50 is triggered. Parliament must be involved - across parties and with representation from both ‘Leave/Remain’ sides - to oversee the options and negotiating strategy for the next stage. I don’t want to see Article 50 invoked before Parliament has agreed what the future arrangements will be. We now need time to do the planning which the ‘Leave’ campaign so scandalously failed to do. There should be a further opportunity for the public to have a say on the proposed new relationship with Europe, whether at an election or via a referendum. None of this is going be easy but this is now the challenge and we will rise to it.

At the end of this letter I have drafted a survey to get a broader view on thoughts and priorities. If you could help me by completing it, I would be very grateful.

Kind regards

Karen

It would be very helpful to have your thoughts and responses to my survey below: 

 

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WYN2YH7

 

My response to the referendum

Voters in Westminster declared an overwhelming preference for remaining in the EU in the recent referendum, and as someone who campaigned for ‘Remain’ I was saddened and disappointed by the...

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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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