In July I visited Sydenham School and saw the work they have been doing on the ‘Send My Friend to School' campaign. The campaign is part of the UK coalition of the ‘Global Campaign for Education’ (GCE) an organisation working to ensure quality education for all children across the globe. The students of Sydenham School were absolutely fantastic and spoke with great passion about the need for global education.
There is currently a global education crisis: 263 million children are out of school, and many of those who are in school are not learning. One of the aims of the 'Sustainable Development Goals' (an initiative led by the United Nations which world leaders have signed up to) is that by 2030 all children worldwide will complete a free good quality primary & secondary education. However, at the current rate of progress it will be 2084 before every child is in school.
As such the ‘Send My Friend to School’ campaign seeks to increase community awareness of this and generate the political will necessary to ensure the UK plays an active part in efforts to secure education for all. I met with Priti Patel the Secretary of State for International Development to present Sydenham Schools work to her. This is a great example of how students work in the classroom can take an active part in politics by helping to influence decision makers.
I spoke in todays 'Questions to the Secretary of State for Justice'. Firstly I asked what compensation the Government is thinking about offering to those who were unable to access justice due to Employment Tribunal Fees.
Employment Tribunal Fees were introduced by the Government in 2013. Prior to this, it was free to submit a claim to the Tribunal and to go to a hearing. However, after the introduction of fees it could cost up to £1,200 just to have your case heard. Unsurprisingly after this Employment Tribunal claims reduced by 79%. Furthermore these fees indirectly discriminated against women, who were more likely than men to suffer discrimination at work.
Fees were declared unlawful by the Supreme Court in July 2017. In response the Government have stated that they will end Employment Tribunal Fees immediately and make steps to compensate those who have already paid them. But for thousands of workers who had good claims and could not afford to pursue them, the decision comes too late.
My second question concerned what the Government intends to do to ensure that the sentencing guidelines of people who commit animal welfare crimes are reviewed and strengthened. Currently the maximum sentence for a crime is six months, which is completely unacceptable, compare this to the maximum sentence of five years in Northern Ireland.