Sharon Hodgson MP

Working hard for Washington and Sunderland West.

Speeches by Sharon Hodgson MP

Consideration of Lords Message to the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill

Watch Sharon Hodgson MP's contribution by clicking this link here, or click on the picture above > Read more

This week, I secured a Westminster Hall debate on the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

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Watch my speech by clicking on the picture above, or on the link below:


Watch Sharon Hodgson MP's contribution here >

Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict - Westminster Hall Debate - 14-05-2024

This week, I secured a Westminster Hall debate on the Prevention of Sexual Violence in Conflict.Watch my speech by clicking on the picture above, or on the link below:Watch Sharon... Read more

I spoke in a debate Westminster Hall debate: "Countering Iran’s Hostile Activities", to highlight the threat that the IRGC (Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps) threat poses domestically and abroad, and to stress the need for the Government to proscribe it.

Watch my speech by clicking on this picture here below, or the link below it:

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Westminster Hall Debate, 8/5/24, proscribing the IRGC >


Read Sharon Hodgson's contribution in Hansard here >

3.05pm

Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Labour)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship today, Mr Henderson. I will start by congratulating my right hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge) and the right hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Sir Iain Duncan Smith) on securing this important debate. They both gave very powerful opening speeches.

Very often, when the case is made for why the IRGC must be proscribed, we focus on the havoc it has wreaked across the middle east in Gaza, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere. That is particularly understandable in light of the events of the last few months, as Gaza, Israel and southern Lebanon have become the scene of death and destruction, in large part due to Iran and its proxies. The case for proscribing the IRGC as a terror group is made plain by its support for terror groups across the middle east. However, it also poses a growing threat to us here in the UK, as we heard in the opening speeches—a threat that transforms proscription into an urgent policy need to undermine terrorist and extremist activity in our own country.

In recent years, the Iranian regime has increasingly exploited the free and open society we all seek to defend here in the UK in order to pursue its own ends. Matt Jukes, the head of counter-terror policing, has made it clear that no fewer than 15 Iranian plots to kill or kidnap people on British soil have been uncovered in just the past two years. Meanwhile, MI5 has reported that Iran’s “aggressive intelligence services”, including the IRGC, have

“ambitions to kidnap or even kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime.”

Again and again, the Foreign Secretary and his predecessors have made formal representations to the Iranian regime that that behaviour is unacceptable, but again and again, that has not worked, and the IRGC continues to operate in our country.

Last February, the opposition news network, Iran International, was temporarily forced to relocate its headquarters from London to Washington—that is not Washington in my constituency, just for clarity—in response to threats from the Iranian Government against journalists based in our country. Scotland Yard was shamefully forced to warn staff that it could not safeguard them from Tehran-backed assassins or kidnappers on UK soil. As recently as March this year, the Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati, who works for Iran International, was stabbed by three men on a residential street in Wimbledon.

Equally troubling is the fact that the IRGC and other Iranian agents are known to exercise soft power on behalf of the Iranian regime. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Barking mentioned, the Charity Commission has in recent years investigated the Islamic Centre of England in Maida Vale, giving it an official warning in 2022. That followed two events held at the charity’s premises in 2020 that eulogised Major General Qasem Soleimani, who was subject to UK sanctions, and that may have placed individuals present in breach of the Terrorism Act. We have also seen reports of IRGC commanders speaking to British students to encourage and incite antisemitic attacks. At least eight IRGC leaders have addressed British student audiences since early 2020. One commander who spoke said the holocaust was “fake”, boasted of training al-Qaeda terrorists and urged his audience to join

“the beautiful list of soldiers”

who would fight and kill Jews in the incoming apocalyptic war. Another IRGC commander invited to speak by the Islamic Students Association of Britain claimed Jews “created homosexuality” and that students should see themselves as “holy warriors”, promising that the “era of the Jews” would soon be at an end.

Just this year, a BBC report on the same organisation found that a former IRGC commander, Ezzatollah Zarghami, had spoken to students. He is reported to have previously

“boasted of training Hamas in Gaza prior to the 7 October attacks”,

and in an interview on Iranian state TV, he described how

“he had provided Hamas with missiles.”

Evidence of the IRGC’s support for terrorism across the middle east is abundant and undisputed. Indeed, it has been painfully clear since 7 October. Now we have growing evidence of the IRGC operating in our own country, under the Government’s nose and seemingly at will. Today, the IRGC is a source, supporter and funder of terrorism, not just in Gaza and Beirut but increasingly in our very own Wimbledon and Maida Vale. If the Government have a strategy intended to deter that activity, it is just not working. We have had years of the Government refusing to proscribe the IRGC for one reason or another. However, it is increasingly clear to everyone else what needs to happen.

If it looks like a terrorist organisation, acts like a terrorist organisation and operates like a terrorist organisation, it is hard to understand why the Government, in the words of the current Minister for Security, the right hon. Member for Tonbridge and Malling (Tom Tugendhat), on 23 March 2024—indeed, I think all Ministers use the same quote—

“do not routinely comment on whether an organisation is or is not being considered for proscription.”

Thankfully, we in the Labour party—I hope I hear this from my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Wayne David) on the Front Bench—are a Government in waiting and we stand ready to do what this Government seemingly will not do, which is to finally proscribe the IRGC.

3.12pm

End

Westminster Hall debate - Proscribing the IRGC - 08-05-2024

I spoke in a debate Westminster Hall debate: "Countering Iran’s Hostile Activities", to highlight the threat that the IRGC (Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps) threat poses domestically and abroad, and... Read more

On Tuesday the 7th of May, Sharon Hodgson spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on ‘Provision of Free School Meals’, which was organised by Sharon Hodgson MP, and School Food APPG member Munira Wilson MP.

> Click on this link here, or on the picture below, to watch Sharon Hodgson's speech in the Westminster Hall debate >

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Read Sharon Hodgson MP's contribution to the debate in Hansard here >

5.05pm

Mrs Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) (Labour)

It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Betts. I want to thank the hon. Member for Twickenham (Munira Wilson) for securing today’s debate and for her excellent opening speech setting the scene. The topic of school food—and specifically free school meals—has been an incredibly important one for me throughout my parliamentary career. In fact, I am chair of the all-party parliamentary group on school food, which I set up in 2010, and I am pleased to say that a number of colleagues here today are also very important members.

As we have heard, in the UK our devolved nations each have their own individual free school meal offers. In Scotland, all primary school children, regardless of family income, are eligible for free school meals and all secondary school students are subject to a means-tested offer. In Wales, all children who attend mainstream primary schools are eligible for a free school meal. In Northern Ireland there is no universal offer; however, the eligibility criteria for the means-tested offer includes families with an annual taxable income of up to £16,190 or net earnings of under £14,000 a year, which is almost twice as high as the same offer in England, and means that around 30% of the entire school population are eligible. The levels of poverty across the north-east, and indeed in other parts of England, are the same as in Northern Ireland, and yet such different levels of means-testing are used. That is just unfair.

In England, all children in reception, year 1 and year 2 currently receive a hot, healthy meal each day. Universal infant free school meals is a policy I am very proud of, having worked with Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent on the school food plan that helped convince them to put universal primary free school meals as one of their recommendations, which, as we heard, the former Deputy Prime Minister then enacted when they were in the coalition Government, which I think we are all very happy still exists to this day—the free school meals, not the coalition Government! However, from year 3 onwards, provision of free school meals is means-tested. Only children in households in England who receive universal credit and earn less than £7,400—excluding benefit payments—are eligible for free school meals. On that note, in today’s short speech I will focus on how we must change the policy in England. For too long, England has been the poor relation. It is just not good enough. We have the least generous offers around school food, and the highest rates of children in poverty who are ineligible for free school meals.

We must also think about the quality of the food that we are providing to our students. The school food standards are a fantastic set of regulations that provide guidance on the nutritional quality and variety of food that children should have access to at school. When they are followed correctly, the school meal offers are some of the best in the world, and I work with parliamentarians around the world, so I speak with some authority on this. However, sadly some schools struggle to do so, and they need support. In England there is no consistent assessment, monitoring or reporting of whether schools are meeting the standards for school food. There is no ring-fencing of funding, either. This means that the quality is very variable, with some children benefiting from nutritious, delicious food while others receive lower-quality meals.

We must discuss the structural issues surrounding provision that make delivering school meals unsustainable. For example, as has been talked about already, the funding per meal for universal infant free school meals is far too low. It is just £2.53 across most of England, despite the average meal cost exceeding this. The funding must be raised to £3 per meal to adequately cover the cost of the ingredients and the labour costs for school food. We all eat in restaurants; we know the prices have gone up. Schools are being asked to do an impossible thing at the moment. The rising cost of these meals and the dwindling funding means that, inevitably, quality is going to slip.

We need to revolutionise eligibility. I truly believe that the best school meal offer is a universal free school meal offer, as we have seen with the triumph of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s universal free school meal offer for primary school children in London. It seems popular as well—I think he won, didn’t he? But I understand that the road to a universal offer is a journey. That is why I am calling on the Government to, without delay, expand eligibility to all children whose parents and carers receive universal credit, so that we can begin to tackle the horrifying reality that, as we have heard, 900,000 children living in poverty are currently ineligible, according to the Child Poverty Action Group.

The next step on this road is to implement automatic enrolment as soon as possible. Local authorities like Sheffield are leading the way on this already, and prove it works. Every eligible child should be eligible from day one. This is not an expensive change. The Government already know exactly who is eligible and who is not, so families should not need to apply. It needs to be automatic from when the child is enrolled in school, or when their circumstances change. That will help schools too because they will get extra pupil premium, and that can then unlock access to resources and support as well as a hot meal for these children.

Free school meals are foundational to a fair and equal school experience. When we provide them, they leave inequality at the school gate and liberate children from the injustice of the haves and the have-nots.

5.11pm

End

Read the full debate in Hansard here >


 

Westminster Hall debate - Provision of Free School Meals - 7th May, 2024

On Tuesday the 7th of May, Sharon Hodgson spoke in a Westminster Hall debate on ‘Provision of Free School Meals’, which was organised by Sharon Hodgson MP, and School Food... Read more

I was proud to speak on behalf of music and sports fans at the latest DMCC Bill debate.

Watch Sharon Hodgson MP's speech here by clicking on the picture below:

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https://www.veed.io/view/979bb64f-232f-4b73-9afb-35977a43aa3a?panel=share

Sharon Hodgson MP - Commons Consideration of Lords Amendments - Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill - 30 April, 2024

I was proud to speak on behalf of music and sports fans at the latest DMCC Bill debate. Watch Sharon Hodgson MP's speech here by clicking on the picture below:https://www.veed.io/view/979bb64f-232f-4b73-9afb-35977a43aa3a?panel=share... Read more

Today I spoke in a debate on liver disease and cancer to call for Government to finally address the avoidable deaths that this causes every year.

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The North East is at sharp end of this national crisis.

We cannot afford for this to continue.

Click on the picture above, or use the link below to hear my speech.

Westminster Hall debate on liver disease - 25-04-2024

Today I spoke in a debate on liver disease and cancer to call for Government to finally address the avoidable deaths that this causes every year.The North East is at... Read more

At today’s Westminster Hall debate on Food Waste and Food Redistribution, I highlighted how tackling food waste is key to ending food insecurity and creating a sustainable food system.

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Thank you to Company Shop for all the fantastic redistribution work you do in Washington, and across the UK.

Food Waste and Food Distribution - Westminster Hall debate

At today’s Westminster Hall debate on Food Waste and Food Redistribution, I highlighted how tackling food waste is key to ending food insecurity and creating a sustainable food system.Thank you... Read more

Increases in Antisemitic offences - Westminster Hall Debate - 09-01-2024

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Increases in Antisemitic offences debate - WHD - 09-01-2024

Increases in Antisemitic offences - Westminster Hall Debate - 09-01-2024 Read more

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Watch Sharon's speech here >

Sharon Hodgson MP spoke in the Chamber on the 20th November 2023, in the debate at the report stage of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill.  Drawing on several of the tabled amendments, notably on drip pricing, she highlighted the potential role of the CMA in tackling concerns in the primary and illicit secondary-ticketing markets.

Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill - 20/11/2023

Watch Sharon's speech here >Sharon Hodgson MP spoke in the Chamber on the 20th November 2023, in the debate at the report stage of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers... Read more

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Watch Sharon Hodgson's contribution here:  
Sharon Hodgson MP King's speech debate 9 November, 2023 >

Sharon Hodgson MP spoke in the Chamber on the 9th of November, following the Kings’ Speech on the 7th to discuss three key policy areas this King’s Speech failed to address; namely action relating to the Electric Vehicle Industry, her ongoing campaign against Ticket Abuse, and the funding crisis facing the School Food sector.

King's speech debate - Sharon Hodgson MP

Watch Sharon Hodgson's contribution here:  Sharon Hodgson MP King's speech debate 9 November, 2023 >Sharon Hodgson MP spoke in the Chamber on the 9th of November, following the Kings’ Speech on... Read more

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