Bell’s Regular Newsletter – 29th April

Apr 30, 2023 | News

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Bell’s Newsletter

29th April 2023

Dear *|FNAME|*,

The UK has been marking the third annual Black Maternal Health Awareness week over the last few days. As the week began, the latest data showed that Black women in the UK are:

  • Four times more likely to die from pregnancy or childbirth.

  • Two times more likely to face stillbirth.

  • 80-83% more likely to have a near miss.

  • 50% more likely to face neonatal loss.

  • 43% more likely to miscarry.

Picture of the Black Maternal Health APPG meeting in parliamentary committee room.

I founded the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Black Maternal Health because we need to change these statistics, which we have known about for decades. The colour of a mother’s skin should have no bearing on her health outcomes or her baby’s. It was good to convene a packed-out meeting in Parliament this week with campaigners, healthcare professionals, and other MPs to discuss the progress made on tackling the issue and what more can be done to eliminate these disparities.

Whilst the Government has announced policies aiming to tackle inequalities in maternity care, a recent Women and Equalities Committee Report was clear that they have failed to properly resource these measures. I would have liked to see the Government using this week to set an example and commit to implementing the recommendations of these reports in full. In particular, we need a clear, measurable, and binding target to end these disparities.

Picture of letters to NHS trusts stacked up on a desk

On Friday, I also sent a letter to every NHS trust in England, asking about plans to tackle the health inequalities facing Black mothers. The lack of action from the government has led many Trusts to pilot their own schemes. We can learn a lot from the work they are already doing to improve maternity care for Black women and birthing people.

Read more about the Black Maternal Health Scandal here

Rishi Sunak Refuses to Offer Formal Government Apology for Slavery and Colonialism

Rishi Sunak Refuses to Offer Formal Government Apology for Slavery & Colonialism (26th April 2023)

During this week’s Prime Minister’s Question Time, I called on Rishi Sunak to offer a formal government apology for Britain’s role in slavery and colonialism. He flat out refused, saying “no… trying to unpick our history is not the right way forwards”. But the racism and inequality that persists in the present has its roots in our imperial past. I firmly believe that the only way we can move forwards as a society is through a full and honest reckoning with the history that created the country, and indeed the world we live in today.

The United Kingdom has never officially apologised for the suffering inflicted on people through the violence of the transatlantic slave trade and colonial rule. When we talk about reparations, people often try to reduce the conversation to a question of payments and large sums of money. But no quantity of money could put these evils right. As I set out in my maiden speech, I would like the Government to start with some simple things like returning looted artefacts residing in British museums, cancelling debts that have been repaid over and over, and yes, apologising.

Cleaning up Our Waters: Ending the Sewage Scandal

Labour Graphic setting out Labour plans to clean up our waters: mandatory monitoring on sewage outlets, automatic fines for sewage dumping, legally binding targets to end 90% of sewage dumping by 2030.

Since 2016 alone, water companies have piped 1,276 years’ worth of raw sewage into our waterways. This year, they’ve announced an 8% bill increase – the biggest for 20 years. Labour held an Opposition Day on Tuesday calling for action to end the sewage scandal. Our Party is proposing mandatory monitoring on sewage outlets, automatic fines for discharges, real targets to end sewage dumping and accountability for water bosses. Instead of voting for these clear measures to clean up our water, the Tories chose once again to vote this down and play shenanigans. They say they want to end these discharges but as they drag their feet again and again, it’s clear that it’s not only our waterways that are full of it.

Supporting People Who Have Fled the World’s Worst Horrors

Opposing the Tories' Latest Attack on Desperate People (14th March 2023)

This week, I once again voted against the latest Tory attack on some of the most vulnerable people in the world. When this Bill was last before Parliament, I tabled a cross-party reasoned amendment to throw it out. This legislation would see people who’ve escaped some of the most horrific conditions denied safety, detained, and deported. As the damage wrought by thirteen devastating years of right-wing policies becomes clearer and clearer, the Tories are sinking deeper into their last redoubt: racism and scapegoating. A tiny number of the world’s displaced people end up in Britain. We need to treat those who do with care and compassion. People who’ve escaped some of the worst horrors shouldn’t have to risk their lives again just to reach safety. We need viable safe routes, not another blatant attack on refugees to divide and distract communities.

Welcoming our new Lambeth Mayor

Lambeth MPs standing with Army Cadets and Representative Deputy Lieutenant for Lambeth.

This week saw our new Lambeth Mayor Sarbaz Barznji officially taking up the role. It was great to be at Lambeth Town Hall on Wednesday with our other Lambeth MPs to see Sarbaz sworn in. His chosen charities for the year are Brixton Soup Kitchen and Care 4 Calais. I’m looking forwards to working with Sarbaz over the coming year and know he will make an amazing champion for our community.

Mayor Barznji being sworn in in the main chamber of Lambeth Town Hall standing next to Lambeth Council CEO Bayo Dosunmu.

Community Safety Update

I was very worried to hear news of a firearms incident in Rama Close on Monday evening, which left a man in a life-threatening condition. His condition has now thankfully stabilised and the police have charged a 32-year-old man.  I was also deeply saddened by news of last week’s fatal house fire on Buckleigh Road. My thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of the man who has died and I’m grateful as ever to the emergency service workers who attended and have been looking into the cause of the blaze.

As ever, if you have any questions about the work I’m doing as MP, please get in touch at this address:

Best wishes,

Bell Ribeiro-Addy,
Labour MP for Streatham

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