National policy responses

Statement on Population Matters

Date: 30.01.20

On the 29th January I met with the charity ‘Population Matters,’ they had requested a meeting by email, and I had not previously heard of them. The charity’s patrons include David Attenborough and Chris Packham, who patron a range of environmental organisations I have met with. I agreed to meet the organisation in good faith and without undertaking due diligence by researching the organisation and its history.

The discussion centred around women and girls’ education and access to family planning/contraception at home and in the UK.  This was in the context of the environment, poverty reduction and health—similar to the UN’s approach to these issues.

I meet with organisations and companies regularly in my role as an MP- be that in the context of All Party Groups, in response to constituent concerns and sometimes due to a shared interest in getting a progressive policy highlighted. At other times it could be to challenge them on particular ideas or policy areas.

Meeting with organisations does not necessarily translate to support for those organisations or for every policy or value they prescribe. That said, I was not aware of all the controversial aspects of this charity and I am grateful that they have been highlighted to me online.

My long-held belief it’s the the Top 10% wealthiest and fossil fuel driven companies meeting their demands for goods and services that are driving climate change, that is the same now as it was before the meeting.

On the day in question I attended nine meetings; on climate change, refugees, electoral reform, Chagos Islands, a committee meeting and a meeting on education. My diary is busy and on this occasion, I made the mistake of not fully researching one of the groups I was meeting.

I want to be clear on a range of accusations that have appeared online as a result of this meeting.

I do not support any form of eugenics. Population Matters were quick to state that they did not either, though I will leave it to them to defend their own organisation to that charge.

On the matter of refugees and asylum seekers, my record speaks for itself. I am in full support of refugee rights for legal safe passage to the UK and elsewhere. Much of my work in Parliament has been to this end.

Far from being an ‘imperialist’, I have led the charge on human rights issues including my chairmanship of the All Party Group on West Papua and work on injustices around the world as a result of colonialism.

Last Monday was Holocaust Memorial Day. My family were made refugees as a direct result of Nazi Eugenics. Opposing insidious nods to eugenics and supporting the rights of refugees is not just a political issue for me but a deeply held personal conviction.

I made a mistake and I am sorry. Whilst I hope that people can acknowledge I acted in good faith and within my role as an MP, I gave the impression that I support issues that I most certainly do not. That said, I am glad that it has opened up a wider discussion on an important issue.

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