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Jean Lambert MEP addresses HCLC AGM


jean-lambert-mep-at-hclc-agmHackney Community Law Centre held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday 28th November 2016. We were delighted to be joined by our patron Jean Lambert MEP who gave the keynote address.


Jean sits on a number of committees in the European Parliament. She is a member of The Employment and Social Affairs Committee working on issues including immigration, social inclusion, workers’ rights and social security; a substitute member of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee; Vice President of the Intergroup on Ageing, the Intergroup on Anti-poverty and the Intergroup on Anti-racism and Diversity. She is also a member of the Intergroups on Disability and Gay and Lesbian rights; and the spokesperson on asylum and refugees for the Green group. She was Rapporteur on the European Parliament’s most recent asylum report. At the AGM, Jean spoke of her recent work in the European Parliament, much of which has been on employment and social affairs issues like equality.


She spoke of her worry that the far right could triumph in the (then) forthcoming Austrian elections and her worry that the UK voluntary sector was now underfunded. Over the last few years, budget cuts have led to funding dropping from Ј62 million pounds to now just Ј17 million pounds. Small grants have been hit the most. They should be reintroduced.


jean-lambert-and-team-hclcAnother topic that Jean spoke passionately about was the media's conflation of refugees with terrorists, which was very worrying. Jean was also concerned about political talk of Britain withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It was a significant international instrument that provided universal rights. A British Bill of Rights in contrast would be selective.  


For Jean, it is important to have rights and protections but also crucially of the need to be able to access those rights. “Cuts in legal aid have hit many of the most vulnerable and left people unable to access the protections to which they are entitled” she said. Speaking about the value of the European Convention on Human Rights, as brought into national law via the Human Rights, Jean noted that “we did not vote to set aside such a key instrument of international protection. The UK has been a strong defender of universal rights – we should not step back from that and any move to do so weakens both our international standing and our democracy”.


Jean's talk was a real shot in the arm for all of those present. We are very grateful to her for attending the HCLC AGM as our guest speaker!