All the headlines give the impression that the only thing going on in politics at the moment is ‘Partygate,’ and I have of course commented at length for all my constituents in my Facebook piece which was widely picked up by the national media. So I want to flag up a couple of interesting committees I attended in the Commons last week.
On Wednesday I was part of the Standing Committee which debated and unanimously approved the ‘Marriage and Civil Partnership(Minimum Age) Bill’ – a private members bill put forward by my colleague Derby MP Pauline Latham. With cross-party support the bill looks set to become law and will raise the age of marriage in England and Wales to 18 as a long-needed measure to counter child brides and forced marriage.
Also on Wednesday the Home Affairs Select Committee started its inquiry into spiking and we have so far been inundated with over 3500 submissions of evidence, and it is worrying just how widespread this practice is. We heard from witnesses who had not only had their drinks spiked in pubs or nightclubs but also physically injected with immobilising drugs on crowded dancefloors. This is not just limited to young girls falling victim to sexual predators, but we heard evidence from men and there are many examples of people who have had their bank accounts cleared out under the influence of spiking drugs by ruthless criminals too.
Alarmingly it seems that much of the spiking is not done for financial gain or sexual gratification but just ‘for kicks’ for sadists who revel in seeing people incapacitated and giving an impression of being horrendously drunk. In a survey more than 1 in 10 students admit to having been a victim of this horrendous practice and our inquiry will make clear how we need to raise awareness substantially and pursue the predators more effectively.
Back on the subject of parties this year is of course a very special Platinum Jubilee year for her Majesty the Queen and the whole nation will join in the celebrations over a special double bank holiday weekend in June. I have fond memories of being ‘gunged’ in a special Diamond Jubilee Picnic in the Park event on Broadwater Green ten years ago amidst some wonderful street parties and other celebratory events. Let me know if you are planning anything and would like to help coordinate with other groups and we can all at last have a party to remember and which doesn’t break any rules.