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GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION ON CASTE LEGISLATION

     
The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has announced its intention to undertake a full public consultation on the issue of caste and the Equality Act 2010. This is an issue which I have received a great deal of representation on and is clearly of enormous concern to our Hindu community here in Harrow.
Previously, a change in the law was sneaked through by Labour and Liberal Democrat Lords via an amendment to section 9 (5) of the Equality Act 2010, making ‘caste’ into an aspect of race. This happened without any due oversight or proper debate on the repercussions and I believe that a great deal of hurt has been caused. I will therefore be strongly representing the view that the legislation is unnecessary and damaging to community relations and must be repealed.

I would urge anyone concerned by this to prepare to make a submission as soon as the consultation opens later this year. For more information about this issue, read Dr Prakash Shah’s “Against Caste in British Law”, available on Amazon.
 
Since my last edition, I have continued my programme of street surgeries all around the constituency and I have been doing my part as your representative in Westminster.

Here are a few of the events and engagements I have taken part in recently:

 
VISIT TO ST MUNGO'S NO SECOND NIGHT OUT HUB
Charity St Mungo’s manages the flagship No Second Night Out scheme in London on behalf of the Greater London Authority and I was keen to see the work being done to help rough sleepers as part of the work I'm doing to put a Homelessness Reduction Bill through Parliament.
VISIT TO HOMELESSNESS SERVICES IN MANCHSTER
I also went up to Manchester to see the sort of work being done to tackle homelessness in the area. I visited the Booth Centre, a day centre, and spoke with service managers and charity representatives and also went to a Young People's Support Foundation facility and a hostel, The Limes, to discuss their views on measures to tackle the issue.
HSS SANSKRITI MAHASHIBIR 2016
I attended a closing ceremony to celebrate 50 years of the HSS (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh) UK. Nearly 2400 participants (Shiksharthis) stayed in the residential camp at the Hertfiordshire County Show Ground, with around 4000 from across the UK participating in the closing ceremony.
APPG FOR AZERBAIJAN DELEGATION VISIT TO BAKU
As Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Azerbaijan, I led a group of MPs and Peers on a visit to Baku. The delegation had the opportunity to visit the National Assembly of Azerbaijan (Milli Majlis) and to meet a number of prominent Members of Parliament to discuss UK-Azerbaijan relations.
We were also able to meet a number of Ministers, including Mr Elmar Mammadyarov, the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, to discuss prospects for the development of greater ties between Britain and Azerbaijan, most particularly in terms of trade partnerships. We had an interesting discussion on a range of subjects with the Foreign Minister, including relations with Turkey, Russia and Iran, and human rights generally.
STANMORE TEMPLE'S 3RD ANNIVERSARY
As a long time supporter of the Kum Kum Swaminarayan Temple in Stanmore, I was happy to join in with festivities for the happy occasion, including Patotsav Vidhi Celebrations commemorating the 3rd Anniversary of the installation of the Idols and Mahaa Prasaad (lunch).
EQUITABLE LIFE UPDATE
Now that a new set of Government Ministers are installed at the Treasury, I was keen to meet Paul Braithwaite and Paul Weir from the Equitable Members' Action Group (EMAG) to discuss next steps in the fight to secure compensation for victims of the scandal, which saw thousands of people suffer major loses on their pensions through regulatory maladministration.
SUMMER WORK EXPERIENCE 2016
Every year, I provide work experience for a small group of talented young people with an interest in politics and current affairs. The group this year had a chance to shadow my work in Harrow and to learn about all aspects of running campaigns locally. They were also taken on a tour of Parliament, Number 10 Downing Street and Conservative Central Headquarters.
If you are interested in being added to our list for 2017, please email your contact information and CV to me, stating your interest.
NAVNAT VANIK ASSOCIATION JANMASHTAMI MELA
I stopped by the Navnat Vanik Association's Janmashtami Mela, where there were stalls selling a variety of food and drinks, fashion and beauty products, jewellery, and arts and crafts. Many local families joined in with the fun, taking part in bhajans, dances, yoga and face painting.
PADDY POWER CHARITY BET
I visited a local Paddy Power shop to meet local staff and discuss the work being done by the company to encourage responsible gambling. I was also able to place a charity bet, so naturally went for Spurs to beat Sunderland AFC! Any proceeds will go to local charity St Luke's Hospice.
RANGEELU GUJARAT EVENT
Red Lotus Events, an enterprise of young individuals seeking to retain the culture and traditions of ancient Gujarat and to educate the new generation about its ancestors, held a Rangeelu Gujarat Event at Fryent Country Park. I attended to support the organisers during the two day event showcasing Gujarat’s arts, literature, fashion, music and tourism.
CPA UK DELEGATION VISIT TO INDIA
I took part in a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) UK visit to Punjab and Haryana in India, which was organised in collaboration with the British High Commission in New Delhi and its counterparts across the region.
The purpose of the visit was to strengthen links between UK Parliamentarians and their counterparts in the State Assemblies of Pubjab and Haryana, as well as to promote a better understanding of civil society issues, including the rights of faith communities, representation of women in politics, the importance of trade and investment opportunities and to discuss how young people can get involved in both nations.
GANESH CHATURTHI EVENT
I was pleased to host a community event to honour visiting Hindu priests and personalities for Ganesh Chaturthi, the Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the elephant-headed god, Ganesha. It was held in partnership with Harrow's International Siddhashram Shakti Center (ISSC).
SEMINAR ON HINDU MINORITIES IN BANGLADESH
In response to recent attacks on Hindu minorities in Bangladesh, I hosted a seminar on the issue in my role as Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group of British Hindus, attended by lawyers, activists, community representatives and Members of Parliament including Virendra Sharma, David Burrowes and Jim Fitzpatrick.
LONDON GREEN BELT PROTECTION
I was invited to speak at an event held by the London Green Belt Council and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Metropolitan branches to launch their report entited 'The London Metropolitan Green Belt: “Safe Under Us”?', which was an investigation into potential threats from housebuilding in the London Metropolitan Green Belt.
BATTLE OF BRITAIN SERVICE OF THANKSGIVING
Following on with the tradition of the Borough’s Battle of Britain Thanksgiving Service, I attended the service at St John's once again to commemorate the battle and remember those who lost their lives in World War 2. I was joined by local Councillors, including Cllr Pritesh Patel, Cllr Kanti Rabadia and Cllr Ameet Jogia (pictured left to right).
ONAM FEAST FESTIVAL
Onam is the most important festival of the Indian State of Kerala and a celebration took place in Parliament to mark the occasion. I was invited to join in with the event, which is intended as a celebration of the home coming of Kerala's legendary ruler, King Mahabali, as an affirmation that people are living as happily now as they did during his reign.
 

LAST CHANCE TO APPLY

     
The Postcode Local Trust was established in 2015 to provide financial support for charities and good causes to benefit the community locally.

The deadline to apply for funding this year has been extended to THIS SUNDAY. Visit their website now if you have an idea in need of funding to see if you qualify.

     

The Aviva Community Fund is back, offering support and funding to causes in local areas. If you have an idea that will benefit your community, why not put it forward? It could get funding of up to £25,000. The deadline is Tuesday 11th October.

IN PARLIAMENT
 
You can read some of my most recent contributions in Parliament below:
Debate on Religious Minorities in Bangladesh
"I thank Mr Speaker for granting me the opportunity to raise the plight of religious minorities in Bangladesh. It is apposite that this debate is being held today, because it is exactly the first anniversary of the visit to Bangladesh by the UN special rapporteur Heiner Bielefeldt...."

Question on the Tobacco Control Plan
"I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement that there will be a debate in Westminster Hall on the Government’s tobacco control programme. The issue at hand is that the control programme that was running for five years has expired, and we were promised a replacement in the summer of 2016. I realise that the summer can stretch into the autumn, but we still do not have the new programme published...."

Question on Grammar Schools
"I was educated in a comprehensive school, and I saw the benefits of both academic and vocational education. Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the things we must do in society is assess young people and ensure that we can provide teaching that stretches them to the utmost so that they achieve the best they can, and does she agree that assessments at all ages are important so that we end up with the best possible people in society?..."

Pre-Summer Adjournment Debate Speech
"I wish to concentrate my remarks on some local issues and matters concerning this House that might benefit from a mention. I am pleased to report that during the recent London mayoral election in Harrow East, we managed to secure an overwhelming majority for our mayoral candidate, our constituency candidate and the party vote. Regrettably, the rest of London did not follow the same line. I am also pleased to say that we secured a strong majority vote in my constituency to leave the EU, which was of course echoed across the country...."
 
Read more online, here.
 

IN THE MEDIA

GET IN TOUCH
 
If you have any issues or concerns which you feel I could help you with, please don't hesitate to get in touch using the contact details below:
 
Email: bob.blackman.mp@parliament.uk
Please remember to include your full name and address, even if you've written to Bob before!

Phone:
To discuss a case, report an issue or make a surgery appointment, please contact Bob's office in Harrow, on 020 8421 3323
For diary, media or tour enquiries, please contact Bob's office in Westminster, on 020 7219 7082


Write to:
House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
or
209 Headstone Lane, Harrow, HA2 6ND

 
Copyright © 2016 Bob Blackman, all rights reserved.