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Live webchat with Harriet Harman MP on Tues Nov 25th 1-2pm

(292 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 21-Nov-08 18:23:10

We're pleased to announce that, as part of our ongoing Home Front debate, we've invited Harriet Harman MP to drop by MNHQ for a live webchat on Tuesday November 25th at 1pm.

As well as being Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the House of Commons, Harriet is Secretary of State for Equalities and Minister for Women.

Please join us to put your questions to Harriet on anything from the Government's plans for flexible working to Gordon's performance in the present economic crisis.

And, as usual, you're welcome to post any questions here in advance if you can't make it on the day.

policywonk Fri 21-Nov-08 18:48:50

Ooohhhh fab. I think she's done some really brilliant things over the last couple of years. All Hail Harriet.

Harriet, did Gordon force you to do a deal with the Ulster Unionists on the abortion vote?

smallwhitecat Fri 21-Nov-08 19:11:21

Are impertinent questions allowed? Probably not. Still, if they are, I'd like to ask her if she accepts that the fact she has held so many senior positions is evidence of galloping tokenism in the Labour government. Maybe this is one question she could manage a simple yes or no answer to

herbietea Fri 21-Nov-08 19:47:53

Harriet I would love to know when this Government is going to give parents the choice of one of them staying at home to look after the children. All the money which keeps getting poured into childcare could, and should, be (IMO) offered to a parent so they can stay at home.

I don't believe that all parents, where both work, want to work, I think most have to work. The choice has been taken away by this Government as they have allowed the cost of living to increase in a way in which wages haven't.

Also, as a disabled person who sits under blankets most days to keep warm, when are we going to get a winter fuel allowance?

Doobydoo Fri 21-Nov-08 20:09:33

Do you feel your husband has hindered you at all?
Would you say that you are a Socialist?

Sickofhorses Fri 21-Nov-08 20:16:48

Harriet, on mumsnet we have a number of issues that are of vital imporatance and we need to know how you stand on these issues. So, without any political evading the questions, can you manage a yes or no answer to the following:

Fruitshoots
Enid Blyton
Mums staying at home
Parent and toddler spaces
Reading to children at night
Homework for primary age children
Private schools
Breastfeeding

Thank you

LittleBella Fri 21-Nov-08 20:35:04

Harriet, what are you doing to ensure that sexism and mysogyny are perceived as being as socially unacceptable as racism and homophobia? In playgrounds now, if a child makes a racist remark to another child, that incident is logged on their school record but a sexist remark is not treated with the same seriousness. If Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross had left racist messages on Andrew Sachs' ansaphone, there would have been no question of Jonathan Ross returning to the BBC, but sexist remarks are fine... you see where I'm going with this. Why isn't sexism taken as seriously as racism in education, in the media, in the workplace and in society in general, and what can we do about that?

cmotdibbler Fri 21-Nov-08 21:16:52

Harriet - what do you think of the Norwegian legislation requiring all companies to have at least one woman on their board of directors ?

dittany Fri 21-Nov-08 21:25:06

Hi Harriet, how do you feel about your government not making paying for sex illegal but instead only making it illegal to pay for sex with someone who has been trafficked or pimped? Isn't this going to make it very difficult for the police to enforce the law? Do you think we'll see many prosecutions of men who have paid for sex for rape of trafficked or pimped women?

Do you think there will come a point where British politicians will take the same view as those in Sweden and decide that people's bodies aren't there to be bought or sold for someone else's enjoyment?

tortoiseshellWasMusicaYearsAgo Fri 21-Nov-08 21:55:08

Harriet - did you read the Alistair Campbell diaries? I'm halfway through, and would love to know how much spin there is on them - either generally or personally to you?

Bubble99 Fri 21-Nov-08 22:02:52

Harriet. Could you run a series of prime time adverts to show that domestic violence is wrong and how much it damages children caught in the middle (or on the receiving end) of it.

In the same way that the NSPCC have done, could you get these adverts seen by the many women (and sometimes men) who are isolated in abusive relationships. Although there are many services and helplines, it is often the very people who need them that don't have the mindset or confidence to use them.

And what's it like having Peter back? wink

myredcardigan Fri 21-Nov-08 23:23:33

Hi,
When are we going to reach the stage where the years maternity leave is allowed to be taken by each partner as they see fit?

Perhaps women take an obligatory 6wks then a couple split it according to their own family dynamics and finances giving reasonable notice to their employers.

I believe if employers thought that a 30something man was just as likely to take mat leave as a 30something woman, this would help eliminate sex discrimination.

Thank you smile

myredcardigan Fri 21-Nov-08 23:27:17

That should read, sex discrimination at interview and in the workplace.

PhantomOfTheChocolateCakeAvena Sat 22-Nov-08 00:47:00

Hello Harriet. I too have a childcare question. I understand that the government wishes for as many people to be at work as possible in order to aid the economy, however, many of their children attend daycare settings where they are being cared for by inexperienced, young staff that are only just out of childhood themselves. They are often paid pittance as a 'training salary' and the staff turnover is high. What concerns me is the effect this has on the children. They are, in effect, spending more time with the young staff than their own parents and, due to the high staff turnover, are being taught by way too many people. This leaves some of them confused lacking behaviour skills and lacking attention skills, however, I do acnowledge that there are some very good nurseries.

Is it not better for these children to have one stable person caring for them in a loving and nurturing environment? Mass childcare doesn't suit all children, yet the government would rather pay for these children to attend nurseries than give their parents some extra money so they can stay at home. Is this not counter productive? The government must be loosing money through the childcare system, why not just pay a parent to stay at home so they can nurture their child? Wrap around childcare does nothing to help the most important relationship that a child has, the one with it's parent. Even in a child's teenage years a parent's attention and time is so important yet children's welfare has always been on the back burner as the economy always comes first. Could the government do better? I think so, I would like you to tell me how.

I would also like to know how the government plans to tackle the inequality that women still face in this country? It is 2008 and women are still under-represented in the workforce, they are still paid less and still discriminated against. All of the legislative measures that have been put into place has done little to alter the attitudes towards women that have been in place for not just years or decades, but centuries.

I would like to see more provisions for children, teenagers and the elderly. More youth clubs for them to attend in the evenings and weekends to keep children and teenagers off the streets and to rebuild our communities.
The elderly would be able to utilise these during the day. As families move away from their extended families it is often the elderly members that suffer from the isolation and lonliness that is the result. What is the governments plan to support the members of our society that have aided our nation through world wars? That have spent many, many years of their life building our country, educating our children and caring for our sick? As a government you should be giving these people enough support so they can spend their retirement warm, fed and feeling valued. I don't see alot of this and am asking if there is something that the government can do.

I do have more but will quit nagging for now. I would be more than happy to take you for a coffee and a chat though grin

EachPeachPearMum Sat 22-Nov-08 00:47:34

Are we allowed to ask personal questions?

PhantomOfTheChocolateCakeAvena Sat 22-Nov-08 01:03:46

I think so EachPeachPearMum.

Another one for you Ms Harman. Is the government willing to do something to make sure the energy companies reduce the price of gas and electricity to their customers now and wholesale prices fell weeks ago? They make massive profits at the expense of us all, surly this needs to stop!

As a shareholder of my bank, I would like to see them reduce their charges, reduce their profits and not pay the idiots that run the banks rediculous bonuses. We have homeless sleeping on the streets. I find this shameful that we are unable to support our poor yet allow the wealthy to become welthier, despite huge mistakes. I would also like to recieve money from the bank for the shares that the government has used taxpayer's (me!) money to bail out.

Bubble99 Sat 22-Nov-08 07:18:54

Rather than pouring billions into the banks, wouldn't it have made more sense to write off all or a large part of domestic mortgages. This would boost the economy as people would have money to spend.

UnquietDad Sat 22-Nov-08 10:57:03

Harriet - do you want to be Prime Minister? Please don't say "at the moment Gordon Brown is doing a great job and I'm very happy in my current job blah blah blah." We know all that. Do you want to be Prime Minister one day, some time, after Gordon is gone? Also, can I have a quote from you for my book?

LittleBella Sat 22-Nov-08 11:20:25

Oh yes I've got one about housing, it's seen as all doom and gloom because house prices are plummeting, but in some areas, to buy a modest 3 bed family house in a crap area, you would need to borrow 10 times the average family income to pay the mortgage. If it plumments to only needing 7 or 8 times your average family income, house prices still aren't low enough for normal people on normal wages to afford them without a massive struggle and/ or over-borrowing.

Can that really be right? Can we not organise housing better in this country?

Saturn74 Sat 22-Nov-08 12:57:29

Harriet, your titles of Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Leader of the House of Commons, Secretary of State for Equalities and Minister for Women, suggest that you must be quite busy.

How many hours a week do you work?
How much holiday do you get each year?

Why aren't Secretary of State for Equalities, and Minister for Women considered important enough to be full time roles?

jimjamshaslefttheyurt Sat 22-Nov-08 19:15:19

How are you going to make it easier for parents of disabled children to work?

I have a 9 year old severely autistic son, I cannot access after school or holiday care for him. There is none in my city. There are no plans for care that is suitable for him.

I currently work but in a very flexible job (actually its a funded PhD- my second funded PhD). Funding will end in 2 years time then I have no idea how I can find suitable work and care for him from 3.30 when the bus gets home and every holiday.

Also I do not think it fair I lose my carers allowance because I am studying full time. I do exactly the same amount of caring as I always have. Leaving work early to care for my son, then picking up work again in the evening when he's gone to bed (then getting up from 3am to be with him because he's woken up). I at least get paid for studying but this rule prevents parents of disabled children from being able to return to study.

From the Guardian 2007:

"Almost all families with disabled children are suffering from financial difficulties, according to a report published today.

Many struggle with the extra costs of raising disabled children, which is calculated to be three times higher than other children, and they face barriers to working, said the Every Disabled Child Matters (EDCM) campaign, an alliance of Mencap, Contact a Family, Council for Disabled Children and the Special Educational Consortium.

More than nine in 10 (93%) families reported some form of financial difficulty, with only 6% saying they were comfortably off.

The report said more than one in five families with disabled children cannot afford to feed their family properly. Such families are 50% more likely to be in debt than others and 50% less likely to be able to afford new clothes or school outings when compared with other families."

PhantomOfTheChocolateCakeAvena Sat 22-Nov-08 19:19:14

Oh, another one. Can't the government use all those empty houses that have had compulsory purchase orders placed on (ie, Manchester), get local companies to fix them up and then rent them out as social housing to families in need? Private tenants are often in sub-standard housing which is expensive. The waiting list for social housing is very long and is seems silly to have so many houses standing empty. It would cost less money to redevelop them rather than knock them all down and start again.

myredcardigan Sat 22-Nov-08 19:56:38

Can I ask something else I feel stongly about?

Why isn't child benefit means tested in the way that other benefits are? We're fortunate enough to be in the position of not needing the CB we receive for our 3kids. So what do we do? We put it in a saving account for each of them. I know so many couples who do the same. So in effect the government are funding nice little savings accounts for thousands of already fortunate children.

Wouldn't this money be better redistributed to those families that need it?

AuraofDora Sat 22-Nov-08 20:17:47

Hi Harriet
Last sunday i heard a shocking statement on Bremner Bird & Fortune, did you per chance happen watch it?
They stated that the UK national debt (excluding personal credit / mortgages)
per household was now £96,000...shock

are we, as a country, heading for bankruptcy?
would appreciate your take on this..

and thanks for bailing out the banks, the one true act of socialism by your government wink

luv aura xxx

soapbox Sat 22-Nov-08 23:58:19

Are you a Ms or a Mrs and why?

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