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Darren takes evidence from Metro Mayors about COVID and Levelling Up

Darren took evidence from England’s Metro-Mayors about the value their office adds to their regions.

Following the dramatic confrontation between central Government and the Manchester region over a lack of localised lockdown support this Autumn, Darren asked Metro-Mayor’s about their approach to connecting central and local government.

Darren and the Business Commitee took evidence from Bristol’s Conservative WECA Metro-Mayor Tim Bowles, and other regional Metro-Mayor’s:

  • Rt Hon Andy Burnham, Mayor, Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • Jamie Driscoll, Mayor, North of Tyne Combined Authority
  • Steve Rotheram, Mayor, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

While most Metro Mayors were able to explain in detail the role their office plays in securing funds to level up their region and maximise the impact of local leaders in ther region, some struggled to find examples of where they’d been effective during their time in office.

You can watch the whole evidence session here.

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Criminal Conduct Bill

Today, Parliament voted on the Second Reading of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill. It’s a Bill that needs to pass so our police and secret services can do their jobs, but I also have reservations. It needs proper scrutiny in the House, so strong safeguards and oversights are in place to protect human rights, and ‘blank cheque’ authorisations can’t happen.

In short, the Criminal Conduct Bill gives undercover police and agents limited powers to break the law to maintain their cover. It’s needed to infiltrate and disrupt violent gangs, terrorist groups, child exploitation groups and other criminal groups. In short, the Bill allows undercover agents to commit a less serious crime to prevent an extremely serious crime from happening.

Our police and secret services are already having to do this but, right now, there is no legislation to regulate, guide and scrutinise this reality. Right now, undercover agents are being forced into a grey area without guidance, scrutiny or legislative support.

Security is a top concern for me and the Labour party. I know some people are rightly concerned about how this Bill affects our liberties and power we give undercover agents. My position is that the best way to tackle these concerns is to ensure these authorisations are proportional, limited and transparent. It must not be used to impact the ongoing inquiry into physical and sexual relationships with undercover police officers or used to cover-up retrospective law-breaking.

As I demonstrated with my Private Members Bill on Forensic Science Regulation, our criminal justice system has gaps that need addressing. I’m committed to closing those gaps while ensuring that historic injustices involving our law enforcement and security services have happened, justice is achieved.

Thank you,

Darren