13th December 2017
Heidi Allen MP - No Muntineer but she is a Defender of Democracy
Heidi Allen, the Conservative MP for South West Cambridgeshire joined a group of rebels today who attempted to get the government to include a new clause in the Brexit Bill which would allow parliament to vote on the final Brexit deal in good time.
In an article in the Daily Telegraph, where she had alongside other rebel Conservative MPs previously been called a "Mutineer" she defended her rebellion by saying she was a defender of democracy.
Here she talks to producer Boni Sones, of www.parliamentaryradio.com about her decision to vote against her government and her plans for 2018.
Heidi said in 2018 she would be campaigning on the issues that concerned her constituents including more on Brexit, the economy and local business, the plight of refugees and their children, the implementation of legislation on modern day slavery, and the roll out of Universal Credit. She also told Boni how Whats App is helping her collude with her colleagues on the Brexit Bill.
She also said that she now supported and admired the Prime Minister Theresa May for pulling off last Friday's Brexit deal with the EU, when the talks had stalled, and that she now hoped she would stay in office.
Finally, she told Boni, she would be asking the Speaker, John Bercow, if he could provide refuge in Parliament for the many homeless people sleeping around Westminster at night.
Heidi said: "We are leaving Westminster at night quite late at the moment and I am so embarrassed to see people sleeping rough outside the tube. I think it is disgraceful and I shall be asking the Speaker, John Bercow, to see what we can do. This amasing building here we have heating we have showers, I would like to see if we can be a refuge at night time."
29th November 2017
What are the real costs of Brexiting the EU?
#Brexit Select Committee member Seema Malhotra, the Labour MP for Feltham and Heston talks to Boni Sones of www.parliamentaryradio.com about today's announcement that the UK government will be paying over £40 billion to the EU to Brexit.
Seema has also been championing the need for the Brexit Select to go round the country to find out what people and businesses think about leaving the EU and what real needs are. She also said she found it hard to believe David Davis MP, the Brexit Secretary, when he said information had been left out of a report to the Committee because of a "formatting" problem.
Seema said a transitional deal needed to be ironed out by the end of March 2018 so that Britain can Brexit the EU a year later in March 2019. And she said a deal had to be agreed by October 2018 to give Parliament the time to vote on it and give feedback to the government for further negotiations if necessary and for the EU to consult its members too.
Seema said: "The government hasn't been honest on the question of NI and the border, and the challenges we face. It is not just the cost of the divorce bill either, we have just heard the HMRC are planning for a £200 million extra annual salary bill for staff they have to take on. There is a genuine cost to the government of Brexit and the government will have to make it very clear in terms of whether that extra £350 million a week to the NHS will ever materialise."
Period Poverty Debate Westminster Hall
Layla Moran LD MP for Oxford West and Abingdon and Paula Sheriff the Labour MP for Dewsbury discuss today's Westminster Hall debate on period poverty with Boni Sones Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com.
The Debate was called by Layla Moran, a former teacher, after food banks, charities and schools had spoken about the number of young women who cannot afford to buy sanitary ware. Layla told a story of how embarrassing period problems are to young women as they were to her when she was at school but that how now a younger generation was learning to talk about these things. However she had been distressed to learn of how poverty meant that teachers were having to buy sanitary ware for school children and how some children were not able to go to school because their families can't afford proper sanitary protection once a month. Refugees and asylum seekers are in particular need. She said men need an opportunity to debate this too and she hopes a full debate will be held in the Chamber soon.
Layla said: "I would like to see some new money come to this from the government to give to schools to help provide sanitary ware."
Paula Sheriff is to hold a period poverty day in Westminster on 20th December for all MPs to take part in and bring attention to the issue. She told distressing stories of what young girls are having to resort to doing because they cannot afford sanitary wear. Paula said austerity had reached such a level that families were choosing between food and proper sanitary protection.
Boni also asked Layla about sexism in the Chamber.
SNP Debates the #WASPI Campaign
Mhairi Black the SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South talks to Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com for women, Boni Sones, about today's opposition day debate on the @WASPI_Campaign called by her party the SNP.
The SNP and the other opposition parties, Labour, the LDs, and the DUP easily won the debate with nobody voting against the SNP's motion not even members of the Conservative government's party. But will anything happen to help the millions of women who have had to wait for their pensions following the equalization of the state pension age which began in 1995?
This report begins with members of the #WASPI campaign - who watched the debate - speaking about how the changes have affected them.
22nd November 2017
Baroness Susan Kramer
Baroness Susan Kramer, the Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokes, gives her opinion on the Chancellor Philip Hammond's 2017 Budget.
She speaks to Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com about some of Hammond's new measures: The lifting of stamp duty for first time buyers; new plans to free up land to build more homes on; an extra £3 billion to help departments carry the cost of the UK leaving the EU so called, Brexit; the amount of new funds he has given to the NHS; and the concerning news that growth rates for the UK economy have been revised downwards by up to 0.5 per cent for the foreseeable future. On top of that the UK's huge deficit which has given rise to many years of austerity is not likely to be paid off until 2025 and some think significantly longer still.
Susan tells Boni: "The seriously bad news that is going to have repercussions for all of us are that the economic growth forecasts are appalling."
Alison McGovern MP - Where is our Bright new future?
Alison McGovern, the Labour MP for Wirral South, who sits on the Treasury Select Committee gives her opinion on the Chancellor Philip Hammond's 2017 Budget.
She also speaks to Boni Sones, about some of Hammond's new measures.
Alison tells Boni: "Those that supported Brexit said there would be a bright new future for our Country and it doesn't seem to have materialized yet."
November 15th 2017
@JoCoxLoneliness campaign - Rachel Reeves MP and Seema Kennedy MP
Rachel Reeves, the Labour MP for Leeds West and Seema Kennedy the Conservative MP for South Ribble, both now co-chair the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission.
Today Rachel Reeves held a Westminster Hall debate on Loneliness in memory of Jo Cox who was murdered in her Batley and Spen Constituency on 16th June 2016. Jo had campaigned to end loneliness and now other MPs are taking on the work that she began and encouraging groups in their constituencies to raise awareness of the issue and to tackle what is a very real health problem for many people old and the young alike.
Here Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com talked to Rachel and Seema about the debate, which moved some MPs to tears, and their work in the Commission.
They hope the hashtag #happytochat will encourage others to show kindness and talk to people as part of the @JoCoxLoneliness campaign.
Dr Rupa Huq MP - Buffer Zones and Sexual Harassment in Westminster
Dr Rupa Huq the Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton has been successfully campaigning to prevent anti abortion groups and their opponents from staging protests directly outside abortion clinics. She wants local councils to set up so called "buffer zones".
Such protests upset the women going in and although some claim that they have persuaded women not to go ahead with their planned abortions others claim that it just delays the procedure and the women come back on another date to have their operations performed.
But whether the groups are campaigning for or against abortions, Dr Huq wants to see public space protection orders issued by local councils, as they are considering doing in her constituency, to prevent such protests from taking place. She has won the support of the BPAS, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.
Dr Huq is interviewed by Boni Sones. She also tells Boni about her reaction to the Westminster Sexual Harassment claims and the attempts by all parties, including her own, to introduce new procedures to ensure women and men can report such abuse. She herself, told of how she was once harassed while working in the European Parliament as a young researcher.
14th November 2017
Baroness Julie Smith of Newnham
Intergenerational Fairness Debate and a new Committee
Does Westminster politics need a new Committee to consider Intergenerational Fairness?
Baroness Julie Smith of Newnham recently led a debate on Intergenerational Fairness and now plans to set up a House of Lords Committee to consider some of the issues she raised including, global warming, housing, migration, education and pensions.
She told the House of Lords: "I want to challenge Her Majesty's Government and your Lordships as well-if your Lordships are willing-to be more ambitious and comprehensive in exploring questions of intergenerational fairness. It is all too easy to look at the immediate question of how today's young people are faring against today's pensioners or against the baby boomers. We perhaps saw it put most explicitly in a recent piece in the Daily Mail by the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, who is not in his place. He said that giving tax increases to the old in order to woo the young would be political suicide. That is one of the problems that we face when we think about questions of intergenerational fairness. In a democracy, elected politicians-or those who seek to be elected-inevitably look toward the short-term horizon of the next election. We normally expect that horizon to be four or five years. If we are moving to an electoral horizon that is only two years, then perhaps it will be even more difficult to engage in long-term planning. I am assuming that an election in 2017-so soon after 2015-was an aberration, but nevertheless the fact remains that, if you are seeking election, you are looking to the short term rather than the longer term.
Intergenerational fairness is hugely important; it needs to be thought about and planned for. It can be measured objectively yet it is not. Clearly, this applies only up to a point, as there may be future issues that we cannot predict. In my Cambridge college, however, the finance committee looks at the balance between current expenditure on current students and the endowment along with the prospects for future students. Her Majesty's Government might like to think about that in their long-term cross-departmental planning. Intergenerational fairness is about not just current generations-our children and grandchildren-but generations as yet unborn. It applies to global matters as much as domestic ones."
Here Baroness Smith talks to Boni Sones Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com about why public policy making needs to be less short term sound bites and more long term planning for all regardless of age.
"We have ended up with politics that is about soundbite rather than having a real depth of analysis behind it and that was probably best exemplified by the EU referendum. Snappy slogans seemed to be effective but if that was about a one off decision if we are thinking about long term policy making it needs to be based on long term thinking and some of it does need to be on a cross party basis. There are going to be issues not just for this parliament but for many parliaments hence, and at the end of the debate my sense was that all the parties seemed to be agreed and I am hoping to press the House authorities to have an ad hoc committee on intergenerational fairness," she said.
Baroness Smith and Boni also discussed party policies at the 2017 general election, the Westminster sexual harassment claims, lowering the voting age to 16, and Brexit.
8th November 2017
Temporary Accommodation Debate House of Commons
Siobhain McDonagh the Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden
"There are over 70,000 families containing 124000 children living in temporary accommodation, after presenting to the Council as homeless, but there is not enough housing to house them properly, " says Siobhain McDonagh the Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden.
In a new podcast for www.parliamentaryradio.com Siobhain McDonagh MP tells Boni Sones, Executive Producer, why she led the debate on Temporary Accommodation in the House of Commons yesterday.
Across the Chamber a Conservative MP, Bob Blackman, supported her call for more to be done and praised the passionate way in which she told the story of Britain's urgent housing crisis. He has introduced his own Act of Parliament to address the crisis - the Homelessness Reduction Act. The veteran Labour MP Frank Field, said the situation for many families was worse than the days of the poor laws.
Ms McDonagh said families were often sent miles away from where they lived: "It could be anywhere that the local council can find somewhere to house the family and they pay for it on a nightly basis. The average time for people to stay in temporary accommodation nationally is thought to be 11 months, but in my own constituency it can be 2 or 3 years. In a neighbouring constituency one family has been in temporary accommodation for 19 years. They are staying longer and longer."
She said the standard of temporary accommodation is often very poor: "A lot of the accommodation is not checked before families are placed there, and there are issues of who you are living near or with and it is storing up social problems for the future.
"Only last Friday at my advice surgery a full time nurse became homeless and she was offered accommodation 40 miles away in Luton."
Ms McDonagh then offered to show Members of Parliament a video of one temporary accommodation hostel in her constituency placed on an industrial estate which is causing alarm and fears for the safety of the families and children living there.
"Connect House is a former warehouse converted into over 84 units for homeless families and currently four councils house families there, it's not the worst temporary accommodation I have seen but it is certainly the worst located temporary accommodation I have seen. We brought 30 people from Connect house to watch the debate. They were delighted to feel somebody was listening."
She said homeless charities had supported Bob Blackman's new Act, but that she thought it did not go far enough. And she said the current situation was bad value for tax payers: "Tax payers are paying through the nose to allow families to be in private rented short term accommodation. Since 2010 the increase in the housing benefit bill has been £10 billion and you could buy approximately 188,000 prefabs with that and you would sort your problem. I think there is an increasing awareness across parties and government that we have a crisis in housing, but I would urge them be brave and stand up, you can change things, government has the power to change and I urge the Chancellor to make housing a priority in his budget."
She said she personally was very concerned about some families: "I do wake up in the middle of night thinking about some of these families, and one Mum who was housed miles away with two daughters and a Downs syndrome son caused me great distress.
"I think Parliament can be effective by talking about the problems of concern and I hope our debate gave people a voice and I hope we can use that to bring about change. I shall be trying to get into PMQs and anywhere I can I will continue to fight this and do my best and hope for success."
November 1st 2017
Maria Eagle MP presents a new Bill for the Tyred campaigne
Maria Eagle, the Labour MP for Garston and Halewood, talks to Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com about her new Ten Minute Rule Bill to introduced limits on the age of tyres on buses and coaches; and for connected purposes.
Just over 5 years ago her constituent Michael Molloy lost his life in a coach accident and the Surrey Coroner, Richard Travers found that the crash was caused by a 19 and a half year old tyre that had recently been fitted to the coach.
Michael's mother Frances, came to see Maria at one of her constituency surgeries to ask if she could help make the use of such tyres illegal.
Maria Eagle MP said she found it hard to believe that the use of such an old tyre was legal and is now urging the government to ban the use of tyres over a certain age.
Frances has now launched the Tyred Campaign to ban the fitting of tyres that are more than 10 years old to public service vehicles, she has widespread support including from coach operators and those in the industry.
Maria also talked to Boni about the recent week's allegations of sex abuse and inappropriate conduct by MPs of their staff and one allegation of rape by a Labour activist Bex Bailey by a fellow party worker. Maria said she thought changes to procedures for reporting such allegations would be forthcoming.
Baroness Ros Altmann takes a close look at Intergenerational Fairness and why generations should not be pitted against one-another
Baroness Ros Altmann talks to www.parliamentaryradio.com about the need for policy makers to take a close look at Intergenerational Fairness. The cost of housing for the young, student debt, servicing debt and finding secure jobs are issues many are confronting as they start their adult lives while older people are being "blamed" for having cushy life styles at the expense of the young.
In a recent House of Lords Debate on Intergenerational Fairness led by Baroness Julie Smith, Ros said that she did not think one part of society should be pitted against the other and that to do this was to misunderstand the problems that all generations face in ensuring there is a fairer society for all.
Here Ros talks to Boni about the pressing issues we all face, and how policy makers can start planning for the future better, including looking at issues such as global warming and economic policies post the 2008 crash.
They also discussed the injustice done to the so called #WASPI group of women who had their pension age delayed twice in 1995 and again in 2011 some without any proper notice. As a result of a new petition there will again be a debate on the #WASPI women in parliament soon.
October 16th 2017
Women Released from Prison Westminster Hall Debate
The Labour MP for Ogmore Chris Elmore today asked the government to draw up a new strategy to help women released from prison to safely get back on their feet again. He said they often served their sentences in prisons far from home as there are fewer women's prisons and that there were no women's prisons in Wales.
He said the provision for women who are released from prison was often inadequate which could in turn lead to re offending. He said often women served short sentences for small offences but when they were released they had no money and no home to go to.
He called for a new approach to their rehabilitation and said that in a recent court case a Judge had found the government to be in breach of its equality duties to such women but even so there had been no response from Ministers to provide better care. He hoped a new strategy looking in depth at the needs of women prisoners when they are released would lead to improved post prison care.
"Clearly there are problems for male prisoners too but if you look in a UK context there are no women's prisons in Northern Ireland, there are none in Wales, and it is about distance and the limited services available to women when they are on release. There are more services for male prisoners. More women go back to re-offending and more women are not offered support services when they leave whether that is family breakdown or their tagging services and supportive properties they can go to. The support services are minimal."
Boni Sones, executive producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com asked Chris to tell her why he called today's debate.
Roll out of Universal Credit Opposition Day Debate
Laura Pidcock, the Labour MP for NW Durham today at the weekly Wednesday PMQs asked the Prime Minister Theresa May if the rollout of universal credit was a matter of gross incompetence or calculated cruelty.
She then went into Labour's own opposition day debate on the possibility of delaying the roll out of universal credit until the problems with the six week wait for first payments to be made had been ironed out. Kate Green, the Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston also intervened in the debate. The day before the government had announced it would be ending the charges for phone calls to DWP about the new benefit.
Boni Sones, executive producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com asked Laura and Kate to tell her why they thought the roll out should be stalled when Labour agreed with the principles that underpinned the long awaited reforms which roll six benefits, including in work benefits, into one new payment.
Boni also asked both women MPs about their reaction to the noise in the Chamber while PMQs was taking place.
Conservative MPs were told not to vote on the Labour motion to delay the roll out, but one did vote for it Sarah Wollaston. It was passed by 299 votes to 0 on Wednesday evening.
October 11th 2017
Sexism, online abuse and reform of UK Parliament
In this exclusive documentary the www.parliamentaryradio.com team of reporters examine sexism, online abuse and the need to reform the UK Parliament.
The reporters are Jackie Ashley, Boni Sones, Deborah McGurran, and Linda Fairbrother.
The audio is taken from interviews conducted over the past decade. We have spoken to MPs of all parties:
Anne McGurie, Barbara Follett, Gillian Shephard, Pat Glass, Angela Eagle, Theresa May, Caroline Lucas, Jess Phillips, Harriet Harman, Anne Trenaman sketchwriter, Bernard Jenkin, Margot James, Caroline Dineage, Caroline Spelman, Maria Miller, Heidi Allen, Lisa Cameron, Mims Davies, Dawn Butler, Sandy Martin, and Jo Swinson, who co-chairs parliamentaryradio.com
Since these interviews were conducted some have stood down as MPs, others have entered the Lords, one is even the UK Prime Minister.
The sexism displayed to women in parliament seems to be as bad as ever, and increasing online abuse, are said to be putting off candidates particularly women from standing as MPs.
Currently the UK parliament has a record number of women MPs following the 2017 General Election, 208 in all or 32 per cent.
October 6th 2017
Two Suffolk sisters, Millicent Fawcett and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson are celebrated in different ways
The life of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson will be celebrated this weekend in Aldeburgh where she grew up and also in an exhibition at the Long Shop Museum in Leiston which her Uncle ran.
It is 100 years since Elizabeth, Britain's first woman to qualify as a doctor died.
Her sister Millicent Fawcett, who championed votes for women, is also to be honoured next year when she becomes the first woman to have her statue put in Parliament Square where she will stand beside Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela.
Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com for women talks to historian and author Elizabeth Crawford about the values of enterprise these two sisters have passed down through the generations with societies and institutions still named after them.
The Fawcett Society still campaigns today for women's rights and Elizabeth had a Hospital, the first for women, named after her.
Westminster Returns for the Autumn sitting: The Second Reading of the Brexit Bill, the safety of MPs, sexism in the Chamber, & the need for more women in the House
September 14th 2017
Jo Swinson MP for East Dunbartonshire on the Abuse of MPs
Jo Swinson MP for East Dunbartonshire talks to Boni Sones Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com about today's Debate in the House of Commons on the Abuse levelled at MPs in Elections and on social media.
Jo says that such abuse is often racist and misogynistic but that the level of racism levelled at MPs such as Diana Abbott, the former SNP MP #Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and others is shocking and goes far beyond that received by other MPs. She also supports Harriet Harman's call for proper maternity and paternity leave arrangements for MPs. She is the mother of a young child and her partner is also an MP. Jo thinks the recent Referendums in Scotland and on Brexit has led to an increase in the amount of abuse MPs receive. However she says she received more abuse in 2015 when she lost her seat following Scotland's decision to stay as part of the UK than in 2017 when she won it back.
Jo ends this podcast by encouraging women to come forward to stand as candidates for election particularly when the going gets tough. She says there is more need than ever now to balance a very unbalanced House of Commons particularly in terms of gender and racial equality too.
Sexism in the Chamber - Speaking in the House Sandy Martin MP
John Bercow MP, the Speaker of the House of Commons told an audience at the Institute for Government he would like to do more to combat sexism in the Chamber similar to that which occurred when the new LD MP Layla Moran got up to speak at PMQs two weeks ago.
Here Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com speaks to the new Labour MP for Ipswich, Sandy Martin, who says he didn't attend PMQs this week as previously the noise has been so loud that he couldn't hear the questions or the answers and that behaviour in the Chamber does need to improve particularly the sexism directed towards female members of the House. He said the Whips of all the parties should do more to combat it. Women in Parliament Debate Westminster Hall.
September 13th 2017
Mims Davies MP & Dawn Butler MP
Mims Davies the Conservative MP for Eastleigh led a debate in Parliament's Westminster Hall calling for more to be done to encourage women to step forward to stand for Parliament. There are currently a record number of women in parliament, 208 now 32 per cent, but her own party lost seats in the last election and the number of women it had dropped while Labour increased its numbers. There was widespread consensus that the parties could do more to encourage women to stand and Harriet Harman MP called for proper maternity leave arrangements for MPs. There have currently been 17 births to women MPs since 2010 but they rely on the whips to allow them to take leave. Others asked for the party whips to allow pairing of those who cannot attend a vote. Mims emphasised how consensual cross party work is in the Commons while the Shadow Equalities spokes, Dawn Butler MP for Brent, suggested that the Election campaigns should be less vicious in how they are fought so candidates are not put off from stepping forward. She also supported positive discrimination while others spoke against it. The debate was called in the week the government rejected all six of the recommendations of the Equalities Select Committee, chaired by the Conservative Maria Miller MP, to set targets, impose fines, and asking the parties to publish data on women candidates.
In this podcast straight after the debate Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com spoke first to Mims Davies MP and then to Dawn Butler MP.
September 5th 2017
#Fawcett Society Job Share MPs
Should returning officers allow candidates to stand as job share MPs? Why do the rules only allow one person to stand as a candidate in a General Election and what has happened to those who have tried to contest a British Election as job share candidates?
Today the campaigning group that took the name of the suffragette Millicent Fawcett, launched their new report on the need for job share MPs in Westminster. They had enlisted the support of the co-leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas MP, who has a job share partner, and even the first job share political editor of the Guardian, Heather Stewart who spoke up in favour of getting more diversity in parliament through job shares. They were joined by academics Dr Rosie Campbell, and Professor Sarah Childs, who had conducted research showing that mothers were under-represented as MPs in Westminster. Candidates from the Green Party and Independents who had tried to stand as job share candidates also had their say about the obstacles the system presented. Finally listening intently to the debate was Baroness Anne Jenkin, co-founder of Women2Win.
Here Boni Sones, Executive Producer, of www.parliamentaryradio.com spoke to them all. She once worked for several years in a job share in the BBC as a Senior Producer.
20th July 2017
Latest NewsJoining us on our Advisory Board
- We welcome the LD MP Jo Swinson, as co-chair of our Advisory Board, who will work with our long serving other co-chair, journalist Jackie Ashley. Also joining our cross party Advisory Board is the Labour MP Daniel Zeichner and the SNP MP DR Lisa Cameron. The Conservative Dame Caroline Spelman MP and Labour's Barbara Keeley MP have been with us for some years, helping to ensure our work is scrutinised and transparent.
- The broadcast journalists Deborah McGurran, and Linda Fairbrother, are well known contributors to our output and we appreciate the advice of Anastasia de Waal, of Civitas. Together we produced good quality audio content with straight up straight down interviews all of which are now housed in three national archives. We also tweet out our interviews weekly for MPs to RT. We are internationally award winning.
Our three National Digital Archives are listed here:
Thanks to Dr Paul Seward, Director of the HPT for our new national audio archive and mention:
- History of Parliament 2017:,
http://historyofparliamentonline.org/ Here is the permanent link to the item:
- We also have a nice new blog May 2017 on the BL site from our Archive housed with them:
BL 2010: http://blogs.bl.uk/sound-and-vision/2017/05/blairs-babes.html Here is further information about our work at the BL: http://www.bl.uk/press-releases/2010/september/hear-hear-the-truth-behind-blairs-babes-and-camerons-cuties. and (https://www.bl.uk/collection-guides/oral-histories-of-politics-and-government?_ga=2.261871566.259969214.1498907009-2139290454.1498732032)
- LSE 2014: Our LSE audio archive can be accessed here https://archives.lse.ac.uk/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=SONES
Our May 2017 article in House Magazine can be read online here: https://reader.exacteditions.com/issues/56283/page/3
July 19th 2017
The last PMQs before the Summer Recess and a question about CSE
Lucy Allan the Conservative MP for Telford asked her own Prime Minister, Theresa May MP if she would look into why offenders jailed for Child Sexual Exploitation were being released so far ahead of their sentences that the victims who had testified against them felt unsafe. She feared it may prevent other victims giving evidence in such CSE trials. Theresa May said Lucy could speak to her ministers about it.
Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com spoke to Lucy straight after PMQs about her important question, and why she had raised it.
Lucy also gave a positive reaction to May's performance and said she would be supporting the Prime Minister over the coming months, and that the party needed her strong leadership while negotiating a Brexit from the EU and coping with a considerable number of other issues including the Grenfell Tower fire, and the terrorist acts in Manchester and London.
She said the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's third visit to her Constituency in as many months tomorrow did not mean Labour could take Telford at the next General Election, but rather, Telford people like her, were natural Conservatives. She was looking forward to the Summer recess and returning renewed.
Lucy said: "In this case there was left a 5 year term from the date of sentencing and it does from a victims' perspective demean the suffering that has been experienced. I think PMQs went very well today there was a spring in Theresa May's step and the backbenchers were all behind her. It has been a very difficult period and the GE was a huge shock to the parliamentary party, and then there were terrorist incidents and the Grenfell Tower disaster, and responding to all these events, and then having to negotiate Brexit without the mandate she had wanted. The 2015 and 2017 intake is massively supportive of Theresa May. She has finished on a positive note and we will be coming back in September in a very different frame of mind. "
July 19th 2017
Making her maiden speech and standing up for Peterborough
Fiona Onasanya the new Labour MP for Peterborough has created quite an impression in Westminster after making her maiden speech and not only speaking up for the diverse communities within Peterborough but also paying tribute to the Conservative MP she defeated. Homelessness, education and health were issues she raised, and she is determined that as a black woman and one of 119 Labour women she will champion equality issues. Making housing safe following the Grenfell Tower fire and ensuring Peterborough gets a University and that Britain Brexit's the EU are top of her "to do" list.
Here she spoke to Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com just after the last PMQs before Parliament goes into recess. There were a few cheers as she pointed to a old portrait of a male dominated Westminster which has now changed out of all recognition with a record 208 women elected to the 2017 Parliament across party.
Fiona said: "The portrait is a picture of parliament in 1987, and if you look at that you can only see six women and everyone is Caucasian. But now you can see the different colours and different colour and backgrounds and now more women. I am proud to be here and feel privileged to serve Peterborough. The 119 Labour women are an inspiration, but we can't sit back, there is more to do and there are cross party groups too."
July 12th 2017
Abuse of MPs debate Westminster Hall
Heidi Allen, the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire and Dr Lisa Cameron, the SNP MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow discuss the abuse MPs of all parties receive, both online and in person.
In a debate today in Westminster Hall, they joined others in speaking about the threats and abuse they have received whilst campaigning and in their work which appears to be worse than previously experienced in past General Election campaigns and parliaments.
Heidi said: "I found myself crying repeatedly with accounts from both sides of the House, particularly with the racist stories, I don't know why I found that so upsetting but I did. I realise how fortunate I have been I have suffered from quite a bit of online abuse, but during the election I was OK."
Lisa said: "I spoke about the disappointment that I had to have this debate, because of the severity and nature of the abuse that candidates describe. I think this is appalling and it is a shame that this is happening in Society and that we are losing good candidates and that people who might want to stand for parliament will be put off in terms of the parliamentary and we will lose good future MPs."
July 12th 2017
Celebrating 50 years of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 #History of Parliament Trust Event Speakers House
Norena Shopland, the LGB historian, and the former project manager of Pride Cymru (one of Cardiff's leading LGBT+ charities), tells Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com why the Sexual Offences Act passed in 1967 was just the beginning of the journey to legitimise homosexual relationships between men and women, which had previously been regarded as a criminal act.
Norena's new book Forbidden Lives is to be published in September. @NorenaShopland
Norena said: "I spend all my life going round saying that the Sexual Offences Act 1967 was a partial move towards equality. It was meant to prevent blackmail, and also men over the age of 21 alone in the house could be legalised but it had odd quirks, so if you agreed to meet outside the house it was illegal. One of the interesting things about the SOA, was that people were complaining about homosexual acts in public places, and prostitution, and the remit was to take it out of public spaces, so it was legal for two men in a house. It was not about the decriminalisation of homosexuality."
July 6th 2017
Women and Equalities debate
Paula Sherriff the Labour MP for Dewsbury and the shadow Equalities spokes talks to Boni Sones executive producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com about today's Equalities Debate in the Chamber and her views on: women and abortion, her question on LGBT rights and challenging the DUP who are now in a supply and confidence agreement to prop up the minority Conservative government; #WASPI women, and yesterday's Westminster Hall Debate where women in their 60s were told by a government minister to take up apprenticeships; and women's access to employment tribunals when they dismissed when pregnant and the high costs of taking such a case and much, much more.
Paula has women and the menopause on her to do list next.
Paula said: "I think a lot of people are very concerned about the deal this government has struck with the DUP and the one billion they appear to have located from the magic money tree. The abhorrent views the DUP hold and today's question was around some of the remarks they have made about homosexuality, and they have said it is vile, abhorrent, obnoxious, and it is important for the government to say it does not subscribe to these views. And the minister Justine Greening MP said she did not subscribe to these views and would join the Pride march this weekend, but I am still concerned that this government has gone into a confidence and supply agreement with a party that holds these views."
June 22nd 2017
#Three MPs give their reaction to the #Queens Speech
A general election failed to secure the Conservative government the majority it had hoped for. As a new Conservative government but still with Theresa May as Prime Minister takes over and as Britain begins its Brexit talks Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com speaks to a Conservative, Labour, and Green MP about their reaction to last weeks #Queen'sSpeech.
First we hear from Maria Miller, the Conservative MP for Basingstoke, who chaired the Equalities Select Committee on the #Queen'sSpeech proposal to appoint a new Domestic Violence Commissioner and allow alleged rape victims to give evidence remotely rather than face their alleged attackers face to face in Court.
We speak to Angela Rayner, the Labour MP for Ashton-under-Lyne and her parties Education Spokes about Labour's plans for this new parliament and her reaction to the #Queen'sSpeech.
Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party and the MP for Brighton Pavilion, says why the Green's welcome some of the earlier #Queen'sSpeech proposals being dropped but says it still falls far short of the necessary measures to protect the environment particularly as the UK plans to leave the EU and may even boot out some of the environmental legislation already on the books.
June 8th 2017
#GE 2017 The Political Reporters
In this exclusive 50 minute audio documentary Boni Sones Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com talks to six members of the Press Gallery about their reporting of #GE2017.
With less than 24 hours to go before the GE on June 8th Boni spoke to each in turn. First you hear from Matt Chorley of The Times and Chairman of the Press Gallery, then Alison Little, of the Daily Express. We later hear from Nigel Nelson of the Mirror and the People and Jessica Elgot of the Guardian. They are followed by Torcuil Crighton of The Record, a Scottish paper, and Jon Vale of the Press Association.
Jessica and Jon are newcomers to the Gallery while Matt, Alison, Nigel, and Torcuil are
"old hands" who may have been a bit battle bus and twitter weary but all give compelling first hand accounts of what it is like to report on the campaigns. They recall the gaffs and successes of the #GE2017 which has been one of the most tumultuous ever with Theresa May's Conservatives only just able to scrape a majority in the Commons despite forecasts of a landslide victory and huge poll lead at the beginning.
Journalism, all agree, has never been in ruder health, despite the rise of citizen's journalism and more deadlines than ever to meet.
My thanks to them all. This documentary will go into the National Archives.
June 9th 2017
#GE2017 Thunderous win 4Daniel Zeichner in Cambridge
Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com ventured into Cambridge Guildhall on June 8th 2017 for the second General Election in two years. It was won again with a huge majority by Daniel Zeichner for Labour.
Here Boni captures loud applause and commentary from the press gallery far above the floor of the Guildhall as Daniel arrives at the count, the Mayor of Cambridge announcing the result, the reaction of Daniel and his colleagues to his win, credited to the student vote, and then she speaks to Daniel himself.
There are also interviews with Daniel and a switch voter, Alison Litherland, and Julian Huppert the PPC for the LDs for Cambridge and a LD party worker, Colin Rosenstiel.
8th June 2017
Women's Rights are Human Rights
On the day UK voters went to the polls to select another government, students at Lucy Cavendish College at the University of Cambridge heard a presentation from Prof Dalia Leinarte, on the "Implementation of Women's Rights". It seemed somehow fitting.
Dalia is Chairperson of the UN Convention on the Eliminator of all Forms of Discrimination against Women Committee otherwise known as CEDAW.
Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com sat down to talk to Dalia about women's rights globally, slavery, the targeting of women by Isis, work home life balance, and why the UK itself has been so slow to achieve a gender balanced parliament.
May 24th 2017
Gisela Stuart bows out but she has no regrets
Gisela Stuart, the former MP for Birmingham Edgbaston reflects on her 20 year political career in Parliament and as Chair of Vote Leave.
Gisela was elected in the Labour landslide of 1997, that saw 101 Labour women elected to Parliament and went on to serve as a junior minister in Tony Blair's governments before joining the Select Committees on Foreign Affairs and then Defence.
In her constituency she has campaigned for and succeeded in getting a new hospital and rail station. But she will best be remembered for leading the campaign for Britain to Brexit the EU. She was Chair of Vote Leave and then subsequently Chair of Change Britain.
Here she talks to Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com an organisation she has supported and encouraged in Westminster while also being Editor of the weekly publication The House Magazine.
May 2nd 2017
My new book When There's a Woman in the Room: Part Two" is published today. See our Books page
You can listen to our 25 minute audio documentary pulling together key interviews we have done over the past ten years with women in all parties in Westminster and the Commonwealth.
May 1st 2017 will be 20 years since 101 Labour women got elected to Parliament following the Labour landslide victory. Their subsequent photo clustered around their Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was ridiculed but we hope that our books and audio podcasts over the past 12 years has helped to write a new #Herstory for them and other women in Parliament.
It's a great listen, and some good career guidance in it too.
You can read about our new book "When There's a Woman in the Room - Part Two" and our third National Archive on our books page. It will be published in May 2017. Thanks to the wwww.parliamentaryradio.com team of journalists and our advisory board MPs for their help. The technology doesn't deliver, the teams do.
We will be updating this page once a month. Week by week you can also listen to our podcasts on soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/bonisones2 and we now distribute them through Twitter https://twitter.com/bonisones2/ with_replies. Do tune in and Retweet. We use # to distribute and retweets, rather than a mass following.
2017 is our 10th year of broadcasting. Thanks to all. You can read about our history and governance lower down this page. Two books, one international award, and the support of the History of Parliament Trust and other national archives the BL and LSE too. Not bad. Thanks to Rich our web manager.
March 15th 2017
Brexiting the EU
In the same week as MPs vote through Theresa May's European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill without the two amendments made by the House of Lords, Maria Caulfield, the Conservative MP for Lewes tells us why as a member of the Brexit Select Committee she wants EU Citizens to have a right to remain in the EU.
Maternity Rights at Work Debate
Sharon Hodgson Labour's Shadow Public Health Spokes and the MP for Washington and Sunderland West brought her maternity rights at work debate to Westminster Hall today.
You can read more about what they said here (PDF).)
March 9th 2017
International Women's Day 2017
In this special 25 minute documentary we speak to Lucy Allan the Conservative MP for Telford and Fiona Mactaggart the Labour MP for Slough about their moving International Women's Day Speeches earlier in the House of Commons and about Chancellor Philip Hammond's 8th March Budget.
Lucy spoke movingly about gender based violence crimes and about her great grandmother who as a suffragette was force fed. Fiona spoke powerfully about rape as a weapon of war and the treatment of Yazidi women under the Daesh regimes of oppression and brutality. There were also three special announcements in the budget to help women given that it was held on #IWD2017 but could more have been done?
You can listen here
and read what they said here (PDF).
March 8th 2017
Three Campaigns championed by MPs in Westminster - dress codes, children of alcoholics and #WASPI Northern Ireland
In this 30 minute podcast documentary looking at topical campaigns in Westminster in March 2017, we speak to Helen Jones, the Labour MP for Warrington North who sits on the Commons Petitions Committee about her debate on dress codes and high heels. Then we ask Caroline Flint the Labour MP for Don Valley, who has joined with others to get more help for children of Alcoholics to set out what she wants ministers to do. Caroline has recently spoken about being a child of an alcoholic parent.
We end by talking to five Northern Ireland #WASPI women: Angela, Shirley, Bernadette, Maureen and Marion and the MP Alasdair McDonnell the SD and Labour MP for South Belfast who met the women after they marched on Westminster on #IWD 2017.
You can listen here
and read what they said here (PDF).
Liz Saville-Roberts MP for Plaid Dwyfor Meirionnydd has introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill on a Rape Complainants Sexual History that will get its Second Reading on March 24 2017.
We interviewed Liz just after she presented her Bill to the House to the sound of cheers from all parties.
You can read her quotes from our interview here..
Chi Onwurah MP speaks up for the #WASPI campaign and says No to the Brexit Bill
In this special interview we talk to Chi Onwurah Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central about her #WASPI debate in Westminster Hall on 9th February 2017. The night before Chi had just voted against the Brexit Bill in defiance of her own party whip. Chi said: "It really is a matter of inter-generational justice that these #WASPI women are better taken care." On Brexit she added: "This is not a Brexit about the will of the people this is a Tory Brexit and I cannot vote for that."
You can read more key quotes from her podcast here.
Brexiting the EU to be or not to be
In the first part of our special two part documentary for February 2017 we hear from the opposition parties on the second reading of the recent reading of the Brexit Bill to take the UK out of the EU. First Boni Sones talks to the Labour MP Seema Malhotra, then the SNP MP Eilidih Whiteford and finally the LD candidate for Cambridge and former MP Julian Huppert.
Conservative women champion Equality, World Poverty and Human Rights
In part two of our documentary you can hear from three Conservative Women on their fight for equalities, world proverty and human trafficking. We speak to Maria Miller MP Chair of the influential Equalities Select Committee, Caroline Spelman MP a Second Church Estates Commissioner, and Heidi Allen who sits on the Work and Pensions Select Committee.
You can read quotes from these interviews and our web links in this pdf.
Heidi Allen MP
Helping the victims of Modern Day Slavery get more help in 2017
Heidi Allen the Conservative MP for South Cambridgeshire and a member of the Select Committee on Work and Pensions discusses her recent question to the Prime Minister Theresa May on helping the victims of modern day slavery to be fast tracked through the benefit system to enable them to access help more easily.
Heidi says that in 2017 proposed changes to the Benefit System will allow dedicated staff at job centres to deal with vulnerable people on a one to one basis and guide them through the system more easily.
Heidi Allen MP hopes that the "sausage machine" mentality of job centres will change, and that more generally people who go to Job Centres will get more personalised help. She says she would love to be put in charge of them. She admits that Britain leaving the EU could result in more people turning to Job Centres for help as the economy slows up.
She also discusses her Conservative values, her work in the year ahead and her bid to become the Mayor of Cambridge as well as an MP. Since the death of Jo Cox, Heidi now has a member of staff accompanying her around her constituency where Boni Sones, Executive Producer of www.parliamentaryradio.com caught up with her at one of her local surgeries.
Key Quote Heidi: "There is a real determination to make the way we deliver benefits more efficient and to deliver them in a better way. Less sausage machine, more good progress, trained work coaches and more compassion in individual treatment... Do I think it is possible to turn the brand and the culture of the job centres round? "Yes" I do, and I wish I was the one delivering it. I would love that job... It's not the government, it's not the system that gets it wrong, it is human beings. It is somebody saying "No" on a computer screen... We need a cultural change. ..We may well see higher volume (in job centres as a result of Brexit), if we do, we must not return to the sausage machine days of old. We have to look after people as individuals, it is possible but it is going to be a huge cultural challenge."
Production Note January 2017 (.pdf)