Working for a better Europe

It is important that we have good relations with mainland Europe whatever the outcome of Brexit.  There is a lot of good history here. Since the end of the Second World War, together with the rest of Europe, we have established a world leading focus on human rights, on democracy and on the rule of law.  These three things underpin the stability and security we all feel across the continent. The Henley constituency is part of this; it forms a part of our everyday lives.  But that Europe is much bigger than the EU and it is much older. It is a Europe represented by the Council of Europe – a body of 47 countries completely separate from the EU. I am a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council. The UK delegation is cross-party. The Council covers key issues of importance to us all such as climate change. the treatment of refugees and child sexual exploitation. In France, for example, it is helping fund ground breaking cancer research. The Council meets four times a year and I have personally spoken on protecting whistle-blowers, treatment of migrants, violence against women, on extending the ombudsman schemes, and on how to run referenda. It is the Council which has led the way in gender equality, in fighting racism and antisemitism, in fighting violence against children, and, in ensuring we have access to good quality medicines and health care. All of these are important to the people of this constituency.

I have also had the honour of representing the Council itself to award a prize to the French town of Suresnes for its work in human rights, in democracy and the rule of law. It is a prize which has also been won in the past by the town of Coventry.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council is drawn from parliamentarians across the wider Europe including Russia, Israel and the Palestinians are associate members.    


John speaks out in support of whistleblowers

John spoke today on whistleblowing at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. He praised the rights of whistleblowers to raise issues of public interest without sacrificing their personal lives or that of their families.

Council of Europe: allowing the Russians back in

The Council of Europe debated a report called "Strengthening the decision-making process of the Parliamentary Assembly concerning credentials and voting".  Essentially this was about allowing the Russians back in with no cionditions on their membership.  It was the Russians who had chosen to excl

Council of Europe: budget and expenditure of the Council of Europe

In this speech I challenged the Council of Europe to look at what it does and how it does it.  This was in the continued absence of the money owed by the Russians.  There was a tendency for it to do too much and not concetrate on its core values.  Requests for more money from existing members was

Council of Europe: Ending violence against children

I gave a speech in this debate to empathise with the calls to protect children. I pointed to the importance of the Lanzarote Convention the first international legal instrument aiming to prevent, criminalise and combat all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation of children.