Helen Grant MP holds the Government and OFCOM to account on diversity at the BBC

Westminster, London 18-10-16: As the BBC Charter renewal was debated in the Commons, Tory diversity champion Helen Grant MP ratchetted up the pressure to deliver a truly diverse future at the BBC.

In a speech described by Labour opposition MP Helen Goodman as "characteristically powerful", Mrs Grant set out a list of requests for the Secretary of State, her Minister and OFCOM to plug the gaps in the Charter and the Agreement; whilst stressing in her speech, transparency drives diversity.

The MP for Maidstone & The Weald noted the Department for Culture, Media and Sport had published helpful information sheets on a large number of policy areas. However the department has failed to produce a comprehensive document setting out the diversity and equal opportunities processes. Mrs Grant pressed for such a comparable document from the Secretary of State and her Ministers to be published as soon as possible.

Helen also asked for the Secretary of State to confirm that the diversity recruitment provisions, would apply equally to off-screen and on-screen personnel, from all suppliers both internally and third party contractors. This is to reflect the fact that the Draft Charter states, the BBC must ensure it reflects the diverse communities of the whole of the United Kingdom.

Mrs Grant further pressed for the BCC to make the public aware of their arrangements to achieve equal opportunities in relation to disability, race and sex and for the Secretary of State to pay special attention to the word "effectiveness", used in the Draft Charter, to ensure the process delivers effective action.

You can read the full debate here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-10-18/debates/D090AC21-5D2E-443F-90BA-FC41F263F6D0/Broadcasting

Anti-Slavery Day 2016 - 21-10-16 

Four years ago, the Kent Messenger broke a story about slavery in Maidstone; 30 Lithuanian men living in squalid conditions and threatened with violence if they failed to obey their chicken-catching gang-masters.

Sadly this was not an isolated incident. Worldwide there are 45.8 million people enslaved; nearly 1 in every 3 detected victims is a child and over half are women and girls.

Due to our proximity to Europe, Kent is particularly susceptible to human trafficking. It is high on the agenda for Kent Police who are involved in a Pan-European initiative to crack down on modern slavery across the county.

Even as I write, news is breaking about four Romanian women being rescued from sex slavery in a semi-detached house in Ashford. This was part of a nationwide coordinated response against human trafficking for sexual exploitation, named Operation Perceptional. The initiative began on 10th October and concludes on 21st October. It has already resulted in 9 arrests and 7 warrants being carried out, one of which was in Maidstone.

It is no coincidence that the timing of this initiative coincides with Anti-Slavery Day on Tuesday 18th October. Since being introduced in 2010, its aim is to acknowledge that despite being abolished more than 200 years ago, slavery still exists. It is going on under our noses every day through sexual exploitation, the use and abuse of unaccompanied children, the mistreatment of agricultural workers and more.

As your MP and as a Trustee of the Human Trafficking Foundation, I am fortunate to be able to use this valuable column to raise awareness and play my small part in combating the scourge that is modern slavery.

If you want to learn more about what slavery means today, how to spot the signs and how to report it safely, please visit www.modernslavery.co.uk or call 0800 0121 700 (24 hours). Calls can be made anonymously and are free from landlines and most mobile phones.


Helen's weekly column is published every Friday in the Kent Messenger.  The content shown here may differ slightly from the press version.

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