Our public library service which has been the envy of the world is under threat. Public libraries providing free access to books and a range of media and a quiet place to read or work are an integral part of our communities but it seems they are set to become a thing of the past. Since 2010, 343 libraries have been forced to close as a result of Government funding cuts not only depriving communities of a vital resource but leading to the loss of 8,000 jobs. This year further cuts will lead to the closure of many more.
As a Labour Member of Parliament and an internationalist I am committed to the protection and promotion of human rights and democracy across the world. Recently I have taken an interest in the current political crisis in the Maldives, where to date hundreds of protestors are imprisoned, this includes the first democratically elected President Mohammed Nasheed who is currently on temporary medical leave in the UK.
Last week I met with the Deputy High Commissioner of the Maldives Mr Hassan Shifau, and raised my concerns about reports of human rights violations in the Maldives, as well as the need for further democratic reform which would see all parties and groups in the Maldives represented in Government.