First Sikh woman MP in Britain joins key House panel
London: The first Sikh woman MP in Britain, Preet Kaur Gill, has been selected as a member of an influential parliamentary select committee which scrutinises the work of the home office.
The Labour MP, who won the Birmingham Edgbaston seat in the UK elections 2017, will be one of 11 MPs on the cross-party home affairs committee, which investigates the spending, policy and administration of the ministerial department.
Labour MP Keith Vaz had been chair of the select committee for nine years until September 2016 when he was forced to stand down following allegations involving drugs and prostitutes.
Gill said she had put herself forward for the role and was delighted to hear she had been selected. This committee had ceased to exist when Parliament was dissolved. Now it is being re-appointed.
“I find the subject matter in what they scrutinise really interesting and wide-ranging. I am particularly interested in child sex exploitation,” said Gill, who has worked with street children in Delhi and was previously a children’s services manager in Birmingham.
The committee chooses its own subjects of inquiry within the remit of the home office. Previous inquiries have looked at extremism, hate crime, immigration, asylum, human trafficking, drugs, prostitution, counter-terrorism, extradition and the police. It publishes reports and the Government must respond to its recommendations.
The 44-year-old said other topics that interested her were domestic violence and hate crime.
“There has been a big increase in hate crime in the UK often targeted at Sikhs who wear turbans and have beards. The government’s hate crime action plan has been focused on the Abrahamic faith and has ignored Sikhs. I want to make sure the Government is doing enough to address this,” Gill said.
As a committee member, Gill will be able to ask questions, call in ministers and ask anyone to give evidence on any topic the committee is inquiring about to hold the government to account, reported the Times of India.
Gill, whose family is from Jamsher, in Jalandhar, Punjab,+ said she first planned to sit down with the chair Yvette Cooper MP. “I want to be clear on what’s already been scrutinised and then be clear on what is a really high priority. There will be lot of areas we can look at like immigration,” she said.
“This committee deals with important matters like asylum, countering extremism, child sexual exploitation and grooming,” said Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation UK. “Preet will have an opportunity to question the home secretary and senior officials at the home office and influence their thinking.”
Gill has also been elected chair of the all-party parliamentary group for British Sikhs, which promotes the interests of Sikhs in Britain.