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Occupying statements

The Occupy London Stock Exchange protest, where a number of activists established a tented encampment outside St Paul's Cathedral in the City in October, received high profile support from elected Green Party officials.
Brighton Pavilion MP and Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, commented:
"As awareness increases of the injustice and unsustainability of the global economic system, more and more people are taking to the streets in opposition.

"The camp that has been set up a stone's throw from the London Stock Exchange is an opportunity to explore a different kind of future to the one the mainstream political parties have constructed.

"The authorities must now respect the right to peaceful protest.

"If they have any sense, they will also start to listen to the voices of those ordinary - and extraordinary people - who want to invest in a greener, fairer future rather than the stocks-and-shares house of sand that sustains corporate capitalism."

Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert, also spoke of the protestors' right to protest:
"The vast majority of people demonstrating want to take part in a peaceful protest to voice their concerns about corporate greed and growing inequality, both at home and around the world. I wholeheartedly support their calls for an end to global tax injustice, independent regulation of the banking industry and concrete action to repair and protect crucial public services. Indeed, these are principles that many would support.

"With unemployment now at its highest level for almost twenty years and the financial system in crisis, it is no wonder that so many people feel betrayed and let down by the governments and the financial sector. The system has, for far too long, been unaccountable and irresponsible and now we are all paying a heavy price. I hope that the UK government listens to the messages of discontent being aired and realise that the public demand positive change."

Rethink migrant workers

Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert, urged the UK government to rethink its position on a package of measures which would provide concrete protection for vulnerable migrant domestic workers at home and around the world.

The International Labour Organisation Convention, responsible for drawing up and overseeing international labour standards, proposed and adopted a new framework for the protection of domestic workers from exploitation and slavery in June 2011.

Despite coming under significant pressure, the UK government stated that migrant domestic workers already benefitted from strong protections under the existing Overseas Domestic Workers visa and that there was no need to create additional obligations in a new Convention. Other arguments included a reluctance to deal with health and safety issues in a household setting, which demonstrates what domestic workers say: they are not seen as real workers but as a pseudo "family member". The Conservative-led government abstained in the vote.

Since the June vote, the government has proposed to scrap the visa, which would remove some of the most fundamental rights of migrant domestic workers, including the right to change employer without losing their immigration status, greatly increasing the risk of exploitation or trafficking by forcing a worker to stay with an abusive employer.

Speaking at a special event in the European Parliament to mark the Solidar Day of Action on Migrant Domestic Workers and Global Social Protection, Jean, a member of the European Parliament Employment and Social Affairs Committee, said:
"Domestic workers are an important part of the workforce and should be entitled to the same rights as any other worker, including pay and working hours. Migrant domestic workers are especially vulnerable. Despite claiming in June that such workers in the UK are adequately provided for, the government has since signalled an intention to reduce their rights as part of its immigration crack-down.

"I urge the UK government to reconsider its proposals to abolish the visa and instead look to improve the working and living conditions of domestic workers without delay by signing and ratifying the new ILO Convention. As Leddy Mozombite from the Domestic Workers Union in Peru said today: "When you are creating laws in Parliament, remember us: we look after your children"

Executing drugs

Green Party MEP Keith Taylor wrote to the European Commission in October calling on them to close the loopholes that have seen legally exported drugs from European countries used in lethal injections for execution.

The tragic execution of Troy Davis in Georgia last month shocked the world and renewed calls for an end to the death penalty. Keith was horrified and deeply saddened by Troy Davis' death, which was carried out despite serious doubts about his guilt. The death penalty fundamentally breaches an individual's right to life and can never be justified.

Keith finds it completely abhorrent that drugs exported from the EU were used in the execution of Troy Davis and others, and he is calling for the EU to immediately close loopholes which have allowed EU drugs to be used in executions.

Keith previously tabled an official written question on this issue stating that the export of such drugs for execution purposes goes against the spirit of the Torture Regulation and calling for a 'catch-all' end use control to the regulation, which would allow member states to prohibit sales of certain drugs on a case-by-case basis when it is clear that their sole use would be in executions.

Since the execution of Troy Davis, many constituents have contacted Keith expressing their concerns about the EU's stance on the exports of death penalty equipment and Keith is urging the Commission to close current loopholes to ensure drugs exported from the EU can never be legally used in executions.

Planning problems

The UK's Green MEPs, Keith Taylor and Jean Lambert, accused the government of showing blatant disregard for the UK's obligations to meet legally binding EU targets on air quality and renewable energy in their proposed National Planning Policy Framework.

The proposed framework removes the 'brownfield development first' policy, taking away the national priority for previously developed land to be developed before greenfield sites are built on. It also removes the 'town centre first' policy for new office developments and weakens the rules for leisure and retail developments. This shift to development outside town centres will create a need for more travel, increasing already dangerously high levels of air pollution. The UK government is currently failing to meet both PM10 and nitrogen dioxide limit values set by the EU in its legislation on air quality.

Investment in renewable energy is also threatened by the proposed National Planning Policy Framework, which fails to include renewable energy requirements. These measures are currently contained in the Regional Spatial Strategies and regional targets, which are due to be abolished. With a reduction in the number of renewable energy projects coming forward the ability of the UK government to achieve their legally binding 15% renewable energy target by 2020 will be called into question.

In their submission to the government's consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework, both MEPs criticise the framework for placing a presumption in favour of development above other considerations, its inadequate definition of 'sustainable development' and the lack of opportunity for democratic public engagement in planning proposals.

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for South East England said: "Allowing developers free rein will threaten the government's ability to meet crucial targets set by the EU to protect citizens' health and to reduce climate emissions. The UK already has some of the most polluted air in Europe. Encouraging more out of town offices, retail parks and leisure developments is only going to make the situation worse. When the UK faces fines of hundreds of millions of pounds the government should be thinking very seriously about how better planning could help tackle this growing public health crisis."

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London said: "If adopted, the government's proposed planning framework will be a developers' charter and nothing more. The presumption in favour of development, which is its driving force, will undermine environmental, carbon reduction and green transport objectives and restrict the voice of local people in decision-making. The UK's EU targets on renewables, air pollution and carbon reduction are all set to suffer as a result. Government claims that this is a framework for sustainable development would be laughable if the consequences were not so serious."

Failing standards

Green Party London Assembly Member and Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones has revealed that only 0.6% of affordable homes that were built in 2010/11 and assessed against the government's Code for Sustainable Homes met the government's zero carbon standard, with none reaching the highest code: level 6. Residents living in a level 6 flat could save £1250 per year in energy bill reductions and energy generation income.

Jenny commented:
"The Mayor and the industry really need to pick up the pace on building high quality affordable homes. They may cost a little more to build, but you aren't really providing people with an affordable home if their energy bills are sky high.

"These figures show that most affordable homes were built to a standard that will probably mean they need an energy efficient refurb in a few years under the Green Deal. We need to be building as close to zero carbon as possible so this isn't necessary."
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