Unless you are glued to Parliament.tv, BBC News, or Twitter, it can sometimes be hard to keep up with what an MP is up to week in, week out. This is why I’m trialling a new weekly round-up: a quick overview of what I’ve been doing over the course of the week as your local MP in Westminster, and here in Bristol East.
This week is a bit of an overview of the new year (and decade!) so far. From now on, I’ll be publishing an update every Friday that Parliament is sitting. Without doubt, the biggest news to have come out of Parliament this month is the EU Withdrawal Bill, including the fact that the Lords amendments, including the Dubs amendment, were voted down. This was perhaps not unexpected, but still extremely disappointing. The Dubs amendment would have ensured that child refugees still had the protections to seek family reunions in the UK and one of the other amendments would have strengthened the position of EU citizens in the UK, with physical documentation that could be used to reassure landlords and employers who are still unsure of the intricacies of EU citizen entitlement to remain in the UK.
This Monday, we marked Holocaust Memorial Day with this year being the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the 25th anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica led by Serbian Ratklo Mladic. 75 years on, it’s still so important that we continue to mark this day in remembrance of those people who were murdered simply for being in some way different. We should take this as a warning that we must be vigilant in society of those trying to isolate people because of their race, their religion, their background, their sexuality and any other attribute that makes them different to some others. Diversity should not be seen as a threat, but rather something that can strengthen our society – our communities, our businesses, our education, as it makes us look at the world a little differently and maybe see new solutions to the problems we face.
I had a very productive meeting with Luke Hall MP, the Minister for Homelessness, to discuss supported housing, particularly in the context of Wick House. Wick House, as many of you will know, was run by a charity but has faced sustained criticism after the deaths of several people at the hostel over the last decade. Of course, they are working with people who have complex needs and who are variously fighting alcohol and drug addition and mental health problems. However, we must ensure that when people come into the care of either the council or a charity, they are given appropriate and adequate care. Hostels where staff are on hand to give support and advice are vital if we are to tackle homelessness, but there must be strong regulation of landlords and house providers to protect the residents and the staff.
The start of a new Parliament means that we can resume our work on the various All-Party Parliamentary Groups and I was pleased to reconvene with the Climate Change Group as well as to resume my role as Vice Chair on the Group for Belize. Climate change is the most pressing issue we face, not only in the UK, but around the world. The consequences of doing nothing do not bear thinking about. Every aspect of life as we currently know it will be affected and we must start to take real action. From reducing our emissions, encouraging other countries to do the same, and to bring about a green industrial revolution, this is something this group will continue to discuss and push the Government on from across the parties.
Last Friday I had a meeting with parents of children with SEND – that’s special educational needs and disabilities. We need to make sure that schools and youth activities are properly funded to care and support children with special needs so that they can reach their potential and are able to lead full lives. I will continue to advocate on behalf of these children and their families to ensure that, in our society, no one is left behind.
I’ve spent part of this week in Strasbourg as part of my work on the Council of Europe. I’ve written about this crucial work, and why it will be come more important than ever following Brexit – you can read the my article here: https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/kerry-mccarthy-after-brexit-the-council-of-europe-will-only-become-more-important-1-6489028
If you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0117 939 9901.
I hope you all have a great weekend!