I’ve joined forces with my fellow Bristol MPs this week to call for an emergency Jobs Summit to support people who have been made redundant and help them back into work. The Prime Minister’s overhyped ‘announcement’ on Monday was nothing more than a rehash of existing commitments. And with grim news this week that UK firms, including household names such as Airbus and TM Lewin, have slashed over 12,000 jobs in two days, it’s clear we need to do more. In his emergency “mini-Budget” next week the Chancellor needs to present a clear strategy and a package of support to see businesses and workers through this difficult period. As well as sector-specific support for those industries that have been worse hit – from aviation and aerospace to our night-time economy – the Government also needs to support people directly. This includes supporting freelancers and directors of small limited companies who have missed out on previous support and tailoring the furlough scheme by sector, so that businesses that won’t be able to open yet are not forced into making redundancies. You can read more about our call for a Summit here. And if you live in Bristol East and are facing redundancy, then please do get in touch with me to see if I can help in any way.
On Thursday, during Business Questions, I asked the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, about the status of the Environment Bill. With reports that the Bill will not return to committee until September, I am extremely concerned about how the Government will be able to get the Bill through all stages of the legislative process in both the Commons and Lords, as well as setting up a fully functional Office for Environment Protection, before the end of the Brexit transition period. This is an important question that potentially has huge implications for our environment, but all I got in response from the Leader of the House was a rambling response about newts and Gussie Fink-Nottle (a character from PG Wodehouse – so a typically on-the-ball response from my NE Somerset neighbour…). All the signs are that the Government wants developers to be allowed to ride roughshod over environmental protections. We need the OEP in place before year end to ensure that this is not allowed to happen.
I also spoke in Transport Questions on Thursday in my role as shadow Minister for Green Transport, calling on the Government to produce a national strategy to increase cycling and walking in deprived communities. Around 40% of the lowest income households do not have access to a car. We also know from the Government’s own research the same households are deterred from active travel as they tend to live in hazardous environments with more traffic, pollution and on-street parking and less space for cycling and walking.
The benefits of cycling and walking in tackling congestion, air pollution, and carbon emissions are well documented. Active travel also offers a reliable and low-cost way of travelling, which would be a great help to people on lower-incomes. The Government needs to bring forward a plan to make sure it is a safe, accessible and affordable option.
This week is Swift Awareness Week, and as the Parliamentary Species Champion for Swifts I believe it is vital that we do what we can to protect this beautiful species – especially as their numbers are in decline due to the destruction of their habitats. RSPB Love Nature have been mapping swifts to help identify where they breed and where they live, in order to better understand how to protect them. If you see any swifts then please do map them here!
My office remains reachable by phone or email, and as ever, please do contact us if we can help on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 0117 939 9901. Remember – stay home, save lives, and do keep washing your hands!