A judicial review this month found the Government had acted unlawfully by failing to publish on time the contracts for PPE procurement signed at the beginning of the pandemic. The Public Accounts Committee also called out the Government on its late publication of contracts. The Government’s response has been to selectively quote from a National Audit Office report by suggesting that the NAO concluded there was never a national shortage of PPE (when, in fact, the NAO was simply quoting what NHS providers had told it).
It is vital children have access to regular, nutritious, healthy food. In Hackney, too many children are forced to skip breakfast and turn up to school hungry. This is unacceptable and has a significant detrimental impact on children’s concentration and learning. I support the excellent work of the charity Magic Breakfast which works with schools in Hackney to provide healthy breakfast food and expert support. Find out more about their work here.
The UK’s transition period with the European Union came to an end on 31 December.
Four and a half years after the Brexit referendum, and after three years of detailed negotiations, the UK Government finally agreed a deal on Christmas Eve.
Parliament was recalled on 30 December to vote on a hastily drafted bill which would give force to the deal in UK law. We had a total of five hours to debate and vote on this bill before it went to the House of Lords and then finally was given Royal Assent, in the early hours of 31 December.
As I write, we still have no idea whether the UK will secure a trading deal with the EU after the 31 December or if we are crashing out with no deal. This past year was supposed to be the transition period in the Brexit process - the period of time in which businesses, consumers, and regulatory agencies had to adapt to the new UK-EU trading relationship. Instead there will be, at best, a few days’ notice. This is completely unacceptable and will mean disruption as businesses adapt to new arrangements.
In July a number of constituents wrote to me to raise their concerns about keeping our high food standards in any trade deal with the US.
I recently received this response from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Victoria Prentis MP.
I’ve been clear that I oppose this Government’s decision to cut the UK aid budget from 0.7 to 0.5 per cent of GDP. This only saves approximately £4 billion but will have a significant impact in supporting people in need across the world, especially during a global pandemic.
I wrote to the Chancellor and urged him to reconsider this decision.
On 2 December the Home Office scheduled a departure flight to Jamaica.
Before the flight’s departure, I wrote to the Home Secretary on this issue and have now received the below response. Please open the pdf attachment at the bottom of this post to see the response in full.
After a decade of austerity, it’s easy for the Chancellor to say local authorities are receiving more cash than last year.
Councils are often at the frontline of providing vital services – the Government needs to step up and support hard-pressed councils.