Seven per cent of deaths of people over 30 in Hackney can be attributed to particulate air pollution. The Public Accounts Committee held a hearing on this issue and pressed senior officials on what steps the Government will take to address this issue. But it's also a reminder of the urgent need to tackle the climate emergency. Whilst air pollution in general has decreased over decades, the level of nitrogen dioxide is breaching local limits in many areas.
Between 2010-2020, the Government reduced funding to NHS dentists by a quarter. Labour called a debate in the House of Commons on access to NHS dentistry and I made the point that the Government is woefully underdelivering on this issue. Difficulties with accessing NHS dentistry has been an issue since before COVID-19 hit. The pandemic has only made things worse and the Government has been too slow to act. I’ll keep urging it to step up and fix this issue.
After two years of lockdown and no travel, it was entirely predictable that there would be an increase in passport demand. There is now a serious backlog in processing passport applications. Labour called a debate in the House of Commons to highlight the issue and press the Government for action. I’ve also been helping constituents get their passports returned in time for funerals, weddings, and holidays but the Government has been asleep on the job. It is not good enough and the Government must urgently step up and fix this issue.
This week, the Prime Minister faced a vote of confidence by his MPs. Although a majority of Conservative MPs voted in support of the Prime Minister, over 40 per cent confirmed that they do not have confidence in his leadership. This is a damning indictment of a government in shambles, with eyewatering backlogs in the immigration system, the NHS, and the courts.
The Sue Gray report was published in full this week. It makes for damning reading as it outlines in detail the boozing and partying at multiple parties in the heart of government during lockdown. It concludes that both the political and official senior leadership must take responsibility for the partying and rule-breaking culture at the heart of government. Read the full report here.
Figures released this week show inflation reaching nine per cent in April whilst for the poorest household this figure is closer to eleven per cent. This means the price of weekly essentials (like food, energy, and transport) is going up, hitting the poorest households the hardest. Already one-in-two Hackney children live in poverty when housing costs are taken into accounts – struggling Hackney families are being pushed to the brink. The Government’s response is to bury its head in the sand. It is refusing to see the urgency of the issue.
Parliament returned this week and began with the Queen’s Speech, which sets out the Government’s legislative agenda for the next parliamentary session. It was delivered by Prince Charles this year who announced the Government’s plans for 38 new bills. Sadly many of them are just headlines with no detail – like levelling up. I spoke in the Queen’s Speech and highlighted the real poverty in Hackney, which levelling up does not address. Hackney is the seventh most deprived borough but is only in the ‘priority two’ group in the Government’s Levelling Up Fund.
The Prime Minister has been referred to the Privileges Committee of the House of Commons, which looks into allegations that MPs have misled Parliament. This is the first time a sitting Prime Minister has ever been referred to the committee. Even the Prime Minister’s own backbenchers were lining up to criticise him for his shameful behaviour partying during lockdown.
The Prime Minister and Chancellor have both been fined by the police for partying during lockdown. It beggars belief that when we were unable to visit dying relatives or even spend Christmas with our loved ones there were boozy parties going on in the heart of Government. The Prime Minister has failed to own up to his own involvement in these events, preferring to deflect responsibility to others.