The Government set out its legislative agenda in the Queen's Speech this week. I spoke in the debate that followed and challenged the Government for, again, failing to fix the long-term issues it keeps avoiding.
Busy week in the lead up to prorogation. There was good news with the Domestic Abuse Bill becoming law. But the bad news is that the Government, once again, rejected proposals to protect leaseholders from cladding costs.
Also this week, the Electoral Commissionn announced an investigation into Conservative Party over the funding for the renovation of the Prime Minister's Downing Street flat. And the Public Accounts Committee held a meeting on the Culture Recovery Fund.
This week the Public Accounts Committee questioned the most senior Treasury officials about their contact with David Cameron and Lex Greensill. This is just the beginning of our work on lobbying and the Greensill scandal - we’ll be working closely with our sister select committees to pursue this issue. See here to watch a recording of the session.
This week I've been working with my frontbench Labour colleagues to press the Government over lobbying and the Greensill scandal. I challenged a Minister at an Urgent Question (see here) and I voted in favour of a parliamentary inquiry to get to the bottom of this. The Government's majority meant this initiative was defeated but the Public Accounts Committee will be investigating alongside other select committees. See my round-up for further details.
Too many young Londoners are priced out of citizenship because of the high cost of fees. Currently a young person applying for citizenship must complete five separate costly applications. A single ‘leave to remain’ application costs £2593. This must be renewed every 30 months for ten years.
I voted against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill at the first parliamentary opportunity. This bill was an opportunity for meaningful sentencing reform. There is an all-time record high backlog of more than 56,000 cases awaiting a hearing. Victims of crime are being asked to wait up to 4 years to get to court.
The Government allocated £37 billion for Test and Trace and yet despite the unimaginable resources thrown at this project, Test and Trace cannot point to a measurable difference to the progress of the pandemic. Taxpayers are not the Government's ATM machine. We need a clear plan and costs better controlled. The Public Accounts Committee will return to our investigation on this in the summer.
The big event in Parliament this week was the Budget and I challenged the Chancellor for its complete lack of vision. There was little in it for supporting people into affordable homes, it failed to properly grapple with the transition to a net zero carbon economy, and there was no long term plan for social care.
This week the Government failed to protect leaseholders from bankrupting cladding costs in the Fire Safety Bill. The cladding scandal is the biggest consumer and fire safety failure in a generation. I challenged the Government on this in my speech at the debate (see the video here and the transcript here).
Only 10% of the required personal protective equipment (PPE) arrived in care homes at the beginning of the pandemic. This put care home residents, frontline workers, and their families at risk. The Public Accounts Committee called out the Government on this in its report this week and I'll continue pressing on the issues with Government procurement.