I remain hugely concerned about the impact on children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, of a loss of face-to-face teaching. In Hackney we had seen the gap in attainment narrowing significantly; the pandemic is reversing this progress. Students who study practical and artistic subjects at school are also particularly disadvantaged when forced to learn from home.
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.
On this important day normally I meet with others in Hackney and have the privilege of hearing from survivors of the Holocaust. This year, due to COVID-19, I attended a virtual memorial event and filmed a video on this year’s theme “be the light in the darkness.”
It's vital we do not lose our vigilance against the virus. COVID-19 infection rates are still very high; we must all stay at home as much as possible in order to protect the NHS and help save lives.
Today at the Public Accounts Committee, the head of HM Revenues and Customs confirmed that the Government's decision to prioritise flows of lorries and cars means the taxpayer is expected to miss out on £800 million in lost customs and VAT fees.
This is not good enough. It is a direct result of the Government's poor planning for Brexit.
I'll remain on the case.
Creative industry workers and businesses have been hit with the double whammy of Brexit and COVID-19. I'm organising a virtual creative industries roundtable with the shadow minister to discuss these issues and feed in examples to press the Government.
The creative industries roundtable will take place on Wednesday 3 February at 4pm. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details and to register.
At 2:30pm today, I'll be questioning officials in charge of the UK's vaccine rollout.
I'll be asking about the Government’s approach in securing potential vaccines, updates on progress, and challenging officials on the early stages of the rollout.
Watch the Public Accounts Committee hearing live here.
I have just been briefed by the Director of Public Health for London and senior NHS colleagues.
The rate of the virus is very high in London, which is now in a state of emergency. The COVID infection rate is over 1000 per 100,000 people which is much higher than at any time in the last 10 months. In North East London one in twenty people has the virus.
This weekend is critical.
On the 31 December 2020, the Government announced that Hackney primary schools were excluded from the list of boroughs whose school terms were due to be delayed on public health grounds.
This decision did not reflect the advice for London from public health experts. I joined colleagues to call on the Secretary of State for Educaton to urgently reconsider this decision. See the full text of the letter below.
My office will be shut over the Christmas period and will re-open on Monday 4th January. During that time my emails and phones will not be monitored daily.
For urgent assistance, please see below for a list of services that should be able to offer assistance.
I hope you all have a safe festive period.