A few days ago the Minister responsible for Policing under the Home Office leadership of Priti Patel responded to seven written questions that have been set out by Colleen Fletcher who is the Opposition Whip (and MP for Coventry North East). The response from Kit Malthouse which took place on the 16th March began with a very clear claim about “an absolute priority for this Government” which of course using “an” rather than “the” makes it clear that there are more than one absolute priorities for this Government, as indeed there are presumably for all Governments. I did however initially found his claim that for this theme which is “Supporting victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse” that he was making it sound significant. He then stated
In 2020/21 rape support services received £12m (an uplift of 50% per funded centre from 2019/20) in recognition of the extra demand placed upon them and to reduce waiting lists. This is part of the £32m provided to these services for 2019/2022.
A bit later in his response he stated
In recognition of the extra demand paced on services the Ministry of Justice also announced in February an extra £40m in 2021/22 to support victims:
These were the two largest sums referred to. There were several smaller ones, including a number from within the West Midlands as that was part of the questions from Ms Fletcher. However the sums did not go much further in a financial sense. My personal reflection included a current major challenge for Rise UK which is a local charity that has been denied funds from within East Sussex and Brighton and Hove Councils for the next five years. This is despite its very significant 26 year work to deal with Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse in Sussex. I did look up the phrase of Absolute Priority and this seemed to be focused on Financial Accountant actions so that is not very helpful. I then thought it would be worth checking what other priorities there might be from Parliamentary comments. I did not find any reference to the new plan for Boris for his second plane. However there were a number of statements earlier this year (over the last 3 months) most of which came from Ministers
On 24th March from Caroline Dinenage – it is, and it always will be, an absolute priority to protect our democratic and electoral processes.
On 17th March from Simon Hart – Cutting crime is an absolute priority for the UK Government.
On the 9th March Edward Argar stated – However, he is absolutely right to highlight that the absolute priority must be to get the kit to save lives. (he was referring to COVID-19)
Then on the 25th February an MP called Kate Griffiths stated – I welcome the education road map that the Government have set out this week. Getting children back to school is the absolute priority. Face-to-face teaching is vital for children’s educational progress, wellbeing and wider development
On 24th February Edward Argar stated – I thank my hon. Friend. He is absolutely right. Getting PPE to the frontline, procuring what we needed and getting it delivered was the absolute priority.
On 22nd February Lord Moynihan stated – My Lords, this Statement is welcome as an important contribution to the absolute priority of safety in our housing stock and building back better.
On the same day Luke Hall stated – Funding and supporting local government, which has been the backbone of our response to covid-19, remain an absolute priority for this Department.
On the 10th February Kit Malthouse stated – Nevertheless, public safety is an absolute priority for this Government, which is why we are backing the police with the resources and powers that they need to protect our communities.
On the 8th February Kit Malthouse stated – The Government is clear that freedom of the press is an absolute priority.
On the 8th February Chris Philp stated – The Government is clear that freedom of the press is an absolute priority.
On the 8th February Priti Patel stated – my absolute priority is to ensure that Border Force staff are protected, because they come into contact with members of the public every single day.
On the 4th February Nigel Huddleston stated – Also, as we have said before, reopening sports facilities overall will be an absolute priority when the time comes to begin easing some of the current restrictions.
On 27th January Jo Churchill stated – When we last stood opposite each other, Alex Norris challenged me on how to make it clear that patient safety was the absolute priority.
On 26th January Andrew Griffiths stated – I welcome the Minister’s commitment that it is the Government’s absolute priority to reopen schools and get undergraduates back to university.
On 13th January Rebecca Pow stated – River health and the impact of sewer overflows is an absolute priority for me as the Environment Minister, and I am absolutely determined to take action on it.
And finally on 6th January Caroline Nokes stated – I was pleased to hear from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister today that getting schools back is an absolute priority. It must be.
It clearly appears that based on the last 12 weeks there are many themes that appear to be the absolute priorities which our current Government is focusing on and so sadly the claims are not really that significant!