I am thrilled that I received my Vaccine a few days ago and whilst the short term impact was not particularly enjoyable for me, it is very much more appealing than the prospect of COVID-19. A few days earlier I had read about Caroline Lucas praising the people in the Brighton Centre for how they had delivered the vaccination to her. I was delighted to attend the same location myself although the last time I was in the Centre was to watch people receiving their degrees so it was a very different context. However, it was amazing just how significant the process was in terms of the numbers of volunteers as well as NHS staff who were contributing. It is clearly something we need to celebrate, in the same way as the degrees were being celebrated a couple of years ago. A few hours after my injection, a Sussex MP took part in the Prime Minister Question session. Nusrat Ghani is the MP for Wealden where the business I work for is based. She told Mr Johnson
In Sussex, by the end of this week we will have delivered 1 million covid jabs. Will my right hon. Friend join me in paying tribute to the local vaccine heroes … Does the Prime Minister agree that the UK’s success is built on the confidence that people have in the fantastic vaccine technology and that should, and when, our constituents be contacted to have a vaccination, they should definitely take up the first available appointment?
Inevitably Johnson agreed with her and thanked the same people that she mentioned. The reality is that based on the numbers of people I met or passed to receive the vaccination there must be many hundreds of people in Sussex and many thousands of people across the nation whose work and volunteering is making it possible for us to receive these injections. Although a million in Sussex is nearly two thirds of our residents, there are more than a half million to go and we do need to join Nusrat and Caroline in encouraging people to get vaccinated. Along with the positive aspects of the words from Nusrat Ghani and Caroline Lucas regarding the Covid Vaccine, I am also very pleased that Nusrat was referring to the whole of Sussex in her question. Indeed she was the only Sussex MP who took part in that session but it would have been easy for her to only focus on her constituency or the East Sussex area. Along with thanking these MPs for applauding the vaccinators, we need to also persuade them to work together for the whole of our area to improve our lives in many other ways.
On the same day that the Sussex Vaccinations got a mention in the House of Commons, there was a very significant debate in the House of Lords. The Lords were signing off the Third Reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill and it is now waiting for the amendments to be signed off before it will be taken for Royal Assent. One of the people who spoke during the debate was Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb who is closely connected to our area and she stated very clearly
The Minister said something about this showing your Lordships’ House at its best, but I would argue the Bill shows the Government at their best as well. I wish this were the pattern with all Bills—that this House does its stuff and the Government listen. That would mean we produced much better legislation every time.
It would be fantastic if we could find a way to dramatically improve matters for all people through such an approach. One element that has so far been ignored by the Government is a request set out by a group of MPs from both Labour and the Conservatives including Sally-Ann Hart from Hastings and Rye. The Bill was first introduced on 23rd February called “Youth Courts and Sentencing Bill” which is a private members’ bill. It is very simple. If someone commits an offence when they are under 18, they would then be treated as a child in the Court, even if there is a delay in them getting to Court. As a Minister in the House of Lords explained last Tuesday
Courts are working to prioritise trials involving youth defendants, particularly when they involve a child who is about to turn 18. When a child turns 18 after an offence is committed but before they appear in court, they must be tried as an adult.
When the Bill was first read, the statement was that it would get its second reading tomorrow. So far that has not happened after 5 weeks and it clearly needs to get pushed higher up the Parliamentary agenda as a matter of priority.