Today is the start of a new half term in Schools and the return to Parliament by MPs after their own week away. This week also involves a visit to Cornwall by representatives of many countries under the title of G7 which our nation is hosting and chairing. This event also resonates with the plans for the COP26 event which we will be hosting in Glasgow in November and co-chairing with Italy. Both of these high-profile international events also resonate with a theme to be raised by a significant number of Conservative MPs today in their call for their government to restore a promise in the 2019 Manifesto. This was
We will proudly maintain our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of the Gross National Income on development, and do more to help countries receiving aid become self-sufficient.
It was deeply disturbing when this government chose to reduce this to 0.5 per cent in a claim that COVID justified it and yet they never allowed their own MPs or any other MPs to be able to endorse that decision. Many of us have found this decision deeply concerning and so the action by some high-profile Conservative MPs to resume to 0.7 per cent is something that many people are very pleased about. The involvement of the previous Prime Minister and the Father of the House of Commons who is the MP for Worthing West should persuade all of the Sussex MPs including those that are members of the Government to support this amendment.
Along with this subject there are other themes that are equally important for many of us that are due to take place in Parliament this week. On Wednesday the items planned for the Main Chamber are listed as “Opposition Day (1st Allotted Day) There will be a debate on a Motion in the name of the Official Opposition. Subject to be announced”. Although most people who live in Sussex are represented by Conservative MPs it is very clear from the 2019 election that less than 51 per cent of the voters in Sussex voted for Conservatives and only 36 per cent of the people who are entitled to vote did so. Yet the number of Conservative MPs currently represents 81.25 per cent of our representatives. Put it another way, 49 per cent of the voters in Sussex are better represented by what happens on Wednesday than what happens during most elements of the rest of the week.
That stated tomorrow two of our Sussex MPs are raising themes in the Westminster Hall debates out of a total of five debates so that is a very significant level of interest from Sussex constituencies. Indeed, there are no other Sussex MPs raising events in the same way in the whole of this week. The first debate in the Hall on Tuesday which is set out for 90 minutes is on the theme of World Ocean Day 2021 which occurs that day so that seems like a very relevant start of the debates. The second debate which starts at 11am in the Hall is from the Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle under the subject of “Social distancing restrictions and support for the night-time economy”. Given the huge range of night-time locations throughout Sussex and particularly in Brighton and Hove this seems a very important debate to take place. Sadly, there is only 30minutes allowed for this which seems rather short. Then at the end of the day Tim Loughton who is the MP for East Worthing and Shoreham is starting a debate which is taking place for an hour so it is twice as long as the debate that Lloyd is able to set out. The theme of his debate is “Future of the learned societies at Burlington House”. I confess I had never heard of Burlington House until I saw this publication but no doubt it is a significant place, based in central London. I would be delighted to find out more from Tim as to why he wanted to set up this debate and perhaps even more importantly, why the debate on the subject of social distancing restrictions and support for the night-time economy is only able to be given half as much as the learned societies from Burlington House.
On a final reflection as the Opposition Day is being planned for Wednesday and so far, there is no announcement of the content. Last week Kevan Collins who was the Government’s school’s catch-up tsar for the last four months resigned because the Government limited his call for funds to education to 10 per cent of what he proposed. Perhaps that could be one of the themes that the opposition day could focus on alongside meaningful Overseas Development and a longer debate on social distancing restrictions and night-time economies!