Every few days in Parliament, events or comments arise that are vital and need to be given a high profile. Last week when the House of Commons reopened there were a number of comments following the terrible murder of David Amess. One of these came from Peter Bottomley who is the MP for West Worthing who made several important elements in his statement. Today there is another important debate about to take place which has the opportunity for MPs to pay attention to the subject. Let us hope that some of our local MPs will participate. Sadly the debate does not involve the whole of Parliament and there is a risk it may not achieve what is clearly a vital element for many people outside of the House of Commons. When Peter Bottomley was speaking last week he used the following words as part of his statement
MPs are in the middle of a pack of people at some risk, including ministers of religion, mental health workers, public transport staff, lone shopkeepers, women police officers, journalists, fair employment builders in Northern Ireland and the judiciary, and especially women and girls going home and at home.
It would be very easy for additional aspects to be added into such a statement but all of these references do deserve to be treated very carefully. Our nation is a very safe environment in many senses compared to other settings but it is also very clear that there are many challenges and it is clearly easy for many of us to be unaware of the challenges that many people do face. A few days ago I was privileged to be part of a discussion which was organised by Sussex Police to reflect on the murder of Sarah Everard and to seek to improve the way in which the police can protect people who are threatened. The calls that emerged made it very clear that there are many people who do not feel safe in our society and women and girls as Peter Bottomley mentioned are a significant group that our society needs to protect. There is clearly a great deal of work that needs to take place in organisations such as Parliament and the Police and indeed in many other settings to protect our society. As it happened the following few words from Peter Bottomley after the text indicated earlier, were
We should defend people in every walk of life, in politics and universities
and he then went on to refer to one particular person here in Sussex in one of the Universities. As it happens today is a debate that is taking place in the part of Parliament that involves a relatively small group of MPs although any of them are able to take part if they wish to. I hope that Peter will do so and indeed I would be delighted if a number of our local MPs will respond to this debate. It is based on a significant petition that involved more than 18,000 signatures from within Sussex and a total of more than 580,000 signatures across the UK. The headline is not the most significant element although it is certainly very relevant for many of us. It states Reduce University student tuition fees from £9250 to £3000. The rest of the text begins with
Call on the government to consider holding debates in Parliament between MPs and university students to raise/discuss issues that affect them. It will allow students to voice their opinions and concerns about tuition fees of £9250 a year which are too high, particularly as grants have been removed
and after some other words it then goes on to state
The debates should include university students, post graduates, those from poorer backgrounds and disabilities also college students. Covid-19 has left the nation’s future economy/job market uncertain
My view is that whilst the reduction of the tuition fees for students is vital that the need for Parliament to review its activities when it comes to debates is essential. There are so many other subjects which take place in Parliament and whilst occasionally they invite key people in to be listened to, that is very unusual and very much determined by the Government or by Parliament. If this petition which is well supported across the whole of the UK could be a starting point, why not ask the 16 Sussex MPs and the local members of the House of Lords to take part in discussions in our three Universities and our significant colleges. If that could be achieved following that petition we could then seek to involve MPs in engaging with businesses and a range of other aspects of our communities. Of course, this would have the potential to change some of the decision making that occurs through Parliament!