There are many debates as well as voting that takes place in Parliament every week while it is open as it was last week and indeed as it currently this week. Of course, if the challenge regarding the Prime Minister’s position does take place, there could be a significant change. As things are currently intended the plan is for Parliament to close down for their half term break a week on Thursday. That of course will enable the MPs who are prepared to do so, to spend time in their constituencies which some of us would like to happen more often. In the meantime, we can reflect on what has happened in the last few days and consider the next two weeks.
I find it fascinating to read the comments from Sussex MPs that express their views in Parliament. Last week most of the Sussex MPs did speak either as MPs or Ministers and indeed all of them voted on several occasions. The three who did not speak at all last week were all from West Sussex. One of them was Tim Loughton who speaks most weeks and so the fact that he did not speak is not significant. However, two of his neighbours, Nick Gibb and Andrew Griffith have not spoken for some time. Nick last spoke at the beginning of December and then before that it was at the beginning of September. Andrew has not spoken in Parliament since the middle of September. Of course, this does not mean they have been staying away from Parliament for most of the last six months but it does raise questions about what they consider their role should involve. Nick used to speak every week when he was a Minister but now he is not speaking very often as an MP. There are a number of Sussex MPs who are still part of the Government so they speak frequently most weeks, but most of their comments are on behalf of the Government, not on behalf of their Constituencies. One of the current Ministers is Maria Caulfield and while she speaks many times most weeks, she was very quiet prior to that role being provided for her.
There have been a significant number of comments that have taken place in the last few days but Thursday was a very significant day for Parliament and indeed for our Nation as it was Holocaust Memorial Day. The Memorial Day takes place on the 27th of January each year and it was a theme which Parliament focused on with a significant number of MPs but sadly only one Sussex MP, Peter Bottomley took part. Although his comment in that session was modest, it was of course important for Sussex MPs to engage in that subject so we can all be appreciative. On the same day another Sussex MP who spoke as part of a different conversation was Caroline Ansell who did refer to a similar theme as she explained that she is
the newly elected chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Christianity in the Holy Land.
She also provided a question on the same day to Jacob Rees-Mogg who along with the Prime Minister is one of the senior Ministers who creates many challenges for Parliament and our Nation. The question that Caroline raised is actually very significant for most parts of Sussex although her question was specifically about Eastbourne residents. It related to the challenge for people who do not have cars or good transport solutions for getting to Hospitals. Towards the end of her comment, she asked
may we have a wider debate about access to hospitals?
The response from Rees-Mogg began with
the issue of ensuring good hospital services and good transport to them has arisen for many of us in our constituencies.
But at the end of his statement, he simply claimed
Action is being taken
which was very disappointing. The other Sussex MP who took part in the same session was Caroline Lucas. She raised a concern that on Wednesday
a colliery in south Wales was given permission to mine a further 40 million tonnes of coal
and she pointed out that this was a bad decision. She called for a debate
on the importance of leaving new fossil fuels in the ground, as the science demands?.
The response included
Net zero is by 2050. We are not at 2050 yet. We are going to need to have fossil fuels for the interim period and we are going to need coal for things like heritage railways.
Both of these responses were very concerning which raises questions about the value of the current Leader of the House of Commons. He was responding to requests for debates in Parliament that many of us would require, however he rejected both of them.