At the beginning of most weeks, it is possible to look ahead at the Parliamentary plans and to also reflect on what has just happened. Today is a case for that theme, but it is also interesting to reflect on calls from people and organisations that are outside of Parliament. Particularly when they raise themes that clearly need to be responded to by both Parliament and the Government. So before focusing on what has happened or is about to happen in the House of Commons it is useful to reflect on something that was published a few days ago. A document came from the Hawes Construction Group on the theme of training people wishing to participate in the building industry. Sarra Hawes works incredibly hard to inspire people to consider working in the industry that she is involved in and she is also a STEM Ambassador which is a role I am also involved in. The document that she shared was written by the Construction Industry and at the beginning it states it “is warning of shortages of skilled workers due to Brexit and rising demand”. Now many of us can remember how quickly after Brexit the need for workers in the farming industry emerged and it became clear that care homes were being challenged by the Brexit barrier and then the driving industry for food issues. I would hope that our MPs will raise this theme again and let us hope the Government can be challenged to reconsider its decisions. At some stage we all need to reconsider this subject as the Brexit campaigners made all sorts of claims that have gone and they ignored the sectors that would be diminished if we voted to leave the EU. Indeed, it was very disturbing when some Ukrainian people began to call to arrive in our nation that some MPs demanded that they would be willing to start working in some of these industries. It was also very sad that our demand for Ukrainians to have a Visa before they could arrive in our nation is so different to the way the EU nations have treated them. We certainly shouldn’t demand people running away from a war to have to act in the same way as if things were calm and if documentation is easier to be achieved.
So back to the plans which MPs have for this current week. In the middle of this week there are a number of discussions due to take place which includes one from Sally-Ann Hart from Hastings and Rye who is calling for a “Status of Local Enterprise Partnerships”. This is a very good theme to be explored so let us hope some of her neighbour MPs will participate. Given how important LEPs are for Sussex industries this is a very good issue for her to raise. On the same day the Science and Technology Committee is holding a debate on the Diversity and inclusion in STEM which is another vital theme. Sadly, there are no Sussex MPs in that Committee but hopefully the discussion will be valuable for many of us. The final aspect I spotted in this week’s plans was that on Friday, the MPs from outside of Government are going to be very busy. There are due to take place debates on private members Bills which are due to be the second reading day. The rather amazing aspect is that there are currently due to be 130 Bills and there are 4 MPs who are proposing 39 between them which is very disturbing. Peter Bone and Christopher Chope are the two people who are planning 12 Bills each. Within the 130 Bills, two are proposed by Caroline Lucas and two by Tim Loughton. Huw Merriman and Henry Smith are also planning one each so there will be a total of six for Sussex MPs.
In reflecting on what took place last week it was encouraging that two local MPs did raise questions about the Ukraine condition. One was raised by Tim Loughton on Wednesday and Caroline Lucas raised several questions during the week. All of them were very significant but perhaps the most significant issue she raised on Monday was that “people of colour and LGBTIQA+ people are not being allowed to cross the border when fleeing Ukraine” which related to the Poland border. The answer was very inadequate. Another theme which took place last week was the Transportation debate for NHS settings that Caroline Ansell organised. Sadly, it was limited to Caroline and Sally-Ann and although they raised good comments, it appears unclear if the Government will improve matters. The Minister focused on an NHS review from last August that included patient transport services which he claims will set out a new framework but that does not make details clear!