The contributions that took place last week in Parliament included several themes that I have observed so far and which seemed very significant. One of the elements in Parliament that I was expecting was a statement to endorse Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of Scotland who announced her departure during the previous week when the UK Parliament was closed. I had assumed that several MPs would comment about it last week. Sadly, only one MP appears to have spoken about her departure or indeed referred to her last week. On Wednesday there was as short session in Parliament that was entitled Levelling-Up Fund for Scotland and the Labour Party contributor was Ian Murray who is the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and he began with the words
It has been a momentous week in Scottish politics, and I am sure the whole House will want to wish Nicola Sturgeon all the best in whatever she does next in politics.
It was very nice to read these words and many of us will appreciate that comment. Sadly there have been no Sussex statements so far. Another session that took place on the same day was entitled Overseas Aid: Child Health and Education and again it did not involve any Sussex MPs. One of the people who spoke during the session was Layla Moran who is a Liberal Democrat MP in Oxford and she is their party spokesperson for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. Her contributions were very significant and it included a reference to a Department in the University of Sussex. She stated
The Government are clearly worried about value for money, and they should be, because our constituents are, too. The Institute of Development Studies, which is based in Sussex, carried out research into projects that work to support teachers, students and school communities in crisis-affected areas. The research found a measurable and sharp increase in the number of students in schools where ODA funding kept education free. Even research projects of that kind are now under threat. The Institute of Development Studies here in the UK has had its budget cut by 50%.
We can be very grateful for her introduction in Parliament of this challenge and let us hope that IDS receives more funding. One of the contributions that involved a Sussex MP came from Lloyd Russell-Moyle from Brighton Kemptown. He participated last Tuesday on the Procurement Bill which obtained several Clauses. During this process there were 5 Labour MPs including Lloyd and 7 Conservative MPs who took part in the debates and voted for the Clauses. Tragically each of the votes followed exactly the same way and there were 5 people voting for the Clauses and 7 people opposing the Clauses and so each of the proposals and discussions seemed to be a waste of time. It is understandable that groups of contacted people have some common views but if the Labour and Conservative groups are unwilling to listen to the discussions and potentially amend their decisions the value of the debates seems very low. Also given that the Conservative group is larger than the Labour it is also very poor quality. Lloyd was the only Sussex MP involved in the debates and the votes that took place on that session. Two of the Clauses seemed to be particularly significant even though they were both rejected. One of them did not include any comments from Lloyd and it was entitled Procurement and human rights. The other one that was particularly significant did include a couple of contributions from Lloyd and the headline was Procurement of support services for victims of violence against women and girls. The Clause begins with the definition
This new clause would ensure authorities give regard to social value when carrying out procurement for services to support victims of violence against women and girls.
Part of the contribution from Lloyd was
I rise to support new clause 16 because of what happened in Brighton, which showed that it is important to have overall guidelines rather than discretionary guidance on this issue. In that case, there were multiple contracting parties, including Brighton and Hove City Council. I have no doubt that, had it contracted the service on its own, it would have seen the value of the important work that RISE has done for decades in the city. RISE is led by women, for women. It fights domestic violence, saving and supporting women who have undergone it, and provides refuge as well as counselling support for the women and their children. However, the contract was given jointly by Sussex police, East Sussex County Council and, partly, West Sussex County Council, and the social provisions in Brighton and Hove City Council’s guidelines did not match up with the social provisions in East Sussex’s guidelines.