Today I am waiting to observe how our local MPs will participate in some of the sessions taking place in Parliament. I am also interested to reflect on one of the discussions that took place last week. The first session in the House of Commons is entitled “Victims and Prisoners Bill: Second Reading Legislation”. According to the Government website this bill will
enable implementation of the commitments made in the Root and Branch Review of the Parole System (published 31 March 2022), as well as measures to restrict marriage in prison for those serving whole life orders. The bill will introduce measures to better serve victims and the public through improving victims’ experiences of the Criminal Justice System, establishing an Independent Advocate to support victims of major incidents, strengthening the parole system and restricting marriage in prisons for those under whole life orders to ensure that the public and victims are better protected and can have greater confidence in the criminal justice system.
It will clearly be of great assistance for our MPs to respond to this document now. Also, today there is another event taking place in the Westminster Hall which is focused on two petitions that were established back in mid 2021 and the overall subject is entitled as “relating to food labelling and support for people with allergies”. The person coordinating that discussion is Nicholas Fletcher who is a Conservative MP in South Yorkshire. The first petition is entitled “’Owen’s Law’ – Change the law around allergy labelling in UK restaurants” and the second petition is entitled “Appoint an Allergy Tsar as a champion for people living with allergies” As it happens there were nearly 13,000 signatures of the first petition and marginally more than 20,000 signatures for the second one. The contribution of these two petitions will be of great interest to many people and I am interested to observe what the MPs will submit today.
One of the significant debates that took place last week on Wednesday was a discussion organised by Caroline Ansell, the Eastbourne MP which emerged as a focus on a public petition. When I previously checked the list for last week the content did not refer to a petition but the headline stated “Centre Assessed Grades” which was arranged for Wednesday afternoon. However, the published discussion was entitled as “e-petition 633777, Give students who miss exams due to illness a right to Centre Assessed Grades”. That petition was established at the end of February this year and there are still another 3 months before it is completed. The author of the petition is James Jewell and currently he has obtained about 6,400 signatures. A number of constituencies have not yet signed it, but here in Sussex there are a total of more than 4,200 signatures representing 66% of the total and the East Sussex area obtained more than 3,400 signatures of which nearly 1,800 are in Eastbourne. These figures may indicate why Caroline has picked this up. Of course, there are many other petitions that involve Sussex including Eastbourne and some of them are much larger groups so we could hope that in the future Caroline Ansell will raise other discussions on behalf of our community. The petition includes the first sentence of “Where a student is unable to sit their exams because of illness, they should have the right to a Centre Assessed Grade, so that they do not miss out on getting a qualification.” At the beginning of the debate which Caroline organised she stated
Although that is the motion, the debate might more precisely have been titled, “Giving young people with serious medical conditions the grades they merit, although too sick to sit exams, so that they have a chance to move forward with their peers.” I think we all recognise that the pandemic had a pretty catastrophic impact on education, affecting every age and stage, from the language development of our tinies all the way through to undergraduates.
A few minutes later she noted
I was brought here today by a petition marshalled by local students James Jewell and Jas Turner on behalf of my very brave constituent Lara. We are here today because they saw her situation as deeply unfair—and so it is. Lara was diagnosed with cancer, and her treatment regime is pretty gruelling.
Along with Caroline there was also Tracey Crouch who is a Conservative MP from Kent and Stephen Morgan who is a Labour MP from Hampshire. Stephen included
I thank Caroline for requesting this important debate, and I pay tribute to her brave young constituent, Lara, whose battle against cancer inspired it. I think I speak for all hon. Members in saying that our thoughts are with her, and we wish her all the best.
The other person who took part was the Minister Nick Gibb who is the MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton. He referred at the end of his comments that
I reiterate that we must give as many pupils as possible the opportunity to sit exams, as they are the fairest way for pupils to show what they know, understand and can do. and then says that the Conservative MPs have supported and raised the concerns of their constituents
It is clear that the Conservative Government has not solved these important matters and so we need the Government to be challenged by the other political members of Parliament.