Some written comments about FareShare in Parliament

Along with the occasional written or speaking questions about FareShare which can be obtained from the Hansard or TheyWorkForYou website there is also another way in which FareShare has been mentioned in Parliament occasionally through the Early Day Motions that MPs outside of Government raise. There is another website that lists the EDMs which were set out by Margaret Thatcher towards the end of her role as Prime Minister. The first EDM that was set out was published on the 21st November 1989 and since then there have been an additional 54,475 EDMs and understandably there have not been very many ones that include FareShare. However there are a total of 13 EDMs that include FareShare in the text that can be obtained from here. Three of them were entitled FareShare and the first was set out back in 2009 and it related to “FareShare for Leeds”. Three years later there was one that was established in December 2012 so 10 years ago and it was entitled “Tesco, The Trussell Trust and FareShare”. It was submitted by Bob Russell from the Liberal Democrat Party and one of the 13 MPs who endorsed it were Peter Bottomley from Worthing West who was the first person to add his name to it after Bob. The text was

That this House congratulates the supermarket company Tesco, in partnership with charitable organisations the Trussell Trust and FareShare, who support almost 1,000 food banks and local community initiatives between them, for organising a two-day donation scheme whereby customers could give non-perishable food to be passed to those in need; notes that this is the largest food collection ever undertaken in the UK, with donated food valued at almost 2 million including approximately 600,000 worth of goods donated by Tesco; applauds staff and volunteers for operating the donation scheme in more than 800 Tesco stores; and thanks those customers who generously considered the needs of those less fortunate than themselves to assist the Trussell Trust which has nearly 300 foodbanks and FareShare which supports more than 700 charities and community projects.

Less than a week later there was another EDM which did not mention FareShare in the title which was “Addressing food poverty with food industry surpluses” but they did mention it in the document. It was submitted by Karl Turner who is Labour and again Peter Bottomley was the next person to sign it and a week later Caroline Lucas from Brighton Pavilion signed it. A total of 25 MPs were involved. The text for the document was

That this House recognises the significant and deepening problem of food poverty in communities across the UK and notes the important role that hon. Members can play in championing the issue both within Parliament and within their own constituencies; further recognises the critical role that leading food charity FareShare plays by working with the food industry and community groups to address food poverty by making good use of surplus food fit for human consumption; calls on community leaders including local councillors to show leadership on the issue and work with FareShare, hon. Members, community groups and the food industry to alleviate levels of food poverty; and further calls on responsible food businesses to recognise the important role that they can play in alleviating food poverty by working with FareShare to utilise food surpluses.

Six months later another Labour MP Grahame Morris set out one with “FareShare” as the total entitle and Peter Bottomley signed it a few days later. There were a total of 47 MPs that had endorsed it and the text was

That this House acknowledges the innovative partnership between FareShare, Asda and its suppliers to distribute 1,500 tonnes per year of surplus chilled and fresh food to charities and community organisations across the UK; commends Asda’s donation of £100,000 to grow FareShare’s capacity to receive this additional food which is a 41 per cent increase in the total amount of all food currently redistributed by FareShare in a year; recognises the excellent work of Asda and FareShare in both reducing food waste and tackling food poverty; and notes that this is the first national partnership of its kind on this scale and a model of best practice for the UK grocery retail sector, providing up to 3.6 million meals per year and saving the charity FareShare £4.5 million, freeing up much-needed money for investment in other essential services.

The most recent EDM which related to FareShare was submitted by Neil Parish who is a Conservative MP and there was a total of 64 signatures. It was submitted in February 2021 and the title was “Support to tackle food waste”. Two of the signatures came from Peter Bottomley and Lloyd Russell-Moyle who is the MP for Brighton Kemptown.

That this House recognises the valuable work of FareShare, the UK’s biggest charity fighting hunger and food waste, in providing two million meals per week to people in need during the covid-19 pandemic; acknowledges that it is deeply regrettable that two million tonnes of food goes to waste in the UK every year, as well as noting that food waste has a significant negative environmental impact, which can be mitigated by FareShare’s work with British farmers and the food industry to divert waste food to people’s plates through their Surplus With Purpose scheme; and encourages the Government to continue to support FareShare in that endeavour.

There have been a total of the 13 EDMs with FareShare included and the three Sussex MPs mentioned have signed these ones and also each of them have signed another EDM which are three seperate EDMs. It would be fantastic if perhaps they could agree to sign any future FareShare EDMs and perhaps they could focus on the Government funding the FareShare charities so that more surplus food could be provided for people who lack the funds to supply food for them very easily, given the current situation that our nation is facing.

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A significant cross party political debate tonight

At 6.30pm tonight there is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime cross-party ‘in conversation’ to reflect on an unprecedented decade. The event is taking place in London at The Magic Circle Theatre, 12 Stephenson Way, NW1 2HD. However it will also be Live stream but apparently it is not suitable for broadcast so it will be available to journalists who cannot attend but wish to watch. The arrangement is as follows:

Hey, Sure thing. It’s Give me a shout if you have any qs Pablo O’Hana

The five people taking part are Michael Heseltine, Vince Cable, Andrew Adonis, Caroline Lucas and Anna Bird. The image shown here is from a debate that Caroline took place in the University of Sussex a number of years ago. She is my MP and I am delighted that she is one of the five speakers. The information I have seen included.

As Britain’s shortest-serving Prime Minister resigns and another brand-new government takes its place, the United Kingdom has had a decade like no other. The country has tackled dramatic economic turmoil, navigated a devastating pandemic, responded to war, begun to face the climate emergency and the reality of life outside of the European Union. And all of this whilst experiencing its first peacetime coalition government, holding three historic referendums, crashing out of the European Union, working its way through five Conservative Prime Ministers, three Labour leaders, five Lib Dem leaders and losing its longest-reigning monarch.

Exploring everything from Brexit to human rights, the economy to climate change, the progress we’ve made and the challenges we must still overcome, delve into the lives and careers of these four extraordinary public figures in what promises to be one of the most exciting political events of the year.

This will be the first and only time these four figures will be on stage together.

Rt Hon. Lord Michael Heseltine: Former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister and First Secretary of State. (President of the European Movement)
Rt Hon. Sir Vince Cable: Former Secretary of State for Business and Leader of the Liberal Democrats. (Vice President of the European Movement)
Rt Hon. Lord Andrew Adonis: Former Labour Secretary of State for Transport and best-selling author. (Chair of the European Movement)
Caroline Lucas MP: Brighton Pavilion MP, former Green Party leader and MEP. (Vice President of the European Movement)
Anna Bird: CEO of the European Movement
Sangita Myska: Award-winning journalist and broadcaster for LBC

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This week FareShare could benefit from many of us

This week is a financial campaign for FareShare Sussex that is a charity that is based in Brighton but which covers the whole of Sussex and also many parts of Surrey. FareShare is an organisation that I helped to set up following suggestions from several groups that included a significant company that provides food shops across the UK. They had food available for poor people but they needed an agency to transfer the food to charities that can support the people directly. After several years of research, the FareShare in Sussex was established in 2002 with support that included from the London FareShare which was the first setting to be formed in the UK. FareShare Sussex has expanded since then very significantly and as many of us are aware, the need for food for many people in most of our communities has become much more significant in the last few years. A few years after the charity was established, I was privileged to meet Caroline Lucas who visited the premises and also a meeting from senior Council leaders from East Sussex when we were extending into their area. I am sure that since then there have been many other visitors to the FareShare. However sadly there have not been any statements made in Parliament about FareShare by any of the Sussex MPs so far although there are many other MPs who speak about their local FareShare Charity. The Sussex FareShare website explains that

They provide food to over 160 charities and community groups that deliver services in addition to meals, such as advice and guidance, health support, counselling and befriending, to help break the cycle of poverty and use food as a vehicle for good above and beyond alleviating hunger.

Back in June in Parliament a Scottish MP, Chris Stephens stated

Almost 343,000 meals were redistributed in Glasgow South West thanks to FareShare and other charitable organisations, yet FareShare says that its Government funding has been cut.

The DEFRA Minister at that time was George Eustice and he responded with

We did increase the funding for FareShare temporarily during the coronavirus pandemic, and we continue to support it, but obviously I will look into the specific case he raises.

So perhaps our local MPs and indeed the Surrey MPs could consider raising the same theme this week while FareShare is seeking to raise funds locally. Their campaign is set out as

From 29th November – 6th December we are aiming to raise £7,000. Which will be match funded up to £14,000 – helping us to provide more than 60,000 meals for people across Sussex and Surrey.

And they go on to explain that

1 in 4 families with children are now in food poverty due to the increased cost of food, energy and fuel. This includes more than 4 million children. The organisations we deliver to are seeing an increase in demand. With a shocking surge of those who are fully employed. We are stretching our resources to ensure we can provide food and support for our communities.

It was very encouraging that a few weeks ago Sussex Police published that they had had visited the Sussex FareShare recently. I recall that when the charity was first being set up that some of the people who were training as Police Officers spent some time within FareShare to help it to operate and it gave them the opportunity to visit a number of the charities that FareShare was supplying. The text from the Police earlier this month included the following

Two Brighton Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) visited local charity FareShare Sussex on Monday, November 7 with a cheque for £2,000 to be put towards their continuing effort to ensure more people eat during these difficult times. FareShare Sussex began life in 2002 as a community project. Since then, it has grown exponentially and in 2021 they delivered 1,500 tonnes of food to our communities, feeding 21,500 people. Every year, the UK food industry wastes 3.6 million tonnes of food, according to climate change website WRAP. FareShare’s mission is to ensure that no food is wasted in Surrey and Sussex.

I recall how in our first year that we delivered 30 tonnes of food so there has been a very significant increase in the last 20 years. One of the group of charities that FareShare connects with is foodbanks that are based throughout Sussex. Indeed on Friday I had the privilege of attending a presentation by the Uckfield Foodbank in my company. The leader of their charity, Lorraine has had connections with FareShare for a number of years. She explained that their food requirements this year and particularly in the next few weeks is very significant and indeed there has been a massive increase since their charity first started in 2013.

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More MPs concerned about Fire Services on Wednesday

Back on Monday there was a call from Mary Kelly Foy who is the Labour MP for Durham (so one of the North East MPs) for funding for Fire and Rescue Services across the whole of the UK which she submitted in an Early Day Motion document. I wrote about it here. The document can be obtained from here and on the same day that she submitted it Zarah Sultana who is the MP for Coventry endorsed it. The following day another eight MPs endorsed it which made it formal and then on Wednesday another 18 MPs signed it up. On that same day there was a debate set out in Westminster Hall at 4.30pm by Sharon Hodgson who is the Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West. Sadly Sharon has not signed the EDM but her her debate was called “Fire Services: North-east England” and it can be obtained from here. The opening comments from Sharon Hodgson began with the following text as part of a much longer comment

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered fire services in the North East.

I am very grateful to see this important debate so well attended; it could not be about a more deserving group of people. Like all our emergency services, our firefighters run towards danger while the rest of us run away. They have always kept doing their job, coming to our rescue and keeping our community safe. It is our job, as politicians, to ensure that they have the money and resources to do so.

Unfortunately, it has been hard to say that the Government have done that job properly for the last 12 years. I have been an MP for all those 12 years—for 17 years, actually—and I have spent a lot of time warning, throughout austerity and various debates, often in this very Chamber, about the impact that Government cuts would have on local fire services and their ability to maintain service levels and protect us.

In 2012, I spoke in a Westminster Hall debate about fire and rescue services. I warned that

“budget reductions will hit the poorest areas hardest… services will have to be cut. That, of course, is after preventive services have been cut to the bone.”—[Official Report, 5 September 2012; Vol. 549, c. 84WH.]

In 2018, I raised the issue again in another Westminster Hall debate, talking about how areas with high levels of deprivation, such as Washington and Sunderland West, had a higher risk of fire-related deaths, and needed a fair funding settlement. At the time, I spoke to Chris Lowther, our chief fire officer at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service. I told Westminster Hall in that debate that

“He is doing everything within his power to manage the resources currently available, in a way that guarantees the safety of my constituents, and everyone across Tyne and Wear.”

Like many chief fire officers across the country, he did an impossible job, cutting back on everything he could in order to keep the service running safely. But he warned that if there were further cuts it would be difficult to say, hand on heart, that Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service would be able to provide a safe service.

One of the MPs who participated at the debate was Mary Kelly Foy and also Grahame Morris and Ian Lavery who have both endorsed the EDM. There were a total of 14 MPs who have taken place in the debate and one of them was Sarah Jones who is the Labour MP for Croydon Central. Along with her other comments she added this text

At the height of the pandemic, the Conservative-controlled East Sussex Fire Authority tried to push through sweeping cuts. I was pleased to play a small part in those cuts being dropped. Cornwall’s fire service told me that the Government’s mismanagement of the new contract for our 999 and radio services—called the emergency services network—has put one of its vital centres at risk of closure, while leaving it with an outdated radio system that often breaks down. Will the Minister tell us what on earth she is doing to tackle that extraordinary waste of public money, which is costing each of our fire services literally millions of pounds? It is a shocking example of incompetence in the Home Office.

Later on the Minister who is Sarah Dines did respond marginally by stating

Let me turn to some of the specific points made in the debate, starting with protection and prevention, to which Mrs Hodgson referred. The Government recognised that additional capacity was required and have provided an additional £50 million. Since 2019-20, that money has been funded to assist increases in capacity and capability in protection teams, which has delivered an increase in the number of staff.

And so a comment came from Alex Cunningham who is the MP for Stockton North

In Cleveland, the fire and rescue service faces inflationary pressure of £145 million, and there is no chance at all of finding further cuts. Either we put the public and industry at risk or the fire authority goes bust. Which would the Minister prefer?

So Sarah Dines responded with

There are many concerns in this regard. However, I have the utmost faith that local fire and rescue services will be able to work in a way that does not put the public at risk, so I do not accept the hon. Gentleman’s argument.

The Government have delivered an increase in the number of staff working in protection, and an increase in the skills and qualifications of those already there.

Let us hope that in the next few days that more MPs will sign the Early Day Motion that Mary Kelly Foy has set up and that MPs across the whole of the UK will speak up about the Fire and Rescue Service requirements.

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Thank you for your FareShare question Fleur Anderson

So I have planned a focus on FareShare on my blog on Monday which will also be included in the Argus newspaper which covers the whole of Sussex. After I had submitted that blog I spotted a question that Fleur Anderson asked on Monday this week. Fleur is a Labour MP for Putney and as it happens I have checked to see if any of our Sussex MPs have asked about FareShare and tragically non of them have done so, so far. However the answer from the Government has come from Mims Davies who is the Mid Sussex MP so tragically her response is very inadequate, and indeed one could treat it as almost dishonest. Here are the question and answer. Let us hope that Mims will review it shortly. The FareShare in Sussex was set out 20 years ago in Brighton and it remains as the FareShare Sussex. It would certainly benefit from funding from the Government Mims Davies!

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, if he will make an assessment of the implications for his policies of the proposed expansion of the FareShare Surplus with Purpose scheme.

The Department for Work and Pensions has no plans to make an assessment. Surplus food distribution sits with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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The Government will offer £144k for roles in due course

A person I have met on several occasions, Lord Bassam supplied a couple of written questions this week to the House of Lords and on Wednesday the questions were responded by Baroness Scott of Bybrook who is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The response was very interesting as clearly whatever the role is due to include, that a payment of £144,000 is clearly very significant for most of us to consider and indeed it is our funding that will be used to pay for these roles. Here are the two questions from Steve Bassam

“To ask His Majesty’s Government how many Regional Levelling Up Directors have been appointed so far” and “what the annual pay rate will be for a Regional Director of Levelling Up.”

Now according to this Government website the principle of levelling up roles are

Levelling up is a broader mission that requires us to pull on all levers across society to, finally and irrevocably, end the postcode lottery in life prospects.

For too long, some of our proudest communities with the greatest potential have felt that the odds are stacked against them. The changes we’re proposing stack those odds back in their favour – in favour of everyone in the United Kingdom being able to make something of their lives in the places they love.

So here is the response from Jane Antoinette Scott

The Government is committed to delivering Levelling Up. The posts were advertised at salaries of up to £144,000 per annum. No appointments have yet been made. More details will be available in due course.

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A call from MPs for funding Fire and Rescue Services

On Monday Mary Kelly Foy, the Labour MP for the City of Durham submitted a call to the Government that includes several themes. They include the challenge facing Fire and Rescue over the “increasing extreme weather events” which of course is very significant but clearly not something the Government can control. However she then went on to point out that the “fire and rescue service has suffered central funding cuts of around 30 per cent since 2010, resulting in the loss of more than 11,500 frontline firefighters” which is very disturbing and associated with that theme that “firefighters have lost approximately £4,000 in real terms over the past decade; notes with dismay that some firefighters are resorting to food banks” and so at the end of the document Mary Kelly states “calls for urgent central Government funding for fire and rescue services; and urges employers and the Government to give firefighters a fair pay rise.” Many of us would be very keen for this to take place and so along with Mary Kelly, so far 37 of her colleagues have endorsed that call. While that may not seem significant numbers, given the way that the Early Day Motions operate, it is actually quite significant. The five MPs who endorsed the document the following day to make it formal include an ex Plaid Cymru MP and the rest of them are Labour MPs.

In terms of the others who have signed it, they include three DUPs and an Alba Party MP and an ex SNP MP so there are several MPs from Wales, Scotland and several so far from Northern Ireland. The only Sussex MP so far is Caroline Lucas who is the only Green Party MP. The themes in the document and the list of the MPs are available here and the full text is below. Let us hope that next week that more MPs will endorse this.

That this House recognises and celebrates the significant role firefighters play in society, particularly in the face of increasing extreme weather events and the part they played during the pandemic that included delivering medicines to the vulnerable, supporting the ambulance service and moving the bodies of the deceased; further recognises that the fire and rescue service has suffered central funding cuts of around 30 per cent since 2010, resulting in the loss of more than 11,500 frontline firefighters; is concerned that lives could be put at risk from further cuts; acknowledges that firefighters have lost approximately £4,000 in real terms over the past decade; notes with dismay that some firefighters are resorting to food banks; further notes when inflation is taken into account, the 5 per cent offer from the employers that was rejected by the Fire Brigades Union still represents a further cut in real wages; calls for urgent central Government funding for fire and rescue services; and urges employers and the Government to give firefighters a fair pay rise.

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Only 3 MPs spoke about Domestic Abuse and Public Life

To be clear the opportunity for the debate was only for half an hour and it was to take place in Westminster Hall and so there was only a modest number of MPs that could have participated. However even so it would have been much more positive if some of the other MPs could have added their words to the debate so that we would have known who else was taking part in the session. The first person who took part was Apsana Begum from Poplar and Limehouse who has submitted two documents recently in the Early Day Motions. The second person was Kate Kniveton who is the Conservative MP for Burton and these two EDMs were the first EDMs she has ever signed. She was one of the three MPs who initially approved both of the EDMs. The third person was Sarah Dines who is a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Home Department. She is the MP for Derbyshire Dales. The whole of the discussion which was primarily contributed by Apsana Begum can be obtained from here and these are some of the initial words.

Apsana Begum: I beg to move, That this House has considered domestic abuse and public life. I am delighted to have secured this debate ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women this Friday. Domestic abuse can affect people from all social classes and in all forms of employment, including public life. That is why I am working with MPs from all parties to call for a duty of care to be placed on employers and political parties to ensure that survivors of domestic abuse are not exposed to further harassment. There must be recognition that post-separation control and harassment is a form of domestic abuse itself and can occur long after a relationship or marriage has ended, with different tactics of abuse being used.

I would like to draw attention to the work of the all-party parliamentary group on domestic violence and abuse, which I am honoured to chair, in examining several key issues and policy areas where change is needed to support survivors. I am particularly pleased to see the hon. Member for Burton (Kate Kniveton) here today. I pay tribute to her for her bravery and courage in speaking out about her experiences, and I thank her for the support and solidarity she has shown me.

Kate Kniverton: I thank the hon. Lady for securing this debate, which means so much to us both. Does she agree that those of us in public life who have a platform and feel able to should help to eradicate the stigma and shame that many victims of domestic abuse feel by speaking out and raising awareness of the fact that domestic abuse can happen to anybody? By raising awareness, we can encourage those who do not have a platform to speak out and to speak without shame, so that perpetrators of this awful crime, which is so often committed behind closed doors, can no longer be so sure that their crime will go unnoticed.

Apsana Begum: I completely agree with the hon. Member; she is absolutely correct. It is so important to be able to give others the hope and courage to come forward. Those of us in public life, I am sure, feel a duty to encourage others to come forward, and feel quite lucky to be in a position to do so.

I want to make it clear that I do not view myself as a victim as such, nor am I seeking to play the “victim card”. In fact, I would argue that such accusations reflect not my weakness, but the weakness of those who make them. The truth is that it is extremely difficult for survivors to come forward. The stigma and the structural and systemic bias is always against us. The use of the courts and the law to threaten and silence us, never mind the trauma of the abuse itself, all too often seems insurmountable.

When I put myself forward to represent my local area, it was with hope for the future. Perhaps stupidly, I thought I could move on. Little did I know then that, a few years later, I would be in court facing a possible jail sentence and, just this June, I would have to present myself to A&E and subsequently be signed off sick. Just as I manage to survive one onslaught, another is coming up ahead—it goes on and on. The wall of institutional gaslighting is chilling.

I have a choice: to submit, to be crushed and then to be swept under the carpet as an unsightly problem, or to speak out. But I know this is not just about me. My experiences have shown that, despite steps forward, including the Domestic Abuse Act 2021, there is still insufficient understanding and awareness. I am very conscious of how survivors struggle against a system that fails them. Today is for them, and I am moved to see campaigners and local women watching this debate………

When Apsana Begum had finished her speech there was a speech from Sarah Dines which began with these words

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I take stock of and am impressed by the courage of all victims of domestic abuse, from whichever walk of life, who have to deal with misogynistic physically and mentally abusive behaviour. It is a pleasure to address this Chamber. I would like to thank the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse (Apsana Begum) for requesting the debate and for speaking so openly and candidly about her terrible experiences. I thank everyone else for attending, and particularly my hon. Friend the Member for Burton (Kate Kniveton) for her contribution.

We can all agree that domestic abuse has no place in our society. It is a terrible crime with devastating consequences. It is high volume, affecting 2.3 million adults a year. It is also high harm and high cost. The social and economic costs of domestic abuse are estimated to be in the region of £77 billion. Our Parliament and our institutions must play a role in addressing it and making sure victims are supported and feel supported. No one should have to experience the abuse we have heard about today and the Government are determined to tackle violence against women and girls, including domestic abuse.

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I have already expressed my disappointment (on COP15).

Said Therese Coffey last Thursday in a session of Topical Questions when she was responding to a question from Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion. The total question and the total answer is below and the text can be obtained from here. There is clearly a very disturbing aspect of a Minister for the Government stating this text and yet remaining as a Minister. I was not sure what COP15 was prior to reading this text. However as this link indicates it is the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Part Two) that is due to take place on 7 – 19 December 2022 – Montreal, Canada.

Caroline Lucas: Can the Secretary of State guarantee that the outstanding statutory deadlines we have spoken about on air, water and so forth will be published before COP15, so that we can lead by example? If she cannot guarantee that, does she agree that that bodes incredibly ill for the deadlines in the utterly misguided and reckless Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill? If we cannot meet these deadlines, how will we meet those?

Therese Coffey: I completely understand why Members of the House are concerned that the Government have not come forward with the secondary legislation as set out in primary legislation, and I have already expressed my disappointment. I assure the hon. Lady that we are working at pace to get those targets in place. I am conscious that we are still working on certain aspects of that, but I hope to try to get them done as quickly as possible.

So given the response from Therese Coffey, we now need her or the Government or the Parliament to respond.

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Tomorrow a group of MPs will debate Domestic Abuse

It is always very encouraging when a group of MPs set out to promote an important theme within Parliament and particularly for them to work with a team that is not restricted to party politics. Tomorrow a debate is due to take place in Westminster Hall which is not the main premise for debates but it is an opportunity for groups of MPs to hold a publicly released debates. Those of us who are keen about this theme can hope that in due course that other MPs will endorse this theme and perhaps eventually there will be a more significant debate and policies will be created. A couple of weeks ago a Labour MP from the London constituency of Poplar and Limehouse set out two Early Day Motion documents that are both focused on a very clear similar theme. The MP who has set these out is Apsana Begum and the two documents she has entitled are “Domestic Abuse and public life” and “Domestic Abuse and workplaces”. With one exception so far, the same MPs have endorsed both of these documents. There are 22 additional MPs who have endorsed both of them and one MP who has only endorsed the public life document. In order for EDM documents to become approved they require five additional MPs to sign them initially and here in Sussex, Caroline Lucas from Brighton Pavilion was one of the MPs who endorsed both of the documents. Another three MPs endorsed both of the documents at the beginning. They are Chris Stephens who is an SNP MP from Glasgow South West, Kate Osborne Labour MP from Jarrow near Newcastle Upon Tyne and a Conservative MP Kate Kniverton from Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire. The significant aspect of this is not just that she is currently the only Conservative MP who has signed these documents, but also that she has never endorsed any other EDM documents previously. She was elected in December 2019 and there have been a total of 3,540 EDMs in that time so these are clearly two very important documents based on her view.

Along with the other MPs so far, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Brighton Kemptown MP has signed both of these documents. Here in Sussex we have several MPs who have never signed any EDM’s but it would be reasonable for them to do so on this subject. The Government Ministers are the only MPs who are not able to sign EDMs so eight of our 16 MPs cannot do so but along with Lucas and Russell-Moyle there are six other Sussex MPs that could do so. Two of these that have not signed EDMs previously are Sally-Ann Hart from Hastings and Rye and Caroline Ansell from Eastbourne. However, they have both spoken about Domestic Abuse in the past. Earlier this year Hart was speaking in March at a “Public Bill Committee: Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill: Examination of Witnesses” and she included

“Clearly, consumers also need to be aware of security threats both within the context of domestic abuse and otherwise. Should the Government be giving guidance to consumers?”

Back in March 2020 Ansell spoke during the International Women’s Day session and she included “Domestic abuse in all its forms is a devastating crime that leaves people living in fear.” It would clearly be very disturbing if neither of them won’t sign the two EDMs given these comments in the past, even though they have never signed EDMs previously. The other local MPs who are not Ministers have signed EDM’s in the past and two of them have also spoken about Domestic Abuse previously. The two that have not done so currently are Peter Bottomley from Worthing West and Henry Smith from Crawley.

The debate that is due to take place tomorrow at 4pm in Westminster and it would be likely that Lucas and Russell-Moyle will participate in the discussion. Let us hope that others including some of the Ministers will also take part. Along with these documents there are a number of other MPs who in the past have raised the theme of Domestic Abuse in questions and discussions. Just over a month ago an MP called Jonathan Ashworth wrote out a question on the subject of “Domestic Abuse: Victim Support Schemes” and his question was responded by Mims Davies who is a Minister and is the MP for Mid Sussex. She opened the response with the words “Tackling domestic abuse is a priority for this Government.” Another Minister who has spoken several times is Gillian Keegan from Chichester. Several years ago she stated “Domestic abuse is an act of brutality often hidden in plain sight, and it affects one in four women and one in six men across this country.” Perhaps one of them will participate in the debate tomorrow?

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