The word ‘unprecedented’ has been used with unprecedented regularity over the past few weeks, but I shall use it once more to describe our return to Parliament in a virtual sitting, with MPs asking questions using videolink. I’m glad that the House’s authorities have found a way to ensure that Parliamentary oversight can remain a feature of our governance and democracy, and I’m really grateful for all the Parliamentary staff who worked so hard to make it happen.
Keir Starmer did a fantastic job at his first PMQs, taking the UK Government to task for their poor handling of PPE supply and distribution. Keir also tackled the UK Government over the mismatch in their promises of testing numbers and the reality we’re seeing on the ground. We in Labour want to work constructively with the UK Government and we do want to see them succeed, but we will not stand quietly by as they fail our hard-working care staff again and again.
Our fabulous Welsh Labour MPs did a marvellous job this week during Wales Questions on Wednesday. Nia Griffith, our shadow Secretary of State for Wales, was spot on when she said that the UK Government should underwrite 100% of business interruption loans which will give our businesses much-needed certainty during this difficult period. Our small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of our economy, and the innovation and creativity that they bring are vital for a strong and healthy economy. We need to support them through this time so that when we come out the other side, they are once more able to provide the services and products we all want and employment for the local community. Stephen Kinnock, MP for Aberavon, spoke on the need to increase support for the steel sector across Wales and Britain in light of the pandemic. The steel sector supports so many jobs here in Wales, both directly and indirectly and our local economy needs the UK Government to commit to save our steel, in the same way that our Welsh Government have. Gerald Jones, MP for Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney made the important point that the Number 10 press briefings need to differentiate much more clearly between devolved and non-devolved issues. So often when they are issuing new policy guidelines, these may not apply or may apply in a different way to each of the devolved nations, and it’s vital that clear and accurate information is delivered to the public via the media.
I want to thank everyone once again for all the generous donations that have seen us deliver around 450 meals every day this week for our Morriston Hospital NHS heroes and those needing some extra support, all packed in our Mecca Bingo HQ. Swansea Together have created a film about what we’ve been doing and to say a big thank you to the businesses and individuals who have donated food, toys, and their time to support our community during this difficult time.
With spring blooming and the sun shining, it may be tempting to take a trip to the beach or further afield. Please, continue to follow the social distance guidance, a reminder of which can be found here. It’s been heart-warming each Thursday to hear and see the displays of support and appreciation for our hard-working NHS staff. And of course, all of our other key workers – the supermarket shelf-stackers, the bus drivers, the teachers, the care home workers. You are all doing such a fabulous job and I applaud you all.
I’ve been writing to various organisations this week regarding gambling in light of the multitude of emails I’ve been receiving about vulnerable people being targeted by gambling companies during lockdown. I’ve written to the Gambling Commission, Gamble Aware, and GamStop to say that we must all work together to ensure that those who cannot gamble responsibly and who are trying to stop their destructive habit are given all the support to do just that, and that companies cannot reap the profits from someone else’s misery. We are being bombarded from all sides with adverts telling us how we should be spending our time in lockdown, but these gambling companies are targeting people who have got fewer distractions around them to keep them from gambling. It’s just not right.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. As always, if you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. My staff are continuing to work from home, and are as always, here to help in whatever way they can.
I hope you all keep well and remember – stay home, save lives – and keep washing your hands!