It’s been another busy week in Westminster and Swansea East. I was very pleased to meet with Gerald Gouriet QC to discuss gambling related harm. He has considerable experience through his legal work, having been involved in the Gambling Law and is the editor for the leading textbook on the subject. He has given evidence to the Lords committee on gambling, and his view is that the 2005 Act liberalising gambling had impacted society negatively far more than it had done positively through employment and regeneration and instead had allowed commerce to turn a blind eye to the damage that gambling can do. While gambling should be permitted and the facilities for gambling should be available to the public, he said that it was a bad thing that advertising means that people are not just able to gamble, they are actively encouraged to do so.
I was also pleased to meet with Tottenham Hotspur and the Officers of the APPG on Gambling Related Harm to discuss gambling advertising in football. Gambling advertising brings in huge profits for football clubs and we will need their support if we are to negate the pernicious influence of gambling on sports fans. It was an interesting meeting and I want to thank Spurs for taking the time to discuss this issue with us.
On Wednesday it was great to return to Westminster Hall for the first time since before the lockdown where we debated online harms. The digital world has grown exponentially in the last few decades and our legislation has simply failed to keep up. Since I became an MP in 2015, I’ve been campaigning for the need for the safer sale of electrical goods through online marketplaces. There need to be much tighter controls on platforms selling electrical goods so that consumers can be sure that they are buying authentic, good quality, and above all, safe products. Potentially fatal products are an online harm as much as terrorist activity, online bullying, gambling, child safety, and the safety of vulnerable adults. We need legislation that can protect people from the online world that is as expansive as the legislation that protects people in the physical world.
It was good to meet with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing and industry representatives this week to hear about their experiences during the pandemic and the experience of the businesses they represent. We want to support this sector to get back up on their feet as quickly as possible – the small businesses that comprise it are important for our high streets and local economies and also for the many, many people who work in this sector, mostly women. We’ve seen the terrible impact this crisis has had on small businesses and we need the UK Government to take this industry seriously to help them get back on their feet.
This Saturday, it’s World Mental Health Day. This unprecedented, incredibly challenging year has made all of us realise that mental health and wellbeing is not something that only affects a few. We all have to take care of our mental health, in the same way that we have to eat well and exercise to keep our bodies healthy. With loneliness and anxiety increasing due to the pandemic and social distancing, students going back to a different university experience, children only now back in school with friends after months away, and families separated or dealing with grief, no one has been left untouched by this pandemic. We need to recognise that there is nothing shameful or embarrassing about needing some help with mental health or struggling. It’s time we ended that stigma and focused on helping one another. For more information on World Mental Health Day, visit Time to Change’s website here.
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 team and I are here to help. And remember – observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!