It’s been a busy week, this one! You may have heard me talking to various journalists this week – over the weekend, I talked to BBC Radio Wales about the Covid outbreak at the DVLA. Whilst I have kept in contact with the DVLA throughout the pandemic due to the volume of correspondence I have received from employees, it was bought to my attention at the weekend that the situation had escalated. With over 530 positive cases amongst staff since September and only 2000 of the almost 6300 workforce permitted to work from home, the management of the pandemic across both DVLA sites in Swansea East is a major concern. I have been liaising with Public Health Wales to establish the full facts and I have now written to the Transport Secretary to find out from his Department what changes are being made to keep employees at the agency safe.
I was also granted the opportunity to put the Government’s failures at the DVLA to the Prime Minister during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday. The Prime Minister has said that he will take full responsibility for all the actions his Government has taken – or failed to take! – during the pandemic, and this must include the woeful and reckless management of the Covid outbreak at the DVLA. He also needs to ensure that the Transport Secretary is held accountable for the inexcusable dereliction of duty we are witnessing. Lives are at stake.
Earlier in the week I chaired a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling Related Harm where we discussed women and gambling. When you think of the stereotypical gambler, you often think of a man. However, a substantial and growing number of women are also gambling to problematic levels. There are important questions to be asked about whether advertising for support targets men to the exclusion of women and whether sex impacts the way that support is provided. The Call for Evidence on the Gambling Act 2005 doesn’t make any reference to sex, but it is really important that the UK Government consider the impact of problem gambling on different communities and the different ways that they will approach support.
I was pleased to be able to ask a question on support for the wholesale sector during Treasury Questions on Tuesday. Pubs and restaurants are among the first to close when the country enters stricter lockdown measures and we know the difficulties they are facing as a result, but those closures also impact those in the supply chain. Foodservice wholesalers have seen their trade drop by around 95% with the closure of hospitality businesses, and yet they are continuing to supply our hospitals, schools, care homes, and prisons at a financial loss. Much of our public sector are reliant on them but many are now on the brink of collapse, which will have a significant impact on those hospitals, schools, care homes, and prisons. The Chancellor must take urgent action to support wholesale businesses affected by Covid-19 restrictions to ensure that they not only survive this and continue to provide jobs during this crisis, but are able to continue supplying venues that cannot close and that rely on the services they provide.
Every year across the country, we come together to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January, and remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution and in genocides since. Thinking of this year’s theme – ‘Be the Light in the Darkness’, I think of those glimmers and moments of hope, brought about through unimaginable bravery and courage. I have particularly thought this week about the treatment and experience of women in the camps, many of them mothers of young children, who made sacrifice upon sacrifice to try and protect their family. Ravensbrück was the largest Nazi concentration camp established for women, and over 120,000 women had been imprisoned there by the time it was liberated in 1945. These women would face not just the harsh reality of the camps. They could also face forced medical experiments, sterilization, be made to work in makeshift brothels or be murdered. Let us remember the light and hope shown by men and women. Let us remember the sacrifices made by fathers and mothers to protect their children. And let these stories show us that in the very darkest of times, there can always be light.
I have been overwhelmed by the support that has continued to flow in for those who are struggling financially in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic, and those who are the most vulnerable. Following on from the Swansea Together project in the first lockdown and our Everyone Deserves A Christmas campaign, we delivered 100 hot dinners to people across the constituency last Sunday and will be doing the same this weekend. Thank you so much to everyone who is contributing to this – your efforts are hugely appreciated.
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 – stay home, observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!