This was the final Parliamentary week before Easter Recess to allow us more time to focus on constituency work. I spoke in yesterday’s debate on Matters to be Raised Before the Forthcoming Adjournment. This is one of my favourite debates to speak in, where Members can contribute on causes that mean a great deal to them, and commend their constituents for all the excellent work they do across the country every day. Though this was a light hearted debate, it was a desperately sad reminder of the loss of our colleague Sir David Amess, who always gave an excellent contribution to this debate. You can watch my speech here.
On Wednesday, we debated the Health and Social Care Bill. This Bill covered the structural reorganisation of the NHS, gives unnecessary new powers to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, and establishes the Health Services Safety Investigations Body into Law. When the Bill left the Commons to be considered by the Lords, it included the social care reform that was so shameful, Ministers had to sneak it under the radar at the last moment.
A key aspect of the Bill was the provision for at-home early medical abortion (or telemedicine) following a telephone or video consultation with a clinician. These measures were introduced in March 2020 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and according to Royal Colleges and other healthcare organisations, this has created a more equitable service, allowing thousands of people to access the care they need more quickly, safely and effectively. The proposal to remove this provision was harmful, particularly to vulnerable and young people. I am proud that we were able to vote to uphold these measures. Removing this would have been a step backwards in women’s rights and choice. We must defend these rights.
This week also saw the return of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. The Lords have been fiercely defending our democracy through upholding our right to peaceful protest, and by making it an offence to harass or intimidate a person based on hostility to their sex or gender. In a shocking display of their indifference to protecting our democratic rights, the Government refused to support the Lords’ Amendments to the Bill, instead sending it back to the Lords to debate after recess (this process is commonly referred to as ‘ping-pong’). Labour supports the Lords in their amendments to this Bill, and will continue to urge the Government to reconsider these poorly thought out policies.
This week, the Brain Tumour Charity visited Parliament. They provided an extremely helpful briefing explaining where the gaps in brain tumour care lie. This issue is incredibly important and I commend all the work this charity are doing to raise awareness and encourage action.
There was also a Parkinson’s reception to highlight World Parkinson’s Day which is taking place on 11th April. Parkinson’s is the fasted growing neurological condition in the world with over 40 symptoms affecting sufferers. There are many more instances of unmet needs following the COVID-19 pandemic. This another crucial cause that I am pleased to have supported.
Finally, there was a Cancer Research UK drop in ahead of the Health and Social Care Bill on Wednesday. It is always important to diagnose as early as possible in order to improve prognosis. Cancer Research were encouraging a long term plan for the NHS in the face of the Tory plan to introduce their unnecessary reorganisation. They are also urging tobacco regulations to come into place, calling for a ‘Smokefree Fund’ to require tobacco companies to pay a levy. In the South West, 35,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year. Though early diagnosis drastically improves survival, we must continue to raise awareness and support Cancer Research UK in their incredible work.
Business Questions returns on Thursday 21st April. You can watch my most recent Business Questions speech here,