On Monday evening, as a member of the Petitions Committee, I opened the debate in Westminster Hall on e-petition 548682 – Tom’s Law – which was created by the petitioner and Tom’s partner Christina Worsfold. The petition closed on 25th March 2021 with 104,868 signatures.
The petition calls for police officers to be given the power to issue a suspension notice for driving from the moment that an offender is caught with excess drugs, drink, or is driving dangerously until the offender appears in court, to act as a deterrent and to protect other road users. The judge would decide to continue the ban or dismiss it, when the offender appears in court.
A few weeks before the debate, I met virtually with Christina and Tom’s mother Charlotte who told me of the tragic circumstances of Tom’s death. On 24th February 2019, Tom, aged 34, was killed in a hit and run in Plymouth, by a driver who left Tom fatally injured in the road. The driver continued to drive the borrowed car for over 50 miles before stopping to set fire to the car to destroy the evidence. Tom died from serious head injuries shortly after he had been taken to hospital. The driver eventually appeared in court in January 2020, and pleaded guilty to drink driving, failing to stop, driving without insurance, perverting the course of justice after a traffic collision, and was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, plus a driving ban of 3 years and 5 months with an extended re-test condition. Tom’s family appealed against the leniency of the sentence, without success. The driver in actual fact served only 3 months 3 weeks of his sentence. I asked the UK Government Minister to answer some questions about the current law and offender statistics, and asked her to meet with the petitioner and Tom’s family, because Tom’s partner and his family are still seeking justice. Read the full debate here.
On Tuesday morning, as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Sport I was honoured to host the launch of the excellent report “Moving for Mental Health following COVID-19: How Physical Activity, Sport and Sport for Development Can Transform Lives After Covid-19”, which is a collaborative project between the Sport for Development Coalition and Mind. The guest speakers: Professor Andy Hill, Edge Hill University; Dr Florence Kinnafick, Loughborough University; Emma Dovener, Youth Projects Manager, EnergiseMe, Hampshire and Isle of Wight; and Paul Farmer CBE, CEO of Mind told us about their experience and their support for the recommendations contained in the report. There were over 60 organisations and 80 individuals who attended the virtual launch and we all shared a common passion for the mental and physical benefits of sport and physical activity. The attendees posed some very thought provoking comments and questions to the speakers at the end of the sessions. I must thank Ryan McCullough of the Sport and Recreation Alliance for organising the launch. Please read the report here.
Later on Tuesday morning, as a Labour and Co-operative MP, I presented my Ten Minute Rule Bill to make provision about groups of employees at risk of redundancy, buying their employer company as a co-operative, and for connected purposes. This is the third occasion on which I have raised employee ownership in the House of Commons. Last year, I secured a Westminster Hall Debate on 8th September in which I spoke about co-operative purchase of companies and I spoke about Marcora Law in the Co-operatives and Mutuals Westminster Hall debate last December. In my Bill speech, I set out the benefits of employee ownership and the success of the operation of Marcora Law in Italy since its inception during the economic crisis of the 1980s. The Cooperazione Finanza Impresa – an institutional investor – has operated Marcora Law on behalf of the Italian Government’s Ministry of Economic Development since 1986, and I set out the elements of the scheme that has contributed to its 85% success rate. And I thanked Camillo De Berardinis the CEO of the CFI who watched my Westminster Hall Debate last September and invited me to be the guest speaker at the 35th Anniversary of the CFI held in Rome last November. I didn’t make it to Rome, but I spoke virtually from Neath. I also thanked my 11 cross party co-sponsors of my Bill.
My Bill will have its Second Reading on Friday 18th March 2022.
Read about my TMR Bill here.
After I had presented my Bill, I rushed from the Chamber to Westminster Hall so that I could fulfil my duties as a member of the Panel of Chairs, and chair three debates which lasted into the evening.
The first debate was a ninety minute session about the rollout of ultrafast broadband in Devon and Somerset, secured by Selaine Saxby Conservative MP for North Devon. The second was a thirty minute session about plans for Bream Park Station moved by Jon Cruddas Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham. The last debate was a 60 minute session about careers guidance in schools in England secured by Esther McVey Conservative MP for Tatton. I must thank the committee clerks for all their help and advice. Read the debates here.
On Wednesday morning I chaired the Third Delegated Legislation Committee which considered the Draft Air Traffic Management and Unmanned Aircraft Act 2021 (Airspace Change Directions) (Determination of Turnover for Penalties) Regulations 2022. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) can impose a financial penalty when it has determined that a person (corporate) has contravened an Enforcement Order, issued following non-compliance with a direction to progress or co-operate in an airspace change proposal and following a relevant Contravention Notice. These draft regulations set out how a person’s turnover would be determined for the purposes of calculating the amount of penalty that may be imposed by the CAA: the proposal being, a fixed amount (not exceeding 10% of the person’s turnover) and/or a daily amount (not exceeding 0.1% of the person’s turnover). The 17 members of the committee debated the draft regulations which were moved by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport, and were not opposed by opposition members, so progressed without a division. Read the debate here.
On Wednesday afternoon I attended our regular meeting of the Parliamentary Co-operative Party Group to listen to the guest speaker – Paul Gerrard, Public Affairs Director of the Co-op Group. Paul spoke about the Co-op being the sixth biggest store group in the UK with 7000 stores, and the challenges of the pandemic and the NI Protocol. In 2021, the local co-ops were very busy, but suffered from reduced staffing levels due to staff isolation and problems with supply chains. In 2022, Paul would like to see staffing levels stabilise and the Co-op Group will take part in the business rates review, and the online sales levy consultation. The Apprenticeship Levy doesn’t work for the Co-op Group because it can’t be re-invested. But it is beneficial that funeral plans will be regulated by the FCA starting in the summer. Paul looks forward to publication of the National Food Strategy White Paper, which the U.K. Government had stated would take place in the new year. It is very encouraging that more stores from other corporate chains and independent shops are now stocking co-op products.
As chair of the APPG for Vegetarianism and Veganism I joined a meeting of the officers of the APPG and representatives from The Vegan Society and Vegetarian for Life to discuss the progress after the launch of the APPG Inquiry Report “Respect for religious and philosophical beliefs while eating in care” last November. The inquiry was initiated after several reports of protected philosophical beliefs not being respected by some UK care establishments, and gathered evidence from individuals in care, their loved ones and those who work in the care sector. The report was written by Yasmine El-Gabry and Philip Mansbridge on behalf of the APPG, and it made four recommendations to protect in law the right of an individual to practice their religious, cultural, and philosophical beliefs through adhering to specific dietary choices and improve care standards by promoting dignity and person-centred care. The UK Government and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) need to take action to implement the recommendations, and we shall continue to call for action. Read the report here.
I joined in the regular virtual meeting with SBUHB for MP and MS regional representatives to receive an update on Covid-19, flu, and winter illnesses in the SBUHB region. Read the latest SBUHB Covid Vaccine Newsletter.
On Saturday I joined the Welsh Labour Women’s Committee virtual meeting to listen to a presentation from the Deputy Minister for Social Partnership in the Welsh Government Hannah Blythyn, MS for Delyn. 40 women representatives from all over Wales heard about the Welsh Government’s Fair Work agenda which includes the Social Partnership and Public Procurement Bill. The draft consultation Bill was published in February 2021, and the summary of consultation responses was published in July 2021. The desire for change to tackle poor employment practices, inequality and strengthen worker power is driven by trends across the UK that has seen a decade of stagnant wages and an increase of insecure and precarious work. The Bill ensures that trade unions have a strengthened role in shaping the work of government and public bodies in Wales to achieve the aims set out in the Bill. The “Social Partnership Duty” amplifies the “worker voice” in the decision making process of Welsh public bodies, and the “Fair Work Duty” requires Welsh Government Ministers to work towards a fair work goal and a set of fair work objectives. The Social Partnership Council, which brings together representatives from Welsh Government, unions, and employer groups is placed on a statutory footing, and it provides unions and other social partners with a direct route for securing actions on pressing issues, such as stronger Covid workplace regulations, tackling poor pay and conditions in the social care sector, or improving financial support for workers impacted by the pandemic. The new duties in the Bill setting out requirements for socially responsible procurement will strengthen the Welsh Government’s ability to leverage its annual procurement spend in order to drive change in the private sector. Read the Draft Bill and the Summary of Consultation here.
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