My week began with the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill and after a very long debate on the many amendments that had been tabled, only three amendments were pushed to a division. New Clause 2 was a cross-party amendment and was voted on at 9.39pm. It would require the Secretary of State to publish and lay before Parliament a report on the funding of enforcement agencies in connection with the reforms to “unexplained wealth orders”, as provided for in part 2 of the Bill. We lost 229-303. New Clause 7 was a Labour Front Bench amendment and was voted on at 9.54pm. It would require the Secretary of State to lay draft legislation on further Companies House reform (taken from the White Paper published on Monday) within 28 days of this proposal receiving Royal Assent. We lost 225-306. New Clause 29 was another cross-party amendment and was voted on at 10.08pm. It would empower the Secretary of State to publish the name of a person being considered as a “person for sanctions”, which immediately imposes on that person a duty not to sell any assets they own or in which they have an interest, or to move any of their assets or funds out of the UK, on pain of criminal liability (and risk of imprisonment). We lost 234-300.
Tuesday began with a meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Restorative Justice (RJ) of which I’ve been vice-chair since its inception in April 2021. We discussed progress on the work streams that were set up directly from the recommendations contained in our inquiry report “Restorative Practices in 2021/22” which sought to assess where the sector is and what steps could be taken to improve and co-ordinate the various services and improve outcomes for victims and offenders. The inquiry brought together over 50 leading practitioners and exponents of RJ, and there were over 200,000 submitted words of evidence. The APPG are hopeful that the UK Government will recognise the enormous benefits of RJ and roll out our recommendations in full across the UK. The 9 recommendations are: registration of commissioned services; standardise information sharing; improve quality through monitoring and evaluation; publication of a new action plan; reviewing ring-fenced RJ funding; explore automatic rights for victims through Victims Law; PCCs should end RJ funding blanket bans; more and better communications; and creating a specific RJ UK Government Minister. At our APPG meeting the chair Elliot Colburn MP stated that the report had been well received, but he was very disappointed that Victim’s Law did not mention RJ once.
As a member of the Petitions Committee, I attended a future work program meeting and I’m honoured to have been nominated to present the “Ban greyhound racing to end the unnecessary deaths and suffering of racing dogs” petition on behalf of the Petitions Committee in Westminster Hall on Monday 28th March. The petition has attracted 104,885 signatures.
As a member of the Parliamentary Panel of Chairs, I chaired the Third Delegated Legislation Committee which discussed 2 Statutory Instruments which were to be taken together because they have a similar purpose. The first SI concerns regulations made in 2020 which made temporary provisions for the manufacture and use of coronavirus and influenza vaccinations, to ensure that vaccines could be distributed and administered at pace. These regulations included a sunset clause which meant that the provisions ceased on 1st April 2022. This SI extends the sunset clause for some provisions to 1st April 2024, and makes others permanent. The second SI provided a statutory basis for the Early Access to Medicines Scheme (EAMS) which gives patients with life-threatening or seriously debilitating conditions access to treatments that are either not authorised or not authorised for that particular clinical use. The members of the committee agreed that the 2 SIs be debated together. The UK Government Minister Ed Argar, moved and explained the SIs. The Labour Shadow Minister Andrew Gwynne and the SNP Spokesperson asked questions of the Minister, but did not oppose the SIs, which were approved without a division.
The Speaker granted the unprecedented request from the President of another country to make a direct, live, address to Parliamentarians in the Chamber of the House of Commons. At 4.45pm the Speaker suspended the sitting so that MPs could take their seats, and Peers sat in the Private Gallery, to listen to the address from the President of Ukraine, who spoke to us in Ukrainian, but we all had headsets which carried contemporary translation. The President has shown immense courage and leadership in the face of the untrammelled aggression from Putin. Words are not enough to express the suffering of Ukraine people at the hands of a despot. We gave the President a standing ovation at the beginning and at the end of his speech. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life as an MP.
As chair of the APPG for Sport I met virtually with our secretariat Max and Leigh from the Sport and Recreation Alliance to plan our forthcoming APPG meetings for 2022. There are so many issues in the sport sector that need discussing. Some examples are: feedback on the Olympics and Paralympics; Sport in Devolved Nations – massive congratulations to my friend Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson who was appointed chair of Sport Wales this week – Tanni is vice-chair of our APPG; and the UK Government’s statement released by Rt Hon Secretary of State DCMS Nadine Dorries MP about Russia’s War on Ukraine and International Sport.
I bobbed throughout the duration of PMQs, but unfortunately the Speaker did not call me. This is the question would have asked on behalf of my constituents: “On 1st March, two of my constituents went to Ukraine to rescue three family members. They applied for a Ukraine Family Scheme Visa and were given appointments at VAC Rzeszow, but Tatiana aged 65 was given 18th March, Olya aged 38 was given 21st March, and young Danil aged 9 was given 22nd March. They are now homeless. I’ve urged UK Visa and Immigration to act quickly and give the family appointments on the same day, but no answer. What would you tell my constituents Prime Minister?”.
As a Labour and Co-operative MP I reported back regarding the Wales Co-operative Council AGM to our monthly meeting of the Co-operative Parliamentary Group. It is important that the work of the Group and the Council are mutually recognised for all the work that they do together to promote the values of the Co-operative Party.
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