A day of reflection, All-Party Parliamentary groups and changes to Coronavirus restrictions in Wales - Weekly update 27/3/2021
On Tuesday we marked the anniversary of the UK entering the first lockdown as a result of the Covid pandemic. It was a time to remember all those who have lost their lives and their families and friends who have been left bereaved. We have tragically lost more than 126,000 people – all of whom leave behind a hole in the lives of those who loved one. The time will come to investigate the failures that led to such a tragic number of deaths, but on Tuesday, it was important to remember, and still is, that behind these numbers are people who are no longer with us and a family that is grieving. We’re thinking of you.
This week, the Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill launched our new survey. We hope to hear from a range of individuals, including serving personnel in the Armed Forces, veterans, the families of personnel and veterans, and civilians who are subject to service law. The survey will address some of the practical problems the Armed Forces face and whether legislation has been applied evenly, regardless of location, rank and status as currently serving personnel or veteran. The form includes questions on the prosecution of serious crimes within the military, as well as the complaints process and safeguarding. The survey will be anonymous and open until 5pm on Monday, 5 April. If you have something to contribute, please fill in the survey here.
I was pleased to join the All-Party Parliamentary Group on HIV and AIDS this week. The Group aims to ensure that all people living with HIV are able to access affordable medicines and a decent quality of life, which is free from stigma, discrimination, and fear. The hope is to end the HIV epidemic by 2030, but in order to do that we need regular and accessible testing, education, and an end to the stigma which sees too many people afraid of testing because of the consequences for their life. I am excited to join the group and look forward to representing their work and the efforts of the charities and campaigners involved, and to helping progress the effort to stop the transmission of HIV.
I joined another All-Party Parliamentary Group AGM this week, this time for the Group on Cancer. I'm thrilled to be re-elected chair of the Group. Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the health service in all respects, but particularly in the case of cancer diagnoses and treatment. Not only were staff and resources at time diverted to deal with the huge pressures coronavirus was putting on the health service, but many people were reluctant to come forward to report symptoms, either because they were concerned about catching coronavirus themselves from visiting the doctors or because they didn’t want to put more pressure on the health service. We need an appropriately robust and comprehensive Cancer Recovery Plan from the UK Government and we also need to remind our constituents that if they have any worrying symptoms at all, that they speak to their doctors immediately. The sooner cancer is diagnosed, the sooner treatment can begin.
The issue of medical cannabis was raised during Prime Minister’s Questions this week, by SNP MP Ronnie Cowan. There is cross-party support for the provision of medical cannabis, and as Ronnie Cowan pointed out this week, we have been calling for this for years. The Prime Minister and his Government say again and again how their hearts go out to the families of children suffering rare forms of epilepsy, children whose standard of living would be improved immeasurably with the simple provision of medical cannabis. There have been four specific debates for medical cannabis since 2018, with MPs from across the House calling on the Government to assess the possibilities for amendments to allow medical cannabis and to improve the access for families who are desperate to help their children - but the UK Government are still refusing to act. Its simply not good enough.
As I’m sure you will have seen, Coronavirus restrictions will change this weekend in Wales, with travel now permitted across the nation, the reopening of self-contained holiday accommodation and six people from two different households allowed to meet up outside. The Welsh Government have been able to relax these restrictions because of the hard work of everyone in Wales who has stuck to the rules - as well as the amazing efforts of our world-leading vaccination programme. I know we will all be delighted to meet up with friends and family we have not seen for some times - as well as to welcome tourists back to our beautiful corner of the world! But let's make sure we stick to the guidance around social distancing to ensure that the progress we have made so far is not wasted.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. 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 or calling 01792 899025. My office is not open, my staff and I are working from home, but my email and phone are still being monitored and responded to. You may experience a slight delay in receiving a response from us as the demand has increased, but we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Keep well and remember – and remember - observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!