Coronavirus concerns, Parliamentary questions, no justice for for 1950s women - Weekly update 18/09/2020
There was more worrying news on Coronavirus in South Wales this week with the tightening of restrictions in Rhondda Cynon Taf. The virus has not gone away, and we must all work together to ensure that virus transmission rates remain low. Face coverings are now required in all indoor public spaces, such as shops, as well as on public transport. Please, wear a face mask if you are able to protect yourselves, your families, and your community. It’s strange and a little uncomfortable, I know, but it is so much better than being infected or infecting someone else. Our wonderful NHS and care staff have had to be in full PPE equipment which is far more uncomfortable, and they have done so willingly and without complaint. To support them and to prevent them being overwhelmed this winter, let’s do our bit.
This week, I was able to tackle the Secretary of State for Justice in the House of Commons on the mismatch in his plans to increase sentencing for more violent crimes with the reality that fewer than 1 in 10 crimes reported now lead to a suspect being charged. This is the lowest charging rate for reported crimes since records began and nearly half of all investigations close with no suspect being identified at all. A decade of cuts to the police and a lack of investment in our courts and legal aid have led to a criminal justice system that is not well-enough equipped to deal with illegal activity. While I welcomed the news of investment in 20,000 police officers, this is not enough to replace those who have been lost to a decade of Tory cuts; or indeed to deal with the demands of modern life in the UK.
A petition has been launched calling on the Department for Work and Pensions to thoroughly check their records to identify women whose state pensions may have been underpaid. There are concerns that the DWP checks may not cover widows, older married women, and the over 80s. The Lane Clark and Peacock consultancy firm, which specialises in the areas of pensions, investment, insurance, and business analytics, have found the DWP are only checking records for those married after March 2008. You can sign the petition here.
I chaired an evidence session of the Oracy All-Party Parliamentary Group to improve oracy education in all schools in England. We heard from a variety of representatives from education institutions across the country and throughout the devolved nations (as education is a devolved issue) to examine how different nations have taken differing approaches to oracy within their curriculum, assessment, and accountability frameworks. It’s important for children that as well as learning to read, write, and do arithmetic, they are able to present their ideas, work as a team collaboratively, and speak publicly with confidence. This is often a neglected aspect of teaching in many schools, partly due to time constraints and opportunities within the curriculum. We want to investigate how oracy can take a more prominent role within schools to enable students to learn the necessary skills while still at school.
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, wear a mask if you can, wash your hands regularly and keep Wales safe!