As a Gower resident as well as its Member of Parliament, I am very proud of our beautiful Gower peninsula and all it has to offer. A precious and diverse seabed surrounds the peninsula – I was able to discuss the importance of protecting our environment and the industry it supports on World Oceans Day this week during a debate in Westminster Hall. When we talk about plastics pollution, it is important to mention the many organisations that help to keep our beaches and our seabeds clean, as well as individuals, such as young Sonny here in Gower, and community groups such as Pennard Community Council, which go out and keep our precious areas clean. However, we also need coordinated Government action. The UK marine strategy is already backed up by secondary legislation and works across all four nations; however, in its current state, it is no longer fit for purpose. There is a focus on indicators rather than action, and insufficient accounting for the increase in the effects of climate change on our seas. This year, the United Kingdom has a prime opportunity to set a new mandate for our marine strategy: to restore and safeguard declining coastal ecosystems and to demonstrate global leadership in ocean recovery. We cannot fail our environment and our future generations and not take the opportunity to make a change for the better.
I was also able to speak in the question session to Liz Truss, the International Trade Secretary this week. The Secretary of State told the National Farmers Union of Wales on 6 November that the UK Government had no intention of ever striking a deal that doesn’t benefit farmers and that they had provided checks and balances in the form of the Trade and Agriculture Commission. I asked whether this Commission would have the power to tell Parliament whether her Australia deal benefits Welsh farmers or whether she was breaking the promise she made only 7 months ago. The Secretary of State responded that the Commission would have the powers to fully scrutinise the deal, but neglected to confirm whether they would be able to tell Parliament whether the deal does benefit Welsh farmers or whether it does in fact place even more obstacles in their way. We know already that the Australia deal makes little sense when it comes to farming: why, especially when the G7 commences this week and will discuss climate change, would we transport from the other side of the world lamb and beef that our own farmers already produce to high and exacting standards? The UK Government must give us transparency on this issue and stop with the meaningless rhetoric of ‘Global Britain’ that is nothing more than an attempt to disguise the truth.
Labour have this week called on the UK Government to take serious action to tackle both the huge backlog of cases in the Crown Court, and to tackle the pressing issue of violence against women and girls. The backlog in the Crown Court is at a record level of more than 57,000 cases – and sat at 39,000 even before the pandemic began. The backlog has been exacerbated by the pandemic but it was created by the Conservatives closing half of all courts in England and Wales between 2010-19 and allowing 27,000 fewer sitting days than in 2016. It’s time the UK Government put to good use the Nightingale Courts and put in the required investment to ensure that our courts are efficient and effective, bringing justice to the victims of crime and ensuring that dangerous criminals are in prison. Tough rhetoric is meaningless without action and we really need this UK Tory Government to ditch the soundbites and start the hard graft of making sure our justice system is fit for the twenty-first century.
This week marked my 4-year anniversary of representing Gower. It has been an enormous privilege to represent such a beautiful and wonderful part of the world and I hope I can continue to do so for many years to come! Thank you for all your support over the last 4 years and I look forward to continuing to work together with all the different community groups and stakeholders in the constituency to make sure Gower remains a great place to live.
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 email@example.com 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!