I have had several emails this week suggesting that in some way Parliament has not been working over the past few months, which is, of course, totally false. It is, however, perfectly fair to say that the level of scrutiny that can be achieved with the current ways of working is not as good as it should be. That being said I play my part as often as the “call list” system allows, which is nowhere near as much as would ordinarily have been the case.
As an example, I managed to speak in the General Debate on coronavirus on Monday, during which I raised my concerns about the binary nature of the vote on Wednesday on the review of the Coronavirus Act. That was just in case I did not get called in that debate - which I am currently sitting (as I write this) on a call list for in position number 23, for a 90 minute debate. Even the most basic maths tells me I am extremely unlikely to be called, and if I am, allowing for frontbenchers to be given 15 minutes or so, I will get a princely 2 minutes to speak.
This week I have also been taking evidence as Chair of the Women and Equalities Select Committee on the educational impact of covid-19. We know that boys have seen a widening of their attainment gap during the last 6 months, as have some disadvantaged groups. So whilst I have no intention of pre-empting what the Committee finds, it will important that we make some practical suggestions to help young people catch up on those missed education opportunities.
Finally I did a very enjoyable zoom call with the Girl Guides at the start of the week, I often think young people have the best questions and the most honest response to what is going on in the world. We certainly had a better discussion than Trump and Biden did on Tuesday night.