This week in Parliament I asked the Schools Minister about preparations for next year’s GCSE exams, which had been raised with me by Head Teachers, parents and pupils alike over the course of the last few weeks. What is clear is they all wanted an end to the uncertainty over what would happen next Summer and on Monday a Written Statement was published outlining some of the details. Of course over the next few weeks there will need to be detail flushed out, but I was pleased that an announcement has now been made that exams will go ahead, albeit slightly later in the summer.
I also had the opportunity to again raise the issue of support available to help businesses and individuals through the pandemic in Tuesday’s Urgent Question. The call list system, which we are all still getting used to, is literally a ballot, which determines who is able to speak in each Question, Statement or Debate. Regular readers will know of my frustration at the system, which seldom seems to pull my name out of the electronic hat, but I was lucky on Tuesday. I have, since March, been consistently raising both individual cases and the collective issue of support for small businesses and the self-employed with Treasury Ministers, both in the Chamber and in writing. I will continue to do so. The extended Job Support Scheme, whilst welcome, still does not and cannot help everyone, and I have made particular pleas this week for the events and entertainment industries.
On Thursday I was talking to Radio Solent about the different attitudes by different health trusts with regard to allowing partners into baby scans with expectant mothers. I spoke in the chamber on this the week before last and have been supporting my pregnant colleague Alicia Kearns in her campaign to make sure partners can support expectant Mums at what can be a very joyous but also stressful time. I have received correspondence from many parents on this issue, desperate to either be with their partner or to have their partner with them. Some of the stories are heart breaking, with Mums alone when they got devastating news about their pregnancies. I appreciate it may not be easy for all Trusts to accommodate partners in relatively small facilities, but compassion dictates every effort should be made.