I write this whilst waiting to speak in Wednesday’s debate on the public health regulations for the current covid lockdown. I guess I am lucky to be able to take part, and only midway through the call list, so I might get a couple of minutes to articulate all the views expressed to me by constituents over the last few days. What is very clear is there are mixed views, and sadly I sometimes have to explain to constituents that just because they are the voice who is currently shouting at me the loudest, it does not necessarily mean they are either in the majority or necessarily right. In the last 24 hours I have taken some hefty criticism for being too supportive of the Government and the efforts they are making and for being too critical. Perhaps that means I am getting the balance about right.
The concerns of early years providers have been very articulately expressed to me since the new lockdown was announced. I hope to convey their thoughts in today’s debate, and to get across the message that a significant priority should be getting schools back open. I asked the Health Secretary in mid-November whether teachers could be prioritised for vaccination, to protect them and to keep children learning. The same goes for all the support staff in schools, and also for the childcare sector, which does an incredible job starting children on their educational journey and enabling parents to go to work.
Last week I did get the chance to vote to say that recess should not have been extended to this week, and Wednesday’s recall did prove me right on that point. The job of a backbench MP is to scrutinise the Government and hold it to account, we cannot do that when on recess, which is why I voted against the extension. It was obvious last week there would be important questions to ask about education, the vaccine roll out, the failure of the tier system to keep infections at bay, the mounting crisis in our hospitals, the fact that bodies are now stacking up in temporary mortuaries. These are issues MPs need to be able to grill Ministers on so it is a relief that measures have been put in place to allow full remote participation and that Parliament is back sitting.