The move by the Government to end the virtual Parliament has been a
shambles: made without any thought to how parliamentary scrutiny might work
in a time of social distancing, nor with any consideration for the health
of MPs and the staff on the parliamentary estate. The long lines of MPs
queuing to vote summed up the chaos.
The Leader of the House, Jacob Rees Mogg, has been forced to amend his
original plans and make arrangements for MPs who are vulnerable, but he
still hasn't accepted the fact that by forcing MPs back to Westminster,
he's putting lives at risk and ignoring public health advice. They hybrid
parliament was working well and ironically offered greater scope for
scrutiny than the new arrangements.
BRIGHTON AND TOURISM
A combination of poor Government messaging, a premature easing of the
lockdown and warm, sunny weather made it inevitable that people would flock
to Brighton's beaches at the end of May. I fear the Government has lost
control of the response to Covid-19 and is taking a huge gamble with public
health. Scientists on its own advisory committee say the lockdown is being
lifted too soon, public health official say social distancing has broken
down and the police say the new rules are unenforceable. We saw the
consequences on Brighton's crowded beaches last weekend.
Visitors are vital to our city's economy, but with so many bars,
restaurants and other venues still closed because of coronavirus, we are
not yet ready to welcome them.
I had a call with Julia Weeks of the Brighton and Hove Tourism Alliance and
talked about the measures needed to support the sector, including sector
specific package of grants to help businesses become more greener and more
sustainable, support and training for upskilling hospitality staff,
dedicated personal business advice. I have undertaken to liaise with
Network Rail and GTR over their development plans (eg redevelopment of
Gatwick Station and addressing the bottlenecks at East Croydon) to try to
minimise the impacts on businesses in the city at what is already such a
CORONAVIRUS IN BRIGHTON
I continue to have regular meetings with council and public health
officials about the local situation. The test and trace system which the
Government said would be operational at the beginning of this month is
still not properly up and running, and testing is taking too long. This
needs to be rectified as soon as possible. Work is progressing on a local
outbreak plan, and I expect this to be made publicly available once it's
CHALLENGING THE GOVERNMENT ON THE RESPONSE TO CORONAVIRUS
I continue to question ministers about the response to coronavirus, and the
level of support available. In particularly, I've raised the needs of
families with SEND children who are unable to go to school; the desperate
situation facing the creative and cultural sector because of the lockdown;
and the need to ensure local authorities' children's services are properly
funded. You can see all my letters to ministers on my website here .
I have also again pressed ministers to revise the SEISS support scheme for
the self-employed because of its many loopholes which are leaving too many
people without support - particularly those who take their income partially
through dividends, and women who've taken time out recently for maternity
leave or for childcare reasons. I had a (virtual) meeting with the Treasury
minister Jesse Norman about this, and will keep in pressing for change.
I'm pleased that it's now possible for small businesses which have been
badly impacted by coronavirus to now apply for discretionary grants of up
to £25,000. The grants could be a lifeline especially for those in the
arts & creative sector, or hospitality, which have missed out on other
government support schemes. Here's the website  for applications.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Like many of you, I was shocked and angered by the killing of George Floyd
in Minneapolis. Fifty years after the civil rights movement, there is still
so much to do to address injustice towards people of colour. Many of you
have written to me about supporting this cause. I was glad to see Brighton
& Hove City Council speak out in support of Black Lives Matter, and the
minute's silence and "Take The Knee" protest on Friday evening was a
powerful way of showing solidarity with the black community.
Actions speak louder than words, however, and I was pleased to join MPs 
in calling on the Government to stop export tear gs, stun grenades and
rubber bullets to the US and for ministers to follow up the report on the
impacts of Covid on the BAME community with real action to tackle systemic
discrimination and to help deliver justice for Belly Mujinga.
A GREEN RECOVERY FROM CORONAVIRUS
There is plenty of speculation about a green recovery from the economic
shock of the coronavirus lockdown. But if we are to act with the ambition
and at the scale required by the climate and nature crises, we need a new
approach. This new approach was set out in a report  by the
Environmental Justice Commission, which I co-chair, at the end of May. It
makes a number of important recommendations. As ministers themselves start
to talk about a green recovery, we need to ensure that those words are
backed up with action. As I said on my Twitter feed, bailing out  the
oil and gas industry was not a good start.
A green recovery must be more than just empty words or promises. I tabled
an Early Day Motion in Parliament (available here ) to mark World
Environment Day, setting out what a green recovery must include if it's to
be worthy of the name.
NATURAL HISTORY GCSE
A new GCSE in Natural History is a cause that's been close to my heart for
several years, after first hearing about the initiative from the naturalist
and writer Mary Colwell. It's now come a step closer with the launch of a
consultation process by the exam board which is backing it. When we are
facing a devastating nature crisis, with the accelerating loss of so many
species in the UK, it is vital that young people are given the opportunity
to reconnect with the natural world around them and given the tools to
understand it. A new GCSE in Natural History is a brilliant way of doing
this, particularly as the course will involve extensive field work,
studying species in their habitat. I wrote about why I feel this would be
such a valuable addition to the school curriculum in the Independent .
If you want to contribute to the consultation process, you can do so here
If you are a local resident and need help with case work or to find out more about my activities locally please do contact me at the office of: Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Media Centre 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL.
Tel: 01273 201 130. Email: [email protected]
I hold regular surgeries across the constituency. If you would like to book an appointment at a forthcoming surgery please call Liz Collis on 01273 201130.
She coordinates my constituency office and is able to help with most local enquiries.
If you would like to know about my parliamentary work please get in touch at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Tel: 020 7219 7025. Email: [email protected]
You can also keep up to date with my news on:
My Website: www.carolinelucas.com
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