Last week we passed the grim milestone of 100,000 lives lost in the UK to
Covid-19. It was a desperately sad moment: we urgently need a public
inquiry now - so that lessons are learned before more lives are tragically
and needlessly lost. The PM keeps saying he takes "full responsibility",
yet no-one has resigned over the mishandling of this crisis. So what
responsibility is he taking? Nearly a third of the deaths have been in care
homes - exposing the Government's claim that it had "thrown a protective
ring" around them as the empty claim it was.
There is ongoing huge pressure on the NHS, including in Brighton and Hove.
The Royal Sussex County Hospital reported in mid-January that it was
struggling to cope amid a surge in cases. It is deeply worrying, and we are
very far from being able to put this crisis behind us.
But there is also some good news. The rollout of vaccinations is going well
in the city with a new vaccination centre open now at the Brighton Centre.
There are also GP-led local vaccination services at Brighton Racecourse,
County Oak Medical Centre and Portslade Health Centre. When you're eligible
for your vaccination, you'll be contacted by the first NHS service that is
able to offer you the vaccine. A huge thanks to everyone who's been
involved in getting these centres up and running.
I know there are some people who are nervous or hesitant about having the
vaccine. There's a new website takethecovid19vaccine.com/  which has a
lot of useful information which answers many of the questions people are
Meanwhile Brighton City Cabs have launched a brilliant initiative, offering
free taxi transport to anyone over 80 living within Brighton who needs to
travel to their vaccine appointment at the racecourse. They'll also be
LONG COVID INQUIRY
It's estimated 300,000 people in the UK have Long Covid, with research
suggesting more than half of people who've been in hospital with the virus
have symptoms 6 months later. As a member of the All Party Parliamentary
Group that's been taking evidence on this issue, I've called for more
public funding for research into this awful condition, a Long Covid
compensation scheme and better support for people who can only work at a
fraction of their previous level because of the condition - as was reported
in the Argus .
THE SELF-EMPLOYED EXCLUDED FROM COVID SUPPORT
Ever since the start of the Covid crisis, I have been calling for the
Chancellor to listen to the more than 3 million self-employed, freelance,
limited company directors and others who are excluded from any financial
support. But despite a growing chorus of calls for him to give them the
support they desperately need, he is still refusing to do so, and is yet to
be persuaded by a scheme (called DISS) drawn up to help some of those
excluded - those who'd set up small limited companies. I spoke in their
support  in a late night debate in Parliament.
NURSERIES AND COVID
I have been working closely with Brighton and Hove Council leaders and
representatives of the NEU to get more funding for nursery provision in our
city. The Council has taken the decision to close its nurseries other than
for vulnerable children and those of key workers, but risks losing
financial support in the future because most children won't be there when
numbers are calculated to determine future funding from the government.
It's completely unacceptable that, in the middle of a public health crisis,
ministers should be threatening to penalise nurseries by withdrawing
funding in this way. Private nurseries too are facing a critical situation
- many would prefer, on safety and public health grounds, to close to all
but vulnerable children but cannot afford to do so - and they also need
financial support to ensure their futures.
This is a major piece of legislation which should be improving
environmental protection in the wake of our departure from the EU. But it
does the opposite: weaker protections than we had as EU members, a
regulator which risks being under the thumb of the minister, and a real
lack of any sense of urgency - the Bill isn't even going to become law
until much later this year. But its real weakness is the failure to address
the root causes of ecological and climate breakdown - an economic model
which is built on endless GDP growth on a planet of finite resources. I
opened the debate on the Bill's report stage in the Commons (my opening
speech is here ) and wrote about its failings in both the Independent
 and The House  magazine.
PRIME MINISTER’S QUESTIONS
I had the chance to question the Prime Minister  directly at PMQs last
week and challenged him on the huge gap between his Government's
environmental rhetoric and what it's actually doing - raising in particular
the sanctioning of a new coal mine (unbelievable when we are due to host
the UN climate summit later this year) and the continued export of plastic
waste to poorer countries. Needless to say, I didn't get a satisfactory
This is another important piece of legislation going through Parliament.
MPs should have a voice in trade deals, both the terms and the final
agreement, as they do in other countries - particularly when there is the
real risk that the NHS will be on the table in future deals. But Parliament
is being denied any meaningful say in what amounts to a ministerial power
grab. Speaking slots for MPs in debates are limited and unfortunately I
wasn't called for the Trade Bill, but this is what I had prepared to say
. It still astounds me that Tory MPs voted to deprive themselves of the
powers to scrutinise and approve new trade deals, so giving the Government
a clear majority - one wonders why some of them wanted to be an MP at all
if they are prepared to simply surrender their vital oversight role.
WELLBEING WEEK/FUTURE GENERATIONS BILL
Last week was the Big Issue's Wellbeing Week, when young activists lobbied
their MPs to back the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill which would give
them a say in current policy-making and help protect their futures. I am
sponsoring the Bill in the House of Commons, the Big Issue's founder John
Bird is doing so in the House of Lords. We talked about what the Bill aims
to achieve on BBC Radio's Today in Parliament  and I spent time with
some young activists who told me about their priorities for the future.
CLIMATE & ECOLOGICAL EMERGENCY BILL
With the UK due to host the UN climate summit this year, it is critical
that we get our own house in order on the climate emergency and the
biodiversity crisis. Businesses are a vital part of any climate action and
I was pleased to take part in a Business Declares Emergency event about the
Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, which I introduced in Parliament in
BRIGHTON’S HOSPITALITY SECTOR
The Treasury seems to have its head in the sand about how bad the situation
is for the hospitality sector. I had asked ministers to extend VAT relief
for hotels, pubs, restaurants etc beyond March 31st, as the impacts of
Covid restrictions will be felt for months to come. I was told there were
no plans to do so - not good enough, and I won't stop pressing ministers on
THE NIGHT-TIME ECONOMY
This has also really suffered during lockdown yet pubs, clubs,
entertainment and music venues are a vital part of Brighton and Hove's
economy. As a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Night
Time Economy, I'm working with other MPs and peers to address some of the
challenges facing the sector and we're asking people to let us know what it
means to them. Please take part in the survey if you can - it's available
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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