It's hard to believe it's a year since the first cluster of coronavirus
cases was discovered in Brighton and Hove. A GP surgery and pharmacy were
closed for deep cleaning, and many people were worried or confused about
what they should be doing and what measures like self-isolation actually
meant. There was a lack of clear, timely information and unfortunately the
situation didn't improve for many weeks.
To mark the anniversary, I took part in a live debate with the city's other
MPs, organised by the Argus. We talked about issues including the mortality
rate in Brighton and Hove, the impact on the local economy, the unique
issues our city has faced and the incredible generosity and kindness with
which so many people and communities have responded. The podcast of the
discussion is available here. 
CHALLENGING THE GOVERNMENT OVER PPE CONTRACTS
The judicial review I'm part of was heard at the High Court earlier this
month. I and two other MPs, supported by the Good Law Project, launched the
legal challenge because of the Government's failure to come clean on
coronavirus contracts. £4 billion of public money is not accounted for. We
want to know what the money was spent on, who got the contracts and why
they were chosen. The Department of Health's legal team admitted that it
wasn't always known who was accountable for some PPE procurement decisions
- unbelievable when the safety of front line workers was at stake and
millions of pounds of public money was involved. Judgement will come at a
CORONAVIRUS AND RE-OPENING SCHOOLS
There is a lot of speculation about when schools might re-open, and whether
the re-opening might cover both primary and secondary schools. I am a
member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, and we've been
hearing evidence about the impact schools have on transmission rates. It
was disturbing to hear evidence of pressure being put on parents to send
children back to school when other members of the family are shielding.
This has to be factored in on any decision about schools. There cannot be a
blanket rule for everyone.
EDUCATION QUESTIONS IN PARLIAMENT
I had a chance to directly question the Universities Minister and asked
about the support package  being offered to students who have had a
terrible time during the pandemic, not only with disrupted studies but many
facing serious hardship. The Government has launched a hardship fund, but
it is nowhere near enough in the face of what's needed, and is much less
than students in Wales are being offered by the Welsh government. Needless
to say, I didn't get a satisfactory response.
It's been really encouraging to see the take-up of the Covid vaccine in
Brighton and Hove, and that nationwide, 15 million people have been offered
a first dose. But this is a global pandemic and I am very concerned that
many countries in the global South not only don't have access to sufficient
doses, they are also having to pay more. I raised this with the Health
Secretary  in Parliament and was fobbed off with an insultingly
patronising response. It was also discussed at an Independent SAGE press
conference I took part in last Friday.
We need to ensure that World Trade Organisation policy on international
patents doesn't prevent the vaccine and other critical knowledge and
information reaching poorer countries, and insist that vaccine deals are
made public. This is not only a question of what is morally right. It is
epidemiologically right too - we are only safe from Covid when we are
CLIMATE & ECOLOGICAL EMERGENCY BILL
I secured a so-called "Adjournment" debate in Parliament (which takes place
at the end of business) on the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill
(CEEBill) which I introduced into parliament as a Private Members' Bill
last September. It now has the support of nearly 100 MPs from eight
different parties. Our climate law desperately needs updating to reflect
the latest science, to take account of the ecological crisis as well as
climate, and to give people a meaningful say in the transition to zero
carbon emissions. You can read my speech here .
DISCUSSING THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY WITH LOCAL SCHOOLS
I had a chance to talk about the CEE Bill in a question and answer session
with students from a number of secondary schools in Brighton and Hove. The
city's two Labour MPs and I were joined by a Conservative councillor from
BHCC, and fielded questions on everything from how young people can best
make a difference to why we can't have better waste recycling in the city
(Answer: because previous administrations locked us into a 30-year PFI
contract with Veolia which we can't break without forfeiting over £200m).
It was inspiring to hear how committed so many of the students were to
pushing for strong action on the climate emergency. 2021, when the UK will
be hosting a major UN climate summit, is the year when fine words need to
urgently translate into bold action.
The Dasgupta Review was commissioned by the Treasury to look at the
relationship between economic growth and the protection of nature, and it
published its report this month. Professor Dasgupta's conclusions were
hard-hitting: GDP is totally unsuitable for judging the progress of
economies over time. Yet it remains the fixation of the Treasury, and my
attempts to persuade the Government to move towards different measures of
progress, via an amendment to the Environment Bill, weren't successful. I
wrote about the Review and about how we cannot afford to go on pursuing
economic growth regardless of the cost to nature in my column in Metro .
TRADE BILL – GENOCIDE CLAUSE
The Trade Bill has been working its way through Parliament - I've written
about many of its shortcomings in previous newsletters. When it came back
to the Commons last week, I gave my support to an attempt to amend the
Bill, giving judges in this country the power to determine whether genocide
is happening, rather than waiting for the international court, which is so
often blocked by vested interests. The amendment was triggered by the
terrible repression being suffered by the Uighurs and other Muslim
minorities in north west China, including forced sterilisation, slave
labour, the splitting up of families and the detention of a million people
in sinisterly-named "re-education camps". I wrote about why this amendment
is so important in the Independent.  There was a long list of MPs
wanting to speak in the debate, and sadly I wasn't reached this time. The
amendment was lost by 15 votes. But the fight goes on against the
Government's refusal to stand up to this evil.
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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