Valerie responds in debate on matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment

 On Wednesday 22 July 2020, I responded on behalf of the Opposition in a debate on matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment. This debate was held before the house rose for summer recess and provided MPs with an opportunity to discuss issues they would like to raise in Parliament. You can read my full speech below: 

“I start by thanking every single one of the hon. Members who stayed behind; we have heard from over 30 hon. Members today. My hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns) has asked me to remind the Minister that there are 30 Backbench Business debates still waiting to be allocated, so perhaps he could do that. For hon. Members who have not done this before, the hon. Member for Guildford (Angela Richardson) made her maiden speech at one of these events, and there she is now—she will be doing the Adjournment debate—so she has got well stuck in, and her maiden speech was not that long ago either.

Hon. Members raised a number of issues and I will gather them under various headings. The issues of businesses and additional support from Government were raised by the hon. Member for Filton and Bradley Stoke (Jack Lopresti), my hon. Friends the Members for Manchester, Withington (Jeff Smith) and for Swansea East (Carolyn Harris)—she persevered with Martin’s fund—and my hon. Friend the Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders).

I do not have to remind right hon. and hon. Members that this is an incredibly unusual time. Many hon. Members mentioned covid-19, our local heroes and the difficulties for people and businesses, including the hon. Members for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Drew Hendry) and for Scunthorpe (Holly Mumby-Croft). I have to agree with the hon. Lady about the steel industry. My friend Nic Dakin played an important role in ensuring that steel remained in Scunthorpe, and I think my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock), when that all broke, was in India trying to organise a meeting with Tata.

My hon. Friend the Member for City of Durham (Mary Kelly Foy) talked about the importance of music during this time. The hon. Member for Eddisbury (Edward Timpson) showed us how lives have changed in 180 days. My hon. Friend the Member for Newport East (Jessica Morden) talked about our local heroes in the NHS and the leadership of the First Minister in Wales. She passed me a note earlier that said, “Visit Wales”—but only if socially distanced—and, of course, I have to add Northern Ireland and Scotland and every other part of our wonderful nation to that.

The right hon. Member for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale (David Mundell) talked about the issue of cash, which is very important. The hon. Member for Bath (Wera Hobhouse), my hon. Friend the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Matt Western) and the hon. Member for Twickenham (Munira Wilson) all talked about the difficulties in their constituencies under covid-19.

The hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr Baker) will be surprised that I agree with him—I think that there should be less interference from the Executive. Parliament is sovereign and we need to review the Coronavirus Act and the immense powers under it. My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh), the hon. Member for Runnymede and Weybridge (Dr Spencer) and my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Fleur Anderson) talked about the scrubs crisis. My hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich and West Norwood (Helen Hayes) mentioned our key workers, particularly in King’s College Hospital—the doctors and all the workers, including nurses, care workers and those who push the trolleys and feed people who have had to go to hospital.

I do not know how the hon. Member for North West Durham (Mr Holden) did this, but he managed to get on the call list, very quietly. Other hon. Members mentioned their constituencies—the support, the successes and some of their concerns, which I know the Minister is noting down carefully. That includes the hon. Members for Mansfield (Ben Bradley), for Cleethorpes (Martin Vickers), for Rother Valley (Alexander Stafford), for Buckingham (Greg Smith), for Congleton (Fiona Bruce), for Bury North (James Daly), for Ipswich (Tom Hunt) and for Wantage (David Johnston). I say to the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) that we were very jealous when the former Chancellor, George Osborne, gave Tristram Hunt, the then MP, extra money for the Potteries. Hopefully, the hon. Gentleman has made the call and that will be answered.

Many Members touched on human rights and our international links. Our country should be a beacon of hope around the world. As I do every week, although the Leader of the House is not here, I will mention Nazanin, Anousheh and Kylie. The hon. Member for Wealden (Ms Ghani) talked about human rights and the Uyghur. The hon. Member for West Worcestershire (Harriett Baldwin) said how important it is that we keep up the international links, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle). The hon. Member for North East Derbyshire (Lee Rowley) said we must continue the debate after the death of George Floyd. I put on record our condolences to the family on the death of Representative John Lewis, who I thought would see us through this difficult time. He stood shoulder to shoulder with Dr Martin Luther King and Reverend Jesse Jackson. What he did say was:

“Don’t give up and don’t give in”,

and we won’t. We have seen how, during the coronavirus, our communities have come together, so that we can build a new world for the nephew of the hon. Member for Glasgow Central (Alison Thewliss), Fraser James, and all the babies born in lockdown.

I do not know what the hon. Members for Southend West (Sir David Amess) and for Strangford (Jim Shannon) have done. I think they must be on the naughty step. Usually they open this debate. Again I reiterate my support for Southend becoming a city, and I will absolutely do all I can to support the hon. Member for Southend West.

Finally, I want to thank Mr Speaker and you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and everyone who has pulled this House together, including all the House staff and all our staff. I think we can put away our Zoom faces. They are actually quite scary, aren’t they? I do not want to do that any more. I have to say to all hon. and right hon. Members and everyone around the country that we have all been magnificent and you have all been magnificent. We will not be having a rest; we will still be working, as the hon. Member for Glasgow South West (Chris Stephens) said. In the meantime, I hope everyone does have a relaxing summer. I thank you all for your hard work.”