Valerie responds to the debate on the Adjournment

On Thursday 17 December 2020, I responded on behalf of the Opposition to the debate on matters to be raised before the Adjournment. This debate was held before the house rose for Christmas recess and provides MPs with an opportunity to raise issues.  You can read my full speech below:

I thank all hon. Members who took part in the debate, particularly those who are celebrating their first anniversary. Who would have thought on 12 December 2019 that a year later they would have been through such incredible times? They have been through a baptism of fire. It is hard enough to get to grips with setting up offices and so many other things coming at you. Talk about a confluence of events—not only Brexit, but covid-19. Congratulations to them all.

I thank my deputy, my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Afzal Khan), who is unable to be here because he is shielding. He has done some good work on ministerial responses and we hope to publish that shortly.

The hon. Member for Filton and Bradley Stoke (Jack Lopresti) talked about a link road and transport. I hope he will get his meeting with the Prime Minister because transport is vital for productivity.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Stockport (Navendu Mishra). I have been trying to reopen Pleck library in Walsall for years and it is sad that the leader of Walsall Council has said that all the libraries should be closed. I find that quite odd.

The hon. Member for Eastleigh (Paul Holmes) said he was a friend of the Deputy Chief Whip’s—that is a good thing to be. He rightly paid tribute to the health service and talked about the businesses and the breweries. I thought he was going to add that he had been on a pub crawl with the Deputy Chief Whip.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) rightly talked about Grenfell Tower and the cladding issue, which does not seem to be going away.

The hon. Member for Carshalton and Wallington (Elliot Colburn) said that the highest number of people died this year. It is an incredible figure that we have had to face. As I have said before, every single one of us knows someone who has died as a result of covid. The hon. Gentleman also rightly focused on transport.

My hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Siobhain McDonagh) said that sometimes we do not see the effect of the work we do as Members of Parliament. We work for the future. She also focused on the children in her constituency, on their education and on the food that some of them are struggling to get hold of, which we would not expect. She rightly praised the work of UNICEF, despite what was said earlier in the day.

My hon. Friend the Member for Reading East (Matt Rodda) paid tribute to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, health and care workers and other public servants. As he said, we all work for the common good.

The hon. Member for Thurrock (Jackie Doyle-Price) made a good case for a port in her constituency and she told us how important our maritime history is, what we have done as a nation and our island story.

What can we say about the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon)? He is absolutely delightful. He is an institution. He gave us a great message of hope and love, including a very special prayer, and we thank him for that and wish him well.

I went to Burma with the hon. Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce). She is an incredibly brave woman. She focused on the Human Rights Commission and I want to join her in paying tribute to Benedict Rogers, who has done sterling work on that commission. He is incredibly brave—hon. Members should read his book on Burma and the description of how he was stopped at the airport and sometimes prevented from going in. I do not know how he did it.

We come to the hon. Member for Southend West (Sir David Amess). What can we say? In previous years, he used to go round his constituency and the joke among us all was that he did not need to send Christmas cards because he mentioned everybody. We hope that, come 2022, Southend will be a city. I think this is the start of a letter-writing campaign, and we will support the hon. Gentleman in every way we can.

The hon. Member for North West Durham (Mr Holden) mentioned motor homes and lavatories—an interesting combination; he has done well. However, he also mentioned the hospitality industry, which is on its knees and we need to ensure that we do something about it next year. I am sure that the Deputy Chief Whip has got a long note about the hospitality industry.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Aaron Bell) was right to mention the high street. As he is a member of the Science and Technology Committee, I am sure there is an inquiry he can have. I feel sure he was describing a statutory nuisance, so I think there is some way he could look at that. I recommend good solicitors such as Leigh Day, but I am not sure the Government like them much. They are very good—they are the greatest for the underdog.

The hon. Member for Wantage (David Johnston) is right about Royal Mail. Obviously, we have not been able to visit this year. He is also right about community hospitals. Wantage Community Hospital should be reopened. Again, everybody from the health and social care sector should be congratulated. I am sure he has a hotline to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent North (Jonathan Gullis) on the birth of Amelia. What a year! We have had some of the most stressful times, but Amelia is here and all good wishes to him and his wife. We will support any attempt for an honour for his constituent Rich Stephenson-Evans, with all the deliveries he has made during covid.

What an incredible story the hon. Member for Ipswich (Tom Hunt) gave us. It is right that we need to focus on special educational needs. I, too, make a plea to the deputy Chief Whip. It is an important area and the hon. Member is proof that you can succeed, no matter what you have, if you have a good education. I am sure his education was under a Labour Government, which made a massive investment in education. [Laughter.] We, too, want to see a deal. We are not sure where we are on whether it is a deal or no deal.

I once again thank all Members for responding to being thrown in at the deep end. I just want to mention my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Chris Elmore), who has a very special event coming up. His wife, Bridie, is hopefully giving birth, so we might not see him after this, or he might be here because we might have to vote on something before 2021, but I want to thank him for casting all those hundreds of proxy votes.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I had my opportunity to thank everyone earlier. May I wish you, and everyone in this House, a very happy Christmas and a peaceful new year?”