We have now spent 2 months in lockdown, and can at last see a path out of the current restrictions. Across Windsor, I sincerely hope that constituents had a pleasant and restful weekend, and responsibly enjoyed the new freedoms made available to them. We are fortunate to live in such a beautiful constituency and it is fantastic that we can now enjoy its natural beauty to the fullest, albeit whilst following social distancing. The easing of the restrictions are all the result of your hard work and discipline in following the lockdown rules, and for that I would like to say thank you.
But we cannot allow for complacency. The easing of these restrictions comes with the expectation that we will behave responsibly and sensibly by making sure we don’t meet in groups.
The new “Stay Alert” slogan from the government tries to capture the new imperative as the threat gradually falls and lockdown is gradually lifted. It will be the government’s duty to return to us the freedoms and agency that we once enjoyed as quickly as feasible. On our part we have a duty to be sensible by following the rules and using our common sense.
It is my profound belief that the State cannot plan every minutiae of our daily lives, and it would be wrong for it to seek to do so. I believe that the vast majority of you in the constituency, and across the country, would agree also. Of course, some people may be confused or, dare I say it, pretend to be confused, by loopholes, and unlikely and unique scenarios. But at the end of the day a little common sense can go a long way. If we ask ourselves, do I need to be putting my elderly relatives at risk? Is it sensible for me to organise a large gathering in the park? Are my actions making this situation worse? We must ‘Stay Alert’.
This aggressive and deadly virus has not gone, and it won’t go away for some time. We therefore must remain vigilant and disciplined. For the foreseeable future we will need to test and evaluate our plans and actions against the “Stay Alert” message.
If we do this, we can drive this virus into submission by reducing its rate of reproduction and bring an end of this pandemic. It is a long road, but one worth taking.
Parliament took part in its first fully-fledged digital vote last week. This exciting new step was not without its technical difficulties! But during these troubled times, with huge decisions made on a daily basis, it is essential that we MPs support, question, and hold our Government and our institutions to account, whilst raising our local constituency issues. I have also managed to follow select committee proceedings and debates and contribute when I can. I do want to say a thank you to the Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, for enabling the virtual parliament and underlining our commitment to carry on with the crucial functions of scrutiny and representations. It is by no means perfect, but it is better than nothing in the short term.
In the coming weeks the Parliamentary authorities will be exploring the feasibility of returning Parliament to its physical proceedings. The feeling is that Parliament should lead by example, and therefore if we deem it safe for many workers who cannot work from home to return to work, then their representatives should do so too, whilst following social distancing of course.
Following many concerns sent in to my office from constituents and local businesses, last week I received a promising response from the Treasury which outlined the ambitious package of support which been made available to constituents. Since the outbreak began £330 billion worth of support has been made available, worth 15% of GDP. Thanks to input from myself, on constituents’ behalf, and other MPs, the government has stepped in to remove the requirement of a personal guarantee to take out the Treasury-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
They have also introduced the new Bounce Back Loan Scheme which provides rapid interest-free loans, for 12 months, to businesses. All of this underlines the government’s commitment to listen to your concerns.
I have also been following the issues surrounding the employment contracts of British Airways workers. The airline is an important employer in the constituency and the wider region and it is therefore my responsibility to ensure that they are not being treated unlawfully or unethically by the airline. I will continue to monitor the situation closely, but in the meantime, I have written to the Transport Secretary and have submitted written questions for clarification, which I expect to be answered by Monday.
Finally, I would like to stress the importance of staying alert. We can do this by: staying at home as much as possible; working from home if you can; limiting contact with others; staying 2 metres apart at all times; and washing your hands regularly. By doing this we can control the virus, and save lives.
Member of Parliament for Windsor