Weekly Round-Up

Like colleagues across the House, I was shocked and saddened to hear of the fatal attack on Sir David Amess on Friday last week. Sir David was passionate about his constituency, and was killed as he worked to support his constituents. On a personal level, I so appreciated his support of my work establishing the Trailer and Towing Safety APPG. This week started with an afternoon in the House of Commons paying tributes to Sir David, hearing stories of friendship, dedication and kindness. I hope it brought some comfort to his friends, family and staff during an unimaginably difficult time.

Last Friday I took part in a discussion on what climate change means for Bristol South for the Festival of the Future City with Bristol Ideas. We discussed the local action taking place in the constituency to tackle climate change, such as the fantastic community gardens in areas such as Millennium Green in Hartcliffe, and my concerns for the impact of climate change on Bristol. I am particularly worried that the impact of global warming is not being considered enough in the development of new housing, particularly high rise housing that will not be fit for purpose as temperatures continue to rise. This was a really good chance to discuss these concerns, and we heard some great ideas from members of the public during the event.

On Tuesday we marked World Osteoporosis Day, a disease affecting 3.5 million people in the UK and causing someone to break a bone every minute. I visited Clarence House with the APPG for Osteoporosis and Bone Health to meet with the Duchess of Cornwall to discuss the need for more support for this disease, particularly for women who are more likely to be affected. It’s important that we raise awareness of Osteoporosis to improve diagnosis and treatment rates, and highlight the steps people can take to improve bone health, such as staying active and having a healthy and varied diet.

The Labour Party held an Opposition Day Debate on Business Rates on Wednesday. I voted in favour of cutting Business Rates to support local businesses and high streets in Bristol South. A Labour Government would scrap Business Rates entirely and replace it with a new, fairer system of business taxation that shifts the burden off small businesses and onto online tech giants. Local businesses are crucial to the local community, and after all the difficulties of the last year it’s vital they get more support.

On Thursday I took part in a Backbench Business Debate on the menopause, following World Menopause Day on Monday. The menopause is a serious physical condition that will impact half of the UK population at some point in their lives, yet remains misunderstood and treated. For too long, the experiences of women going through the menopause have been overlooked in healthcare, education and the workplace, but times are changing. World Menopause Day and the Backbench Business Debate aimed to raise awareness of how women can be better supported, and create change to improve women’s health and wellbeing. I look forward to the second reading of Carolyn Harris’ Private Members Bill at the end of the month, aiming to exempt Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) from prescription charges in England, following the lead of the Welsh Labour Government.

I was extremely disappointed to hear this week that the deadline for the decision to construct the Portishead Branch Line has been extended until 19 April 2022. Plans to re-open the Portishead train line have been ongoing for many years now, and further delays are simply not acceptable. This project could bring significant benefits to Bristol South, including shorter commuting times and reduced road congestion, so I will continue to campaign on this issue and place pressure on the Government to reach a final decision on the reopening.

Unusually on Friday I was in Westminster to support the Bill to end Fire and Rehire. Firing someone only to rehire them on worse terms and conditions is totally unacceptable, and leads to pay cuts, longer working hours, job insecurity and even job loss. With the cost of living rising we must protect workers and stop this immoral practice.

If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing Karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk or by calling 0117 953 3575.