Weekly Round-Up

At the start of the week, I was able to contribute to a number of debates, firstly on the appalling David Fuller case. In December, David Fuller was charged with the murder of two young women, Wendy Knell and Caroline Pierce, in the Tunbridge Wells area of Kent in 1987. Last week, he pleaded guilty to their murders. In addition to these tragic murders, an investigation has been carried out into his offences in hospital settings between 2008 and 2020. As a result, Fuller was charged with a series of shocking offences involving sexual offences committed in a hospital mortuary. He has also pleaded guilty to these offences. David Fuller has yet to be sentenced, but in the light of what has happened, Parliament debated the sentences available to the judiciary in such cases. This is truly one of the most horrific things any of us will have heard of or encountered. Our thoughts are with the families and those conducting the investigations. Dignity in death is one of the final acts of caring we are able to do for someone and access such as David Fuller was allowed cannot continue. 

I was also able to contribute to the debate on HGV driving licences as the Government seek to address the driver shortage. For more than four years, I have worked across the House, and alongside campaigners like Donna and Scott Hussey who lost their son Freddie in a traffic accident involving a loose trailer, to make roads safer for our constituents through consideration of the gaps in regulation and enforcement of towing and trailer safety.  The proposals from the Government take a wrecking ball to the advances that we have made. It is unconscionable and totally unfathomable. The Minister has made a series of unsubstantiated claims this evening. These proposals have come from nowhere, without any respect or acknowledgement of the work that has been done. They are an insult to the campaigners, who have worked so hard. It is a shoddy parliamentary practice—it really is a bitter blow today. The Government have not made a road safety impact assessment of this decision. I am not making this up: there is no road safety impact assessment of a decision that makes such a massive change to how drivers are trained. We are being asked to vote on a decision that has not been assessed, with ramifications that are literally a matter of life and death. This Tory Government are looking to solve short-term problem of their own making with rushed legislation that puts people’s lives at risk.

I was also able to speak in the Covid-19 debate this week. The Government have made it a condition of employment in care homes for people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 from 11 November and are extending that into wider health and care settings. Of course, NHS and care staff should all be vaccinated – they are caring for our loved ones and none of us would want harm to come to them through contact with unvaccinated people working in a high-risk environment – and of course they should all be wearing masks. The Prime Minister parading around a hospital this week without a mask was a disgrace, and I hope that the Health Secretary talked to him about that. MPs including myself are concerned about where staff rates of vaccination remain low, because I want to know whether those 10% of un-jabbed staff are in Bristol, or whether the figure in Bristol is 20%, 30% or 2%. If the Health Secretary knows that information, I, as a Member of Parliament for Bristol, should also know it. I also asked whether if all staff and associated people in healthcare settings are to be vaccinated, will there be a covid passport for people to visit hospital and care settings? A scolding for my “playing politics” in criticising the Prime Minister for undermining health care workers and the safety of those in our hospitals as well as scientific advice around mask wearing followed my question. The issue of possible covid passports in hospitals went unaddressed.

On Thursday we marked Remembrance Day. Those two minutes’ silence at 11am on 11 November are a time to remember all those who have given their lives in combat and to think about all those who have returned from war as well and who have to live with the physical and/or mental scars of what they experienced. Our Armed Forces personnel continue to do their jobs in the most difficult of circumstances, from the communications teams to the engineers, the medical staff to intelligence teams. We will remember them. 

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.