Another busy week which was kicked off with a Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC). This inquiry focused on how international arrangements could be effectively scrutinised in the UK, now that the UK has left the EU. We heard from Professor Lorand Bartels MBE, a professor of International Law and Trinity Hall, Cambridge and Professor Malgosia Fitzmaurice, a professor of Public International Law at Queen Mary University of London. There have been instances in the past of countries breaking international treaties in exceptional circumstances, for instance when the Soviet Union collapsed or when Argentina went bankrupt. Our questioning in the cross-party committee focused on whether this is proportional in the current circumstance. Technical, you bet, but these hearings are vital if we are to hold to the Government to account for their ‘oven-ready Brexit agreement’.
The Labour Party secured two Opposition Day debates this week. I was able to speak in the latter on the Independent Advisor to the Prime Minister on Ministers’ Interests Recently, PACAC heard from the then-Independent Advisor Lord Geidt on the leaking of legal advice on the breaking of the Northern Ireland protocol, a serious breach of the Ministerial Code. We know that this has a profound impact on the UK’s constitution and domestic politics as well as on our international standing. We know that the legal advice is disputed. We know that the doctrine of necessity provided in some of the legal advice is an extreme and controversial step to take. It was clear through questioning Lord Geidt that no one seems to have the responsibility to investigate such a clear breach of the Ministerial Code, which is unacceptable to those of us who wish to see decency and standards return to public life. The appointment of an Independent Advisor with the capacity to investigate breaches of the Ministerial Code is clearly necessary, especially with the scandals engulfing the current Government.
Was a pleasure to meet with a young care leaver from Bristol South for the Day of Action on the Care Review in Westminster Hall this week. The Independent Review of Children’s Social Care has recommended bold and broad action to improve the lives of children and young people in care. In order to ensure that we have the best care system we can have, we need to listen to both those who work in the children’s care system but also those children and young people with the lived experience of the care system. I want to thank all the young people who attended the event and who shared their experiences with all of us.
On Friday we had our constituency surgery. It’s clear that the cost-of-living crisis is a concern for so many people. With costs and bills rising across the board and wages not keeping up, many people are struggling and sufficient support is not forthcoming. There’s a clear message from Bristol South: the Government need to stop trying to pit different groups of people against one another and take the action that is required to support people and families across the UK. In the meantime, Citizens Advice are available for help and advice for constituents in Bristol South who need it. Visit the website at https://www.bristolcab.org.uk/.
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