Weekly Round-Up 18 November 2022

It was a big week in Parliament with the Autumn Statement – otherwise known as the fourth Budget of 2022. Across Bristol South, ordinary people have seen their rents and mortgages go up and will now face bigger energy bills from April while their salaries are stretched further and further. The Chancellor could have used this week’s statement to give a proper helping hand to those in need, instead the only winners from the Budget are the bankers with newly uncapped bonuses, the oil and gas giants who can continue to make record profits and fill the pockets of shareholders and the non-doms who make their home in UK but refuse to pay their taxes.

This is a clapped-out Tory Government who protect the billionaires and energy giants while local families across Bristol South struggle to make ends meet. Because of the choices made today by the Conservatives we have the highest tax levels in 75 years and yet public services are being left to crumble.

This week the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) met to discuss whether lobbying rules should be stricter and heard from Jon Gerlis, a Public Relations and Policy Manager with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Liam Herbert, the Chair of Public Affairs Board of the Public Relations and Communications Association, and Harry Rich, the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists in the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists. In his written evidence, Harry Rich called for tougher rules around ministerial and official meetings with lobbyists. Various organisations, including Transparency International, have argued that the current rules around lobbying leave much of the industry unregulated and therefore open to abuse. Only consultant lobbyists are currently required to register under the Lobbying Act; in-house lobbyists do not have to. The question of whether think tanks, charities, trade bodies, and NGOs should be included in the requirements of registration under the Act are also under discussion.

I was pleased to visit a number of events in Parliament this week. Firstly, I dropped in on an online fraud event by Santander UK to find out more about what businesses and government can do to prevent online fraud and scams. £600million was stolen already during the first half of this year from UK consumers according to UK Finance data. Santander’s website provides latest fraud updates where their fraud team share details of the most recent financial fraud or scams that have been reported or discovered. Scammers have developed sophisticated means of parting people from their money and we must all remain vigilant and be cautious about making any transactions that are out of the ordinary. If you think you may have been a victim of fraud, it is vital that you contact your bank straight away. It may be embarrassing but so many people are the victim of fraud and there is support out there.

It is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. The signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer include indigestion, pain in your tummy or back, changes to your poo, losing weight without meaning to, and jaundice. Pancreatic cancer affects men and women in the same way although the symptoms may vary. Pancreatic cancer often doesn’t cause symptoms in the early stages. As the cancer grows, it may start to cause symptoms. The symptoms may not be specific to pancreatic cancer, and they may come and go to begin with. This can make pancreatic cancer hard to diagnose. This makes is vital that if you begin to experience any symptoms, that you go to see your GP. Obviously, these symptoms may be caused by something completely different, but if it is cancer, the earlier it is caught, the better the chances for recovery. Visit Pancreatic Cancer UK for more information.

There was also a brilliant event in Parliament on Tackling Gambling Stigma. This important for both those who experience gambling addiction themselves to have a safe space where they can hear from others who are going through the same or similar addiction and the consequences it has on their lives and for the general public and professions who need an understanding of what it is like to live with gambling harm. We need to remove the stigma of gambling addiction if we are to help more people. It takes a lot to reach out and to admit to a problem with gambling and that’s before people have to try to rid themselves of the addiction. The more knowledge we have, the more tools we have to deal with any issues that we may end up facing.

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.