The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee met this week to investigate the plans for the future of the Government estates. I know this sounds very dry, but the buildings and land the Government owns is where a lot of taxpayers money is spent. The Government constantly try to say that they are moving organisations and bodies out of London to level up the country. But as ever with the Conservative Party, the rhetoric isn’t matching reality. This investigation by our committee will delve deep into the detail to show what needs to be changed to improve the management of the government estate.
The Great Western Railway held a drop-in event in Parliament this week to talk about their new timetable. We all know that the trains to south Bristol are far from where they need to be. I will always press for better connectivity for our community because it’s simply not good enough. This means pushing for the Portishead railway line to get the station we need, which will unlock our economic growth and tackle climate change.
I was very pleased to join the launch of UCL’s COVID Social Mobility and Opportunities Study. This major new study has looked at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected socio-economic inequalities in life chances among young people in the UK, in terms of short-term effects on educational attainment and well-being and long-term educational and career outcomes. We saw during the pandemic how there were challenges with school children accessing the internet for their studies. While the immediate educational impacts are likely to have affected outcomes, there are also the aspects of plans for catching up as children from more affluent backgrounds are likely to have the means to catch up as well as the mental health impacts of the pandemic. It was a fascinating discussion and I hope to see the report used in plans to support improving equality in our education system.
At the end of this week, I was able to join the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly on a visit to Brussels to meet with representatives from the EU and NATO to discuss the approaches of the UK Government, the Irish Government, and devolved legislatures and the EU in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine. It is important that Europe stands together, united against Russia’s aggression and that our responses are coordinated. In the immediate term, we must ensure that we give the Ukrainian people the support that they need, from housing families fleeing the fighting to providing the Ukrainian army with the equipment they need to defend their territory and their people. In the long term, we have to work together with Europe to ensure that we rid ourselves of our dependence on Russian energy to deplete their financial capacity to wage war on their neighbours.
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