Weekly Round-Up :: 09 June 2023

I was pleased to be able to ask the Minister in the Commons this week about the steps he is taking to increase the provision of social rented and affordable housing. This is the number one issue that constituents contact me about. I called on the Government to follow where our Labour-led Bristol City Council leads. The council is building more social homes for the future, but because the Government has decided to scrap targets across England it means that neighbouring authorities are not rising to the challenge. I wanted to know what analysis had been conducted by the Department on the impact on local housing supply of the Government’s decision to water down its housing targets. Everyone deserves a safe and comfortable roof over their heads and the Government has to ensure that we have good quality social housing in the UK.

As the shadow Health Minister, I rose at the Dispatch Box this week during health questions. I focused my questioning on the lack of provision of GPs and their non-existence of plan to ensure that the NHS is well-staffed. From Sittingbourne to Bristol to Oldham, people are fed up of how long they must wait for a GP appointment. The Tories try to bamboozle us with ever changing statistics. This week, they continued these tactics. We need a workforce that is supported by adequate training places to ensure a steady flow of new staff and workplace conditions that prevent overworked medical staff feeling burned out. We need a long-term solution without a fudging of numbers to make things look better.

On Tuesday, I joined a meeting of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) where the Information Commissioner, John Edwards, was questioned on his views on the handling of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by Government departments and other public authorities, in his first appearance before PACAC. Since 2005 there has been a sustained trend of public authorities granting fewer FOI requests in full, with information increasingly partially or fully ‘withheld’. Access to information is vital in a democracy and the Government’s unwillingness to release information has implications beyond simply us being without the information that we need. Trust in Government is vital for the functioning. The UK has a lower-than-average level of trust in the national Government compared with other OECD states – this isn’t healthy and the Government has to take active steps to improve this and in particular relating to FOI requests.

Was a pleasure to visit Bristol Eye Hospital on Friday to see the location of their new High-Volume Diagnostic Assessment Service. This service opened in July 2020 and subsequently moved to the Galleries in March of this year. I’ve long known of their successful treatment of patients, of which there have been 30,000, and that’s why I supported their nomination in the 2022 NHS Parliamentary Awards. Community care should be the watchword for the NHS in the 21st century so I was delighted to see up close the successes Bristol is having locally so we can replicate across England for others to benefit from.

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.