Weekly Round-Up :: 30 June 2023

On Sunday, I was pleased to join BBC Points West to discuss the Conservative mortgage crisis and to highlight the plight of renters who are being hit hard by the Tory Cost-Of-Living Crisis. Renters are a long way from even having a mortgage in this crisis. Our lack of housing is causing chronic challenges for families across the UK and Bristol South. We need homes that are actually affordable for people and affordable for renters. Too many people are in insecure tenancies which their salaries are not enough to guarantee. The Government have failed in their manifesto to build more homes that provide security for families across the UK. The Government are happier to let those who can’t cope sink rather than step in and help. That is not ok. We need a Labour Government who will support people in their time of need and provide the opportunities to allow them and their families to grow.

It was great to be able to pop into Airbus this week to meet John Harrison, Chairman of Airbus UK. Airbus is a great employer for Bristol, and it was good to hear that they were looking to hire 13,000 more staff with a focus on technical and manufacturing jobs. Large employers are really important to UK cities like Bristol as they offer good, well-paid jobs which support the whole of the local economy. I hope to see Airbus in Bristol continue to go from strength to strength and to pop in again to meet the fantastic team.

This week I sat on the Delegated Legislation Committee for the Draft Healthcare (International Arrangements) (EU Exit) Regulations 2023. The regulations are vital to implement international healthcare agreements following our exit from the European Union. Reciprocal healthcare agreements support our constituents to access healthcare in the listed countries. Those faced with the stress and worry of a healthcare emergency abroad will rightly expect suitable agreements to be in place where possible. That is particularly true of people with a disability, who are older or who perhaps live with a chronic condition. I called on the Minister to outline further details about the Government’s plan for other international healthcare co-operation outside the European economic area and Switzerland, and perhaps give an idea of what that might look like. From our understanding, payments can be made only if both the following conditions are met: the healthcare treatment is in a country with which we have an international healthcare agreement; and the Secretary of State considers exceptional circumstances to justify the payment.

This week, I spoke in the Westminster Hall debate on urinary and bowel incontinence as the Shadow health minister. It is estimated that 14 million people in the UK 1 have some degree of urinary incontinence while at least 6.5 million people experience bowel control difficulties. We also know that incontinence affects roughly twice as many women as men, 2 although we should remember that one in 25 men over the age of 40 also experience urinary incontinence. We must remember that in most cases the problem can be cured or managed so it doesn’t interfere with daily life, but in order to do this the right support must be available to ensure we can all our lives with dignity. There are excellent innovations in surgical products for stoma wearers, and I pay tribute to the health staff, from specialist nurses to pelvic floor physios, who go over and above to support those with continence issues, and who help people adjust to this life changing surgery. However, too often people with continence issues face unnecessary hurdles, whether that is a lack of public toilets, a lack of awareness, or the normalisation of continued incontinence following childbirth. The impact of these cannot be underestimated, and I know from constituents how the lack of amenities can cause isolation, while a lack of awareness about continence care can lead to people living with the problems far longer than they should have to.

On Thursday, the Home Secretary made a statement to the Commons regarding the judicial ruling that the Conservative government’s Rwanda scheme was illegal. I used this opportunity to highlight the absurd amount of taxpayers’ money the Tories have wasted on a plan everyone knew would fail legal challenge, cost more than sorting the issue closer to home and lacks compassion. I put it to the Home Secretary that she is currently spending £6 million a day on hotels for those seeking asylum. This is happening because the Home Secretary has lost control of the immigration system. We need to stop the dangerous boat crossings and throwing good money after bad on the Rwanda policy won’t fix it.

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.