As you will have seen, this week Birmingham has entered Tier 2 Coronavirus restrictions. This means separate households are not able to meet indoors (with the exception of support bubbles) – including in hospitality, retail and leisure settings. I appreciate that the Government are making difficult decisions in extraordinary times, but I fear that in this instance they have not taken an evidence based approach. That’s why I joined forces with other local politicians this week to write to the Chancellor and request a review of restrictions within 14 days; a package of financial support to sustain businesses through the winter; and a clear exit strategy, with timescales.
In the meantime I would encourage everyone to follow the guidance in place to get the rate of infection down across the city – which will mean the restrictions can be lifted. I know this is a confusing and unsettling time so please do get in touch with my office if you have any specific questions or issues to raise.
It’s been another busy week in Westminster. On Monday, I was pleased to be able to contribute to a debate on China’s policy on its Uighur population in Westminster Hall. The UK Government’s failure to act on what is quite clearly a genocide being perpetrated by the Chinese Government is appalling in itself. We have the evidence, all legal tests have been met for our Government to act, and it is time that they stopped telling MPs of all parties who raise their concerns in the House of Commons that they are right to raise this point and instead tell us what concrete steps they are taking. We know the Government can act quickly on issues such as these. After the protests that followed Belarus’ disputed re-election of Alexander Lukashenko on 9 August, sanctions were drawn up by the Government on 24 September and implemented on 29 September. And yet, we are still waiting for action on China.
I am also concerned that there is a clear, real risk that the personal protective equipment and ventilators procured by the Government from China during the pandemic were produced as a result of the forced labour of the Uighur people. It’s understandable that each individual ventilator supply chain wasn’t thoroughly checked for modern slavery concerns back in March. But when I questioned NHS Improvement officials at this week’s Public Accounts Committee meeting, they were clear that they are still not looking for evidence of abuse – including of Uighur and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang. We must do so much more to ensure that our supply chains are free from products created through forced labour and we must do much, much more to tackle the Chinese Government on their appalling human rights abuses happening in Xinjiang.
I was delighted to learn this week that Birmingham charity Unite for Homeless is to benefit from a grant from Western Power Distribution’s ‘In This Together – Community Matters’ coronavirus fund. As we have seen so often during this pandemic, sometimes the worst times bring out the best in people. I nominated Unite for Homeless for a grant so that they can continue their vital work to alleviate food poverty in the city and I’m so pleased that they have been recognised and their amazing work supported in this way.
If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0121 661 9440. My team and I are of course subject to many of the same challenges and restrictions as other families in Birmingham Ladywood at the minute, but we will do everything we can to help constituents in these difficult times.
Keep your social distance, stay safe and healthy – and please, keep washing your hands!