JUNE 2021: News from your local MP Thangam Debbonaire
Representing Bristol West in a new role
As I write, I am coming to the end of my first working week as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, a change from my previous role as Shadow Housing Secretary.
A lot of people have asked me what this means, so I thought I would use my column to explain.
In this role I am working across all policy areas, challenging the government’s plan and presenting alternatives.
The main event in my calendar every week is Business Questions on Thursday morning, when it is my job to question the Leader of the House - currently Jacob Rees-Mogg - who sets the government agenda. You can watch this on BBC Parliament or www.parliamentlive.tv.
In my debut, I asked about the government’s plans to require photo ID for voting, something which is unnecessary and undemocratic. I also asked about the government’s plan for social care, the public inquiry into the pandemic response and the building safety crisis.
It is a real honour to have such a key role in shaping the big public debates of the day.
I was sad to have to leave the housing policy role behind. My team and I had some decent wins over the last year, from forcing the government to announce £3.5bn of funding to make tower blocks safe, to preventing evictions during the pandemic. I know my successor Lucy Powell will keep the pressure on the Tories in this policy area.
So what does this change mean for Bristol? First and foremost, I will continue to be your MP, so please do contact me if you need my help or would like to share your opinion on a political issue.
On top of that, my new parliamentary role will allow me to put your concerns directly to the person that sets the government agenda. If you think there is something I should be raising, please get in touch. My constituents have always inspired and informed my political work.
• I know many of you will feel a huge relief as the Covid restrictions are expected to lift further in the next few weeks. I cannot wait to spend more time with friends and family again. The prospect of in-person meetings has never been so exciting.
However, we still need to be very cautious. In regular calls with senior NHS staff, I am hearing that we must continue to follow guidelines, especially as new Covid variants threaten to undermine all the progress we’ve made so far.
Perhaps most importantly of all, when you are offered a vaccine, please take it. It could save someone’s life.
• Since I last wrote an article for Bishopston Voice, we have had a series of elections here in Bristol. I’d like to congratulate all the newly-elected councillors in Bristol, I look forward to working with you. Thank you to all the outgoing councillors for their years of hard work.