JUNE 2022: News from local MP Thangam Debbonaire
Cost of living crisis strangely absent from the government’s new programme
THE State Opening of Parliament has always been one of my favourite events in the parliamentary calendar. The Queen’s speech is a key part of this ceremony. The speech is written by the government to tell the British public about legislation planned for the new session.
Prince Charles, who stepped in for the Queen this year, announced dozens of new laws. There were 38 pieces of legislation, a lot more than most Queen’s Speeches. But incredibly, absolutely nothing to provide immediate relief to those struggling with rising energy bills, fuel and food costs.
The government’s response to the cost of living crisis till now has shown a lack of concern for the poorest in our society. I believe we need an emergency budget to deal with a crisis which is projected to push a million people into destitution this year, and will mean struggles for many more.
There are things that would fix this crisis now. Together with my Labour colleagues I am calling for more help for people struggling with energy bills, paid for with a windfall tax on the obscene profits made by oil and gas companies. We would insulate homes and make them more efficient (the climate emergency was also almost completely absent from the Queen’s speech). We also would scrap the National Insurance increase, just one of 15 tax rises from this government in the last two years.
By the time you read this, the government may have taken up some of these ideas. Watch this space…
Passport office problems affecting many Bristolians
People in Bristol have also been struggling to renew their passports due to huge delays at the Passport Office. I’ve been contacted by several constituents who have had to cancel holiday plans, been trapped abroad or unable to carry out other important tasks because their passport is their only form of ID.
This is the result of chaos and incompetence at the top of the Home Office. I am putting questions to the Home Secretary to get this fixed and have also raised it in Parliament and in the media (you may have seen me discussing this on Points West recently, among other places). I will keep pushing the Home Office to fix this very basic function of government and do so soon.
A warm welcome for new Ukrainian neighbours
Among the gloomy news this month, there were also positive experiences.
I don’t always get to meet the people we have helped. So, it was an amazing experience to run into a Ukrainian family whom we had helped with a complicated visa application process, now living in Bristol.
Over the last year, my staff and I have responded to many emails and calls from Afghan and Ukrainian constituents concerned about their families.
Despite lengthy delays and opaque Home Office processes, we have done our best to help people escape the horrors of war. I’m so proud of the warm welcome Bristolians have shown to all refugees.
Contct me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, call 0117 3790980 between 10am and 4pm Monday-Friday.