This week has been another busy one with a lot going on in Parliament and a fair bit of correspondence, too. I have been getting stuck into my new role at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), helping with the Pensions Uprating Bill, which has been very interesting. More on that below.
One of the most eye-catching things to happen in Parliament this week was the vote on renewing the Government’s emergency Coronavirus legislation, which gives them extra powers to enact rules and laws without the normal level of Parliamentary process. These powers are important as they allow the Government to respond quickly and effectively with a fast-changing situation. Examples of this include local surges in Covid cases that can happen over a weekend, requiring regional restrictions very quickly before the situation gets uncontrollable. Otherwise, measures like this could take weeks to go through Parliament.
That is why I voted for the powers to be renewed. That said, I fully appreciate that many people have concerns about continued Government restrictions that impinge upon all our lives. As I have said before, no one wants these restrictions. Sadly, however, they are necessary to slow the spread of what is a very infectious disease.
I am glad that the Government has agreed to allow more Parliamentary oversight going forwards and that, in doing so, it won over MPs like Graham Brady and Steve Baker who had justifiable concerns. Parliamentary scrutiny is a good thing – it improves legislation and makes it more democratic. Though the pandemic still needs fast responses, where possible I hope that there will now be more scrutiny.
One of the least eye-catching things in Parliament this week – though still very important – was the Pensions Uprating Bill. Or, to give it its full, un-catchy name, the Social Security (Up-rating of benefits) Bill.
This will iron out a technicality in pensions law and allow the Government to raise pensions this year, even though national earnings have fallen due to Covid-19. That means that pensioners will rightly see their pensions rise this year, as they would in a normal year. It was interesting to work with ministers on the Bill, acting as a liaison between them and backbench MPs.
Down in the constituency I have been out today visiting Parnell Junior school. All the students and staff have shown such resilience in the face of Covid-19 – it really is amazing. All down to the very hard work of the staff. The school is also rated Good by Ofsted, a real improvement on the start of the decade – again all down to the brilliant staff.
Weather looks rather dreary today and into the weekend, but hope you are still able to enjoy yourselves. Keep safe!