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Richmond Park News: 16 April 2021

It was a very busy return to Parliament after recess this week. I had the opportunity to speak on a number of important subjects.

On Tuesday, I spoke in the House in response the Budget and Finance Bill, which disappointed me in a number of ways. I am deeply concerned about the future of small businesses, which are the lifeblood of our high streets and communities. We urgently need a plan to support these innovative entrepreneurs and local employers, before the end of furlough brings a tsunami of business closures and job losses. I called on the Chancellor to address the future of small businesses directly and substantively right away.

I also spoke up about the continued absence of support for the sectors and individuals who have not been assisted through the pandemic. This bill is yet another missed opportunity to support the travel, cultural and events sectors, and the hundreds of thousands of freelancers and small business owners who have been excluded from support.

Lastly, I told the Government how disappointed I am that this bill does not address the climate emergency. It is clear that the Government is not serious about achieving net zero or fostering a green recovery from the pandemic. There was nothing on green homes, electric vehicles, cycling and walking infrastructure, public transport or industrial strategy.

You can see some of my remarks here or read the full text here.

Also on Tuesday, during Oral Questions, I asked Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock what he is doing about the crisis in children's mental health services. Children and adolescents are waiting a year or more for treatment for serious mental health conditions, getting more unwell while they wait and missing important educational opportunities. I have heard many distressing accounts of this from my own constituents and I know that colleagues in neighbouring constituencies have as well.

I am addressing this on the local level with colleagues, but I thought it was important to challenge Mr Hancock on it in the House. You can see my question and his response here.

On Wednesday I spoke in the House in the debate about Greenshill Capital. I am appalled that public servants think it is acceptable to take remuneration from businesses regulated by their departments. Government ministers and civil servants must hold themselves to a higher standard than this or public trust in their actions will rightly disappear. Liberal Democrats have been calling for reform to lobbying rules for many years, and I will support any effort to put a stop to existing unsavoury practices. You can see my remarks on this subject here.

With serious questions to answer about cronyism in procurement and financial support to businesses, the Government must allow us to scrutinise their large business support loans. You can see my question to Paul Scully, Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, about the long-overdue publication of the list of loans made under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme here.