Richmond Park News: 2 July 2021


Today during Oral Questions for the Department of Transport, I asked Transport Secretary Grant Shapps what conversations he has had with the new Health Secretary about tackling the Delta variant, in order to facilitate travel between the UK and countries on our green light list. I am keen for travel to reopen safely for the sake of tourism industry employees and people who have been kept away from their loved ones. But we need to get our rising case rates back under control if we are to be able to resume holidays and business travel without increasing risks at home or abroad.

In response, the Secretary assured me that he is pressing other countries to do more genetic sequencing of positive PCR tests and share their data internationally as we do. His view is that this transparency is a key step in opening travel safely. While this is a fair point, I would still like to hear how the Government plans to get our case rates down here, so we can give our international partners confidence.

You can read the full text of my question and the Secretary's response here, or see a video clip of my question here.


In the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, we heard evidence on protecting consumers from unsafe products. I asked Graham Russell, Director of the Office for Product Safety and Standards at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about a concern raised to me by London Fire Brigade when I recently visited RIchmond Fire Station.

The Richmond Borough Commander for London Fire Brigade explained to me last Friday that electrical items that are ordered online can evade the normal product checks, and may have fraudulent CE markings on their packaging. These unregulated electrical goods, especially phone chargers, are one of the biggest risks for fires these days. I asked Mr Russell what more his department can do to protect consumers. You can see his wide-ranging response to this question in this transcript of the meeting.

I also raised in the PAC meeting the difficulty for the public in knowing where to report faulty or non-compliant goods, especially if you don't know where the product was manufactured. The response was that all such issues can be reported through the CItizens Advice hotline. If you have received a faulty device or suspect your device may not meet UK safety standards you can see how to report it to Citizens Advice here.

I urge my constituents to be wary of purchasing electrical goods online and to only buy reputable brands from reputable sellers. Electrical items must have CE markings, but we should all remember that these can be forged. Electrical Safety First has produced a handy pdf guide to buying electrical goods online safely, which explains how to tell a real product from a fake one. You can download the guide here.

Or for a wider view of safety in the home, I urge you to look at London Fire Brigade's advice on keeping you and your family safe in your home here.


Residents in Mortlake and Barnes Common may be aware that Mayor Sadiq Khan has scheduled the hearing to review the planning application for the Stag Brewery development on 27 July. As this falls during the summer holidays, I have written to Mayor Khan asking him to delay this hearing until the end of September to allow greater public participation. You can see my letter here.


Working parents may not be aware that they can use Tax-Free Childcare to help pay for their childcare costs over the summer. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) provides Tax-Free Childcare for children aged up to 11, or up to 17 if the child has a disability. This can be used to help pay for accredited holiday clubs, childminders or sport activities.

Working parents can open an online account at any time and the government will pay £2 for every £8 that gets paid towards a childcare provider via the online account. This is capped at £500 every 3 months, or £1,000 if the child is disabled. Parents and carers can check their eligibility and register for Tax-Free Childcare via GOV.UK.


Tomorrow, 3 July is International Plastic Bag Free Day. I recently co-signed an open letter calling on the Government to ban plastic bags. If you would like to help with this campaign, you can sign Planet Patrol's petition for the Big Bag ban, and spread the word on social media tomorrow.


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