Richmond Park News: 28 April 2022
The 2021-22 session of Parliament drew to a close this week, and we have now entered a period of prorogation. The official State Opening of Parliament will take place on Tuesday 10th May, during which the Queen’s Speech will set out the Government’s agenda for the 2022-23 Parliamentary session.
Our final week in Parliament saw some late night voting and multiple rounds of “ping-pong” during which Bills are passed back and forwards between the Commons and the Lords. Despite repeated push-backs from the Liberal Democrats and other opposition parties in both the Commons and the Lords, the Government was unfortunately able to push through its more controversial Bills, including the Nationality and Borders Bill, the Elections Bill and the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. There are very troubling measures in all three of those bills and I was sorry to see them passed.
During prorogation, Parliament will not be sitting and MPs will be back in their constituencies ahead of the local elections on Thursday 5th May. I urge all of my constituents to go out and vote next Thursday, and to consider the vital role that our local councils have played in leading residents through the pandemic, while building towards the future with new local initiatives.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those councillors who are not seeking re-election for their valuable service. I have the privilege of seeing just how much our local councillors contribute to our community, although their hard work is not always visible to everyone. I want to particularly highlight the service of Cllr David Cunningham, who is retiring from Tudor ward in Kingston after 32 years' service.
On Thursday, I spoke with Andrew Marr on his LBC show to discuss the council elections. I emphasised the importance of local champions, such as the value in having representatives on the council who understand the area they represent, and fight for local issues that matter to constituents. You can watch a clip of my interview here.
UKRAINIAN REFUGEES UPDATE
Delays at the Home Office are causing ongoing confusion and frustration for those who have volunteered to assist Ukrainian refugees. My staff are working hard to chase visa applications on behalf of constituents, but they are facing queues upwards of three hours at the Home Office drop-in centre in Parliament.
Earlier this month, I spoke with the Leaders of Kingston and Richmond councils, who told me that a key obstacle they are facing is a lack of information from the Home Office regarding the arrival of refugees. This week, I wrote to the Home Secretary to voice their concerns and to urge the Home Office to increase communication with local authorities to make the process of accepting Ukrainian refugees easier. My letter was also signed by my Liberal Democrat colleagues Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham and Sir Ed Davey, MP for Kingston and Surbiton. You can read a copy of the letter here.
SUPPORTING THE TAMIL COMMUNITY
North Kingston is home to a large and vibrant Tamil community. I was therefore proud to support my Tamil constituents by attending a Parliamentary screening of the docufilm “Continuous Cycles of Genocide and Violence in Sri Lanka” last Wednesday. I was joined by Lib Dem Leader Sir Ed Davey, and other Parliamentarians, to speak at the event and to voice our concerns over the abhorrent human rights abuses suffered by the Tamil community in Sri Lanka.
MEETING WITH HONG KONG WATCH
Richmond Park is also home to a strong community of residents who have immigrated from Hong Kong. On Wednesday, I met with Hong Kong Watch to learn more about the situation which hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers are facing as they arrive in the UK.