A few months ago towards the beginning of the lockdown, a number of constituents got in touch to raise concerns that the measures in place at our borders to prevent more cases of Covid-19 coming into the country weren’t robust enough. I shared these concerns as 15,000 people were continuing to fly into the country every day while countries around the world had cancelled international travel or introduced strict quarantine measures for arrivals. That’s why I wrote to the Home Secretary at the time, urging her to implement stronger measures at our borders as soon as possible.
Since I wrote that letter on 20 April a considerable amount of time has passed but the Government now intends to introduce a 14-day quarantine for international arrivals due to start next week. Many of the arguments in favour of such a quarantine still stand and it’s important that all necessary steps are taken to protect against new imported cases of Covid-19 and ensure our infection rate can fall.
There are however a number of different factors to consider now given the time that has passed and the sense that the virus has started to recede slightly. Some other countries are beginning to look at loosening their restrictions and there have been concerns raised by the tourism and aviation sectors that the economic cost of introducing these measures now could outweigh the benefits. Some families in the UK may also be thinking about their own plans for the summer holidays and how this quarantine will affect them.
I would be interested to here what your views are on the Government’s plans for a quarantine. It’s disappointing that these plans weren’t brought in earlier but I’d like to know your views on them going ahead now. Please don’t hesitate to add a comment here or email me on email@example.com to let me know.
Tomorrow I will be leading discussing looking Pet Theft Reform. In total 117,453 people have signed a House of Commons petition calling for the Animal Welfare Act to be reformed to make pet theft a specific offence. Originally this was going to be a full Parliamentary debate but as a result of COVID-19 I will be leading a discussion with the creators of the petition instead, Dr Daniel Allen and Professor John Cooper QC and others. I have to say as a dog and cat lover this has really taken my interest and I think there is a strong case for giving this serious consideration. As it stands when someone is found guilty of a theft “monetary value” is the main determiner of the sentence that is issued.
What this would look to do is ensure that when Courts sentence they must consider the fear, alarm or distress to the pet and the owners. There is no way you could have put a monetary value on my old Springer Spaniel Lucy. I do think its right that we need tougher sentencing when it comes to those who engage in pet theft. The discussion will not be streamed live unfortunately but I will post the video afterwards.
I am glad that Government officials have been in contact with Australian officials to discuss how their “Operation Sovereign Borders” strategy worked which allowed them to successfully tackle illegal immigration. I know how important this issue is to many of my constituents and rest assured I am doing what I can both behind the scenes and in the House of Commons Chamber to ensure firm action is taken to halt the flow of illegal crossings we have witnessed recently. Essentially the Australian approach involved them adopting a zero tolerance to tackling “illegal maritime arrivals”. Law changes were introduced that enabled Australian authorities to intercept those attempting illegal crossings and to return them to their “Port of origin”. It does seem that we will also have to see some law changes here to allow firmer action to be taken. Ultimately it would be good if we had the powers necessary so we didn’t have to be so reliant on the French authorities to prevent the flow of illegal crossings across the English channel.
I know this is an issue that the Home Secretary Priti Patel is getting on top of but I agree that we need to see positive results as soon as possible. I will continue to make inquiries and will provide updates.
Good news announced by the Chancellor at today’s press conference. I know this has been on the minds and a cause of anxiety for many of my constituents who are self-employed. I appreciate that sadly the various packages of support announced by Government don’t cover everyone but I am confident that today’s news will be a great source of help for many. Clearly at some point soon these support schemes will need to be phased out as we all get back to work but I think extending the scheme today was a sensible decision