The United Kingdom’s strong response to Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war against the people of Ukraine has continued to be enhanced in recent days.
In the early hours of last Tuesday morning, the Economic Crime (Transparency & Enforcement) Act received Royal Assent, meaning the Government can move more quickly to sanction more oligarchs, as well as intensifying our own sanctions enforcement.
Shortly after this bill became law, the Foreign Secretary announced more than 370 new sanctions targeting Russia and its ally Belarus, meaning the UK has now designated more than 1,000 individuals and entities since the start of Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
Ahead of the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, last week I raised with HM Treasury in the House of Commons the positive effect of the Kickstart jobs scheme, with the Chief Secretary confirming that Government spending on supporting people into work will be more than some £6 billion over the next three years.
With Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal reopening in the coming days I welcomed the Transport Secretary’s announcement of the removal of Covid-19 international travel restrictions for all passengers.
This news will come as a timely boost for Crawley and Gatwick workers and return travelling to normality.
The ending of the Passenger Locator Form and tests for all arrivals is only possible due to our vaccine rollout. Indeed, 86 per cent of the population have received a second dose and 67 per cent have had a booster or third dose.
The NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme will be entering a new phase this week with hundreds of thousands of people being invited to book a Spring booster jab. Eligible groups for Spring boosters include care home residents, people aged 75 and over, and people who are immunosuppressed aged 12 and over. Please do step forward and get your vaccine when you are called by the NHS.
Throughout my time in Parliament and indeed for many years before I was first elected to the Commons I have championed Crawley’s Chagossian community, who were forcibly removed from their homeland in the British Indian Ocean Territory in the 1960s.
In recognition of the unique challenges faced by this community I tabled an amendment to the Nationality & Borders Bill, to enable those descended from individuals born in the British Indian Ocean Territory to be allowed to register as British citizens, through simplifying nationality law so anyone who can prove they are of Chagossian descent becomes eligible to register as a British overseas territories citizen.
I am delighted that last Friday the Immigration Minister met me to confirm that the Government will be accepting the points raised in my amendment, therefore securing a historic step forward for this community.
Henry Smith MP