Henry Smith MP – Westminster Report – July 2021
As Crawley MP and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Future of Aviation, I am leading cross-party representations to the Chancellor to warn that with a lost summer season coming on top of the worst 15 months in the history of UK aviation, without the continuing support of the furlough scheme the risk of significant redundancies will become a stark and devastating reality.
The letter is signed by a total of 77 parliamentarians urging the Government to not only extend the furlough scheme but to work with industry to provide further much needed financial support whilst they remain under significant restrictions.
Since last March, our aviation, travel and tourism industries have been amongst the worst affected by the pandemic with passenger numbers falling to historically low levels leading to devastating impacts which are being felt throughout the UK.
Under the leadership of Crawley’s own Gareth Southgate, we have now seen the England men’s national team progress further in a tournament since that famous World Cup win more than half a century ago.
Gareth attended Pound Hill Junior and Hazelwick Schools, and has previously spoken in the national press about the teachers who were instrumental in him taking up the sport.
As a community it is time for us to have a discussion about how best to commemorate Gareth’s leadership of our national team, with talk of a statue to mark his work. With a new Crawley Town Hall due to open in the near future, one idea could be to name this building after the man who has taken the national team further than many of us have seen in our lifetimes.
Thanks to our key workers: I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and thank NHS workers for their dedication and I want to extend this gratitude to all key workers who are playing their part in our local and national response to the pandemic.
Olympic Games: Over the coming weeks we will be cheering on Team GB’s athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Covid-19 pandemic means that there is an unusually short amount of time between the Summer Games and the next Winter Olympics, which take place in Beijing in February of next year.
Crawley residents have contacted me on many occasions in recent years about the serious human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang, and towards freedoms in Hong Kong.
Hosting the Olympics provides potential for a propaganda coup for a regime as authoritarian as China’s. If these Games are to take place in Beijing then British athletes will compete and have the support of our country, but we must take steps to ensure that the Chinese government does not receive any such endorsement from Britain.
The UK Government should suggest to the British Olympic Association that its participation in opening and closing ceremonies is limited to one representative carrying the Union Flag. Government should abstain from sending officials to any ceremonies or functions, and strongly discourage British businesses from sponsoring or advertising at the Games.
These are just some of the findings of the UK Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee’s recent inquiry on Uyghurs and other ethnic minority groups in Xinjiang who are suffering genocide and crimes against humanity, and how Britain can take action to bring these crimes to an end.
Earlier this year I spoke in the Commons about how the UK must not be afraid to challenge those in the world who do us and the global community harm. The Chinese Communist Party is committing atrocities in Xinjiang, stifling free speech in Hong Kong, and repressing more than one billion of its own citizens.
A diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics is just one way we can tell the Chinese government that their actions are unacceptable. In front of a worldwide audience of hundreds of millions, we can remind the world of Britain’s commitment to freedom and human rights.
Full fibre broadband: Earlier this month I was in Ifield West to meet with CityFibre and see for myself their work rolling out full fibre broadband in Crawley. This installation of gigabit-speed broadband in Crawley neighbourhoods and Manor Royal is part of a £23 million investment connecting up to 15,000 homes and businesses by the end of the year.
This kind of investment will help us to build back better, with this once in a generation upgrade future-proofing network infrastructure, at a time when digital connectivity has never been so important. These improvements will make Crawley an even better place to live, work and visit, in addition to strengthening our position as a key travel hub.
Opportunities for SMEs: Asking the Cabinet Office about accessibility and opportunities for SMEs such as those in Crawley to bid for Government contracts.
UK exports: Welcoming the work of Government-backed UK Export Finance and their quick reaction to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Covid-19 protections for immunocompromised people: Asking the new Health & Social Care Secretary for confirmation that people with conditions such as blood cancer will be informed and advised by the NHS on how to continue to protect themselves from Covid-19.
Tourism sector: Questioning the Tourism Minister about how Government is supporting this industry bounce back from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Free and fair global trade: Questioning the International Trade Secretary about the importance of a free and fair global trade system as part of a strong economic recovery for the UK.
International travel restrictions: Encouraging the Transport Secretary to expand the number of nations on the green list.
Digital and data reform: Questioning the Government about digital and data reforms which can lead to improved outcomes from public services and transform our communities.
Transatlantic air travel: Calling on the Transport Secretary to press on with UK-US Travel Taskforce efforts.
With my best wishes
Member of Parliament for Crawley