From Caroline Lucas <[email protected]>
Subject Latest Newsletter
Date November 23, 2020 1:38 PM
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Green Party mailing

We have been hearing for weeks that the Prime Minister would be making a
major speech on the environment. In the end, the "major speech" turned into
a press release, sent out late at night - and that's about all it was
worth. There were some welcome initiatives, like bringing forward the ban
on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, but it completely failed to
address the scale of the climate emergency, and there was next to nothing
on the nature and biodiversity crisis.

Several of the proposals repeated what had already been announced, and the
new funding which came with it amounted to little more than £3 billion -
compared to the £27 billion the Government plans to spend on new roads.
There was also little coherence: a target for tree planting but no ban on
the burning of peatland, which is a major cause of carbon emissions.

It also failed to use the disruption caused by Covid for a major re-think
on how we run our economy. This was a moment when the Government needed to
recognise that our outdated economic model is driving the climate and
nature crises, and re-set to an economic model focused on people's health
and wellbeing, and the health of the environment.

I gave interviews to both the Today programme and Sky News about the
proposals, and wrote about what the Prime Minister's climate plan should
have said in The Independent [1].

The Prime Minister's 10-point plan was all the more disappointing because
the UK is hosting a critical UN climate summit next year, and there will
now be a US president who is prepared to engage with the process. Boris
Johnson has plenty of fences to mend with Joe Biden and his team after some
ill-judged and offensive comments he's made in the past: serious action on
the climate emergency would have been one way to do it, as I wrote in my
column in Metro. [2]


As co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on the Green New Deal, I
spent much of the summer on a project called Reset, talking to people
across the country from members of the public to scientific and economic
experts, about building back better from Covid. Overall, we heard the views
of more than 55,000 people, and this month we published our report, Reset
[3]. It was full of recommendations on how the Government could build a
fairer, greener UK, creating more than a million jobs in the process. It
also showed the public are way ahead of ministers on the scale of change
they want to see when we emerge from this pandemic. I wrote about our
findings in the House magazine [4].


I continue to challenge ministers over the Government's handling of the
coronavirus crisis. During health questions, I raised [5] the very sad case
of a constituent who for eight months had been unable to touch, reassure or
hug her father, who has dementia and lives in a care home. I asked the
Secretary of State when relatives would be treated the same as key workers,
offered testing and be able to visit loved ones in care homes - as with so
many questions to ministers about Covid, I didn't get an answer.


I remain in regular contact with local council leaders and public health
officials over the Covid situation in the city. Last week came the worrying
news that Covid cases in Brighton and Hove had started to rise again. The
Council's director of public health, Alistair Hill, said he is "very
concerned" after it was revealed the infection rate had increased by 46 per
cent in a week. Constituents can see the latest local data via the
council's key statistics page [6] and support and advice is available for
all residents, especially people who need to self-isolate, from the
Council's Community Hub [7].


The latest round of Government grants, for which I have been lobbying and
campaigning on your behalf, are now available via the city council. Please
see here for details [8] and to apply.

The 1st stream of funding - the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) -
will provide grants worth up to £3,000 per 4 week period to be distributed
to eligible business premises forced to close. The 2nd stream of funding -
the Additional Restriction Grant (AGR) - is available for business that
don't have to close but are nevertheless financially impacted by Covid.

I know not everyone will be able to benefit, both from an eligibility
perspective and in terms of the Government allocation likely being
insufficient to meet need, but I hope it makes a difference to those that
are successful. I will, if course, keep arguing for far more to be done for
our local economy and the businesses that are such a vital and vibrant part
of it.


Parliament's spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, last week
published its report on the Government's procurement process for PPE during
Covid, and it made for shocking reading. The huge sums involved (more than
£18 billion so far), and some of the companies who have won contracts are
a real cause for concern - particularly when it appears there was a "fast
track" for companies with connections to ministers, MPs and peers. I am
taking legal action, together with two other MPs and the Good Law Project,
over the lack of transparency in PPE contracts and we have now written to
the Secretary of State asking him to explain who benefited from this "fast
track" process for PPE contracts, including around 144 businesses who were
introduced by ministers, and why they were chosen.


I was hugely honoured to be among 30 amazing women activists, educators,
campaigners and doers who were named on Woman's Hour's "Our Planet Power
List". Many of them are women I know and have campaigned with over the
years, and there were some brilliant young campaigners like Mya Rose Craig,
Ella Daish and Holly Gillibrand too.

I was very glad to see Green Party activist Rosamund Kissi-Debrah,
recognised. She's been a tireless campaigner for clean air since the death
of her young daughter, Ella. You can hear my interview with the programme
and all the finalists' names via BBC Sounds [9].


I joined other MPs from the south east in a meeting with a senior BBC
editor about the future of BBC news services in the south east area. There
are worrying signs that regional news services will be cut or merged, which
would have a serious impact on coverage of local issues.


I remain concerned about the situation facing students and universities. I
had meetings with Student Union officers at the University of Sussex to
discuss the current challenges on campuses and their priorities for the
year ahead. We talked about the current lockdown, student well-being,
prospects for young people beyond Covid and demanding a fairer deal for
students on International Students Day.

I also had a meeting with the Universities Minister where I raised concerns
about the lack of extra funding for universities to undertake measures in
response to Covid, and raised questions both about the testing that will
happen before students leave before the Christmas break and when they
return. I also urged the Minister to treat university staff and school
teachers as among the priorities for the vaccination roll-out.

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Contacting Me

If you are a local resident and need help with case work or to find out more about my activities locally please do contact me at the office of: Caroline Lucas MP, Brighton Media Centre 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL.
Tel: 01273 201 130. Email: [email protected]

I hold regular surgeries across the constituency. If you would like to book an appointment at a forthcoming surgery please call Liz Collis on 01273 201130.
She coordinates my constituency office and is able to help with most local enquiries.

If you would like to know about my parliamentary work please get in touch at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.
Tel: 020 7219 7025. Email: [email protected]

You can also keep up to date with my news on:

Twitter: @carolinelucas

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My Website:

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