Parliament returns this week after the extended recess, interrupted by two emergency sittings, for a session like no other. With London now at the centre of the coronavirus crisis, MPs are being told to stay away from Westminster as far as possible to reduce the risk of Covid transmission.
New arrangements have been put in place to provide for virtual participation, with just a small number of MPs and Peers attending. So I’ll be participating from Sheffield for the immediate future, as I did in last week’s emergency session, when I spoke on new Covid measures and pressed the Education Secretary to scrap this year’s SATS.
Rapidly changing events and new Ministerial statements each day also make it difficult to predict the week, but my week starts this morning with an interview on Radio Sheffield about the inquiry I’ve just launched as Chair of the APPG for Students on the calls for fee and rent reductions as a result of coronavirus measures. We’ve called for evidence from students, universities and other stakeholders (see more here) and I’ll be meeting with the President of Sheffield University Union and the Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University later in the week.
I’m planning to speak in a debate on dentistry on Thursday, raising issues from constituents on the impact of the coronavirus crisis and particularly pressing the concerns of dentists on the impact on dental services of new contractual conditions recently imposed by the Government.
I’ll also be joining a meeting of the APPG on Choice at the End of Life, of which I’m Vice-Chair, and I’ll be discussing the current coronavirus situation in Sheffield with our Director of Public Health and its impact on schools with the Council’s Director of Education and Skills.