Kate with the children at St John Vianney RC School.
Kate with the children at St John Vianney RC School.

This week’s prime minister’s questions was one of the most remarkable and shocking I have seen in my time in parliament. Boris Johnson began the session with a statement about, and what he tried to present as an apology for, yet another drinks party which he attended in the 10 Downing Street garden during lockdown, to which dozens of people were invited.

The mood in the chamber was exceptionally tense. MPs did not believe what the prime minister said. Opposition members were angry; Conservative MPs were mostly silent. I have never seen a prime minister face that kind of contempt. As one of the campaigners from the Covid 19 Bereaved Families for Justice said on Thursday, Boris Johnson now has no moral authority, and Labour is clear: he should resign. I know from my postbag that many of my constituents also think that.

Meanwhile, I have been following up a number of other issues affecting my constituents. On Monday, the government announced that leaseholders in buildings above 11 metres high would not be liable for any costs in relation to rectifying fire safety hazards, and instead developers would have to foot the bill. Together with MPs across all parties, I have been campaigning for this for some time, and while I welcome the announcement on Monday, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. I asked the minister what would happen when a development company had been wound up or has no assets, and of course, this announcement still doesn’t help constituents in buildings under 11 metres. I’ll have the chance to pursue my concerns further in a debate on the Building Safety Bill next week, when I’ll continue to press for the protections for leaseholders to be strengthened.

Constituents have also been in touch about the appalling humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Families can’t afford to buy food, pay their heating bills, or get medical treatment. It is a desperate situation. We had a statement about this in parliament on Wednesday, when many of us pressed the government minister to do more to lead international efforts to get aid to people who are suffering terribly.

Away from the chamber, there have been two big issues in my inbox of late. First has been the problem of unreliable mail deliveries. This has been going on for a number of weeks, and is affecting people across the country, including constituents served by the Royal Mail delivery office in Norton Street in Old Trafford. Several Greater Manchester MPs met Royal Mail managers this week to try to get to the bottom of the problem – you can read my report of the meeting by clicking here.

Second, many constituents have contacted me about the Clean Air Zone. The Greater Manchester mayor, Andy Burnham, has been directed by the government to take action to improve air quality in GM, but the financial support we’ve had from the Conservative government to help with the cost of replacing non-compliant vehicles is hopelessly inadequate. GM MPs of all parties are raising concerns, and Andy is hoping to negotiate a delay and more support from the government. I am particularly worried about vehicles used for school transport or for disabled passengers, and I had a very useful meeting with David, who runs Abacus Cabs in Urmston, to hear about the effect the CAZ could have on his business and passengers. We will continue to keep up the pressure on the government to give Greater Manchester the support we need to implement the CAZ fairly and effectively.

Finally, a big thank you to Manchester Islamic School for Girls for inviting me to visit you last Friday. The school enjoys outstanding an OFSTED rating, and it was a pleasure to meet the staff and students. And I was delighted to round off this week with a visit to St John Vianney school this morning, to meet the chaplaincy group. The students asked excellent questions about poverty, politics and how they can make a difference. Meeting young people and hearing their views is one of the very best things about my job as a member of parliament.

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