Rural Related Politics - An RSN weekly review

15 June 2020

Below is an RSN review of last week's rural related politics as well as a look forward to the week ahead:


Last week in politics 
(8 June - 14 June)

On Tuesday 9th June, during a debate on the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, Stuart C. McDonald (SNP) asked why the report called for a pilot scheme about remote areas, and mentioned that this scheme seems to have since disappeared. The interim chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, Professor Brian Bell, responded that they received strong evidence that there are rural communities that find it difficult to recruit in the way that employers can in more urban and suburban areas.

On Wednesday 10th June, Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham invited 46 MPs whose constituencies either include or are close to the River Severn, to join an all-party group at parliament to look at tackling flooding problems along the River Severn.

On Friday 12th June, Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman (Con) announced that the Government is seeking views on changing regulations to make infrastructure sharing easier for broadband companies. This could give broadband firms access to more than a million kilometres of underground utility ducts in order to boost rollout of next-generation broadband across the country.

COVID-19 update

On Tuesday 9th June, during a debate on Local Government Economy, Baroness Scott of Needham Market (LD) argued that the response to lockdown has shown that, where a full range of digital tools is available, people and businesses can locate almost anywhere. In order for this to be ‘transformative’ for rural economies, she asked the Minister to commit to a ‘dedicated stream for rural areas’ that could work alongside new funds outlined in the Agriculture Bill.

On Thursday 11th June, HMRC published estimates of the number and value of claims made to the COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme to HMRC by 31st May. Also on Thursday, Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville (LD) contributed to a debate on Education Settings asking what arrangements have been made to ensure that children with additional needs living in rural locations are able to access their schools, since they often need personalised school transport. An additional £63 million has also been confirmed by the Government to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to COVID-19.

On Friday 12th June, during the Number 10 press conference, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps (Con) was asked if they country is moving towards the possibility of regional lockdown given that the R rate may have now risen above one in rural areas including the South West. Mr Shapps responded that the Government and SAGE takes into account numerous models of the R value, and that the prediction that R is above one in the South West ‘was an outlier’.

From Monday 15th June passengers will need to wear a face covering to use public transport. Also on Monday, the Loneliness Minister Bareness Barren has urged people to consider writing letters and cards to those still isolating as lockdown measures ease to ensure they don’t feel forgotten, as part of Loneliness Awareness Week.

This week in politics (15 June - 21 June)
  • On Monday 15th June, there will be oral evidence session in the House of Commons with the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee on the work of the department.
  • On Tuesday 16th June, in the House of Commons, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee will host an oral evidence session on the Environmental Land Management scheme. In the House of Lords, there will be oral questions on reviewing the Government's manifesto commitments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic with Lord Young of Cookham (Con).
  • On Wednesday 17th June, in the House of Commons, the Transport Committee will host an oral evidence session on COVID-19 and the implications for transport. The Treasury Committee will also host a session on the economic impact of COVID-19. In the House of Lords, the Public Services Committee will debate public services and lessons from the pandemic.
  • On Thursday 18th June, in the House of Commons, the Environmental Audit Committee will have a one-off session with the Secretary of State for the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee will also have an oral evidence debate on the impact of the pandemic on businesses and workers.

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