MP's Column

‘I entirely recognise the strong desire to reflect the pride that we feel in our different parts of the United Kingdom. We are at the start of a process. I am not saying either yes or no; we are simply at too early a stage in this process to decide. However, I recognise that there are opportunities. I regard this debate as the start of our national conversation about what we would like to have on our driving licences and on our number plates.’ These are the words of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport spoken on 19th April 2017. His response was to Scott Mann MP and myself calling on Government to allow the St Piran’s Flag to feature on our driving licences and car number plates once we have formally left the EU. I’m proposing that we continue the conversation and I’ve set up an online survey to gauge your opinion in respect of the St Piran’s Flag on our number plates. Please go to https://www.derekthomas.org/survey take the survey. 

Nearly one million public sector workers were included in the Chancellor’s recent announcement regarding a pay increase. It did not take long to note that nurses and some other medical health professionals were not listed amongst those to receive this pay rise. They are not missing out. They are part of a previously announced scheme known as the Agenda for Change pay deal, something I fully supported. This multi-year deal is delivering year-on-year pay increases including, for example, a 12% increase for a newly qualified nurse, a 16% pay increase for the lowest paid NHS staff member and a pay increase average of 4.4% this year for nurses moving up the pay structure. The Agenda for Change pay deal excluded those featured in the Chancellor’s speech earlier this month.

The mandatory introduction of face coverings in shops will reassure many who want to shop but worry that they put themselves and others at risk. However, a face covering presents as a real obstacle if you are hard of hearing and rely on lip-reading to communicate. There are others who live with challenges that make human interaction  difficult if the other person is wearing a face covering. Retail staff themselves are not required by law to wear face coverings - reasoning for this includes the consideration of others who face the challenges I’ve identified above. It is also the case that the requirement to wear a face covering is waived for people who have reasons relating to health and communication. In normal times every effort is often made to ensure that there is no reason for a person to refer to their disability in order to access a service that most of us take for granted. Where possible this should still be the case despite these unprecedented times and my hope is that people who are hard of hearing (or have any other challenge) feel confident to go shopping and get the support they need with heads held high!