In the past week, this has been brought home to me by two important bills which have been supported by the Conservative Government.
This first of these is the ‘Protect the Protectors’ Private Members Bill which seeks to impose stronger deterrents and sanctions against the assault of emergency workers. The second is the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill which seeks to ensure grieving parents in employment receive paid leave following the loss of a child. Neither of these bills received the storm of media coverage which sometimes follows the introduction of legislation; however, they will undoubtedly both make a significant difference to families across the UK.
Widespread support of both of these bills from across the House was a strong show of unity and solidarity in the face of issues that could have an impact on any of us. Following correspondence from many constituents on the subjects of both of these bills, I was proud to support them.
We must stand firm together against attacks on those people who risk so much in order to protect us. At one point or another we are all likely to experience a situation in which we are forced to rely on the courage and dedication of emergency service workers - whether they are a fire officer, police officer, paramedic, or another emergency worker - and it is appalling that have to suffer abuse and assault in their line of work. The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill will double the jail term for people convicted of assaulting emergency workers on duty; it will also create the power to take blood samples, with consent, from people who have spat at or bitten emergency workers, thus exposing them to risk of infection. These crucial changes to legislation will send a clear message that attacks on our emergency workers will not be tolerated and those who are violent will face the full force of the law.
In terms of the Parental Bereavement (Pay and Leave) Bill, it was a poignant experience hearing the experiences of Members on both sides of the House, and those of their constituents, who had lost a child. During my time as MP for Wealden, I have met many local parents who have gone through this trauma and so I am extremely pleased that this Bill received full Government backing. This will go some way to ensuring that parents in Wealden receive the support they need from their employer when they go through the terrible ordeal of losing a child.