Alicia Kearns MP for Rutland discusses Indian covid variant, LGBT+ so-called conversion therapy and Manton bridge closure in latest column
It is very heartening to write this week as we enter the next stage of our roadmap to freedom. I know we are all particularly happy to be able meet indoors with our nearest and dearest, especially with the turbulent weather we’ve been experiencing, says Alicia Kearns MP for Rutland.
I am delighted to report that in the last week I have had secured victories for two of my national campaigns. Many of you will be aware of my campaign to end the scandal of lone births. NHS trusts were forcing mothers to undergo scans, labour and miscarriages on their own. This was despite Government guidance stating that hospitals should ensure partners were able to support their loved ones. Last week, following eight months of campaigning, the final five hospitals in England changed their policies to ensure no woman goes through pregnancy or birth alone. Mothers locally made me aware of this postcode lottery injustice which I had not faced during my pregnancy, and my campaign saw hospitals locally and across the country change their policies. I’m angry it took so long to force some hospitals to change their policies, but I’m relieved we’re there now.
In the Queen’s Speech this week I was also delighted to secure my first new law: a ban on LGBT+ so-called conversion therapy. Since my election I have led the campaign in Parliament to ban this abusive and fraudulent practice. The need for this ban is quite simple – victims of conversion therapy currently have no legal recourse to justice, and without a legal definition and ban, every day people’s lives are being destroyed. This is not a fight between faith and unbelief but rather about protecting freedoms and stopping those who abuse their authority. I’ve been proud to work with Lord Rowan Williams, Former Archbishop of Canterbury, former local student Stephen Fry, representatives of every major faith and tens of campaign groups and survivors on what the law should look like because love is not a pathology, and it doesn’t need treating. This law is a tribute to all those told they were sick or didn’t deserve to be loved, and all those who devastatingly lost their lives through this abuse.
I’m pleased that the Queen’s Speech will also ensure we continue our focus as Conservatives on levelling up investment across the country, investing in our recovery, creating more educational opportunities, tackling violent crime, defeating hostile state and terrorist threats, and further driving up animal welfare which many of you have raised with me.
As we look to our local recovery, farming and food and drink production are vital sectors for us. I ask you to have your say in the consultation I am running as chairman of the APPG on Geographically Protected Foods. The findings will shape Government policies on supporting our great British food and drink in the future and you can respond here: gpfoods.inparliament.uk
I have also been working with local officials on the bridge closure at Manton. Many residents and businesses have written to me about the extent of the disruption and I am working with Rutland County Council to make sure disruption is as minimal as possible. Equally I have been pushing to make sure the Government overturns its housing targets for Rutland.
As we open up more, we are all worried about the Indian variant. I have spoken to the Vaccines’ Minister about cases in Leicester, and I want to assure everyone that there is no evidence currently that the vaccines will not be effective against the variant. Rutland continues to have some of the highest vaccination uptake rates in the country: 35,099 cumulative doses have been given locally. Our best defence is for us all to get our vaccinations, so please book your jab as soon as you’re eligible.