I congratulate my hon. Friend Dawn Butler on successfully securing the debate, and I share the concerns raised by the Black Lives Matter movement about the stark inequalities and injustices that are faced by black people and other ethnic minorities. Covid-19 has been devastating in our communities, care homes and hospitals. So many hearts have been broken by loss, and today we have heard powerful statements from the heart.
This debate is rightly focused on the impact of coronavirus on black, Asian and minority ethnic communities—a point extremely pertinent to my constituency. In her maiden speech, my predecessor, Jo Cox, said of Batley and Spen:
“Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency, or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir.”—[Official Report,
Vol. 596, c. 674.]
I quote Jo Cox in the week of the fourth anniversary of her murder, and she is still desperately missed in this place and in Batley and Spen. That quote perfectly describes the diversity of my constituency. That community is already exposed to underlying health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma, and we now know that there is also a raised risk of death involving covid-19, when compared with people of white ethnicity.
As a proud GMB MP, I know that GMB supports many thousands of ancillary staff, from hospital porters to cleaners, ambulance workers and admin staff, and it has pressed for risk assessments. Sadly, those risk assessments came too late for many staff, and when they did come, they focused on access to PPE and social distancing challenges.