Covid-19

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 12th January 2021.

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Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Shadow Minister (Education) 5:00 pm, 12th January 2021

Covid and its mismanagement are hurting my city of Hull and the East Riding, and without fair and adequate support from Government, I fear for the future of jobs, particularly in the hospitality and entertainment sector. I have already raised the incredible work on marine conservation being done by the Deep, and its incredibly challenging financial situation. All the animals still need caring for, feeding and looking after, but the Deep’s doors remain shut and its income remains at zero.

Hull Trains, an open-access rail operator, has again stopped its direct rail service through to London and faces an uncertain future. It is unfathomable that other cities would see their only direct route to the capital cancelled, yet the Government are content to allow this to happen to Hull. I hope that they have not also forgotten about our other businesses, or about the impact on our cinemas, bowling alleys, Hull Truck Theatre, Hull New Theatre, Hull FC rugby club and Hull City football club. When large businesses such as those suffer, our city suffers—and not just our economy but our morale too. I have submitted many written questions to the Government about this, because it is an issue of fairness. I will not allow the Government to choke off our chances of recovery and cut us off from opportunity.

The impact of the covid-19 pandemic on pubs and breweries has been nothing short of catastrophic. They have been messed about during the pandemic, and they do not know if they are coming or going. At one point the Prime Minister was encouraging people, saying that it was their patriotic duty to go to the pub and that they should eat out to help out. Pubs then spent a fortune making their premises covid-secure, only to be told, “Oh, you’re unsafe. You must close.” The uncertainty throughout the pandemic is having a damaging impact on people’s mental health. The Government must start planning beyond next week and take a serious long-term look at all the problems facing industry. Pubs and breweries need a road map that sets out a path that combines the necessary immediate support with the continuing economic stimulus needed throughout 2021.

Finally, I want to highlight two pubs in my constituency. The Hop and Vine basement bar in Hull has contacted me to ask if it can be allowed to do off-sales again. This made a difference previously, and the bar is at a loss as to why it is not allowed now. My constituent Pete Wilkinson, the tenant landlord of the New Griffin on Anlaby Road, has told me a story of the incompetence of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs when he requested something as simple as the required tax code to get his payroll up and running, and I hope the Minister will put me in touch with the relevant person so we can get this resolved. I have never asked for special treatment for Hull West and Hessle. We just want to be treated fairly so that we can save jobs and businesses and ensure that we come out of the pandemic fighting and ready to bring on the rest of this year.