It is a genuine pleasure to serve under your chairmanship for the first time, Mrs Cummins. I congratulate my hon. Friend Sarah Owen on securing this very important debate and on her passionate, thought-provoking and groundbreaking speech, and I thank her for sharing her shocking childhood experiences of racism. That was a telling and very poignant part of the debate.
As hon. Members have so eloquently highlighted, one of the social consequences of the coronavirus pandemic has been the alarming rise in online hate speech against the Chinese and East Asian community. The pandemic has provided fertile ground for extremists. Conspiracy theorists have fuelled hatred and are exploiting people’s fears. Left unchecked, fake news about minority communities has circulated online, sowing the seeds of hatred. That causes division and damages community relations in our society and it has been allowed to grow to such an extent that some are emboldened to abuse and attack the Chinese and East Asian community. Those in positions of responsibility have done very little to call out the racism or to challenge the fake news and hate speech.