I have been contacted by a number of constituents regarding the death of George Floyd in the US, the Black Lives Matter campaign and outcomes for BAME groups. Please be assured that I take your opinions on these matters very seriously indeed and your correspondence will be shared with the relevant Government department to demonstrate the strength of feeling amongst Broxtowe constituents.
As a black man myself I was incredibly distressed by the footage of what happened to George Floyd in the lead up to his death in police custody. I understand that the police officer involved in the incident has been charged with second-degree murder, and there will be a federal review.
I completely understand the strength of feeling over this incident and of course fully support the right to peacefully protest. I cannot, however, condone the violent scenes and unrest which has followed, not only in America but across the UK too.
Rioting and violence are unlawful and very distressing, and I urge all sides to de-escalate these tensions. I do hope that communities can come back together and not tear itself apart over this incredibly distressing incident.
Regarding the removal of statues, I understand the strength of feeling surrounding certain statues and memorials. However, I strongly condemn the actions of those who in recent weeks have defaced and damaged public property, or otherwise broken the law.
A number of constituents have contacted me regarding discrimination within the UK. I, therefore, welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement that he is setting up a cross-governmental commission on racial inequality which will examine all aspects of inequality for people from BAME backgrounds, including health, employment, and education.
I believe that it is vital for young people in Broxtowe and across the country to be taught about Black History. Whilst the curriculum does provide a number of opportunities to be taught about different groups within society, it is clear that there is more that is needed to be done. I have contacted the Department for Education to raise these concerns with them.
With regards to the export of rubber bullets and tear gas, I know the Government takes its export control responsibilities very seriously. The UK operates one of the world’s most robust and transparent export control regimes. Each export licence application is considered on a case-by-case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. The Consolidated Criteria provide a thorough risk assessment framework, requiring the Government to think very carefully about the possible impact of providing equipment and its capabilities. My understanding is that the Government will not grant an export licence if doing so would be inconsistent with the criteria. I have ensured Ministers are aware of the points Broxtowe constituents make about these exports.
The Coronavirus figures suggesting that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 are extremely concerning and trouble me greatly. The disproportionate impact has been recognised by my colleagues in Government and Public Health England was commissioned to conduct thorough research into the matter. I understand that PHE has now published its report and I await the Department for Health and Social Care's response as soon as possible.
I am grateful to have been contacted by constituents across Broxtowe regarding this very important matter. I will continue to share your views with the relevant Government Departments.