Our slow steps out of Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions follow a long and winding track, though many people would think that everything has already fully normalised. Much of the civil service has not returned to normal working which, all too often, means a slower service. This was most clearly seen with the inability to get lorry drivers trained and tests passed but does impact on a whole series of other services.
Members of Parliament get to see and hear about the problems of their constituents but it is always good to see those steps back to normality being made. I was therefore delighted to see that most libraries across the area have now reopened. It is often when we have these important services taken away that we really begin to appreciate them.
It is necessary, considering the success of the vaccines programme, that we continue on the road to normality and commit to not return to the cycle of lockdowns.
Who would have thought, in March 2020, that we would only now be reopening our libraries? Whether it is young children or old folk, much has been sacrificed but I know that people want to get back to normal. I except that we may now give more value to those little things in life that give us so much.
Freedom, a good education, free health care at the point of use, fair law and order, and a wealth of work and lifestyle opportunities are part of the warp and weft of life in England. Our parents, grandparents and ancestors built the country we have and we should always treasure it even though it is easy for us to take it all for granted.
Many millions around the world do not live in societies that have our freedoms and values. Whether it is due to conflict, authoritarian oppression poor standards of living or life opportunities many want a better life for themselves and their families. These factors are what is drawing so many from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to make the dangerous journeys to England.
The passage is fraught with danger from harsh desert to cruel sea; malnutrition to enslavement; criminal gangs to terrorist organisations. When people get to Spain or Greece, they make their way to France and the English Channel. They spend weeks, months and even years in France hoping to leave that modern and sophisticated western country with some of the highest living standards in the world.
Death is a risk they take to leave the potential sanctuary of mainland Europe to get to England and many die as they do so.
Seventeen men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant, and three children have just died attempting that perilous crossing and it is about time that our Prime Minister and the French President took decisive to bring it to an end.