December 2020 Newsletter from John Howell MP for Henley

Whatever their political view, during the course of 2020 many people told me that they did not envy the Government having to make decisions about how best to deal with the COVID crisis with the many different issues to be considered. Whatever decisions were made there were some people who were unhappy – some wanting tighter restrictions, some wanting greater freedoms; and whatever financial support measures were introduced there were some who felt they were too little and some who felt they were too much.

During the year The Speaker did much to keep parliament moving and enable business to carry on but inevitably it was been slower than usual with remote working. Debate was also curtailed to some extent with limited numbers of MPs allowed to be in the Chamber at any one time and so the usual pattern of discussion with interventions was limited. For some time there were also no Westminster Hall debates. This is where MPs can raise specific shared concerns for debate and reply by a Minister.

In all of this is has been difficult to move as quickly as the Government would have liked to act on election manifesto promises. The opportunity to bring things forward was hindered by the more urgent issues. Somethings will still come forward but more slowly, and others may need refocus in the light of the experiences of 2020. It is my hope that in the year ahead we will be able to focus on some of the important issues that have been leapfrogged by COVID. I hope too that I may be able to get out and about more to meet people in the constituency in business and in the community as I have in other years. Although technology has enabled us to keep some contact going as human beings there are times when there is no substitute for meeting face to face. However some of the benefits of using technology in ways we had not previously discovered must not be lost. I will continue to use online meeting facilities where it is more efficient to do so. I think we have all learned to be adaptable and must harness new opportunities.

I know that the events of this year will have changed life forever for some and no words can ease the distress. For all of us life has changed in some ways. We cannot turn the clock back and have to look forward. I hope that we will build on the unexpected learning of last year and that the sense of community which has grown so much will continue. As the parliamentary agenda gets into full swing again I look forward to continuing to share views and ideas – my contact details are at the foot of this letter.  

With my best wishes to you all for 2021. If you have an issue that you would like to raise with me, if possible, please email me at john.howell.mp@parliament.uk. If you cannot email you can write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1 0AA or PO Box 84, Watlington, OX49 5XD.