Last Friday I was delighted to receive my first dose of the Covid-19 Vaccine. The whole process was very simple and efficient. I booked my appointment online and the vaccination centre was conveniently located upstairs at Boots inside The Mall. The NHS staff were very friendly and ensured that the process went very smoothly.

The vaccine is vital for easing public health restrictions and beating the pandemic. The NHS has done a fantastic job with the rollout of the vaccine. Now we must all do our part and take the vaccine when its our turn. If you are aged 45 or over then you can book both of your vaccines today by visiting 
Greensill Affair

The last few weeks has seen a lot of interest in the collapse of Greensill Capital, and the related political lobbying of the Government by the former Prime Minister David Cameron, who tried to influence Ministers' decision-making processes around access to Covid emergency lending schemes. 

In my speech to Parliament, I highlighted how the revolving door between Government and lobbyists has created conflicts of interest that damage the integrity of public life. I called for a full and independent Parliamentary inquiry into the Greensill affair and political lobbying as a whole. The Government voted to reject this and instead proceed with a more narrow inquiry of their own.

In the PACAC Select Committee, I explored this issue further when I questioned Eric Pickles, chair of ACOBA, about how many jobs he thought it would be acceptable for a senior civil servant to hold. He told me that it was not the role of his committee to make judgements on this matter. It is clear that the current system that regulates lobbying and second jobs is not fit for purpose, so I'm pleased that PACAC will be conducting its own wide-ranging inquiry into political lobbying. Parliamentary scrutiny is vital for ensuring that standards in public life are upheld. You can see the terms of reference for the inquiry here.
Survey Corner

In my last survey, I asked for your opinions on policy in Bedfordshire. Here is what you told me:

- 72% felt that the current level of policing across Bedfordshire was adequate.

- The same number also believed that the central Government should bear greater responsibility for how police forces are funded.

- 44% had noticed a visible decline in policing since 2010.

In my latest survey, I want to know how you feel about the vaccination programme and the cautious reopening of the economy. You can take part here.

NHS workers have been at the frontline of the pandemic and have worked tirelessly to care for those in need. Many are exhausted emotionally and physically, and some had to spend significant periods away from their families to avoid spreading infection. The Government should have recognised their hard work and rewarded them with a fair and decent pay rise. Instead, the Government offered a 1% pay rise, which is a real-terms cut when adjusted for inflation.

In a Westminster Hall debate, I highlighted the unfairness of this pay offer and pointed out that nurses and other NHS workers had already suffered a decade of pay restraint under austerity.

If the Government presses ahead with the current offer then a nurse's pay will be £2500 less than 2010 when adjusted for inflation. NHS workers deserve proper recognition of their contribution to our country during the crisis, because claps don't pay the bills, they must be given a fair pay-rise. 
Reopening of non-essential retail

The 23 March marked one year since the introduction of public health restrictions. It has been a bumpy road but there are now signs that life can start to return to an element of normality. As the number of Covid cases is receding and the vaccine rollout has gathered pace, so parts of our economy have begun to gradually reopen.

I was among the millions who were pleased to finally be able to go to the hairdressers and to meet with others outdoors at hospitality venues. I welcome the reopening of businesses around our town but the virus is not beaten yet, so we must still remember to follow the #HandsFaceSpace & fresh air guidelines. 

However, there are still some businesses that have been forced to remain closed. Indoor hospitality spaces have now been shut since before Christmas and will not open again until the middle of May at the earliest. These businesses have often spent thousands to comply with Covid regulations but have been told they must remain shut. Despite repeated calls, the Government has not published any evidence to support this decision.

I have repeatedly called on the government to be more open about the data behind their decisions and for them to improve the way they communicate data to the public, a point I raised in Parliament recently.

Find out more

Delivery of Scrubs to L&D

I joined my Luton North colleague Sarah Owen MP for a special delivery of handmade protective equipment for Frontline NHS staff.  The scrubs were kindly made and donated by a group of volunteers from the Scrub Hub in Putney. The items included scrubs, masks, laundry bags, headbands, scrub hats and gowns. The group was formed in response to the national PPE shortage last year and has donated thousands of items to hospitals across the south and east.

NHS staff have risked so much to keep our community and country safe during the pandemic. While this donation will help them continue their life-saving work, the Government has a responsibility to keep our NHS staff safe and give them the pay rise they deserve. I will continue to campaign for this in Parliament and beyond.

Leonardo Visit

I was pleased to welcome Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan to Luton South recently. We paid a joint visit to Leonardo based at Capability Green. They employ over 1,000 people and I heard about how they have developed a positive apprenticeship scheme and encourage more women to take up STEM subjects. I was also pleased to hear that during the pandemic they switched focus to producing much-needed PPE.

Now that the restrictions are beginning to ease I would welcome visiting as many local businesses as possible. If you would like me come and pay a visit and to find out more about your business, then please email

Ramadan Kareem to all of my Muslim constituents who are currently observing Ramadan. Once again Iftar will be slightly different again but please remember to abide by public health guideline when meeting another household outdoors. You can find the latest guidance here.
Elections: Thursday 6 May

Thursday 6 May will see the biggest ever set of elections taking place across the whole of the UK. In Luton and Central Bedfordshire, everybody will be able to vote for the next Police and Crime Commissioner who will oversee Bedfordshire Police. In Luton, there are also two council by-elections, in the High Town and Round Green wards. 

Rachel Hopkins MP for Luton South