Below is the text of the speech made by Robbie Moore, the Conservative MP for Keighley, in the House of Commons on 11 May 2020.
May I start by thanking my right hon. Friend the Paymaster General for her opening remarks?
Over recent weeks, the Government have announced some of the most generous and comprehensive support packages in the world, providing security and support to many individuals and businesses who need it most during these really difficult times. Across Keighley and Ilkley, many hard-working businesses, including small and medium-sized organisations, have been given the comfort by Government that they can furlough staff, reduce their overheads, and have an injection of cash grants and the ability to access a package of Government-backed and guaranteed loans. Those self-employed who meet the thresholds also have access to funds.
Throughout this crisis, Treasury Ministers have been swift to respond and have kept their ears and eyes open to listen to Members in this place when examples and scenarios have been brought forward of businesses that have fallen through the gap. I know that the bounce-back loan has been a very welcome addition to many small and medium-sized businesses across Keighley and Ilkley. The financial support, coupled with deregulation, that the Government have provided has been unprecedented and will place those businesses in the best position possible to try to kick-start productivity and reignite their service offering when circumstances permit. However, there are still some larger charitable tourism attractions that are unfortunately not eligible for business grant money and do still need an extra bit of support to ensure that they can survive once the lockdown is over —for example, Keighley and Worth Valley railway in my constituency, which helps to drive the wider local economy. I would be grateful if the Treasury team could explore any additional support mechanisms to help charitable tourism organisations.
Charitable organisations such as Age UK, the Dementia Friendly Keighley group, Project 6 and the Salvation Army, among many others, are doing a brilliant job in helping the most vulnerable, but this sector is particularly hard hit, with many struggling to fundraise during the ongoing restrictions. I very much welcome the Chancellor’s injection of financial support into the charitable sector, which will help our hospices, such as our much-loved Sue Ryder Manorlands hospice in Oxenhope. The arms of Government have stretched wide and far to protect as many as possible, and I thank the Prime Minister for all the support to date. However, in going forward, we need to look to the next stage with caution and flexibility, which will be key in any financial support mechanisms to ensure that the charitable organisations helping our most vulnerable, and our entrepreneurs and hard-working businesses and individuals, can come out successfully on the other side.
Over the past few weeks, the one thing that has shone out more than anything else is the way in which communities across Keighley and Ilkley have come together to help others in our hour of need. Many teams of volunteers have gone above and beyond to help the most vulnerable in society, including the Keighley and Shipley Family Hub, the Silsden Emergency Planning Group, the Ilkley Coronavirus Response Group, and the Hainworth Wood Community Centre. All these organisations, along with many other dedicated individuals, have acted selflessly to help others during this time of crisis. Our critical workers —postal workers, refuse collectors, teachers, supermarket staff and many others—have carried out their duties with immense dedication to keep our communities going, but also to help in our collective fight against this terrible virus.
I would like to conclude by thanking our fantastic NHS staff at Airedale General Hospital, and our GPs and carers across Keighley and Ilkley who are right at the forefront, caring for our loved ones. We shall be ever indebted to them.