Wyre Forest MP briefs North Worcestershire businesses

Mark Garnier

The MP for Wyre Forest District, Mark Garnier was the guest speaker at an online interview hosted by Kidderminster-bsed IT services provider OGL Computer to discuss coronavirus and Brexit.

Kidderminster-based OGL Computer invited local businesses to attend and pose questions to the MP. Like many businesses, the company is having to adapt, with remote teams servicing customers, and its Technical Director Paul Colwell, posed the question of how the Government was using technology to adapt.

Mark explained that the Government has used technology for many years, with secure communications that link government ministers and other public sector bodies.

As MPs are working from home, Parliament is also using online collaboration technologies such as Microsoft Teams for sessions. However he also stressed the importance of face to face discussions on critical topics (albeit at a safe distance), and therefore Mark will be heading down to London to discuss the Domestic Abuse Bill this week as this is especially important for the constituency.

There was some discussion about whether MPs should be allowed to vote via an app, however, Mark felt that it is better, where possible, to vote in person for a number of reasons, including security.

He feels that the coronavirus is really pushing security to a higher level in businesses, whether that’s board or management level, and not just confined to IT departments.

When asked about contact tracing, where Bluetooth technology will log your location and alert you if you have been near someone infected, he thinks it’s a positive step to managing the pandemic. While there is also some fear about the public losing its right to privacy, he agreed that the more we layer on technology, the more fearful many people are.

However, the use of data during the coronavirus has really helped the public to understand the spread of the pandemic.

Mark said that he has spoken to some local companies who don’t know when to bring staff back because of complex supply chains and are waiting for Government guidance about a phased approach.

He mentioned that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has had to rebuild the economy in nine days and that a massive enquiry will be made into the handling of the coronavirus and lots of lessons will be learned.

Not everyone in Wyre Forest has applied for the support available from the Government to cover operating costs while income is not coming in, and Mark is encourages applications.

When asked about Brexit, Mark confirmed that there will be three new virtual rounds of talks starting this week. He also explained that the Government has said the transition period will not be extended, and Britain will leave on 1 January 2021. The meetings will cover fine details such as tariffs, though he doesn’t see any being introduced. Other important topics are market access for our financial services, data sharing and membership of important organisations such as Interpol.