Diary - more jobs go in the retail sector

Good and bad news today as restrictions are further lifted on leisure facilities and beauty services in England. The positive news is that pools, gyms, nail bars and tattooists will be able to open their doors again, and team sports - starting with cricket - can resume. However, the economic consequences of the lock-down continue to reverberate, with two of the UK's biggest high street retailers, John Lewis and Boots, announcing 5,300 job cuts. Boots has said 4,000 jobs will go, while John Lewis is shutting down eight stores, putting 1,300 jobs at risk. Back from London, my day was taken up with casework and answering a high volume of correspondence. Private telephone calls with several colleagues kept me abreast of the on-going feedback following the Chancellor's Statement yesterday. Inevitably, not everyone is happy with it, not least the self-employed. We also had another private session of our Defence Select Committee, taking oral evidence from His Honour Judge Jeffrey Blackett, the Judge Advocate General. The BBC has not impressed me with its plan to end free TV licences for most over-75s. The decision was delayed for two months because of the coronavirus pandemic. That means more than three million households will be asked to start paying the £157.50 fee from 1 August. Only those who receive the Pension Credit benefit will be exempt. The BBC remains top heavy, with too much money being splurged on presenters. A move to promote further diversity is also costing them millions. Encouragingly, two reports charting coronavirus cases in England showed that the number of people in the community with the disease was falling. The Office for National Statistics estimated one in 3,900 people have Covid - 0.03% of the population, down from one in 2,200 the previous week. Let's hope this continues.