Diary - restrictions to be lifted on foreign holidays

First up was a further meeting of the Defence Select Committee. We took oral evidence from a number of Service personnel. Two senior officers led the session. The first was Major General Stickland, who joined the Royal Marines in 1987. His initial Commando and Fleet time saw service in Northern Ireland, anti-smuggling operations in Hong Kong and numerous amphibious deployments to Norway, the Mediterranean rim and the Far East. After attending Staff College and postings in the UK, he served as the Senior UK Liaison Officer with the US 18th Airborne Corps in Baghdad (2005/6); Chief of Staff of the UK Task Force in Afghanistan (2006/7); and then commanding 42 Commando Group conducting aviation assault and influence operations across the southern provinces of Afghanistan (2008/9). After a series of staff appointments and completion of the Higher Command & Staff Course in 2014, Brigadier Stickland assumed command of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. Subsequently he was promoted to Major General and then appointed Operation Commander of the EU Naval Force (Somalia) and Commander United Kingdom Amphibious Forces in November 2017. He took up his current role in June 2019. The second was Major-General David Eastman, who was commissioned into the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1989. He had served in Hong Kong, Nepal, Germany, the Falkland Islands and across the UK, and deployed on operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan twice. He was made an MBE following the first UK deployment to Helmand in 2006, as the Deputy Chief of Staff, 16 Air Assault Brigade. Brigadier Eastman has served with a wide variety of field force units, including command of 102 Logistic Brigade. He has undertaken a range of staff appointments as a Lieutenant Colonel supporting the Assistant Chief of the General Staff. He was the lead planner for the redeployment of British Forces from Afghanistan whilst serving at the Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood, and was responsible for Force Development across Defence within the MoD in preparation for the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review. He has completed Higher Command and Staff Course. Eastman was promoted to Major-General in February 2020 when he took up his current position. These two distinguished guests and their team briefed us in confidence on their role during the COVID crisis. I can say that we should be indebted to the Services' contribution. At 1400, I and other Dorset MPs dialled into a conference call with the Local Enterprise Partnership, chaired by Jim Stewart. We are all keen to better co-ordinate our county needs, both micro and macro. It was a helpful session. Also today, the Government published its safety plans for England's return to school in September - built on the principle of keeping classes or whole year groups apart in separate "bubbles". Schools will have testing kits to give to parents if children develop coronavirus symptoms in school. Mobile testing units may be sent to schools which have an outbreak. In holiday news, dozens of countries will be exempt from a travel quarantine from Monday. Currently, most people arriving in the UK from anywhere apart from the Republic of Ireland have to self-isolate for two weeks. Ministers had previously stated they were working to establish a relatively small number of travel corridors. Finally, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, an ex-girlfriend of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, was charged in the US after being arrested by the FBI. She is accused of assisting Epstein's abuse of minors by helping to recruit and groom victims known to be underage. No doubt, the FBI will be offering her a deal in exchange for the knowledge in her head.