Robert's Weekly Column - 29th April 2020

On Monday I answered questions in the House of Commons on the work that the Ministry of Justice has been doing in response to the coronavirus pandemic. I have answered many questions from the Dispatch Box since first joining the Front Bench in 2014, but this time was unique as other MPs had the chance to join the session and hold me to account virtually.

Whilst it will certainly take some getting used to, it is important that Parliament makes the most of the technology available to us and continues to function during this global pandemic. Not only because it enables MPs to question the Government on its response to coronavirus, but also because there are important pieces of legislation which we need to pass, such as the Domestic Abuse Bill.

I am proud as Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary to have spearheaded this important Bill, which will help transform the response to domestic abuse, helping to protect victims and ensure they receive the support they need. During the second reading of the Bill I gave a special mention to Swindon Women’s Aid and to Tracy Graham, a domestic abuse survivor from Swindon. It was an honour to feature in a video of Tracy’s story and talk about how the Government seeks to tackle this horrific crime. The video can be found via:

Earlier this week the Chancellor announced the new Bounce Back Loan Scheme, which will provide loans of up to £50,000 to help bolster the existing package of support available to the smallest businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The new scheme has been designed to ensure that small firms who need vital cash injections to keep operating can get finance in a matter of days, and comes alongside the £6 billion awarded in business grants, supporting 4 million jobs through the job retention scheme and generous tax deferrals supporting hundreds of thousands of firms.

The loans will be easy to apply for through a short, standardised online application form. The loan should reach businesses within days – providing immediate support to those that need it as easily as possible.

The scheme will launch for applications on Monday 4 May and will be available through a series of accredited lenders. More information can be found via:

This is a difficult time for everyone, particularly our small local businesses, and like many of us here in Swindon, I would like to do everything I can to support them. That is why I have launched a new campaign through my website to support our small local businesses and highlight the fantastic work they do.

There is now a dedicated section of my website which lists local businesses, the service they provide, if they are closed or currently open and if so, their hours of trading and contact details.

Let’s make sure that as many people as possible know about our small local businesses so that we can support them at this difficult time.

If you run a small local business and would like to be added to this page, please get in touch with me directly by emailing