I send my warmest greetings to all Sierra Leoneans on your 54th anniversary of independence. It is a pleasure to have so many of you living in our borough and to have represented so many families from Sierra Leone, as your MP, for many years.
As many of you know I’ve had the privilege of visiting Sierra Leone on more than one occasion, not just going to Freetown but also east to Bo and many other places.
I was hugely touched by the kindness and generosity of the reception I received - as I have been by the kindness and generosity of Sierra Leoneans in Southwark over the years.
It was a privilege to be able to work with you during the most difficult times of your civil war. The UK government was, as always, willing to support you in restoring democracy and bringing that terrible period of Sierra Leone’s history to an end.
For the further tragedy of the Ebola outbreak to have afflicted Sierra Leone over recent months has just been the most awful of developments.
Without minimising the tragedy of so many deaths, the good news is that all advice suggests that the outbreak will have been ended later this year and the numbers affected are declining rapidly.
As many of you know I have been able to hold two meetings in parliament to report back on the action of our government and I propose, if re-elected, to hold a third meeting before the end of July.
At the last meeting many good ideas were put forward. These will all be followed up.
The clear agreement was that there needs to be continuing effort to support Sierra Leone in the months and years ahead, and to make sure in the future the health service and other public services have the resources they need to be sustainable and of a high quality.
But there was great determination that much more should be done to ensure good government and an end to corruption.
And I shall be honoured and very grateful for whatever support you feel able to give me during the forthcoming election.
Happy Independence Day.
Rt Hon. Simon Hughes
Minister of Justice and Civil Liberties