Sunday, 27 September 2020

The Weekly Whip

Welcome to the Weekly Whip. Your one-stop shop for Lib Dem Parliamentary updates, covering the week that was and the week to come. 

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Weekly Whip w/c 21st September

Monday 21st September

Before Monday’s main business on the Internal Market Bill, Matt Hancock gave a Ministerial Statement on a Covid-19 update from over the weekend and the sharp rise in cases across the country. Munira Wilson took the opportunity to press the Secretary of State on testing in care homes. Despite his emphasis on prioritisation of care homes, many homes are still experiencing a two-week delay for test results.

Tim Farron raised the frustrations of citizens across the country, pointing out how hard teachers and other key workers have been fighting for us, but we are unable to give them a solid testing system in return.

The main business of the day was the continuation of the Internal Markets Bill. Specifically, how it relates to Northern Ireland and the parts of the Bill which break international law. Alistair Carmichael, Spokesperson for Northern Ireland, was joined by others from across the House in condemning the government’s actions. This Bill completely lowers our international standing, further alienates our allies, and puts pressure on the crucial peace in Northern Ireland. Lib Dems voted against the government.

Tuesday 22nd September

The Prime Minister came to the House of Commons to introduce new national restrictions as a result of the recent uptake in Coronavirus cases, such as the 10pm closing time for pubs and restaurants. In response, Ed Davey asked for an apology from the Prime Minister for his poor performance on communication and testing, which has resulted in these new measures on people’s daily lives. 

Munira Wilson also had a question for the Prime Minister, raising the fact that BAME communities are disproportionately impacted by the Coronavirus for various reasons. It is still not clear what real steps are being taken to alleviate this. 

Representing parts of the Lake District, and being a loud voice for the hospitality and tourism sectors in the area, Tim Farron raised with the Prime Minister the issue of new restrictions on the local economy. It would make no economic sense to allow these industries to go to the wall and financial measures must be put in place immediately, ahead of the winter months.

After the Prime Minister’s statement, the Internal Market Bill finally concluded Committee Stage, where Sarah Olney spoke on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, rounding off the final points over the last few days of Committee. This Bill heightens the divisions within our country instead of binding us together which is so important for our position on the global stage as we leave the EU.

Wednesday 23rd September

The Liberal Democrats have been frequenters at Prime Minister’s Questions. This time, it was Jamie Stone who was first on the list and spoke to an important constituency issue: the matter of the potential Launch UK Spaceport in Caithness.

Tim Farron, Lib Dem Spokesperson for housing, was granted a critical UQ on housing evictions. The protection that was given to private renters, who were in peril of losing the roofs over their heads during the crisis, ended on Sunday. This leaves 55,000 households in immediate danger. We are grateful to the Speaker for granting this UQ given the scale of the issue.

Before the main business for the day, Michael Gove came before the House to give a statement on the current situation regarding the preparations for the end of the transition period. Christine Jardine noted that the haulage industry has been warning the government of Brexit chaos and 7,000 truck long queues if there aren't enough custom agents. 

The main business for Wednesday was the Overseas Operations Bill, which the Liberal Democrats had serious concerns with. Alistair Carmichael and Jamie Stone both spoke during the debate, highlighting how the Bill makes it harder to bring cases alleging abuse or torture against British troops operating abroad in future. We cannot decriminalise torture. Liberal Democrats, joined only by the SNP, Plaid, and Alliance, voted against the Bill. On the issue of torture, Labour chose to abstain.

Thursday 24th September

Wera Hobhouse, Spokesperson for Women and Equalities, spoke during an Urgent Question on the government’s decision to drop the planned reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, which would allow Trans people to self-identify. Wera asked about a recent Freedom of Information request and what consultations have been made with the appropriate Trans groups.

Following this, the Chancellor of the Exchequer came to the House to give his most recent economic proposals in response to the new Coronavirus restrictions. Christine Jardine, Lib Dem Treasury Spokesperson, cautiously welcomed some of the proposals, but made it absolutely clear that it is unacceptable how 3 million people, who were excluded from the first round of support, are still being ignored by Whitehall. She also made reference to the lack of incentives to create new green jobs, as our neighbours on the global stage continue lead the way.

Layla Moran’s first Ministerial Statement as Foreign Affairs Spokesperson concerned the UK’s reaction on the Belarusian election. She joined the whole House, including the Secretary of State, in standing strong against those who seek to undermine democracy and human rights, but also encouraged Dominic Raab to flex his muscles when it comes to other human rights abuses, such as the horrors we are seeing in Xinjang.

Later in the day, Layla took part in the main business, the Backbench Business Debates, which focused on the situation in Yemen and Palestine respectively. Layla rose as the first British-Palestinian MP, giving a personal reflection on the matter and the urgent need for peace and a two-state solution.

“I stand as a friend of Israel, as much as I am a daughter of Palestine.” 

 

Next week will see more important votes on the Internal Market Bill, along with a vote on the 6-month review of the government’s Coronavirus Bill. 


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