Liberal Democrats

The Weekly Whip - Lord's Edition

Welcome to the latest Lords edition of the Weekly Whip, covering the goings on in the Upper Chamber in the last week, and a little taste of what’s to come next week.

By Humphrey Amos, Apr 30, 2021 6:04

Palace of Westminster.

In the Lords we get to grips with the detail of the legislation and improve it; we take part in debates on a whole range of issues; and we question and hold to account government ministers.

For up-to-date information about the work of the Lib Dem group in the Lords, follow us on Twitter: @LibDemLords

Monday 26th April

A question from Dorothy Thornhill on local growth provided her with the opportunity to press the Government to ensure that their leveling up strategy moves away from big infrastructure projects and centrally-controlled pots of funding.

Jane Bonham-Carter used her question to press the Government to provide a better solution to the issue of insurance cover for music and other festivals for the next foreseeable period.

During what was the final week before the House of Lords breaks for the local and national elections and the period just before the State Opening of Parliament, there were a number of Bills at their ‘Ping-Pong’ stage - that is, the point at which the remaining issues of disagreement between the Lords and the Commons go back and forth between the two Houses until they are resolved.

One such Bill was the Overseas Operations Bill - thanks to cross-party pressure, including from the Lib Dem team on the Bill, the Government conceded on one important issue....

...and then we defeated the Government on another

Tuesday 27th April

During an urgent question on the dreadful situation in India, Lindsay Northover saw faster vaccine rollout around the world as the solution.

The Domestic Abuse Bill had its final stages in the Lords - this piece of legislation has been with us for a while, and the Lib Dem team - Brian Paddick, Lorely Burt and others - left its mark on it.

The main business was the return of the Fire Safety Bill, where one outstanding issue remains - that of fire safety work costs being passed onto leaseholders and tenants - which we have been trying to ensure doesn’t happen. Kath Pinnock has been providing brilliant leadership on this, and for the third time on this issue, we defeated the Government and the issue was sent back to the Commons.

Wednesday 28th April

During a question on the rights of Northern Ireland citizens in a post-Brexit world, Alison Suttie focussed on the Britsh-Irish Council being a possible forum to discuss the concerns that rights in Northern Ireland are being eroded.

More Ping-Pong today: this time on the National Security and Investment Bill and a final go on the important issue of parliamentary scrutiny. We defeated the Government again - something they have experienced every day this week thus far!

And finally, fairly late into the evening, the Fire Safety Bill returned once again to the Lords, having seen the Lords amendment inserted yesterday rejected by the Commons. Kath Pinnock tabled a similar amendment again to protect leaseholders and tenants from the cost of fire safety work.

Unfortunately, for reasons only they can explain, Labour pulled their support for our amendment, and it was lost. However, the fight on this issue will continue into the new session of Parliament next month and beyond, and Kath Pinnock and others will continue to hold the Government’s feet to the fire on this issue.

Thursday 29th April

David Frost now sits in the Cabinet as Minister of State at the Cabinet Office with a peerage to boot - this means that once a month Peers get to question him for half an hour. This is an important moment since he is not accountable to the elected MPs in the same way as he can’t answer their questions in the House of Commons.

He was pressed by Jeremy Purvis, Sarah Ludford and others on the scrutiny and implementation of the Brexit deal; the instability caused by the problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol; and how often he is meeting with EU officials in Brussels.

Sal Brinton had an Urgent Question accepted - the Lord Speaker’s final decision before he retires this weekend - on the issue of vaccine passports. This was the first time a Government minister had actually been called to either House to set out the Government’s plans. Sal pressed on whether the proposed solution would actually be workable.

And with that done, we reached the end of the Parliamentary Session!

Next week

Next week the Lords will be taking a break for the local and national elections, and ahead of the State Opening of Parliament (or Queen’s Speech) which will take place on Tuesday 11th May. This is where we will hear the Government’s new legislative priorities for the year ahead, and we will be responding to it during 5 days of debate which will follow.

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