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.
Today, @munirawilson raised the issues of testing in care homes with the Sec. of State for Health and Social Care, as we head into a second wave. @timfarron also raised how hard schools and teachers are working. Why can't we have a solid testing system in place for them? pic.twitter.com/iIKEKIywB4— Lib Dem Whips 🔶 (@LibDemWhips) September 21, 2020
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.
Speaking in Parliament later on the Internal Market Bill. The government is treating peace in Northern Ireland and the delicate settlement there as though it were a pinata. They are taking whacks at the constitutional fabric of the UK in the pursuit of extra bargaining chips. /1— Alistair Carmichael (@amcarmichaelMP) September 21, 2020
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.
"Will Boris Johnson apologise for his Government's gross incompetence over testing, over tracing and over clear communications that have led to these latest restrictions on people's lives?" - @EdwardJDavey pic.twitter.com/sDI1MqsUZW— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 22, 2020
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.
People from BAME backgrounds continue to be disproportionately impacted by coronavirus. We need this Government to take urgent action on this issue as we confront a possible second wave. pic.twitter.com/RhTxJIgIkx— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 22, 2020
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.
"These restrictions come at the worst possible time for the tourism & hospitality industry because furlough is ending just as the low season begins." - @timfarron— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 22, 2020
We're asking the Government to back the targeted package proposed by the tourism industry to save jobs & businesses. pic.twitter.com/WdJY2achbI
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.
During the #internalmarketsbill debate today I voiced my disapproval of this sordid bill and challenged the Government to deliver on the promise it made to the people of this country. Britain is waiting.#politics #Brexit #business #greenjobs pic.twitter.com/Y1NMIOOBTK— Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) September 22, 2020
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.
I asked the Prime Minister his first question today.— Jamie Stone MP (@Jamie4North) September 23, 2020
I bet you can't guess what I asked about...🚀 pic.twitter.com/iaJ5V4PZQF
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.
The Conservatives promised at the beginning of this crisis that no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus would lose their home.— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 23, 2020
However as of this week thousands of families are now at risk being unfairly evicted. @timfarron urges the Government to protect renters. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/U1CUZUI4kA
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 haulage industry have been warning the UK Govt of Brexit chaos & 7,000 truck long queues if there aren't enough custom agents, yet in Parliament today @Michaelgove still couldn't tell me how many have been hired- #Brexit #Haulage pic.twitter.com/38yfcqudrP— Christine Jardine (@cajardineMP) September 23, 2020
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.
I support respectful, evidence-led discussions.— Wera Hobhouse MP 🔶 (@Wera_Hobhouse) September 24, 2020
Liz Truss needs to be transparent about about why she has decided to drop planned reforms to the GRA (against the wishes of the trans community).
Her answer fails to outline the evidence used to make this decision. pic.twitter.com/1SlSYV5Ng7
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.
Whilst I welcome the support for businesses, where is the help for the 3 million who've had NO support for the past 6 months. The Chancellor was unable to answer me-#ExcludedUK pic.twitter.com/5pc6Tyniar— Christine Jardine (@cajardineMP) September 24, 2020
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.
History is watching us. We cannot sit idly by while the Chinese government seeks to carry out a genocide on the Uyghur people.@LaylaMoran urges the Foreign Secretary to do more for the Uyghur people of Xinjiang. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/222NK3sVwQ— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 24, 2020
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.”
Any lasting peace settlement between Israel and Palestine must involve the Palestinians. That’s one of the reasons why Trump’s deal is a sham.— Layla Moran 🔶 (@LaylaMoran) September 25, 2020
It's time for the UK Government to recognise the state of Palestine and give hope that peace is possible.
Watch my Commons speech 👇 pic.twitter.com/BSLk7MFQXa
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.