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More Track and Trace issues are discussed in Parliament with 16,000 ‘lost’ Coronavirus cases, Lib Dems rail against the Planning White Paper on lack of local involvement for House Building, and MPs were the voices for their local creative industries ahead of new lockdown measures.

By Alexander McBeath, Oct 09, 2020 5:10

Palace of Westminster.

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 5th October

Monday 5th October

Another week, another issue with Track and Trace.

Recent Ministerial Statements and Urgent Questions on healthcare have a serious Groundhog Day likeness to them, as Matt Hancock seems to update the House on systemic issues each time he is at the despatch box. This time, it involved an Excel spreadsheet error which may have ‘lost’ 16,000 coronavirus cases. Munira Wilson took the chance to press the Secretary of State on the lack of joined up working at the national and local level, pleading him to utilise local knowledge for more effective contact tracing.

The main business of the day concerned the Second Reading of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill, which Liberal Democrats have fundamental issues with. Essentially, the Bill allows for a wide range of public bodies, ranging from security services to the Food Standards Agency, to authorise criminal conduct where necessary. This could include murder or torture. Although this is not new activity, it puts existing practice on statutory footing.

Liberal Democrats will be tabling various amendments to this Bill next week. The fight on the detail will take place on Thursday.

Away from the main Chamber, Wera Hobhouse made important contributions to the Westminster Hall debate on the impact of Covid-19 on maternity/paternity leave. Westminster Hall debates are a useful opportunity for MPs to discuss wider issues, but they have been cancelled during the pandemic. It is good to see them back.

Tuesday 6th October

As Coronavirus cases began to tick-up across the country, many local businesses feared that they could not survive new lockdown announcements.

Mass unemployment is a serious threat as we head into the winter and The Chancellor of the Exchequer was dragged the Commons by an Urgent Questions to speak to the House.

Lib Dems have been pushing for an extension to the furlough scheme, and Christine Jardine, Treasury Spokesperson, virtually reminded Rishi Sunak that experts say it is the best way to protect millions of jobs.

Wednesday 7th October

Wednesday was a quiet day in the Chamber for the Liberal Democrats, as there were no UQs, no Ministerial Statements, nor was the main business controversial.

Wendy Chamberlain, DWP Spokesperson, spoke during the Second Reading of the Pension Schemes Bill, raising common fears of younger people and their general inability to save for retirement given the economic environment. With cross-party support, we are generally supportive of this important Bill.

A quiet day turned into a Lib Dem dominated evening after Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond Park, managed to secure an Adjournment Debate on policing in her patch of South West London. Joined by neighbouring MP for Twickenham, Munira Wilson, and Minister of State for Policing, Kit Malthouse, Sarah discussed the impact of officers being sent into central London to respond to people breaking Coronavirus rules.


Thursday 8th October

The week drew to a quiet close with Backbench Business Debates on Planning and House Building Targets, which Sarah Olney covered.

The government’s White Paper on Planning received wide criticism from across the House, with Lib Dems taking particular issue with the lack of community involvement and decision-making on house building, one of the major motions passed at recent Lib Dem Conference.

The latter debate was on the spending of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport during the Coronavirus Crisis. Various industries and businesses within this sector have already been economically hit by the virus, and further lockdown measures could exacerbate this. Wendy and Wera were the voice for creatives in their constituencies of North-East Fife and the City of Bath respectively.

Next week will be a busy week for Parliament.

The Agriculture Bill and the Fisheries Bill will decide the future of UK food standards and fisheries management post-Brexit. The 10pm curfew for Pubs and restaurants will be voted on by Parliament, and the details of controversial Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill will be contested.

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