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 12th October
Monday 12th October
Monday was a key day for British Farming, but the House started off with a Prime Ministerial Statement from Boris Johnson regarding the new tier system for Covid-restrictions. Ed Davey and Munira Wilson led the charge for the Lib Dems, with Ed stressing that time is of the essence; the British people have made painful sacrifices and the government cannot squander the opportunity to get solid testing systems in place. Munira raised another glitch in the trace system which attributes positive cases for students to their home addresses, rather than university addresses, skewing critical data.
2020 has been extremely difficult for people & the Government has asked them to make incredible sacrifices.— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) October 12, 2020
My message to @BorisJohnson - the British people deserve to know that the new sacrifices he is asking of them today won't be wasted this time. pic.twitter.com/hJV8AdDxmS
Asked PM re Test & Trace technical glitch that attributes positive cases of students to home address rather than uni address. A quarter of new Richmond cases are affected. No answer on how Govt is resolving it & how they can track contacts quickly if data is going to wrong place pic.twitter.com/5uQvX6Op7S— Munira Wilson MP (@munirawilson) October 12, 2020
The Agriculture Bill, which defines our farming and food standards practice after 31st December 2020, returned from the House of Lords with various amendments to uphold our world class environmental and animal welfare standards. However, the government opposed adding the crucial protections that could have been inserted in the Bill. With cross-party support, Liberal Democrats, with Tim Farron leading in the Chamber, fought to protect these amendments and our British Farmers. However, despite a handful of Tory rebels, the government were successful in removing the protections from the Bill.
If we allow the Government to undermine British food, animal welfare and environmental standards in future trade deals, then we are letting down generations of farmers.— Tim Farron (@timfarron) October 12, 2020
That is why tonight I'm voting to protect UK food and farming standards and I urge all MPs to do the same. pic.twitter.com/ZsAHCfKbBp
Yesterday I spoke about the Agriculture Bill.— Wera Hobhouse MP 🔶 (@Wera_Hobhouse) October 13, 2020
This legislation is something that I have received hundreds of emails about from people in Bath. They want to be reassured that our food will remain healthy and safe.
Last night Tory MPs voted to not give them that assurance. pic.twitter.com/I9xWE3FJNp
Tuesday 13th October
Following the announcement of the tier system and new restrictions, the Treasury team were dragged to the despatch box to answer an urgent question on what economic support is available for individuals and businesses who are forced to close. For many areas in the North of England, the closure of local economies, with limited financial packages, will leave a scar for generations. To be frank, people are worried about their economic security, which is no longer in their own hands due to the new local restrictions. If the government is going to make difficult decisions relating to public health and safety, which directly affects income, it had a fundamental responsibility to protect citizens from the resulting economic fallout.
I welcome the Minister's commitment to ensure fairness in the repayment of bounce back loans. These loans provide a lifeline for #SMEs especially now, but people shouldn't be punished for needing them or faced with the possibility of losing their homes- pic.twitter.com/M1BXAqbiiI— Christine Jardine (@cajardineMP) October 13, 2020
Great to see @timfarron supporting outdoor education centres @FieldStudiesC 👍 let’s change guidance @FieldStudiesC @CastleHeadFSC @Paul_Rose @CLOtC @CreativeSTAR @IOLOutdoorProfs @STF_Forum @citizenjoesmith @JamesBlakeYHA @Brathay @UoCOutdoors @CGO_outdoors @impact__intl https://t.co/p1BCMnwI3U— BlencathraFSC (@BlencathraFSC) October 13, 2020
After the UQ, the House debated the various new restrictions, along with the statutory instrument that enforces a 10pm curfew for pubs and restaurants. Daisy Cooper has been leading on this issue and called for an end to the curfew because, according to SAGE, it has no scientific backing. It sends a national wave of pub-goers onto the streets and public transport at the same time. This is bad policy and Liberal Democrats voted against it.
Over the last few days and weeks, MPs like me have had to fight tooth and nail to see evidence behind decisions that are affecting lives & livelihoods, inc on the #10pmcurfew where still no evidence is provided. pic.twitter.com/t12OHApF3a— Daisy Cooper MP 🔶 (@libdemdaisy) October 13, 2020
Wednesday 14th October
Wednesday was Opposition Day and Labour chose to focus on Covid-19 economic support packages and local track and trace. However, before that business, it was PMQs where our Chief Whip, Wendy Chamberlain, had a question for the Prime Minister about track and trace for border communities.
The English and Scottish test and trace apps don't work together. You have to switch manually between them, a huge problem for border communities.— Wendy Chamberlain MP 🔶️ (@wendychambLD) October 14, 2020
After my question at PMQs, the PM has committed to ensure app interoperability. I’ll be holding him to this commitment! pic.twitter.com/0U22Lprwhw
For the first Opposition Day debate, Christine Jardine led for the Lib Dems, demanding that if more restrictions are being implemented, direct support needs to go to these communities and the 3 million who are still excluded from government support. In her constituency of Edinburgh West, like many others across the UK, there is palpable stress and uncertainty on the ground. The government needs to give financial reassurance now.
"The scientific advice is clear: we are at a tipping point in this crisis and we need a circuit breaker.— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) October 14, 2020
But it can only happen if the proper support is provided to everyone, including the 3 million currently excluded from any Government support." - @cajardineMP pic.twitter.com/kyuZgfar5d
In the second Opposition Day debate, it was Munira Wilson who represented the Party on the benches, highlighting the success of track and trace when it is in the hands of local authorities, rather than it being a sluggish, lethargic, and over-centralised operation. Halfway through the debate, it was announced that the government is paying the operation’s consultants £100,000s each for a broken system. As Munira outlined, this is such an insult to frontline workers and key staff.
The Govt has spent £12bn on a Test & Trace system that clearly isn't working. Now we find out from @SkyNews that Ministers are spending £100,000s on consultants with little experience. An overhaul of Test & Trace is needed to make it locally led if we are to curb this virus pic.twitter.com/AQnox90jIO— Munira Wilson MP (@munirawilson) October 14, 2020
Thursday 15th October
Usually, the Parliamentary week draws to a quiet close on Thursday’s, with MPs heading back to their constituencies. However, the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill, which allows a whole range of government agencies to authorise crimes including murder and torture, went through Committee and Remaining Stages. The ‘spy powers bill’ is not fit for use and Alistair Carmichael tabled various amendments to mitigate the gross authority that the government is handing to itself. Liberal Democrats voted against Third Reading of this Bill which is unfit for purpose.
Later today Parliament will debate the CHIS Bill, have a look at our lead amendment which has cross-party support.— Lib Dem Whips 🔶 (@LibDemWhips) October 15, 2020
For more information, read this article by @amcarmichaelMP.https://t.co/WVQDLZG5qC
Without fundamental changes to the Bill, we will vote against it. pic.twitter.com/pNFtZkeWm7
Next week, the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill will be debated on Monday, with various Lords Amendments to be considered. Following this, there will be another Opposition Day and general debates for Black History Month and Covid-19.