Welcome to the Weekly Whip. Your one-stop shop for Lib Dem Parliamentary updates, covering the week that was and the week to come.
For up to date information from the Lib Dem Whips Office, follow us on Twitter: @LibDemWhips
Weekly Whip w/c 1st February
Monday 1st February
On Monday, strangely, there were no UQs or Ministerial Statements announced. This is the second week in a row where this has happened and, following the weekend’s news about Article 16 and vaccinations, MPs were a little perplexed.
This resulted in more time for MPs to debate topics that the Opposition chose for Opposition Day. For new readers, the Opposition receive an allocation of Parliamentary days to choose their own debate topics. This week they were:
- Protecting tenants and leaseholders from unsafe cladding
- Covid security at UK borders
Daisy Cooper and Tim Farron have been leading the way regarding the cladding scandal. Daisy took part in the debate for the Lib Dems, noting that families are still in a living nightmare three and a half years on from the Grenfell tragedy.
Government put on notice that if it fails to bring forward it's own solution members in his house will cross party to force the governments hand - The human cost is too high"— NLC #reLEASEus (@NLC_2019) February 1, 2021
Thankyou @libdemdaisy #EndOurCladdingScandal #VoteForLeaseholders @LKPleasehold @EdwardJDavey pic.twitter.com/Zrc58rqc0C
Alistair Carmichael took part in the second debate, criticising the government on their poor approach to border policy and the pandemic. The pandemic has been part of our lives for almost a year now and there is still no effective policy about how we prevent new cases from coming in overseas. New strains and variants don’t just take direct flights from the country from which they originate, we need to be vigilant about people coming into the UK from anywhere in the world.
Tuesday 2nd February
A UQ was accepted on Tuesday morning on the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol. The reality of Brexit is beginning to emerge and tensions are rising. Alistair Carmichael took part in the UQ to challenge Michael Gove on the “teething problems” which he has previously shrugged off.
Stephen Farry MP, from our NI sister party, Alliance, also participated, following the vandalism attacks on his office the night before.
Today in the Commons, I stressed that policy must not be set by violence or the threat of violence, and there is no alternative but for UK and EU to work together on issues.— Stephen Farry MP (@StephenFarryMP) February 2, 2021
In particular, I highlighted need for a new SPS agreement. https://t.co/3uuTHItmM3
Munira Wilson took part in the Statement from Matt Hancock, where the Secretary of State gave a general update on the pandemic and the vaccine rollout. Munira followed up with the Minister for Vaccines later in the week, but she spoke to Matt Hancock about the mental health impacts of the pandemic on children during Children’s Mental Health week.
The final Statement before the main business concerned the coup in Myanmar. Layla Moran spoke to the Minister for Asia.
The coup in Myanmar threatens to extinguish its people's hopes for democratic and human rights, and undermines attempts to resolve the Rohingya refugee crisis.— Layla Moran 🔶 (@LaylaMoran) February 2, 2021
China is a key player. Today I pressed the Govt to open a dialogue to better coordinate an international response. 👇 pic.twitter.com/8fd3Meblkp
Wednesday 3rd February
Wednesday’s UQ was on what support is being provided to university students during the pandemic. Daisy Cooper, our Education Spokesperson, spoke to this.
The main business for Wednesday required MPs to approve the rollover of numerous international sanctions following Brexit. Although this was uncontroversial and went through without objection, Layla Moran took the opportunity to speak about sanctions in a broader sense, especially given recent international events.
Yesterday MPs voted for vital sanctions regimes to be rolled over into UK law post-Brexit. We missed a vital opportunity to implement fresh Magnistsky-style sanctions against those responsible for ongoing human rights abuses in Russia, Myanmar and China. Watch 👇 pic.twitter.com/W89OkTXFIR— Layla Moran 🔶 (@LaylaMoran) February 5, 2021
On Wednesday, MPs also voted on the rollover of VAT systems after Brexit. Again, this was mainly uncontroversial but there was one specific bit of legislation which Liberal Democrats voted against. The government has decided to cut the “tax-free-shopping” scheme that was in place for international customers, a hammer blow to retail. Christine Jardine, Treasury Spokesperson, led the charge for the vote and has been warning about this cut since it was first proposed.
Thursday 4th February
Thursday’s UQ was on the reports coming from Xinjang about the genocide of the Uyghur population. Alistair Carmichael spoke on this.
#IPAC 🇬🇧 member @Nus_Ghani MP presents survivor's testimony of torture and rape in Xinjiang prison camps to the UK Parliament.— Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (@ipacglobal) February 4, 2021
Ghani calls for no further deepening of ties with the Chinese government until a full judicial inquiry into crimes against Uyghurs has been concluded. pic.twitter.com/AmEZVUvAay
Wera Hobhouse attended the weekly Business Questions with Jacob Rees-Mogg.
Today I asked Govt to engage in a serious debate of how the UK plans to reach net-zero.— Wera Hobhouse MP 🔶 (@Wera_Hobhouse) February 4, 2021
In response, the Leader of the House presented me with Govt propaganda.
The Tories have no plan to reach net-zero. It an outrage that Parliament is being left out of this disscussion. pic.twitter.com/hXlI3Ad5zs
Munira attended a Statement from the Minister for Vaccine Rollout.
Care staff working in people's homes must be vaccinated as a priority. Today in the Chamber, I spoke up for domiciliary care staff, of which it’s estimated two-thirds have yet to receive their #Covid19 jab.— Munira Wilson MP (@munirawilson) February 4, 2021
We must protect all our care staff, wherever they work. pic.twitter.com/jkmLZMbCcj
Thursday is usually reserved for Backbench Business, an opportunity for backbench MPs to raise issues which don’t normally see the light of day.
The first debate was on the future of the UK Space Industry. This industry has a particular need for remote locations found in places like Alistair and Jamie’s constituencies in Northern Scotland.
"The Liberal Democrats believe that this country’s future can be better than our past.— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) February 4, 2021
"The new space industry is the perfect opportunity to put that vision into practice." @Jamie4North https://t.co/J6MfKACstE
The second debate was on the Towns Fund, which Sarah Olney participated in.
As we emerge from this horrendous economic downturn, there are a number of things the govt must prioritise to support #SmallBusinesses— Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) February 4, 2021
Review our approach to business rates🏢
Change the way commercial leases are granted 📝
Push for an abolition of upward-only rent reviews 👍 pic.twitter.com/cEOQxJlnX7
What you may have missed
A pleasure to work cross-party with my colleagues from South Asian backgrounds to deliver this vital message on the importance of getting vaccinated.— Munira Wilson MP (@munirawilson) February 3, 2021
Please watch 🎥 and share widely 👇🏽 https://t.co/SjbCMtRktp
Happy to have joined this group of MPs set up by @Jamie4North— Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) February 4, 2021
The path back to economic security will be a long and difficult one, but at an absolute minimum the government must recognise the 3m #ExcludedUK and ensure furlough works for all. https://t.co/qJHnD6NP4x
Next week, MPs will be debating the Armed Forces Bill, more amendments to the Trade Bill, and emergency legislation will be coming to the House in relation to maternity leave for the Attorney General.