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 10th May
Monday 10th May Parliament did not sit.
Tuesday 11th May
On Thursday 29th April, Parliament prorogued for the Local Elections and returned to start a brand new session on Tuesday 11th May.
At the beginning of every new Parliamentary Session, the Monarch travels from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords Chamber and typically addresses the Lords, MPs, the Speakers, and members of the public who are lucky enough to get a ticket. For those who love Parliament and all its quirks, it is a great occasion and tradition, but for those who are sceptical of Westminster, it is just another example of pageantry and pomp.
Whichever way you feel about it, it is an important moment where the government’s priorities are outlined and MPs are made aware of what legislation is coming forward for debate. Despite the Queen reading the speech aloud, it was authored entirely by Downing Street.
Whilst most MPs were instructed to keep away from the Chamber, Lib Dem Leader, Sir Edward Davey, took part in the socially distanced ceremonial procession from the Commons to the Lords with the Speakers, Black Rod, the Sergeant at Arms, and other Party Leaders.
A new session of Parliament is a bit like a new year at school: there is an entire fresh slate, the curriculum is new, and everyone is raring to go (sometimes). However, what is unusual about this “opening day”, is that we still have some unfinished business from the previous session as the government was not able to complete its legislative agenda, partly due to the pandemic, partly due to Brexit, and partly due to incompetence.
The 6 Bills that are yet to be finished are:
- Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill
- Armed Forces Bill
- Environment Bill
- Finance Bill
- Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill
- Telecommunications (Security) Bill
Liberal Democrats have major concerns with these pieces of legislation, especially regarding the lack of ambition in the Environment Bill and the draconian measures inflicted in the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill. The party will continue to fight in this session to stand up for the planet and protect our rights to protest.
Additionally, the government announced 6 new Bills that they intend to make law, which I have listed below with brief explanations:
Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections, and Petitions of Concern) Bill
Bill to make provision about Ministerial appointments, extraordinary Assembly elections, the Ministerial Code of Conduct and petitions of concern in Northern Ireland.
Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill
Bill to make provision about the dissolution and calling of Parliament, including provision for the repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011; and for connected purposes.
Compensation (London Capital & Finance plc and Fraud Compensation Fund) Bill
Bill to provide for the payment out of money provided by Parliament of expenditure incurred by the Treasury for, or in connection with, the payment of compensation to customers of London Capital & Finance plc; provide for the making of loans to the Board of the Pension Protection Fund for the purposes of its fraud compensation functions.
National Insurance Contributions Bill
Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill
Bill to make provision about matters attributable to coronavirus that may not be taken account of in making certain determinations for the purposes of non-domestic rating; and to make provision in connection with the disqualification of directors of companies that are dissolved without becoming insolvent.
Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill
Bill to make provision in relation to freedom of speech and academic freedom in higher education institutions and in students’ unions; and for connected purposes.
This is just the initial set of Bills that the government announced on opening day, but Bills can be presented by a Secretary of State or Minister at any point, so in the coming weeks we will be keeping an eye out for further legislation that we believe will be damaging to our country.
Sarah Olney spoke about the government’s dangerous priorities just after the Queen gave her speech.
Boris Johnson is fooling nobody.— Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) May 11, 2021
He claims to be following the people's priorities, but it's clear that today's #QueensSpeech is an assortment of power grabs & measures designed to consolidate power in the hands of Government at the expense of Parliament's constitutional role. pic.twitter.com/rfeFaRUf0u
But it was Ed Davey who responded to the Prime Minister on the green benches later in the afternoon when MPs met for the first time to debate the Speech. Ed addressed the faults in the government’s plans such as the illiberal measures like voter ID, taking power away from our local authorities, and crushing the right to protest in the UK.
The Conservatives' new anti-democratic planning laws would ride roughshod over the views of local people.— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 14, 2021
There is a much better way, using local neighbourhood planning to provide the homes, facilities and infrastructure communities need. pic.twitter.com/RW7fN2wvef
Civil liberties and Voter ID:
The Government's plans are about taking power away from individuals, undermining the rule of law and attempting to silence opposition.— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 12, 2021
Liberal Democrats will fiercely oppose these plans.
- @EdwardJDavey on the Queen's Speech ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/p7y9oIJp97
Wednesday 12th May
On the following days from the Queen’s Speech, MPs debate the Queen’s Speech for 5 more days with each day representing a broad topic of concern.
However, the second day of debate was delayed because Layla Moran secured an Urgent Question on the shocking violence in Israel and Palestine. Details below.
Lib Dems Foreign Affairs spokesperson Layla Moran reads out names of children killed this week after violence escalated in Israel and Palestine.— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) May 12, 2021
Foreign Office Minister James Cleverley said the government is working to encourage an end to the conflict. pic.twitter.com/gYIVOKBgZ8
After Layla’s actions in the Chamber, the Prime Minister gave a statement to announce the government’s intentions for an inquiry into the handling of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom. Munira Wilson, Lib Dem Health Spokesperson, was there to challenge the Prime Minister further:
The Covid public inquiry is very welcome and desperately needed so that the public can understand why the UK has suffered one of the highest death tolls in the world.— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 12, 2021
The bereaved families must be given confidence in this inquiry. -@MuniraWilson pic.twitter.com/knLTJvYX53
We must have a full and properly independent inquiry that has the trust of the public, especially of the thousands of families that have lost a loved one to this terrible disease. https://t.co/GwhdaA5xXn— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 12, 2021
Rather than a summer of cramming Maths and English, we should be deploying the outdoor education sector to help children to reconnect with a love of learning, grow in confidence and support their mental health.— Tim Farron (@timfarron) May 12, 2021
My question to the Prime Minister on #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek 👇 pic.twitter.com/4MnYb8bcbx
On the second day of the Queen’s Speech, the topic was ‘Jobs and a Fair Deal at Work’, where Christine Jardine (Treasury Spokesperson), Wendy Chamberlain (Dept. for Work and Pensions Spokesperson), and Sarah Olney (Dept. for Business, Energy, Industrial Strategy) all made their opinions known.
At a time when we are facing such economic uncertainty, the Government has missed an opportunity in the Queen’s Speech to set out a long term plan for jobs. pic.twitter.com/RQjg9qhxD5
For British businesses to be able to properly recover, we need the Government to come up with a long-term plan for economic growth 📈— Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) May 13, 2021
Clearly, the solution does not lie in the creation of freeports, but in an ambitious green plan that generates jobs & reduces emissions 🚄 pic.twitter.com/1U9m07qnrg
Wednesday was also International Nurses Day. MPs from all parties wore badges in the Chamber to highlight the hard work and dedication that nurses all over the world show every day, not just during the year of the pandemic.
Today is #InternationalNursesDay— Lib Dem Whips 🔶 (@LibDemWhips) May 12, 2021
Lib Dem MPs will be joining others in the Commons Chamber in wearing these badges sent to us by the Royal College of Nursing
Health Spokesperson, @munirawilson was sporting hers earlier pic.twitter.com/qWpiIK8eDD
Thursday 13th May
On the final day of the Parliamentary week, the topic of debate was “A brighter future for the next generation”, where Layla Moran and Wera Hobhouse took the opportunities to speak. Layla spoke to the local Liberal Democrats in Oxford, who have championed young people:
In the local elections, @LibDemsOxon campaigned to improve the lives of our young people. The Conservatives disbanded the Oxfordshire Youth Service and we want to see it reinstated. Our vision resonated, resulting in record gains and @LibDems' largest ever group at the county. pic.twitter.com/lUm0rwRf3z— Layla Moran 🔶 (@LaylaMoran) May 13, 2021
And Wera reminded the House of the severity of the climate situation and the urgent need to take action for our next generations:
Delighted that @Wera_Hobhouse spoke in @UKParliament about the need for a Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill 👏— APPG Future Generations (@FuturesAPPG) May 13, 2021
'If the Government is serious about a brighter future for the next generations, it would support a Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill' pic.twitter.com/oIqAKVkWVx
There were no votes this week, but after a few more days of debate on the Queen’s Speech next week, Liberal Democrats will table amendments which outline our disgust with the Conservatives’ priorities for this country.
Topics next week will include:
Safe Streets for All
Affordable and Safe Housing for All
A rescue plan for the NHS and Social Care