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 27th April
The Hybrid Parliament proceedings are (almost) in full swing. If this is your first time to the weekly whip, firstly, welcome, and secondly it would be a good idea to take a look at last week’s Weekly Whip for background on how the hybrid parliament works.
One point to make before we get started on online voting in the Commons.: as I write this, user testing has begun with staff and MPs on a new online voting system. Given this and the fact that only 50 MPs are allowed in the chamber, there were no votes in parliament this week - the business was pre-agreed by the parties. However, as all the Bills this week are only at the 2nd Reading stage, there will be plenty of opportunities to amend the bills and vote on legislation once online voting is up and running.
Monday 27th April
On Monday we started the day with Justice Questions, where Christine Jardine asked the Justice Secretary what the government was doing to tackle Domestic Abuse during the COVID outbreak ahead of the 2ndreading of the Domestic Abuse Bill on Tuesday. This was followed by questions to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS for short).
Then we moved to a Ministerial Statement from the Chancellor. This provided an update on the job retention scheme, emergency business loans and the general economic picture. Daisy Cooper was covering this one for the Lib Dems. She asked the Chancellor, about more help for pubs whilst they are shut due to covid.
After the Ministerial Statement the Commons headed to the only piece of legislation it was debating, the 2ndreading of the finance bill. This is a Bill that enshrines in law the measures the Chancellor has put forward in his budget (and sadly it has always been a he) . Ed Davey spoke for the Lib Dems at this stage in the bill. You can read more about his plans below.
One notable win for us this week. Layla Moran’s Campaign to give the family of key workers a lump sum of money if their loved ones pass away has been adopted by the government. Well done Layla for fighting to improve the support for key workers and their families.
Tuesday 28th April
The Commons started off with Questions to the Attorney General, followed by the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
This was followed was a statement by the government, which was a little frustrating for opposition parties. The time after Departmental Questions is taken by either a Ministerial Statement or an Urgent Question from a back-bench MP. Urgent Questions are a very effective way of holding the government to account. They make the government talk about issues they may not wish to have a light shone upon.
Michael Gove took the time that could have been used for government scrutiny on a statement which was already in the public domain through the Number 10 daily briefing or news reports. The statement did, however, give Daisy Cooper the chance to ask the government about the lack of BAME representation on the SAGE committee.
The Cabinet Office statement was then followed by the Domestic Abuse Bill. This is the second time that Christine Jardine has spoken at the Second Reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill. A frequent campaigner on the issue, Christine spoken about the need to protect those who are suffering from domestic abuse during lockdown.
Wednesday 29th April
Wednesday started off with Ministerial Questions to the Department for International Development. Wendy covered this one for the party, asking the minster, what assessment she has made of the adequacy of the level of funding made available by her Department to tackle the covid-19 pandemic overseas.
Next was Prime Minster Questions, which was taken this week by the First Secretary Dominic Raab. Congratulations were offered after Carrie Symonds (the Prime Minster’s fiancé) gave birth to their first son.
The slot after Ministerial Questions was once again taken up by a Ministerial Statement, this time from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the repatriation of UK nationals. Alistair Carmichael covered this for the Lib Dems.
This was then followed by the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees Mogg setting out the business of the Commons for next week. More on that next week.
The final debate of the day was on the 2nd reading of the Fire Safety Bill. This bill updates the current legislation, to avoid a repeat of the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in the summer of 2017. Daisy Cooper, Layla Moran and Christine Jardine all spoke in that debate.
For next week we have various Statutory Interments (secondary legislation), these are on topics:
- Coronavirus restrictions
- Manchester’s Fire and Recuse Service
- The Census for England and Wales