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Liberal Democrats

The Weekly Whip

This week Parliament came back at a fever pitch, as much as social distancing and remote working allowed. The Prime Minister's statement on Sunday had confused many and angered MPs on all sides.

By William Dyer, May 13, 2020 5:05

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. 

For up to date information from the Lib Dem Whips Office, follow us on Twitter: @LibWhips 

Weekly Whip w/c 11th April

Monday 11th May

The Commons started the day with the Department for Work and Pensions questions. Munira Wilson asked what recent assessment has been made of the potential merits of increasing the Carer's Allowance. 

Then we went to Foreign and Commonwealth Office questions where our Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael asked the government what assessment they have made of the effect on the Sino-British Joint Declaration following recent actions by the Chinese Government in Hong Kong.

The Commons then moved to a statement from the Prime Minister about his address the previous day. Usually, statements like the one the Prime Minister made on Sunday are given in the House of Commons first. 

Ed Davey asked the Prime Minister if the government scientific advisors had signed off on the new ‘Stay Alert’ messaging. The Prime Minister’s answer and the answers given by the scientific advisors at the Downing Street press briefing that day seemed to differ. 

Daisy Cooper asked the Prime Minister to provide figures on how much PPE our front-line services actually need and how this compares to the supply that we have. 

Then after a few housekeeping agenda items, the Commons moved to a general debate on COVID 19. This allowed MPs to debate the current situation. Munira spoke about the need for care workers not to be overlooked in their roles on the frontline. (possible twitter link)

Tuesday 12th May

Tuesday saw all but one of our MPs speaking in the house.

The Commons started the day with Daisy Cooper asking the first question to the Department for International Trade. Daisy asked the government what recent assessment they have made of the potential effect of a US trade agreement on small and medium-sized businesses.

After Defence questions, the Commons moved to an Urgent Question from the new Shadow Chancellor for an update on the government’s economic response. At this point, the Chancellor announced an extension to the furlough scheme, another win for the Lib Dem team, who have been calling for the government to do this.

Ed Davey thanked the Chancellor for that commitment but asked the government to extend this commitment to the self-employed as well. Wendy Chamberlain followed this up by asking about seasonal workers and supporting them through this crisis.

Following the Urgent question, the Commons went to the first of two ministerial statements. The first was on the government’s new workplace guidance. Sarah Olney responded for the Lib Dems and asked the Business Secretary about dentists and physiotherapists who have been excluded from other forms of Government support yet are offering absolutely vital services that we will need when the shut-down ends.

The second ministerial statement was from the Department for Transport. Wera Hobhouse responded to the government’s new commitment on a new fund for cycling infrastructure by asking what measures the Government are planning to minimise a spike in car use and offer more opportunities for walking and cycling.


After ministerial questions, the COVID 19 debate that started yesterday finish up in the Commons. Six of our MPs spoke in this debate: Jamie Stone, Layla Moran, Alistair Carmichael, Christine Jardine, Sarah Olney and Wera Hobhouse. 

At the end of the debate, the first remote vote took place. 

The final item on the agenda for the Commons was to renew the hybrid proceedings until the 20th May 2020, which is the start of the Whitsun recess (more on what that recess is next week).

Wednesday 13th May

After the very busy day in the Commons on Tuesday, Wednesday was slightly lighter. 

Northern Ireland questions were followed by Questions to the Prime Minister (PMQs) where Ed Davey asked the Prime Minister about extending the self-employment job retention scheme. 

After PMQs, in a big parliamentary win for the Lib Dems, Layla Moran asked an Urgent Question (UQ) to the Secretary of State for Education about if he will make a statement on his Department’s plans to reopen schools as part of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy. 

Following Layla’s UQ were Ministerial Questions to the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Business Statement, outlining what is happening in the Commons next week. 

The Commons moved to its only piece of substantive business today, the remaining stages of the Agriculture Bill. This is a wide-ranging bill, mainly regarding how the money the UK got from the EU for the Common Agricultural Fund is to be allocated after a final trade deal is agreed with the EU. The bill also outlines how trading in the agriculture sector will work in a post-Brexit UK. Tim Farron led the response to this bill and spoke about why the Lib Dems are voting against this bill, and it’s not because of Brexit.

Next week in the Commons 

  •     Monday – the Commons debate Immigration and votes on the biggest change to our immigration system in 50 years.
  •     Tuesday – Statutory Instruments - various (see this Weekly Whip on what S.I.s do)
  •     Wednesday – The Trade Bill comes to the Commons and we all start talking about Brexit again.

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