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 18th April
Monday 18th May
Monday started with Ministerial Questions to the Treasury and the Department for Transport. Where Munira Wilson questioned the government on what they are doing to protect the aviation industry and prevent the loss of jobs in that sector.
Then followed a Ministerial Statement from the Department for Health and Social Care, with an update on the response to Covid 19. Daisy Cooper asked the government to bring forward primary legislation to govern the collection and any potential misuse of data. This is particularly important as the government is pushing forward with a centralised approach to the NHS tracing app. Sarah Olney also asked about the training that the tens of thousands of COVID tracers the Department of Health and Social Care.
The house then went to the substantive business of the day. Namely the second reading of the Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill. This bill if passed in its current form would end free movement to work. That with other measures in the bill would show the biggest fundamental change to our immigration system in over 50 years.
The second reading is the point where MPs vote on the general principle of a bill not the line by line details of the bill. MPs can, however, amend a bill at second reading via a reasoned amendment. This gives MPs the chance to highlight their dissatisfaction with the bill. Christine Jardine with other Lib Dem MPs put a reasoned amendment on this Bill forward.
Today the Immigration Bill gets its second reading.— Lib Dem Whips 🔶 (@LibWhips) May 18, 2020
We hope the speaker will select our reasoned amendment rejecting the Governments immigration plans.
The debate will start at 4.45pm. https://t.co/UbYxBy7w4G
Tuesday 19th May
We started off the day with Ministerial Questions to the Department for Food and Rural Affairs. Then more onto questions to the MPs that are spokespeople responsible for public bodies that heavily interact with parliament. Namely the Church Commissioners, the House of Commons Commission, the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body, the Public Accounts Commission and the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission.
Ministerial Questions were followed by two Urgent Questions. The first was to the Health Secretary on COVID 19 outbreaks in care homes. Munira Wilson leads on this for the Lib Dems.
Here's me asking the Health Secretary today to ensure we provide urgent support to care workers to protect their mental health and wellbeing during and following this crisis. Many are suffering unimaginable trauma. @MattHancock promised to look at my proposals. https://t.co/rae8o3mW4D— Munira Wilson MP (@munirawilson) May 19, 2020
Alistair Carmichael also questioned the government on what it was doing to protect the Mental Health of Care Workers.
We urgently need an action plan on frontline mental health that has the support of all four governments of the UK.— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 19, 2020
We're glad that the Health Secretary has said he would look at our proposals for improving mental health support.
Find out more ⬇️https://t.co/LU61x2orPT pic.twitter.com/gnG4OOJHZt
Update: After both Munira and Alistair’s interventions,the government is looking at the Lib Dem plans for 24-hour mental health support for NHS and care workers.
Result! @MattHancock has promised to look at @LibDems proposals to support the mental health of care staff on the #COVID19 frontline. I asked for urgent access to a 24 hour phone-in line for care staff + fast track access to professional MH services, just like the military have https://t.co/8gbFmNzrdB— Munira Wilson MP (@munirawilson) May 19, 2020
The second urgent question of the day was on the completion of the latest round of talks with the EU. The Lib Dems have asked the government to extend the talks with the EU.
The substantive business of the day consisted of two S.I.s on the use of Human Tissue in organ donation and the second on being able to offer more support to victims in the justice system in Scotland.
The final motion of the day was a Ways and Means motion on the Finance Bill, the bill that brings the annual budget into legal force. A Ways and Means motion is a quick way of amending a bill whilst it is on its journey through Parliament. This Ways and Means enables the Government to amend the current Finance Bill in order to implement reforms to the existing off-payroll working rules.
Wednesday 20th May
We started off the day with Ministerial Questions to the Scotland Office and the Prime Minister. However, as these were not the most exciting bits of the day (sorry Boris), we will skip over them this week.
The next item of business was an Urgent Question from Alistair Carmichael on the government’s plan to reopen to a fully physical parliament after the Whitsun recess.
Alistair Carmichael for @LibDems slams Mogg's plans, "the only purpose of which is to shield the government and the Prime Minister from ridicule"— Paul Waugh (@paulwaugh) May 20, 2020
This Urgent Question was followed by the usual business of the house motion but here is where it gets interesting. The business of the house motion did not contain any motion to continue hybrid proceedings. A joint amendment to add this, was put forward by the Lib Dems and Labour. Without this amendment, it would have meant that all MPs would be travelling to Westminster and, potentially becoming super-spreaders of the virus.
After that, there was a ministerial statement on the Northern Ireland Protocol published by the government earlier that day. Wendy Chamberlain led the response on this for the Lib Dems.
This was followed by the 2nd reading of the Trade Bill, which is the bill that authorises and sets the framework for setting trade deals with other countries. Like the Immigration Bill the Lib Dems put in a reasoned amendment. Saying that Parliament did not get a say in the mandate of any trade talks nor the power of ratifying any of those new trade deals.
The final item of business of the day was a motion on the liaison committee. This Select Committee is the committee of the chairs of all of the other select committees. The Conservatives have been trying to force one of their MPs in as the Chair of this powerful committee. A joint Lib Dem/Labour amendment looked to amend the motion to say that the Chair should be elected from the members of the committee.
This may appear to be a small point but the Chair of the Liaison Committee directly scrutinises the work of the Prime Minister. It is a powerful position and should not be given away lightly.
That ended the proceeding in the House of Commons for the week. For the next two weeks MPs will be hard at work in their constituencies over the Whitsun recess. So, Parliament and the Weekly Whip will return in June.