Weekly Whip

January 18, 2021 1:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

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:β€―@LibDemWhips

Weekly Whip w/c 11th January

Monday 11th January

Monday started off with a statement from the Chancellor who has been notably quiet as of late. He came to the House to update MPs on the most recent packages of support for individuals and businesses during the pandemic.

But it's not nearly enough. There is just not enough support. The national situation demands a compassionate government that is not afraid to intervene to save jobs and businesses from the effects of the pandemic. The Conservatives, by nature, are reluctant to go far enough and provide the necessary support that ordinary people need.

The Federation of Small Businesses has said that, "if the Chancellor does not act, 250,000 small businesses could collapse". Liberal Democrat MPs Christine Jardine, Alistair Carmichael, Layla Moran, all challenged the Chancellor on these shortcomings on behalf of small businesses, fishermen, and the 'Excluded' self-employed who are still yet to receive any support since the pandemic began.

Following the Chancellor, the Minister for the Vaccine rollout gave a statement to update the House on the current rollout status across the country. Health Spokesperson, Munira Wilson, challenged Nadhim Zahawi on whether the issues relate to manufacturing, packaging, batch testing, or distribution.

The main business for the day was a 'general debate on global Britain'. General debates are opportunities for MPs to make speeches and raise issues in the House without having to adhere to strict and narrow topics. Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Layla Moran contributed to the debate to talk about a variety of topics, and concluded by criticising the government's plan to reduce international aid spending.

Tuesday 12th January

The first week back started to pick up the pace after two statements were announced on the situation in Xinjiang and the Department of Defence's role in the vaccine rollout. Layla Moran and Jamie Stone, Defence Spokesperson, responded to these statements respectively. Alistair Carmichael also took part in the statement on Xinjiang.

Following a quick Ten-Minute Rule motion on abolishing business rates, which Liberal Democrats support, the main business was once again a general debate; this time on Covid-19. A highly subscribed debate, Wendy, Wera, Christine, and Tim all took part.

Wednesday 13th January

Wednesday = PMQs! This week, Daisy Cooper came out successful in the ballot and asked the Prime Minister about her constituency's vaccination centre.

The busy week continued with some urgent pieces of business before we reached the day's main Bill proceedings. Following our exit from the European Union, there have been worrying stories from Northern Ireland regarding trade with the rest of the UK. Alistair Carmichael, Spokesperson for Northern Ireland, was on hand to respond to Michael Gove's statement.

In some good news, the Secretary of State for Health came to the House to update MPs on the white paper and long-overdue plans to reform the Mental Health Act. Munira responded to the Secretary and outlined more details on her website.

In some good news, the Secretary of State for Health came to the House to update MPs on the white paper and long-overdue plans to reform the Mental Health Act. Munira responded to the Secretary and outlined more details on her website.

The main business for Wednesday was the Financial Services Bill, an uncontroversial piece of legislation that passed easily. However, there were some votes on Wednesday night on amendments. Despite defeats, the Liberal Democrats voted to increase consumer protection rights and ensure that the government keeps to their net-zero targets regarding this piece of legislation. Christine Jardine tabled two amendments and spoke to them on the floor of the House:

  • This new clause would bring forward the start date of the Debt Respite Scheme and extend the duration of the Breathing Space Moratorium from 60 days to 12 months.
  • This new clause would require the Treasury to publish a report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the implementation of the Debt Respite Scheme, including consideration of a proposal for the incorporation of a no-interest loan scheme into the Debt Respite Scheme.

Christine had a busy day as she also led the adjournment debate this evening which followed proceedings. Her topic was on protections for small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thursday 14th January

The theme of a busy first week back continued on Thursday morning. Brexit was the topic of debate once more, as Alistair Carmichael secured an Urgent Question to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs on the current issues that the fishing industry are facing. Jamie Stone also had questions for the Secretary of State.

During lockdown, reports of domestic abuse have been rising. The Minister for Safeguarding came to the House to update MPs on the government's measures to tackle this. Our Spokesperson for Women and Equalities, Wera Hobhouse, responded to the Minister.

The last bit of business for the week came from the Backbench Business Committee, with Layla Moran leading a debate on Long-Covid. This was the first time that the subject of Long-Covid has had formal time to be discussed in Parliament. The debate was full of distressing anecdotes from across the country from people of all ages who have suffered the effects of Long-Covid.

What you may have missed!

Tim in the Westminster Hall debate on vaccination:

Munira in the Westminster Hall debate on early years education:

What next?

Next week, there will be debates on Universal Credit and free school meals. Plus, the Trade Bill and HS2 Bill are coming back from the Lords.