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The Weekly Whip

February 26, 2021 8:00 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:โ€ฏ@LibDemWhips

Weekly Whip w/c 22nd February

Monday 22nd February

All eyes were on the Prime Minister on Monday as he delivered an address to Parliament, setting out a roadmap of rolling back restrictions as the pandemic heads into a new phase.

Ed Davey was the first Lib Dem to respond to the announcement, challenging the Prime Minister to prioritise those with learning difficulties for the vaccine.

As we begin to recover the Prime Minister must put people hit hardest by this pandemic first.

That's why I called on Boris Johnson to prioritise giving everyone with a learning disability their first jab. pic.twitter.com/xVjefRJxHo

- Ed Davey MP ๐Ÿ”ถ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡บ (@EdwardJDavey) February 22, 2021

Following Ed, Munira pressed the PM on funding for Children's mental health and a ring-fenced resilience fund.

As we begin to recover the Prime Minister must put people hit hardest by this pandemic first.

That's why I called on Boris Johnson to prioritise giving everyone with a learning disability their first jab. pic.twitter.com/xVjefRJxHo

- Ed Davey MP ๐Ÿ”ถ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡บ (@EdwardJDavey) February 22, 2021

Speaking up for rural communities, Tim Farron received a promising answer from the Prime Minister after he questioned him on outdoor education's status in the roadmap.

Last night I urged the Prime Minister to save outdoor residential centres to support young people's education & mental health.

I was *very* encouraged by his reply, saying there was "no reason" why outdoor education centres couldn't reopen ASAP.

Over to you Gavin Williamson... pic.twitter.com/tWVw6Ofwnc

- Tim Farron (@timfarron) February 23, 2021

After the Prime Minister's Statement, Munira and Tim attended the General Debate on Covid-19, which was the main business for the day.

Munira chose to speak to Children's education and mental health, whereas Tim decided to push further for those who have been excluded from government support during the pandemic.

After 11 months of being #excluded from financial support, many hard-working taxpayers face enormous hardship - struggling to pay the rent or the mortgage or feed their kids.

It's not too late for the Government to do the right thing and help the excluded. pic.twitter.com/z1rJWWVWiR

- Tim Farron (@timfarron) February 23, 2021

Many children are struggling with their mental health due to Covid. Without investment in wellbeing support in schools, this could undermine children catching up in their education

That's why I have called for a Resilience Fund so schools can provide the support they deserve. pic.twitter.com/7pltLHDOiH

- Munira Wilson MP (@munirawilson) February 23, 2021

Tuesday 23rd February

Tuesday was set aside for another Opposition Day, where the topics were the government's management of the economy and supporting individuals and businesses through the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Christine Jardine, Jamie Stone, and Tim Farron were able to take part in these debates, speaking up for small businesses and the self-employed.

WATCH: APPG co-chair @Jamie4North stand up for the three million still left without any government support at today's Opposition Day debate ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ‘‡ pic.twitter.com/ggIPkLtnWE

- APPG Gaps in Support (@APPGGapsSupport) February 23, 2021

With many businesses not able to fully reopen for several months, in Parliament this week I urged the Government to announce immediate plans to:

- Extend the business rates holiday
- Extend the VAT cut for hospitality
- Extend furlough
- Extend business support grants pic.twitter.com/737Rw1Iln0

- Tim Farron (@timfarron) February 24, 2021

Wednesday 24th February

Wednesday was an extremely busy day for MPs with various debates and votes throughout.

Firstly, Ed Davey had a question for the Prime Minister about boycotting the Winter Olympics unless China stops this blatant genocide of the Uighur Muslims.

We must use every tool we can to try and stop the Uyghur genocide. That includes boycotting the Beijing Winter Olympics if necessary.

It is time to act now and show true global leadership on human rights. #PMQs pic.twitter.com/IQAIYuoBej

- Ed Davey MP ๐Ÿ”ถ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡บ (@EdwardJDavey) February 24, 2021

Layla Moran was involved in the court case which decided that the government acted unlawfully regarding PPE contracts. Herself and Wendy Chamberlain attended an urgent question on this matter.

Especially during this pandemic, trust in Government is vital. Transparency and fairness when it comes to Government contracts are essential. Today in an urgent question I raised this with the health minister๐Ÿ‘‡ pic.twitter.com/GSnSoet6bq

- Layla Moran ๐Ÿ”ถ (@LaylaMoran) February 24, 2021

The second urgent question of the day came from another court case. This time it concerned Uber and the recent decision that Uber drivers are entitled to workers' rights. Sarah Olney asked the Minister a question about the government's commitment to ensure drivers are given legal employment contracts.

1000s of workers have been treated illegally by companies like Uber for years. I asked @beisgovuk what it's doing to transfer them back to legal contracts. The response failed to provide any reassurance & instead diverted attention back to Uber. Gig economy workers deserve better pic.twitter.com/l40A18fRYN

- Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) February 24, 2021

We then came to the main business of the day: three separate debates on three separate Bills that the Commons had already scrutinised, but we were now considering what amendments the House of Lords had made.

The first was the Fire Safety Bill which Daisy Cooper and Tim Farron have been leading on. Liberal Democrats in the Lords had tabled an amendment that no remediation costs for cladding should be burdened by the leaseholders or the tenants. The government voted this down.

1000s of workers have been treated illegally by companies like Uber for years. I asked @beisgovuk what it's doing to transfer them back to legal contracts. The response failed to provide any reassurance & instead diverted attention back to Uber. Gig economy workers deserve better pic.twitter.com/l40A18fRYN

- Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) February 24, 2021

It is a massive injustice that we are forcing innocent, blameless people into bankruptcy because the Government refuses to protect them from the enormous costs of removing dangerous cladding from their home.

This must end.#EndOurCladdingScandal #EndOurFireSafetyScandal pic.twitter.com/fKMM4mx0og

- Tim Farron (@timfarron) February 24, 2021

The second was the CHIS Bill, a bad Bill which Liberal Democrats voted against at previous stages of the Bill's passage. Alistair Carmichael spoke at the very short debate to put on record for a final time the Liberal Democrats' opposition to this Bill.

The third and final Bill was the Telecommunications and Infrastructure Bill, which is a crucial one for rural communities. Jamie and Tim both spoke at this debate, but the Bill is relatively uncontroversial.

Thursday 25th February

Thursday was also a busy end to the week, with a few statements and a few debates.

The first statement was the weekly Business Statement from Leader of the House, Jacob-Rees Mogg. Wera Hobhouse spoke to him about how the government plans to tackle emissions from homes, following the recent announcement about cutting the Green Homes Grant.

This Govt loves headline-grabbing announcements on climate action but these policies fall apart when they are faced with the reality on the ground.@LibDems have a viable plan to reach Net Zero no later than 2045 - This Govt needs to take some notes. pic.twitter.com/hQBpgUY0k0

- Wera Hobhouse MP ๐Ÿ”ถ (@Wera_Hobhouse) February 25, 2021

This was followed by a Statement from Gavin Williamson on the return of education settings and how qualifications will be awarded in the Summer. Munira and Layla both attended this.

This pandemic has had a terrible impact on young people's development and mental health. - @munirawilson

The Government must be much more ambitious in supporting our young people & provide the mental health support they so desperately need. pic.twitter.com/MBeZMAQK2a

- Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) February 25, 2021

The @AppgCoronavirus has heard about the increasing pressure that some immunocompromised parents are under to send their children to school. Yesterday, I asked @GavinWilliamson if fines would be imposed on these parents or whether they'd be treated with compassion. Watch๐Ÿ‘‡ pic.twitter.com/lo67s5hVyo

- Layla Moran ๐Ÿ”ถ (@LaylaMoran) February 26, 2021

The next statement came from Robert Jenrick who updated the House on the government's work around rough sleeping. Tim Farron took part in this.

Around 1 in 3 people who have been #excluded from Government financial support are private renters.

In the House of Commons today I asked the Housing Secretary what he is doing to protect the many people who are struggling to get by and fear they cannot afford to pay their rent. pic.twitter.com/O6Wgm1uyst

- Tim Farron (@timfarron) February 25, 2021

The last statement was a short and sweet one from the Environment Audit Committee on their most recent report on putting nature and net-zero at the heart of the economic recovery from Covid-19. Wera Hobhouse spoke to this.

Around 1 in 3 people who have been #excluded from Government financial support are private renters.

In the House of Commons today I asked the Housing Secretary what he is doing to protect the many people who are struggling to get by and fear they cannot afford to pay their rent. pic.twitter.com/O6Wgm1uyst

- Tim Farron (@timfarron) February 25, 2021

The last bit of business for the week were two debates for backbenchers. The first was co-secured by our own Munira Wilson on the education settings route-map out of the pandemic. Education spokesperson, Daisy Cooper, also spoke.

There absolutely must be a greater focus on children's & young people's wellbeing in the Govt's school catch up plans. I urged the Minister to provide a fund for schools to invest in mental health support.

My speech in the schools roadmap debate today ๐Ÿ‘‡ pic.twitter.com/QnRvnk648B

- Munira Wilson MP (@munirawilson) February 25, 2021

Five ideas for the educational recovery:
1๏ธโƒฃ Educational and emotional recovery need to go hand in hand
2๏ธโƒฃ Govt must commit to help children reclaim opportunities for years to come
3๏ธโƒฃ One additional year of fully funded education for those leaving education this year 1/2๐Ÿ‘‡ pic.twitter.com/A09D0mW9G2

- Daisy Cooper MP ๐Ÿ”ถ (@libdemdaisy) February 25, 2021

The final debate was on Welsh Affairs due to the fact that it is St. David's Day on Monday 1st March. Our Spokesperson, Wendy Chamberlain, attended the short debate and paid tribute to Kirsty Williams who is stepping down after 22 years in the Senedd, serving as Education Minister since 2016.

What you may have missed!

Layla Moran, who has had a habit of securing debates recently, secured another debate about flooding in her local constituency of Oxford West and Abingdon.

Yesterday, I held a Commons debate on flooding in Oxford West and Abingdon so Govt could hear my constituents' concerns. There is so much they can do right now to protect homeowners and help residents future-proof their homes. Check it out๐Ÿ‘‡ pic.twitter.com/c2m4Z5fdAo

- Layla Moran ๐Ÿ”ถ (@LaylaMoran) February 25, 2021

Also, during the Housing Statement on Thursday, Robert Jenrick accidentally let slip that he wants to scrap the Vagrancy Act!

Delighted to hear Robert Jenrick thinks the outdated, cruel Vagrancy Act should go.

Together with @tracey_crouch @CarolineLucas @ToniaAntoniazzi @LSRPlaid @Jamie4North @timfarron I've introduced a Bill that would repeal it in a heartbeat.

Time to pick it up and #ScraptheAct. pic.twitter.com/zeNE9yzVsE

- Layla Moran ๐Ÿ”ถ (@LaylaMoran) February 25, 2021

What next?

All the focus next week will be on the Chancellor's Budget Statement.

The Lords have a new weekly round-up - catch up on what's been happening in the other place here:

The Lords Weekly Whip