The Weekly Whip - Lords edition!

March 10, 2021 2:00 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

In the Lords we get to grips with the detail of legislation and improve it; we take part in debates on a whole range of issues, and we question and hold government ministers to account.

For up to date information about the work of the Lib Dem group in the Lords, follow us on Twitter: @LibDemLords

Monday 1st March

William Wallace asked a question about the UK's relationship with the new American administration. He argued that sovereign equality is needed for the UK to take its proper place on the world stage having lost the advantages that EU membership brought us, and therefore the Government needs to urgently reconsider some of the unequal aspects of our relationship with the USA, such as the use of US bases in the UK and extradition arrangements.

The litany of cronyism and mistakes from the Government seems to grow each day. During a statement on the pandemic, Paul Scriven listed some of the problems that have come to light.

He called for a judge-led public inquiry into the handling of some PPE procurement.

Kate Parminter does a huge amount of important work in promoting awareness of eating disorders and getting better care and support for those who suffer from them. The House of Lords library is an ally during what was Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Tuesday 2nd March

Chris Humphreys asked the government about the growing economy on Ynys Mon (or Anglesey to non-Welsh speakers!) and she pushed the Government to encourage a major new energy scheme there, including options for tidal power with both barrages and free-standing turbines.

During a question on the financial settlement for TfL, Sarah Ludford pushed the Government to publish a report into TfL's finances which they are so far refusing to do.

There was an Urgent Question on how the pandemic has disproportionately affected ethnic minority communities. Meral Hussein-Ece urged the Government to publish proper assessments of how the pandemic has impacted different people and showed that higher susceptibility to COVID, social inequality and racism has meant that the last year has been much worse for people from ethnic minorities.

During a statement on homelessness, Olly Grender laid bare the lack of social housing built during the last year and called again for the Government to do more to provide targeted access to secure accommodation.

And Dick Newby joined many other Lib Dem parliamentarians in challenging the Government to do more to stop investment flowing to China.

Wednesday 3rd March

Today we marked an important day -

Today Lib Dems had three of the four Oral Questions.

Sarah Ludford asked about the programme and timetable for refugee resettlements in the UK. Under the UK Resettlement Scheme, only 800 people were resettled in 2020 compared to more than 5,500 in 2019, and she pushed the Government to commit to 5000 resettlements during 2021 and a 10-year commitment to resettle vulnerable refugees from Syria and other conflict areas.

Mike German asked about the new funding in Wales that is replacing money previously provided by the EU. He urged the Government to aim to administer as much of the money as possible by the Welsh Government in Cardiff, rather than the UK Government in London, and wanted reassurance that the funds will not cut across devolved areas of competence without the approval of the Welsh Government - our break from the EU must not mean that devolution to the nations is watered down!

And Brian Paddick asked about police stop and search powers, drawing attention to a new report that not only doubts the efficacy of stop and search in reducing serious crime, but also highlights the impact it has in reducing trust in and reducing the legitimacy o, the police. Much more needs to be done to help community policing thrive again, he says.

The main item of business in the Chamber was Report Stage of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill (the voting stage) - led for us by Jonathan Marks, Brian Paddick and Sally Hamwee.

We voted on Lib Dem amendments that would stop 24/7 curfews for people without convictions and to stop the use of polygraph tests on people who are not convicted of anything.

Unfortunately Labour chose to abstain on these important issues and we didn't win.

We did defeat the Government on an important cross-party effort to ensure that Terrorism Preventions and Investigation Measures are not used inappropriately.

The issue will now return to the Commons and we wait to see what the Government's response will be.

Thursday 4th March

During a statement on the COVID pandemic, and in response to a question from Sal Brinton, the health minister confirmed that barcodes would now be put on all COVID tests so that a test is traceable.

Shas Sheehan pushed the Government on effective engagement with the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, which helps reliable supplies of the vaccine to get to poorer parts of the globe, and Matthew Taylor urged them to use the G7 Presidency this year to coordinate a global action plan that is more ambitious than what we have already seen from developed nations. </p

The final stages of the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill went through the Lords with a Government concession in response to a Lib Dem amendment about broadband access at an earlier stage of the bill - a good victory!

And David Chidgey led a short debate on the promotion of anti-slavery projects throughout the Commonwealth. He said that slavery is not a relic of history and remains embedded in cultures and communities around the world. He talked about the actions the Commonwealth are taking to end modern slavery and urged the Government to work with Commonwealth Governments across the globe to further these actions.

NEXT WEEK AND BEYOND…

The Domestic Abuse Bill will have two days of Report Stage (meaning votes) and Robin Teverson will ask about prohibiting gas-flaring on off-shore gas rigs. International Women's Day will be marked with a debate on empowering women during the COVID-19 recovery, and the state of the economy will be debated in light of the Budget Statement.

And Kath Pinnock reminds us of an important date for the following week…