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The Weekly Whip

May 19, 2021 9:00 AM
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: @LibDemWhips 

Weekly Whip w/c 10th May

Monday 10th May Parliament did not sit.

Tuesday 11th May

On Thursday 29th April, Parliament prorogued for the Local Elections and returned to start a brand new session on Tuesday 11th May.

At the beginning of every new Parliamentary Session, the Monarch travels from Buckingham Palace to the House of Lords Chamber and typically addresses the Lords, MPs, the Speakers, and members of the public who are lucky enough to get a ticket. For those who love Parliament and all its quirks, it is a great occasion and tradition, but for those who are sceptical of Westminster, it is just another example of pageantry and pomp.

Whichever way you feel about it, it is an important moment where the government's priorities are outlined and MPs are made aware of what legislation is coming forward for debate. Despite the Queen reading the speech aloud, it was authored entirely by Downing Street.

Whilst most MPs were instructed to keep away from the Chamber, Lib Dem Leader, Sir Edward Davey, took part in the socially distanced ceremonial procession from the Commons to the Lords with the Speakers, Black Rod, the Sergeant at Arms, and other Party Leaders.

A new session of Parliament is a bit like a new year at school: there is an entire fresh slate, the curriculum is new, and everyone is raring to go (sometimes). However, what is unusual about this "opening day", is that we still have some unfinished business from the previous session as the government was not able to complete its legislative agenda, partly due to the pandemic, partly due to Brexit, and partly due to incompetence.

The 6 Bills that are yet to be finished are:

  • Advanced Research and Invention Agency Bill
  • Armed Forces Bill
  • Environment Bill
  • Finance Bill
  • Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill
  • Telecommunications (Security) Bill

Liberal Democrats have major concerns with these pieces of legislation, especially regarding the lack of ambition in the Environment Bill and the draconian measures inflicted in the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill. The party will continue to fight in this session to stand up for the planet and protect our rights to protest.

Additionally, the government announced 6 new Bills that they intend to make law, which I have listed below with brief explanations:

Northern Ireland (Ministers, Elections, and Petitions of Concern) Bill
Bill to make provision about Ministerial appointments, extraordinary Assembly elections, the Ministerial Code of Conduct and petitions of concern in Northern Ireland.

Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill

Bill to make provision about the dissolution and calling of Parliament, including provision for the repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011; and for connected purposes.

Compensation (London Capital & Finance plc and Fraud Compensation Fund) Bill
Bill to provide for the payment out of money provided by Parliament of expenditure incurred by the Treasury for, or in connection with, the payment of compensation to customers of London Capital & Finance plc; provide for the making of loans to the Board of the Pension Protection Fund for the purposes of its fraud compensation functions.

National Insurance Contributions Bill

Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill
Bill to make provision about matters attributable to coronavirus that may not be taken account of in making certain determinations for the purposes of non-domestic rating; and to make provision in connection with the disqualification of directors of companies that are dissolved without becoming insolvent.

Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill

Bill to make provision in relation to freedom of speech and academic freedom in higher education institutions and in students' unions; and for connected purposes.

This is just the initial set of Bills that the government announced on opening day, but Bills can be presented by a Secretary of State or Minister at any point, so in the coming weeks we will be keeping an eye out for further legislation that we believe will be damaging to our country.

Sarah Olney spoke about the government's dangerous priorities just after the Queen gave her speech.

But it was Ed Davey who responded to the Prime Minister on the green benches later in the afternoon when MPs met for the first time to debate the Speech. Ed addressed the faults in the government's plans such as the illiberal measures like voter ID, taking power away from our local authorities, and crushing the right to protest in the UK.

Planning Reforms:

Civil liberties and Voter ID:

Wednesday 12th May

On the following days from the Queen's Speech, MPs debate the Queen's Speech for 5 more days with each day representing a broad topic of concern.

However, the second day of debate was delayed because Layla Moran secured an Urgent Question on the shocking violence in Israel and Palestine. Details below.

Urgent Question:

After Layla's actions in the Chamber, the Prime Minister gave a statement to announce the government's intentions for an inquiry into the handling of Covid-19 in the United Kingdom. Munira Wilson, Lib Dem Health Spokesperson, was there to challenge the Prime Minister further:

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On the second day of the Queen's Speech, the topic was 'Jobs and a Fair Deal at Work', where Christine Jardine (Treasury Spokesperson), Wendy Chamberlain (Dept. for Work and Pensions Spokesperson), and Sarah Olney (Dept. for Business, Energy, Industrial Strategy) all made their opinions known.

At a time when we are facing such economic uncertainty, the Government has missed an opportunity in the Queen's Speech to set out a long term plan for jobs. pic.twitter.com/RQjg9qhxD5

- Christine Jardine (@cajardineMP) May 13, 2021

Wednesday was also International Nurses Day. MPs from all parties wore badges in the Chamber to highlight the hard work and dedication that nurses all over the world show every day, not just during the year of the pandemic.

Thursday 13th May

On the final day of the Parliamentary week, the topic of debate was "A brighter future for the next generation", where Layla Moran and Wera Hobhouse took the opportunities to speak. Layla spoke to the local Liberal Democrats in Oxford, who have championed young people:

And Wera reminded the House of the severity of the climate situation and the urgent need to take action for our next generations:

There were no votes this week, but after a few more days of debate on the Queen's Speech next week, Liberal Democrats will table amendments which outline our disgust with the Conservatives' priorities for this country.

Topics next week will include:

Safe Streets for All
Affordable and Safe Housing for All
A rescue plan for the NHS and Social Care

Eid Mubarak!