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The Weekly Whip

February 12, 2021 6:00 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: @LibDemWhips

Weekly Whip w/c 8th February

Monday 8th February

Two Urgent Questions were accepted on Monday morning.

The first concerned the situation in Yemen, where the US recently declared that they would end support for the Saudi-led offensive in Yemen, including relevant arms sales. Layla Moran questioned the Minister on the UK's continued sales of arms to Saudi Arabia.

The @LibDems have long called for the UK to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia in response to their consistent targeting of civilians in Yemen. After the US paused their sale of arms, I asked the Government if they would do the same. This was their response to a simple question 👇

- Layla Moran 🔶 (@LaylaMoran) February 8, 2021

The second UQ related to the EU's decision to ban shellfish exports from the UK. Tim Farron questioned the Secretary of State on what he will do to compensate those who will lose out on this business.

Alistair Carmichael called for his resignation following claims that he privately admitted that the EU were right to impose the ban.

Fishermen in the Cumbrian village of Flookburgh and across our country have been banned from selling live shellfish into Europe after the Government failed to negotiate market access for them.

Our fishermen have been betrayed and sold down the river - they must be compensated.

- Tim Farron (@timfarron) February 8, 2021

Alistair Carmichael said George Eustice was unfit to resolve the problems being faced by fishermen

- The Herald (@heraldscotland) February 9, 2021

The main business of the day was the Second Reading of the Armed Forces Bill, a rollover Bill every 5 years which is required to ensure the continued running of the United Kingdom's Armed Forces. The only difference this time around is that the government have decided to put the Armed Forces Covenant into written law, rather than it being an unspoken understanding. This is a welcome move but the Lib Dems are concerned that the scope of the Covenant is not wide enough for our veterans as it only covers health, housing, and education. Jamie Stone briefly spoke in the debate.

👍🏻 Thank you @Jamie4North for supporting enshrining the Armed Forces Covenant into law during the #ArmedForcesBill debate.

Grateful to you for supporting @poppyscotland's suggestion that the Bill should be expanded beyond councils to include both the UK Govt and @scotgov.

- Ross Thomson (@RossThomson_Abz) February 9, 2021

Tuesday 9th February

Tuesday started with a Covid-19 update from the Secretary of State for Health during which Munira questioned Matt Hancock on border measures.

How many deaths could have been prevented from introducing stricter border measures sooner? asks Lib Dem Munira Wilson, who accuses ministers of being "consistently slow"

Matt Hancock says "we've had significant measures at the border throughout"

- BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) February 9, 2021

The main business for the day included the continuation of the debate over trade and genocide. Many MPs and Peers in Parliament have been insistent that the government should not trade with countries who commit genocide. Despite the cross-party and cross-House support for this measure, the government have been keen to remove any such provision from the Trade Bill.

Due to time constraints, neither Sarah Olney nor Layla Moran were called to speak in the very short debate, but Lib Dems voted to ensure more Parliamentary Scrutiny over future trade agreements and to prevent the UK from trading with countries who have committed genocide.

The British public have the right to be represented in the negotiation of new trade deals and that means Parliament having its say.

It is outrageous that the Government has refused, once again, to back Parliamentary scrutiny in today's #TradeBill

- Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) February 9, 2021

Today the Govt used outrageous procedural manoeuvres to avoid any straight vote on the Genocide Amendment and avoid defeat, in a flagrant attempt to deny MPs from having their democratic say. If they were confident in their arguments, why do that? THREAD👇1/5

- Layla Moran 🔶 (@LaylaMoran) February 9, 2021

Click through to read the whole thread

Following this business, Sarah Olney, along with MPs from all different parties, supported the adjournment debate from Caroline Lucas on the UK's climate emergency plans.

It was a real pleasure to speak in last night's debate on the #CEEBill🌍

We see too much stovepiping between govt depts on both the climate & the environment, and so to bring it all together as a clear set of objectives is a real strength and why @LibDems are in favour of it.

- Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) February 10, 2021

Wednesday 10th February

This week at PMQs, Layla Moran had a question for the Prime Minister regarding long-Covid.

Up to 400,000 people are living with long Covid right now, and for many that means being unable to work. In PMQs I called on Boris Johnson to recognise it as an occupational disease and compensate our frontline heroes unable to work.

This must be tackled now, not later. 👇

- Layla Moran 🔶 (@LaylaMoran) February 10, 2021

Following this, the Secretary of State for Housing made a statement on the cladding scandal, noting that leaseholders who live in a building with 18+ levels would not be subject to remediation costs, but those who did not meet that threshold would be subject to a loan scheme to cover the cost. Daisy Cooper has spearheaded the Lib Dem response to the cladding scandal and made it clear that leaseholders should not be footing the bill for these unexpected costs.

On the #claddingscandal @LibDems are clear: leaseholders should not have to pay a penny to remove dangerous cladding or carry the cost of other fire safety defects that have occurred through no fault of their own. #EndOurCladdingScandal

- Daisy Cooper MP 🔶 (@libdemdaisy) February 10, 2021

Thursday 11th February

The final day of business before recess was unusual due to the fact that the Commons passed an emergency Bill in one day. Before this, Wera Hobhouse attended weekly business questions with the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Lateral flow testing is NOT widely available for nurseries in Bath.

Why has Westminster been prioritised when early care providers have been asked to stay open throughout lockdown?

One rule for this Government and another for everyday families...

- Wera Hobhouse MP 🔶 (@Wera_Hobhouse) February 11, 2021

Earlier than expected, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care came to the House to give a statement about the proposed changes to NHS structures. Munira Wilson was quick to notice the lack of guarantees to fix social care.

Today was an opportunity for the Govt to make good on their promise to reform social care. Yet again, they've kicked it into the long grass. I urged @MattHancock to begin cross-party talks as soon as possible to find a solution. These cannot wait any longer.

- Munira Wilson MP (@munirawilson) February 11, 2021

This fast-track legislation emerged because the current Attorney General is pregnant and, according to the law, unable to take any maternity leave due to her position. Clearly this is an ugly showcase of our male-dominated world, but Wera, Christine, and Wendy spoke to and welcomed the Bill that the government have brought forward today. The Bill does not go far enough to deal with similar issues, but the Minister assured the House that more legislation will come forward shortly on this topic and that this legislation was just a stopgap so the Attorney General can take her leave.

Maternity leave for Cabinet Minister doesn't quite bring Parliament into the 21st century, but it's at least a step towards the end of the 20th century.

Our parliament needs to be an accessible and modern workplace if we expect it to reflect the country we represent.

- Wendy Chamberlain MP (@wendychambLD) February 12, 2021

The opposition agreed to pass the Bill without any votes, but, we'll be keeping our eye out for more developments here.

What next?

Nothing! The House has risen for recess, but we will be back on Monday 22nd February to deal with the Fire Safety Bill and the CHIS Bill. We also expect a statement from the PM on the roadmap out of lockdown.