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Weekly Whip w/c 16th March
It has been a strange week in Parliament, as I am sure it has been in all workplaces. The week was broken up by the announcement that employees should be working from home unless they have an explicit reason not to. Most Parliamentary staff are now rightly working from home. Business in the House continues, and we expect it to continue into next week when both Houses will debate the emergency legislation.
Monday 16th March
The week started with a continuation of the Budget Debate which focused on Public Services. In any normal circumstances, the Budget Debate would have attracted a lot of media attention. However, that morning, Matt Hancock put in a request to make a ministerial statement on COVID-19 which asked people to begin social distancing and working from home.
“The more the government lets the Chief Medical Officer and the scientific experts deliver these #covidー19uk messages to the public, the more I think the public’s confidence and trust will be held up.” – @EdwardJDavey pic.twitter.com/U8DzrSUZen
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) March 16, 2020
Tuesday 17th March
Tuesday continued the theme of huge announcements with the Foreign Secretary recommending against all but essential travel out of the UK. This was part of a wider statement on COVID-19.
Tuesday also saw the conclusion of the Budget Debate which unusually had no divisions and very little interest. The much bigger financial statement in the House was when the Chancellor announced the fiscal stimulus in response to the pandemic.
The Liberal Democrats urge the Prime Minister to do so with immediate effect. pic.twitter.com/3av5GFJfLq
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) March 17, 2020
Wednesday 18th March
By Midday we had one of the most sparsely attended Prime Minister’s Questions ever. All-Party Whips advised against attending to avoid overcrowding and spreading Covid-19.
Following this, Layla Moran presented her Bill on decriminalising homelessness, through abolishing the Vagrancy Act. Please support her campaign by signing and sharing the petition below.
The homeless may be particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.
The government has a duty of care for rough sleepers, and it should start by scrapping the Vagrancy Act, which criminalises people simply for being homeless. Sign our petition today > https://t.co/CLNufUkpzb
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) March 14, 2020
Labour had another of their allocated opposition days. These debates/motions were on statutory sick pay and the protection of workers.
This debate was interrupted by yet another huge announcement from the Government. In an emergency statement from the Education Secretary, it was announced that schools would close from this Friday.
Thursday 19th March
We began with an Urgent Question on the government’s support for employers. Sarah challenged the Government to do more:
The current #covid19UK financial support measures aren’t sufficient for the self-employed, those who are out of work & too many others.
Lib Dems are fighting to ensure the government provides the maximum level of support for those in the least protected positions in our society. pic.twitter.com/JMAKyM7zZz
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) March 19, 2020
Priti Patel then made a statement to the House on the Windrush Report. Wendy spoke for us and demanded that there should be no information sharing between the NHS and the Home Office.
The backbench business motions debated on Thursday were on Loan Charges and the future governance of the Post Office. Sir Ed Davey, as the Chair of the All Parliamentary Party Group on the Loan Charge, spoke.
As we look ahead to next week, we are expecting to go through all stages for the Coronavirus Bill on Monday. We expect Parliament to become increasingly empty as the week goes on.