A week in review (10th September - 13th September)
The parliamentary review of the week
Questions on education was the first session to feature this week. Anne Milton, minister of state, was asked what was being done to promote apprenticeships in schools – to which she responded that schools had a legal obligation to bring in apprenticeship spokespersons for those pupils between years 8 and 13. Damian Hinds was then probed on the topic of social mobility – a topic which, he claims, is at the heart of this government’s considerations, with close monitoring and evaluation taking place to this end.
When asked by Liz Twist what assessment has been made on childcare funding, Nadhim Zahawi answered that, “by 2019-20 we will be spending £1 billion extra annually to deliver 30 hours a week of free childcare and pay our higher funding rates.”
Stephen Doughty asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to make a statement on the situation in Idlib after recent bombings to vital infrastructure from Russian and Al-Assad’s forces. Answering to this was Alistair Burt, who said that – as per the recommendations of the EU – this issue needs to be given the highest humanitarian priority. In addition to this, he said it was regrettable that Russia and Tehran had rejected calls for a ceasefire from Turkey.
- Violent tensions between French and British fishermen is raised in parliament
- New victims strategy announced
- Idlib bombings are deemed a major humanitarian concern
- Discussion of infrastructure plans for east Midlands
The under-secretary for justice, Edward Argar, then put forward a statement on the government’s new victims strategy. Among the changes he listed, one was simplifying the victims code: “We must ensure that those who are victims of crime do not become victims of the process.” Part of this effort would include an independent public advocate who would facilitate this process. Under this plan, the process of getting statements from victims will also be made more amenable to the wishes of victims themselves. All of this, he added, would be enshrined in law.
We must ensure that those who are victims of crime do not become victims of the process." - Edward Argar
Tuesday began with oral questions to the Treasury. Philip Hammond was asked what steps he has taken to support the pubs sector. He responded to the House that he had frozen alcohol duties, such that pints are now 12p cheaper than they would have otherwise been. He added that business rates were being made more favourable for pubs across the board, in order that they can fulfil their roles of being at the centre of communities.
John Glen, minister of state, was pressed on the topic of household debt. Danielle Rowley and Matthew Pennycook both asked him what the government was doing to tackle it. John Glen responded: “We reformed consumer credit regulation in 2014, and I am now working on setting up a single financial guidance body to help those who are in difficulties.”
Subsequent to this, Ben Bradley asked what is being done to fund infrastructure in the east Midlands. He told the House that hundreds of millions of pounds will be invested to improve and maintain infrastructure in this part of the UK – a level of investment, he says, that hasn’t been seen since the 1970s.
Later in the day, a motion was put in place regarding a Bill for making administrators and moderators of online forums responsible for the content that features on it from users. The basis of the case, put forward by Lucy Powell, was that Darren Osborne (the person who carried out the attack on a mosque in North London in 2017) had been provably radicalised as a result of online activity of this type.
The Cabinet Office was the subject of a session of questions in the morning. When asked about the intimidation of public figures, Brandon Lewis (minister without portfolio), said that a consultation on a new electoral offence of intimidating candidates and campaigners has been launched to this effect.
Later in the session, Oliver Dowden, parliamentary secretary, said that – with regard to the use of technology to help with social challenges and public service delivery – he has announced targets on behalf of the GovTech innovation fund, and is leading the development of a public service innovation strategy next Spring.
After this, prime minister’s questions took place. What occurred during this session can be best followed through our live Twitter feed coverage at the following link: https://twitter.com/theparlreview/status/1039832947589873664
Questions on international trade were the inaugural topic of Thursday, with Philip Hollobone asking what was being done to encourage trade between Israel and the UK in terms of IT and agriculture. Liam Fox, the Secretary of State, said that talks to this effect are taking place between the UK and Israel, and that there has recently been an establishment of a UK-Israeli tech hub to facilitate this kind of co-operation.
When asked about the forging of free trade delas, George Hollingbery (minister of state) said that free trade deals cannot be pursued at this point, as negotiations with the EU are still taking place. What can happen, however, is consultation with potential trading partners – which is what he and the department for international trade are presently undertaking.
A consultation on a new electoral offence of intimidating candidates and campaigners has been launched."
Following this was a session of question to the department for women and equality. When asked about the prospect of shared parental leave, Victoria Atkins, the parliamentary under-secretary, said that promotional efforts of this kind are taking place, with the help of £1.5 million. Dr Caroline Johnson then asked what the department is doing to promote the rights of LGBT people in the UK. Victoria answered as follows: “In July, we launched the Gender Recognition Act 2004 consultation and a 75-point LGBT action plan in response to the findings of the national LGBT survey. The action plan includes a £4.5 million fund to support delivery of these commitments—ranging from bringing forward proposals to end conversion therapy to appointing a national LGBT health adviser.”
Finally, George Eustice, the minister of state for environment, food and rural affairs, put forward a ministerial statement on the topic of the altercations that took place between British and French fishermen over the fishing of scallops near the Bay of Seine. The French perceived the ability of UK fishers to use these waters (while they couldn’t) as an injustice, and therefore retaliated violently. The violence was condemned by the UK government, and negotiations with the French government are currently underway so as to ensure violence of this sort doesn’t occur again.