A week in review (8th May - 10th May)
The parliamentary review of the week
Tuesday began with questions on social and health care. Three topics prompted the greatest amount of discussion, the first being NHS bursaries. Stephen Barclay, a minister for health and social care, was asked what assessments have been made on the impact retracting nursing degree bursaries will have. He responded that in spite of these changes, the demand for nursing positions is outpacing the supply of available training places. The second topic was on the disparity between the health of rural communities and that of urban areas. The under-secretary, Jackie Doyle-Price, told the House that attempts to understand these disparities and their extent are underway, with help from local governments. Finally came the topic of obesity, which saw Jeremy Hunt highlight childhood obesity in particular. He said that the government’s aim is to reduce sugar consumption in children by 20% over the course of the next four years.
- Customs arrangement after Brexit is burdensome political issue for Theresa May
- Boris Johnson announces disagreement with Trump over Iran Deal
- Attorney General apologises on behalf of government for playing role in the detainment of two Libyan dissidents
Later in the afternoon, Diane Abbott asked Victoria Atkins (under-secretary for the home department) to update the House on the renewal of G4S’s contract to run the Brook House and Tinsley House immigration removal centres. Despite the poor behaviour of G4S staff in Brook House highlighted by BBC Panorama last year, the government plans to continue its contract, albeit with confidence that behaviour will henceforth be better.
Essentially, Boris Johnson told the House that he would not be following Donald Trump’s path in exiting the deal, but would instead be remaining true to the deal’s initial terms".
Wednesday saw two main events. Firstly there was PMQs, in which Jeremy Corbyn interrogated Theresa May on the inability to produce a satisfactory customs arrangement, while also mentioning the great divides within the Conservative party on the issue. The remainder of the PMQs session can be followed in our Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/theparlreview/status/994171186367131648
Immediately after, Boris Johnson put forth a ministerial statement on the Iran Deal. Essentially, Boris Johnson told the House that he would not be following Donald Trump’s path in exiting the deal, but would instead be remaining true to the deal’s initial terms. He also told the House of his efforts to persuade the US to remain part of the deal, and hoped for the US to offer a viable alternative to this meticulously crafted deal.
Three parliamentary events stood out on Thursday: Questions on culture, sport and media, questions to the Attorney General and a ministerial statement on the litigation update in the case of Belhaj and Boudchar.
Nicholas Soames asked the under-secretary, Tracey Crouch, what was being done regarding the funding of sports for pupils with special educational needs. She responded that the procurement of sports opportunities for students that fall into this category is a key governmental goal, involving multiple government departments. The safety of football grounds was also brought up, with members of the House asking Tracey Crouch if an assessment of potential “safe standing areas” had been undertaken – to which she responded that these were not yet deemed safe, but that further assessments would be noted.
Channel 4’s relocation also featured as a topic on Thursday. Members of the House somewhat humorously suggested that Channel 4 should move its operations to their respective cities. It seems, however, that Glasgow seems to have the most inertia behind it.
In a ministerial statement, the Attorney General later offered an apology on behalf of the government to Mr Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Mrs Fatima Boudchar".
In the course of questions being put to the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright, three topics stood out most saliently. One was on knife crime, which was inaugurated by Damian Collins asking what Jeremy Wright, in parallel with the Crown Prosecution Service, was doing to improve the prosecution rate of those committing knife crimes. The answer came from the Solicitor General, Robert Buckland, who told the House that a serious violence strategy (published on 8 April) laid out where exactly the law will tighten in this area. A similar question was then asked by Liz McInnes, although this time the crimes under question were those of domestic violence. This time it was Jeremy Wright who answered, saying that the strategy that’s already in place is doing good work in increasing year-on-year the prosecution rate, although more needs to be done to address regional variation.
In a ministerial statement, the Attorney General later offered an apology on behalf of the government to Mr Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Mrs Fatima Boudchar. The two suffered abuse from the Libyan government as a result of their opposition activities, and this was made easier by Britain allegedly being complicit in their abduction, detention and rendition. Jeremy Wright announced a settlement of £500,000 and further remarked that the UK government has learned from this experience.