Westminster Diary: Pushing through legislation ahead of summer recess
PUBLISHED: 11:00 23 July 2020
Welcome to my Westminster diary. Each week, I’ll be giving a behind-the-scenes take on what life is really like as a new MP. From jeering and bobbing, procedures and prayers, I’ll be lifting the lid on the mother of all Parliaments. Think ‘The Thick of It’ not ‘House of Cards’!
MPs completed their last full week before the summer recess and it had anything but that end of term feeling.
With just a few remaining days for Parliament to sit, the government was keen to rush through various pieces of legislation – from new counter-terrorism laws to new planning powers to allow pubs and restaurants to use outdoor space.
As a new MP, I was warned to keep a beady eye on every announcement in these last few days. Governments of all colours have a bad habit of having at least one or two “take out the trash days” - burying bad news when it’s too late to be quizzed.
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In a surprising twist, the Intelligence and Security Committee was finally formed and its new chairperson was kicked out of the Conservatives after beating his party’s preferred candidate. This in turn means the long-overdue “Russia report” on interference in recent elections should be published in the next few days.
MPs started to plan ahead to the autumn. All-party parliamentary groups met virtually to agree their work plans from September to December. Select Committee Chairs held “surgery appointments” with MPs to find out what inquiries they should launch. And with warnings of a second COVID wave later this year, MPs started their calls for a return to a fully virtual Parliament so the Government can be held to account even during these difficult circumstances.
In the corridors and the socially distanced queues, MPs exchanged quips about how many days were left to go. On more than one occasion, I saw MPs start to reflect on how tough and busy the year had been before remembering they had another urgent thing to finish before recess and racing off mid-sentence.
I busied myself trying to secure an urgent debate on the Government’s contemptuous plans to force a freight terminal on our community, having held us hostage through the planning system.
As a result, there will now be a debate on the issue on September 1, the first day when Parliament returns. During recess I’ll be planning for that first day back and a vital debate to ensure our voices are heard.
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