Westminster Report


15 September 2016 – 10 October 2016

Westminster is currently in Conference Recess which means I will be working solely in the constituency.

I can assure you work does not stop because of recess, I am on the ground in South Belfast fighting your corner and delivering on the issues that matter to you.

Look ahead in Parliament – December 14th 2015

The Commons chamber opens Monday 14th with Communities and Local Government Questions, followed the Committee, Report and Third Reading stages of the European Union (Approvals) Bill. The Bill concerns two proposals, one concerning the Republic of Macedonia becoming an observer on an EU human rights body and the second being a draft decision on the Tripartite Social Summit for Growth and Employment.

Monday will also see two motions to take note of EU policies on the relocation of migrants in need of international protection and on the European Agenda on Migration. UKIP MP Douglas Carswell has submitted an amendment to the second motion raising the issue of Saudi funding for ISIL and highlighting the failure of the majority of Sunni and Gulf states to assist in resettlement efforts.

The adjournment debate is on finance for student nursing, led by Labour MP Wes Streeting. Streeting is concerned that converting the NHS’s bursaries for student nurses to loans will make it harder to attract much-needed new recruits to the profession and will mean that the disposable income of newly qualified nurses is reduced while they repay the loan.

In the House of Lords  Peers react to the Commons vote to strike down the Lords’ amendment to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the EU referendum. The Commons has engaged ‘financial privilege’ due to the costs of the referendum, but Peers can still attempt an “amendment in lieu”, which would suggest savings that could be made by extending the vote. Such an amendment would send the issue back to the Commons on Wednesday.

Peers will also be considering welfare benefits provision, loans for mortgage interest and social security provision as part of the debate on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill.


Tuesday December 15th

In the Commons, Business, Innovation and Skills Questions will come at 11.30am, followed by a Ten Minute Rule Bill from Work and Pensions Committee chair, Frank Field on the automatic registration of eligible children for Free School Meals. The main debates are on two Labour motions, first on climate change and flooding, and second on the government’s housing record.

The adjournment debate is on Transgender Prisoners and will be led by shadow minister for women and equalities, Cat Smith MP. She has been questioning ministers about the number held in segregation units or placed in vulnerable prisoner units. The debate will likely make reference to the two transgender women that have been found dead in male prisons in recent months.

Tuesday will also see a Westminster Hall Debate on muscular dystrophy.

In the Lords at 2.30pm – Provided the EU Referendum Bill is not bounced back, the main legislative debate will be on the Bank of England and Financial Services Bill. The Bill would change the ‘reverse burden of proof’ requirements on banks introduced after the credit crunch, which require banks to show they are following good practice.


Wednesday December 16th

In the Commons International Development Questions comes at 11.30am, followed by the last Prime Ministers Questions of the year.

PMQs will be followed by a Ten Minute Rule Bill on Proportional Representation, which was previously bumped by the debate on Syria.

This will be followed by detailed consideration of the Armed Forces Bill, including an amendment on compensation for service personnel with mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos, who currently receive worse compensation terms than civilians. There will also be a motion on allowing a breach the Government’s self-imposed welfare spending cap.

Westminster Hall will see a debate on benefit sanctions at the 2.30pm, led by SNP MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford.

House of Lords open at 3pm – opens with the second day of Report Stage scrutiny of the Education and Adoption Bill, where the Government may agree to extend the Bill’s provisions on coasting schools to cover academies.


Thursday December 17th

The Commons’ last sitting day of the year begins with Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Questions.  Following questions, the rest of day is devoted to Backbench Business Committee debates, including a motion on protecting 16 and 17-year-olds from child sexual exploitation based on The Children’s Society’s report “Old enough to know better?” and a motion on ‘Conception to Age 2, the first 1001 days’.

In Westminster Hall at 1.30pm there will be a general debate on a new tobacco control strategy led by Labour’s Sir Kevin Barron.

In the Lords at 11am, following new peers’ introduction there will follow debates chosen by backbench peers on the Outcome of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta and on the ‘positive contribution’ made by the National Lottery to sport, culture, charities, and national heritage throughout the UK.

Look ahead in Parliament – November 30th 2015


Monday 30th is a General Debate on the UK’s role in the Middle East – further to the PM statement last week

Tuesday is the remaining stages of the Immigration Bill and ‘MOTION TO APPROVE A STATUTORY INSTRUMENT RELATING TO NORTHERN IRELAND

Attached is an explanatory memorandum on The Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015 

NIWelfareBill2015 OrderNIWelfareBill2015 Order

 Wednesday is  as an Opposition Day debate

Thursday is CHARITIES (PROTECTION AND SOCIAL INVESTMENT) BILL (SECOND READING) – – and Margaret Ritchie MP has a 3 hour Westminster Hall debate on General Fisheries (1:30-4:30pm).

Friday is Private Members Bills



Look ahead in Parliament – November 16th 2015

  •            On Monday the Commons opens with Home Office Questions, which will be followed by a statement from the Home Secretary, Theresa May, on the events in Paris on Friday evening.  There will be a debate on a motion signed by Mark Durkan MP and a number of other MPs calling on the Speaker not to submit the list of UK delegates for the UK Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe until members are elected by the same party ballot system used for select committees
  • A debate on the revival of the Transport for London Bill will run for three hours and the day will close with Conservative MP, Stephen Phillips’, adjournment debate on the illicit arms trade in Africa
  • The Lords are not sitting


  •        On Tuesday 17th  Health Questions will be followed by a statement from the Prime Minister on the G20 Summit that was held last weekend
  • A ten minute rule bill that would involve IPSA overseeing the House of Lords’ finances and complaints. It involves reform of the second chamber in terms of a compulsory retirement system and a reduction in the number of Lords. This could be an interesting debate to watch out for in light of recent events around Tax Credits.
  • The Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill has a number of amendments but particularly significant ones are that which would remove the clause added by the Lords to allow votes at 16 in local elections; the Health Select Committee Chair’s amendment that would give the mayor of a combined authority the power to set minimum unit pricing for alcohol in their area and the Shadow Cabinet’s call for a “National framework for devolution of fiscal powers”, such as local tax rates, banding and discounts
  • The Lords will spend the majority of the day on the second reading of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. This will be followed by the third committee day of the Education and Adoption Bill.
  • Ian Paisley MP has an adjournment debate on the closure of the Michelin factory in Ballymena


  •         We open Wednesday 18th with Wales questions, which are followed by PMQs.
  • A ten-minute rule bill from Tory MP, Scott Mann, would give local communities the power to hold referendums on speed limits and there are two debates in Westminster Hall on women and low pay and on introducing low emissions zones.
  • The Lords will proceed to the report stage day of the European Union Referendum Bill, which also includes an amendment to allow votes at 16. There is also a short debate on stroke services.


  •           Thursday opens with energy and climate change questions and the weekly business statement
  • from the Leader of the House, Chris Grayling.
  • A debate on the Pope’s Encyclical, Laudato Si, on climate change and the common good has been secured by Labour MP Helen Goodman. This is followed by a motion from the chair of the APPG on cancer on a new cancer strategy.
  • There is also a debate on male suicide and International Men’s Day in Westminster Hall. Philip Davies has been in the news recently about this particular motion.
  • The Lords will discuss the role of trade unions and their contribution to the economy. This is followed by a short debate on the action being taken internationally to tackle the use of performance enhancing drugs in sport then a discussion on the case for revising the related laws on corporate governance. The day closes will a final short debate on the effectiveness of the UK’s development policies.


  •           On Friday’s Private Members’ Bill day, the Commons opens with the second reading of the Compulsory Emergency First Aid Education (State-funded Secondary Schools) Bill. This is followed by a debate on the On-demand Audiovisual Services (Accessibility for People with Disabilities affecting Hearing or Sight or both) Bill, which would oblige on-demand video services to offer subtitles in their services. There are a number of other bills but it is unlikely that they will be reached.
  • The Lords starts with the second reading of Lord Alton’s Mesothelioma (Amendment) Bill, which would compel insurance companies to pay into a fund for medical research into this disease, caused by asbestos. The Direct Planning (Pilot) Bill that will take place after would enable the communities secretary to make regulations so residents acting as neighbourhood forums or a community organisation could participate more directly in developing planning policy in their areas. The week will end with a debate tabled by Labour peer Lord Foulkes, who is concerned that inaccurate polling has too much influence on election campaigns, on the Regulation of Political Opinion Polling Bill.