Searching for compromises down Penny Lane: The Labour Party Conference continues until Wednesday, and it has already seen a fair amount of Helter Skelter drama. Richard Leonard spoke today on the merits of a federal UK, having announced Labour will explicitly oppose a second independence referendum in future manifestos. Jeremy Corbyn will speak on the final day. Efforts to build on policy announcements such as shares for employees may well be overshadowed by continuing discussions over whether to back a second Brexit referendum. Perhaps delegates could do with embracing some of the peace and harmony promoted by Liverpool’s favourite sons.
Statements aplenty: Ministerial statements are neither a rare occurrence nor a common feature of a parliamentary week. It is still surprising, though, for not one but three ministers to stand before Parliament this week. They will be delivering updates on the Government’s mental health strategy, its intention to place fairness at the heart of the new social security system and on the CAP payments and loan system.
Budget Scrutiny Ramps Up: Committees are starting to turn their gaze towards their portfolio’s budgetary needs. The Economy, Energy & Fair Work Committee takes evidence from enterprise agencies to see how they are supporting fair work practices, while the Rural Economy & Connectivity Committee is discussing with CalMac Ferries representatives to discuss Clyde & Hebrides services. The Finance & Constitution Committee is holding a roundtable discussion to inform its budget scrutiny with the Auditor General and representatives from the Scottish Futures Trust and CBI Scotland among others.
A Seat at the Table?: Among the debates taking place, the Scottish Government-led one on future UK trading frameworks might be the highlight. It will see the Scottish Government call for Scottish Ministers to have some form of representation in UK trade negotiations and for a “modern, including process” to be adopted which seeks their input in how trade deals are constructed. Expect Brexit battle lines to be drawn over the primacy of the UK Government negotiating such deals.
From Maternity to Paternity Leave: Thursday’s Members’ Business debate will see Fulton MacGregor highlight the current lack of parental leave given to dads, partners of adopters and parents having babies through surrogacy. The impact this has on gender inequality will be considered, as will the societal benefits of reversing this trend through employers extending parental leave to a minimum of four weeks for parents.
Aidan is the Account Managerresponsible for the Connectivity, Enterprise & Tourism portfolio.