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This Week in Westminster - Friday 9 July 2021

Kerri Prince, BASW UK’s Public and Political Affairs Lead

Two new Government bills were laid in the UK Parliament this week – the Nationality and Borders Bill which seeks to amend immigration and asylum legislation, and the Health and Care Bill which seeks to further integrate between the NHS and social care. Both of these will have their Second Reading before the summer break, which involves a debate on the general contents of the Bill and a vote of MPs. As the Government have a significant majority, both Bills are expected to pass Second Reading and go onto Committee Stage which is when MPs will debate and amend specific sections of the Bill.

Also this week, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Social Work had the first oral evidence sessions of each inquiry that are currently being carried out. The inquiries are looking at integration of health and care, and new models of children’s social work models. Recordings of both sessions can be watched back on BASW’s Facebook page. The first sessions heard from social work practitioners and academics about their experiences of the inquiry topics. The next session for the children’s social work inquiry will take place on Thursday, and the following sessions to take place in September.

The Police, Crime and Sentencing Bill passed the House of Commons this week, and will now go to the House of Lords to go through the same process. The Bill has faced significant opposition due to it discriminating against the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller community and placing restrictions on the right to protest. If the Lords amend the content of the Bill which is a likely outcome, the Bill will have to then return to the Commons for approval.

After last week’s parliamentary by-election in Batley and Spen, new Labour MP Kim Leadbeater took her place in the House of Commons. Whilst by-elections do not often bring down Governments or drastically change the balance of power in the House of Commons, the Labour Party holding onto that seat will have warned off any rumours that a leadership challenge was imminent. Parliament isn’t just about policy, but also the political dynamics between politicians. Each party wants to see the other parties in turmoil as it boosts their own position and allows them to portray themselves as the safe and stable choice.

The end of COVID-19 restrictions are still due to come to an end on the 19th July, although there is ongoing debate amongst politicians and the wider public as to whether measures such as face masks on public transport should remain in place. People can voluntarily wear masks, but there would be no legal obligation to do so.

Although Parliament goes into recess in two weeks’ time, they are showing no sign of slowing down….