Lords questions government on press freedom, Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter movement on 8 June

08 June 2020

On Monday 8 June, the House of Lords started business with daily oral questions on changes to the planning system as a result of Covid-19, discouraging car use in cities as coronavirus restrictions are lifted, sustainability of the pre-school sector and the safety of journalists globally. There was also a Private Notice Question on the Black Lives Matter movement. Questions were held in a hybrid session for the first time, with members participating both online and in the chamber.

You can watch the full session on Parliament TV. A transcript will also be available via Lords Hansard around three hours after proceedings, and a short summary of what was discussed will be available on this page.

 

Questions on Monday 8 June:

  • Lord Kennedy of Southwark asked the government about the temporary changes to the planning system as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Topics discussed include: government plans to take planning decisions away from councils; collaboration between government and local authorities to win local support for major developments; Sir Oliver Letwin’s review of build out; environment policies; new homes meeting policy standards including accessibility; deferring decisions until after lockdown so that local people can be involved; extending construction working hours to facilitate safe working; planning guidance including access to open spaces for flats; and plans to support economic recovery.

 

  • Lord Berkeley asked the government about its plans to encourage walking and cycling, and discouraging car use, in cities as the restrictions in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic are lifted.

    Topics discussed include: the launch of temporary cycle lanes across the UK; the safety and transport requirements of those who can’t cycle; 20mph speed limits in urban areas to reduce accidents; neglected road surfaces on cycle paths; strengthening local authority powers to deal with traffic offences; cycle lanes reducing parking spaces outside small businesses; traffic free safe cycling for beginner cyclists; and promotion of cycling and walking as an alternative to using a car.

 

  • Baroness Andrews asked the government about the Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the sustainability of the pre-school sector and government support for that sector.

    Topics discussed include: transitional funding for the childcare sector during the Covid-19 pandemic; government plans to fund nursery schools; encouraging pre-schools to make use of outdoor space; business rate holidays of 1 year for private pre-schools; ensuring places of safety for vulnerable pre-school children; the track and trace programme; providing the best start in early years education for disadvantaged children; childcare providers going out of businesses; and investing in early childhood development as an effective strategy to promote economic growth.

 

  • Lord Black of Brentwood asked the government what action it is taking to promote press freedom and the safety of journalists globally.

    Topics discussed include: increasing numbers of attacks on journalists across the world; increasing protection for journalists and interpreters; drawing attention to the poor treatment of writers and journalists in Egypt and Mexico; democracies supporting freedom of expression; the harassment of BBC Persian staff; attacks on journalists happening in commonwealth countries; UK participation in the World Press Freedom Conference; and support for journalists from those in positions of power.

The Lord Speaker has also accepted the following urgent question (Private Notice Question) from Lord Collins of Highbury:

  • Lord Collins of Highbury asked the government what representations they have made to the government of the USA regarding their response to the ongoing protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, following the death of George Floyd, and what are they doing to address racism, discrimination and injustice experienced by those here in the UK.

    Topics discussed include: defending the rights of peaceful protest; prosecuting those who use protests to cause anarchy; making sure that Black Lives Matter is included in UK policy; plans to reassure the black community that their lives matter; gathering information from the public about what they experience in order to better understand the issues; combatting systemic racism; government plans to eradicate racism and engage with BAME leaders; UK suspending exports of riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets to the US; policing by consent as opposed to policing by force; risk assessing BAME staff most at risk in hospitals; and UK talks with the US government in response to the Black Lives Matter protests.

Further information

Image: House of Lords

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