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The weekly WHIP: 1 March 2012

The weekly WHIP: 1 March 2012

Clearing the Ground

Christians in Parliament supported by the Evangelical Alliance published a new report this week on the freedom of Christians in the UK.  Launched on Monday, ‘Clearing the Ground’ looks at the marginalisation of Christians in society, particularly in the public sphere. 

The report was launched in parliament on Monday evening, and has attracted positive attention from Christian media and most national press. The Telegraph ran a comment piece from Gary Streeter MP and Jim Dobbin MP, while the Mail on Sunday focused on problems with the UK’s equality laws.

Andrew Brown from the Guardian took time to read the report and wrote an insightful article about Christian engagement in public life. Perhaps unsurprisingly the National Secular Society didn’t take to kindly to the report, rejecting it as self-serving dishonest propaganda.

Have a listen to Gavin Shuker MP discuss the report on Radio 4’s Sunday programme – from 22 minutes in.

NHS Reforms

The controversial plans to change the way the NHS works are currently being debated in the House of Lords.  The changes have been put on hold since last year after outcry at the overhaul, which would give GPs more power and allow more services to come from the private sector.

Plenty of medical groups have opposed the changes, just days after a major Downing Street summit and Nick Clegg is still pushing for more concessions.

The Prime Minister continues to stress the need for change, and he has got some support, but there’s still widespread disagreement about the effectiveness of the proposed reforms. The BBC is offering a comprehensive Q&A and the Guardian, as ever, are running a live blog on the reforms.

House of Lords Reform

Reform of the House of Lords is back in the news this week, with suggestions that Nick Clegg could leave the coalition if the government back down on their plans. It comes at the same time as Lord Steele’s Private Member’s bill continues its way through parliament.

The Deputy Prime Minister seems determined to push through the reforms reports the Independent, but it seems, according to the Telegraph, that the Lib Dems aren’t particularly united on this topic.

Conservative MP Jesse Norman writes for the Times about his opposition to Lords reform, if you’re not a subscriber you can read about it in the Guardian report. And Philip Blond suggests that the Scottish Parliament should have a House of Lords of their own.