The Weekly WHIP: 15 March 2012
The Prime Minister spent most of the week in the United States and his trip included taking in a game of basketball, a state dinner with George Clooney, and no doubt serious policy conversations with President Obama. While DC was in DC SamCam and the first lady looked stunning in blue.
This meant Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg came off the bench for (deputy) Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday and faced off against his opposite number, Harriet Harman. The proposed changes to the NHS dominated the conversation, and the Speaker let the session run into extra time, presumably to make up for time lost to heckling.
The Government have launched a consultation on how they plan to redefine marriage. Note that despite including questions on if the public agree with the proposals, the ministers in charge have already made clear their intent to press ahead. In fact, the consultation goes as far as to say that they won’t take into account the number of responses to the consultation.
The consultation comes after a poll showed that 70% of the public thought marriage should stay as exclusively between a man and a woman.
Fair taxes for married couples?
This week Alliance member organisation CARE published a report into the taxation of families. At a briefing in parliament the authors set out how the current tax and benefit systems works hard to ensure that married couples with children do worse off than those who live apart. It also makes clear that letting married couples share their personal allowance would do a lot more for the poorest than raising the threshold to £10,000.
The report comes ahead of next week’s budget and speculation has abounded over what the Chancellor will pull out of the red box. The Liberal Democrats want a mansion tax, Conservatives want measures for more growth, unemployment refuses to fall but exports are looking more rosy. To please everyone, or even anyone, George Osborne may well need a few tricks up his sleeve.
Speeding up adoption
The Government announced proposals this week to halve the time taken to place children with adoptive parents. The proposals also tackle the hesitancy among some councils to place children with adoptive parents from different ethnic backgrounds.
The Houses of Parliament have back tracked on earlier plans to charge for tours of the Big Ben clock tower.