THE WEEK IN WESTMINSTER #14

Last week began with the passing of the Domestic Abuse Bill on Monday; a historic piece of legislation that strengthens protections for victims of domestic abuse and ensures that perpetrators will face the full force of the law at the earliest possible stage.

It establishes a Domestic Abuse Commissioner, to stand up for victims and survivors and monitor the response of every part of the state which has oversight in this area, including local authorities, the justice system and other agencies.

Following cross-party working, the Bill also now outlaws the so-called “rough sex gone wrong” defence to murder/manslaughter, and a further amendment was accepted that means children who live in environments where domestic abuse happens are treated as victims too.

On Tuesday we had statements on both Coronavirus and the Government’s £1.7 billion package of support for the arts - this sector has been particularly badly hit by Coronavirus and looks likely to be one of the last areas to be able to reopen.

And on Wednesday, we had the Summer Economic Update from the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak - which has been described by some as a mini-Budget (there is a full Budget coming in the autumn). Understandably the Chancellor is having to make major financial decisions more frequently during this crisis.

The package Rishi announced was focused on jobs - both maintaining as many existing jobs as possible, by offering incentives to firms taking people back off furlough, but also in creating new jobs by supporting more apprenticeships and traineeships. Although they are generally at low medical risk, the young have been particularly badly hit in economic terms, and it is right that we make sure we put as many measures in place as possible to help them back into work.

I did not have much luck with the Commons lottery system this week (you have to enter a glorified raffle to ask questions or speak after statements) but was pleased to be able to question the Chancellor at Treasury Questions on Tuesday. I also had meetings with a number of ministers, including the Leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg; and the Trade Secretary Liz Truss.

Finally, on Thursday, the Science and Technology Committee grilled Huawei and other telecoms executives about the UK’s 5G plans, and the security implications of including Huawei (only at the "edge", not the "core") or of excluding them (which does leave us reliant on just two vendors in the short term). Expect a Government decision shortly.

Next week there are a number of Bills proceeding through the Commons. We start by ratifying elements of last week’s changes to stamp duty, and we continue with a number of Bills including the extremely glamorous-sounding Non-Domestic Rating (Public Lavatories) Bill. This is actually a pretty important piece of legislation as it will mean councils - including town and parish councils - no longer have to pay business rates on public toilets, which should help keep more of them open around the country.

With best wishes, Aaron