Author Archives: Jonathan Featonby

Opinion:The Ministry of Justice’s latest reforms to legal aid will cut access to justice, not the deficit

Scales of Justice - Some rights reserved by CitizensheepTuesday 9 April 2013 was Be Kind to Lawyers Day – it was also the day that the Ministry of Justice launched its consultation on proposals to further reform the legal aid system in England and Wales. The proposals will affect both civil and criminal legal aid and, while the changes to criminal legal aid have attracted some media coverage, the changes to civil legal aid have received scant attention.

The civil legal aid changes fall into two categories and they represent a fundamental shift in the relationship between the state and those who are affected by its actions. Firstly, there will be a residence test which will require individuals to be in the UK at the time of the claim and to have been “lawfully resident” for at least 12 months.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Opinion: Time for Lib Dems to change the debate on welfare

autumn statementOn Friday evening, a page entitled “We’re interested in your views about the fairness of our benefit reforms” popped up on the Conservative party website. It invited people to comment on the decision announced in the Autumn Statement that the Coalition want to limit increases in most welfare benefits by 1% for the next three years.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 11 Comments

Opinion: Hammond is misguided if he wants to raise the speed limit

So it seems that the media have cottoned on to the fact that the Government is considering increasing the motorway speed limit to 80mph, up from the current 70mph.

If they had been paying attention, they would have realised that this isn’t exactly breaking news. Back in June this year, Mike Penning, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, said that the Department for Transport were looking at the impacts of increasing the speed limit. In response to an Oral Question from Stephen Mosley, he said that:

“The existing limit has been in place since the ’60s. We will weigh

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Opinion: A hurting Lib Dem and the stagnant economy

For the first time since his election as leader of the Labour party, I found myself agreeing with Ed Miliband during Prime Minister’s Questions this week.

With his new Shadow Chancellor sat next to him and in response to the news earlier in the week that the economy had contracted by 0.5% during the final quarter of 2010, Miliband urged David Cameron to think again over the upcoming spending cuts and VAT rise.

To make matters worse for the Coalition, the outgoing director-general of the CBI accused the government of putting politics before growth. Sir Richard Lambert argued that “politics …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 126 Comments

Opinion: Lords avoid falling into Labour’s “elephant trap” – just

The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituency Bill advanced to its second reading in the House of Lords earlier this month after narrowly avoiding a referral motion tabled by Labour peer Lord Falconer.

Lord Falconer had argued that the bill was hybrid as it treated two existing parliamentary seats – Orkney and the Western Isles – as special cases that would have been exempt from the constituency boundary redrawing element of the bill.

The motion was defeated by 224 votes to 210, allowing the second reading of the bill to take place.

But there needs to be a closer look as to …

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Opinion: Why the Government’s social housing reforms are flawed

The Coalition announced its plans for the reform of social housing on Monday and Andrew Stunell – our man inside the Department for Communities and Local Government – summarised the main points and the reasoning behind them here on Lib Dem Voice.

These plans, especially when coupled with the previously announced changes to housing benefit, are sure to spark a great deal of debate on these pages and we’ve already seen this happening in response to Stunell’s article.

At first glance, the main idea behind the reforms is admirable – to make social housing fairer. Most people are aware of …

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Opinion: could Universal Jurisdiction be the next test for Coalition unity?

Foreign Secretary William Hague apparently pledged on Thursday to alter Britain’s law on universal jurisdiction – a move which could again bring up the question of Liberal Democrat MPs voting against Government motions.

According to an Israeli Embassy official, Hague told Benjamin Netanyahu that the coalition will be moving as fast as it can to amend the universal jurisdiction law, with the aim being that a draft amendment will be put before parliament in the coming months.

The move comes on the back of Israel’s postponement of all strategic dialogue with Britain as a protest against the current law.

Israeli objection to the …

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Opinion: Bob Russell’s advice over housing benefit should be heeded by the coalition

During yesterday’s PMQs, the most vocal Lib Dem rebel MP today made an exceptionally well-stated and compassionate plea for the coalition government to rethink their plans to cut housing benefit.

Bob Russell, who stood to cries of “hear, hear” from those on the benches opposite when John Bercow called his name, voiced his concerns that as a result of the changes, thousands of children could possibly become homeless.

It is certainly a consideration that has to be taken seriously by David Cameron, Nick Clegg and their cabinet colleagues.

They may well respond – as the Prime Minister did this afternoon – by saying …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 103 Comments

Opinion: Chris Bryant is right, though he doesn’t know why

As I write, Chris Bryant is arguing during the Whole House committee for the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill that a method for drawing up constituency boundaries that is severely confined by a mathematical formula is misguided.

I completely agree, although possibly for a different reason to the one he uses to support his argument.

Mr Bryant has been arguing that a strict mathematical formula will have to ignore natural geographical and physical boundaries.

It’s true: to bring in the Bill as it stands will create constituencies that are almost constantly shifting and where previously combined communities may very well find themselves …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarGlenn 22nd Dec - 5:17pm
    To be honest, I kind of agree with May . Students are here to study not to be given a right to citizenship or get...
  • User AvatarJames 22nd Dec - 5:03pm
    UKIP's intervention in British electoral politics has changed the way this debate is addressed, and not for the better. As the global economy integrates and...
  • User AvatarPaul Tyler 22nd Dec - 4:55pm
    Thanks for all the comments here. Tony and John Tilley’s exchange may well reflect their frustration at how difficult it is to get anyone in...
  • User Avatarmalc 22nd Dec - 4:52pm
    RC "I’m not afraid of standing up for the Lib Dems against their detractors because they are mostly ill informed. QED" Most polls have the...
  • User AvatarNick Collins 22nd Dec - 4:15pm
    @ RC The LibDems did not promise to deliver a policy re tuition fees. Most of their candidates signed a pledge, if elected, to vote...
  • User Avatarmatt (Bristol) 22nd Dec - 4:13pm
    Wot, Richard, all those past female leaders of the Liberals, SDP and LibDems? Well, I hate to disappoint you, but...
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