Category Archives: Parliament

Anything connected with business in the Houses of Commons or Lords (eg, PMQs).

It’s Swinson vs Lamb today

Today, MPs elect their Select Committee chairs. The Liberal Democrats are to chair the Science and Technology Committee. The House will have the chance to choose between two of our MPs, Norman Lamb and Jo Swinson.

Each has produced a statement in support of their candidacy:

Jo Swinson

Statement

“more collegiate than tribal” – Telegraph

Collegiate

Even the Telegraph said I’m collegiate, and they’re not known for their love of Lib Dems.  If you’ve been in Parliament for many years, I hope you agree that I engaged constructively with MPs regardless of party when I was a Minister: from pubs to payday lending, employment rights to equalities.  If you’re newer, you don’t need to take my word for it, do ask your colleagues.  And feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or ideas.

Fair

Select Committees are about the art of asking good questions to get to the heart of an issue.  It’s a wonderful privilege – and fascinating – to be able to quiz experts on any given subject, and I hugely enjoyed my time on the Environmental Audit Committee from 2007-2010.  Every member of a Select Committee has an important role to play.  In creating reports and recommendations for Government, Select Committees should be both challenging and constructive: giving credit where it’s due, and being bold about where change is needed.

Enthused by science and technology

Science and technology offer hope for the advancement of society, as an engine of growth for the economy, and to solve the big problems we face as humanity, from climate change to disease.  The UK has a pivotal role to play, with a well-respected scientific community that should be supported and celebrated.  I’m enthused by these opportunities, as an early adopter of technology for democratic engagement, a former Vice-Chair of the Prime Minister’s Digital Taskforce, and having served as a Non-Executive Director of a data science start-up.  My constituency is home to the Beatson Institute, a world-class science facility focused on cancer research.

Can v Should

Science rightly pushes the frontiers of knowledge, and asks “Can we?”.  In public policy terms, we must also ask “Should we?”  Ethical questions range from balancing online privacy with security to preventing artificial intelligence entrenching current inequalities, from how to assess the benefit of new pharmaceuticals to understanding fully the impact of drones and driverless cars on employment.  The Select Committee should play a crucial role in exploring these dilemmas and finding a path forward.

Norman Lamb

Also posted in News | Tagged and | 16 Comments

What have our lot been up to in the Commons this week?

We’ve had Jamie Stone’s maiden speech, but what else have our MPs been up to in Parliament this week?

Jo Swinson  intervened on Emily Thornberry to make a point about the recognition of Palestine.

I am interested in and listening with great care to what the right hon. Lady is saying about recognition of Palestine, and particularly about what the Government’s position was some years ago. Does she share my concern that, given the Minister’s comments today, it seems that that position has moved and that recognition is being ruled out until the end of talks on a peace process rather than

Also posted in Op-eds | 10 Comments

WATCH: Jamie Stone’s maiden speech

Jamie Stone completed the quartet of Liberal Democrat Commons maiden speeches today. Watch it here:

Note the tribute to Charles Kennedy and the illustrious people who contested the seat in centuries gone by.

Thank you for calling me to speak, Madam Deputy Speaker, and may I congratulate you on your appointment?

It is a great honour to speak in this House. I am the first member of my Stone family ever to be elected as an MP, and standing here I like to think of my mother and father looking down on me with pride. I also owe sincere thanks to my wife Flora and my three children. Without their support and great help, the likelihood of my being elected to this place would have been rather smaller.

It is customary for new Members to mention their predecessors. Dr Paul Monaghan is a passionate nationalist and while here he took a close interest in middle east matters, the welfare of former inhabitants of the Chagos islands and, in particular, animal welfare. That is his record. I acknowledge it and thank him for it.

In addition, I really must mention my great friend who once represented part of my constituency, the late Charles Kennedy. He is much missed and will never be forgotten, by me in particular. I was for a time his constituency chairman.

Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross is the second largest and most remote constituency on the UK mainland. For that reason it presents special challenges to the Scottish and UK Governments. Sparsity of population, distance and severe winter weather all necessitate taking a different approach to the delivery of vital services. What works in Surrey or Glasgow is not necessarily going to work at all where I come from.

Also posted in News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

WATCH: Layla Moran’s maiden speech

There is a plot afoot for all the newbies to make their maiden speeches during the Queen’s Speech debate. We’ll bring them to you. Here is Layla Moran’s from yesterday. The text is below:

Also posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 5 Comments

++Second government defeat – Lords vote for parliamentary veto on final Brexit deal

The BBC reports:

The government has suffered a second Brexit defeat in the House of Lords as peers backed, by 366 votes to 268, calls for a “meaningful” parliamentary vote on the final terms of withdrawal.
Backing the move, former deputy PM Lord Heseltine said Parliament must be the “custodian of national sovereignty”.

Also posted in News | Tagged and | 53 Comments

Meet Paul Tyler’s (almost) unused cooker…


Paul (Lord) Tyler shows the nation the oven he has only used once (to warm up a pizza that “was a bit flabby”).

The second episode of “Meet the Lords” aired last night and is available here on BBC iPlayer for the next 29 days. I mentioned, in my review of last week’s opening show, that our own dear Paul (Lord) Tyler was popping up in the programme. Well, this week I am delighted to say that the great Cornish Liberal is featured at some length. The film crew visit him in his little flat and follow him on his daily journey to the Lords.

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Sarah Olney holds first Westminster Hall debate on Heathrow expansion

There’s a lot of firsts when you are a new MP. Your first Early Day Motion (like a House of Commons petition), your first speech, your first question, and your first Westminster Hall debate. These debates, held outside the main chamber, concentrate on one subject and allow an MP to raise an issue directly with the Minister.

It will be of no surprise that Sarah’s first Westminster Hall debate was on the subject of Heathrow expansion and the effects in terms of road congestion and pollution of a bigger airport.

You can read the full debate – including the Deputy Speaker’s rebukes to both Sarah and a colleague for breaking the rules and a fairly patronising response from the Minister – here. Below is Sarah’s speech in full.

And she shouldn’t worry about a minor rebuke from the Speaker. Others have done worse and survived. Willie Rennie forgot to turn his phone off before one debate in 2007 and got a right telling off when one of his staff (not me) rang him during a Westminster Hall debate.

This is what Sarah said yesterday:

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