Category Archives: Parliament

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

When the Minister didn’t quite get Alistair Carmichael’s sarcasm…

This week, Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael  put down an Urgent Question to the Home Secretary after she all too casually said that the UK should leave the European Convention on Human Rights. It’s clear that ,whatever the result of the Referendum, the Tories are desperate to have a big bonfire of all of our most basic rights. What they could object to about things like the right to privacy and freedom of expression is beyond me.

Anyway, Theresa May didn’t bother to turn up to face Alistair. She sent Attorney General Jeremy Wright instead. He didn’t really answer her question, prompting Alistair to say:

I am grateful to the Attorney General for that answer. I should make it clear that I hold him in the very highest regard; I enjoyed working with him as a Minister in the previous Government. But he is not the Home Secretary, and he should not be responding to the urgent question today. The Home Secretary was the one who could make the speech yesterday and she can, apparently, come and make a statement tomorrow. She should be here today. Yesterday she went rogue; today she has gone missing.

There is total confusion at the heart of Government policy. What the Attorney General has just said at the Dispatch Box contradicts clearly what has been said previously. Yesterday the Home Secretary said:

The ECHR can bind the hands of parliament, adds nothing to our prosperity, makes us less secure by preventing the deportation of dangerous foreign nationals – and does nothing to change the attitudes of governments like Russia’s when it comes to human rights. So regardless of the EU referendum, my view is this: if we want to reform human rights laws in this country, it isn’t the EU we should leave but the ECHR and the jurisdiction of its court.”

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‘Fee waiver’ system for immigrants not working

Much like schoolchildren, Peers have returned from the Easter break this week. We’re now within a month or so of the end of this parliamentary ‘session’, and so there will be lots of battles as the government attempts to secure the last parts of its legislative agenda for this year.

Looking at the business ahead, on immigration, on housing and on trade union legislation, I don’t envy the task of our team leaders and whips. They’ve got to decide which are the crunch issues on which we can bring together a coalition of peers to beat the Government in …

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The tirade of Government defeats on housing has begun

warmer homesA few weeks ago I wrote on Lib Dem Voice about the full throttle attack that Lib Dems in the Lords are undertaking on the Housing and Planning Bill – one of the shoddiest pieces of legislation put before Parliament for well over a decade.

Yesterday the votes began and the Government was defeated twice – a sign of things to come. Getting this controversial bill through may prove Cameron’s toughest legislative battle yet.

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What our busy peers will be up to this week

Here are some of the things our team in the House of Lords will be doing this week:

Monday: Roger Roberts will be pushing the Government to take action to relieve the situation of unaccompanied refugee children. Tim Farron has been pushing the Government to accept 3,000 at risk refugee children but David Cameron has recently rejected the proposal. The Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to find a solution which does not leave these children vulnerable.

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Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches: Dorothy Thornhill on housing and planning

Dorothy Thornhill at Bournemouth
Last Tuesday, Dorothy Thornhill, Mayor of Watford, made her maiden speech in the House of Lords. She spoke in the debate on the Housing and Planning Bill. Here it is in full:

When I mentioned to my noble friends that I was excited but concerned about my maiden speech

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Farron’s response to principle of banning Trump is right in principle but…

Tomorrow, Parliament debates whether Donald Trump should be excluded from the UK. MPs are doing this because getting on for 600,000 people signed an official e-petition calling for him to be banned from the UK after his appalling anti-Muslim comments. We’ve talked about this on LDV before. In December, I said that he should be allowed to come here:

Much as I understand that people are repelled by his views, there is a certain irony in them responding to his ignorant call to ban a group of people with a call to ban him.

I have less than no time for the man. Hell, he called a friend of mine who had the temerity to question his plans for his golf course a “national disgrace, scoundrel and extremist”. However, I was never comfortable with the idea of “no platform” because I think that sweeping prejudice under the carpet doesn’t get rid of it. It finds oxygen from somewhere and lurks there, waiting or an opportunity to re-emerge and spread even more intensified hate. When people express views like Trump’s, they need to be challenged, satirised and shown up for the nonsense that they are.

I’d love to see the likes of Lynne Featherstone, Shirley Williams, Jo Brand, Tim Farron or his new mate Russell Howard take him down with carefully chosen words. In that way, they can also challenge similar views held by those who aren’t quite as rich and powerful as The Donald.

I didn’t, therefore, sign the petition, but Millicent Ragnhild Scott did, not because she wanted to see him banned, but because she wanted Parliament to debate what he’d said to show that we reject his poisonous ideas:

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Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches: Alan Beith on the National Lottery

EuroMillions ticketsThis week, we are catching up with our new Lib Dem peers’ maiden speeches. Today, it’s Alan Beith on the National Lottery.

The noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, was very kind and generous in his references to me and to the circumstances of my election, 42 years ago. It was with a majority of only 57 votes. I never imagined that I would manage such a long political survival, still less that I would find myself in this haven of political survival, the House of Lords. But I believe in the need for a Second Chamber and it will be an honour to serve in it, just as it was an honour to represent in the other House the beautiful Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency, covering 1,000 square miles of Northumberland.

I am very grateful for the warm and friendly welcome I have received in this House from noble Lords and the very helpful staff. I am delighted to renew so many friendships with those on all sides of this Chamber whom I have worked with, taken evidence from or contended with in years gone by. As I seek to follow the slightly different ways of doing things at this end of the building, I have been allocated a widely respected mentor and guide who knows exactly how to keep me in order: the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, has been doing that ever since I married her.

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