Category Archives: Parliament

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

Clegg’s letter to Burnham: “you may have inadvertently misled” Commons on Labour’s NHS privatisation record

clegg on leveson 2Nick Clegg fielded Prime Minister’s Questions today, during which he noted that Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham is “the only man in England who has ever privatised an NHS hospital”. Mr Burham complained that Nick had misled the House of Commons over the issue of Hichingbrooke Hospital, accusing him of “sheer inaccuracy”. The Lib Dem leader lost no time in responding:

Dear Andy,

I see that you raised a Point of Order in the House of Commons and that you accused me of “sheer inaccuracy”. I am always happy to confirm the accuracy of what I have said.

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PMQs: Nick Clegg comes back from Cornwall

clegg on leveson 2I stopped doing PMQ write-ups some time ago. They were getting so repetitive and mind-numbingly pointless that I was losing the will to live.

Today’s exchange between Nick Clegg and Harriet Harman was typical of the genre. Harriet Harman made some very good prepared points, and Nick Clegg blasted away on Labour’s record and mentioned some good bits from this government’s record. There was a lot huing and crying and then everyone went to lunch.

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“This is not a snub. I thought it would be a nice change to get out of the Westminster bubble”: Clegg on his Autumn Statement absence

clegg on levesonNick Clegg has taken my advice.*

Back in July, I offered the Lib Dem leader five unsolicited pieces of advice. Most he’s ridden roughshod over: Vince Cable wasn’t appointed the party’s shadow chancellor for the next election, Jo Swinson wasn’t promoted to the cabinet, and (as far as I know) Nick continues to rule out options other than a full coalition in the event of a hung parliament.

But item number 4 was this:

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Brian Paddick on Homelessness, Domestic Violence and Social Exclusion: “We need a change of attitude in society and across the political spectrum”

brian-paddickBrian Paddick — former Deputy Assistant Commissioner in London’s Metropolitan Police Service, twice Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London and now a Lib Dem peer — spoke in this week’s House of Lords debate, ‘Women: Homelessness, Domestic Violence and Social Exclusion’. Here’s what he said…

Lord Paddick (LD): … As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester has already said, the issues of homelessness, domestic violence and social exclusion of women are linked. In particular, it is male violence against women that lies behind many of these problems. For example, as my noble friend Lady Tyler of Enfield said, the homeless charity, St Mungo’s, reports that half of its female clients have experienced domestic violence compared with only 5% of its male clients. Research already referred to by the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, shows that between 50% and 80% of women in prison have experienced domestic or sexual violence. Two-thirds of domestic violence survivors say that their problematic substance misuse began following domestic violence. The evidence is compelling, not only that women are disproportionately victims of domestic violence and abuse, almost always but not exclusively perpetrated by men, but that violence and abuse lies behind much of the homelessness and social exclusion faced by women.

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Olly Grender on Homelessness, Domestic Violence and Social Exclusion: “Housing supply lies at the heart of the solution of some of these complex issues”

olly grenderOlly Grender — former director of communications for housing charity Shelter, now a Lib Dem peer — spoke in this week’s House of Lords debate, ‘Women: Homelessness, Domestic Violence and Social Exclusion’. Here’s what she said…

Baroness Grender (LD): My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady King of Bow, for initiating this debate. I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Rebuck, and the noble Lord, Lord Farmer, on their moving and inspirational speeches. We look forward to many more. I also take this opportunity to congratulate my noble friend Lady Garden of Frognal on her return to the government Benches. It will not surprise her to hear me, as a woman on these Benches, say the more the merrier—more please.

The noble Baroness, Lady King, has managed to take three complex areas of social policy and combine them in one impressive debate. They are complex in part because the reasons behind the homelessness of women are sometimes hard to detect and far too often hidden away. They are complex indeed, but at the heart of this debate is a very simple truth, which is that there is a terrible cost when a woman has no home, no escape from violence and no apparent way back from social exclusion, as was so movingly described by the noble Baroness, Lady Newlove. It is likely that the cost is not just to her but to the children she may have with her, and to us as a nation as they grow up.

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‘Drones could be used to deliver Focus leaflets’ – peer

FocusIn a House of Lords debate on drones this week, Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Lee of Trafford said:

It may even be possible to develop a delivery system that delivers Focus leaflets which I would have thought would be very much appreciated by these benches.

That could eventually provide material for a Glee song…

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UK decision to stop migrant rescue operations attacked by Teather (“unethical”) and Ashdown (“inhuman”), defended by Clegg (“Italian decision”)

Conservative home office minister James Brokenshire defended the Government’s decision to withdraw support – along with all other EU member states – for future search-and-rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean. The BBC reports:

James Brokenshire told MPs the change would “save lives rather than putting them in peril.” About 3,000 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean so far this year. That is out of an estimated total of 150,000 to have made the trip by boat across to Europe. Mr Brokenshire said operations to rescue migrants encouraged more people to make the “perilous journey” across the Mediterranean in the hope of being granted asylum. He said the “despicable work” of human traffickers had made the problem much worse, and must be tackled. On the new approach, he added it was “inconceivable to suggest that if a boat were in peril, that support would not be provided”.

Italian officials have made clear they intend to scale down their government’s current operation, known as Mare Nostrum, as the EU introduces a new operation known as Triton. Triton will focus more on border control – tasks such as vetting asylum seekers once they are ashore, and coastal patrols – rather than search and rescue in international waters. Mr Brokenshire said that 28 EU member states had “unanimously agreed” to the new proposals, and criticised those attacking the policy for seeking to “politicise” the issue.

Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather was not impressed by the minister’s defence:

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Paddy Ashdown on Bosnia and Herzegovina: “These are dangerous times; they are very dangerous times indeed”

Paddy Ashdown talks on "The global power shift" in Brussels March 1st 2012 -  Some rights reserved by PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE Lord (Paddy) Ashdown, former international High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006, led this week’s House of Lords debate on the situation in the country following its recent election. Here’s what he had to say…

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon (LD): My Lords, a few months before the last election in the last months of 2009, my right honourable friend William Hague and I—well, at least he was not my right honourable friend then, but he is today; he was then the shadow Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs—wrote a joint article for the British and foreign press on Bosnia and Herzegovina. We complained bitterly that Bosnia was stuck, that the progress that we had made during the previous 10 years had gone backwards, that the tone of nationalistic rhetoric had risen, that this was dangerous and that Bosnia remained stuck in a mire of dysfunctionality and corruption.

Also posted in Europe / International | Tagged and | 7 Comments

28 Lib Dem MPs vote for recognition of state of Palestine, 1 against

As we trailed here, last night saw the House of Commons debate a backbench motion (which is therefore not binding on the government): ‘That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.’

By my count, 28 Lib Dem MPs backed the motion – their names are below – with just one against (Sir Alan Beith). As the BBC notes: “It is convention that ministers abstain when voting takes place on a backbench MP’s motion and those of both the Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties did so. It is, however, Lib Dem policy to support recognition of Palestinian statehood.”

The debate was a relatively short one, so there was time for only one speech from a Lib Dem: Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood’s contribution is reproduced below. You can catch up with the debate via Hansard here.

Lib Dem MPs backing the motion to recognise the state of Palestine:

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Coalition-Lite – a better way of doing coalition government?

Shortly before midnight on 11th May 2010, just five days after the General Election, Liberal Democrat MPs and Party chiefs voted to enter Coalition Government with the Conservatives and to support the difficult but inescapable compromise Coalition Programme for Government.

This was a sobering moment. No jubilation. Just a recognition that we had to make this work; and determined that, contrary to past history and evidence from elsewhere, it wouldn’t inflict terminal damage on the Party.

This was, of course, a “least worst” option. The public finances were in a mess; the economy in danger of catastrophic decline. The last thing the country needed was the routine tribalism of the Westminster Village. No party had a majority. The country needed stable government. We did what had to be done.

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Nick Clegg explains Liberal Democrat ministers’ decision to support air strikes on ISIL

RAF lightning II aircraft photo by defence imagesNick Clegg has sent an email to all party members this evening to explain why the parliamentary party will be supporting air strikes on ISIL in Iraq.

It contains the entire broadcast interview which he did this afternoon. He talks about what a”vile and murderous” outfit ISIL is, about how the action is legal and how this isn’t being done by “the west” to “the rest”. It comes as part of a coalition of countries acting on a formal request from the legitimate government of Iraq.

Also posted in Europe / International and News | Tagged , , and | 36 Comments

What’s on in our Parliaments this week?

Senedd - Photo by Laurence EdmondsonA quick look at what’s going on in our Parliaments this week.

Holyrood

The Scottish Parliament is in recess. MSPs return in early August for 3 weeks before breaking again before the Referendum.

The Senedd

Some interesting events this week, not least a motion to create an independent investigator into breaches of the Ministerial Code. This is something that Liberal Democrats have been calling for for years but the rest of the opposition parties have finally caught up in the wake of the scandal over Alun Davies. He breached the …

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What’s on in our Parliaments this week?

Scottish Parliament 3What are our MPs, MSPs and AM’s going to be talking about this coming week?

Holyrood

It’s the last week of term for the Scottish Parliament this week until an earlier than usual return, on 3 August. MSPs will sit for 3 weeks before taking a further 4 week break for the Referendum.

One of the last items to be discussed in the Chamber this session will be a motion from Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes, not on her usual justice portfolio, but on the BMA’s Your GP cares campaign. Her motion …

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Lib Dem opposition to mandatory jail terms for second knife offences show our principles are intact

The Court House - Warwick - Coat of ArmsThe Lib Dems have sold our soul, abandoning all principle, since going into Coalition – so goes up the cry from the party’s detractors, both internal and the very many beyond.

That trite claim doesn’t sit very comfortably with the party’s actions today, voting against Labour and Conservative MPs’ united support of mandatory jail terms for any adult convicted in England or Wales of a second offence involving a knife. As the BBC reports:

Conservative MP Nick de Bois championed the policy, which won

photo by: ell brown
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What’s going on in our Parliaments this week?

Welsh National Assembly - Senedd - Some rights reserved by Wojtek GurakWhat will be on our parliamentarians’ minds this week?

The Senedd

The most important thing from a Liberal Democrat point of view is the ending of the consultation period on Kirsty Williams’ minimum nursing levels bill which she wrote about here in March. If you have something you want to say on this, you have till close of business tomorrow. Here’s the information you need to respond.

Today sees an event to mark Welsh Refugee Week. Later in the week there …

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What’s on in our Parliaments next week? 7-10 April

Houses of ParliamentThe Scottish Parliament and Welsh Senedd are in recess next week, but Westminster is still sitting.

House of Commons

The Commons is still dealing with the Finance Bill, implementing the measures in the Budget. There, is however, a Justice and Home Affairs debate on Monday.

Communities & Local Government, Foreign Office, the Department of International Development (therefore Lynne Featherstene) and Business, Innovation and Skills face questions.

photo by: wwarby
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Lord James Palumbo’s maiden speech

"Frozen Poetry" - Houses of Parliament, LondonIt is a tradition for LDV to bring its readers copies of our new MPs’ and Peers’ first words in Parliament, so that we can read what is being said and respond. You can find all of the speeches in this category with this link. On 6 March, Lord Palumbo made his maiden speech in the House of Lords during a debate on the contribution of women to economic life. His words are reproduced below.

Lord Palumbo of Southwark (LD): My Lords, I thank my …

photo by: Gaurav Pradhan
Also posted in News and Speeches | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Vince Cable in his own words on the sale of Royal Mail

Vincent CableThe publication of a report today by the National Audit Office criticising the “deep caution” of Vince Cable’s department in setting the sale price of shares in Royal Mail has, inevitably, been leapt on by opponents of the policy. Critics who would, of course, have been equally happy crowing if the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills had set the price too high causing the flotation flop.

Vince Cable went to the despatch box of the Commons today to defend his department’s actions, making headlines for unambiguously stating, “The last thing …

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Congratulations, Jo Baker: Lib Dem Researcher of the Year!

Huge congrats to Jo Baker – researcher for Mark Williams, Lib Dem MP for Ceredigion – for winning The House Magazine and PoliticsHome.com’s Liberal Democrat Researcher of the Year!

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Nick Clegg’s tribute to Tony Benn

Tony_BennTributes were paid in the House of Commons today to the former Labour MP Tony Benn, who died last week. Deputy Prime Minister
Nick Clegg led them – here’s what he had to say…

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Nick Clegg):
May I, on behalf of the House, commence the tributes to the right hon. Tony Benn, following the warm words from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition yesterday?

As others have already commented, Tony Benn will be remembered as a dedicated constituency Member of Parliament, a tireless campaigner and, of course, an astute political diarist.

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A longer read for the weekend: Nick Harvey on how “the whole model of local Government funding is now fundamentally broken”

There was a mini-Lib Dem rebellion this week, when five MPs – Tim Farron, Nick Harvey, Andrew George, Stephen Gilbert and Adrian Sanders – all voted against this year’s funding settlement between the Treasury and local government.

As the New Statesman’s George Eaton points out here, “By the end of 2015-16, the budget of the Department for Communities and Local Government will have been reduced by a remarkable 60.6 per cent, with several years of austerity still ahead.” But Whitehall will have been emboldened by this recent ICM poll highlighted by the BBC showing 60% of the public …

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Scotland’s place in the UK 

As the Referendum date quickly approaches, I was glad to have the chance to speak in a House of Commons debate last week on Scotland’s place in the UK.

As part of the United Kingdom we have fantastic economic opportunities through the single market, greater security due to having a seat at the top table at NATO, and the ability for Scotland to punch above its weight internationally due to the UK Foreign Office network around the world.

It …

Also posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Tagged and | 3 Comments

A longer read for the weekend: Lord (Paul) Strasburger’s submission to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament

The Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament recently issued the following call for papers:

On 17 October 2013, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC) announced that it would be broadening its inquiry into the laws which govern the intelligence agencies’ ability to intercept private communications. In addition to considering whether the current statutory framework governing access to private communications remains adequate, the Committee is also considering the appropriate balance between our individual right to privacy and our collective right to security. The ISC is now inviting written submissions from those who wish to contribute to the inquiry.

Lib Dem peer Paul Strasburger has sent us his submission, which we’re printing in full…

Submission to ISC Inquiry

paul strasburgerby Lord Strasburger

1. In January 2014 President Obama said to his country and the world “Our system of government is built on the premise that our liberty cannot depend on the good intentions of those in power. It depends on the law to constrain those in power.”
2. In the UK, the Snowden disclosures have confirmed that the legislation intended to constrain intrusive surveillance of its citizens by the State is not fit for purpose. In addition, scrutiny of the security and intelligence agencies which is supposed to protect the privacy and liberty of the British people has comprehensively failed.

The difference between watching anybody and watching everybody

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Lord (Mike) Storey writes on the Children and Families Bill: “At its very core, this is a Lib Dem Bill”

We’ve just had the final days of ‘Report’ of the Children and Families Bill in the House of Lords and on Monday, MPs will consider our amendments – including the proposal to ban smoking in cars carrying children. But as the dust settles on the red benches (or perhaps I should say, smoke has lifted?) I wanted to let Lib Dem Voice readers know about some of the things we’ve achieved, which Liberal Democrats can rightly be proud of.

I should start by saying that, at its very core, this is a ‘Lib Dem Bill’. The …

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Vince on Scottish independence: RBS would ‘inevitably’ move to London

It’s not often we hear from the Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable on constitutional matters. But today he appeared before Parliament’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee to discuss the implications for business of Scottish independence, ahead of September’s referendum. Here’s what he said (via the BBC):

RBS would “inevitably” move its headquarters to London if Scotland votes for independence, UK Business Secretary Vince Cable has claimed. Mr Cable told a committee of MPs that the bank would want to be based where it was “protected against the risk of collapse”. …

William Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East, asked

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Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

A Stronger Economy 

Last week, I welcomed the announcement of the strongest GDP growth figures since before the financial crisis began in 2007, with the UK growing by 0.7% in the last financial quarter and 1.9% throughout the whole of 2013.  Growth is vital for our prosperity so this is a really important development.

We have also seen the inflation rate dropping to 2% from a peak of 5.2% in September 2011, decreasing unemployment and both the World Bank and the IMF indicating …

Also posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Tagged , , , and | 2 Comments

Michael Moore MP’s Westminster Notes

 Liberal Democrat MP Michael Moore writes a regular column for newspapers in his Borders Constituency. Here is the latest edition. 

Free Childcare

My colleagues in the Scottish Parliament have been making the case for extending child care provision in Scotland for some time. So the fact that from August 2014 thousands of two-year-olds in Scotland will be entitled a free childcare place for 15 hours a week is excellent news for families across the Borders.

This means that we now catch up with the situation in England where the Liberal Democrats have helped to deliver a similar plan for two years now. The …

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Vince Cable nails Labour’s crass and inaccurate attacks on Lib Dems’ support for the minimum wage

Sometimes you’ll hear Labour folk claim, with absolute certainty, that the Lib Dems opposed the introduction of the minimum wage in 1998. They’re wrong, as a glance at the voting record shows not a single Lib Dem MP voted against and 26 voted in favour.

Today Labour’s shadow secretary of state for Work and Pensions, Rachel Reeves, upped the ante, demanding to know:

where was the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the right hon. Member for Twickenham (Vince Cable)? He was nowhere to be seen in the debates. He was nowhere to be seen on the voting record. On Second Reading and Third Reading, he failed to vote. Apparently, he abstained because he had reservations about a minimum wage. Perhaps he will stand up today to profess his concern for the plight of the low-paid.

Vince didn’t respond directly immediately. But he did respond:

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“Annoying” behaviour – Baroness Sally Hamwee responds

On Wednesday the House of Lords debated the first part of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. As has been reported , the main issue discussed concerned the definition that will be used in the new ‘Injunction to prevent anti-social behaviour’ of IPNAs that will replace ASBOs. The Government was proposing the IPNAs can be issued against behaviour that can reasonably be expected to cause ‘nuisance or annoyance’.

However, an amendment by Lord Dear proposed changing this test (except when it comes to social housing) likely to cause ‘harassment, alarm and distress’.

I know many Lib Dem Voice readers feel a …

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What’s on in the Commons next week? 6-10 January 2014

MPs return to Westminster from their Christmas holidays next week. What does the parliamentary agenda have in store for them and when are Liberal Democrat ministers in action?

On Monday, it’s Education questions, followed by the completion of Commons stages for the Water Bill. I wonder how quickly the first Blackadder reference will creep in.

On Tuesday, Nick Clegg’s in action at Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions. Then the Mesothelioma Bill completes its Commons stages.

Wednesday sees the first PMQs of the year. I can’t see any prospect of this weekly pantomime becoming any less depressing. It would be so nice if our MPs …

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