Tag Archives: house of lords

Baroness Sally Hamwee writes…How Lib Dem Lords are making the horrible Immigration Bill a little better

This is my third attempt at writing this piece. Events have been moving quickly on the Immigration Bill as the Government tries its hardest to push it through before the end of the session.

Last night the House of Lords got the Bill back from the Commons who discussed it the previous night.

The debate there concentrated on the amendment that would put into legislation the call for the UK to offer sanctuary to 3000 unaccompanied child refugees who have already arrived in Europe.

Of course the Government does not need legislation to do this, but it seems the force of votes in Parliament is required.

That vote was defeated by a narrow majority in the Commons and it was left to us in the Lords yesterday to reinstate it, inflicting another heavy Government defeat. This gives the Commons – and those Tories who talk of ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ – another chance to do the right thing.

Apart from this amendment we also won votes on putting a 28 day time limit on immigration detention of and restricting the detention of pregnant women. Detention should be imposed only in the most exceptional circumstances, and the calculation of the time limits gives too much wriggle room.  Safeguards were also inserted similar to those which apply to children which we insisted went into legislation during the Coalition Government.

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Baroness Liz Barker writes…Osborne’s social care omnishambles

This week I am asking the Tory government how much revenue they anticipate local authorities will raise from May 2016 when they are given the power to add to council tax a precept of up to 2% to fund social care.

During the last government  Paul Burstow and Norman Lamb achieved something which had eluded all governments of the last thirty years, an equitable and sustainable settlement for social care. The Care Act restated the purpose of social care:  enabling the wellbeing  of both the person needing care and their carer, prevention and delay of the need for care and support and putting people  in control of their care.  The inclusion of the main proposals of the Dilnot Commission, paved the way for a funding system in which the costs of care would be shared, essentially between property owners and the state, thereby enabling individuals to avoid having to meet catastrophic costs at times of greatest vulnerability. 

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And the new Lib Dem peer is…

John Thurso…Despite failing to submit a manifesto
…Despite one of his opponents submitting a manifesto with the word “cupidity” in it
…the new Lib Dem peer is the old Lib Dem Peer and former MP John Thurso.

He won the strangest by-election ever, the election of another Liberal Democrat hereditary peer to replace Eric Avebury who sadly died in February.

There was an electorate of 3 to choose between a field of 7.

We don’t need the full STV rundown because all 3 of the electors voted for Lord Thurso.

The BBC has more information:

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Seven candidates and an electorate of three – the strangest by-election ever?

By next Tuesday, we’ll have a new parliamentarian, a new hereditary member of the House of Lords. A House of Lords by-election is being held following the death last month of Eric Avebury, who is already very much missed.

I’m not going to lie, that doesn’t sit terribly comfortably with me. The idea that you could get a place determining the laws we all have to live by just because you were lucky enough to be your parents’ firstborn son is the first big problem. The second logically follows on – it’s an all male electorate deciding from an all male field.  Half of me wonders if we couldn’t have just said “No, this is archaic, we aren’t going to do it.” However, is it really that much worse than a parliamentary chamber that’s appointed? We don’t like it, but there’s a lot of good work it can do. We’re saddled with a majority Conservative Government stitching up the political system in its favour despite having been elected by just over a third of the electorate. The Lords have frustrated them on several occasions over really important issues like housing, immigration and tax credits.  Another Liberal Democrat on the benches has to be a good thing.

There are seven candidates for the place and an electorate of just three, the remaining Liberal Democrat hereditary peers, Dominic Addington, Patrick Glasgow and Raymond Asquith.

Ballot papers are available from today and the result will be announced on Tuesday 19th. Electoral Reform Services have been engaged for the not very onerous task of counting the ballot papers and determining the result.

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Sal Brinton on the change of attitude needed so that disabled people can start to live their lives

Sal Brinton was part of the House of Lords Committee which produced today’s report which reviewed the impact of the Equality Act 2010 on disabled people. Its conclusions were pretty damning. It’s worth setting out in full the five major themes that they identified:

First, in planning services and buildings, despite the fact that for twenty years the law has required anticipatory reasonable adjustment, the needs of disabled people still tend to be an afterthought. It is time to reverse this. We are all living longer, and medical advances are keeping us alive where in earlier years it would have failed to do so, but not necessarily in good health. We should from the outset plan for the inevitability of disability in everyone as they get older, as well as for those who suffer accidents and for all those other disabled people who are the subject of our inquiry.

Our second theme, closely related to the first, is the need to be proactive, rather than reactive or process driven. Many of those involved—Government departments, local authorities, the NHS, schools, courts, businesses, all of us—wait for problems to arise before, at best, attempting to remedy them. We should be planning so that disabled people can as far as possible avoid facing the problems in the first place.

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Baroness Liz Barker writes: The Tory threat to UK foreign policy

Lynne Featherstone and Lindsay Northover were outstanding DfID Ministers. During their tenure, with the support of Liberal Democrats in both houses, and throughout the party, for the first time,  radical commitments such as an to end Female Genital Mutilation by 30% by 2018 were included in UK Government policy.  Furthermore, those Liberal Democrat ministers, insisted that commitments to the rights of LGBT people and people with disabilities be central to FCO and DfID policy and programmes.

They did so, not just because of our unshakeable commitment to human rights, but because the UK’s unique history with the Commonwealth nations and relationships with European partners, give an unparalleled position from which to be an influence for good in the world.

This summer, the UK government has an opportunity to attend the 2016 Global LGBTI Human Rights Conference,  which will be co-hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Government of Uruguay. It will involve the main international donors who support and fund LGBTI programmes.  It is a rare opportunity for the UK government to leverage the political commitment of the coalition government by involving other governments,  and the private sector,  in developing good practice guidance on funding, supporting NGOs to bring about change on difficult subjects. 

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Lord Paul Tyler: Lib Dems stop Tories skewing party funding law in their favour

Naturally, with so much media and public attention on the Budget, few with have spotted some major defeats for the Government in the House of Lords last night.

Most significantly our Liberal Democrat initiative to stop the Tories skewing party funding legislation in their favour was given huge support – across the House, with even some Conservative Peers rebelling or abstaining.   Ministers’ plans suffered a resounding defeat – 320 to 172, a majority of 148

This is our best chance in this Parliament to get the parties thinking again about the wider issue of funding democracy in a way which prevents wealthy individuals and organisations buying preferential access, influence and patronage. I set out some broad objectives for those talks in an emergency motion for the conference ballot (pdf – pg 18) last weekend.

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