Tag Archives: house of lords

Alex Carlile leaves the Liberal Democrats Lords Group: Why now?

The news that Alex Carlile is going to sit as a crossbench peer rather than a Liberal Democrat is perhaps not surprising.  His views on civil liberties and his passionate advocacy for the state to have greater surveillance powers often put him at odds not just with the Lords group but with the wider party. PoliticsHome says:

Lord Carlile felt the party “was not taking a strong enough line in support of surveillance,” a senior Lib Dem source told PoliticsHome.

“He was unhappy with our stance on the Snooper’s Charter,” the source added. “We made a big thing about voting against the Data Communications Bill and he didn’t like that at all.”

A Lib Dem spokesperson said: “We are disappointed but not surprised at Lord Carlile’s decision.

“He has been at odds with party policy on a number of occasions in recent years, especially over civil liberties.

“We are grateful for his years of service to the party and wish him well in future. “

Why now, though? Nothing has really changed. He’s had these views for a very long time and the party has opposed them for a very long time.  I have certainly thought for some time that it would be better if he was a cross bencher but I didn’t have any expectation that it would happen. In fact, for even voicing such an opinion, I was accused of “grisly soviet intolerance” by the Noble Lord in the comments to that article. 

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LibLink: Roger Roberts: The future of our European citizenship

Roger Roberts is pressing the government on the future of European citizenship this afternoon in a question in the House of Lords.

In an article for Politics Home, he sets out the issues at stake:

Our citizenship as members of the EU, is totally dependent upon the United Kingdom remaining a member of the EU. Once that is lost we, also, are denied that citizenship. There is a move in the EU Parliament to make citizenship available on an individual basis. We apply, pay our fee, and are granted a form of EU citizenship. The problem is that there can be few advantages – how does one person enjoy EU laws on Climate change and his neighbour not? How does one member of the family enjoy freedom of travel whilst the rest are left standing at the airport?

Over half the UK’s population were born after the UK joined the Union in January 1973. They were born as citizens of the EU – a birth right. The rest of us, already born, acquired that citizenship. Now that status risks being torn away from us. That is why I am raising this with the Government today. There is much that is still unclear about the Government’s plans for Brexit but they should clarify the position of the millions of people born 1973 that have always been European.

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Baroness Celia Thomas writes…Disability rights and Labour wrongs

Who would have thought that a valuable addition to the Licensing Act which would have made life better for disabled people had been scuppered by Labour Peers?  And yet that is what happened on Wednesday evening.

The amendment, which sought to improve the accessibility of licensed entertainment premises (pubs, clubs, restaurants etc.) for disabled people, was tabled by the Chair of the Lords Equality and Disability Committee, Baroness Deech, a crossbencher, and signed by me, as Liberal Democrat Disability Spokesperson, a Labour Peer and another crossbencher.

The Committee, which was set up last year at my suggestion, to look at how the Equality Act was working for disabled people, took evidence from, amongst many others, local authorities and from the National Association of Licence and Enforcement Officers. They were keen to help make premises more accessible but said they needed a small addition to the licensing objectives in the Licensing Act to be able to take action. Without the amendment, a licensing authority can only ‘suggest’ the provision of a ramp, for example, or that a restaurant should not store toilet rolls in the disabled toilet thus making it unusable.  With the amendment, the licensee would be told that if no reasonable adjustments were made, the licence would be in danger of being lost.  

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Dick Newby is new Lib Dem Lords leader

Whoever runs the Lib Dem Lords’ Twitter account has a sense of humour:

Dick Newby beat Robin Teverson in the race to succeed Jim Wallace.

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Two Liberal Democrat peers quit the party

News came through yesterday that Baroness Zahida Manzoor, has quit the party as she is opposed to our policy following the EU Referendum: This comes after Emma Nicholson apparently left us for the same reasons last month. Politics Home has the details.

A Liberal Democrat spokesperson told PoliticsHome: “Baroness Manzoor has resigned the whip as she disagrees with our view that we should be at the heart of Europe.

“We are disappointed with her decision as it is the Liberal Democrats who are standing up for hope and unity in the face of Brexit.

“More than 18,000 new members take the opposite view and have joined the Liberal Democrats since the EU referendum because of our position on Europe.”

Emma Nicholson’s decision was revealed by The Times last month, with the response from the party headquarters: “Emma who?”

She was elected as Conservative MP for Torridge and West Devon in 1987 and served as vice-chair of the Tory party before defecting in 1995. She joined the House of Lords in 1997.

Baroness Manzoor, who was ennobled less than three years ago, has also resigned her frontbench post as Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokeswoman.

Last year she took a leading role in the Lords’ battle against tax credits.

There is some speculation that Baroness Manzoor may join the Conservative Party. Nick Clegg’s decision to give her a peerage surprised people in 2013 as few had been aware that she had any connection to the party or commitment to it. It would be very strange if she were to join the Tories after she was so pivotal in forcing that u-turn on tax credits. She apparently stunned colleagues by announcing that she was leaving on the last day before the parliamentary recess.

The Tories’ opposition to the EU was one of the reasons Emma Nicholson joined us in the first place, and she served as MEP for a decade. This Herald profile of her from 1995 looks at her life and career.

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In full: Baroness Margaret Sharp’s valedictory Lords speech – on relationship between poor education and poverty

Margaret SharpAs Mark told us yesterday, Margaret Sharp has retired form her position as a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords. Yesterday she made her valedictory speech in a debate on poverty. She emphasised the importance of improving education, making the curriculum more vocationally orientated, as a tool to get people out of poverty. Here is her speech in full:

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for initiating what has proved to be a very timely debate, given the commitment made by our new Prime Minister yesterday evening. I applaud the work the noble Lord has been doing over such a long time with the Big Issue and with fighting poverty. I congratulate him on his determination to use his time in this Chamber to continue that fight

As noble Lords are aware, this is my last speech in this Chamber. I was introduced in October 1998, so I have served nearly 18 years and, as many noble Lords know, I am leaving because my husband has just celebrated his 85th birthday and I want to spend more time doing things with him: going to plays and concerts, travelling, seeing friends, reading books—not papers—and even perhaps watching television more often. In saying farewell, I want to say what a privilege it has been to be a Member of this Chamber over this time and how much I have valued the companionship and intellectual stimulus that it has given me. I would like to add a special note of thanks to the staff of the House: the clerks, many of whom I have got to know through work on Select Committees; the officers under Black Rod who are for ever helpful, patient and courteous; and the catering staff who have looked after me and my guests so well over the years. Thank you very much.

The subject of today’s debate is to take note of the causes of poverty. I have spent much of my time in this Chamber on issues of education, being a Front-Bench spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats between 2000 and 2010 and pursuing in particular the cause of part-time, further and adult education. It therefore seems appropriate that I should say a few words about education, or perhaps more importantly the lack of education, as a cause of poverty. This becomes increasingly relevant in this world of globalisation, where we observe a growing dichotomy between the well-qualified who hold down professional and managerial jobs and those with low or no educational qualifications who move in and out of low-paid jobs, often on zero-hours contracts and earning the minimum wage. Many call it the “hour- glass economy” and it helps to explain the phenomenon we see these days of poverty among those who are fully employed. As I think two other speakers have mentioned—the noble Baroness, Lady Warwick, certainly raised it—it is reckoned that 20% of UK full-time employees are in low-paid jobs and 1.5 million children live in families with working parents who do not earn enough to provide for their basic needs.

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A few words of gratitude as Margaret Sharp takes her leave

Margaret SharpIt does seem that the news over the past fortnight or so has been dominated by people saying goodbye to spend more time with their families or whatever. In some cases, they will be more missed than in others, and, on this occasion, it is time to mark the retirement from the House of Lords of our longtime spokesperson on Universities, Baroness (Margaret) Sharp of Guildford, who has decided to take up the option to retire at the still relatively spritely age of 77.

Margaret is another of those whose work over many years led to a triumph celebrated by others, in that it was her success in reducing the Conservative majority in Guildford from over 20,000 to a rather more slender 4,500 that helped Sue Doughty to her famous success in 2001.

An economist of some regard, Margaret taught at the London School of Economics, as well as working in the National Economic Development Office in the 1970s, before becoming politically active with the onset of the Social Democrats.

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    @expats "I’m afraid Simon Shaw, and you, are suffering a ‘Titanic’ misapprehension…After all, lifeboats sit around ‘idly’ for most of their existence…" But, taking your...
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    I'm a lib Dem Leave voter. I come back to this subject only because I think the pro EU stance is a bit of a...
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    @malc That was before May made her speach.
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    Nom de Plume "A protest along the lines of what they had against the war in Iraq would be appropriate." The remainers have tried that...
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