Tag Archives: house of lords

Some progress on party funding reform – comments please!

 

The adage “if you want to keep something secret, say it in the House of Commons” certainly extends to the Lords on Fridays, when Private Members Bills are taken.

However, our team made significant progress last week in pushing the government to take seriously their own manifesto commitment “to continue to seek agreement on a comprehensive package of party funding reform”.  We have been plugging away at this by whatever means possible, including by initiating a special Select Committee on party funding reform last year, and by introducing my Political Parties (Funding and Expenditure) Bill last week.  I opened the debate, and Chris Rennard and Ian Wrigglesworth both spoke too.  We received support also from Labour Peer Larry Whitty, and from the Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Paul Bew.

For decades, Lib Dems have sought a cap on individual donations – to limit the auction of influence and access to government and senior political figures which now takes place.  In return, a limited element of public funding – linked to support in the country – would be needed to ensure the parties could continue their campaigning.

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++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”.

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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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Giving EU nationals the right to stay benefits us all

I’m feeling quite nervous this afternoon. The House of Lords is debating an amendment which would give EU nationals who have made their homes here the right to stay. The Government is expected to be defeated and I hope very much that this will be the case and that we won’t have the disgraceful scenes we saw on Monday when the so called opposition were whipped to reject an amendment on the single market.

For me, this is something very personal – and also a bit selfish. Like virtually everyone else, I have friends who are EU nationals. They live here. This is their home. I don’t want to see them used as bargaining chips. My neighbours are from Poland. I don’t want them to have any worries about whether they will be forced to uproot their lives and disrupt their daughter’s education.

Those things are important, but as many of you will know, my husband was seriously ill at the end of last year. He is making a good recovery thanks to the excellent specialist medical care he received. The surgeon who saved his life and who sped back into the hospital at dead of night when there was a problem to operate again is Italian. He’s the same surgeon, actually, who saved the life of Nicola Sturgeon’s father-in-law. His registrar is from Greece. The nurse who looked after him in ITU so skilfully was also Italian. I want them to have the right to live here unimpeded for two reasons. First of all, it’s the right thing to do. Secondly, I don’t want to lose their skills which make Edinburgh one of the best places for cardio-thoracic surgery in the UK. 

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Newby: Brexiteers will not intimidate the Lords

In an interview for The House magazine, Lib Dem Lords leader Dick Newby has said that support in the Lords is growing for a referendum on the Brexit deal. However, he says that even if that amendment is lost, the campaign for the people, not MPs or the Government, to have a final say on the deal, will continue:

But the fight for a second vote will not stop once Article 50 has been triggered, Newby insists. Indeed, “it’s just the beginning”, he adds, saying the Great Repeal Bill and other Brexit legislation could be amended. In the meantime, the Lib Dems will be campaigning across the country arguing the case for a do over.

Newby says it would be “implausible” for MPs not to grant a second referendum if public opinion shifts in favour of Remain in the coming months. Parliament bequeathed the decision on EU membership to the public once, why would it prevent it again, he queries.

“We will look at every opportunity to get this provision for a vote of the people at the end,” he declares. But are Tony Blair, who has called on Remainers to “rise up” against Brexit, peers et al the right figureheads of this movement? “I think that everybody involved in public life has a right to make the argument, but this is a people’s issue now… it’s not in the hands of the Commons.”

He was speaking before Monday’s vote in which an amendment calling for us to stay in the single market was lost because Labour peers were whipped to oppose it. There are still hopes that at least the right to remain for EU nationals will pass.

There has been a bit of an onslaught from the Brexiteers, predicting all manner of consequences if the Lords dares to do its job and scrutinise the Government’s legislation.  Dick says that peers won’t be overly bothered by the invective coming their way.

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Meet the Lords

This evening’s BBC2 “documentary of the week” Meet the Lords is the first of a series of three, with unprecedented access to the Palace of Westminster, to Peers and to the inner workings of the Lords’ operation.  Having seen a sneak preview, we are hopeful that some of the contents will renew public support for our longstanding campaign to replace the Lords with a modern, elected chamber.

The century-long Lords reform saga took another turn at the beginning of this year, when a new group was set up by the Lord Speaker.  It is to consider “the extent to which changes can be made without legislation”, and in particular it aims to find ways by which to reduce the size of the Lords.  It therefore has an impossible task, because the size of the Lords cannot be substantively reduced without legislation to amend the Life Peerages Act 1958.

What can be limited is the pace of growth of the Lords, which would require a self-denying ordinance on the part of Number 10.  In our evidence to the Group, we suggest that it should start by asking the Government either to commit to a moratorium on appointments during this Parliament or to accept a cap equivalent to 50% of the number leaving the House (by virtue of retirement or death) in a given year.  Without such a commitment, there is hardly any point in handwringing over how to persuade Peers to retire, since they will immediately be replaced.

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Lib Dem Lords vs Article 50 Bill: Dick Newby: Government plans ” horrifying mixture of pious aspiration and complacent illusion”

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re reminding you of some of the best over the course of this weekend. 

Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging – unlike the stream of Tories who got up to repeat what seemed to have been a script handed down from the Whips which basically said “The Lib Dems said they wanted an in-out referendum and now they aren’t accepting the result. Na na na na na.” 

We kick off with Leader Dick Newby’s cracking speech. He addressed the issue of …

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    This thread needs some unity and perspective. Nick is right , Rutte is terrific if compared with Wilders so why not back him in that...
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    Glenn Nearly every foreign jail has a British inmate.
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    Sarah writes a fine piece , nearly as much of a kinship felt here as on her leaving one party and joining another. I was...
  • User AvatarNeil Summers 22nd Mar - 10:45pm
    Hi Sarah if you not getting involved in the political side of unison don't think it matters you're right representing members with disciplinary and grievance...
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    Chris You still don't get it. New Zealand and Australia don't want to go back under Westminster rule. Canada, America South Africa and on and...
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    I have no political point to make. Just sadness for the victims. It's always horrible to hear that people have died or are horribly injured...