Tag Archives: house of lords

Landmark report makes powerful case for Lords and party funding reform

The Oxford University Department of Economics have just published a discussion paper entitled “Is there a market for peerages? Can donations buy you a British peerage? A study in the link between party political funding and peerage nominations 2005-14“. The authors are Andrew Mell, Simon Radford and Seth Thévoz

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Lord Roger Roberts writes…A step towards abolishing the Azure Card

Azure cardLast November I wrote that we must abolish the Azure Card and secured a debate in the House of Lords to that effect.

For those who may be unaware, The Azure Card is a prepayment card provided destitute asylum seekers who require support because they are temporarily unable to leave the United Kingdom. It is a discriminatory and wholly inadequate system of support which the Red Cross – as well as many other refugee organisations have called to be abolished.

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Baroness Cathy Bakewell writes… Lib Dem Lords act to stop retaliatory evictions

Yesterday, we moved forward in protecting vulnerable tenants by protecting them from the questionable practice of retaliatory evictions. This is the culmination of a process started by Sarah Teather MP on 28th November when she secured a private Members Bill on Tenancies (Reform) to deal with the problems caused by Retaliatory Evictions.  Sadly there were members in the Commons that day who were themselves landlords, did not share the ethos of the Bill and talked it out of time.  So it was a great privilege for Lib Dems in the Lords to be able to support the essence of Sarah’s Bill in the amendment we debated yesterday. Sarah Teather deserves a lot of credit for her efforts to end this pointless suffering. And for the work she did in the commons to stand up to right wing Tories all too willing to see this continue.

The amendment is not about penalising conscientious landlords, nor is it about protecting bad tenants who do not respect the property they are renting.  It is about protecting the rights of both groups and giving security to tenants, who when reporting a fault which affects their ability to live happily in their home, will not dread an eviction notice landing on the doormat as a result.  It gives a clear signal to those landlords who currently ignore the state of their properties, that this is no longer acceptable.  If such landlords engage in a regular programme of maintenance, they are likely to have a much better relationship with their tenants, reduce the incidence of costly tenancy turnover and be less likely to face expensive repair bills for major incidents, such as collapsed ceilings due to persistent leaks.

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Baroness Sally Hamwee writes…”Pesky Lib Dem” Lords win crucial civil liberties changes to Counter Terrorism Bill

David Pickett photo Scooby Doo gang PEsky LIbDems legoThey call it the heavy lifting, or – less physical, more forensic – using a fine-tooth comb.  The second chamber is where detailed and precise scrutiny of legislation occurs.  For Bills which raise vital questions about civil liberties, such as the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill this is all the more important.  It was therefore to the surprise of Lib Dems in the Lords that it was, aside from a misplaced attempt to reintroduce the so-called “Snooper’s Charter”, almost exclusively Lib Dem peers doing the heavy lifting .  At one point I passed a note to Brian Paddick and Sarah Ludford, the team with me on the entirety of it: A lot of people want to talk about the issues we’ve raised but they couldn’t be ****d (complete to taste) to write their own amendments.

Our concern, really to make sure that this sort of legislation is fit for purpose and balances the need to protect the public with precious civil liberties, is often derided.  It is important to get every dot and comma right.  It is therefore a badge of honour to be accused by Norman Tebbit of “dancing around on pins” or, in Michael Howard’s words, “the pesky Lib Dems”.

The Bill that came to the Lords was very different from when it was first trailed by the Prime Minister, speaking to the Australian Parliament about “excluding” people from the UK.  Lib Dems in Government ensured that such claims, made for electoral reasons, were not reflected in the legislation that was finally published.  This is not to say it came to the Lords in a perfect state and our work has ensured that checks and balances on the State have been increased.

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LibLink: Brian Paddick – Tackling terrorism without compromising the privacy of law-abiding citizens

Writing on the Liberal Democrat website, Lord Brian Paddick talks through the recent attempted jiggery-pokery in the House of Lords which could have seen the Snoopers Charter

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Surely it’s time for the Liberal Democrats to part company with Alex Carlile

alex carlile - house of lords
After much provocation over the years, I have finally reached the end of my patience with Alex Carlile. The sooner he and the Liberal Democrats part company the better.

It was embarrassing enough to watch him give the green light to so many of Labour’s illiberal anti-terror laws, but when he supports something which threatens to scupper a key concession won by the Liberal Democrats, it is time for us to actively campaign for him to go.

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Lord Hugh Dykes writes: Chilcot delay is an utter disgrace

We have waited too long for the Chilcot Inquiry. I do not have to tell you this, the Lib Dems were after all the only one of the three major parties (despite the Tories fuss now) to disagree with going to war in Iraq.

I am proud to say that it was the Liberal Democrat party who marched officially as a party to protest against the war. The estimated 1.5 million marchers going along Piccadilly were subsequently all disappointed that the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, completely ignored their representations on the biggest march that had taken place in Britain in recent times.

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Lord Roger Roberts: May’s Counter-Terror powers could enable her to ban liberalism

Lord Roger Roberts gave the following speech expressing his concerns about the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill in the House of Lords at its Second Reading on Tuesday:

I was delighted that Lord Carlile mentioned, in his contribution to the debate, the four Albanians—two Muslims and two Christians—who walked together in the demonstration in Paris

Multi-faith groups exist in many places and people are able to say, “My brother, my sister, my family; we are one family”. We could really tackle a lot of these stresses before they become threatening. There is an opportunity in some way or another to encourage it.

However, the world is full of uncertainties. I am not the only one who remembers the time when it was better to be red than dead—so some said. Others said that it was better to be dead than red. Today it is the difference, between security and liberty. We are trying to see where is the line that needs to be drawn. This Bill seeks to draw that line. I sometimes measure our civilisation by Alan Paton’s (the author of Cry, the Beloved Country) values. In a lecture in 1953, he declared himself a liberal and defined the term thus:

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Lord Dominic Addington writes…Disabled students must have an equal shot at life

Last week I asked a question in the Lords on the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA). The DSA allows those with a disability, a long term health condition, or dyslexia (like myself) an equal shot at higher education. The support people receive through this allowance can be vital in ensuring a student’s chances of academic success aren’t dictated by their disability or health, but by their effort and ability.

Like all areas of Government spending, the DSA is being examined for potential savings and to make sure money is going where it is needed most.  However, my question in the Lords was inspired by the amount of confusion there is within all the groups involved in the DSA, ranging from suppliers to students, over what exactly is going to be in place once these reforms go through.

At the moment there is a great deal of fear mongering about not having sufficient resources to enable people to be able to complete their course, let alone work independently as you’re supposed to in higher education. Any change that does not embrace this principle is effectively excluding certain groups unnecessarily.

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Festive confusable peers quiz – the answers

all peersThanks to all who had a go at the Festive confusable peers quiz.

Well done to Matt Jones for being first out of the hat with a spot-on set of answers. Matt receives the adulation and respect of his….er…..peers.

The answers were:

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Festive confusable peers quiz – Smith & Jones edition

timthumbThe House of Lords have published a picture book called “A guide to confusable peers with similar names“. Well they might. It’s bad enough knowing who all these peers deciding our laws are. But anyone who has tried to pick out peers from a list will know what a nightmare it can be. – Particularly for those with common names like Smith and Jones. You have to know the place in their title to distinguish them.

For example, it’s no good referring to “Baroness Williams”. You need to specify whether that is “of Crosby” or “of Trafford”. The first is our very own Shirley, who’s been a peer for 21 years. The second is a Conservative peer of eight months sitting.

So it is understandable that the House of Lords have issued a handy picture guide.

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Judicial Review: Parliamentary Ping Pong delayed until New Year

It had been originally thought that the House of Commons would debate the Lords amendments to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill yesterday.

This has now been delayed, probably until the New Year, indicating that there may be some chance of a Government compromise on the points of dispute.

The Lords have now voted twice to give judges some discretion about letting cases proceed even if they fail the “highly likely” test. The Government hasn’t yet given way on this one but you would hope that they would accept Lord Pannick’s amendment passed last week which would allow cases to proceed if it was in the public interest for them to do so.

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24 Lib Dem peers “rebel” as Lords reject government’s judicial review proposals

The Guardian reports:

A rebellion in the House of Lords has inflicted a second defeat on the government’s plans to restrict access to judicial review challenges.

The vote by 274 to 205 means that for a second time peers have rejected keys proposals in the criminal justice and courts bill. It will restore to judges their discretion in handling such cases.

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Liz Barker leads first ever Lords debate on Lesbian, bisexual and transgender women’s health

Last Wednesday, Baroness Liz Barker, who made one of the most fantastic speeches of the entire debate on same sex marriage,  led the first ever debate on health services for lesbians and bisexual and transgender women.

The ignorance and even ridicule LBT women have faced from health professionals in the accounts Liz and others shared during the debate is truly astonishing. There does not seem to be a widespread understanding of even the very basic issues they may face.

The Minister’s reply was a bit frustrating because he basically agreed with everything that was being said but didn’t offer any actual, concrete proposal to make things better.

You can read the whole debate here, but Liz’s speech in full is published below:

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Baroness Sally Hamwee writes…Lords push for a stronger Modern Slavery Bill

Parliament is never short of Bills coming from the Home Office, but the Modern Slavery Bill is different.  At the end of the second reading in the Lords last week, the Minister pointed to the warm reception given by every speaker who followed this with seven minutes on all the things that could be added to it.  The view on the Lib Dem benches, like others, was to welcome the Bill both for what it is and for the opportunity it provides to do even more to address the abomination (and very big business – this is often highly profitable …

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Dee Doocey writes … Protecting children should be at the centre of the fight against slavery

DisappointmentAccording to the US State Department at a global level people trafficking ranks as the third largest source of income for organised crime, coming after only drugs and the arms trade.

So as someone who has campaigned over many years to highlight the significance of human trafficking, especially of children, it is obviously welcome that we finally have a Bill recognising the shocking reality of modern day slavery going through Parliament.

photo by:
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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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Opinion: Electoral reform – How to

House of Commons at NightWe all know that electoral reform to both houses is important to us a party, quite rightly so. The current system is appalling, First Past The Post for the Commons does not bring fair votes for the electorate and at best only around 40% of voters voted for any government of the day (meaning of course 60% didn’t). The House of Lords is even worse, un-democratic and reeking of an old boys’ network.

However, that’s not to say that we shouldn’t have a two house system – of course we should. The scrutiny of a second chamber of government is vital to well thought out and properly debated laws and policy. But how do we get to the utopia of two proportionally elected chambers?

The answer is, I think, remarkably simple: piecemeal.

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Farce in the Lords

Any interested fellow citizen who was told how the latest recruit to their Parliament was chosen would be first baffled, then outraged.  Is it any wonder that there are more electors who favour the complete abolition of the House of Lords than support retention of the existing arrangements?

The provisions for the replacement of one of our hereditary Peers, when deceased, are confusing, complicated and downright contradictory.

The latest election result, announced by the Lord Speaker on Wednesday afternoon, may seem to be relatively simple:  our new Liberal Democrat colleague will be Raymond Asquith, otherwise known as the Earl of Oxford and Asquith and descendant of the distinguished Liberal Prime Minister.  He was chosen in an AV election, but gained 50%+ on the first count, so no reallocation of the votes of lower scoring candidates was required.

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Liberal Democrat storms to by-election win – in the House of Lords

House of Lords - Some rights reserved by UK ParliamentWe have a new Liberal Democrat Parliamentarian tonight after a by-election win. It’s a wee while since we could say that. But it’s a very different type of by-election and one that raises more than a little disquiet. I have to say I find it pretty objectionable that you can get a seat in Parliament not through election by actual voters but because of the circumstances of your birth.

The House of Lords Act of 1999 left 92 hereditary peers in place after the Labour government backed down from full reform. That’s the Labour party, blocking reform at every turn whether in government or opposition. When one of them dies, there is a by-election held to admit a new one. The electorate is the whole House of Lords.

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Dave Goddard writes … Challenging, probing and plain speaking

House of Lords - Some rights reserved by UK ParliamentDave Goddard was made a peer in August this year, and writes here about his aspirations:

When I was offered my peerage the first thing that went through my mind was, what I could offer the House of Lords? After all I was just a Stockport lad born and raised, who happened to end up the leader of the council.

On reflection however I believe I would bring exactly the same attributes that have served me well for almost thirty years in local politics. Honesty, strait talking, passion and an unshakable belief that we can all make a difference as Liberal Democrats, step by step, inch by inch, day by day as we fight to give people a stronger economy and a fairer society.

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Chris Fox writes … My primary aim will be to promote engineering in the UK

House of Lords chamberChris Fox – Lord Fox, of Leominster in the County of Herefordshire – was one of six new Lib Dem peers announced in August. 

When I walked off the street and joined the Liberal Party in Leominster on my way home from school my aim was to help Roger Pincham in his campaign to win a seat in Westminster. With two elections that year we had plenty to do, and came so very close to winning. At that time, 40 years ago, Parliament seemed a world away and I would not have believed that today I would be preparing for the honour of taking a seat in the House of Lords.

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Paul Scriven writes … From a council estate to the House of Lords

House of LordsPaul Scriven was made a peer just a month ago, and here he reflects on the path he has taken through life.

As the son of a dustbin man from a council estate in Huddersfield it was never in my wildest imagine that I would ever be in the House of Lords. Now that I have it is with a sense of both pride but just as important with a clear duty not to forget my journey in life and to fight for a more Liberal and fairer UK.

I know very well that the Liberal Democrats core aim to make sure all have opportunity to reach their full potential is a touch stone that makes us different from other parties. I wish to use my new role to fight to open opportunities and make sure that ladders for people to climb to reach their full potential are firmly planted for more people. I will make sure I shout up to ensure this happens. Also to fight with all my northern spirit those who seek to deny opportunities.

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LibLInk: Lord (Paul) Tyler – Just Deserts?

Paul TylerOver at Lords of the Blogs, Lib Dem peer Paul Tyler gives short shrift to the complaints of his parliamentary colleagues complaining that the red benches cannot accommodate the 22 new peers appointed last week:

What a nerve! If on 10th July 2012, having given the Government’s Bill a huge second reading majority, those very same MPs had allowed it to make progress, this alleged problem would have been solved. Egged on by Peers and journalists, they broke their manifesto promises to bring democracy to the Lords by playing party games. Had the Reform Bill passed, political appointments would have ceased by now and we would be preparing for the first election of 120 members representing every region and nation of the UK, next year. The choice was theirs two years ago: popular election or party patronage. They are now getting what they asked for.

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Six new Lib Dem peers named

House of Lords - Some rights reserved by UK ParliamentThe names of six new Lib Dem peers have been published today. They are:

  • Chris Fox – Director of Group Communications for GKN; former Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrats
  • Cllr David Goddard – elected Member of Stockport Metropolitan Council; former Leader of Stockport Council; former Member of the Greater Manchester Police Authority; former Non-Executive Director of Manchester International Airport
  • Cllr Barbara Janke – elected Member and former Leader of Bristol City Council; former teacher
  • Cllr Kath Pinnock – elected Member and former Leader of Kirklees Council
  • Posted in News | 59 Comments

    Lord Monroe Palmer writes…Armed Forces Bill is a step towards a fairer society

    090103-M-6058R-012This week saw the Second Reading in The Lords of a Bill welcomed by the Liberal Democrats. It bears the unattractive title ‘Armed Forces (Service Complaints and Financial Assistance) Bill’ but builds towards our manifesto pledge to create a fair deal for our service personnel. A promise that has particular significance ahead of Armed Forces Day on Saturday.

    The Bill deals with three matters: the creation of a Service Complaints Ombudsman; the reform of the service complaints system; and ensuring financial assistance to charities and other organisations which support the Armed Forces …

    photo by: isafmedia
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    Baroness Dee Doocey and Lord Monroe Palmer pay tribute to Lord Anthony Jacobs

    Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 21.30.52Many long standing members of the party will be very sad to hear of the death of Anthony (Lord) Jacobs last Saturday.

    Anthony was a lifelong supporter of the party and served in many roles including Economics and Taxation Advisor from 1973 to 1978.  He twice fought the Parliamentary Constituency of Watford increasing the Liberal share of the vote from 6% to 24%. In 1984, he was elected Joint Treasurer of the Party and was returned unopposed each year until he stepped down in 1987. He was a …

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    Lord Robin Teverson writes…Infrastructure Bill delivers a cluster of Liberal Democrat priorities

    House of Lords. Photo: Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of ParliamentA very Liberal Democrat bill got its second reading in the Lords yesterday – the Infrastructure Bill.  Lib Dems have already driven through this Parliament an Energy Act which will not just make sure that when it comes to energy infrastructure the lights stay one but that we decarbonise our energy supply.  We’ve been rolling out super fast broadband across the British countryside.  Often forgotten we also have a £35 billion railway investment programme over the next five …

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