Tag Archives: house of lords

Jonny Oates tells House of Lords about his experience of depression

In a speech to the House of Lords yesterday, Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates talked about his experience of depression as a young man.

This experience was not unrelated to the times in which he was growing up. As a young gay man, having the government legislate against him was not easy to deal with. He also suggests that the churches should reflect on the impact they can have on people’s mental health, referring to Archbishop Michael Ramsey who was Archbishop of Canterbury at the time homosexuality was legalised and who was supportive of that change in the law.

Here is the speech in full:

My Lords, I welcome the opportunity to take part in this important debate on the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health initiated by my noble friend Lady Brinton. As my noble friend said, mental health is a topic which touches almost everyone in this country, whether through direct personal experience or through families and friends who have suffered from mental ill-health.

For much of the time when I was growing up, it was pretty much a taboo subject. Few people talked openly about mental illness; it was too often a personal burden not to be shared, understood or tackled but to be hidden away even from those closest to one. In recent years there has been a welcome shift in our attitudes, and I pay tribute to the mental health charities and the many activists and campaigners, such as Alastair Campbell, who have helped break down taboos and get mental health on the agenda, but I also pay a real and heartfelt tribute to Norman Lamb in particular who, as a Health Minister in the previous Government, strongly supported by the then Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, did so much to push the issue of mental health right up the government agenda, placing mental health literally on the front page of the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

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Lord Paul Tyler writes: Party funding is back on the political agenda

On 18th May the 2016-17 Parliamentary session officially started with a somewhat thread-bare Queens Speech. It was well noted by Lord Fowler (Conservative) in the first day of debate that;

The most significant words in the Queen’s Speech yesterday were that, ‘other measures will be laid before you

These are often the most important part of the “Gracious Speech”. One of the GREAT omissions from the gracious Speech is of course the issue of Party Funding. Fortunately for Ministers I am happy to provide them with some private enterprise assistance in this matter. As many of you will remember I sat on the House of Lords Committee on the Trade Union Bill, which focused on the party funding issue across the board.

The recommendations, which were almost all unanimously agreed by the cross-party Committee, were also universally welcomed in the House of Lords. Indeed Ministers in both Houses lauded the noble Lord, Lord Burns, and the rest of us, praising our conclusions. Indeed, the Government backed down when faced with amendments to their Trade Union Bill based on those recommendations. However they have yet to fulfil the most vitally important recommendation of all- to “take a decisive lead” on party funding reform.

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20 Lib Dem Lords file Private Members’ Bills

Liberal Democrat peers have secured an impressive 20 slots out of 51 for Private Members’ Bills for the Parliamentary session ahead. Talk about punching above our weight!

The Bills cover all the sorts of subjects that you would expect Liberal Democrats to be talking about. On Monday Olly Grender and Judith Jolly introduce theirs on Renters’ Rights and Register of Arms Brokers respectively.

Later on, we have Antony Lester’s on preserving the independence of the BBC, Lynne Featherstone on reducing carbon emissions, John Sharkey on student finance, Brian Paddick on online privacy, Meral Hussein-Ece on addressing the BAME pay gap, Paul Tyler on party funding, Emma Nicholson on humanitarian support for genocide victims and Claire Tyler attempts to secure an entitlement to Carers’ Leave.

Roger Roberts wants students to be automatically registered to vote – like we were in the olden days when I was a student.

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Liberal Democrats force government climbdown on Trade Union Bill

This evening sees the culmination of five months’ work, led by the Lib Dems, which will finally knock some fairness into the Government’s proposals for reforming the relationship between Labour and the Trade Unions.

Late last year, the Left was raging – with some justification – about a Tory plot to remove up to £6m a year of funding from Labour, by restricting the right of trade unions to collect donations through a political fund.  While the principle of requiring individual ‘opt-in’ consent for such donations is an important one – with which Lib Dems agree – the Government’s endeavour was a naked, one-sided attempt to hobble the opposition.  Real party funding reform cannot be for only one party.  It must also restrict millionaire and big business donations too.

The question our team had to ask was how to amend these elements of the Trade Union Bill without it sounding like simple special pleading for anti-Conservative forces.  Clearly, our party is in a good position to start with, since the Lib Dems do not benefit from trade union political funds.  But we still needed to demonstrate in as non-partisan, dispassionate a way as possible that the what the Government proposed was simply lop-sided and self-interested.

So on the day before the House broke up for Christmas our small Lib Dem Bill team discussed a little-used mechanism to corral principled opposition to the party funding clauses of the Bill.  I suggested that we try to shift this issue to a special Select Committee of the Lords, where Ministers, the Unions, democracy academics, and all the parties could make their case.

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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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