Tag Archives: house of lords

Hope for Lib Dem Sharkey’s bill to pardon Alan Turing

Alan Turing and meLast Friday I made my first ever visit to Manchester, where I did the traditional thing of posing to have my photograph taken with the statue of Alan Turing.

Yesterday, Liberal Democrat peer John Sharkey introduced his Bill to grant Turing a posthumous pardon. The World War 2 codebreaker was subject to appallingly cruel treatment – chemical castration and disgrace after being convicted for being gay. He killed himself two years after that.

The Government allowed men convicted of similar offences to have those convictions disregarded but that didn’t help …

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Lib Dems set to name 7 new peers for House of Lords, says Sunday Times

rumi verjeeToday’s Sunday Times front page (£) splashes with a ‘Cash for peerages row hits Clegg’ headline. The reality is slightly less exciting: Rumi Verjee, a prominent donor to the Lib Dems, is apparently top of the list of seven names put forward for peerages:

Rumi Verjee, a multimillionaire who brought the Domino’s pizza chain to Britain, is top of a list of seven names compiled by the Lib Dems who are expected to be awarded honours within weeks. He has given £770,000 to the party since May 2010. … Verjee

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Same sex marriage bill: how peers voted by party

We reported last night the historic decision of the House of Lords to approve the second reading of the Same Sex Marriage Bill by a hefty majority. 73 Lib Dem peers voted against Lord Dear’s wrecking amendment.

And if you were wondering about the breakdown across the parties — how many of each voted for or against? — then Will Howells (formerly of this parish) has posted this handy graph to Twitter:

equal marriage votes

Figures are from Public Whip, with one or two errors as noted here by Will.

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Sal Brinton: “Now is the time for equal marriage”

wedding ringsYesterday, the Lords debated the Marriage (same sex couples ) Bill. Outside, a well attended good humoured vigil took place, with singing from the London Gay Men’s Chorus filtering into the Chamber. Having seen them brighten up a wet and freezing cold evening at a hate crimes vigil last year, I can attest to their talent.

Only three Liberal Democrats took part in the debate last night so we are publishing their speeches in full. Liz Barker’s is here and John Alderdice’s is here. The vote is not taking place until around 4:30 this afternoon so there is still time to contact them if you want to talk about any aspect of their remarks. Those nice people at Out4Marriage have created a Lobby a Lord site to help you.

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Lord Alderdice’s speech in equal marriage debate: I am not unpersuadable

wedding ringsAs only four Liberal Democrat Peers spoke in the equal marriage debate last night, we are publishing their speeches in full as this is an issue that many party members are interested in.

Liz Barker’s speech is here, and Sal Brinton’s will appear later. If you want to say anything to them ahead of the vote, expected at around 4:30 pm today, those nice people at Out4Marriage have created a site where you can lobby them or any other Lords.

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Baroness Liz Barker writes … My Lords speech on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill

wedding ringsMy Lords, I declare an interest. Many years ago I had the great good fortune to meet someone. She and I have loved one another ever since - apart, that is, from the occasional spectacular argument, usually about driving or DIY. As the slogan on T-shirts in the 1980s said: it happens in the best of families.

Whilst marriage is robust and enduring, what is meant by marriage has developed and changed significantly. Marriage was redefined in 1986, otherwise there would not now be any civil marriages in this country. Marriage laws were redefined in 1949, otherwise under-16-year-olds would still …

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Vigil to take place as Lords debate Same Sex Marriage Bill

Lobby the Lords Equal Marriage VigilThe House of Lords debates the Same Sex Marriage bill on Monday 3 June. They will address the general principles of the Bill before voting on a Second Reading.

When the matter was debated in the Commons two weeks ago, I was saddened to see that so many of my friends were upset by a protest against the Bill.  Think about how it feels to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and to see people demonstrating outside Parliament to exclude you. They tell you that they think …

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Lord (Tom) McNally writes: The year ahead for Liberal Democrat Lords

LAST week I had the delight, honour and privilege to open the second day of the debate on the Queen’s Speech in the Lords –at four days long, practically the debating equivalent of test cricket.

As I told the House, I have never hidden the reality that, in the present economic climate, the Coalition Government has had to make hard decisions and tough choices to achieve an economic recovery underpinned by fairness. But I believe that in our first three years we have made the tough decisions necessary.

A new parliamentary year is beginning, however, and a new raft of legislation is …

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Eric Avebury writes … Let’s outlaw caste discrimination

Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill – Lords Amendment 37

Ping Pong stage, April 16, 2013

On March 4, the House of Lords voted by a majority of 103 for a cross-party amendment to make caste a protected characteristic under equality law (via a New Clause in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill). This is a conscience matter and I hope all LibDem MPs will support the Lords’ New Clause, as part of our commitment to the principles of liberalism.

Peers were persuaded by a report commissioned by the Government during the passage of the Equality Act 2010. It confirms that caste discrimination is …

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Secret Courts now a reality after Lords amendments fall – how did Liberal Democrats vote?

As the sky fell in on open justice, according to Labour whip Angela Smith, Conservative peers were watching the Bond movie Skyfall. The irony actually hurts.

 

Lady Smith might have been better keeping an eye on her own benches. Between the first Division of the Day, on the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, and the crucial vote on whether secret courts should be invoked only as a …

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Liberal Democrat Lawyers’ Association speak out on secret courts

house of lordsThe Liberal Democrat Lawyers’ Association held a special meeting on Monday to discuss the Justice and Security Bill. They have sent this message to Lib Dem peers:

It was the unanimous view of the meeting that the measures introduced by the Justice and Security Bill amount to an attack on the Rule of Law in the United Kingdom and that those present were opposed to the measures contained in Part II of the Bill. I was felt that arguably the measures are a greater attack on our traditions and

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Time to throw an anvil at secret courts

Next Tuesday, which is both my nephew’s 14th birthday and the 32nd anniversary of the founding of the SDP, the Justice and Security Bill comes back to the House of Lords for consideration. Now, my esteemed colleague Mr Valladares has given a very helpful account of what the Lords can and can’t do. He goes on to suggest that the Upper House will often back down in the face of pressure from the elected Chamber.

If ever, though, there was a time for the peers to kick off, it is now, when the right to a fair trial remedy for …

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Secret Courts Bill… don’t get your hopes up

House of Lords. Photo: Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of ParliamentSo, it has come to this. Apparently, the only hope left of stopping the Secret Courts element of the Justice and Security Bill is to persuade the Parliamentary Party in the Lords to either vote down Part II of the Bill, the bit with the Secret Courts elements in it, or to vote down the entire Bill. Easy, really. Or, perhaps, not. You see, this presumes that the Lords gets to vote on Part II or the entire …

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Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece writes…

On Monday 4 March, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, a renowned and respected disability rights campaigner, tabled an amendment, to which I included my name and support, opposing the Government’s proposal to repeal the ‘General Duty’ of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, arguing that doing so will fundamentally change the purpose, role and scope for the only equality and human rights statutory organisation in the UK.

The General Duty says that the EHRC ‘shall discharge its functions with a view to encouraging and supporting a society in which:

.. people’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice or discrimination,

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Lib Dem peer Avebury on working in your 80s

Yesterday’s Guardian carries a feature on three people who have worked way beyond the age when they can collect their State Pension.

One of those is Liberal Democrat Peer Eric Avebury, who has written several articles for Liberal Democrat Voice.

At 84, he’s still attending the House of Lords 4 days a week.

He talks of the driving force that keeps him going:

As I have got older I have become more and more keen on the idea of equality. The evidence shows that most of the ills of society – such as crime, mental illness and so on – are deeply correlated

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LibLink: Paul Tyler on target practice

targetIn a recent post on Lord of the Blogs, Paul Tyler asks where the elusive Parliamentary rifle range is to be found.

For some years, while I was still an MP, there were regular requests for this apparently anachronistic  facility, somewhere in the basement, to be replaced with a creche for the children of staff and members of both Houses.  One Conservative MP naughtily suggested that the two roles could be combined.

Some years ago Nick Clegg said that it was absurd that parliament should have a shooting range and not a creche. …

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Eric Avebury writes… Press conferences in the Lords

house of lordsBelieve it or not, there is nowhere in the House of Lords where backbenchers can hold press conferences! We used to be able to use any of the Committee Rooms, but in March 2010 the House agreed that only Committee Room G could be used for this purpose.

Two years later, an obscure Committee which deals with matters such as charging for tours of Big Ben and the use of electric hand dyers decreed that press conferences should be exiled to a small room in a building five minutes’ walk from the House. No consultation

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Constituency boundary changes are dead.* Unlike the House of Lords.*

House of Lords. Photo: Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of ParliamentThe House of Lords has today voted to block a reduction in the number of MPs from 650 to 600 as part of the review of constituencies that might have seen the Conservatives gain up to 20 seats. The BBC reports:

The House of Lords voted by 300 to 231 to delay until 2018 a boundary review necessary to make the change. … Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that his party

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Because Barons (and Baronesses) are people too – the Lords hit the web!

house of lordsHaving successfully dipped their toes into the social media pool with their Twitter account, the party’s peers have now launched their very own blog. The site is intended to give an insight into the often overlooked work the group are doing in the second chamber. Because – let’s be honest here – even the most committed of members can be forgiving for not thumbing through Hansard on their morning commute.
 
In the past week alone there have been blog posts from Roger Roberts

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LibLink: Anthony Lester – My vision of a Leveson law

Liberal Democrat peer Anthony Lester has written for the Guardian about his independent Press Council bill which he introduced in the House of Lords yesterday.

If his measure became law, it would be the Supreme Court rather than OFCOM which would ensure that the independent self regulatory body was genuinely independent and complying with the principles Lord Leveson set out in his report.

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172 Liberal Democrats write to the Times to oppose secret courts

As the Justice and Security Bill is debated in the House of Lords for the second day this week, 172 Liberal Democrats have written to the Times to express opposition to the proposals for secret courts and their letter has been published today (£). Although only five names are given in the paper, the full list of 172 who signed before the letter was sent and more who signed subsequently is published on the Lib Dems against secret courts website.

What’s interesting about the list is that it contains such a broad range of

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Next week in the Lords: 29 October – 1 November

There are those who suggest that what this country needs is less legislation and more management and proper scrutiny. Perhaps the House of Lords is taking this to heart, as the diary for the week is reflective of such a wish…

Monday sees the beginning of the Committee Stage of the Election Registration and Administration Bill, with Chris Rennard and Paul Tyler leading for the Liberal Democrats, and William Wallace responding on behalf of the Government.

Liberal Democrats will be looking to ensure that voter registration remains mandatory, as …

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Next week in the Lords: 22-25 October

I thought that I’d try a different format for the preview this week, so let’s see how it goes…

Monday sees the Third Reading of the Local Government Finance Bill. After this week’s drama, when the Government suddenly came up with an additional £100 million to support local council tax support schemes during the transition phase, one might expect the Bill to be passed relatively comfortably. However, Labour will almost certainly endeavour to ambush this if they can.

Perhaps more interestingly, and certainly a more emotional moment than …

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Next week in the Lords: 15-18 October

It looks as though this column may be going down in flames, now that the Lords have appointed a new Media & PR Officer, but until we do…

Days 7 and 8 of the Committee Stage of the Financial Services Bill dominate the week. And, as I still don’t understand it, I’m going to see if I can get an explanation. Watch, hopefully, this space… However, Amendment 197, to be moved by Lord Flight, requires banks to transfer accounts to a new institution, if requested, within ten working …

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Justice and Security Bill: some recommended reading

As the distinction in much of the news media between straight reporting and comment becomes increasingly less clear, and in-depth analysis is replaced by instant comment, reliable, neutral and well-informed analysis of big policy issues becomes more difficult to lay one’s hands on. That is even more true when it comes to Parliamentary business.

Unbeknown to many outside the Parliamentary Estate (or at least to me until fairly recently!) are the documents produced by the Commons and Lords libraries. All the documents produced …

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How to keep up to date with the Liberal Democrat Lords

Here’s a question which tends to get lost amid the heat and noise generated around the issue of Lords reform – what do the members of the second chamber actually do?

Or at least, what are the Liberal Democrat peers doing on a daily basis? And this isn’t meant in a facetious way. Unless you’re in the gainful employment of the party’s peers, or a broken leg has left you with far too much time in front of BBC Parliament, chances are you might not know how the Lords are working to ensure that every piece of legislation which crosses their …

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Paul Tyler writes: Progress postponed

There was no talk this year of banning champagne at the Conservative Party Conference. Perhaps there was no danger of exuberance among delegates. As recalcitrant Tories sought one-in-the-eye against Nick Clegg by erasing Lords Reform from the Coalition Agreement, their party’s treasured redrawing of the UK electoral map was duly jettisoned too. Without a stronger second chamber to challenge the executive, it would have been wrong to reduce the size of the House of Commons, thereby increasing the proportionate dominance of the government’s ‘payroll’ within it.

Clearly, the failure of the most comprehensive attempt to reform the composition of the Lords …

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Lords reform: what the failure means for the Coalition, David Cameron and Nick Clegg

First up, here’s Nick Robinson’s take on yesterday’s events followed by myself, via the BBC News Channel:

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The House of Lords just got even more dangerous for Cameron

Imagine the situation.

You are a Liberal Democrat peer.

You have voted for several measures you did not like because they were in the Coalition Agreement.

You have now seen the Conservative Party walk away from a major part of the agreement.

You now know your place in Parliament is secure for a good few more years without the party’s whips being able to hold over you anything about your fate when reforms kick in, even if they should wish.

How do you think you are going to vote on future issue after issue that is in the Coalition Agreement but not the LibDem manifesto?

The …

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Lords reform: what next?

Four quick thoughts before I go off in search of chocolate, pizza and friends (in reverse order of priority, of course):

1. The last rites on Lords reform for this Parliament have not yet quite been uttered, though it’s striking how those in government I’ve spoken to are all now pretty much just talking about what the repercussions are rather than how it might yet go through. Will Ed Miliband be tempted to mix opportunism with principle and say, ‘No problem about those Tory backbenchers; we’ll support this measure?’.

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarmalc 18th Apr - 1:06am
    Thomas Robinson: Fair point and one it's hard to argue with. Also the UK has military base's in Cyprus, Germany, Holland, Gibraltar, Norway etc. Perhaps...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 18th Apr - 12:56am
    Here's Simon Jenkins's piece: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/16/janus-faced-george-osborne-defied-stereotype-triumphed
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 18th Apr - 12:53am
    The questions about austerity are obsolete. Simon Jenkins has pointed out that Osborne's tough talk is just verbal cover for a policy which includes plenty...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 18th Apr - 12:46am
    That was Balls and Osborne...
  • User AvatarShirley Campbell 18th Apr - 12:40am
    Yes, David-1, it should: David-1 14th Apr '14 - 10:00pm A horrible device whose possession and use should be illegal. I note that Shami Chakrabarti...
  • User AvatarShirley Campbell 18th Apr - 12:36am
    Yes, David-1, it should: David-1 14th Apr '14 - 10:00pm A horrible device whose possession and use should be illegal. I note that Shami Chakrabarti...