Tag Archives: house of lords

Liberal Democrat Peers: they’re your secret weapon, if only you’d use them!

Last week, the outreach programme of the Parliamentary Party in the Lords moved into its next phase. There is, unfortunately, a catch, in that, through no fault of their own, the earlier phases haven’t reached quite as far as they might have hoped.

The campaign for Liberal Democrat Peers to make one thousand constituency visits before the 2015 General Election continues – Suffolk Coastal were very hospitable – but too many Local Parties seem oblivious to the possibilities that nearly one hundred (very occasionally) ermine-clad Parliamentarians, with four thousand years of service to the Party between them*, can offer. I …

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David Steel: Scotland and the Lords after 2014 – Full speech

Yesterday evening, Lord Steel delivered a lecture on Lords reform and the forthcoming Scottish referendum. Here is the speech in full.

Stone Memorial lecture, Strathclyde University 31 October 2013

Scotland and the Lords after 2014

My intention in this lecture is to look forward and discuss what fundamental changes and improvements could be made to our parliaments at Westminster and Holyrood once we get past the Scottish referendum this time next year. But before I do that, considering that this Sir Alexander Stone memorial lecture is decreed to be broadly on the subject of rhetoric I want as a prelude to remark on …

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David Steel on the Scottish referendum and reforming the House of Lords

David Steel 200Yesterday evening, Lord David Steel delivered a lecture on Lords reform and the forthcoming Scottish referendum. He called for a wide constitutional overhaul, including reforming the House of Lords into an indirectly elected chamber.

Speaking earlier to Scotland Tonight, he called for a grown-up debate about whether Scotland wants to be a separate nation or not. He rejected David Cameron’s assertion that an independent Scotland would be more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and Nicola Sturgeon’s claim that fuel bills will come down, saying such comments obscured the real issues of the campaign.

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Lord Ian Wrigglesworth’s maiden speech

It is a tradition for LDV to bring its readers copies of our new MPs’ and Peers’ first words in Parliament, so that we can read what is being said and respond. You can find all of the speeches in this category with this link. Last Thursday, Lord Wrigglesworth made his maiden speech in the House of Lords during a debate on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. His words are reproduced below.

My Lords, it is a great honour and a great pleasure to address your Lordships’ House for the first time. I do so with

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Jim Wallace new leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords

Lord Wallace of Tankerness was today elected as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords.

The former Deputy First Minister of Scotland replaces Tom McNally, who stepped down earlier this month after nine years at the helm.

Lord Wallace was the only candidate to have put his name forward when nominations for the leadership contest closed at 12pm today.

Lord Wallace said:

It is a great privilege as well as an exciting challenge to have been elected as Leader of the Liberal Democrat peers.

As someone who has already led a parliamentary group in coalition

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Who will follow in Tom McNally’s ermine footsteps?

The news Helen Duffett posted this week — Tom McNally to stand down as Leader of the Lib Dem Lords — was rather drowned out by the Tory conference and the row over the Daily Mail’s smearing of Ralph Miliband. But as the BBC’s parliamentary correspondent Mark D’Arcy (no, not the fictional Mr Bridget Jones: different guy) points out here, it’s a role that matters lot these days, especially with the House of Lords here to stay for the forseeable…

The decision of the avuncular Lib Dem Lord to stand down as deputy leader of the House and leader

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Tom McNally to stand down as Leader of the Lib Dem Lords

Tom McNally has today written to Dick Newby (Lib Dem Deputy Chief Whip) to say that he intends to stand down as Leader of the Lib Dem group in the House of Lords.

Lord McNally’s letter is as follows:

1 October 2013
Dear Dick,

I will shortly be coming to the end of my ninth year as Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords. Before that I served as deputy to Shirley Williams for three years. It seems to me that now would be an ideal time for the Group to select a new leader to serve out

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Brian Paddick writes… A seat in the House of Lords

When Nick called me to ask if I would be a Peer, he said, amongst other things, that it was time I had my own political platform. So that got me thinking about what my political platform might look like. Here are some initial thoughts.

I know we are in Coalition with them but I can find few redeeming features in Tory economics. Of course work should pay more than benefits but have benefits really have reduced to the level where families have to resort to food banks? Are those with disabilities having to give up independent living and are families …

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Party Reform: The Interim Peers List, is it fit for purpose?

House of Lords. Photo: Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of ParliamentTim Farron, our Party President has long championed concerns about how democratic  the Lib Dems really are and how can we do better.  Federal Executive has now set up the Democratic Reform Group which I chair.  Our first task has been to take a hard look at the Interim Peers List and we have published a consultation paper on this together with organising a meeting at Glasgow to consult members about improvements to the process.  The Interim Peers list is an group of people elected by Conference Representatives from which the Party Leader can make nominations to the House of Lords.

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House of Lords: only slightly larger but much more active

House of LordsFor all of the brouhaha about stuffing the Lords, it is interesting to note that, despite what many might think, the number of Peers on the ‘active list’, i.e. not on leave of absence, disqualified or retired, hasn’t increased that much. After all, Peers die, often surprisingly unnoticed. They get old – the average age is already 69 – or sick. But the place definitely seems more crowded, as many Peers noted during the debate on Lords reform last year.

Conveniently, the House of Lords newsletter for members, ‘Red Benches’, …

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Opinion: Why no UKIP Peers?

House of Lords chamberBy surrendering the principle of proportionality we surrender part of ourselves

The Coalition Agreement stated that “Lords appointments will be made with the objective of creating a second chamber that is reflective of the share of the vote secured by the political parties in the last general election”. It is therefore difficult to justify why UKIP, having secured over 3% of the vote at the last General Election and only currently having 3 of the over 500 Peers aligned to a political Party, has not been given the opportunity to have ennobled a cohort of Peers of its choosing. The same is true for other minor parties.

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What can be done about food waste?

It is a little known fact that the European Union has a target for reducing food waste, aiming to reduce the 2011 level by half by 2020. Astonishingly, it was estimated that 89 million tonnes of food were wasted in 2011 across the European Union. As part of their efforts to reach their target, the European Commission have recently launched a public consultation on the subject.

In response, the House of Lords European Union Committee has launched an inquiry, seeking to establish a common understanding of the issue, identify and scrutinise proposed EU-level solutions, consider their implications and identify …

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Opinion: The party needs a better nomination system for the Lords

Like many others, I let out a sigh of resignation when I saw that yet more appointments are being made to the unelected and unaccountable House of Lords. Nothing against the individuals receiving a peerage this week (some of whom I have known personally and all of whom I’m sure will be excellent representatives), but yet again it’s a fairly predictable mix of ex-MPs and party insiders.

Liberal Democrats are right to nominate their own choices for these positions – better off having an influence over a broken system than being excluded from it altogether – but it got me …

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New Liberal Democrat Peers: Has Nick got it right?

I will start by getting it out there that I just hate having to write this post. The very idea that the power of patronage exercised by 3 men, with a tiny fig leaf of scrutiny by a committee can choose people who make the laws I have to obey almost brings me out in hives. I can forgive Nick Clegg, because at least he tried to do something about it before he was defeated by the combined forces of Britain’s two conservative parties. While we’re stuck with an appointed second Chamber, it would be foolish for us to decide not …

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So, who are these new Liberal Democrat peers, then?

Earlier today, we told you about the ten new Liberal Democrat peers. We thought you might like to know a little more about them.

Cathy Bakewell

Cathy was first elected to Somerset County Council in 1993 and has since gained expertise in a number of fields: fire and rescue, policing, equalities, safeguarding children and further education. Her appointment bolsters our local government experience in the Lords. She also served on Ruth Kelly’s 2007 commission which looked at the barriers to people becoming councillors. She may have similar ideas about addressing our under-representation of women in other areas.

Olly Grender

Olly Grender’s career has …

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Baroness Judith Jolly writes… Welcome to our new Peers

We heard this morning of new members swelling our ranks on the red benches in the House of Lords.

It seems only yesterday since I arrived in January 2011, fully expecting to serve only five or maybe ten years before standing down for those elected to the Upper House. We now know that it is not to be (yet!) but it was not for want of trying.

If I were to give advice it would be to get involved in something you know something about and something you know nothing about but find interesting. Join some all-party groups. Challenge our government …

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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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  • User AvatarChris 26th Nov - 8:10am
    @Paul Barker So you self importantly called the police on a parent trying to restrain a child in mid-tantrum after you'd jumped to a few...
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    I continue to hear very little about the whys and wherefores of losing 11 of our 12 MEPs using the slogan 'We are the party...
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    Oh don't be miserable it's a lovely picture. A nice break from all those filler articles on this site about how Lynne Featherstone invented feminism,...
  • User AvatarCharles Rothwell 26th Nov - 7:27am
    My feeling (as things currently stand) is that 28 seats is optimistic and 20 is rather more realistic. The General Election is over for me...
  • User AvatarDavid wilkinson 26th Nov - 5:34am
    Unbelievable headline to this article, 'Lib Dems win 28 seats' ,sadly under the leadership of Mr Clegg they lose 29 MP's. Its like arguing how...
  • User AvatarTsar Nicolas 26th Nov - 2:00am
    This talk of getting 28 seats when the current polls show the party on around 7% - OK, I'll be generous and say 8% -...