Tag Archives: house of lords

Baroness Liz Barker writes: The Tory threat to UK foreign policy

Lynne Featherstone and Lindsay Northover were outstanding DfID Ministers. During their tenure, with the support of Liberal Democrats in both houses, and throughout the party, for the first time,  radical commitments such as an to end Female Genital Mutilation by 30% by 2018 were included in UK Government policy.  Furthermore, those Liberal Democrat ministers, insisted that commitments to the rights of LGBT people and people with disabilities be central to FCO and DfID policy and programmes.

They did so, not just because of our unshakeable commitment to human rights, but because the UK’s unique history with the Commonwealth nations and relationships with European partners, give an unparalleled position from which to be an influence for good in the world.

This summer, the UK government has an opportunity to attend the 2016 Global LGBTI Human Rights Conference,  which will be co-hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Government of Uruguay. It will involve the main international donors who support and fund LGBTI programmes.  It is a rare opportunity for the UK government to leverage the political commitment of the coalition government by involving other governments,  and the private sector,  in developing good practice guidance on funding, supporting NGOs to bring about change on difficult subjects. 

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Lord Paul Tyler: Lib Dems stop Tories skewing party funding law in their favour

Naturally, with so much media and public attention on the Budget, few with have spotted some major defeats for the Government in the House of Lords last night.

Most significantly our Liberal Democrat initiative to stop the Tories skewing party funding legislation in their favour was given huge support – across the House, with even some Conservative Peers rebelling or abstaining.   Ministers’ plans suffered a resounding defeat – 320 to 172, a majority of 148

This is our best chance in this Parliament to get the parties thinking again about the wider issue of funding democracy in a way which prevents wealthy individuals and organisations buying preferential access, influence and patronage. I set out some broad objectives for those talks in an emergency motion for the conference ballot (pdf – pg 18) last weekend.

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Baroness Dee Doocey writes… Protecting tenants in estate regeneration schemes

In January, the Prime Minister announced in The Sunday Times that he wanted to see 100 of Britain’s most run-down estates transformed.  His ambition is apparently ‘nothing short of social turnaround…with massive estate regeneration, tenants protected and land unlocked for new housing all over Britain.’

‘Together,’ he said, ‘we can tear down anything that stands in our way.’ What fighting talk! Yet what stands in the way is usually the fact that people actually live on these estates. Several generations of the same family may have done so.  People cannot and should not just be swept aside in these waves of prime ministerial purple prose.

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Baroness Sally Hamwee writes..How Liberal Democrat Lords are trying to make the Immigration Bill less bad

The current Immigration Bill presents many challenges: one is its complexity, and another is sheer fury at the mind-set that it demonstrates on the part of the Government.  But every time I get angry, I remind myself that we must, we really must, do all we can to make it even a little bit less bad.

That means more self-discipline than, for me, comes naturally.  We will have far too little time for report stage in the Lords, which starts this week.  So we will have to be very focused.  It’s not just a matter of what we choose to discuss – we have to try to reach votes at times when we have the best chance of winning.  To that end, Brian Paddick and I have had several discussions with the Labour front-bench to agree a strategy.  Our irritation and sometimes sheer bemusement when Labour support us in debate but sit on their hands when it comes to a vote is well-known, but of course we are prepared to work with them if it means winning votes, and indeed make concessions as to how we approach issues if that means our opposition to the government is united.  And we are united in wanting crossbench peers to lead on amendments where possible as they may gain more traction than those of us with a party badge.

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Boundary Review is a cynical calculation 

House of Commons. Crown Copyright applies to this photo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/uk_parliament/4642915654/

Reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 without also looking to cut ministers and a review of the House of Lords means the boundary review is being conducted on a fatally flawed basis.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Constitutional and Political Reform Paul Tyler said: 

This boundary review is being conducted on a fatally flawed basis. The Conservatives have knocked 2 million people office the electoral register, mainly in densely populated areas, as part of a cynical calculation that the boundary review will produce fewer urban, Conservative-hostile constituencies.

Reducing the number of MPs without also reducing the size of the Executive is a mistake. With the pay-roll vote approaching half the membership of the government side of the Commons, the power of government to control Parliament is increased. And with no prospect of democratic reform of the Lords, we are edging towards a dangerous lack of democratic legitimacy in parliament.

The Conservatives are blatantly attempting to fix the system to keep themselves in power.

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Lord Paul Strasburger writes…Report shows that nobody thinks Home Office is right on investigatory powers

Today the Joint Committee published its report on the draft Investigatory Powers Bill. This follows hot on the heels of the Intelligence and Security Committee report which was surprisingly critical of the serious shortcomings of the Bill given its previous rather relaxed approach – what a difference a new Chair makes, you could say.
 
I was the only member of the Joint Committee that also sat on the Committee that looked at Theresa May’s last attempt to legislate on surveillance powers – the ill-fated draft Communications Data Bill. The previous committee had twice as long to look at the Bill than we’ve had this time round, despite the fact that this Bill is far bigger. The Home Secretary promised Parliament and the public that this process wouldn’t be rushed, that is not the reality.
 
As the only Liberal Democrat on the committee I knew it would be tough, and I think it will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that from the committee was heavily weighted in favour of the Home Office. It was a hard slog but as always with the Lib Dems, we managed to punch above our weight. If you flick to the back of the report you’ll see that on a whole range of issues I forced votes – sometimes I got others on side and we won, others were more lonely.

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What our busy peers will be up to this week

Here are some of the things our team in the House of Lords will be doing this week:

Monday: Roger Roberts will be pushing the Government to take action to relieve the situation of unaccompanied refugee children. Tim Farron has been pushing the Government to accept 3,000 at risk refugee children but David Cameron has recently rejected the proposal. The Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to find a solution which does not leave these children vulnerable.

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