Tag Archives: paul tyler

Let’s get some action on votes at 16

As I said on Friday, one of the best sights of the Independence Referendum was seeing enthusiastic 16 and 17 year olds heading to vote. They were so engaged in the process and it seems so unfair to take it from them now. Votes at 16 has been our party policy for a long time. It was our Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore who, along with Nicola Sturgeon, made it happen for the Referendum. It may not be practical to implement before next May, but we should at least try to get legislation passed this Parliament if we can.

Funnily enough, there is a Bill being debated in the House of Lords, a Private Members Bill brought in by our Paul Tyler. It was introduced on his behalf by Alison Suttie in June. It needs the Government to give up some time for it. This is something that we could make happen.

Unsurprsingly, Alistair Carmichael says it’s a matter of when, not if, 16 year olds get the vote:

The energy and enthusiasm of young people in the referendum campaign is something of which Scotland should be proud.

I have always believed that young people are much more politically engaged than they are given credit for. Never has that been clearer than during the referendum campaign. One of the most active volunteers for Better Together Orkney was in fact fifteen year old Jack Norquoy of Birsay.  Jack spoke at a packed meeting in Kirkwall Town Hall alongside Shirley Williams.  He made a powerful and compelling case for what he believed in.

Our young voters were given the opportunity and seized it with both hands. I believe that it is now only a matter of time until we see votes at 16 rolled out across the UK. That time should be now.

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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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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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Lord Rennard writes… Individual Electoral Registration: a journey from Tory instincts to Lib Dem legislation

In 2003, the Electoral Commission recommended that Great Britain should follow the example of Northern Ireland and move to a system of Individual Electoral Registration (IER), where everyone fills in their own form. Labour havered for six years, fearing that ‘their’ voters might not register individually. It took until 2009 for them to introduce framework legislation to bring in individual registration at some future point, with no guarantees as to exactly when.

When the Coalition took office, the two parties agreed to speed up Labour’s glacial process.  Ministers settled on a transitional period encompassing the next General Election. The new system …

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LibLink: Paul Burstow, Lynne Featherstone and Paul Tyler

Elsewhere, whilst some of us adjust back into the normal routine after the New Year, some of our tribunes are already up and running.

Paul Burstow hit the headlines yesterday with his call for means-testing of the winter fuel allowance, with the intention of saving £1.5 billion, to be redirected towards paying for the proposed social care changed recommended by the Dilnot Commission. Writing in the Guardian;

Some argue this is a debate we need to have at or even after the next general election. But by that time it will be too late. The research in my report reveals that

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In other news… Nick talks Dutch, Farron’s footie boycott, Hemming’s whistleblower charter & more

Here’s a round-up of stories we haven’t had time to cover on the site this past few days…

Nick Clegg insists on speaking Dutch at Cabinet Office meeting (Telegraph)

Nick Clegg, who speaks five languages fluently, chose to conduct a recent meeting at the Cabinet Office with Herman Van Rompuy, the European Council president, entirely in Dutch. Did the Deputy Prime Minister, whose mother is from the Netherlands, do so to outfox a Downing Street official whom David Cameron had allegedly sent to spy on their conversation? “Nick enjoys being able to talk Dutch,” the Liberal Democrat leader’s spokesman tells Mandrake.

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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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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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LibLink: Paul Tyler – The Lords are listening, but not to rent-a-mob email campaigns

Over on the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Lib Dem peer Lord (Paul) Tyler has a piece on the (not particularly successful) campaign by 38-Degrees to lobby members of the House of Lords over health reform.

Here’s a sample:

As a peer who received many 38 Degrees-inspired communications in the runup to the debate over the NHS bill, I can say with some confidence that their lack of influence was strongly linked to the unduly polarising approach they took to this issue. They picked the wrong battle, and the wrong argument.

Their battle was essentially on whether to

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Opinion: “I don’t like them, you don’t like them… We have to have them”

This Saturday, Conference has the opportunity to show that Liberal Democrats are genuinely committed to achieving gender balance in our own distinctively liberal and democratic way.

Conference will debate an amendment which Jo Shaw and I have put forward to Mark Pack and Paul Tyler’s Lords reform motion. Our amendment builds on the approach taken by our party in the late 1990s, when one-off zipping was used to deliver a gender-balanced cohort of Lib Dem MEPs in the first PR elections to the European Parliament.

In an ideal world we wouldn’t need these kinds of measures. But with just 12% women …

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LibLink: Lord Tyler – Restore teeth to the Lords

Lib Dem peer Lord (Paul) Tyler recently took to the Guardian’s Comment Is Free along with Labour’s Lord (Andrew) Adonis with a joint piece arguing that their fellow members of the House of Lords should back proposals to reform the second chamber.

Here’s a sample:

Any objection that reform is taking place with undue haste will not stand up to scrutiny. It is now 100 years since the passage of the Parliament Act, which states the intention to substitute the Lords with “a second chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation”.

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LibLink | Paul Tyler: Lords’ Question Time is a “farcical free-for-all”

Lord Tyler writes over at e-Politix today about the way Question Time is conducted in the Lords:

As the House’s membership has increased in recent months, Question Time has become an ever more farcical free-for-all. There are a large number of Members who wish to contribute at any one time. Newcomers are rightly mystified by the absurd way in which one has to jockey for the opportunity to speak. You have to pop up and start bellowing, ‘My Lords’, in the hope that your bellow will be more thundersome than those of competing Members, or that some Lordly recognition

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Lords reform: the Liberal Democrat trio announced

Over the weekend Mark Valladares blogged about the three Liberal Democrats being appointed to the Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament carrying out pre-legislative scrutiny committee on Lords reform:

From the Lords, representing the constitutional wonk tendency (in a good way), Lord Tyler is the first of the two nominees. Paul has been leading calls for a complete overhaul of the Second Chamber for a very long time and is one of the Party’s foremost constitutional experts…

From the Commons, that rather unusual beast, a former member of the House of Lords, John Thurso. As he has already been abolished once,

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Liberal Democrat peers: oh dear

No point beating about the bush, if you want to find several handful of Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians who I think are wrong just look to the Liberal Democrat benches in the House of Lords where, as today’s news showed, there is a very large minority opposed to introducing elections for the upper house.

Despite Lords reform having been a long-standing Liberal Democrat (and before that both SDP and Liberal Party) policy, despite the party being in a coalition committed to Lords reform (a pretty remarkable opportunity when you consider the Conservative Party’s traditional view), despite Liberal Democrat party leaders having …

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LibLink: Tyler versus Steel on Lords reform

During the week The Guardian ran an exchange between Liberal Democrats Lord Steel and Tyler – the former Liberal Party leader urging the Lib Dems to drop the party’s long-standing policy (and the Liberal Party’s before that) to introduce elections for the Lords, and Tyler responding.

Here’s a sample:

Steel: I am old enough to recall the defeat of Lords reform proposals through getting bogged down in the Commons in a war of attrition led by Michael Foot and Enoch Powell, and I fear the same may happen to these. There is no public clamour for the changes…

Tyler: Westminster is such an

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Meet the Lib Dem bloggers: Paul Tyler

Welcome to the latest in our series giving the human face behind some of the blogs you can find on the Liberal Democrat Blogs aggregator.

Today it is Liberal Democrat peer (and former MP) Paul Tyler who blogs at www.lordsoftheblog.net.

1. What’s your formative political memory?
Suez, October 29th 1956. Israel with British collusion bombed the Suez Canal on my 15th birthday!

2. When did you start blogging?
About three years ago.

3. Why did you start blogging?
I was invited to do so by the Hansard Society, who set up LordsoftheBlog to try to engage people outside Westminster in the work of the House of Lords.

4. What five words would you use to describe your blog?
Irreverent analysis of anachronistic antics.

5. What five words would you use to describe your political views?
Radical, egalitarian, pragmatic, fundamental liberal.

6. Which post have you most liked writing in the last year (and why)?
Exit Routes: this post got the most sensible comments but also has been repeated in the media.

7. Which post have you most liked reading in the last year (and why)?
The excellent analysis of Michael Ashcroft’s polling of, and focus groups with, Liberal Democrat voters: The verdict of Liberal Democrat voters so far.

8. What’s your favourite YouTube clip?
President Obama’s speech at Tucson Memorial:

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Crossbenchers increasingly hostile to Labour as government makes boundary changes

Increasing anger from crossbench peers at Labour’s filibustering in the Lords looks to be preparing the way for either Labour backing down or (for the Lords) highly unusual procedural decisions to end the filibustering. As I put it earlier in the week, if Labour loses the support of the crossbenchers, it will not only lose the struggle over this bill but weaken its ability to successfully oppose other legislation in the future.

At the same time, the government has been showing its willingness to listen to scrutiny rather than filibustering by agreeing to two changes to the ways in which …

Posted in Election law and News | Also tagged , , , and | 13 Comments

Parliamentary pillow fight as peers face all-night sittings

Members of the House of Lords are bedding down for the first ermine sleepover in recent Parliamentary history as peers debate the government’s plans to hold a referendum on electoral reform.

After eight days of the Bill at Committee Stage, there are still 165 amendments of the original 275 remaining for consideration.

From the Financial Times:

Labour peers are braced for the prospect of all-night sittings in the coming days in what the government has condemned as unprecedented “filibustering” by the opposition party.

Officials were setting out camp beds in several rooms in the House of Lords on Monday night for

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Chris Rennard writes… The battle for electoral reform in the Lords

Battle has been joined in the House of Lords over the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill (generally referred to as the PVSC Bill). Having passed all stages in the Commons, it came to the Lords this week. It needs to get to Royal Assent by the end of January for the referendum on using the Alternative Vote for future Westminster elections to be held on May 5th next year.

Two controversial measures have been put together in one Bill as part of the coalition agreement.  The Government won every vote in the Commons on this Bill with comfortable majorities. But Labour’s …

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“Appalled and embarrassed” – Paul Tyler on attitudes in the House of Lords

“Appalled and embarrassed” – that is how Liberal Democrat peer and Constitutional Affairs Spokesperson Paul Tyler described his reaction to the attitude and behaviour of some members of the House of Lords:

I have been appalled and embarrassed by the number of Peers, even including a few former Cabinet Ministers, who use the place as a convenient private club, with good parking and subsidised catering.  They never speak or even ask a question, let alone contribute to a debate.

His comments were made when discussing the publication of the Consultation on Members Leaving the House, which looked as the views of peers as part of a review to identify options for allowing people to leave the House of Lords other than through death or misconduct.

As Paul pointed out, with the use of block capitals, underlining and an exclamation mark, there are 79 peers who did not turn up (let alone speak or vote) even once in the 2009-2010 Parliamentary session. There are some very rare cases where long-term non-attendance in justifiable, and in the past some peers have spoken out over the lack of an option to retire if their health is no longer up to attending. Yet the overall picture, especially when you extend the figures to include peers who almost never turn up or who turn up but do not participate, is of large numbers who do not carry out the role of being a Parliamentarian in even the most minimally reasonable way.

There are also practical problems about the sheer size of the Lords, as Paul also commented,

The case for reducing the number of Peers is compelling:  increasing costs, not enough room for all to get into the Chamber or have desks, excessive size compared with the Commons and (most persuasively) “damage to the credibility of the House occasioned by the large number of members who take no active part in proceedings.”

Lovely dining club – with a Parliament attached

So with Lords reform in the air and promised in the Coalition agreement, you might expect peers to be thinking sensibly about how to leave behind the idea that the upper house is a lovely dining club, great car park and a mark of social distinction – with a Parliament attached.

Alas, not everyone – for the suggestions made by some of Paul’s fellow peers show how out of touch many of them are with the idea that Parliament is a place to work on holding the government to account and governing the country:

In the circumstances I cannot take seriously some of the suggested remedies to this serial non-attendance.  Giving retiring Peers “dining rights”, let alone offering the opportunity to speak but not vote, seems totally inappropriate.  As for the idea that they should be awarded an honour “on the lines of the armed services’ Long Service, Good Conduct medal”, or that their “life peerage might be converted into a hereditary peerage”, I can only suppose that somebody was taking the mickey.

Yes really: there was the suggestion that the ‘reward’ for not turning up and doing a job in the Lords should be to be given a medal. The Order of the Free Car Park perhaps?

Paul TylerPaul’s pugnacious attitude towards the views of other members of the Lords is very welcome, especially as there is a very strong rearguard action being fought by many members of the Lords against having democracy in the Lords. Or if there really must be democracy having it in as weak and diluted a form as possible – and certainly not moving any time soon to the idea that all members of the Lords should have to do a job of work there.

The political debate within Parliament and within the coalition on this is finely balanced at the moment. It may yet tip either way, as the report last week in the The Times illustrated when it talked of how:

A 300-strong mini Senate would replace the House of Lords under plans being drawn up by Nick Clegg. However, the Deputy Prime Minister is facing setbacks as he tries to deliver constitutional reform. He is having to surrender the Liberal Democrat ambition of a wholly elected Upper House amid stiff resistance from peers in all parties and will struggle to ensure that a reformed second chamber will be mainly elected.

Superficially that sounds a bad news story (and contrasts with the tone of The Times in August – “Absent peers face sack … The least active and least effective peers could be ejected at the end of each Parliament”). However a much smaller house would also up the pressure to only have minimal ‘grandfathering’ – that is letting existing members of the Lords continue in place without having to face elections – as otherwise it’d be a house dominated by the unelected.

As on so many other issues in the Coalition, it is not a simple case of Lib Dems versus Conservatives, because Cameron has no great love of many of the ranks of the Tory peers. In this case it is more a case of MPs versus peers, with honourable exceptions on the peers front including many Lib Dems such as Paul Tyler.

People such as Paul deserve our full support in those debates.

Consultation on Members Leaving the House

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Strictly Guevara

We’ve covered the press in relation to Lib Dem peer Paul Tyler over the last week in two pieces – first where he was given the slightly unlikely epithet of Che Guevara and secondly when he took a little flak for asking the BBC to publish the full details of the Strictly Come Dancing final vote.

It’s worth remembering that Lord Tyler is part of the excellent Lords of the Blog effort, and last night, he took the opportunity to answer his critics.

It strikes me that politicians are constantly under fire for being ‘out of touch’, not residing in

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Lib Dem peer demands Strictly recount

The Daily Mail reports:

A LibDem peer has joined the debate following Tom Chambers’s controversial Strictly Come Dancing win, calling Saturday’s final a ‘fiasco’.

Former North Cornwall MP Lord Tyler was called on the BBC to release the voting figures for the three finalists following producers’ decision to allow Chambers to progress from the semi-final, despite coming bottom of the judges leaderboard.

Lord Tyler has written to BBC Director General Mark Thompson, requesting the Corporation makes the voting figures public.

The story should come as no surprise on two counts, both already trailed on LDV:

1. As Paul Tyler has emerged as Parliament’s

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Paul Tyler as Che Guevara

The BBC has the story:

There’s an increasingly organised group of senior figures, ex-cabinet ministers and possible future Speakers of the Commons. They meet in distant committee rooms for dry sounding seminars about constitutional reform, and grumble about the wavering of Gordon Brown’s commitment to giving parliament more power.

In a hung parliament they might seize their moment….it’s certainly being discussed behind the scenes, and Lord Paul Tyler, a former Liberal Democrat Shadow Leader of the Commons, is one of the unlikely Che Guevaras in a sort of Parliamentary Liberation Army…its demands would include the a Commons vote to confirm any government

Posted in Parliament | 3 Comments

Opinion: Change needed

As Lynne Featherstone’s article on this site suggested, the Wednesday half hour of Prime Minister’s Questions is simply a mock medieval jousting tournament, appropriate for a mock medieval palace. As an MP, I only had to stand in for the Leader once, but I was a horrified observer for too many years.

For serious scrutiny, and real accountability, the half yearly interrogation of the PM by the Liaison Committee is potentially more valuable, and can still make good television. There the PM has to take questions – without the assistance of Ministerial colleagues or civil servants – for two whole hours, and he doesn’t get the last word. If squirming is your sport, the Liaison Committee is a good place to be a spectator.

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

New Lib Dem team announced for the Lords

Lord Thomas of Gresford has become Shadow Lord Chancellor with oversight of all the Law Officers and of legal reform. This follows Lord Goodhart’s appointment as Chair of the Delegated Powers Committee and changes in the designation of Government departments. Lord McNally and Lord Tyler will cover Constitutional Affairs, including reform of the House of Lords.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer will continue to lead the Defra team in which Lord Redesdale and Lord Teverson will cover energy, with environment, food and rural affairs continuing to be covered by Baroness Miller. Lord Redesdale becomes an agriculture spokesperson. Lord Dykes and Lord …

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