Tag Archives: phil willis

Phil Willis praises 111 service

Phil WillisPhil Willis has praised the 111 service in York for the excellent service he received recently. Speaking in the House of Lords yesterday he said:

On June 9 I had reason to call 111 because I was having a heart attack.

The response from 111 was not only excellent in York – not only at the same time did they call the paramedics, but they had me in hospital within 25 minutes to an absolutely superb accident and emergency.

He was responding to a Private Notice Question posed by a Labour peer: “To …

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This week in the Lords: 28 January – 1 February

House of LordsYes, just as late as has been the habit recently, here’s your heads up for events in the upper chamber this week… anyone would think that I didn’t have a day of my own…

It’s another long week for our Parliamentary Party, with a nod to the recent wintry weather, but Monday sees Day 2 of the Committee Stage of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, where Tony Greaves will seek to remove attempts to place further limits on the power to require information with planning applications. Frankly, when I see …

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Julian Huppert MP writes… Developing a future: Policies for science and research

Back in 2010, a survey by the Programme for International Student Assessment found that UK schoolchildren ranked 16th in Science and 28th in Maths among 65 OECD countries. Since then, little has changed.

For a country which has led the world in scientific discovery, and profited from those developments, this is deeply worrying.

We in the Lib Dems have a proud record of arguing in favour of science and research, and promoting it from the classroom to the lab. People such as Dr Evan Harris and now-Lord Phil Willis have made sure that we are seen as a pro-science party;

Posted in Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged , , and | 16 Comments

Julian Huppert MP writes… A new Lib Dem science and research policy

Britain has an excellent track record in science and research, with many great figures in natural sciences, humanities, computing, computing, engineering and mathematics over the years. We continue to outperform other countries in our achievements in these fields, in terms of outputs per person and per pound. We publish 13.8% of the world’s most cited papers, and massively outperform other countries on papers and citations per pound spent or per researcher.

However, we should not just assume that this will just continue automatically, and the UK needs both a thorough vision and policies that support science and research. It is in …

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Modernising community politics: creating communities

At the recent Social Liberal Forum conference, I took part in the panel on the Big Society and community politics. Regular readers won’t be surprised about the views I expressed on either of them (see for example here and here), but one point that I’ve not talked about for a while came out in discussion following a very pertinent question from Hackney’s Mark Smulian.

Mark rightly pointed out that the concept of community in the area where he lives, with a large transient population, was very different from what worked when community politics was first being created. Mark if …

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Lord McNally: General Election costs “broadly the same” under AV, no plans for counting machines

An exchange in the House of Lords this afternoon led Lord McNally, the Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice to exclaim, “Gosh, we are getting a lot of information today.” (contrast with David Cameron’s appearance this morning on BBC Radio 4′s Today programme)

Phil Willis (Lord Willis of Knaresborough) asked Her Majesty’s Government “what they estimate will be the costs of a general election held under the alternative vote system”.

Lord McNally replied that the costs of a general election under AV would be broadly the same as under the existing system. Any extra costs incurred by the …

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Phil Willis writes: fighting the right battles over Higher Education

That Lord Browne’s conveniently delayed report ‘SECURING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION’ recommends a significant shift for the funding of university teaching from the state to the student or graduate is hardly surprising. Indeed in January 2004 when the introduction of ‘variable fees’ was pushed through the House by Alan Johnson I stated ‘the reality is that by 2009 it will not be possible to go back to a system of state funding our universities with flat-rate fees’.

I genuinely believed that to be the case then and despite the most noble of efforts by the Liberal Democrats to …

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LibLink: Phil Willis – We must re-think the role of universities if we want to produce a world-class workforce

Former Lib Dem MP, Phil Willis – or Baron Willis of Knaresborough to give him his full title – has penned a piece for the Yorkshire Post arguing that now is the time for a radical re-think about the role and function of our universities and how they could be re-engineered to provide a world-class workforce to deliver world-class goods and services to a global economy. Until his retirement from the Commons, of course, Phil was chairman of the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Select Committee.

He has some tough things to say about the Coalition’s emergency budget:

The emergency Budget,

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Bits of election fun you may have missed

The best leaflet correction so far; you’ve got to love the biro work.

Phil Willis shows his moves (but just skip over 1 min 48 sec, ok?).

Ben Goldacre edges close to saying “Vote Lib Dem” here and here.

Esther Rantzen takes to removing Liberal Democrat posters in Luton South.

Not heard the David Cameron song? Hear it here. (Hat tip: Jonathan Calder)

And the prize for the worst campaign interview goes to UKIP leader, Lord Pearson (clip via Left Foot Forward):

Posted in General Election | Also tagged , , , , and | 4 Comments

The 7 retiring Lib Dem MPs (and the 7 candidates hoping to replace them)

Seven Lib Dem MPs have announced they’re retiring at this year’s general election. All seven are men: of their replacements, four are women. Here’s the list in full:

John Barrett (LD) – Edinburgh West

Majority: 13,600 (30%) – second safest Lib Dem seat in the UK.
Reason for leaving: to spend more time with his grand-daughters.
Hoping to succeed him: Mike Crockart.

Colin Breed (LD) – South East Cornwall

Majority: 6,507 (13%).
Reason for leaving: not stated.
Hoping to succeed him: Karen Gillard.

David Howarth (LD) – Cambridge

Majority: 5,058 (11%).
Reason for leaving: “to concentrate on my other life, as an academic.”
Hoping to succeed him: Julian Huppert.

Paul

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Evidence-based policy – MPs call for an end to homeopathy on the NHS

It isn’t often that Members of Parliament are praised, vilified as they are over their expenses, point-scoring and deference to vested interests. Yet this week has seen a moment of real clarity in Westminster, a true demonstration of how our elected leaders can exercise critical thinking and formulate policy based on objective, rational evidence – and all this over some tiny sugar pills.

Monday saw the publication of Evidence Check: Homeopathy, a report by the House of Commons Science and Technology committee (full report available as a PDF here). This report followed months of taking …

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Daily View 2×2: 4 February 2010

Good morning, on this misty day which in history saw three awful earthquakes – in Haicheng, Guatemala and Afghanistan.

This day is a birthday to American civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks (pictured) as well as to the American vice-president famously unable to spell “potato”, Dan Quayle.

Deaths on the 4th February include Liberace and American novelist novellist writer Patricia Highsmith, who wrote Strangers on a Train, The Talented Mr Ripley, and – according to Wikipedia at least – the first lesbian novel with a happy ending.

Today is also Facebook’s 6th birthday. How many other 6 year-olds earned $300m last year, had new words entered into dictionaries, and caused moral panic?

2 Big Stories

Legg Report published

Later today, Sir Thomas Legg’s report will be published on Parliament’s website. The Guardian – MPs ordered to pay back more than £1m reports:

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Interning for MPs: exploitation or experience?

Donal MacIntyre and Hannah Barnes have reported on MPs’ interns for BBC Radio 5 live:

MPs could be breaking the law by not paying their parliamentary interns. Hundreds of young graduates are putting in thousands of hours of unpaid work at Westminster. This practice is excluding many young people without independent financial support from a route that many see as the first step on the ladder to a political career. But, this is not just a question of pushing the bounds of fairness. Minimum wage regulations require that some of these interns should be paid.”

You can listen to the podcast of last Sunday’s show “Parliament’s unpaid workers” here.

Among Liberal Democrat MPs, practices vary: Phil Willis and Alistair Carmichael pay their interns the national minimum wage while others pay only travel and lunch expenses.

I spoke to Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, who puts his interns on a contract as part-time researchers:

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How much do national University standards matter?

The BBC reports:

Universities in England are failing to safeguard degree standards, according to a damning report from MPs. The current system for ensuring quality is “out of date and should be replaced”, the Commons universities select committee concluded. “… “We are extremely concerned that inconsistency in standards is rife and there is a reluctance to address this issue,” said Mr Willis, chair of the Commons Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee.

Lib Dem blogger ‘Costigan Quist’ is sanguine:

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Can you help save Bletchley Park for the nation?

Lib Dem councillor and blogger Mary Reid has issued the following plea, which The Voice is delighted to advertise further:

Lib Dem MP Phil Willis has put down EDM 1935 as follows:

FUNDING FOR BLETCHLEY PARK (20.07.2009)
Willis, Phil

That this House recognises the signficance of Bletchley Park, historic site of secret British code-breaking activities during the Second World War and birthplace of the modern computer; acknowledges that the use of the intelligence gained at Bletchley Park and subsequent related actions of the Allies is said to have shortened the Second World War by two years, saving countless lives; and calls on

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Willis challenges Mandelson over student places funding squeeze

The Telegraph reports:

Students are facing a desperate scramble to get into university amid warnings of a further squeeze on places. … On Wednesday night, Phil Willis, the committee’s Liberal Democrat chairman, wrote to Lord Mandelson to ask how he would meet the huge demand for higher education triggered by the recession. It represents Lord Mandelson’s first test since taking over the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in the Cabinet reshuffle.

Student leaders have already warned of looming chaos as thousands of teenagers leave school and college without university places or employment. By April this year, almost 525,000

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Phil Willis latest Lib Dem MP named by Telegraph

We have a rather belated entrant into the pantheon of Lib Dem MPs accused by the Telegraph of having abused the expenses system: Harrogate and Knaresborough’s Phil Willis.

The full Telegraph story is here. Tracing the sequence from the newspaper’s (actually rather confusing) report, it appears Phil’s main residence is near Harrogate, and he bought a basement flat as his London base a decade ago (presumably when first elected). So far no story.

However, in April 2007, Phil bought the neighbouring basement flat for £215,000, and designated it as his second home, claiming some expenses for stamp duty, legal …

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Dawn Butler under fire for not turning up to Parliamentary committee meetings

The Times today carries an interesting piece about the very low attendance rate at select committee meetings from some MPs. Select committees, and their reports, can be very influential, and particularly for those MPs who are not ministers or in the top media starts of other parties, select committee work is often the most effective way to exercise influence on matters outside their constituency.

There’s missing a few for good reason, and then there’s missing a lot:

Dawn Butler, another Labour MP who was promoted from the back benches last October, attended only 15 of the 64 meetings of the Children,

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PMQs – Nick Clegg, the single mother’s friend

Our usual insightful team of commentators are away from their desks this lunchtime so it falls to me to report PMQs,

Questions from Cameron about recapitalisation allowed the PM to patronise him on economic answers. A slip of the tongue for the PM led to him telling the house he had saved the world.  Chutzpah much?

Alan Simpson, the Labour rebel for Nottingham South (including the ward I represent) pointed out the value of saving the world when you have an opposition that can’t even save face. He went on to ask whether now is the time to introduce a Tobin

Posted in News and PMQs | Also tagged | 72 Comments



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