Tag Archives: stephen williams

Stephen Williams calls for zero tolerance of homophobia on football terraces

Stephen Williams MPLiberal Democrat Communities Minister has called for the FA, football clubs and the Police to work together to combat homophobia on football terraces.

From Pink News:

He said: “We need to stamp out homophobia on the terraces with the same vigour that we banished racism. It isn’t acceptable that footballers still feel the need to hide their sexuality out of fear of abuse.

“I want homophobia to be treated with zero tolerance just the same as racism and I want clubs, stewards, the police and FA to work even harder to

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David Ward apologises for his tweet and calls for more action by world community to end humanitarian crisis in Gaza

David WardDavid Ward has apologised for last night’s tweet,  saying that he does not condone firing rockets into Israel. Here’s his statement in full:

I utterly condemn the violence on both sides in Israel and Gaza.

I condemn the actions of Hamas, and my comments were not in support of firing rockets into Israel. If they gave the opposite impression, I apologise.

However, while I defend the right of Israel to exist and defend itself, I will continue to speak out for the rights of the Palestinian people who are facing untold suffering. More must be done by the world community to end this humanitarian crisis and protect the families living in Gaza. I can understand their plight and desperation.

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Stephen Williams on Quentin Letts: “I’m gay, Welsh, bald, slightly disabled – he’s been a s**t, a b*****d”

Stephen Williams MPIt’s safe to say Quentin Letts is not on Bristol West MP Stephen Williams’ Christmas card list. Speaking to Total Politics, he talks candidly about his experiences on the campaign trail and the hurt of being ridiculed by the Daily Mail’s Quentin Letts about the effects of his neurological disability.

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Liblink: Stephen Williams on zero carbon homes by 2016

Stephen Williams MPThe Queen’s speech tomorrow will include a Lib Dem commitment to make every new home built in England from 2016 zero carbon. As Stephen Williams says:

This was one of Nick’s earliest environmental priorities and it has taken the combined guile and will power of Sir Andrew Stunell, Don Foster and myself as well as Nick’s dogged determination to make it a reality.

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LibLink: Tim Farron – In 2010, we promised to deliver the Pupil Premium. In 2015, I want us to promise to deliver the Student Premium

Tim Farron speaking - Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsLib Dem party president Tim Farron has given his personal backing to the Lib Dems promising a Student Premium – modelled on the well-received Pupil Premium – at the next election. First proposed by his colleague Stephen Williams, Tim writes the Student Premium “could potentially change the game in terms of student uptake, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds”. Here’s an excerpt of his article for the April issue of the magazine, Politics First:

The Pupil Premium is being delivered only because the Liberal

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Video: Stonewall says thank you on equal marriage

Four weeks on Saturday, the first same sex marriages will take place in England. Scotland will have to wait a bit longer, till the Autumn.

You’ll remember the emotions of the parliamentary debates on this. In order to say thank you to all the parliamentarians who contributed, as well as to all the people who campaigned for equal marriage, Stonewall have released this video which shows highlights of some of the best parliamentary speeches made by lesbian, gay and bisexual parliamentarians. Our own  Liz Barker, Stephen Gilbert and Stephen Williams are featured. It made us smile and is just the thing to brighten up a February Monday. Enjoy.

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Stephen Williams says ‘Ask Me Anything’

Stephen Williams MPStephen Williams used reddit yesterday to answer questions put by his constituents in Bristol West.  He answered questions about web filters, homelessness, foreign policy, CCTV, voting reform, fracking, Bristol’s Mayor, HS2 and academies.

And this:

What is your favourite type of cheese?

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Lib Dem members back plain cigarette packaging, but more evenly divided on minimum alcohol pricing

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. More than 600 party members have responded, and we’re publishing the full results.

Two-thirds of Lib Dem members back plain cigarette packaging

Do you support or oppose banning brightly coloured branding and packaging for cigarettes and introducing plain packs?

    40% – Strongly support
     
    26% – Tend to support

    Total support = 66%
     
    17% – Tend to oppose
     
    11% – Strongly oppose

    Total oppose = 28%
     
    5% – Don’t know

Two-thirds of Lib …

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Stephen Williams gets award from World Health Organisation for anti smoking work

Stephen and Anna Soubry - WHO AwardEvery year on World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organisation gives out medals to people who have made outstanding contributions to tobacco control.

There were just six awards given out in Europe, and one of them was to Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West, Stephen Williams, who was nominated by two organisations, Action on Smoking and Health and Smokefree South West.

He was presented with the medal by Health Minister Anna Soubry today. The Minister backed his campaign for plain packaging of cigarettes.

Since he …

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Total Politics makes Stephen Williams MP of the month for votes at 16 campaign

Stephen Williams MPLiberal Democrat MP for Bristol West Stephen Williams is Total Politics magazine’s MP of the month for April persuading the Commons to pass his motion calling on the Government to make progress towards lowering the voting age to 16. We brought you the story earlier this year.

Total Politics wrote about Stephen’s work:

The MP’s care for young people’s representation is self-evident, as he has also served on the children, schools and families committee and education and skills committee. In 2006, he organised the latter committee’s first inquiry into

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Equal marriage: the speeches of Stephen Gilbert, Stephen Williams and Simon Hughes

Last night saw the House of Commons approve the second reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill. Three Lib Dem MPs spoke, and here are their contributions to that historic debate…

steve gilbertStephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay) (LD):

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Toby Perkins), who has articulated what many people of faith across our country have struggled with before coming to the conclusion that love should be for one and all and that marriage should not be an exclusive institution.

I declare an interest:

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LibLink…Stephen Williams MP: The time has come for votes at 16

On Saturday, Hannah Bettsworth and Jenny Marr of Liberal Youth Scotland encouraged us all to lobby our MPs to vote for a motion tabled by Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West Stephen Williams calling for the voting age to be reduced at 16.

Stephen himself has now written a post on his own blog outlining why this issue is so important to him.

I have long believed that 16 year olds are mature enough to vote, if they want to. Years of experience of talking and listening to sixth form and college students has convinced me that enough of them have the

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Opinion: Lobby MPs on votes at 16 ahead of Commons debate this week

Liberal Youth Votes at 16 banner

Stephen Williams MP has recently brought forward a motion about extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds: this means that the House of Commons will debate the issue on 24th January. In 2005 his motion on the topic failed by just 8 votes. As such, it’s exceedingly important that as many MPs who support votes at 16 attend the debate and vote if possible.

Liberal Youth Scotland has been strongly pushing for votes at 16 for all referendums and elections this …

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In other news… Teather on pupil premium, State of play for Welsh Lib Dems & other stories

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

Teather: Pupil premium ‘changing the way schools think’ (BBC)

The Liberal Democrat MP and minister at the Department of Education Sarah Teather, said the policy is about “changing the whole way schools think”. Speaking to The World At One, she said there is a “scandalous gap” between those from poor backgrounds and those from wealthier backgrounds. ” about focusing money on the individual child regardless of where that child is,” she told Martha Kearney. Under the policy, by this September schools in England

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LibLink: Stephen Williams says MPs should move their money from big banks

In an article in The Spectator, Stephen Williams argues:

The Libor scandal has shown the UK’s banking sector in its worst light. The public has lost trust in the big banks and are concerned that their politicians are more interested in political point scoring than the urgent task of fixing our broken banking system.

That is why, last year, I joined the Move Your Money campaign, which urges the public to use their consumer power to change the behaviour of the big banks by moving their money, or at least some of it, to ethical, local or mutual financial institutions.

He has …

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LibLink: Stephen Williams – Where now for Lords reform

Over on his blog, Stephen Williams, Lib Dem MP for Bristol West, has penned his thought’s on Tuesday’s Lords reform result. Here’s a sample:

First the positive bit.  A vote of 462 – 124 in favour of a Bill that has a second chamber predominately elected by a proportional voting system is a major step forward.  This confirms the fact that there is a substantial majority of MPs who favour radical House of Lords reform.

But…the Bill may now be tripped up by petty party political games in the Commons.  The Bill will get nowhere without a timetable for consideration of 60

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In other news… Mensch sticks up for Clegg, Rennie takes on Salmond, Bristol mayoral election latest & other stories

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

On day UKUncut protestors targeted Clegg family home, Tory MP Louise Mensch urges people to donate £5 to Lib Dem funds (ConHome)

Louise Mensch, the Tory MP for Corby is recommending that her followers donate £5 to the Liberal Democrats for today only. She thinks it will show solidarity with the Cleggs who have been targeted by UNuncut protestors today. Hundreds gathered outside the Putney home of the Lib Dem leader, some chained themselves to railings and they held a noisy but apparently

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Two anniversaries: Norman Baker and Stephen Williams

From Stephen Williams’s blog:

Twenty years ago today I was a candidate, nervously awaiting the outcome of my first electoral contest …

My campaign in 1992 would have been recognisable to candidates from previous decades.  Our volunteers delivered two leaflets and knocked on every door in the ward.  The leaflet text was composed on a typewriter and the black and white photographs were turned into dots for printing by a photo bureau.  The canvass cards for door knocking were made by me and my agent (Sean Emmett, cllr for

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Labour put down tax amendment that would have given Tories tax cut they want – which Lib Dems stopped

I realise that Parliamentary shenanigans and point scoring isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s worth pointing out that Labour today squandered a relatively good position going into the first PMQs of the new Parliamentary term. Ed Miliband had an open goal ahead of him given controversy over the pensioners’ tax allowance,  “pasty tax” and charity tax relief yet he and his strategists still managed to misunderstand parliamentary procedure to a ludicrous extent. He’s just lucky that more excitable members of the Tory benches didn’t take their chance to have some fun.

Miliband looked not to Labour big hitters of the …

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The 50p tax rate is not for dropping – the leadership’s line

Given some of the recent speculation over the 50p tax rate, the speech from Stephen Williams (Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Party Committee on the Treasury) opening the debate on tax policy was significant:

Now is not the right time to drop the 50p tax rate.

The full context left open if there might ever be a right time, but unlike speculation in The Times a few days back, there was no offer of trading off the 50p rate against the introduction of a mansion tax.

His comments also reflected the text of the motion passed, which included:

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Blog of the Year Awards 2011: The Winners #LDBOTY

What’s loosely termed the awards “ceremony” for the 2011 Liberal Democrat Blog of the Year Awards has just drawn to a glittering close. As the last firework fades in Birmingham’s night sky, I’m delighted to announce the winners:

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Stephen Williams: Labour spent £38m taxpayer cash on News International advertising

From a party news release:

The Government spent nearly £38m on advertising in News International titles between 2005 and 2010, a Parliamentary answer to Co-chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Treasury Committee, Stephen Williams, has revealed.

The figures show:

  • More than £17m was spent advertising in The Sun, including £4.5m between April 2009 and March 2010.
  • More than £7m was spent advertising in the News of the World, including £1.8m between April 2009 and March 2010.
  • £877,153 was spent advertising in all News International titles between April 2010 and March 2011.

Commenting, Stephen Williams said:

Despite the dire state of public finances, the Labour Government continued

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Opinion: Stephen Williams is right to support the criminalisation of squatting

It’s always a pleasure to see a Liberal Democrat MP standing up for our core liberal values. And among the core principles of liberalism, private ownership of property is of huge importance.

So it’s truly gratifying to see that Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West, is taking a stand to protect owners of property from being dispossessed. Stephen has given his support to legislation, to be brought before parliament by the government, to criminalise squatting.

This is highly welcome and long overdue. Squatting has for too long been portrayed as a victimless crime, a Robin Hood grab …

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Clegg’s bailed-out banks’ shares give-away proposal triggers national debate

Nick Clegg’s very public call for the British public to be given shares in the bailed-out banks — creating 46 million shareholders and allowing collective ownership of banks — has garnered acres of coverage the past couple of days.

It’s three months since Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams first proposed the privatisation of its 83% stake in RBS and 41% in Lloyds by distributing shares to the public. Here’s what my co-editor Mark Pack said about the idea at the time:

Giving everyone shares in the banks: Stephen Williams’s proposals examined (7th March, 2011)
Stephen Williams’s plan is to give shares

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Opinion: Liberal Youth promote intergenerational fairness for Bank Shares

Nick Clegg’s innovative proposal to give the public shares in Lloyds and RBS is enthusiastically welcomed by Liberal Youth: but we believe that these reforms can go even further. Young people are bearing the brunt of the recession caused by the banks both in a lack of jobs and lost funding for education, and because it is the next generation that will be paying off the government’s debt for years to come. It is only right the government should give something back to them.

While Nick’s proposal represents exactly the kind of fairness that Liberal Democrats seek to bring to …

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The Budget: the Liberal Democrat influence

Earlier today the Liberal Democrat Press Office’s Phil Reilly tweeted, “Income Tax cut – from the front page of the @libdems manifesto to the pockets of 25m taxpayers”.

Certainly better to pick from the front page than the back page, as announcing a barcode would have been lacking a little in interest (except, perhaps, to one of my former economics lecturers, who once tried to persuade us that the checksums on barcodes matched up with a warning from the Bible and predicted an imminent Second Coming).

That however wasn’t the only major policy was a distinct Liberal Democrat flavour to it. So too was the news about pensions. As Stephen Williams MP put it, “Proposals for a £140 flat rate pension, together with the Lib Dem commitment of restoring the earnings link, will ensure our pensioners get a fair deal”.

HM Treasury logoBoth of those announcements were unsurprising, but one decision that had been up in the air was over the Green Investment Bank and how much power it really would have. George Osborne’s previous strange absence from the debate was put to rest when he announced a series of pieces of good news on the Green Investment Bank: starting a year earlier, £2 billion more in funds and, crucially, it can borrow. As Paul Waugh put it “Big victory for Cable”, not to mention Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg, who had taken the lead in settling the internal debate over how much powers to give.

Amongst the details was success for the long-standing Liberal Democrat calls for water rates relief in the South West, though overall the details did not add up to a particularly green budget, Green Investment Bank aside. The IFS’s initial analysis is that, “The Chancellor also insisted that green taxes will rise as a proportion of total receipts. This remains the case on current Treasury forecasts, but by the narrowest of margins”. Some of the non-financial measures, such as the new standard for zero-carbon homes, give the Budget a greater overall green tinge than the pure financial numbers show. How deep that tinge is will depend on how measures such as the presumption in favour of sustainable development pan out when the details are settled.

Here’s the email from Nick Clegg to party supporters about the Budget:

Today the coalition government has announced a budget that will return the UK to sustainable and balanced economic growth and which puts helping Alarm Clock Britain at its heart.

We are increasing the income tax threshold by £630 to £8105; lifting hundreds of thousands of low income earners out of paying income tax and putting £126 back in the pockets of low and middle income earners. This is in addition to the last budget that took nearly a million of the lowest income earners out of tax and made millions of hard working individuals £200 better off. We are making a real difference in people’s lives – from the front page of our manifesto to people’s back pockets.

Alarm Clock Britain will be further helped by the measures we have taken to give motorists a fairer deal. We are shifting taxation away from the pumps and onto the broader shoulders of the oil companies instead – with fuel duty being cut and taxation on oil companies rising.

At the same time we are making the wealthy pay their fair share with increased measures to tackle tax avoidance, higher charges for non-doms and a special tax on private jets. This budget also places green growth front and centre – the Green Investment Bank will begin operation next year with £3bn of capitalisation, delivering an additional £18bn of investment in green infrastructure by 2014-15.

We were left a toxic economic legacy by Labour with a record deficit and debt. Under Ed Balls Labour have no answers and solutions to the mess they left. The difficult decisions we have taken in government have rebuilt confidence in Britain’s ability to pay its way, kept interest rates lower than they would otherwise have been, and have provided the stability that business and individuals need to invest in the UK’s economy.

There are no easy decisions in this budget. But we are delivering a budget which will mean that that those who can pay more will; and those who are working hard to make ends meet will get a helping hand. This budget is progressive, green, liberal and what our country needs at this time.

Earlier in the day Danny Alexander took to YouTube to talk about the Budget:

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The Independent View: How the Stephen Williams plans for the banks would work

Portman Capital, an independent corporate advisory firm, has been asked to comment upon the technical issues raised by Mark Pack’s column on Stephen Williams’ proposal to privatise RBS and Lloyds by distributing the shares to the public. Portman Capital is not politically aligned and its comments are intended to explain the technical feasibility of the proposal rather than its political aspects.

The proposal to distribute the shares to the UK people is innovative, and as the British people will participate without having to provide cash up front, it has fairness at its core. Over time, the scheme is likely to …

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Giving everyone shares in the banks: Stephen Williams’s proposals examined

This morning saw the launch of a plan for giving away bank shares from Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams. Laid out in a pamphlet published by CentreForum, Stephen Williams’s plan is to give shares owned by the government in the banks to everyone on the electoral register. A floor would be set so the shares could not be sold until they had passed the price paid by the government and individuals would only keep any gains made above that floor price. In other words, as the shares rise in price and get sold the government gets back the funds it put into the banks and, if the banks do well, the public gets to profit from that.

It’s a neat idea, and one of the first substantive plans for what the government could do with its 83% of RBS and 41% of Lloyds. As is to be expected with any plan for such a controversial area, it raises a number of questions.

First, the government only gets back the money put into the banks if people sell their shares. If people hold on to them, those funds do not come back to government – and in particular that means a large source of possible government funds ends up being highly dependent on what can be very volatile stock markets. Such uncertainty would apply to other policies too – including direct government selling of shares on the stock market – but it is still an issue.

Second, even leaving aside the uncertainty, would this route raise more or less money for the government than a straight-forward sell off of shares? Stephen Williams and colleagues think so, as their Q&A explains,

The absolute and relative size of the Government’s shareholdings in Lloyds Group, and RBS make it conventional exit through share sales impossible at a reasonable price. In other words, shares would have to be sold at a substantial discount over many transactions over a number of years. This increases the risk that the public would never get its money back – as has happened in the US, where the Obama Administration has lost at least $10bn in selling a tranche of its GM shares.

Third, the degree to which shareholders have failed to hold boards of directors to account has been bad enough even with big institutional shareholders, let alone with mass small-scale shareholdings. But given how poor institutional shareholders have been, would this situation really be that much worse?

Fourth, by giving the same amount of shares to everyone, there is a neat piece of simplicity combined with fairness. Because the sale of shares would be subject to capital gains tax, the initial allocation of shares would have the virtue of simplicity whilst subsequent capital gains tax revenues would mean that the richest end up paying more of what they have been given back in tax.

Fifth, although I said “simplicity”, relying on the electoral registers raises issues of principle and practicality. The principle is about whether the electoral register should be used solely for electoral purposes. The practicality is about the accuracy of the electoral register. The offer of money in return for being on the register would most likely be an extra incentive for people to register, but what about then deliberate fraudulent register entries? Having a system that is resistant to fraud makes the idea not quite as simple as it looks at first.

(Strictly speaking, it’s not just the electoral register the proposal uses. As the Q&A explains, shares would go to “those on the electoral roll for UK elections who are resident in the UK for tax purposes. In addition, non-UK nationals serving in HM Forces and their dependents should be eligible on the same basis”.)

In other words, there are plenty of questions that the scheme raises, but as this is a proposal designed to help set the political agenda rather than a finely worked out imminent piece of legislation, that is as much a compliment as anything else. It’s a good contribution to the debate.

The Facebook page to support this proposal is at http://www.facebook.com/supportpublicshares.

Getting your share of the banks: Stephen Williams

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Clegg points to “clear liberal direction” of government, as Lib Dems highlight Labour’s economic woes

Nick Clegg used a prime-time slot on this morning’s Today Programme to make clear his view that the public will take a “more rounded view” of the Lib Dems’ achievements in government by the next election. As BBC News reports:

said the effect of the spending cuts would be “difficult”, adding: “But I think at the same time there are signs that the repair job we are doing on the government finances and the general creation of greater confidence in the economy might also start showing itself as well.

“I think it will be a crucial year – a crucial year, yes, of some very challenging circumstances for millions of people in this country, but I hope the beginning of a real turnaround as we move forward and as we successfully implement the repair job on the economy.” …

Asked whether the Lib Dems had been unsuccessful in implementing their manifesto commitments since forming the coalition, he replied that they had gone into the arrangement with the Conservatives “with our eyes wide open”. He said policies such as electoral reform, raising the point at which people pay basic-rate income tax and introducing a “pupil premium” to help children from the worst-off families had been largely due to his party’s efforts. Mr Clegg added: “I think this shows a clear liberal direction to this government, on the whole.”

He said: “These are the big benefits in British life which I acknowledge in a sense don’t present themselves immediately to people. Over the course of this parliament I believe people will take a more rounded view of what this government is doing.”

You can listen to a brief excerpt from Nick’s interview here:

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Wlliams: RBS must use profits to help struggling businesses

RBS is the latest British bank to return to profit, with the 84% state-owned bank reporting a first-half pre-tax profit of £1.14bn yesterday. This prompted Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Treasury Policy Committee, Stephen Williams, to make call for RBS to make greater efforts to assist UK firms:

RBS is almost entirely owned by the taxpayer, so these huge profits must be used for the national interest and not just to pay massive bonuses to senior staff. There is no excuse for RBS not to loan to good British companies that are struggling to get credit. We cannot simply allow

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