Author Archives: Baroness Cathy Bakewell

The Ivory Bill passes the Lords

On Tuesday 13th November the Government’s Ivory Bill had its third reading in the Lords and passed through to receive Royal Assent. This was a landmark piece of legislation to go some way towards protecting elephants, especially the African elephant, who are poached for their ivory. Currently approximately 20,000 elephants a year are still being slaughtered for their ivory. This unsustainable rate equates to one every 25 minutes. We have now reached the stage where more elephants are being killed by poachers, than live elephant calves are being born every year.

The aim of the Bill was to take most of the value out of trading in ivory and so make ivory objects worthless. All import and export of ivory, whether raw or in objects, is banned with four exceptions: –

  • Pre-1918 items of outstanding artistic value and pre-1918 portrait miniatures with a surface area of less than 320 square centimetres;
  • Pre-1975 musical instruments where the ivory is less than 20% of the total volume of the instrument;
  • Pre-1947 items with low ivory content with less than 10% ivory of the total volume; and
  • Acquisitions between qualifying museums

All items which qualify as exceptions must now be registered and have a licensed certificate which accompanies that item throughout its future ownership. There are heavy fines and the possibility of imprisonment for anyone found to be illegally trading in ivory.

Posted in Parliament | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

The tirade of Government defeats on housing has begun

warmer homesA few weeks ago I wrote on Lib Dem Voice about the full throttle attack that Lib Dems in the Lords are undertaking on the Housing and Planning Bill – one of the shoddiest pieces of legislation put before Parliament for well over a decade.

Yesterday the votes began and the Government was defeated twice – a sign of things to come. Getting this controversial bill through may prove Cameron’s toughest legislative battle yet.

Posted in Parliament | 8 Comments

6 things we’re fighting for on the Housing Bill

The housing crisis is going from bad to worse in many parts of the country. Action is desperately needed to make housing more affordable for people. We need to ensure we have enough homes in the right places, and that homes are sustainable and decent quality for people to live in.

Terraced housing

I am leading a large team of Lib Dem peers who are fighting hard to amend the Housing and Planning Bill. We have serious concerns that the Bill will make things worse for people in need of affordable housing, will lead to an increase in homelessness, and will drive up the housing benefit bill.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 10 Comments

Baroness Cathy Bakewell writes… Lib Dem Lords act to stop retaliatory evictions

Yesterday, we moved forward in protecting vulnerable tenants by protecting them from the questionable practice of retaliatory evictions. This is the culmination of a process started by Sarah Teather MP on 28th November when she secured a private Members Bill on Tenancies (Reform) to deal with the problems caused by Retaliatory Evictions.  Sadly there were members in the Commons that day who were themselves landlords, did not share the ethos of the Bill and talked it out of time.  So it was a great privilege for Lib Dems in the Lords to be able to support the essence of Sarah’s Bill in the amendment we debated yesterday. Sarah Teather deserves a lot of credit for her efforts to end this pointless suffering. And for the work she did in the commons to stand up to right wing Tories all too willing to see this continue.

The amendment is not about penalising conscientious landlords, nor is it about protecting bad tenants who do not respect the property they are renting.  It is about protecting the rights of both groups and giving security to tenants, who when reporting a fault which affects their ability to live happily in their home, will not dread an eviction notice landing on the doormat as a result.  It gives a clear signal to those landlords who currently ignore the state of their properties, that this is no longer acceptable.  If such landlords engage in a regular programme of maintenance, they are likely to have a much better relationship with their tenants, reduce the incidence of costly tenancy turnover and be less likely to face expensive repair bills for major incidents, such as collapsed ceilings due to persistent leaks.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 4 Comments
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