Author Archives: Jim Wallace

Speech: Jim Wallace – Progressives must come together to work to heal our fractured country

Jim Wallace delivered this speech in the House of Lords on Tuesday. We thought readers might wish to read it in full.

My Lords, as I expressed during our discussions last week, I was devastated by the result of the referendum. I, along with many Noble Friends and many Liberal Democrats, have a profound and deep-rooted commitment to partnership with our European neighbours. Internationalism is in our very DNA. Our commitment is not to an institution in a particular form; rather it is a commitment to the beliefs and ideals of the wider European undertaking– of a peaceful, prosperous and united Europe, kindling a spirit of reconciliation and mutual cooperation among members.

This is something that I and many Noble Friends have striven for our entire political lives. So the result of the referendum last week is felt very personally on these benches.

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Kerslake report: some strikingly Liberal Democrat conclusions

One of our proudest achievements as a party is the success of our unwavering advocacy of devolution to Scotland and Wales. Without us, and without the pressure of the Scottish Constitutional Convention, it is likely Tony Blair would have abandoned the project. And some of our party’s first successes in government were as part of the partnership agreement with Labour in Holyrood, where I was proud to lead the first Scottish Executive alongside the late Donald Dewar.

Political developments in Scotland since might lead some to say that devolution has been dangerous for the Union. I disagree. It is bad enough …

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Lord Jim Wallace writes: New Lib Dem colleagues will campaign with me to reform House of Lords

It is desperately disappointing that to many people outside Westminster, the impression that they have of the House of Lords is that espoused by the press over the course of this summer following the reported behaviour of Lord Sewel.

In the days and weeks that have followed, we have seen many claims that Peers abuse their privileged position by not pulling their weight and not taking seriously the role that they are supposed to perform by virtue of their membership of the Lords.

This view is compounded by the fact that no member of the House of Lords has been elected by the general public to be in that position. And each and every one is secure in that membership for life. This is fundamentally wrong.

Regrettably, the good work of our Peers has been overshadowed by a few members of the Lords who, over the years, have shown disregard for their status and responsibility as public servants.

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Devo 15: Lord Jim Wallace writes.. Next 15 years represents inspiring opportunity to build on devolution success

Scottish Parliament 23 May 06 061Before going in to address a class of first year law students at Aberdeen University, last November, the head of the Law School took me aside and said, “Just to be aware. Most of your audience can’t remember a Scotland without a Scottish Parliament.” And, of course, these students were only about four years old, when the first elections to that Parliament were held fifteen years ago last week.

To those of us who campaigned so long and hard to create the Parliament, it doesn’t seem so long ago.

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A longer read for the weekend: “The Law’s the Law, for A’ That” – Legal Reflections on the Scottish Independence Referendum

Piper outside Court of Judiciary Some rights reserved by @ B E L ™We’re grateful to the Lib Dem Lawyers’ Association for sending through to us the recent lecture given by Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC, Advocate General for Scotland and Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords. He gave this year’s ’80 Club’ Lecture, posted below…

When I was appointed Advocate General for Scotland, following the formation of the Coalition Government in May 2010, a reporter from the Annandale Observer, the local newspaper which covers my native town of Annan, phoned to ask if I was the first Liberal Democrat ever to hold the post.

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Lord Jim Wallace writes… Secret courts: only where absolutely necessary

Securocrats arguing for increased judicial scrutiny of their actions? Human rights groups praising the collapse of cases brought alleging torture against the Government?

Like me I suspect, you will suspect this is some elaborate joke, or indeed a typographical error.

But in fact these are indeed the seemingly bizarre positions into which these perennial adversaries have put themselves.

In the last few days we have seen some spectacular attempts to redefine the content of the Government’s Justice & Security Bill, casting all sorts of hyperbole and confusion on what should be a cool-headed debate.

The authors of these counsels of despair could do worse …

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Lord Jim Wallace writes… We want to enhance scrutiny of the security services, not evade it

Let’s be clear: the original proposals in the Justice and Security Green Paper were too broad. The Government has listened and, as Tom Brake wrote last month, has ensured that the Bill before the House of Lords now is much narrower and more focussed on the problem at hand.

However, in the recent media furore about Nick Clegg’s red lines and changes to the Bill, I feel that a proper discussion about what this problem actually is has been lost.

So let me set out clearly the problem that we need to solve. At the moment, judges cannot hear evidence gathered …

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