Author Archives: John Shipley

John Shipley writes: A Federal England – what should it mean?

Late last year I was asked by the Federal Policy Committee to chair a working group on regional powers in England within a Federal UK. The group was charged with developing policy on powers for the level between local government and the Federal government, taking into account the broader vision set out in conference motion “The Creation of a Federal United Kingdom” (passed at Autumn Conference in 2020). The group was asked to build on existing policy as set out in policy paper 117 Power to the People (2014) and policy paper 130 Power for People and Communities (2018) and consider models from other Federal States such as the Federal Republic of Germany.

A modernised Federal United Kingdom has long been a key priority for Liberal Democrats – encompassing a fair voting system for all elections, reforming the House of Lords into a Senate, and developing a written constitution.

The motion passed in September 2020 represents an important foundation for the creation of an England of the Regions

It sets out principles for the UK to become a union of its nations and regions.  In relation to England, it says we believe in a truly federal United Kingdom with an equitable distribution of resources between different parts of the United Kingdom based on their respective needs. It refers to federal and state governments in which subsidiarity applies to the nations and regions of the Union and in which the exercise of public responsibilities is decentralised as much as is reasonably practicable. It says that the Upper House should become representative of the nations and regions of the United Kingdom and that there would be a federal Council of Ministers to enable the governments and parliaments of the various parts of the Union to work better, building on the work of joint ministerial committees.

The motion however says nothing about local government. It does not say how many English regions there should be, nor what exact powers they should have. It does not say anything about taxation or how resources would be redistributed. It implies each region can have ministers but not for which departments. Clearly, the detail needs to be filled in – hence the working group.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 34 Comments

Lord John Shipley writes…Five foundations for the Housing White Paper

The lack of affordable housing in the UK is at crisis point. On average, house prices are now almost seven times people’s incomes and over 1.6 million people are on housing waiting lists in the UK, including 124 000 homeless children. This means that the Government’s White Paper on housing has been highly anticipated. But it needs to be extraordinarily ambitious to tackle the severity of the housing crisis.

It is too late then to simply paper over the cracks. We need a radical, far-reaching and comprehensive approach to housing. That is why the Liberal Democrats are calling for a complete overhaul of the housing system, with an emphasis on five key solutions.

Creating more affordable homes for rent

20% of the population lives in private rented accommodation. And yet, private sector rents have become unacceptably high in many parts of Britain, most notably in London. Many renters are now paying more than half their disposable income in rent.

That is why we have been calling for government investment in a new generation of quality homes for rent that are affordable for those on low and middle incomes. This means increasing the access to finance for councils and housing associations and reversing the sell-off of higher value homes.

Because the need for affordable homes for rent is now so severe, this should be accompanied by an increase in the use of offsite construction, or prefabs, to speed up the house-building process.

However, Brexit has complicated this picture. That’s because building costs will increase significantly due to the rising cost of imported materials and because it will be harder to recruit vital workers from Europe who are needed in some parts of the UK and to create the certainty necessary for investment.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 8 Comments

Conference: There is an urgent need for more social housing

Lord Shipley gives some of the background to Amendment 2 to the Economy Motion. 

A year ago our Party committed itself to building up to 300,000 new homes a year. The proposals were outlined in the housing policy paper Decent Homes for All. The aim was to achieve this by supporting private investment and by giving greater powers to local councils and social landlords.

A shortage of homes has made it extremely difficult for young people to buy their own home. Rents continue to rise to unaffordable levels for many and 500,000 people in work now receive housing benefit because …

Posted in Conference | Tagged , and | 10 Comments

Lord John Shipley’s maiden speech

In recent weeks, LDV has been bringing its readers copies of our new MPs’ first words in the House of Commons, so that we can read what is being said and respond. You can find all of the speeches in this category with this link. Today’s guest editor Mark Valladares feels that it was only right that the same honour should be offered to new Peers, and here we bring you the words of Lord Shipley.

Lord Shipley: My Lords, it is with a great sense of privilege, tinged with a certain degree of nervousness, that I rise to make my maiden speech in this debate, particularly after so many distinguished contributions and excellent maiden speeches have been made already. I thank all the staff, all my colleagues and my sponsors for the warmth of their welcome and for their willingness to go out of their way to explain the workings of the House to me. There is much to learn. The support that I have received has been exceptional and I am deeply grateful for it.

I am a Yorkshireman by birth, although not from the town whose name I bear. I was born and brought up on the Yorkshire coast, in Whitby, but have been an adopted Geordie for the past 40 years in Newcastle upon Tyne, where I worked for many years for the Open University and where I have been a councillor for more than 30 years. I would like to concentrate on that latter connection in this debate.

Posted in Parliament | Tagged and | 2 Comments
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