Author Archives: Lord Tom McNally

Lord McNally writes…David Miranda and the reform of Schedule 7

Being a Lib Dem Minister in Government has both its pleasures and its downsides. One of the downsides is that if anything hits the headlines concerning civil liberties there are some in the Party who instantly assume that Lib Dem ministers have been passive and quiescent whilst human rights are trampled under foot. The case of David Miranda, and more broadly what we are doing regarding the use of the Schedule 7 powers which were used to detain him at Heathrow is a good case in point.

I’ve read with interest the views of a wide range of Liberal Democrats, both …

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Lord Tom McNally writes…Liberal Democrats secure best possible deal for collaborative EU justice

The Commons votes tonight on whether the government should exercise the impenetrably-named ‘EU Justice and Home Affairs mass opt-out’.

While it sounds dry and technical, this decision is hugely significant as EU ‘JHA measures’ have been crucial in securing justice for hundreds of British victims of crime. These instruments have been prominent in the extradition of attempted London bomber Hussain Osman from Italy under a European Arrest Warrant, in coordinating via Eurojust the investigation into the Annecy killings and in Europol’s EU-wide investigation, ‘Operation Veto’, into match-fixing and corruption in sport.

The mass opt-out is not an ingenious new attempt by the …

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Lord (Tom) McNally writes: The year ahead for Liberal Democrat Lords

LAST week I had the delight, honour and privilege to open the second day of the debate on the Queen’s Speech in the Lords –at four days long, practically the debating equivalent of test cricket.

As I told the House, I have never hidden the reality that, in the present economic climate, the Coalition Government has had to make hard decisions and tough choices to achieve an economic recovery underpinned by fairness. But I believe that in our first three years we have made the tough decisions necessary.

A new parliamentary year is beginning, however, and a new raft of legislation is …

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Tagged , and | 2 Comments

Tom McNally writes… transforming rehabilitation

For decades Britain has been locking people up for short periods of time only to see them reoffend as soon as they are released from prison. This party has long recognised that the criminal justice system just wasn’t working in preventing reoffending.

Nearly half – 47.5% – of those leaving prison are reconvicted within a year. For prisoners sentenced to less than 12 months it is almost 60%. The cost of reoffending by ex-offenders to our economy each year is between £9.5bn and £13bn. This is not good enough. Victims of crime deserve better than this. Society as a whole …

Posted in News and Parliament | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Lord McNally writes… Liberal Democrats can be proud of the Defamation Bill

Yesterday I published a new government amendment to the Defamation Bill which will strengthen the “serious harm” test already in the bill to make it more difficult for corporations to sue for libel. This new amendment makes it clear that a body trading for profit will only satisfy the serious harm test if it is able to show that the statement complained of has caused or is likely to case the body serious financial loss. This is almost identical to the original clause Anthony Lester proposed in his private members bill. This will make it clear that bodies trading for …

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Lord McNally writes… Justice and Security Bill: our authentic and liberal efforts

I am the last person to argue that you should never resign from a political party. I resigned from the Labour Party just over thirty years ago. I know it to be an intensely personal and often painful decision. So I pass no judgement on those who have decided to leave the Liberal Democrats because of opposition to the Justice and Security Bill. I think I am entitled to ask, however, what kind of Justice and Security Bill we would now be contemplating if either Labour or the Conservatives had been governing alone?

It seems incoherent to me to resign …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 49 Comments

Lord McNally writes… Conscience and reform

Shirley Williams has recently been made Peer of the Year in one of the regular Parliamentary Awards. Eric Avebury was recently given a life time achievement award at a ceremony in the Speaker’s House. Matthew Oakeshott received praise for his persistence in pointing out that there is much in our banking system which is rotten and in need of reform. When issues affecting children are debated in the Lords it is often Joan Walmsley who holds the House with informed and practical opinion. Ditto when Margaret Sharp speaks on science, technology and higher education. Sally Hamwee and Martin …

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Tom McNally writes: Why I support reform of the European Court of Human Rights

Liberal Democrats know more than anyone else how hard it is to get breathing space to be heard in the increasingly hostile debate about human rights.

As long-time defenders of the European Court of Human Rights and the Human Rights Act, we are constantly frustrated by misleading coverage that paints human rights law as on the wrong side of the public – as well as the populist politicians who seize upon it.

The previous Labour government have a lot to answer for. Despite passing the Human Rights Act themselves, they spent much of their time in government trashing it, and pandering to …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Tagged | 11 Comments

Tom McNally writes: we must not let the best be the enemy of the good

To get the full flavour of the task facing the Government when contemplating Lords reform can I recommend going to the House of Lords website and calling up the Hansard for 17 May? There you will read an hour of exchanges when Lord Strathclyde (the Leader of the House) repeated the Government statement on House of Lords reform which Nick Clegg had made in the Commons. There was very little support around the House for the Coalition’s vision for reform.

I believe Nick Clegg has done the House of Lords the courtesy of treating the House of Lords like grown-ups. …

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Tagged , and | 11 Comments

Youth Justice: the minister’s view

Since I became Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice last May I have been working with Ken Clarke and the other Ministers within the department to make radical changes to the criminal justice system. Our plans are about finding out what works – the methods of rehabilitation and punishment which actually reduce crime.

One of the key aspects of this vision is preventing and tackling offending by young people. In England and Wales the number of children aged 10 to 17 grew rapidly during the course of the 1990s and into the second term of the Labour government in …

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Leader article: Peer Pressure

A dozen years ago, when I first took my seat in the House of Lords, there were a number of self-deprecating jokes which summed up how the country saw the House of Lords and how it saw itself:

There was the Peer who dreamt he was speaking in the Lords, and when he woke up he was.

There was the Peer who read the Times Obituary column each morning to make sure his name was not there. If it wasn’t he went in.

Thus was this anachronistic, quaintly amusing arm of our governance seen by friend and foe alike. It survived, in …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Tim Garden: An Appreciation

You would expect someone with the titles Marshal of the Royal Airforce, Professor, the Lord Garden to be, at the very least, a little self important if not down right pompous. I had not met Tim Garden before Charles Kennedy nominated him for a place in the House of Lords in 2004. So I was not prepared to meet so fully a paid up member of the human race. My sense of humour can veer towards the schoolboy, so calling one of the highest ranking officers in the Royal Airforce “Biggles” could have tried the patience of lesser men. But …

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged | 1 Comment
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    Innocent Bystander, Rupinder in his article is focusing on the macroeconomic impact of a no-deal Brexit. As Keynes once noted "The theory of economics does...
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    " I believe that their aim was a pact with the Tories from the time he assumed the leadership. " Your private belief is your...
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    This is becoming a real hot topic in the states. I think some of us should put this to conference.
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    @MichaelBG/TCO Apropos defence, whether or not increased defence-related expenditure = LD policy, I do believe in an increase, initially to 2.5%. I do not however...
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    I completely agree with this perceptive piece by David Warren. Far too many people at senior levels of the LibDems are establishment creatures. Clegg was...
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