Author Archives: Tim Clement-Jones

Lord Tim Clement-Jones writes…A record number of councils are calling for a clampdown on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals – the Government must act

I’m now eight weeks into my New Year’s resolution to spend my Fridays campaigning with some of our fantastic target seat candidates across the country. One thing that has struck me on the doorsteps is that it is not the high politics of opinion polls, votes in Parliament and endless speculation on personalities that matter to people. What actually matters is local issues – from their kid’s school to the shops on their local high street.

With that in mind, I recently lead a debate in the Lords on concerns expressed by 93 councils in England and Wales over the growth of high street betting machines. Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) offer high speed, high stakes gambling – with punters able to bet up to £100 every 20 seconds. To offer some comparison, other high street locations have a limit of £2 a stake and even casinos limit machine stakes to £5. Effectively, these machines have turned high street bookmakers into casinos, offering astonishingly hard forms of gambling right on people’s doorsteps.

I am not anti-gambling – but I’m concerned about the spiralling number of these machines for two reasons. Firstly, they are fuelling the proliferation of betting shops in poorer areas. It is now a common sight to see two or three betting shops on one high street. Indeed, on one street in Newham, there is an astonishing 18 betting shops and that equates to 72 FOBT machines. It’s still a tough climate for high streets; but the solution certainly isn’t betting shops sucking money out of local communities and causing huge social problems.

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Lord Tim Clement-Jones writes…Out on the campaign trail in Maidstone and St Albans

I have made a promise of spending every Friday out on the doorstep, I thought I would update you all on some of my recent experiences out campaigning.

The other week I had another inspiring day on the campaign trail, this time with Jasper Gerrard and his team. The age of the team ranged from 22 to 78! Who says we can’t generate commitment! Jasper is clearly neck and neck here with the unpopular Tory incumbent. The perfect antidote to those who are paying too much attention to the national polls.

TCJ Maidstone

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Lord Clement-Jones writes…Out and about on the doorstep

Tim Clement-Jones in WatfordFar be it from me (or at their peril anyone else!) to ignore an injunction from our General Election Chair Paddy Ashdown, so my New Year’s resolution has been to commit every Friday up to the start of the campaign proper to campaigning in a target or held seat. All the polling data shows that we have good prospects in a number of target seats.

There was an excellent response and name recognition for Sandy Walkington on my first Friday in St Albans, a constituency I helped in when he first fought it thirty years ago, and with a terrific local team. Last Friday I was with Dorothy Thornhill’s team (see pic) in both ends of the Watford constituency (it takes in part of Three Rivers) and it was great to see, and campaign alongside, really committed councillors and activists.

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Lord Clement-Jones writes… Limiting competition in the NHS

This week Liberal Democrat peers achieved yet more success in limiting the application of competition in the National Health Service. Our party members believe, and our conference policy passed last spring affirms, that while competition can play a role in improving the quality of health, it should never be given higher priority than the interests of patients. And I completely agree.

Competition Commission

I was concerned that the Competition Commission should not be reviewing how effectively competition is working in the health service. In the private sector, the Competition Commission plays a crucial role in ensuring that companies compete fairly, and prevents …

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Lord Clement-Jones writes… Plugging the loopholes left by Labour

Widespread competition was introduced to the NHS by Labour’s 2006 National Health Service Act, but without the public debate that is now taking place. The 2006 Act opened up the NHS to the risk of EU competition law being applied in a way that leaves commissioners unable to choose the best way of delivering services. Labour’s legislation meant private providers were favoured over NHS hospitals and paid millions for work which they never did. Very simply, Labour’s 2006 Act does not put patients first.

In the Lords, myself and colleagues are working hard to plug the loopholes left in Labour’s 2006 …

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Tim Clement-Jones writes… We need a decision on the Risk Register

Last week we debated in the Lords the decision of the Government to appeal against the decision by the Information Commissioner that the Department of Health should release the so-called Risk Register on the Health and Social Care Bill. Together with my colleague Shirley Williams, I argued that it is right that the Department appealed because this is a very finely balanced argument, as the initial ruling made clear but that all the involved parties should ask the Tribunal that the hearing is expedited. This is a very fundamental case and we shouldn’t have to wait until March or April …

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Lord Clement-Jones on the Digital Economy Bill: web blocking amendment

The Digital Economy Bill, currently at the report stage in the Lords has caused concern, as Lib Dem peers Lord Razzall and Lord Clement-Jones are seeking an amendment to allow site blocking for copyright infringement.

Earlier this week, Open Rights Group posted an appeal for people to write to the peers, asking them to drop the amendment.

Here, Lord Tim Clement-Jones sets out his response:

The Digital Economy Bill, as currently drafted, only deals with a certain type of copyright infringement, namely peer-to-peer file sharing. Around 35% of all online copyright infringement takes place on non peer-to-peer sites and services. Particular threats concern “cyberlockers” which are hosted abroad.

There are websites which consistently infringe copyright, many of them based outside the UK in countries such as Russia and beyond the jurisdiction of the UK courts. Many of these websites refuse to stop supplying access to illegal content.

It is a result of this situation that the Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment in the Lords which has the support of the Conservatives that enables the High Court to grant an injunction requiring Internet Service Providers to block access to sites.

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