From our Lords Correspondent: 22-26 October – explaining how things work…

Welcome to the review of a rather longer week in the Lords…

Our review starts, where else, with Monday, which was opened, after prayers, by Meral Ece, who wanted to know what steps the Government are taking to reduce youth crime in London. The answer, unsurprisingly, was that the Government are giving funds to support various small-scale projects. The decline in police numbers due to the loss of central support, not so prominent.

The debate on the Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill has already been covered in these pages, and the other legislation was the third day of the Committee Stage of the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill.

In that debate, Liz Barker noted that;

… having spent yet another weekend going through the Bill, trying to understand its full intent, I have to say that it really is a shockingly bad Bill.

It concerned her that;

… we run the risk of attempting to deal with an underfunded, under-resourced system by putting in place another underfunded, under-resourced system which dilutes the protection of vulnerable people.

Expect this to re-emerge at Third Reading…

And finally, in the debate on the Statement on the October European Council, Dick Newby and Sarah Ledford attempted to gain clarity from Baroness Evans of Bowes Park as to, well, anything much, really, without success. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

On Tuesday, the Voyeurism (Offences) (No.2) Bill was welcomed at Second Reading by Lorely Burt. Better known as the “Upskirting Bill”, it was also supported by Liz Barker and Jonathan Marks, who noted the question of the treatment of financial gain from the distribution of images obtained by what would become illegal acts.

The Burns Report, published last October, proposed a mechanism whereby the number of members of the House of Lords would be reduced to 600 over a period of time. Wednesday saw the publication of the first progress report. And, impressively, the three largest groups (Conservatives, Labour and the Crossbenchers), all met their reduction target. The Liberal Democrats fell short, but the general trend is downwards as was hoped.

My colleague, Paul Walter, has kindly covered the day’s Oral Questions, so I’ll refer you there rather than repeat his fine prose.

The last item for debate was the Report Stage of the Ivory Bill, a piece of legislation designed to restrict the trade in ivory as far as is possible. The Bill was supported against amendments by Cathy Bakewell, amongst others.

Accessibility to public sector television content was the opening question on Thursday, raised by Jane Bonham-Carter. As she noted, as did the Minister;

Global technology players should not be the gatekeepers to what we watch. They have little interest in supporting UK content and culture or ensuring that the news they supply access to is accurate. Unless the Government act, they will bury public service TV.

Sue Miller asked if the Government were minded to reconsider their support for Trident in light of a recent report by the British American Security Information Council, which suggested that Trident was “unaffordable”. You might not be suprised to hear that the Government doesn’t agree.

The day ended with two Liberal Democrat-led debates, the first by Menzies Campbell on the case for a People’s Vote on Brexit, the second by John Shipley on affordable housing.

In the former debate, Menzies Campbell concluded his remarks by reminding us that;

The people were assured that the vote to leave would be followed by a trouble-free and successful exit, and that the economy would prosper. What else was meant by the three unwise men to whom I have already referred? More than that, the people were given to believe that their Government would conduct the necessary negotiations in an effective and unified way. In all of these expectations, they have been failed. They have been failed by incoherence and incompetence. The people of Britain have a right to be allowed to pass judgment on any deal forged in such circumstances. They should be given that opportunity.

Fridays are usually devoted to Private Members’ Bills, sometimes quixotic, as in the case of the Duchy of Cornwall Bill, sometimes a tidying-up exercise, in the case of the Children Act 1989 (Amendment) (Female Genital Mutilation) Bill, or to address something that requires urgent action but which cannot wait for inclusion in a broader based piece of legislation, like the Prisons (Interference with Wireless Telegraphy) Bill.

The latter led to the unexpected sight of Mike German explaining wireless technology to the House, as noted by Richard Morris…

Perhaps he could explain this stuff to my mother…

* Mark Valladares wonders whether all of this technology is just rather clever witchcraft…

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This entry was posted in News and Parliament.
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One Comment

  • Nigel Hunter 29th Oct '18 - 7:44pm

    Where Global technology is concerned and the destruction of public broadcasting is involved I have noticed that in some BBC programmes the Laptops they have been using have Apple and Hewlett Packard logos openly on display. One of these Doctor Who. Is the BBC aware of these incidents ? This could be one of the ways Global Tech giants can sneak in to destroy Public broadcasting

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