LibLink: Kath Pinnock: Lib Dems have stood up for the needs of very young children

You can sense Kath Pinnock’s frustration about the Government’s Childcare Bill as she outlines how she and the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords tried to force the Government to add some detail into the proposals in an article for Politics Home. It was pretty basic stuff that needed fleshing out as well – like the level of funding available for councils to provide 15 hours of childcare a week. Quality and training standards weren’t outlined – and nor was there even a definition of who was eligible.

Liberal Democrats tabled several amendments to deal with these issues at both Committee stage when debate takes place on the details and at Report stage when the Government is held to account if it hasn’t listened to concerns and made changes. Time and again during detailed debate we challenged the Government Minister to declare the level of funding that would be available. Every time we were told to wait for the announcement from the Chancellor in his funding review in November. And every time, we responded that this was not good enough. We have a responsibility to very young children to make sure there was enough funding for quality childcare. We pushed that to the vote and, with Labour Peers, the Government was defeated.

Liberal Democrats focussed on the need for flexibility in the provision of the free hours which the Bill stated would be generally during school hours. We tabled a detailed amendment to that effect and, when the Government’s response was more vague promises, we asked the House to vote on that too. Again the Government was defeated.

What then have Liberal Democrats in the Lords achieved?

We have amended the Bill before it goes the House of Commons to ensure that an independent review on funding is completed and sustainable funding in place before the additional free childcare is rolled out. We have ensured that the Commons will have to consider making arrangements so that all parents can choose when to use this extra 15 hours free childcare be it in school holidays or early mornings and evenings.

You can read her whole article here.


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  • We do nice things, we do good things, we do some that are not so good. However with only 8 MPs and hardly any perceived role in the Commons we are viewed either as irrelevant, practically non existent or confined to the Outback.
    What happens in the Lords is a foreign country to most people. The challenge is how we change that narrative. How do we get ourselves known and talked about each week.
    Our values etc as being set out in Scotland are “nice”, but what are we going to say and do to get ourselves noticed. That is what matters. 7% in the polls should remind us. It is just not good enough.

  • Well done Kath!

    It is good to see our Peers doing a real job of work holding government incompetence to account!

    I do find it embarrassing though that this article has been up for 24 hours now with no comments, while most people on here are arguing ad nauseum about how many angels (or devils) Jeremy Corbyn can fit on a pin, and what Nick Clegg may or may not have said in government!

    In is 2015 now, not 2010 or 2020! the Tories are in government and Liberal Democrats should focus on what they are doing!

  • Agree with theakes 17th Oct ’15 – 3:29pm
    All members of our party must now use our own social media contacts etc to speak in any ways we can:
    * against government’s hopeless organisation of policy-making [they are lax on statements, including EU referendum];
    * continue to promote our alternatives for refugees, foreign policies, home office obsessions, financial governance;
    * demonstrate our horror of cosying-up to Saudi military contracts and Saudi’s humanitarian role in the UN;
    * the government taking UK into wars in other territories [e.g. Syria, Iraq] against Russia;
    * the government’s totally inadequate thinking on housing – even selling stock we do have in housing associations;
    There is so much more which could added to this list but that is a start to the opposition we must all promote.

    Secondly, we need a full team of our best communicators – to promote our values, answer questions, write articles. If the media will not come to us to reply to the news, we must MAKE THE NEWS. Our team could include Tim, Norman, Nick, Paddy, Willie, Kirsty, and all other speakers and writers. Some are too quiet right now. We need them to make the news!

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