Lord Paul Tyler: Lib Dems stop Tories skewing party funding law in their favour

Naturally, with so much media and public attention on the Budget, few with have spotted some major defeats for the Government in the House of Lords last night.

Most significantly our Liberal Democrat initiative to stop the Tories skewing party funding legislation in their favour was given huge support – across the House, with even some Conservative Peers rebelling or abstaining.   Ministers’ plans suffered a resounding defeat – 320 to 172, a majority of 148

This is our best chance in this Parliament to get the parties thinking again about the wider issue of funding democracy in a way which prevents wealthy individuals and organisations buying preferential access, influence and patronage. I set out some broad objectives for those talks in an emergency motion for the conference ballot (pdf – pg 18) last weekend.

This is not, of course, the end of the story.  The Government will surely use its majority in the Commons to reverse this defeat.  So, expect some lively “Parliamentary Ping-Pong” before the end of the Session in May.

My speech in the debate last night is here.

* Lord Tyler is the Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Political and Constitutional Reform.

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  • Eddie Sammon 17th Mar '16 - 11:27pm

    If you want to talk about funding then why when parliament is sitting can Lords get paid £1500 a week tax free? This is not expenses for ones living in London and it is a disgrace.

    When did the Lords last campaign against themselves?

  • Could you outline a bit more why you think it’s a disgrace Eddie?

    If they turn up every day it’s the equivalent of about a £60k pre-tax income depending how many days a year Parliament sits. In the context of the pay packages of their colleagues down the corridor in the Commons to me that seems a plausible sum for a legislator.

    I’d say there is an argument that legislators should be paid broadly some other kind of rate; for instance either the average wage (£26k is it?) or whatever basic dole is given they have declared that to be ample for other citizens to live on. Either has certain moral merit.

    Though in that case it’s general political pay that is a disgrace rather than Lords pay, and we would run into serious issues in the latter case as to who could afford to be in parliament at all, and wind up with an even more skewed slice of society being in there.

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Mar '16 - 12:27am

    Hi Jen, £60,000 pay not seem like a lot, but how long do they have to turn up for to claim this?

    I think it’s a disgrace because they are unelected and have been lecturing us about morals, blocking the government regularly whilst stuffing themselves with expenses and keeping fairly quiet about it.

    Best regards

  • Yes, Eddie, of course it is a disgrace that Peers are still unelected. But whose fault is that ? If the Labour frontbench in the Commons had not played party games with Tory rebel MPs the Coalition Government’s 2012 Lords Reform Bill would have been enacted before last year’s General Election, and we would be well on our way towards a truly democratic and accountable second chamber by now. Incidentally, it is rare for the Lords to sit on all five weekdays, and never for all 52 weeks of the year, so you may need to revise those figures. It is, however, a scandal that Peers whose main home is in London, who employ no staff to assist them and who perform a brief sedentary role each day can take home exactly the same allowance as those who live elsewhere, with substantial accommodation costs when in London, and who work long hours with additional staffing expenses. The true scandal is the productivity DISincentive …. and the lack of any democratic mechanism to hold us to account !

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Mar '16 - 5:27pm

    Thanks Paul Tyler. I appreciate you getting back to me and explaining some misconceptions. Rest assured, you have shut me up for a bit.

    I think my fear is that the Lords won’t accept reform even if the Commons voted for it. What happens then?

    I’m concerned about democracy. I don’t think we live in a good one and I don’t think the country or the political class even believes in it much. Too much political debate for my liking seems to be about “rights”, rather than mandates.

    I’m not one to usually complain about remuneration/allowances, but I think it is feeling powerless that I can’t actually vote to get rid of any of the Lords, so I look at other angles to re-assert power. I don’t agree with the Monarchy either, but she doesn’t block the government much.

    Best regards

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