Lords wins are essential to democratic process

Two key amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill passed yesterday in the House of Lords.

An amendment on the customs union supported by the Liberal Democrats, Crossbenchers, Labour, and Conservative peers passed by 348 votes to 225.

The defeat forces the government to lay a report before Parliament outlining the steps taken to negotiate a customs union as part of the framework for a future UK-EU relationship, and prevents the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 until these steps have been taken.

Commenting on the victory, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords, Lord Newby said:

This is a hugely significant moment, the House of Lords has come together to show the government that remaining in a customs union is key to the UK’s future prosperity.

Securing this win on a cross-party basis rams home how out of touch the government have been on this issue and that they drastically need to change tack from the destructive hard Brexit they are pursuing.”An amendment providing enhanced protections for employment, equality, health and safety entitlements, rights and protections, and consumer and environmental standards was passed.

The other amendment which passed provides enhanced protections for employment, equality, health and safety entitlements, rights and protections, and consumer and environmental standards.

Commenting on this victory, Lord Newby said:

This is a key step in ensuring that parliament plays the key role in Brexit and not just a handful of Ministers altering standards via the back-door.

Guaranteeing that standards relating to equality, employment law and many other things can only be altered via primary legislation is extremely significant and essential to the democratic process.

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15 Comments

  • I’m sorry, but this sort of headline shows exactly why the Lib Dems have become totally inconsequential in British national politics. The UK is being taken out of the EU by an instinctively Europhobe and racist Tory party, (which in another field has been shown to be prepared even to deny cancer treatment to honest British people who have lived and worked here for 60 years, in pursuit of its ‘only people like us here’ dogma) and all we can say is “Lords wins are essential to democratic process”.

    What happened to the dynamic, campaigning and vociferous party we were until the mid 2000s, defending ordinary people against the abuse of entrenched power?

    Have we just become a party of Democratic Bureaucrats, whose headline interest is in defending process and procedure?

  • Sue Sutherland 19th Apr '18 - 11:34am

    I think the disaster of the Coalition was because our leaders didn’t defend process and procedure. They failed to follow policies agreed by Conference. I’m glad that the Lords are fighting Brexit and wish them well but I’m afraid that in the end they will just be overruled by this government. Like you David I’d like to see us return to that dynamic, vociferous and campaigning party but how can we do that if we can’t believe in ourselves anymore?

  • True Sue, I think we all believe in Liberal Democracy and the Liberal Democrats despite what has happened, but headlines on LDV emphasising procedure shows how much we have lost our way.

    What Dick Newby says is perfectly good, but how it then gets presented it is just dreary.

  • David Evans says it for me too.

    The shell of what’s left of this party has lost the plot……. The fifty years spent wearing out shoe leather for a dynamic campaigning vociferous party seems in retrospect to have been more than a tad of misjudgement on my part.

    To include the word democracy in the same sentence as the word Lords reveals a profoundly Gilbertian sensibility, or a more than ironic sense of humour not sure which. Still, can’t fault the determination of some folk to scramble in there after the great demos inflicted a verdict on them.

  • @David Evans
    ‘defending ordinary people against the abuse of entrenched power?’
    This is the LibDem USP that should be being hammered home by our Party and Leadership. We are not in hock to the Unions. Not rooted in the privileges of public school educated aristocracy. Not a party of the center (whatever that is) Not a party that is ‘not Tory’ or ‘not Labour’ but a party that has its own, unique way of seeing society and the way it should be orientated.

  • Richard O'Neill 19th Apr '18 - 2:57pm

    I also wondered if the headline was intended be a touch ironic. If the Lord’s plays ping pong on this issue where there are two democratic mandates (the original referendum and the Commons vote) then it will be dragged into further disrepute.

    It would just lead to the laughter of Brexiteer Tories about the Lib Dems relying on an unelected chamber they had sworn to reform.

  • So the Lib Dems who were in favour of reforming the second chamber are happy that 300 odd unelected Lords have over-ruled 17.5 million people. The Lib Dems have 78 Lords but only 12 MPs and that speaks volumes. Hang your heads in shame ..

  • Glenn Andrews 19th Apr '18 - 6:05pm

    Jay, the number of people who voted to leave all European customs unions is precisely zero. Did you not read read the ballot paper?

  • Just because the Lords members are appointed in a way that some LibDems find abhorrent, doesn’t mean that through its actions it can’t assist the democratic process. [Note I use the word ‘some’ because if it were ‘all’, there would be no LibDems in the Lords…]

    I think the headline indicates two things, one the obvious irony and the second that the Lords/second chamber has an important democratic function to perform. For reform that enhances the position of the Lords, rather than further degrade it, people need to appreciate its value.

  • @jay – calm down, remember T.May told everyone over a year ago “Brexit means Brexit” ie. whatever the Conservatives decides it means and can get Parliament and the EU to agree to. If you think your vote in the referendum was for something specific then you were either deluding yourself or you are new to British politics.

  • Malcolm Todd 19th Apr '18 - 9:44pm

    I don’t think the Lords has any sort of democratic function. It has an important constitutional function, which it dam’ well has to perform, even if it ought to be chosen in a way more consistent with democracy.

  • @Malcolm – nicely put point.

  • Peter Hirst 20th Apr '18 - 7:34pm

    At least The House of Lords is providing a voice for those who feel the present direction of travel of Brexit needs reassessing. If it enables another look at the whole business then that is to the good. Sometimes, an institution’s time comes and we must accept the virtues of it despite its failings.

  • David Evans: It isn’t either/or. We need to both campaign vociferously AND use our representation in parliament to challenge government. We ARE campaigning vociferously in the current elections (or, at least, we are where I am living), but this is for the medium or long term, whereas our strength in the House of Lords is something that can have an immediate effect on government policy by defeating the government.
    Your consistent counsel of depair is tiring enough, but when you actually use a case where we are effectively challenging the government as an example of how we supposedly “have become totally inconsequential”, it is time to just say “Give over”

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