Tag Archives: alan beith

Lords reform back on the agenda?

No doubt Lords reform will be back on the agenda after the peers have had their way with the Article 50 Bill. The Lords will at most be able to delay the legislation, but it may well return to the Commons in a shape that is displeasing to the Tory  brexiteers. In that instance, we can expect to see ministers huff and puff about the impertinence of an unelected house interfering with Government legislation. These will be the same ministers who as Tory MPs frustrated Nick Clegg’s plans to have the House of Lords elected along with so many of their colleagues.

The Lords is a revising and scrutinising chamber and it has a duty to take the Government on if they produce bad legislation and I expect to see them doing that.

The idea of electing the Lords was discussed again on Friday as Green Peer Jenny Jones’ private members’ bill came up for second reading.  It is not dissimilar to Lib Dem thinking on Lords reform and it was therefore unsurprising that our Alan Beith and Paul Scriven spoke up in favour of the Bill.

Alan had a good swipe at the Tories’ plans for a Repeal Bill in the process:

>We are now in a new situation. It would be an extraordinarily optimistic person who thought that we could get through legislation on Lords reform in a Parliament which will be overwhelmed by the vast corpus of primary and secondary legislation that will be involved in leaving the European Union. Perhaps the noble Baroness shares the tendency to political optimism which is often a characteristic of Liberal Democrats.

Her Bill has many similarities with the coalition’s proposals and with Liberal Democrat policy. It provides for what we regard as the essential ingredient of democracy while recognising that the second Chamber should be elected on a different basis from the Commons and on a different timescale. However, retaining all existing Peers except hereditaries as non-voting Members outnumbering the voting Members would produce a very strange assembly with obvious tensions. The noble Baroness may be making a massive concession before the process of negotiation has even begun in order to get turkeys to vote for Christmas.

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Lib Dem Lords’ maiden speeches: Alan Beith on the National Lottery

EuroMillions ticketsThis week, we are catching up with our new Lib Dem peers’ maiden speeches. Today, it’s Alan Beith on the National Lottery.

The noble Lord, Lord Holmes of Richmond, was very kind and generous in his references to me and to the circumstances of my election, 42 years ago. It was with a majority of only 57 votes. I never imagined that I would manage such a long political survival, still less that I would find myself in this haven of political survival, the House of Lords. But I believe in the need for a Second Chamber and it will be an honour to serve in it, just as it was an honour to represent in the other House the beautiful Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency, covering 1,000 square miles of Northumberland.

I am very grateful for the warm and friendly welcome I have received in this House from noble Lords and the very helpful staff. I am delighted to renew so many friendships with those on all sides of this Chamber whom I have worked with, taken evidence from or contended with in years gone by. As I seek to follow the slightly different ways of doing things at this end of the building, I have been allocated a widely respected mentor and guide who knows exactly how to keep me in order: the noble Baroness, Lady Maddock, has been doing that ever since I married her.

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28 Lib Dem MPs vote for recognition of state of Palestine, 1 against

As we trailed here, last night saw the House of Commons debate a backbench motion (which is therefore not binding on the government): ‘That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.’

By my count, 28 Lib Dem MPs backed the motion – their names are below – with just one against (Sir Alan Beith). As the BBC notes: “It is convention that ministers abstain when voting takes place on a backbench MP’s motion and those of both the Liberal Democrat and Conservative parties did so. It is, however, Lib Dem policy to support recognition of Palestinian statehood.”

The debate was a relatively short one, so there was time for only one speech from a Lib Dem: Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood’s contribution is reproduced below. You can catch up with the debate via Hansard here.

Lib Dem MPs backing the motion to recognise the state of Palestine:

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Gaza: Senior Lib Dems speak out against Hamas, urge continuing ceasefire; and Lib Dem Friends of Israel issue statement

Gaza Burns - photo by Al Jazeera EnglishThis weekend’s Guardian published a letter from five senior Lib Dems – including Sir Alan Beith MP, Lord Dholakia and Baroness Sarah Ludford – condemning Hamas and urging both sides in the conflict to continue their ceasefire in Gaza:

As Liberal Democrats, we are totally committed to the state of Israel being able to live within secure borders, and wish to see the removal of the existential threat to Israel’s security by an internationally recognised terrorist group, and the creation of a viable

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A bit of our party’s history remembered

1988On 29th July, exactly 26 years ago, Paddy Ashdown was elected as the first leader of the newly merged Social and Liberal Democrats (which quickly settled down to being known as the Liberal Democrats).  The leadership contest was between Paddy Ashdown and Alan Beith, who had my vote. But what a leader Paddy turned out to be!

The Guardian marks the anniversary by airing an editorial of the day, part of which was a tribute to David Steel who had decided not to enter the leadership contest. David Steel had led the Liberal Party into the Alliance with the Social Democrats and acted as one of the two interim leaders of the Social and Liberal Democrats after the merger.  He had been the baby of the House when elected at the age of 26, and was one of the youngest party leaders ever when he took up that role 11 years later.

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Nick Clegg at PMQs, with added Elvis

Clegg_PMQsNick was standing in for David Cameron, who was visiting Israel, at Prime Minister’s Questions today. The half hour was, of course, punctuated with the usual pantomime and point-scoring, but it seemed a lot more relaxed and good humoured than it usually is. Cameron acts sometimes like the event is beneath him. Nick just took all the jibes, responded with a fair bit of patience and humour and even seemed amused by some of them. The Labour spin doctors must have been up all night thinking of Elvis puns after we were beaten by the Bus Pass Elvis party in a council by-election in Clifton in Nottingham last week. The best they could manage was “You ain’t nothing but a lap dog.” You could see Nick trying not to laugh but he didn’t quite manage it as he responded:

At least we are not the lapdog of the bankers, which is what Labour was in office. At least we did not crash the British economy. At least we did not cost every household £3,000. At least we did not preside over an increase in relative poverty. At least we did not preside over an increase in youth unemployment. We are creating the stronger economy and fairer society that the Labour party failed to create.

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Alan Beith to step down in 2015

Alan Beith, MP Berwick-upon-Tweed

Sir Alan Beith has announced that he will be standing down from Parliament at the next election, after serving Berwick upon Tweed as their MP for 42 years.

Nick Clegg said:

Sir Alan has been a huge figure in British and both Liberal and Liberal Democrat politics over an astonishing four decades.

The present generation of political leaders in Britain were barely out of nursery when Alan Beith was first making his mark on the floor of the House of Commons.

So it is little wonder that when Sir Alan speaks today, he commands the attention of all parties in Westminster.

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    Peter Martin, with all due respect, I would imagine that those Russians that experienced the financial crisis of 1998 losing all their domestic savings would...
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    David, yes, but she might have favoured an alliance, Corbyn does not !
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    @Andy, there are lots of people in other parties with a broadly similar outlook to ours. Some are in the Conservatives but, overall, there is...
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    The memorial service for Joe Otten's selfie stick will be held in Sheffield soon
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    @ Lorenzo Cherin Liz Kendall ? An ally for Liberals ? For goodness sake, Lorenzo. Liz Kendall has always been massively in favour of the...
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    @ MichaelBG, "This makes 2.43 million." Right. But we can't assume they all voted leave.