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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Teather, Rogerson, Beith and Huppert speak against new family migration rules

Last week I wrote about a new report, contributed to by Liberal Democrats Sarah Teather and Sally Hamwee, which outlined the heartbreak and suffering the new family migration rules are causing. The income threshold of £18,600 with extra for each child, and the narrow methods by which this is calculated is stopping many people from being able to live with their spouses in this country.

Earlier this week, four Liberal Democrat MPs took part in a Westminster Hall debate to try to persuade Home Office minister Mark Hunter of the inequity of these plans. Here are some extracts from their …

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11 Liberal Democrat MPs vote for registrars to be exempt from marrying same sex couples

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill has made fairly easy progress through the Commons tonight. After a Government/Labour compromise on a review for extending civil partnerships to opposite sex couples, and the heavy defeat or withdrawal of amendments, including “son of Section 28”, it looks as though many of the barriers to this Bill’s passage have been removed.

There is still a further day of debate tomorrow, though, and further amendments to be debated.

One of the amendments discussed today, defeated by 340 votes to 150 in favour, was to allow registrars to exempt themselves from marrying same sex couples. Eleven Liberal …

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The 1983 election: highlights and hindsight

I spent more of my bank holiday than is healthy watching the rerun of the 1983 election on BBC Parliament.

When I lived through it, I was an innocent and idealistic 15 year old. I really believed people would be so outraged that the Alliance had polled 7 million votes, finishing marginally behind Labour but with about a ninth of their seats. As Shirley Williams said, it was “absolute rubbish.” Surely we would have PR within a decade?

Thirty years on, it depresses me that we are no further forward. Westminster remains the last bastion of first past the post, for Scots …

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Spring Conference 2012: registration now open

I am pleased to announce that registration for Spring Conference 2012 is now open.

For the first time, conference will be hosted by NewcastleGateshead. The Liberal Democrats have a proud history in the North-East. We control Northumberland County Council and Ian Swales MP, Sir Alan Beith MP and Fiona Hall MEP represent the Region in London and Brussels respectively.

Fiona said, “Conference is going to be a great boost for the area ahead of vital local elections in May. The region is gearing up to make it a fantastic weekend for everyone. I hope representatives also take …

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Opinion: A real opportunity to Make Justice Work

One of the highlights of conference for me was the breakfast roundtable organised by Make Justice Work. As conference goers and fringe organisers will know, getting one MP along is a challenge, managing to attract three must be close to a record! So it was a demonstration of the commitment our party has to reforming the criminal justice system that Justice minister Tom McNally, chair of the Justice Select Committee Alan Beith and member of the Home Affairs Select Committee Julian Huppert, all attended.

For those of you who don’t know the organisation, it was founded by Roma Hooper to …

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Opinion: Access to justice – why Liberal Democrats should not sit on the sidelines

Next week the Government will announce legislation to reform legal aid, following a Green Paper published last November to which the Ministry of Justice received an unprecedented 5,000 responses. Whilst “legal aid reform” was in the Coalition Agreement, the scale of proposed changes has taken many aback – in order to cut the legal aid budget by £350million, Justice Ministers propose taking whole categories of law related problems out legal aid entitlement – housing and debt problems, welfare benefit issues, employment law issues, immigration cases, consumer law problems, education cases and private family law issues (eg divorce and …

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Stephen Williams MP writes: Backbench committees and the louder Lib Dem voice

There has been much talk in recent weeks about how Liberal Democrats show our distinctiveness and make the party’s voice heard more loudly in government.

A key part of this is the role of the Lib Dem parliamentary committees, one of which I co-chair.

These committees are not simply talking shops. They perform two important functions: making our influence felt within government and preparing the ground for party policy in the future.

Increasingly, the fruits of these committees are being seen.

The Coalition Agreement is the contract that underwrites this government. It sets out the policy agenda agreed between ourselves and our Coalition …

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LibLink | Alan Beith: “Road safety is not an optional extra”

Sir Alan Beith MP, who is presenting the Road Safety Bill to the House of Commons today, has a piece over at ePolitix urging the Government to do all it can to reduce the number of road deaths – because of their social, emotional and financial cost:

I want to see better protection for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users, along with better support for HGV drivers who face being involved in fatal accidents because of blind spots on their vehicles. A family in my constituency approached me for help after the death of their much loved daughter and

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Beith and Bruce confirmed as Select Committee chairs

Liberal Democrat MPs Malcolm Bruce and Sir Alan Beith have been elected unopposed as Chairs of the International Development and Justice Select Committees respectively.  The positions were confirmed after nominations closed earlier tonight for all posts.

For the first time ever, Select Committees Chairs are being elected by a secret ballot of all MPs, after each Chairship was allocated to a political party in proportion to the number of MPs for each party. The committees allocated to each party were agreed by the House shortly before the Whitsun recess.

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PMQs: Hattie opens up the Coalition’s Grand Canyon

I feel as though Norris McWhirter (late of the Guinness Book of Records) ought to have been kneeling at the foot of the Speaker’s Chair with his stopwatch for this momentous Prime Minister’s Questions. There were several records or firsts being set. The first coalition PMQs ever, I would suggest (I doubt whether Winnie or Ramsay or our David held such events). The first with Liberal Democrats on the government benches. The first with a party sporting its second female leader (Margaret Beckett was acting Labour leader after John Smith died). And it’s 13 long years since we had …

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Three Lib Dem MPs fighting Legg’s expenses judgement

Three Lib Dems are among the 70 MPs who lodged appeals after being told to pay back some of their taxpayer-funded Commons expenses by Sir Thomas Legg, reports today’s Telegraph:

At least 35 Labour MPs and former Labour MPs have appealed against Sir Thomas’s findings, as well as 30 Conservatives, three Liberal Democrats and two independents. Among them are MPs who made some of the highest-profile claims exposed by the Telegraph investigation, including £1,645 for a duck house.

Sir Thomas’s 30-page report is thought to identify more than 300 MPs — nearly half of those in Parliament — whom he found

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Who are you supporting in the race for Commons Speaker?

It’s a month since we opened our LDV poll asking readers who you would vote for to be the next House of Common Speaker. Reader, we failed you. Of the list of 11 possible contenders we provided, your top two faves – Frank Field and Sir Menzies Campbell – will not be running.

Indeed, it looks like only the four knights of the realm from our original line-up will actually appear on the ballot papers today: Sir Alan Beith, Sir Alan Haslehurst, Sir George Young and Sir Patrick McCormack. Others who seem likely to stand are Margaret Beckett, John …

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Why I’ve lobbied my MP over the choice of Speaker

In the past it’s never really occurred to me to lobby my MP about who they were going to support in a contest for Speaker of the House of Commons. I’ve seen those contests as largely internal affairs, with MPs knowing the candidates and their likely ability to do their job far better than me, and with the choice having only a limited impact on life outside the Commons itself.

This time, though, matters are clearly different. The MySociety team has put together an excellent three-point manifesto, which Speaker candidates are being asked to back:

1. Voters have the right to know

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[email protected]: Sirs Ming & Alan publish their Speaker manifestos

Over at The Times, the two Lib Dem candidates for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons – Sir Menzies Campbell and Sir Alan Beith – set out their manifestos, stating what reforming credentials they would bring to this most historic of offices. Excerpts below:

Ming Campbell:

What is needed is a Speaker who imposes their authority on the House of Commons, not their politics; a Speaker who will stand up for all MPs and when necessary stand up against the Government of the day; a Speaker who will not be intimidated.

The primary purpose of the House of Commons is

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Four confirmed candidates for Speaker so far

News from the Hansard Society via email:

The Hansard Society will be holding a hustings meeting for potential candidates for the role of Speaker of the House of Commons. Potential candidates will have the opportunity to make a statement and answer questions both from MPs and those submitted by members of the public via the Hansard Society website.

We have invited potential candidates for the position of Speaker to participate. Since the position will still be fluid then, it is not our aim to be exclusive.  Confirmed participants in the Hansard Society Speaker Hustings thus far include:

  • Alan Beith MP
  • John

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LDV Members’ Survey – MPs’ expenses (6): your views about the Speaker

Almost a week ago, LDV emailed those Lib Dem party members signed-up to our private discussion forum inviting them to take part in a survey focusing on MPs’ expenses. Many thanks to the 240+ of you who completed it; we’ve published the results in full on LDV over the last few days. You can catch up with all our past exclusive LDV members’ surveys by clicking here.

1.

LDV asked: Now that the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, has resigned a handful of Liberal Democrat MPs have been suggested as the new Speaker. It has

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Beith and Swinson latest Lib Dems named in expenses row

Jo Swinson and Sir Alan Beith have both found themselves dragged into the latest set of allegations to be circulating – for the record, and avoidance of doubt, looking at the newspaper reports it doesn’t seem either of them have any reason not to be able to look their constituents in the eyes.

Sir Alan Beith

The Telegraph’s story about Sir Alan relates to a rented flat in London he shares with his wife, former fellow Lib Dem MP (now a Lib Dem peer) Baroness (Diana) Maddock. You can read the story here. I assume the Telegraph is publishing now …

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The Gladstone Lecture: what Alan Beith said…

Alan Beith’s Gladstone Lecture – and specifically his comments that church disestablishment is “not necessary” – attracted much comment earlier this week on LDV. Here Jon Hunt reflects on this and much else…

The grand old man of Liberalism was given his due respect last month.

The phrase is generally applied to Gladstone but could almost be applied to Sir Alan Beith, the former deputy leader of the party, who was chosen to give the first annual Gladstone lecture.

Sir Alan, who is only 65, has just published his autobiography, marking 35 years as serving Liberal MP for Berwick. But if …

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Find out more about Alan Beith and Sharon Bowles

November’s Total Politics magazine features a profile of Alan Beith MP (occassioned by the publication of his memoirs, A View from the North) and also an article from Euro-MP Sharon Bowles about her musical hobby.

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Alan Beith to publish his View from the North

Alan Beith: A View from the NorthSir Alan Beith, the longest-serving Liberal Democrat MP, is to launch his autobiography Alan Beith: A View from the North at this autumn’s party conference in Bournemouth.

We’re promised that the book will include the Lib-Lab pact of the late 1970s, Paddy Ashdown’s years at the head of the party, and Sir Alan’s work overseeing the intelligence and security services over more than a decade.

It will also cover his experiences over 35 years as MP for England’s northernmost constituency, the philosophy of Liberalism and the …

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Arise, Sir Alan!

Hearty congratulations to the former Mr Beith:

Senior Liberal Democrat MP Alan Beith has spoken of his delight at becoming a Knight.

The long-serving Berwick-upon-Tweed MP becomes Sir Alan in recognition of his services to Parliament.

A former deputy leader of the Lib Dems and its predecessor, the Liberal Party, Sir Alan, 65, was first elected to represent the Northumberland constituency in a by-election in 1973.

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    Yes, take away the areas we gained and we made no gains at all. Funny that.
  • User AvatarIan 25th Sep - 8:15pm
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  • User AvatarAlex Macfie 25th Sep - 8:14pm
    Michael 1: You write "[Clegg] had a very good 2010 election campaign" I disagree. We should NOT have lost seats to Labour in 2010. Simple...
  • User AvatarTonyH 25th Sep - 7:31pm
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  • User AvatarOnceALibDem 25th Sep - 7:27pm
    @Paul Holmes "Others have already made the point that policies such as PR and Votes at 16 will not win elections. I agree with both...
  • User AvatarOnceALibDem 25th Sep - 7:19pm
    "Clearly there are always many factors." Indeed. However what TonyH said was "you... have proved there is no great secret." which are two very different...