Tag Archives: house of commons

Is being an MP a rubbish job?

Nigel Morris in the i reports:

Lonely MPs are finding it almost impossible to balance their jobs with ordinary family life, according to a survey of politicians who quit Parliament at last year’s election.

Posted in Op-eds | 15 Comments

Boundary Review is a cynical calculation 

House of Commons. Crown Copyright applies to this photo - http://www.flickr.com/photos/uk_parliament/4642915654/

Reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 without also looking to cut ministers and a review of the House of Lords means the boundary review is being conducted on a fatally flawed basis.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Constitutional and Political Reform Paul Tyler said: 

This boundary review is being conducted on a fatally flawed basis. The Conservatives have knocked 2 million people office the electoral register, mainly in densely populated areas, as part of a cynical calculation that the boundary review will produce fewer urban, Conservative-hostile constituencies.

Reducing the number of MPs without also reducing the size of the Executive is a mistake. With the pay-roll vote approaching half the membership of the government side of the Commons, the power of government to control Parliament is increased. And with no prospect of democratic reform of the Lords, we are edging towards a dangerous lack of democratic legitimacy in parliament.

The Conservatives are blatantly attempting to fix the system to keep themselves in power.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 10 Comments

Action needed on bullying in the workplace

Seriously, what is the world coming to when in the Mother of Parliaments, the most powerful politician in the country invokes his own mother to castigate the Leader of the Opposition.

Here’s their exchange:

The Prime Minister: I am very proud of the NHS in Oxfordshire and everyone who works in it. Having met the head of the Oxford Radcliffe trust recently, I know that he supports the move towards more seven-day services. That is absolutely vital.

Carolyn Harris (Swansea East) (Lab): Ask your mother!

The Prime Minister: Ask my mother? I know what my mother would say. She would look across the Dispatch Box and say, “Put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem.”

Jeremy Corbyn: If we are talking of motherly advice, my late mother would have said, “Stand up for the principle of a health service free at the point of use for everybody.” That is what she dedicated her life to, as did many of her generation.

Corbyn comes out of this with some credit, but this rather personal criticism comes from the Prime Minister comes just two days after the Commons collapsed in hilarity over a Tory MP’s jibe.

Corbyn heckled during EU debate“Who are you?”A Conservative MP berates Jeremy Corbyn in the House of Commons during EU debate.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Monday, 22 February 2016

Labour MPs are more than capable of being just as rowdy. Remember what they used to do to Julian Huppert every time he got up to speak. I’ll never forget the time when Willie Rennie was called a “Scottish Git” by Tory MPs while a Labour frontbencher smirked. He was introducing a bill enabling driving instructors to be suspended from the national register and explaining how he’d been motivated to do so by his constituent’s experience of being sexually assaulted by her driving instructor.

Posted in Op-eds | 13 Comments

Farron: Britain deserves better than Tory MPs fighting like rats in a sack

Tim Farron has missed Cameron’s “Deal or no deal” performance today as he’s been away in Manchester and Edinburgh, but he’s been keeping an eye on developments. This is what he had to say:

The Prime Minister’s draft deal means the first stage of the campaign to keep Britain at the heart of Europe and global affairs is complete. Now, the Liberal Democrats will play a leading role in working and campaigning to deliver a ‘Remain’ result that will safeguard our economy.

Next Wednesday we will be launching our Liberal Democrat campaign to keep Britain in Europe. Our unity contrasts with the Tories.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 13 Comments

Farron’s response to principle of banning Trump is right in principle but…

Tomorrow, Parliament debates whether Donald Trump should be excluded from the UK. MPs are doing this because getting on for 600,000 people signed an official e-petition calling for him to be banned from the UK after his appalling anti-Muslim comments. We’ve talked about this on LDV before. In December, I said that he should be allowed to come here:

Much as I understand that people are repelled by his views, there is a certain irony in them responding to his ignorant call to ban a group of people with a call to ban him.

I have less than no time for the man. Hell, he called a friend of mine who had the temerity to question his plans for his golf course a “national disgrace, scoundrel and extremist”. However, I was never comfortable with the idea of “no platform” because I think that sweeping prejudice under the carpet doesn’t get rid of it. It finds oxygen from somewhere and lurks there, waiting or an opportunity to re-emerge and spread even more intensified hate. When people express views like Trump’s, they need to be challenged, satirised and shown up for the nonsense that they are.

I’d love to see the likes of Lynne Featherstone, Shirley Williams, Jo Brand, Tim Farron or his new mate Russell Howard take him down with carefully chosen words. In that way, they can also challenge similar views held by those who aren’t quite as rich and powerful as The Donald.

I didn’t, therefore, sign the petition, but Millicent Ragnhild Scott did, not because she wanted to see him banned, but because she wanted Parliament to debate what he’d said to show that we reject his poisonous ideas:

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 29 Comments

Tim Farron questions Cameron on Syria

Here’s the exchange between Tim Farron and David Cameron from today’s debate on Syria. Tim asked about safe havens to protect the innocent civilians who are trapped there and about the role of other countries in the region in helping the forces on the ground. It was a civilised exchange. The Prime Minister was on his best behaviour today.

I thank the Prime Minister for his statement and for early sight of it. There are understandable knee-jerk reactions on both sides to the horror of Paris and of Beirut. There will be those who say, “Intervene”; those who say, “Intervene at all costs”; and also those who say, “Do not intervene no matter what the evidence points to.” The Prime Minister knows that the Liberal Democrats have set out five criteria against which we can judge this statement. On that basis, may I press him on two particular points? The Prime Minister recognises that air strikes alone will not defeat ISIL. He has already heard that he will need to give much more evidence to this House to convince it that the ground operations that are there are sufficient and have the capability and the credibility to deliver on the ground, which is what he knows needs to be delivered. What role will Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the other Gulf states play in delivering this victory, if that is the direction in which we choose to go as a country and as a House? There is also a reference to humanitarian aid in this statement. He will know that no amount of aid can help an innocent family dodge a bomb. There is no reference in this statement to establishing no-bomb zones or safe havens to protect innocent civilians if this action takes place. Will he answer that question?

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 23 Comments

So why shouldn’t MPs breastfeed in the House of Commons?

There was a very sensible debate on the family friendliness or otherwise of the House of Commons earlier this week. The press seems to have latched on (sorry) to the issue of whether women MPs should be allowed to breastfeed their babies in the Commons chamber itself, although the debate was much more wide ranging – and we’ll have more about those other aspects later.

The debate was brought by Jess Phillips ,the MP for Birmingham Yardley who recently took such a battering on Twitter for daring to suggest that Parliament might have more important priorities than have a special debate for International Men’s Day. The irony of her being the only woman on the Committee that decides Commons business was not lost on many people.

At any debate on these issues, you get the odd Tory turning up whose only purpose seems to be to make themselves look ridiculous and to basically troll the proceedings. On this occasion it was Sir Simon Burns, the MP for Chelmsford. Early in the proceedings he suggested that the House of Commons did not have an overwhelming majority of white men when asked by fellow Conservative Maria Miller:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 17 Comments

Read my lips: No seat reduction

I just got back from two days at the Conference in Bournemouth. The absence of discussion of strategy was deafening. However, no less than three people either said to me or mentioned from the dais the reduction of seats from 650 to 600 “which the Tories are going to do”.

I have bemoaned the lack of psephological nous in the party before but, really, some members seem to like to wallow in misery and fantasy.

It is true that the seat reduction as proposed was set to disadvantage us and Labour at the Tory benefit. That is a given. However time and events have moved on.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 29 Comments

The one thing missing from Tim Farron’s Commons speech on the refugee crisis

Yesterday Tim Farron spoke twice in the Commons. We covered his tribute to the Queen, but I want to look at his speech in the SNP’s Opposition Day debate on the humanitarian crisis on our doorstep.

Actually, the speech itself was very good and said all it needed to say. I’ve been pretty lucky this week. I’ve managed to switch on the tv twice and, by chance, catch two Liberal Democrat MPs speaking, Alistair in the emergency debate on Tuesday and Tim yesterday.

Tim spoke about his experience in Calais, about how the Government’s response to the crisis has damaged and continues to damage the UK’s standing in the world and he also had a go at them, reinforced by Tom Brake, for raiding the international development budget to pay for the refugees coming here.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 28 Comments

Tim Farron’s tribute to the Queen: New Elizabethans, casework and a maypole

Tributes to the Queen for becoming the longest serving monarch were made today in the House of Commons and provided the first big national occasion when Tim Farron spoke as Leader of the Liberal Democrats. When you are as far down the pecking order as we find ourselves these days, you just can’t say the usual stuff. Tim’s tribute was slightly unconventional, quite funny and very fitting. It also makes us at LDV think he’s overdue an encounter with a maypole. Here it is in full:

It is a great honour to be able to pay tribute to Her Majesty on this very important day. I have only managed to meet Her Majesty on two occasions; obviously in the years to come I expect an audience more regularly. On the first occasion I met her, she gave me advice on how to cope with casework. On the second occasion, on her visit to Kendal in Westmoreland, there was very nearly an incident when a very well-meaning local councillor, Councillor Walker, decided to—I can only say—lunge across a crowd of 30 or 40 people carrying a bar of Kendal mint cake to offer to Her Majesty, which she accepted with great grace, looking forward, I am sure, to enjoying it. I have to say that the security services were less excited—or rather very excited—by that lunge. I also thank Her Majesty for the occasion of her silver jubilee in 1977, when she gave me my first, and so far only, experience of being able to dance around a maypole.

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged and | 23 Comments

Greg Mulholland’s row with the Speaker – the obvious solution

Yesterday, Leeds MP Greg Mulholland tried to ask a question about the availability of a drug to treat a constituent’s rare disease – and was prevented from doing so by the Speaker for being “long-winded.”  ITV News has the story:

Speaker John Bercow had warned Mr Mulholland to be quick in his statement but after referring to missed decision dates given to families by health authorities, the Lib Dem was told to resume his seat.

Six-year-old Sam Brown from Otley. Sam, who has Morquio syndrome needs Vimazim treatment, mentioned by Mr Mulholland, but NHS England deferred a decision over whether to provide the drug, then last week announced it would wait for guidance from NICE, the health body consulting on the drug.

There is a video of the exchange on the ITV site and, to be honest, I’m quite annoyed with John Bercow. Greg was no more long-winded than many of the other questions that day – Hansard has the details so you can see for yourself. All Greg had said before he was interrupted was this:

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 16 Comments

All-male shortlists for half of Commons Committees

Next Wednesday, MPs will choose who chairs their influential select committees. These are important, high profile positions as the Committees are there to carefully scrutinise the Government’s work. The more effectively they do their work, the better it is for our democracy. An effective chair will be able to work well with all their committee members from all parties and will be able to show capacity for tenacity and forensic attention to detail. Sadly, though, it looks as though the committees will not reflect diversity either in the Commons or society as a whole. You can find the whole list of people nominated here.

There are a few reasons to feel pretty gloomy at the selection on offer. The lack of any Liberal Democrat in the running anywhere is a predictable reflection of our decline in status. The calibre of some of the nominees and the fact that fewer than half of the Committees have had a woman even nominated for Chair shows that the Commons has not yet caught up with the modern world.

Posted in Op-eds and Parliament | Also tagged | 11 Comments

The Liberal Democrats who stood up for John Bercow

I asked the other day why on earth the Liberal Democrats had indulged the Tories’ last minute motion on the re-election of the Speaker which brought this Parliament to a rather undignified end.

We still haven’t had any real justification as to why we allowed this to take that leap from William Hague’s head to Commons Order paper, but I thought that you would be interested to read the Liberal Democrat interventions in the debate, both of which were against the motion.

David Heath’s remarks were very brief but to the point:

Further to the point of order, Mr Speaker. There is, of course, another way. The Leader of the House could withdraw the motion— I have to say that although I would always support a secret ballot, I very much dislike the way in which this matter has been brought before the House today.

For Duncan Hames, it was all about the potential consequences of such a rule change and how that would affect the balance of power between Speaker, House and the Executive:

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , and | 10 Comments

David Heath’s final speech in the House of Commons

David Heath
On Thursday a valedictory debate for retiring members took place in the House of Commons. Members whose service totalled several hundred years bade farewell to the Commons. Three of them were Liberal Democrats and we’ll be publishing their speeches in full. Today we have David Heath, MP for Somerton and Frome for 18 years. You can read the whole debate, with speeches from long-standing and distinguished MPs such as Gordon Brown, Joan Ruddock, Sir George Young and Elfyn Llwyd, here.

 

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged | 4 Comments

Sir Alan Beith’s final speech to the House of Commons

Alan Beith

Yesterday a valedictory debate for retiring members took place in the House of Commons. Members whose service totalled several hundred years bade farewell to the Commons. Three of them were Liberal Democrats and we’ll be publishing their speeches in full. Today we have Sir Alan Beith, elected in a by-election in 1973 and who faced two defences of his seat in the first year. You can read the whole debate, with speeches from long-standing and distinguished MPs such as Gordon Brown, Joan Ruddock, Sir George Young and Elfyn Llwyd, here.

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged | 6 Comments

Sir Malcolm Bruce’s final speech in the House of Commons

Malcolm bruce glasgow 2014Today a valedictory debate for retiring members took place in the House of Commons. Members whose service totalled several hundred years bade farewell to the Commons. Three of them were Liberal Democrats and we’ll be publishing their speeches in full. First up is Sir Malcolm Bruce, MP for Gordon for the last 32 years. Today we have David Heath, MP for Somerton and Frome for 18 years. You can read the whole debate, with speeches from long-standing and distinguished MPs such as Gordon Brown, Joan Ruddock, Sir George Young and Elfyn Llwyd, here.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 4 Comments

The Independent View: Commons must debate key Medical Innovation Bill before election

Maurice Saatchi’s Medical innovation Bill has caused controversy and inspired a passionate debate on how doctors and scientists can and should speed up medical advance for currently incurable diseases.

The Bill is designed to do two things. First, it will offer clarity and confidence to doctors who want to innovate and move away from standard procedures.

When might that be relevant? In most cases standard procedures work and innovation is unnecessary. There is a vast quantity of scientifically validated data which supports standard medical procedures.

But in some cases – specially for rare and incurable diseases –  there is little scientific data and no effective treatments. In such cases, a doctor and the patient may face a choice, between applying the standard treatments, even though they are known not to work and will lead only to death, or to try something new.

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged , and | 64 Comments

Our next post will be for new and infrequent commenters

Happy hump day and Happy Birthday to Denis Skinner MP

Posted in Photo feature and Site news | Also tagged | 8 Comments

What’s on in the Commons next week? 6-10 January 2014

MPs return to Westminster from their Christmas holidays next week. What does the parliamentary agenda have in store for them and when are Liberal Democrat ministers in action?

On Monday, it’s Education questions, followed by the completion of Commons stages for the Water Bill. I wonder how quickly the first Blackadder reference will creep in.

On Tuesday, Nick Clegg’s in action at Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions. Then the Mesothelioma Bill completes its Commons stages.

Wednesday sees the first PMQs of the year. I can’t see any prospect of this weekly pantomime becoming any less depressing. It would be so nice if our MPs …

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged | 2 Comments

Jo Swinson: “About to get on tube. Seat offers welcome….but I was happier standing yesterday”

The febrile world of Twitter has been a little obsessed with the fact that Liberal Democrat minister Jo Swinson, who is 7 months’ pregnant, was standing throughout Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, with concerned political correspondents expressing outrage that nobody had offered her a seat.

Then the Daily Mail got in on the act.  Their attitude to women generally can be summed up as patriarchal nonsense. That’s not the word, I confess, I used earlier in a private LDV team discussion, but this is a family site.  I’ve written before about that awful phrase they tend to use about any pregnant …

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 6 Comments

Frankly, I’d rather have a shambles than manage by fear and intimidation

I read a lot of political commentary by all sorts of people. I’ve been moved to tears, laughter, outrage, exasperation and delight by many of them. It’s taken until today, though, for an article written by a mainstream commentator to make me feel physically sick.

Writing in the Telegraph, John McTernan, former Labour Downing Street insider, describes the tactics of Labour whips:

A Cabinet minister who served in both the Blair and Brown governments retells his first encounter with Labour whips. Newly elected, he was walking through the corridors of the House when he was accosted by one. He was pushed

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 21 Comments

Ed Davey MP writes…Green jobs, cleaner energy, keeping the lights on and bills down

The Energy Bill returns to the House of Commons tomorrow. It’s a crucial Bill that will help deliver all of the above, but clearly one issue – the 2030 decarbonisation target for the power sector – has been the focus of much attention over the last few months. Let’s be clear, such a target wasn’t mentioned in any party’s manifesto or the Coalition Agreement, or in the draft Bill when I became Secretary of State. But because we won the argument in Government, and the Bill now provides for a target, Britain will be the first country in the world …

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Justice and Security Bill: some recommended reading

As the distinction in much of the news media between straight reporting and comment becomes increasingly less clear, and in-depth analysis is replaced by instant comment, reliable, neutral and well-informed analysis of big policy issues becomes more difficult to lay one’s hands on. That is even more true when it comes to Parliamentary business.

Unbeknown to many outside the Parliamentary Estate (or at least to me until fairly recently!) are the documents produced by the Commons and Lords libraries. All the documents produced …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Blast from the past: Paddy Ashdown on principled opposition

As I’ve watched the shameful shenanigans in the House of Commons this week over Lords reform, one event from our not so recent past kept popping into my head. Those of us of a certain age can remember the eventful passage of the Maastricht Bill through Parliament in 1992/93.  Even though they agreed with the principles of the Maastricht Treaty, Labour teamed up with Tory Eurosceptics to try to undermine the Government.

The Liberal Democrats, enthusiastic about closer European partnership, played no such games. I would be lying if I said I had taken this entirely calmly at the time. After …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 19 Comments

Clegg on AV referendum bill: “We must make the system fair. We must put people back in charge.”

The BBC reports:

Plans to change the way MPs are elected have cleared the first Commons hurdle. A bill introducing a referendum on changing the voting system, changes to constituency boundaries and fewer MPs, was backed by 328 votes to 269.

Labour says the changes would affect Labour-supporting areas and said the bill was “political skulduggery”. Tory opponents of the referendum said it could cost £100m but deputy PM Nick Clegg said it would restore “people’s faith in the way they elect their MPs”.

Despite criticism, the bill passed with a majority of 59 and a Labour bid to kill it off

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged , and | 21 Comments

Has something gone wrong with political reporting in the UK?

That’s the question asked today by Lib Dem blogger Andy Hinton in an article titled, If you want to keep something secret…

Andy highlights the mangled reporting of the BBC in claiming that Nick Clegg is back-tracking on the coalition government’s commitment to fixed-term parliaments by fleshing out further details on the proposed 55% dissolution rule – as he points out, Nick was simply repeating what the Lib Dems’ deputy leader of the house David Heath had said a fortnight ago in the House of Commons. This chimes with the general media reporting standard that unless something is said …

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The 14 non-Lib Dem MPs who backed the Single Transferable Vote

The House of Commons yesterday voted by 365 votes to 187 to hold a UK-wide referendum on changing the voting system next year from first-past-the-post to the alternative vote. The Lib Dems reluctantly voted for the alternative vote, as the most modest of improvements on the current, broken system.

But the party, in the person of Cambridge MP David Howarth, also moved an amendment to leave out ‘an alternative-vote’ and insert ‘a single transferable vote’ – in other words, to ask Parliament to approve an electoral system which would at last reflect the votes cast for parties across the country, …

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged , , , and | 13 Comments

MPs rally to Hemming’s cause over “intimidating” solicitor’s letter

LDV reported on Wednesday that Lib Dem MP for birmingham Yardley John Hemming had been granted an emergency Commons motion to debate what he termed an “intimidating” email received from a firm of solicitors Withers LLP.

A brief update, courtesy of the BBC report:

MPs have rallied round one of their number who said he was being “intimidated” and prevented from exercising his right to freedom of speech in the Commons by a firm of solicitors.

On 14 January 2010, they backed a request from Liberal Democrat John Hemming to refer the matter to Committee on Standards and Privileges, who will

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Emergency Commons debate after Lib Dem MP John Hemming “intimidated” by solicitors

The BBC reports:

Commons Speaker John Bercow has granted MPs an emergency debate after one Member claimed he had been “intimidated” by a firm of solicitors.

Liberal Democrat John Hemming, who represents Birmingham Yardley, complained about an e-mail he had received from Withers LLP.

Mr Bercow said the MP believed it amounted to a “contempt of the House” and ordered a debate for Thursday. It was a matter “to which I should allow precedence”, he told the Commons.

Full story here.

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

Nick: Government’s Afghanistan strategy “over-ambitious in aim and under-resourced in practice”

The BBC reports:

Gordon Brown has confirmed he will send 500 more troops to Afghanistan, taking the total UK deployment to over 10,000. He told MPs all conditions had now been met to send the extra personnel and that eight other countries had also offered additional troops. The UK force level will reach 9,500 but special forces takes this to 10,000.

Here in full is Nick Clegg’s Commons response to Gordon Brown’s announcement:

I join the Prime Minister in recognising and commending the enormously impressive work of our Armed Forces in Afghanistan.
Finally it has become mainstream to talk about the need for a big shift in strategy in Afghanistan.
When I first questioned the effectiveness of our action there six months ago and called for this kind of step-change, I was told it was unpatriotic.
The Prime Minister’s change of tone since then has been dramatic – and welcome.
The Liberal Democrat approach to Afghanistan has always been simple: we should do this properly or not at all.

Posted in Europe / International and Parliament | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment
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