Tag Archives: house of lords

The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill reaches the Lords…

Parliament returned to Westminster on Tuesday after the conference recess, and the Lords was immediately presented with one of those challenges it so often rises to, another anti-terrorism Bill, the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill, which received its Second Reading.

From the Liberal Democrat benches, Jonathan Marks outlined the four key tests against which the proposals would be judged;

First, what is the purpose of the measure and what is the mischief it seeks to address? Secondly, is the measure necessary to achieve that purpose? Thirdly, is the measure a proportionate response to the mischief, having regard to the restrictions on liberty

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From our Lords Correspondent: 9-11 October – as the summer draws to a close, a young Peer’s thoughts turn to Brexit…

Yes, it’s back, as the end of the Peer show returns to a Parliamentary chamber near you. And this time, I’m going to try to produce a column every week…

The ninety-eight strong Liberal Democrat group returned to battle this week, having shrunk by one more just before the Summer Recess. Ronnie Fearn, after two terms as the MP for Southport, and seventeen years in the Lords, retired under the terms of the 2014 House of Lords Reform Act on 11 July at the age of eighty-seven. No doubt the wear and tear …

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EU Withdrawal Bill: This isn’t over yet

Anyone feeling a bit jaded after today’s events in Parliament?

I mean, honestly, you have at the start of the day a very smug Arron Banks blithely telling anyone who would listen that Leave.EU “led people up the garden path” (that’s lied to you and I).

A few hours later, at the other side of the Parliamentary Estate, MPs fail to adequately hold the Government to account on their atrocious, democracy-undermining, devolution-busting disaster of an EU Withdrawal Bill.

The day had started quite promisingly with the resignation of a Government Minister who then proceeded to buy the Govenrment’s concession and abstained …

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Vision, compassion and inspiration: Roger Roberts’ essential elements for immigration

Roger Roberts spoke in the House of Lords this week on resettling vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers.

Here is his speech:

I appreciate very much the opportunity to take part in the debate introduced by my noble friend Lord Scriven. We all know that, ultimately, the answer lies in Syria and the Middle East, and somehow bringing together a new understanding there. The whole area is the victim of history. Countries like ours, France, Turkey and now Russia want to impose the most individually advantageous solutions on this part of the world. The United Nations appears impotent in the face of

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Christine Jardine introduces Bill to rename House of Lords on International Women’s Day

If Lib Dems had our way, the House of Lords would be reformed into an elected House. Nick Clegg had plans to do this but they didn’t survive the vested interests in the Tory and Labour parties.

There’s no immediate chance of it becoming elected, but a small but significant reform could be enacted.

Today Christine Jardine presented a Bill to change the name of the House of Lords to the House of Peers to better reflect the contribution of women in the chamber.

The current gender-specific House of Lords title is no longer appropriate. It feeds into an outdated and unacceptable narrative that political decision-making is a man’s job.

In this centenary year of female voting and election rights, it is surely time to recognise that our upper chamber is not a male preserve.

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Lib Dems help win Lords concession on citizens’ rights after Brexit

Regular Lib Dem Voice contributor and Lib Dem peer William Wallace has won a major concession from the Government as the EU Withdrawal Bill makes its way through the House of Lords.

Don’t get me wrong, the words EU Withdrawal Bill send a cold shiver through my heart, but anything we can do to make the legislation less awful has to be welcomed.

Under pressure from peers the government stated that they will commit to upholding the rights won from our membership of the EU. This includes upholding key parts of existing rights such as the EU Working Time Directive.

Speaking last night in the Lords on behalf of the government, Lord Duncan of Springbank,

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From our Lords Correspondent: 20-23 February – you might want to think about this… and this… and that…

Yes, the Lords was back after its usual February recess (think half-term but without the need for childminders), and ready to do battle with the EU Withdrawal Bill. Bearing in mind the agreement on all sides of the House that the intention was not to reject the Bill but to improve it, the Committee Stage has become a marker of the likely problems that will get a thorough airing over the coming weeks.

With three hundred and seventy-one amendments already tabled at the beginning of the week, it was clear that the Government’s …

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Anthony Lester steps aside from Lib Dem Lords group amid allegations of sexual harassment

Many newspapers report this morning that 81 year old Lib Dem Peer Anthony Lester has stepped down from the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords while an investigation takes place by the Lords Standards Commissioner into allegations of sexual harassment.

From the Guardian:

The commissioner for standards lists the peer as the subject of one of its current inquiries. It says an investigation is being carried out into an “alleged breach of the code in relation to personal honour”.

A spokesman for Lester, a prominent QC, said: “Lord Lester has a long and distinguished record as a champion of human

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Sal Brinton talks of being stuck in House of Lords as peer refused to move to let her past

The House of Lords debated the proposed works to the Palace of Westminster this week.

Sal Brinton took advantage of the opportunity to make a plea for the refurbished Parliament to be properly accessible. She highlighted some of the ways in which the current set-up fails disabled people. She also spoke of an experience where one peer wouldn’t actually let her past to leave a Lords debate, making her late for a meeting.

My Lords, in the wonderful elegance of parliamentary language, we have talked much already about “patch and mend”. The restoration and renewal of the buildings and the facilities in the Palace of Westminster are vital and urgent and I believe that we need to use much franker language given the neglect of the past. I support the Motion and oppose the amendment. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Naseby, that 20 years ago I was bursar of Selwyn College, Cambridge, when we needed to renew and restore our main court that had seen little—frankly, virtually no—maintenance and progress since it was built a century before. Student rooms still had gas and electric fires and the electric cabling was on its last legs, with much of the urgent work not visible or easily accessible. Does this sound familiar?

Since Selwyn was the poorest college and had very little resource to invest over the years in the buildings, the “patch and mend” approach was clearly failing us. We knew we had to do the work in one go, no matter how disruptive it was. We were also clear that we had to ensure it did not happen again, and that maintenance must be built into the future life of the buildings. This is also true for the Palace of Westminster after this major work. What steps are being taken to ensure that detailed maintenance costs of the building, and not just the ordinary life of the building, are being built into the baseline budget and then ring-fenced? The future of this historic and important building is just too important to get wrong.

When my noble friend Lady Thomas of Winchester, who cannot be in her place today but I hope will soon be able to rejoin us, gave evidence to the Joint Committee on the Palace of Westminster, she spoke for many of us who face accessibility issues in the Palace. I am grateful that the Joint Committee has taken the evidence on accessibility from a number of people, but I seek reassurance that there really will be a step change under the full decant option. It is not a “nice to have” option, and now is the best time to do the core work. So I am pleased to see in paragraph 7 of the Motion that there will be,

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Floella Benjamin on trouser suits, pioneering pregnancy at work and fighting for gender and race equality

As recently as 1981, Floella Benjamin was a trailblazer at the BBC. It wasn’t the done thing to be pregnant and be a tv presenter. She did it. In a fascinating speech in the Lords on Monday, she talked about her life and various careers and campaigns. I actually can’t believe where she started off her working life. Enjoy.

My Lords, I rise to speak in this important debate and declare an interest as a woman who, like other noble Baronesses speaking here today, has had a long journey to reach this Chamber. Many of us, as we stand on the summit of life’s mountain looking down at the valley of experience, think, “Who would have thought?”.

In 1966 I started my journey as a lowly clerk in the chief accountant’s office of Barclays Bank, a place dominated by men in grey suits and bowler hats. At that time it was my ambition to become the first black woman bank manager in the country. Sadly, it did not take me long to realise that there is a difference between ambition and fantasy. I did, however, cause uproar when I dared to go to work wearing a trouser suit instead of the obligatory skirt. Many of my female colleagues soon copied me, much to the consternation of our male counterparts.

In 1981, at the height of my career as a regular presenter on BBC children’s programmes, getting pregnant was considered a serious error of judgment. In those days it was almost certain that it would be the end of your career, as you were expected to disappear gracefully, with babe in arms, to a life of wifely domestic servitude. Pregnant women were certainly not to be seen below the waist on television when their pregnancy started to become evident. Fortunately for me I had a visionary producer, Cynthia Felgate, who at one time was in the Guinness book of records for producing the most television programmes in the world. She allowed me to continue working and presenting until I was eight months pregnant. This was unheard of and made national and international news. I was seen by millions of viewers fully pregnant, and once I even stopped mid-dance to declare, “I can feel the baby kicking”—the children watching loved that moment. Other female presenters were grateful for this pivotal moment, because they, too, could become pregnant and carry on working onscreen throughout their pregnancy.

It was around 1968, living through the civil rights movement and the race riots here in Britain, when I started to become conscious that more women’s voices were needed in politics. So I organised political meetings and events for fellow Caribbeans in London who felt excluded from society—something that the legendary Claudia Jones had earlier fought against by establishing the West Indian Gazette and the creation of what we all know now as the Notting Hill Carnival. Because of these influences, over the years I began to speak out more and more: I wrote letters to political leaders and campaigned on issues such as seat belts on school ​buses, diversity in publishing and in the media, and, for 20 years, for a Minister for Children—until we finally got one. It is such a shame that that position has now been downgraded from a full ministerial post. I hope that the Government will reconsider this change and correct this short-sighted mistake.

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From our Lords correspondent: the Bill cometh, but will the building fall down before it can be passed?

And so, the EU Withdrawal Bill came to be debated in the Lords over two days. One hundred and eighty-seven speakers, all heard courteously enough but, at the end of it, it was just the hors d’oeuvres before the real work on the Bill begins.

It seemed to be broadly accepted accepted across the Chamber that the House of Lords does not see its role as stopping Brexit – the lack of an electoral mandate hangs heavy on all corners – and as Dick Newby put it, opening for the Liberal Democrats;

I should

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Dick Newby: Withdrawal Bill exhibits Government’s arrogance and incompetence

As the EU Withdrawal Bill hits the House of Lords, here is Dick Newby’s speech in full:

It is now a year since Your Lordships House began its debate on the Bill triggering Article 50 and 10 months since the Article was triggered.

It is generally agreed that both the withdrawal agreement and the agreement on our future relations with the EU have to be concluded before the end of the year and so we are approximately half way through the entire period available for our exit negotiations. What has been achieved so far?

My Lords, Virtually nothing.

The Government has formally agreed on the future rights of EU citizens living in the UK, but this was something which from day one it said was going to do. It has agreed on a divorce bill – but again the Prime Minister had long been clear the Government was going to do so, even if some members of her Cabinet were not.

And on the status of Northern Ireland it has agreed a form of words which, far from settling the matter, are interpreted in a completely different way in Ireland from the gloss put on them here in London, as I discovered in a range of discussions I had in Dublin last week.

On our future relationship with the EU, beyond bland and meaningless platitudes, we have nothing.

In December we were told that the Cabinet would have agreed on our future trading relationship with the EU during January. Well January has come and virtually gone and there is still no sign of such a decision, or anything approaching one.

And the Prime Minister is now so cowed by a fractious and disunited Cabinet that she daren’t even make a speech on the subject. My Lords there are many Noble Lords in Your Lordships House with longer experience of governments than me, but I doubt whether any of them will have seen a Prime Minister and a Government in such a state of paralysis.

And in the real world, our growth rate has fallen from the highest in the G7 to the lowest, the head of the OBR describes the economy as “weak and stable” and the Government’s own assessments of the impact of Brexit on the economy are uniformly negative.

It is against this background that we begin our consideration of the Withdrawal Bill.  Of course it was never intended to be the Withdrawal Bill. It was supposed to be the Great Repeal Bill. That is until the Commons Clerks object to the use of the word Great. They could equally have objected to the word repeal, because this bill is not a repeal bill. It is a transfer bill, taking the whole bulk of existing EU legislation and turning it into domestic legislation.

ML whilst it is easy to dismiss the kerfuffle about the Bill’s title with a smile, it is very revealing of the Government’s overall approach to the Brexit process. It can be characterised as a combination of arrogance and incompetence which is now threatening the future of our country. And the background ticking of the clock is getting louder by the day. 

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From our Lords Correspondent: the Government see sense, and the Brexit Bill comes…

Last week saw the fallout from the previous week’s defeat of the Government over the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill and, all credit to the Minister, Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon, he had returned with a series of amendments designed to remedy the Bill’s original flaws. At the forefront of the cross-Party collaboration were Sharon Bowles and Susan Kramer, both of whom bring vast amounts of expertise to the table. As Sharon Bowles explained;

When we started out with the Bill, there was no policy in Part 2, yet it gave sweeping powers

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Ben Stoneham writes: Lib Dem Lords will hold Government to account on EU Withdrawal Bill

The first major stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill will reach the House of Lords next week. I thought this would a good time to explain what the next few weeks will look like in this often ignored corner of Westminster.

Second Reading

The Second Reading of the EU Withdrawal Bill will take place early next week. This is a chance for peers to discuss the issues in the Bill and the processes that the Bill, if passed, would enable – namely, the transcribing of EU law into UK law.

The Second Reading stage is just the first of many in the Lords, and it is not where the bulk of work is done on attempting to change and improve the Bill. Unlike in the Commons the Lords do not traditionally vote on the Second Reading of a Bill.

Some have accused the Liberal Democrat leadership in the Lords, along with the Labour leadership, of guillotining debate on the Bill because we are not supporting Lord Adonis’s call to extend the Second Reading from 2 days to 4 days.  To be very clear about this, I, along with my Labour counterpart, secured early starts on both days of debate next week, giving us an extra 7 hours of debate during Second Reading.  This stage is not where the real work is done on scrutinising the detail of the Bill.

Committee Stage

This is where we will start to consider a whole raft of amendments to the Bill.  We will have many cross-party amendments and we have many Liberal Democrat amendments on issues including on the Single Market and Customs Union, getting people a final say on the deal and clearing up the attempted Tory power grab through Henry VIII powers.  There will be at least 10 days of Committee Stage on the Bill – this is about 70 hours – and the Liberal Democrats will be fighting for more days if more are required.

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From your Lords correspondent… the Government falls foul of Lord Judge…

As noted earlier, a change to the format, in that I’ll be looking back at the highlights of the last week in the Lords and briefly pointing out the likely big issues in the week ahead. I may not get it all right…

As the noble lord, Lord Greaves, is watching, we’ll start with last week’s major Government defeat on the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, over the issue of ‘Henry VIII powers’. Lord Judge, from the cross-benches, and the former Chief Justice of England and Wales, was ‘disappointed’ to see the Government again attempt to gain the power to create …

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My Grandad – A tribute to Liberal Party president Lord Evans of Claughton

Growing up, the subject of politics was often on the agenda at family gatherings. However, it was not until I was older that I realised how important and influential my Grandad was within the political arena.

Gruff Evans was brought up in a Welsh-speaking family who resided in Birkenhead on the Wirral. Despite being offered a place at Oxford University, he chose to study law at Liverpool University where he graduated in 1948. After completing National Service as a pilot officer in the Royal Air Force, he established a solicitor’s practice in Liverpool.

Both Gruff’s parents supported the Liberal Party, however they were notoriously divided as his mother was an ‘Asquithian’ Liberal, while his father was a supporter of Lloyd-George. Gruff upheld this Liberal tradition, and to the surprise of the local Tory party, he successfully gained a seat on Birkenhead County Council in 1957 which he subsequently held for twelve years. He then went on to win a seat on Wirral Borough Council in 1973 and led the Liberal Group from 1977 to 1981. Unfortunately, Gruff was less successful in national politics, failing to win at seat in the House of Commons (see here, pg. 22, for more information).

My Grandfather was prominent in the Liberal Party from the 1950s through to the early 1990s. He worked his way up the party ranks, from Chair of the National League of Young Liberals 1960-61, to Chairman of the party’s National Executive, Assembly Committee, and General Election Committee, to attaining the Presidency of the Liberal Party in 1977. During his time as President, Gruff had to confront the controversy surrounding the former leader Jeremy Thorpe which unintentionally brought him into the media spotlight and he subsequently found himself being a familiar figure in the national news during the week of the Liberal Party annual conference.

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A progressive alliance for decency in the news media defeats the Government in the Lords

In writing my preview of last week’s events in the Lords, I rather glossed over the debate on the Data Protection Bill on Wednesday. That will rather teach me to do more research, as it turned out that there was to be an attempt to set up a new Leveson-style inquiry into the nefarious activities of some of our news outlets…

As the noble Lord Greaves pointed out last week, Wednesday saw the Government defeated on a vote to require them to set up and inquiry into issues arising from data protection breaches …

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This week in the Lords: 8-11 January – prod, prod, prod…

Yes, they’re back after all of that leaping, and we’re back to offer you a preview of events in their Lordship’s House.

We start on Monday, with two Liberal Democrat Oral Questions. Floella Benjamin raises the question of an official commemoration of the arrival of the SS Windrush in June 1948, whilst Roger Roberts seeks clarity on post-Brexit arrangements for supporting child refugees.

Most attention though, I suspect, will be on the debate on the Government’s Industrial Strategy and the case for boosting earning power and productivity across the UK with investment in the …

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This week in the Lords: 11-15 December – probing away on Brexit…

Yes, we’re back, with our regular preview of the week in the upper chamber, following last week’s absence. Apologies to those of you who take an interest in the more elegant end of the Palace of Westminster. No time to hang about though…

The very first item of business after prayers on Monday is an oral question from Robin Teverson, whose will be seeking a Government view on whether UK citizens will be able their EU citizenship post-Brexit should they wish. Whilst this was originally an idea of Luxembourg MEP Charles Goerens, it …

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Lords Committee: “Difficult to envisage a worse outcome than no deal”

As the EU negotiations traverse this predictably tricky stage, the Usual Suspects appear on television blithely arguing that we should just walk away from the negotiations with the EU with no deal because it’ll all be fine, really.

Except anyone can see that that outcome is far from desirable.

The House of Lords European Union Committee has skewered any notion that “no deal” is anything other than a highly damaging option in a report published today. It also slams the Government for enshrining the date of withdrawal in the European Withdrawal Bill.

They also make the obvious point that it is not possible to reach a deal by the March 2019 deadline and so our membership of the EU should be extended to cover this.

We may not have much information from the Government in terms of the impact of Brexit on certain sectors in the economy, but we do have some pretty strong evidence in this report of what  a disaster a “no deal” scenario would be for the agri-food business, for the ports, for aviation, for the financial sector and it really isn’t pretty. Read through the evidence and wonder how anyone can actually go on telly and advocate it as an option.

The report’s conclusion is damning:

A complete ‘no deal’ outcome would be deeply damaging for the UK. It would bring UK-EU cooperation on matters vital to the national interest, such as counter-terrorism, police, justice and security matters, nuclear safeguards, data exchange and aviation, to a sudden halt. It would place the status of UK nationals in the EU, and EU nationals in the UK, in jeopardy, and would necessarily lead to the imposition of controls at the Irish land border.

The wider economic impact of an abrupt departure from the EU single market and customs union, and the adoption of WTO conditions for trade, would be felt across a range of sectors, including financial services, the agri-food sector, and aviation. It would have a particularly disruptive impact on cross-border supply chains. The short-term impact on trade in goods would also be grave: the UK’s ports would be overwhelmed by the requirement for customs and other checks. There is simply not enough time to provide the necessary capacity, IT systems, human resource and expertise to deal with such an outcome.

Vince Cable echoed the Report’s conclusions, saying that “no deal” would leave us “poorer, weaker and more isolated than at any time in modern history.”

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Brexit and Welsh Devolution….

Martin Thomas attacked the government over their poor planning for devolution around Brexit. This is the speech Lord Thomas gave in the House of Lords.

Paragraph 20 of the Memorandum of Understanding of October 2013 states:

The UK Government will involve the devolved administrations as fully as possible in discussions about the formulation of the UK’s policy position on all EU and international issues which touch on devolved matters.

The annexed Concordat on Co-ordination of European Union Policy issues – Wales reads:

B2.5 ..the UK Government wishes to involve the Welsh Ministers as directly and fully as possible in

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Cut the Electoral Corruption!

“Follow the money” has always been a good tip for an investigative journalist or politician.

 In recent weeks and months there have been plenty such trails to follow.  In reverse order:

  • “Arron Banks faces EU referendum finance investigation” (BBC 1/11/2017);
  • “Trump, Assange, Bannon, Farage … bound together in an unholy alliance” (Observer 30/10/2017);
  • “Who paid for the leave vote?” (Guardian 28/6/2017);
  • “Labour MP calls for probe into Tory use of voter data” (Guardian 27/5/2017);
  • “Watchdog can’t stop foreign interference in election” (BBC 17/5/2017);
  • “No Conservative election charges from 14 police force inquiries” (Guardian 10/5/2017);
  • “The

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This week in the Lords (30 October – 2 November) – the preview…

Welcome, once again, to Liberal Democrat Voice’s preview of the week in Parliament or, to be more precise, the (usually) more dignified end of the Palace of Westminster.

It feels a bit like a phony war at the moment, with the Lords to some extent killing time until the EU Withdrawal Bill finishes its passage through the Commons, but there is still plenty to interest the connoisseur.

Diving straight in, Monday sees the first day of the Committee Stage of the Data Protection Bill. Leading for us will be Tim Clement-Jones, accompanied by Brian …

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Will Labour Lords stick to their EU principles?

As the Lords prepared to vote this week on the Queen’s Speech, I have been asked often about whether the so-called “Salisbury-Addison Convention” applies during this Parliament, to proposals from a Government which did not obtain a majority in the Commons.

Briefly, the Convention holds that the Lords does not reject Bills predicated on manifesto commitments, nor introduce “wrecking amendments”. The convention was first formulated in 1945 between the post-war Labour Government and Conservative leaders in a heavily Tory- and hereditary- dominated House.  The Liberal group was never party to it.

Speaking in the Queen’s Speech debate, I urged Peers – Labour Peers in particular – not to be bound into believing that the Government’s Faustian pact with the DUP gives it the right to railroad legislation through Parliament.  Unlike the 2010 Coalition Government, this administration cannot claim that its composition enjoys anywhere near majority support in the country, and the ‘deal’ is in any case only on big ticket votes.  There is no agreed programme for government between parties who together can claim a mandate.  That means that the Official Opposition should see no need simply to roll over during parliamentary “ping-pong” at the very first whiff of ‘pong’ from the Commons!

On Brexit, I pointed out that Labour voters had a far more positive view of the UK’s relationship with the EU than the Labour leadership. Messrs Corbyn and McDonnell may still regard the single market as a capitalist conspiracy, but most of their supporters do not.  With some 69% now thought to support the UK’s continued membership of the EU customs union and 53% favouring a referendum on whether or not to accept the Brexit deal, the Lords will should be fearless in making sure the public is heard.  

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Roger Roberts: Could we not be the nation that leads morally in this ruptured world

Yesterday, Roger Roberts was one of many Liberal Democrat peers to take part in the Queen’s Speech debate. He’s sent us his speech on the treatment of refugees, an issue very close to his heart:

 In the wide-ranging speeches, we had one great disappointment, and I am sure the Minister involved will know exactly what I am referring to; there has been no commitment at all to receiving the 20,000 Syrian refugees as promised by David Cameron. It is not there in the Queen’s Speech. Nor is there a commitment to increase the number of unaccompanied child refugees. When you think that in Europe there are still about 88,000 of these children by themselves, we have met no commitment whatever in the Speech that we are discussing this afternoon. It has been a great disappointment in that direction.

We are probably going to get another immigration Bill; we get one every Session. I am not sure what we are going to do in a two-year Session: will we get two or just one and a half? We are going to get new legislation, and every time we do it makes it more difficult for those who are vulnerable and those who wish to escape from total austerity to come here. We can promote many amendments when that new Bill comes. We can ask why asylum seekers are still refused permission to work for the first 12 months of their time in the United Kingdom. Is there any reason whatever? I cannot see any. Why, also, do we have legislation that permits 18 year-olds to be deported? Those who are deported are largely those who have had no access to legal advice. The Government could, quite easily I think, make a commitment that everyone who approaches 18 years of age shall at least have the benefit of top-rate legal advice.

There is one other thing I would like to see in the new immigration Bill. Do you know how much people get every week when they are applying? It is £36.95, and this has not increased at all in the past five or six years. Anything that we can do to uprate that to the present cost of living would be very welcome.

I have come across a poem by Warsan Shire of Somalia that describes the circumstances, and I shall quote part of it:

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Lord Martin Thomas writes…The House of Lords has the right to say “no” to Conservative/DUP Bills

In early 1868, Mr Disraeli became the Prime Minister of a minority Conservative government. Mr Gladstone, leading the Opposition, took his opportunity and thrust a Bill to disestablish the Irish Church through the House of Commons. The then Marquess of Salisbury advised his fellow peers that:

“when the opinion of your countrymen has declared itself, and you see that their convictions – their firm, deliberate and sustained convictions – are in favour of any course, I do not for a moment deny that it is your duty to yield. But there is an enormous step between that and being the mere …

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Post-referendum positivity isn’t foolish

I was taken in by Saturday’s April 1st joke on the pages of The Liberal Democrat Voice: that we should stop “remoaning”, and be a bit more positive about the Brexit process No doubt some readers will call me foolish, but I absolutely agreed with the thrust of the article. After all, many a true word’s spoken in jest…

So here are three reasons for my optimism:

1) Moving past the romanticism of the EU would help, not hinder a more pragmatic pro-European cause. During both the referendum and the period before Article 50 was triggered, extreme arguments flourished on both sides: a nostalgia for British Imperialism or a desire for “Singapore on steroids” on the one hand, and too romantic an image of the EU on the other. Having lived in Europe — both in the EU and in Switzerland — I am surprised at how much fellow Liberal Democrats idealise the EU as an organisation. One that, in the romantic story, has simply enabled individuals across the continent to lead freer lives, become more open-minded, and move beyond ugly nationalism. Now that Article 50 has been triggered, the negotiations will pour cold water on so much idealism — on both sides of the Brexit divide.

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Newby: May’s Brexit plan will make us poorer, less generous and diminished as a nation

Lib Dem Lords Leader Dick Newby threw some serious shade at the Government yesterday in his response to the Prime Minister’s statement on Article 50 being triggered. He went through it and pointed out the many inconsistencies and false promises it contained. It’s a cracker.

Today is for me and my colleagues an extremely sad day. It marks the point at which the UK seeks to distance itself from its nearest neighbours at a time when, in every area of public policy, logic suggests that we should be working more closely together rather than less.

But sadness is a passive emotion, and it is not the only thing that we feel. We feel a sense of anger that the Government are pursuing a brutal Brexit, which will rip us out of the single market and many other European networks from which we benefit so much. We believe that the country will be poorer, less secure and less influential as a result, and we feel that at every ​point, whether it be the calling of the referendum itself or the choices made on how to put its result into effect, the principal motivation in the minds of Ministers has been not what is best for the long-term interests of the country but what is best for the short-term interests of the Conservative Party.

We do not believe that the Government have the faintest clue about how they are going to achieve the goals that they set out in their White Paper last month or the Prime Minister’s Statement today, and we have no confidence in their willingness to give Parliament a proper say either as the negotiations proceed or at their conclusion. We therefore believe that, at the end of the process, only the people should have the final say on whether any deal negotiated by the Government —or no deal—is preferable to ongoing EU membership. We will strain every sinew to ensure that outcome.

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Some progress on party funding reform – comments please!

 

The adage “if you want to keep something secret, say it in the House of Commons” certainly extends to the Lords on Fridays, when Private Members Bills are taken.

However, our team made significant progress last week in pushing the government to take seriously their own manifesto commitment “to continue to seek agreement on a comprehensive package of party funding reform”.  We have been plugging away at this by whatever means possible, including by initiating a special Select Committee on party funding reform last year, and by introducing my Political Parties (Funding and Expenditure) Bill last week.  I opened the debate, and Chris Rennard and Ian Wrigglesworth both spoke too.  We received support also from Labour Peer Larry Whitty, and from the Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Paul Bew.

For decades, Lib Dems have sought a cap on individual donations – to limit the auction of influence and access to government and senior political figures which now takes place.  In return, a limited element of public funding – linked to support in the country – would be needed to ensure the parties could continue their campaigning.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 9 Comments

++Second government defeat – Lords vote for parliamentary veto on final Brexit deal

The BBC reports:

The government has suffered a second Brexit defeat in the House of Lords as peers backed, by 366 votes to 268, calls for a “meaningful” parliamentary vote on the final terms of withdrawal.
Backing the move, former deputy PM Lord Heseltine said Parliament must be the “custodian of national sovereignty”.

Posted in News and Parliament | Also tagged | 53 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMick Taylor 19th Oct - 8:54am
    From my earliest time in politics I was taught to refer to independents as Condependants. Often individuals stand as independents because they haven't a cat...
  • User AvatarDavid Davis 19th Oct - 7:30am
    Fundamental point: should the next referendum be advisory/non-binding (like the last one), or mandatory/binding? I would strongly prefer the advisory sort, provided that parliament (both...
  • User AvatarJoeB 19th Oct - 1:19am
    Michael 1, If Masonic influences were a significant factor in the Castle Baynard elections surely the chap (or chapess) with the moniker Charming toff would...
  • User AvatarTonyH 19th Oct - 12:00am
    For those of us who can't make it to the march, there are other things we can do for the cause. e.g. tonight's Question Time...
  • User Avatarfrankie 18th Oct - 11:16pm
    Well Peter I think enough posters have presented enough facts and arguments to suggest your dream of free trade won't happen, I look forward to...
  • User AvatarGordon 18th Oct - 11:13pm
    Even TM seems to have accepted that financial services are a lost cause after Brexit by not including them in her Chequers plan. So just...