Tag Archives: house of lords

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 It feeds into an outdated and unacceptable narrative that political decision-making is a man’s job.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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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarexpats 17th Mar - 10:21am
    William Fowler 17th Mar '18 - 9:25am....I do think Labour are keen to completely obliterate other left-leaning parties..... C'm off it, Bill.. I have read...
  • User Avatartheakes 17th Mar - 10:14am
    I must admit I am struggling a bit with this, in my professional opinion the message is reasonably sound, it is not necessarily misognyist. It...
  • User AvatarJennie 17th Mar - 10:11am
    Labour group are doubling down on defending this on Twitter too.
  • User AvatarTom Harney 17th Mar - 10:05am
    For us in the U.K. the question must be about what do we want to see achieved. There seems little doubt that North Korea believes...
  • User AvatarDavid Evans 17th Mar - 10:05am
    William, Is it really so odd that the LibDems are so out in the cold? Surely coalition was only better for the *short term* health...
  • User AvatarJayne mansfield 17th Mar - 9:26am
    @ nvelope2003, I directed my comment to you because I agreed with your comment. I was simply musing on how easily some shed avered values...