Tag Archives: house of lords

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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  • User AvatarDiane Reddell 24th Mar - 3:48pm
    It would be good to have the book as an audio book too please.
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    The bedroom tax should be abolished as it is not working and is just adding to the poverty of low waged people. I think that...
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    John Roffrey, "no one of political maturity would take such a gamble with a political parties future." Surely this is matter of political conviction versus...
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    This is a brilliant pamphlet which calls for the return of democracy as the basis of our Liberalism. But if I can quibble with your...
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    I welcome any thoughts about what we need to do about the increasing number of people who are struggling to make ends meet because, for...
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    This is a very welcome paper because it creatively links our values with policy ideas, although it doesn’t deal with the controls needed to avoid...