Tag Archives: jonathan marks

Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Jonathan Marks: The duty of this House is to mitigate the damage

The Lib Dem Lords have made some cracking contributions to the debate on the Article 50 Bill. Ahead of its next Lords stages, we’re bringing you all the Lib Dem contributions over the course of this weekend. That’s no mean feat. There were 32 of them and cover more than 30,000 words. You are not expected to read every single one of them as they appear. Nobody’s going to be testing you or anything. However, they will be there to refer to in the future. 

Our Lords excelled themselves. Their contributions were thoughtful, individual, well-researched and wide-ranging and it’s right that we present them in full on this site to help the historian of the future.

Jonathan Marks concentrated his remarks on the effect on international relations and pointed out the absurdity of the Government’s position on the European Court of Justice. He described what he called the Government’s two “unrealistic and obsessive illusions” on immigration and ECJ. 

My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Mandelson, in this debate. This is the most important issue that this House has debated in a generation. Yet there are voices out there who say that we should just get on with it and vote the legislation through unamended so as not to frustrate the will of the people. Many of us believe that we are about to make our biggest foreign policy mistake in decades, so just getting on with it and voting it through is not an option. As my noble friend Lord Newby eloquently asserted, we cannot and should not stay silent simply because the leave campaign won. That would be just as true even if it had won by a substantial majority.

I believe that the economic consequences of our leaving the European Union will be deep and lasting, but I fear that the most serious consequences will be for Europe and Britain’s place in the world. At a turbulent and dangerous time, we threaten to undermine our closest allies, who share our commitment to democracy, internationalism, the rule of law and human rights. We face an isolationist and protectionist America, led by a President who chooses to govern by Twitter, with scant regard to facts or principles, intent on jettisoning decades of carefully honed international policy that made America a worthy and safe leader of the free world.

In the Middle East we face ever-worsening violence, barbarity and terrorism, with little hope of reprieve. The refugee crisis in Europe, which is a consequence, cries out for a negotiated solution that combines humanity with pragmatism. We must deal with a dangerously resurgent Russia and a powerful and increasingly assertive China. Globally, we face the existential threat of climate change on which, in Paris, with Europe’s lead, we were making progress until President Trump changed America’s direction. Our leaving the EU threatens future European co-operation. Worse still, it strengthens and emboldens the fissiparous forces seeking to pull Europe apart—in France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Already, the referendum decision drives our Prime Minister to a weak and almost needy dependence on Trump’s America and Erdogan’s Turkey. The duty of this House is to mitigate the damage.

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Lib Dems condemn Gove’s prison reforms

So the Government thinks the solution to the crisis in our prisons is to give governors more power rather than have a more strategic sense of what the prison system is for and how best to lessen re-offending and properly rehabilitate offenders.

Liberal Democrat peer Jonathan Marks is unimpressed with the Government’s plans. He said:

It is a scary thought that the grand architect who oversaw the dismantling of the school system as we knew it is now getting his hands all over the nation’s prisons.

It is no secret that our prison system is in crisis. We lock up far too many people each year with inadequate facilities and staffing.

These reforms might tackle the problems at the surface but without root and branch reform of our criminal justice system the whole process will be built to fail.

The academy model for schools is falling apart as we speak so why the Government feels that this template is appropriate for prisons is incomprehensible.

Instead we should be focusing on ensuring that our criminal justice system is centred on rehabilitation and diverting people away from prisons wherever possible rather than this continued obsession with locking them up.

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Liz Barker questions Government on transgender prisoners after death of Vicky Thompson

Last week, transgender woman Vicky Thompson died in the men’s prison where she had been taken to serve her sentence. Ministry of Justice policy is to put trans prisoners in the gender they live as if they have a Gender Recognition Certificate. Obtaining a GRC can be a costly, difficult, bureaucratic process.

Liz Barker outlined some of the issues in an article for the Huffington Post:

In Tara’s case, she was put in a prison with 600 men, many of whom had committed violent offences and was eventually moved after a campaign which highlighted the risk to her safety.

Jonathan Marks, my colleague in the House of Lords and a highly respected barrister, raised this issue in Parliament following the case of Tara Hudson. He pushed the Government to make urgent changes to how they handle trans prisoners, calling for full and careful thought to be given to allocation before sentence rather than after placement. A policy that makes perfect sense.

I am deeply concerned that this wasn’t already common practice, but it is utterly shocking that a few short weeks after Tara’s case came to the public’s attention, action wasn’t taken to urgently review Vicky’s case too. There should now be an urgent review on a case-by-case basis for every trans prisoner in the prison estate to assess their situation

The Minister’s answer was not much more than waffle.

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Liberal Democrat amendment making revenge porn a crime to be debated today – watch Hannah’s story

"Frozen Poetry" - Houses of Parliament, LondonThis afternoon, an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill in the name of four Liberal Democrat peers, Jonathan Marks, Olly Grender, Liz Barker and Sal Brinton, will be debated in the House of Lords. Its effects would be to make it an offence to publish a sexually explicit image of a person without their consent, punishable by 6 months to a year in prison.

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Conference calls for our parliamentarians to reject Secret Courts

At most conferences there is at least one debate which proves how different we are from the other main parties. Different because we entrust Conference to decide party policy, in open debate, even where that may be at odds with the views of our parliamentarians.

Today’s debate on the ‘Secret Courts’ motion was a good example. The full title was F41: No Government Above the Law – The Justice and Security Bill.

This motion, submitted by two local parties, called on the Coalition to withdraw Part II of the Justice and Security Bill, which would empower Ministers to allow civil hearings …

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Fifteen new Liberal Democrat Peers appointed

Fifteen new Liberal Democrat working peers have just been announced…

  • Dr Sarah (Sal) Brinton – Executive Director of the Association of Universities in the East of England
  • Dee Doocey OBE – Chair of the London Assembly
  • Qurban Hussain – Deputy Group Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Luton Borough Council
  • Judith Jolly – Chair of Executive Committee of Liberal Democrats in Devon and Cornwall
  • Susan Kramer – former Liberal Democrat MP
  • Raj Loomba – businessman and campaigner for widows’ rights
  • Jonathan Marks – commercial and family law QC with specialist interest in human rights and constitutional reform
  • Monroe Palmer OBE – Liberal
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