Tag Archives: liberal democrat lords

How Liberal Democrat Lords stood up for the British people – Jonny Oates

In a few years’ time, when people may well be wondering why Parliament didn’t stop the Government in its reckless pursuit of the most damaging brexit possible, it will be clear who stood up for their rights. As Labour crumbled in farce, Liberal Democrat peers stood firm for the rights of the EU nationals who are are parents, neighbours, partners, co-workers and against the Government. The Lib Dem lords did all they could to prevent the disaster.

Here is Jonny Oates’ speech when pressing the issue to a vote.

My Lords, I move this Motion for the following reasons. First, despite the large majority that voted for the amendment to the Bill in this House, the Government have failed to make any concessions and not even attempted to address the many issues raised by noble Lords in Committee. Secondly, the profound nature of the issue at stake should make us think very carefully before we concede. This debate is not over some arcane technicality or some petty, partisan disagreement; it is about people’s lives. It is about whether people will be allowed to live in the country that they have made their home with the people for whom they care, whether they can stay in a job or plan a career, and whether their children can remain in the school they know and study with the friends they have made. It is about their futures, their homes and their families, and it is about the fear and misery being caused by every further day of uncertainty.

Thirdly, we should weigh our decision very carefully, because this debate is also about the integrity of our country. It is about whether we will honour the unequivocal commitment made by the official Vote Leave campaign that, if the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, the rights of all EU citizens in the UK would be guaranteed. Unlike most other issues arising from the referendum, there is absolutely no dispute about what was promised to EU citizens. The Vote Leave campaign, which was supported by a number of noble Lords, made the following categorical statement:

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Lib Dem amendment to give power to mobile phone users defeats Government in Lords

After two days of debate on the Article 50 Bill, the House of Lords turned its attention to the Digital Economy Bill last night – and inflicted a defeat on the Government as the Mirror reports.

The House of Lords backed plans to cap monthly mobile phone bills tonight as peers inflicted an embarrassing defeat on the Government.

Supporters say it will stop cash-strapped users seeing costs spiral out of control, barring them from making calls when they hit their limit.

Tory ministers hoped to block the move, which would let customers set limits on how much they can spend.

But the plan, written as amendment to the Digital Economy Bill, was approved 244-198 (majority 46) against the government’s wishes.

Lib Dem Lord Clement-Jones backed it, saying: “Mobile phone billing is one of the most complicated areas of domestic expenditure.

There may be in particular some danger of vulnerable customers getting into difficulty and it should be possible for a consumer to set a cap on expenditure on a mobile phone.

The amendment also makes it easier for people to switch mobile phone contracts. Tim Clement-Jones added after the debate:

The Liberal Democrats have beaten the government to create a fairer system in which the consumer rights of many millions of mobile phone users are put first.

Today’s vote will mean greater rights for the millions of people across the country who have a mobile phone contract.

The Government now has to decide whether it is going to fight against this proposal. Overturning this amendment will be a slap in the face to anyone who has had been tied up with an unjust and exploitative phone contract.

The Government suffered a second defeat on the issue of rural broadband. Tim Clement-Jones explains:

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Claire Tyler writes: Breaking through the class ceiling

Too often, success in accessing our top professions is down to the lucky accident of birth. Too often, structural inequalities mean that young children find themselves imprisoned on an inescapable path. By the age of five, there is a clear academic attainment gap between children from rich and poor families. This increases throughout school. The benefits of being born to wealthy parents do not just accrue to the talented – in fact, less-able, better-off kids are 35% more likely to become high earners than bright poor youngsters. The resultant domination of our top professions like medicine, law, finance and the arts by the elite and independently educated is staggering.

The case for social mobility is not just a moral one. It also makes business sense. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in 2010 found that failing to improve low levels of social mobility will cost the UK economy up to £140 billion a year by 2050. Some top businesses understand this, and are working hard to widen access.

More must be done to widen access to elite professions; on the part of schools, universities, businesses and the government. This is the conclusion of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Mobility, of which I am co-Chair, and which released its report this week. Titled ‘The Class Ceiling’, the report is the culmination of a detailed inquiry, with the help of the Sutton Trust, over the last year. The inquiry looked at the causes and extent of the problem, investigated what is currently being done, and recommended tangible policy actions.

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Lord Anthony Lester writes…We will march in the streets for the BBC

Tomorrow the government will publish a white paper setting out its plans for the future of the BBC. At the BAFTA awards on Sunday the director Peter Kosminsky rightly received a standing ovation. He used his acceptance speech to voice his fear that the White Paper will compromise our precious, independent, world-renowned organisation. He cautioned that the BBC was on a path to evisceration that would leave the broadcasting landscape bereft – and the output of television and radio determined solely by what lines the pockets of shareholders.

Those fears are not fanciful. The BBC has retained its reputation for world-class programming over the last decade despite increasingly painful cuts. As Lord Patten pointed out in a major lecture at the Reuter’s institute last week, the BBC’s real income has fallen over the past decade by more than 15%. In the past five years alone BSkyB’s revenues went up by more than 16% and ITV’s increased by 21%.

Being effective as a public services broadcaster depends on having a guaranteed source of revenue. That is and has been the licence fee. It must be owned by the BBC, not by the government. It must not be sliced off to feed commercial rivals. The government has no business raiding it, like when it dumped the cost of free licences for the over 75s on the BBC rather than taxpayers. That undermined morale within the BBC as well as public trust and confidence. The BBC is not an arm of government that sets welfare policy and it would cause public outrage if it were forced to become one. The BBC must stand independent from government, free to call it to account.

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Lord Paul Tyler writes…Liberal Democrats force government climbdown on Trade Union Bill

This evening sees the culmination of five months’ work, led by the Lib Dems, which will finally knock some fairness into the Government’s proposals for reforming the relationship between Labour and the Trade Unions.

Late last year, the Left was raging – with some justification – about a Tory plot to remove up to £6m a year of funding from Labour, by restricting the right of trade unions to collect donations through a political fund.  While the principle of requiring individual ‘opt-in’ consent for such donations is an important one – with which Lib Dems agree – the Government’s endeavour was a naked, one-sided attempt to hobble the opposition.  Real party funding reform cannot be for only one party.  It must also restrict millionaire and big business donations too.

The question our team had to ask was how to amend these elements of the Trade Union Bill without it sounding like simple special pleading for anti-Conservative forces.  Clearly, our party is in a good position to start with, since the Lib Dems do not benefit from trade union political funds.  But we still needed to demonstrate in as non-partisan, dispassionate a way as possible that the what the Government proposed was simply lop-sided and self-interested.

So on the day before the House broke up for Christmas our small Lib Dem Bill team discussed a little-used mechanism to corral principled opposition to the party funding clauses of the Bill.  I suggested that we try to shift this issue to a special Select Committee of the Lords, where Ministers, the Unions, democracy academics, and all the parties could make their case.

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Home Office #2: Sally Hamwee

Part of the Christmas story involves the baby Jesus and his parents fleeing for his life after Herod ordered the slaughter of the innocents. David Cameron, with all his talk on Christian values the other day, might like to reflect on that. If he did, he’s be withdrawing his appalling Immigration Bill. We won’t be holding our breath for that to happen. Liberal Democrat peers lined up to condemn it the other day and, over the Christmas period, we’re publishing all their speeches. Sally Hamwee had some strong words, implying that it was closer to Trump than Trudeau. It’s a long speech, but worth reading.

My Lords, from these Benches we find little that is positive in the Bill. We fear that it will increase discrimination, exploitation, destitution and homelessness. It will risk children’s welfare, turn citizens into enforcers through outsourcing and reduce the UK’s reputation in employment and other sectors—all of this, and more, without making any progress on a time limit for immigration detention, on family reunion, on integration and on community cohesion. This is the Bill we would have had in the last Parliament had it not been for the moderating effect of coalition government.

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Tony Greaves writes…Challenging the Tories, Liberal Democrat lords are in the vanguard

We have just seen another week in which the Liberal Democrats in the Lords led the way in challenging the Conservative Government. The high profile issue was votes for 16 and 17 year olds in the European Referendum when no fewer than 91 of our members voted for the amendment, out of a total of 107 – five are still waiting to come in – with none against, an astonishing record turnout of 87%. Labour managed 74% and the Tories 71. (And it didn’t even include me, I was stuck at home in Lancashire feeling poorly and miserable).

And then Sue Miller (my good friend Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer) moved an amendment to give the vote to all UK citizens living in the EU – and why not, it’s their future as much as or even more than ours? But Labour more or less abstained (four in favour, 37 against – these no doubt being mainly the anti-EU little Englanders in their ranks) and the amendment went down by 214 to 116. There were 84 LD votes in favour and again none against. Yet another principled Liberal charge while Labour sat on the sidelines!

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