Tag Archives: paul scriven

20 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Liberal Democrats secure Government commitment to publish test and trace agreement with police
  • Government face first defeat in the Lords over Internal Market Bill

Liberal Democrats secure Government commitment to publish test and trace agreement with police

Today, Liberal Democrat Peer Paul Scriven has secured a commitment from Health Minister Lord Bethell to publish the agreement between the Government and police chiefs over the decision to share test and trace data.

This follows the Health Secretary’s refusal to make the Memorandum of Understanding public when Liberal Democrat Health and Care Spokesperson Munira Wilson asked him to just yesterday.

Following the exchange, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Scriven said:

An effective test, trace and isolate system to keep people safe will only work if the public have faith in it and this means the Government must be open and honest about how it uses people’s data.

It is absolutely crucial that the Government publishes its Memorandum of Understanding with police chiefs on sharing of Test and Trace data in full, otherwise they risk further undermining public trust in the system and discouraging people from getting tested.

I’m glad to have secured this commitment from the Minister, but he must now make sure the document is published for public scrutiny as soon as possible. The Liberal Democrats are clear that transparency over the use of personal data is essential to build public confidence in Test and Trace.

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Mike German writes: Democracy, digital technologies and trust

A new report from the House of Lords has shone a searchlight on the effect of online activity on the health of our democracy. Over the past year Paul Scriven and myself have been members of a Select Committee taking evidence, investigating the level of harm, and developing proposals for tackling this critical issue. As Liberals we see technology can be a tool to help spread power, and improve democracy. But that can only happen with the correct framework around it.

Trust in our democracy is being eroded. Our key conclusions are that democracy should be supported rather than undermined by technology platforms, and that misinformation poses a real and present danger to our democratic processes.

There have clear examples of dangerous misinformation online during this Covid-19 pandemic. The online references to the 5G network and its connection with the virus, led some people to damage the telecommunications infrastructure. Other spurious medical advice has abounded. In the last General Election the Tories changed their website for the day. They claimed it to be an authoritative source of independent information in which -guess what – the Tory policy was the only right course!

The net effect of online misinformation is to threaten our collective democratic health. It is damaging trust in our democracy and takes us on a downward path where no-one listens, and no-one believes what they read and see. The government has promised an Online Harms Bill, but progress is moving at a snail’s pace. Ministers have been unable to even say whether we will get the new law before 2024. It is clear to us that the Tories are running scared of tackling the big online platforms. Our report calls for OFCOM to be given the power to hold these platforms legally responsible for content which goes out to their huge audiences in the UK.

Trust in what you find online has declined. People, particularly those coming up to voting age (16 in Scotland and Wales – catch up England!) need the skills and confidence to navigate online and find sources they can rely on. Too much of our education curriculum is about computing skills and not critical digital literacy.

There are lessons for all political parties as well, but the report singles out the Tories and Labour for their inability to see problems within themselves. Political parties must be held accountable for what we say, if we are to gain and expect the trust of the British people.

Electoral law has simply not caught up with the impact of online activity.

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3 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Welsh Lib Dems welcome plans for phased school re-opening
  • China is being wilfully ignorant with Hong Kong response
  • Govt not clear on legal powers to implement local lockdowns
  • Govt must not risk going backwards on containing COVID-19
  • MPs need to urgently restore the virtual Parliament

Welsh Lib Dems welcome plans for phased school re-opening

Commenting on Kirsty Williams’s announcement of a phased return to school from the end of the month, Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

Once again Kirsty Williams is setting the bar with regards to how a Government should be communicating at times like this.

She has clearly laid out her plans, and the rationale behind them, in an upfront manner. This will give parents, children and teaching staff the reassurance they need.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are committed to getting our children back in the classroom and learning as soon, but only when it is safe to do so.

I am therefore pleased to see that no child is forced to go back, especially those who are shielding themselves or who have family that are shielding.

China is being wilfully ignorant with Hong Kong response

Responding to reports that China has warned the UK to “step back from the brink” over UK criticism of Beijing’s national security law for Hong Kong, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

China’s Foreign Ministry are being wilfully ignorant. The Sino-British Joint Declaration was not a unilateral announcement but a clear joint legal text, lodged at the UN. The clue is in the name.

Both the UK and China made promises to the people of Hong Kong during the Handover. Under the Joint Declaration, Hong Kong’s ‘one country, two systems’ way of life was to be protected and enhanced.

Beijing has shown increasing contempt for the Joint Declaration and it is clear that the government must now ensure all Hong Kongers are given the right to live in the UK. Liberal Democrats will continue to urge the UK Government to expand the BNO offer they have outlined.

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Paul Scriven: We need to fund Councils properly and give them the powers to create great communities

Local Government is an issue of paramount importance to Liberal Democrats. Last week in the Lords, Liberal Democrat peer Paul Scriven led a debate on the essential services that local authorities provide. He outlined how chronic underfunding of local government, combined with rising demand for services was creating unsustainable problems.

Here is his speech:

I am very pleased to be leading this debate because to me it is a vital issue that affects every village, every town, every city and every region: local government has a positive power to change people’s lives. Just think of the older person who is becoming vulnerable and possibly losing their independence. With good public health, good housing services and good social services that person can continue to lead an independent life with dignity. Just think of the young man who might be on a crossroads between violence and going forward to have a fulfilling life. With good youth services and education services that young person can be supported to make the correct decision and have a successful life.

Local government can facilitate enterprise and business locally with good business development services, planning and support services provided by local authorities. They can help to create vibrant, successful and sustainable communities: libraries, parks, clean air, shared spaces and bringing people together to give them opportunities to achieve. That is the vision that I think most people have of a good local service: bottom up and delivering for people—not just a service provider of last resort but a local democratic hub that facilitates and brings opportunities for people and businesses to succeed.

I will mention my own journey in Sheffield in the local authority, first as a back-bench councillor helping individual constituents, then as leader of the opposition, ​many times clashing with the then chief executive, the noble Lord, Lord Kerslake—I am not sure whether he will raise that—then as chair of scrutiny, holding the executive to account, and then having the great pleasure of leading that great city and that great council. I was then put on early retirement when I lost my seat and am now back again as a local councillor. I saw the power that local authorities can have to affect individuals and communities and make a real difference to people’s ability to succeed in their life.

That is what the situation should do, but we must look at what it has now become in many cases. Sadly, in some cases local authorities have not just become the provider of last resort but are struggling to be even that—we only have to look at Northamptonshire, Somerset, Norfolk and Lancashire County Councils, and the National Audit Office warning that reserves are running out. In some cases they are not just unable to provide the opportunities that I talked about but are unable to provide the very statutory services that they are there to provide in an emergency as a safety net.

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LibLInk: Paul Scriven: Jared O’Mara’s comments are “the most disgusting I’ve seen in 30 years of politics”

Paul Scriven has been writing for Politics Home about the behaviour and comments of Sheffield Hallam MP Jared O’Mara. He says that they are the most disgusting he has seen in politics. I have to say that’s quite a high bar, remembering what I do about the negativity of the Labour Party in Sheffield when I lived in that area.

He makes the point that O’Mara was going for elected office not long after the comments were made and there are recent episodes which suggest that the journey he says he has been on is pretty short.

hese outbursts are not of some teenager sat in their bedroom. In 2004 O’Mara was a Labour party candidate for Sheffield City Council. He stood in multiple council elections for the Labour Party, never making much progress. Pretending he was new to the party, someone unknown who they had just come across, is a weak excuse the doesn’t hold up. They should be called out at every opportunity for clinging to it.

More recently, only seven months ago, he has been accused of sexist and aggressive language to a woman in a nightclub in Sheffield. The Labour Party have themselves now admitted that they didn’t do any background checks when they selected him.

He suggests that the people of Sheffield Hallam are getting a raw deal. 

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Lords reform back on the agenda?

No doubt Lords reform will be back on the agenda after the peers have had their way with the Article 50 Bill. The Lords will at most be able to delay the legislation, but it may well return to the Commons in a shape that is displeasing to the Tory  brexiteers. In that instance, we can expect to see ministers huff and puff about the impertinence of an unelected house interfering with Government legislation. These will be the same ministers who as Tory MPs frustrated Nick Clegg’s plans to have the House of Lords elected along with so many of their colleagues.

The Lords is a revising and scrutinising chamber and it has a duty to take the Government on if they produce bad legislation and I expect to see them doing that.

The idea of electing the Lords was discussed again on Friday as Green Peer Jenny Jones’ private members’ bill came up for second reading.  It is not dissimilar to Lib Dem thinking on Lords reform and it was therefore unsurprising that our Alan Beith and Paul Scriven spoke up in favour of the Bill.

Alan had a good swipe at the Tories’ plans for a Repeal Bill in the process:

>We are now in a new situation. It would be an extraordinarily optimistic person who thought that we could get through legislation on Lords reform in a Parliament which will be overwhelmed by the vast corpus of primary and secondary legislation that will be involved in leaving the European Union. Perhaps the noble Baroness shares the tendency to political optimism which is often a characteristic of Liberal Democrats.

Her Bill has many similarities with the coalition’s proposals and with Liberal Democrat policy. It provides for what we regard as the essential ingredient of democracy while recognising that the second Chamber should be elected on a different basis from the Commons and on a different timescale. However, retaining all existing Peers except hereditaries as non-voting Members outnumbering the voting Members would produce a very strange assembly with obvious tensions. The noble Baroness may be making a massive concession before the process of negotiation has even begun in order to get turkeys to vote for Christmas.

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Oates and Scriven show why Britain needs the Liberal Democrats

Jonny Oates on ID cards
The Palace of Westminster is quite disorientating. There’s an escalator that goes from the bright modern Portcullis House into Westminster that I always call the Time Machine because it really feels like you go back 300 years in 30 feet. This afternoon, if you’d wandered into the House of Lords, you might be forgiven for thinking you’d gone to sleep and woken up in 2005, because here were Labour and Tory peers trying to bring back ID cards. And just like 2005 (who remembers Police, not Plastic), it was Liberal Democrat peers cutting their way throughout the authoritarian smog like Mr Muscle on a greasy kitchen worktop.

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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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Lindsay Northover writes…The Lib Dem record on LGBTI rights around the World

Today Paul Scriven has tabled a debate in the Lords on the treatment of LGBTI citizens around the World. The Lib Dems have a proud record on human rights, and support for those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) has always been extremely strong both in the UK and across the wider World.

It was after all my Lib Dem colleague in the House of Lords, Anthony Lester who initiated civil partnerships with his private member’s bill, and then persuaded the then Labour government to take his policy forward, leading to the Civil Partnership Act (2004). And of course it was my then Commons ministerial colleague, Lynne Featherstone, whom I am delighted will shortly join us in the Lords, who took this a major step forward, with the Equal Marriage Act. She stood back to allow the Conservatives to lead in the interests of the bill: so many Tories were opposed that Lib Dems leading would have been a red rag to a bull. But it was Lib Dem policy and it was her initiative to implement it.

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Lord Brian Paddick writes…Lords debate Anderson Report – you have to know your onions

GCHQ Bude by Paul WalterDavid Anderson, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation’s recently published report on investigatory powers was debated in the House of Lords last Wednesday.  Anderson was tasked with advising on what should replace the Communications Data Bill a.k.a. the Snooper’s Charter and other, existing legislation, that allows the state to invade individual’s privacy for the purposes of terrorism and crime prevention.

The Government Minister and other leading Tories talked-up the threat posed by terrorism.  I told the House we should listen to Anderson who said in his report ‘claims of exceptional or unprecedented threat levels – particularly if relied upon for the purposes of curbing well established liberties – should be approached with scepticism’.

Lib Dem Peer, Paul Strasburger led the charge with a comprehensive critique of the existing legislative framework and how the police and security services had been caught misusing existing powers.  Whatever follows must include greater safeguards and more effective scrutiny so as to ensure public trust.

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Will Lib Dem councillors miss out on this year’s LeaDeRs Awards?

The deadline for submitting nominations for the Local and Regional Liberal Politicians Awards, LeaDeRs, organised by the ALDE Group in the EU’s Committee of the Regions has been extended until 10 October, to allow members of those parties in Europe (such as the Lib Dems) who have been tied up with party conferences, or in other cases, election campaigns.

Open to Liberal Democrats from across Europe, nominations have so far been received for work carried out by local councillors from Germany, Italy, Ireland, Hungary, Estonia, and Latvia. Others from France and Spain are on their way.

Previous winners include Paul Scriven, …

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“Who agrees with Nick?” – BBC Radio Sheffield’s Nick Clegg documentary

There’s still time to listen to BBC Radio Sheffield’s documentary about Nick Clegg, which features an exclusive interview with Nick, as well as comments from Paul Scriven (Leader of Sheffield City Council), Allan Wisbey (Nick’s election agent in Sheffield Hallam for the 2010 General Election) and Joe Otten (Lib Dem blogger and Chair of Sheffield Hallam Liberal Democrats).

From the accompanying blurb on the BBC Sheffield and South Yorkshire website:

“It’s been a real rollercoaster year.”

Nick Clegg’s own assessment of the last few months could be seen as something of an understatement.

Go back to December

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Lib Dem leader of Sheffield Council wins top European honour

Paul Scriven, the Leader of Sheffield City Council, has won a Europe-wide award for the work he and his Liberal Democrat colleagues have done to put power into the hands of Sheffield people.

The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe held their Leader Awards last night, “recognising the work of outstanding local and regional liberal and democrat politicians.”

Cllr Scriven received the Achievement in Local Government Award. Others up for award included local politicians from France, Croatia and Holland.

Since Paul became the Liberal Democrat Leader of the Council in 2008 Sheffield has seen a raft of new ideas to devolve …

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Ros Scott’s campaign diary

During the general election campaign we will be running a series of diary pieces from party president Ros Scott. To kick off here’s her campaign diary of this month so far:

1 April

I’m fed up with waiting for Gordon Brown to call the election, so I’ve started without him.

Maundy Thursday saw me up bright and early to catch the 8.35 train to Sheffield for my first official visit of the campaign. I met up with Paul Scriven, leader of the City Council, and our Prospective Parliamentary Candidate (PPC) in Sheffield Central. Paul is both a highly effective council leader and …

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Local Solutions 2009 – Julia Goldsworthy and Paul Scriven

This is the fourth and final instalment of podcasts recorded at the Sheffield Local Solutions 2009 conference organised by ALDC. You can hear the earlier instalments here: Clegg and Scott; Scriven on Sheffield; Carbon Reduction Commitment.

In the final session of the day, the Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Julia Goldsworthy MP joined Cllr Paul Scriven, the leader of Sheffield Council, to reflect on the day and discuss current state of play for local government.

Both talk about the Sustainable Communities Act, its potential and their disappointment in Labour’s implementation of it so far; of …

Play
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Local Solutions 2009 – Paul Scriven on the Sheffield story

This the second in our series of podcasts of recordings made at ALDC’s Local Solutions 2009 conference on Saturday in Sheffield. You can listen to Nick Clegg and Ros Scott in the first instalment.

For the second hour, the leader of Sheffield city council Cllr Paul Scriven gave delegates a detailed explanation of how the Lib Dems won Sheffield – and most importantly of all, what they did with the power once they had it. It’s an inspiring story of decentralisation and empowerment of the local citizenry and is well worth forwarding around any of your colleagues who …

Play
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News from Sheffield and Ashfield

Two articles drop into my inbox this morning bringing news of Lib Dem administrations on two councils north of the Trent.

Firstly Sheffield where Lib Dems are celebrating a year in control of the Council, and where the local newspaper has written a long, balanced article about what has been done in that time.

So what have the Lib Dems done for Sheffield? They have certainly been busy and, at the end of the first year, have produced a list of more than 50 decisions, ranging from multi-million pound strategies to community projects.

It wasn’t long before they were deciding to refund

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