Tag Archives: roger roberts

Vision, compassion and inspiration: Roger Roberts’ essential elements for immigration

Roger Roberts spoke in the House of Lords this week on resettling vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers.

Here is his speech:

I appreciate very much the opportunity to take part in the debate introduced by my noble friend Lord Scriven. We all know that, ultimately, the answer lies in Syria and the Middle East, and somehow bringing together a new understanding there. The whole area is the victim of history. Countries like ours, France, Turkey and now Russia want to impose the most individually advantageous solutions on this part of the world. The United Nations appears impotent in the face of

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Roger Roberts attacked on front page of Daily Mail

Most Lib Dems would feel a bit worried if the Daily Mail expressed any admiration for them, let’s be honest.

Today, many of us felt huge pride in our amazing 82 year old Welsh peer – and frequent LDV contributor – Roger Roberts when he was attacked on the front page of the Fail. His son Gareth lauded him on Twitter:

Roger is one of the kindest, most compassionate advocates for the most vulnerable people in our society. He speaks up for the rights of refugees, for the right of young people to be given a say in their own future, for a fair system of social security, for treating people with dignity and respect and humanity.

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Roger Roberts on bringing hope to the most vulnerable

Lib Dem peer Roger Roberts spoke powerfully in the House of Lords this week on the subject of child refugees. He pleaded with the Government to reinstate the Dubs 3000 refugee children commitment. Here’s his speech in full.

My Lords, I am grateful for this opportunity. First, I will quote a friend who was there when the bulldozers came to demolish the camps in Dunkirk and Calais 12 months ago. He said that,

“after I visited the Calais refugee camp, I still have an image in my head, which I’m sure will be with me for the rest of my life. When I arrived at the camp, there were police in riot gear everywhere. There was a pastor standing, holding what was left of two religious buildings—a blue cross, which once stood atop the camp’s church. The look of complete despair. This was a man who had had the last bit of hope ripped away from him. To remove a religious symbol, a place of hope and prayer, from people who have only the clothes they are wearing and a shelter that is surrounded by mud, must be one of the worst, most inhumane things that I have ever witnessed”.

The demolition is not only of the camps, but of hope—replaced by despair. The refugees housed there were dispersed to different locations in France. The agreement was that the UK Home Office would go to all the “welcome centres”, as they were called, and do proper assessments of the young people and their claims. However, the evidence is that the interviews lasted no more than five minutes, and no interpreters were present. A few of the claimants were brought to the United Kingdom in the winter period, but those who qualified under the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, were ignored. Many who had a strong Dublin III claim were also overlooked. People who backed Brexit must realise that the Dublin EU regulations will no longer be there for the UK if we come out of the European Union. Another strand of hope will be gone.

There is evidence, reported by Professor Sue Clayton in her film, “Calais Children”, that in the welcome centres facilities were mixed. Some were good, but others not so, with no medical facilities, not enough food, opposition from local populations and many other problems. Hope was not rebuilt. Calais Action and other refugee organisations are still active in Calais; they are back there. Many refugees returned to Calais and, this very day, sleep in fields, forests and ditches. They dream of being physically present in the United Kingdom, where they have family—and they have the language. They gather at points of transit, in Calais itself, Dunkirk, Brussels and Zeebrugge. They risk their lives on illegal routes.

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Roger Roberts: Could we not be the nation that leads morally in this ruptured world

Yesterday, Roger Roberts was one of many Liberal Democrat peers to take part in the Queen’s Speech debate. He’s sent us his speech on the treatment of refugees, an issue very close to his heart:

 In the wide-ranging speeches, we had one great disappointment, and I am sure the Minister involved will know exactly what I am referring to; there has been no commitment at all to receiving the 20,000 Syrian refugees as promised by David Cameron. It is not there in the Queen’s Speech. Nor is there a commitment to increase the number of unaccompanied child refugees. When you think that in Europe there are still about 88,000 of these children by themselves, we have met no commitment whatever in the Speech that we are discussing this afternoon. It has been a great disappointment in that direction.

We are probably going to get another immigration Bill; we get one every Session. I am not sure what we are going to do in a two-year Session: will we get two or just one and a half? We are going to get new legislation, and every time we do it makes it more difficult for those who are vulnerable and those who wish to escape from total austerity to come here. We can promote many amendments when that new Bill comes. We can ask why asylum seekers are still refused permission to work for the first 12 months of their time in the United Kingdom. Is there any reason whatever? I cannot see any. Why, also, do we have legislation that permits 18 year-olds to be deported? Those who are deported are largely those who have had no access to legal advice. The Government could, quite easily I think, make a commitment that everyone who approaches 18 years of age shall at least have the benefit of top-rate legal advice.

There is one other thing I would like to see in the new immigration Bill. Do you know how much people get every week when they are applying? It is £36.95, and this has not increased at all in the past five or six years. Anything that we can do to uprate that to the present cost of living would be very welcome.

I have come across a poem by Warsan Shire of Somalia that describes the circumstances, and I shall quote part of it:

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On Article 50 Eve, what are senior Liberal Democrats saying?

Who’s Eve, I hear you ask? Well, for me, as an ardent pro EU supporter, tonight feels a bit like Christmas Eve when you know that somehow you have found your way on to the Naughty List and all that’s going to be in your stocking in the morning is a lump of coal.

For those Leave voters who were duped into thinking that everything was going to be hunky dory if we could just get rid of that pesky EU, the reality may well prove far worse than that.

One thing is for sure. The Brexiteers will be held rigorously to account by the one party which has opposed them from the start – us.

Labour’s six tests unveiled on Sunday were, to paraphrase the old Commodores song, too much, too little, too late to ever trust them again. Their best chance of success would have been to support the Liberal Democrats’ bid to add a parachute to the Article 50 Bill, but they chose not to do so. They will not be easily forgiven.

Tomorrow is a very big day. It’s much more than the delivery of a letter. It’s the first step on a perilous journey, driven by people who haven’t got a clue what they are doing. The Government approaches the negotiations in such a mean-spirited, graceless fug of self-righteousness. I have rarely had such little confidence in any group of people as I do in them.

Ahead of Article 50 being invoked tomorrow, Tim Farron had this to say:

Theresa May is about to take the plunge on the biggest decision to hit the UK in modern times.

She is pulling the trigger that will set in motion a chain of events which will change this country forever, and doing so without a proper plan, without a proper team of negotiators and without proper protections for millions of people who have been left in the lurch.

It is still possible for the British people to stop a Hard Brexit and keep us in the Single Market. And if they want, it is still possible for the British people to decide to remain in the European Union.

Democracy didn’t end on 23rd of June – and it hasn’t ended today either. Only the Liberal Democrats are fighting to make sure the people can have their say over what comes next.

There are some serious worries out there that the Government, rather than face up to its own shortcomings, will flounce off from the negotiations towards the end of this year, saying that the EU is being so intransigent that there’s no point sticking with it and we’re just leaving with no deal. Nick Clegg has set out why that is a bad idea on the Liberal Democrats’ website. Here’s a couple of examples:

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Lib Dem Lords vs the Article 50 Bill: Roger Roberts: Referendum campaign was won on a lie on a bus built in Poland by a German company

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. 

Roger Roberts pointed out that the most famous phrase from the campaign, the one which the Leave campaign’s director credits it with winning, the £350 million a week for the NHS, was a blatant lie and that alone justifies the people being given a vote on Brexit. He also added that the Government could not be trusted on its reassurances as it had already broken promises on refugees.

My Lords, when we are told that the people have spoken, we are referring to the one-third of the electorate who supported the Leave campaign. I would say that the people have not spoken. They were taken on a ride in a bus built in Poland by a German company. On its side it said, “When we are out of the EU, we will have £350 million a week to spend on the NHS”. That was the promise, yet in Arron Banks’s recently published book, The Bad Boys of Brexit, he says that from the beginning they knew that it was a blatant lie. One of the biggest donors, giving £5 million to the Leave campaign, has said that they knew from the beginning that it was a blatant lie.

If it was a lie, is it not possible that the result of the referendum was because of a lie on the side of a bus? In all probability, by the Leave campaign’s own admission, the referendum was won on a blatant lie. If that was so, we have every right to ask the people to consider it again when the time comes. It will determine the future of every one of us—our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This House can either go along with a lie or it can decide that we are going to stop this here.

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LibLink: Roger Roberts: The future of our European citizenship

Roger Roberts is pressing the government on the future of European citizenship this afternoon in a question in the House of Lords.

In an article for Politics Home, he sets out the issues at stake:

Our citizenship as members of the EU, is totally dependent upon the United Kingdom remaining a member of the EU. Once that is lost we, also, are denied that citizenship. There is a move in the EU Parliament to make citizenship available on an individual basis. We apply, pay our fee, and are granted a form of EU citizenship. The problem is that there can be few advantages – how does one person enjoy EU laws on Climate change and his neighbour not? How does one member of the family enjoy freedom of travel whilst the rest are left standing at the airport?

Over half the UK’s population were born after the UK joined the Union in January 1973. They were born as citizens of the EU – a birth right. The rest of us, already born, acquired that citizenship. Now that status risks being torn away from us. That is why I am raising this with the Government today. There is much that is still unclear about the Government’s plans for Brexit but they should clarify the position of the millions of people born 1973 that have always been European.

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Roger Roberts writes: we must do more for the Calais children

The crisis that we are faced with in the UK and Europe is only part of a worldwide migration crisis. We hear from the United Nations that there are 65 million displaced persons in the world, and we know that in Europe alone, as already mentioned, there are 88,000 unaccompanied children. In the years to come, our legacy will not be a good one for our children, because with global warming, economic disasters and conflict, the flow of refugees could well become a torrent. So we have to face years ahead when we will need to tackle problems such as …

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EU Referendum: Don’t forget to register to vote and other musings

Ballot boxOn 23 June 2016, Britain will face one of the greatest electoral questions of this decade. Voters will be asked to decide whether or not they wish to see the UK remain in the European Union.  Yet as this crucial election draws ever-nearer, there is an important issue which must be contemplated: registering to vote.

The deadline to register to vote for the referendum is midnight, 7 June. The party-neutral Bite The Ballot (of which Lord Roberts is Honorary President) is running an innovative #TurnUp campaign in the week approaching this deadline. I urge everyone to support this cause. It’s vital to ensure that the 30% of young people missing from the roll are able to have their say.

Regardless of how you choose to vote, it is crucial that all eligible voters turn up to vote and have their say on the future of Britain’s membership of the EU. That said, Lib Dems have adamantly chosen to become the party of remaining ‘IN’ the Union. Our party chooses this path because it’s not only the right thing to do, but it’s the smart thing to do. 

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LibLink: Roger Roberts: Forcing teenagers back to war zones another example of Tory inhumanity

“Inhumanity” is a word that you should use with caution, but when you are looking at a Government that has no compunction about sending child asylum seekers back to war zones the minute they turn 18, when they may have grown up here and have nothing left to go back to, then they’ve earned it.

Roger Roberts is laying down a marker for the future as this country prepares to take in some unaccompanied child refugees. What will become of them when they turn 18? Will they be sent back to a devastated Syria where they may have no connections, no …

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What our busy peers will be up to this week

Here are some of the things our team in the House of Lords will be doing this week:

Monday: Roger Roberts will be pushing the Government to take action to relieve the situation of unaccompanied refugee children. Tim Farron has been pushing the Government to accept 3,000 at risk refugee children but David Cameron has recently rejected the proposal. The Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to find a solution which does not leave these children vulnerable.

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Roger Roberts calls for Parliamentary debate on refugee crisis

So, the Westminster Parliament resumes on Monday after its Summer recess. The Commons debates the EU Referendum Bill, the Lords the Energy Bill. With a growing humanitarian crisis on our doorstep, though, can it really be business as usual?

Liberal Democrat peer and passionate advocate for the fair treatment of those who seek sanctuary Roger Roberts thinks not. He wants the current agenda to be postponed in favour of debates in both Houses on the crisis. He said on Facebook:

Next Monday Parliament reconvenes. I plan to have discussions today to treat Monday as if it was for the recall of Parliament to have an emergency debate on the Refugee crisis. With many thousands of people involved in what appears to be one of the major humanitarian crises of our time.I would welcome as much support (facebook – messages to M.P.s and Peers etc) as possible.

I think it would be good to have Parliaments in Scotland and Wales debate the issue too, especially if they are able to say that they are happy to take refugees in their areas.

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Lord Roger Roberts: May’s Counter-Terror powers could enable her to ban liberalism

Lord Roger Roberts gave the following speech expressing his concerns about the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill in the House of Lords at its Second Reading on Tuesday:

I was delighted that Lord Carlile mentioned, in his contribution to the debate, the four Albanians—two Muslims and two Christians—who walked together in the demonstration in Paris

Multi-faith groups exist in many places and people are able to say, “My brother, my sister, my family; we are one family”. We could really tackle a lot of these stresses before they become threatening. There is an opportunity in some way or another to encourage it.

However, the world is full of uncertainties. I am not the only one who remembers the time when it was better to be red than dead—so some said. Others said that it was better to be dead than red. Today it is the difference, between security and liberty. We are trying to see where is the line that needs to be drawn. This Bill seeks to draw that line. I sometimes measure our civilisation by Alan Paton’s (the author of Cry, the Beloved Country) values. In a lecture in 1953, he declared himself a liberal and defined the term thus:

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So where exactly were the UKIP peers during the Immigration Bill?

house of lordsNoticeable by their absence during the Lords debates on the Immigration Bill were the three Peers who are members of UKIP. A cross-party group of peers, including our Shirley Williams, Roger Roberts, Bob Maclennan, Jonathan Marks, Alex Carlile, Nigel Jones, David Chidgey and Mike Storey thought this was worth mentioning in a letter to the Standard.  This is what they said:

The report stage of the Immigration Bill concluded in the House of Lords on Monday April 7.

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The Immigration Bill: 23 Liberal Democrat Lords rebel on “stateless” power, 12 on child trafficking guardian

immigrationThe Immigration Bill was back in the Lords this Monday where the Government suffered two defeats. The first was to overturn the power of the Home Secretary to deprive terror suspects who had acquired British citizenship  (note, suspects, not anybody who has been convicted of anything) of that citizenship even if so doing would render them stateless.

Of the 242 peers supporting Lord Pannick’s amendment, 23 of them were Liberal Democrats. And their ranks included more than the usual Awkward Squad.

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Liberal Democrat peers support asylum seekers’ right to work

Advocates disrupt transfer of asylum seekers from VillawoodThe Immigration Bill is currently going through its final stages in the House of Lords. On Thursday, Liberal Democrat peers, led by Roger Roberts, tried to amend it by inserting a clause which would have entitled asylum seekers to work after 6 months.

Roger told me that he was not able to press the amendment to a vote because it received no support from either Labour or Conservative front benches. This, he felt, was grossly unfair given George Osborne’s desire for full employment and Labour’s …

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Lord Roger Roberts writes…Liberal Democrats in Government must fix failing asylum system

Yesterday was International Migrants Day. Sadly, celebrations for many were rather subdued.  morning marked the end of a long, hard and emotionally-charged  battle. Isa Muazu, a 45 year old asylum seeker from northern Nigeria, who had been on hunger strike for nearly 90 days, landed in Lagos, Nigeria.

Lawyers and campaigners fighting his cause ran out of avenues through which they could challenge the removal decision in the limited time-frame given. The case has been enormously distressing for many of those who have chosen to engage with it, but it has also raised the profile of many long-standing concerns surrounding immigration detention in …

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Botched deportation of dying man highlights need for humanitarian overhaul of asylum system

On Wednesday, Roger Roberts wrote an extremely moving article about the fate of Isa Muaza, a Nigerian asylum seeker who had been on hunger strike for 90 days in protest at the conditions in which he was being kept at an immigration detention centre. His removal from the UK, even in his frail, close to death condition, was planned for Friday morning.

Through Thursday, many of our readers signed the petition asking for Theresa May to reconsider her decision to deport Muaza. Huge effort was put in by Liberal Democrats including Sarah Teather, Julian Huppert and Tim Farron as well …

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Go home posters still up in Glasgow…

We know that Liberal Democrats within the Government have said that there will be no repetition of the Go Home poster vans which were sent to drive round certain boroughs in London.

We also know that there will be no repetition of the Go home posters displayed in the Glasgow UKBA office, again thanks to Liberal Democrats within the coalition. Sadly, though, these posters have not been taken down as some asylum seekers I met earlier this week at the Liberal Democrat Seekers of Sanctuary fringe meeting on Monday were able to verify on Tuesday afternoon.

Speaking at Monday’s meeting, Nico, …

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Next week in the Lords… 14-18 January

House of LordsYes, I know that I had intended to write this on Friday, but it was never a pledge, right? But yes, as Liberal Democrat Peers gather from around the country to vote down a piece of Government business, now seems as good a time to publish this…

Yes, Monday will see the Parliamentary Party in the Lords vote in support of Amendment 28A to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill, sponsored by Lords Hart of Chilton (Labour), Kerr of Kinlochard (Crossbenches), Rennard and Wigley (Plaid Cymru), which postpones the changes intended …

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Grassroutes to Government – a new Lib Dem activists’ network launches today.

A new network of grassroots activists under the leadership of the veteran peer, Roger Roberts, has been formed to develop communications with the party’s senior management. and parliamentarians.

 Grassroutes to Government is drawn from across the membership and we launch today via a virtual launch on all the party’s social media platforms.

We can already point to a range of new lines of communication that will ensure the members have a clearer voice and we expect to have continuing discussions to underpin the importance of our activists.

Planning for the new group began soon after Federal Conference in Birmingham last September. Roger Roberts says:

 “Pressure

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Lib Dem Peers rebel as Government defeated on Welfare Reform

The Government has suffered a series of defeats in the House of Lords tonight on various aspects of the Welfare Reform Bill.

The House of Lords was discussing amendments relating to the Employment and Support Allowance.

The Guardian reports that 3 Liberal Democrats, Jenny Tonge, Matthew Taylor and Roger Roberts voted for an amendment which protected young people’s right to claim Employment and Support Allowance.

The Government was also defeated on their one year time limit for claiming Contributory ESA. This was increased to two years by the amendment. The Liberal Democrat rebels were Dee Doocey and Jenny Tonge.

The third defeat was …

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Coming up in the Lords… 10-20 January

Welcome to Liberal Democrat Voice’s coverage of the House of Lords, where we’ll be flagging up some of the forthcoming events at the more reflective end of the Palace of Westminster. So, without further ado…

The House of Lords returns to work next Tuesday after its Christmas recess, with a heavy legislative schedule to be dealt with before the end of the Session, and the first fortnight offers a hint of what is to come.

Days 2, 3 and 4 of the Committee Stage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing

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Opinion: Filling the political vacuum

Young people’s attitude towards political and public affairs has recently been less than promising, to say the least. The majority of six-form students do not know how the political system in this country works, and seem to have no willingness to engage and vote for their future. Luckily, not all hope has been lost. A new initiative has been launched which aims to narrow the gap between young people and their involvement in politics.

Bite the Ballot is a grassroots campaign created by and for young people with the aim to inspire and encourage others to engage and be part …

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Peers call for end of child detention in immigration centres

Following the Home Office’s decision to postpone until March the end of child detention in immigration removal centres, a group of peers has written to the Guardian calling for the government to honour their commitment to end the practice.

The group of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Crossbench peers includes Roger Roberts and Navnit Dholakia, as well as Sue Miller, who told Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning that the equivalent of four or five primary schools per year are being locked up:

We are really tired of waiting for the end of child detention… We need not to lock

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What is happening with ending child detention in immigration cases?

The subject of child detention for immigration purposes was raised by Liberal Democrat peer Roger Roberts in Parliament yesterday. I’ve expressed my frustration often enough at how journalists sometimes get in the way of the news with their insistence on introducing, talking over and then summarising what other people are saying, rather than letting us hear the actually words for ourselves. So taking a leaf out of my own book here is full transcript of the question and follow-ups from Hansard:

Asked By Lord Roberts of Llandudno: To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they will end child detention in

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