Tag Archives: sally hamwee

House of Lords calls for better use of community sentences

Whilst the House of Lords doesn’t return to formal action until Wednesday, the work of its committees continues. And, between Christmas and the New Year, the Justice and Home Affairs Committee published its report “Cutting crime: better community sentences“.

With our prisons overcrowded to the extent that inmates are being sent home early, and with the Probation Service still recovering from a botched and wholly unnecessary reorganisation, the Committee’s timely call for better use of community sentences, with their required punitive element, will hopefully receive a welcome from an incoming administration following …

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12-16 June: this week in the Lords

I haven’t done this for a while now, and really ought to get back into the habit. But, as all is relatively quiet in terms of Commons business, and the opposite is true in the Lords, perhaps it’s time to take a stab at it…

Monday‘s main piece of business is Day 4 of the Committee Stage of the Illegal Migration Bill. Hopefully, noble Lords won’t be in the chamber until 4.16 a.m., as they were on Thursday morning. It probably won’t be a short day though, as the Opposition benches (and the Bishops) continue their efforts to mitigate some of the more egregious proposals, led by Sally Hamwee, Paul Scriven and Mike German (amongst others). These will include moves to protect victims of trafficking and/or sexual exploitation who, as the Bill currently stands, risk being returned to the very people who have made their lives so desperate already.

Other than that, the House will be asked to appoint three new members to the panel of Deputy Chairmen of Committees, one of whom is Ros Scott. The job is, effectively, that of Speaker, sitting on the Woolsack and steering debate as required. She replaces Monroe Palmer, who should be thanked for his work in the role.

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Sally Hamwee: “I feel contaminated by the Bill”

Many of us are watching the progress of the appalling Illegal Immigration Bill as it makes its way through the Houses. On Wednesday it reached the Lords for a second reading, and there were some barnstorming speeches from Lib Dem peers. Here are some extracts.

Brian Paddick moved an amendment that would have effectively killed the Bill immediately.

My Lords, Trevor Phillips recently wrote in the Times that, in 2000, 175 million people lived outside the country of their birth and that, by 2020, it was 280 million. He likened the Prime Minister’s pledge to “stop the boats” to King Canute ordering back the incoming tide. He argued that we need to bring order to the flow, rather than focusing on the impossible task of locking the doors to keep asylum seekers out. We agree.

We have yawning gaps in our labour markets that refugees could fill. We believe that we should adopt the approach many other countries are adopting, that responsibility should be taken away from the Home Office and given to the Foreign Office or the Department for Business and Trade and that “Migration is no job for a home secretary”. Phillips agrees. We should be harnessing the power of the incoming tide, not refusing to accept that it cannot be stopped.

The Government talk about “pull factors”. We talk about “push” factors: the intolerable conditions in their home countries that compel asylum seekers to find sanctuary elsewhere in the world. Even in detention in the UK, you do not have to worry about where you are going to live, how you are going to survive without adequate food or water, or whether you are going to be killed or persecuted, or otherwise have your life endangered. Can the Minister say what evidence the Government have that the measures in the Bill will deter small boat crossings?

The Bill seeks systematically to deny human rights to a group of people desperately seeking sanctuary. It would breach our international obligations under the UN conventions on refugees, on the rights of the child and on the reduction of statelessness, and the European convention against trafficking. This is the first, but not the only, Bill that explicitly states that it does not have to be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Human Rights Act is being revoked, one law at a time. The Bill would undermine the rule of law, with Ministers able to ignore the rulings of judges. At the same time, we are asking Russia and China to abide by the international rule of law.

I have one final thought. I studied moral philosophy at university. One of the acid tests of whether something was morally right was the question: “What would happen if everyone did the same thing?” Can the Minister say what would happen if every country adopted the approach outlined in the Bill?

This Bill is a low point in the history of this Government and we should not allow it to proceed any further. I beg to move.

Paul Scriven followed Alf Dubs, who was himself a child refugee, saved from the Nazis on the Kindertransport:

My Lords, what an absolute pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, who is a living example of what happens when a country opens its hearts to refugees and how those people can then settle here and contribute to the future prosperity of the nation that they make their home.

As well as impractical and inhumane, the Bill is ineffective. It is built on the ridiculous premise that the only way to stop the traffickers profiteering is to criminalise their vulnerable victims and treat them in a subhuman way. The Bill undermines our commitment to international law and our obligations under the UN conventions on refugees and the child, and it degrades what it means to be British. It trashes our proud and long-held values and our record, dating back to 1951, on how we deal with those seeking asylum. It undermines our country’s international standing for upholding and abiding by international law.

Susan Kramer, the daughter of a refugee, was particularly scathing about the language used around this subject:

My Lords, I decided to speak today after reading the words of the Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, speaking for the Government to Policy Exchange, demonising migrants and failing to recognise our responsibilities to refugees seeking asylum. He said that “excessive, uncontrolled migration threatens to cannibalise the compassion of the British public”.

“Cannibalise”—what a deliberate and demonising choice of word. He went on: “And those crossing tend to have completely different lifestyles … to those in the UK … undermining the cultural cohesiveness”.

It was deliberately divisive language and certainly not borne out by the UK experience.

I want the Minister today to show me the body of evidence and research that shows how British compassion has been “cannibalised” by asylum seekers and by people like my mother and me. I want to see his evidence of damage to cohesion that genuine asylum seekers, never mind migrants, have inflicted on the UK. I suspect that we will find it has no substance. He needs to show why diversity is a weakness not a strength. Ironically, if the Government continue to argue that migration creates such problems, it should never by its own logic return a single refugee to any country that already has a significant migrant population—and that eliminates most of Europe and indeed Africa, including Rwanda.

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5 October 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Chancellor’s speech will have disappointed millions in need
  • Lords defeat Government on Immigration Bill

Chancellor’s speech will have disappointed millions in need

The Liberal Democrats have claimed the Chancellor’s speech at the Conservative Party’s virtual conference will have “disappointed millions who were hoping to hear how he plans to help them through this crisis.”

Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Chancellor’s speech will have disappointed millions who were hoping to hear how he plans to help them through this crisis.

Instead of an extension to furlough, measures to help the millions excluded from help or a boost to universal credit, we were instead given

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15 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Conservatives are gambling with our future
  • Davey: Johnson’s trade tactics will hurt economy
  • Wrongheaded to reject spare spaces for schools, Lib Dems warn
  • Lib Dems call on PM “not to turn your back” on child refugees
  • Govt deliberately moving away from expert advice
  • Lib Dems celebrate victory in the Lords

Conservatives are gambling with our future

Responding to the new Boris Johnson has set a deadline of July to secure a deal with the European Union, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Jane Dodds said:

The PM is trying posture his way out of the corner that he’s backed himself into. He wants to stage manage the situation so that he can blame the EU if talks fail.

A negotiation is a two way process. We cannot expect to lay down all our red lines and never budge, as Theresa May learnt the hard way. By refusing to genuinely negotiate the Conservatives are gambling with our future.

The PM needs to ditch this reckless deadline and commit to trying to secure a deal that enables Welsh farmers and businesses to continue to have tariff-free access to our vital European markets.

Davey: Johnson’s trade tactics will hurt economy

Responding to reports that the PM has said there needs to be a deal done with the EU by the end of July, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

Boris Johnson’s arrogant assertion that he wants a Brexit deal rushed through in a few weeks shows he still doesn’t care about the impact a bad deal could have on people’s lives.

At a time when the UK is facing the deepest recession for 300 years, it is unthinkable that the government would rush through a half-heated deal, or worse get no deal at all.

A rushed, bad Brexit deal would hit our NHS, jobs, and the economy. It would impact the most vulnerable the hardest, making life more difficult for those already struggling to make ends meet.

Johnson should stop with the bravado. Liberal Democrats will continue to call on the government to extend the transition period and commit to ensuring we agree a Brexit deal that leaves no one behind.

Wrongheaded to reject spare spaces for schools, Lib Dems warn

Responding to the Government’s new guidance for schools, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran said:

The real test of this guidance is whether it will build the confidence needed for parents, teachers and pupils to go back to school without fear of putting their health at risk.

For schools that don’t have the capacity to have more pupils return within existing guidelines, the Government must do more. That includes providing laptops and internet access to all disadvantaged children in need.

It is also wrongheaded to reject Liberal Democrat proposals to use suitable empty buildings in the community as learning spaces. Ministers should think again.

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21 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Tories’ new counter-terror plans undermine civil liberties
  • Welsh Lib Dems: Every child has a right to RSE
  • Govt must invest to demonstrate it values teachers
  • Welsh Lib Dems: UK Government must rethink Withdrawal Bill
  • Lib Dem peers win vote to protect child refugees

Tories’ new counter-terror plans undermine civil liberties

Responding to the Government’s announcement of new counter-terror legislation, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

If you could stop terrorism by passing illiberal new laws, the Conservatives would have ended it ages ago.

It’s less than a year since the Conservatives passed their last piece of unnecessary, reactionary legislation in the name of combatting

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11-12 January 2020 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Govt must back Lib Dem bill for family reunion rights for child refugees
  • Lib Dems demand statement on arrest of British ambassador to Iran
  • Lib Dems demand reform to protect High Street retailers

Govt must back Lib Dem bill for family reunion rights for child refugees

Responding to an NGO report calling for child refugees to be given the right to sponsor close family members to join them, the Liberal Democrats have urged the Government to support their bill that would do just that.

Without My Family, a report published today by Amnesty International, the Refugee Council and Save the Children, criticises the …

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LibLink: Sally Hamwee: The UK should never be complicit with the death penalty anywhere in the world

Yesterday Sally Hamwee wrote about why she and Labour were going to have a good go at amending the Government’s Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill to ensure that

In an article for Politics Home, she set the scene:

The UK has long opposed the use of the death penalty in other countries, and we have committed ourselves to the goal of abolishing it everywhere. We can do this by using our diplomatic influence, and also by refusing to help foreign governments with prosecutions that will result in someone being executed.

That has been longstanding government policy: the UK must get assurances that the death penalty will not be used before providing security and justice assistance to countries that still retain it. This clear policy is an important statement of Britain’s values. It is vital not only for preventing the use of the death penalty in the individual cases where we provide assistance, but also for strengthening our efforts to persuade all countries to abolish it.

Yet in July, we discovered that the Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, had offered to assist the United States government in prosecuting two British citizens accused of carrying out executions for ISIL in Syria and Iraq, without seeking assurances that the death penalty will not be used. Even worse, he made that decision in secret. We only found out because his letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions was leaked to the Telegraph.

There is no doubt that terrorists should face justice, but that could be achieved in this case either by prosecuting them here, under British law, or by assisting the US authorities with their prosecutions – if they guarantee that they will not seek the death penalty.

So what can this Bill do about it?

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22 October 2018 – today’s press releases

It’s been a busy day in HQ, and there’s news of a victory over the Government in the Lords…

Lib Dems: Research shows hard border for NI puts lives at risk

Research by the Liberal Democrats and PoliticsHome has shown how crucial a soft border is between Ireland and Northern Ireland, specifically in relation to emergency service call-outs.

A series of freedom of information requests has shown that 182 ambulances and 270 fire engines crossed into the Republic during 2016-17 in response to 999 calls, highlighting how a hard border could potentially leave people with far slower emergency responses if the UK …

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Sally Hamwee explains why she’s introducing her Missing Persons Guardianship Bill

Yesterday, Sally Hamwee introduced her Private Members’ Bill which would enable guardianship orders to be made for missing people so that their affairs could be managed.

Earlier she wrote for the Missing People website:

With no legal system for managing a missing person’s affairs, they can fall into disarray with disconcerting speed.  Salaries may stop being paid into a bank account, but direct debits, mortgage payments and rent will continue to be paid out – until the funds run out.  However sympathetic a bank may be, it needs the signature of its account holder to change arrangements. Some may even regard themselves as unable to provide information.

Once you grasp the legal position, you can begin to see the practical impact.  You can’t use the missing person’s money to pay his rent and other bills.   You can’t sell a house which is in your and your missing husband’s joint names, but because your family’s circumstances have changed neither can you afford the mortgage.

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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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Tim Farron and Sally Hamwee speak out against £20 a week cuts to asylum seekers’ support

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LibLink: Baroness Sally Hamwee: It is time to legalise Cannabis for medicinal purposes”

Sally Hamwee has been writing for Politics Home about her attempts to have Cannabis legalised for medicinal use.  She firstly outlined the need:

Medicinal herbal cannabis is very effective for many people (not all) suffering from some very severe and debilitating conditions, the spasms and cramps associated with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord damage, Parkinson’s Disease and some of the symptoms of cancer and of the treatment of cancer among them.

It is available in 23 states of the USA, Canada, Israel and Netherlands from where it is exported to several other countries of the EU.  But not – legally – the UK.  The Dutch have used genetic alteration to maximise the benign content and eliminate the dangerous, psychosis-inducing component.

No wonder that so many British people go to great lengths to go abroad to get hold of it.  The cannabis-based drug licensed in England is much more expensive and only prescribed on a “named basis” as NICE regards it as not cost-effective (it is approved in Wales).

And then she outlined how both Conservatives and Labour in the House of Lords wouldn’t accept her ideas:

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LibLink: Baroness Sally Hamwee – Sending overseas students home is “economic nonsense”

Writing on PoliticsHome, Baroness Sally Hamwee, describes the recently mooted Conservative plans to send overseas students home as “economic nonsense”, which risk the good reputation of the UK:

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Baroness Sally Hamwee writes…Localism and liberalism, urban and rural

You have to admire the energy and determination of Lucy Hurds and the Lib Dem team in Hereford and South Herefordshire. When I went to Hereford the other day, I found I was the most recent of a gaggle of peers and MPs (is that the right collective noun for Parliamentarians?) whom Lucy had persuaded to trek westwards.

Going to rural seats always reminds me how different it is campaigning in the countryside. In my neck of the woods, the challenges are from entry phones and gated developments (how does anyone ever get in, or – as happened to one colleague who did achieve that, get out?) In other parts of the city it’s tall and too often liftless blocks. Lucy whispered to me that two members to whom she introduced me delivered a village every week.

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Lib Dems amongst the top ten peers’ peers

House of LordsEd Lowther at the BBC has identified the ‘top ten peers’ peers of 2013‘, defined as backbenchers in the House of Lords who were name-checked most frequently by their colleagues in the chamber. As he says: “This approach may not measure popularity or power, but it gives an impression of impact. ”

And are any of those lordly sociometric stars Lib Dem, by any chance? Of course they are.

At number 4 – drumroll, please – is ….

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Three reasons why criminalising “annoying behaviour” makes me really uneasy

This afternoon, the House of Lords will debate amendments to the Government’s Anti Social, Crime and Policing Bill. Clause 1, which currently states that the new Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAs) can be granted if:

the court is satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the respondent has engaged or threatens to engage in conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person (“anti-social behaviour”)

is one of the main points of concern.

These provisions should make any liberal feel extremely uncomfortable. Campaigners, including the National Secular Society, the Evangelical Alliance and the Christian Institute have joined the usual suspect like Liberty and Big Brother Watch  in mounting vociferous opposition to this clause. George Monbiot, in the Guardian today, takes a very dim view of the legislation:

These laws will be used to stamp out plurality and difference, to douse the exuberance of youth, to pursue children for the crime of being young and together in a public place, to help turn this nation into a money-making monoculture, controlled, homogenised, lifeless, strifeless and bland. For a government which represents the old and the rich, that must sound like paradise.

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Next week in the Lords: 15-18 October

It looks as though this column may be going down in flames, now that the Lords have appointed a new Media & PR Officer, but until we do…

Days 7 and 8 of the Committee Stage of the Financial Services Bill dominate the week. And, as I still don’t understand it, I’m going to see if I can get an explanation. Watch, hopefully, this space… However, Amendment 197, to be moved by Lord Flight, requires banks to transfer accounts to a new institution, if requested, within ten working …

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Lord McNally writes… Conscience and reform

Shirley Williams has recently been made Peer of the Year in one of the regular Parliamentary Awards. Eric Avebury was recently given a life time achievement award at a ceremony in the Speaker’s House. Matthew Oakeshott received praise for his persistence in pointing out that there is much in our banking system which is rotten and in need of reform. When issues affecting children are debated in the Lords it is often Joan Walmsley who holds the House with informed and practical opinion. Ditto when Margaret Sharp speaks on science, technology and higher education. Sally Hamwee and Martin …

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Tom Brake writes to David Cameron on control orders‏

Tom Brake MP wrote to the Prime Minister yesterday, to push for the scrapping of Control Orders, and for a reduction in the pre-charge detention period. The letter is co-signed by the other Liberal Democrat Co-Chairs of the Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities Parliamentary Party Committee: Baroness Sally Hamwee and Lord Martin Thomas.

The full text of the letter is as follows:

We believe we represent the broad view of the Liberal Democrat membership, both from past policy statements agreed at Conference and set out in the Lib Dem Manifesto, and from current soundings within the Party.

We have been delighted by the

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