In the Lords we get to grips with the detail of legislation and improve it; we take part in debates on a whole range of issues; and we question and hold to account government ministers.
For up-to-date information about the work of the Lib Dem group in the Lords, follow us on Twitter: @LibDemLords
Monday 15th March
Monday saw the continued reaction and fallout to the terrible scenes from Clapham Common on the previous Saturday night during the vigil for Sarah Everard and for all women who are victims of harassment. Former MET Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Brian Paddick, spoke clearly and for many on the media afterwards.
Where is the corporate memory @metpoliceuk?— Brian Paddick 🇬🇧👨❤️👨🇳🇴 (@brianpaddick) March 13, 2021
We were always told banning a demonstration would take more resources than allowing it go ahead with restrictions.
In all the circumstances, what a catastrophic disaster.
During a Question on the impact on businesses of the workings of the Northern Ireland protocol, Sarah Ludford castigated the Government for its unilateral approach to the actions the UK is taking regarding the protocol at the moment and suggested that the Government is trying to undermine the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, and possibly wreck it, thus securing the no-deal they actually wanted and the ability to blame it all on the EU. Malcolm Bruce urged the Government to abandon its hostile diplomacy and to return to engaging in a constructive, long-term relationship with Northern Ireland.
A question about the level of self-harm among women prisoners in the UK gave Mike German the chance to push the Government to make more use of the early release scheme and pressed them on the number of times in the last year the 42-maximum solitary confinement rule was breached for women prisoners.
The Domestic Abuse Bill returned for a further day at Report Stage. We defeated the Government on two further issues to do with migrant and immigrant survivors of domestic abuse.
BREAKING: Peers vote 321 to 262 on amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill that would block the Home Office from using data gathered when survivors of domestic abuse seek support or assistance for immigration purposes.— Lib Dem Lords (@LibDemLords) March 15, 2021
BREAKING: Peers vote 318 to 269 on amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill that would give migrant survivors of domestic abuse temporary leave to remain and access to public funds, so they are not excluded from crucial support services.— Lib Dem Lords (@LibDemLords) March 15, 2021
Tuesday 16th March
During a Question on the reports of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, Jonny Oates pushed for an overall strategy for the region.
Lord @oatesjonny says if the UK are to have any influence on the #HumanRightsViolations in #Zimbabwe, we must engage to advance regional prosperity underpinned by #HumanRights and rule of law.— Lib Dem Lords (@LibDemLords) March 16, 2021
The Govt must work with the region to develop a successful strategy to achieve this.
A question from Roger Roberts on the appalling conditions at the Penally and Napier sites housing asylum seekers gave him the chance to draw attention to the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s report which said the sites are not suitable for human habitation. He urges the closure of both sites.
Lord Roberts was assured by the Government the conditions of Penally Camp and #NapierBarracks were adequate, safe and fit for purpose.— Lib Dem Lords (@LibDemLords) March 16, 2021
Yet the inspection report contradicts this, describing it as filthy and unfit for use @PHE_uk @BritishRedCross.
During a statement on the weekend’s event, Brian Paddick urged the Government to make misogyny a hate crime. Much more to come on this is the coming weeks and months!
Govt cuts to local authority budgets has led to councils switch off cameras & live monitoring.— Lib Dem Lords (@LibDemLords) March 16, 2021
As well recording sex and gender-motivated offensives, misogyny must become a hate crime, courts must treat it as an aggravating factor and victims must receive the support they need.
Wednesday 17th March
During a statement on the Government’s new Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, Dick Newby says the Government has an uphill struggle to persuade others of our good intentions.
Speaking on the Strategic Integrated Review, Lib Dem Lords Leader @RichardNewby3 says the govt's dire record as a trusted international partner means "other countries are watching and asking how much our word is really now worth"— Lib Dem Lords (@LibDemLords) March 17, 2021
Whist Julie Smith focused on the stated intention in the Review to increase the number of nuclear warheads that the UK has – this does absolutely nothing to help nuclear disarmament, something the UK is signed up to via Article IV of the non-proliferation treaty.
The Domestic Abuse Bill returned briefly for the completion of its Report Stage, and there was one further defeat for the Government as we voted to ensure that nobody who is a victim of domestic abuse in the UK would ever be denied help.
BREAKING: Another Govt. defeat as Peers vote 310 to 232 pass Domestic Abuse Bill amendment that would ensure that all survivors of domestic abuse are protected regardless of their immigration status, as required under the Istanbul Convention.— Lib Dem Lords (@LibDemLords) March 17, 2021
The main business of the day saw the Fire Safety Bill return to the Lords in the process known as Ping Pong, when outstanding legislative issues go between both Houses until agreement is reached.
Kath Pinnock and others have fought for months to try and prevent the costs of fire safety work on building from being passed on to leaseholders and tenants.
In the debate on the Fire Safety Bill @KathPinnock speaks of the heart-breaking experiences of leaseholders. “At the heart of this crisis are the people who have done everything right and nothing wrong. They are innocent victims. They have suffered enough.”— Lib Dem Lords (@LibDemLords) March 17, 2021
The amendment that Kath worked on was passed with a majority of 78 and the issue will now return once again to the Commons – the Government needs to show some heart and change their mind on this one.
Thursday 18th March
A question from Don Foster on plans to appoint a new Chair of Ofcom gave him the chance to underline the importance of the broadcasting impartiality regime and to point out how unacceptable it would be for the new Chair to be someone with a long record of extreme political partisanship. He was, of course, thinking of Paul Dacre, the former editor of the Daily Mail, who is rumoured to be the Government’s top choice. Tom McNally used the question as a chance to push the Government to be supportive of the BBC in their public statements and policies.
During a question on the impact on food prices of changes to agricultural policy, Cathy Bakewell highlighted the likely rise in prices and the cost of this for low-income families.
Baroness Bakewell says the queues at #foodbanks are increasing as people struggle to feed their families, she asks what measures are in place to address this.— Lib Dem Lords (@LibDemLords) March 18, 2021
Minister responds “there will always be a safety net” towards supporting the vulnerable..
Lindsay Northover helped reveal the true colours of the Government during a question on China’s treatment of Uighurs – apparently, consideration of human rights abuses has to be “balanced”.
In today’s Q on China’s treatment of #Uighurs and incursions in Taiwanese airspace, B. @LPNorthover asks what comes first- trade deals or humans rights?— Lib Dem Lords (@LibDemLords) March 18, 2021
Minister appallingly responds the Integrated Review sets out “these are all held in balance” #China #HumanRightsViolations
During a statement on the Government’s “levelling up” priorities, Kath Pinnock laid into the Government for using the statement to “announce” packages of support that have already been announced, for the miserable levels of funding included, and the prioritisation of support for wealthier areas over poorer communities.
Friday 19th March
Sitting Fridays are traditionally given over to Private Members’ Bill – legislation that is proposed by individual peers and MPs, rather than by the Government, but due to the changes made to the way the Lords has been operating during the pandemic, we haven’t been able to consider any for a year or so.
This changed today and four PMBs arrived in the Lords for their Second Reading debates, having completed their passage through the Commons.
Sue Garden, Judith Jolly and Mike Storey spoke in the debate on a bill that would start to help regulate the cost of school uniforms to try and ensure that prices are not set unduly high by any schools or local authorities.
Martin Thomas spoke in a rather niche but important debate on a bill that will provide the British Library Board with the power to borrow money; Dominic Addington spoke in favour of a bill that would impose certain duties on education and training providers regarding the safeguarding of children; and Angie Harris and Jonny Oates spoke in a debate on a bill that would create a new Forensic Science Regulator in the UK.
Unfortunately, there will not be enough time before the current parliamentary session ends at the end of April for these Bills to complete their passage through the Lords and become law, but the airing of debate is important and all of the Bills can be resubmitted in the new parliamentary session which we expect to start in May.
The Trade Bill returns for more Ping Pong, including the issue of doing trade deals with countries who have committed genocide; the Financial Services Bill begins its Report Stage; there will be a major debate on a long-term housing strategy; and as the year anniversary of the first COVID restrictions coming into force falls, there will be a debate on the current situation.
Jonny Oates will be asking about the uptake of heat pumps in domestic premises; Judith Jolly will be asking about financial support to assist those with disabilities to stand for elected office; Paul Scriven will be asking about human rights abuses in Bahrain; and Roger Roberts will be asking about the famine in Yemen.