Category Archives: House of Lords

Tory heretic Baker says Church of England could lose official status for criticising Brexit

Steve Baker: what’s the line I’m looking for? “Before he demands the bishops remove the mote from their eye, he should remove the plank from his own”?

Perhaps Steve Baker should be excommunicated? His true religion appears to be Brexit, anyway.

After Church of England bishops spoke out in the House of Lords against Boris Johnson’s ridiculous ‘Australia-style’ (read: ‘no deal’) Brexit, the oily Baker slithered straight to The Times with his ridiculous suggestion.

The Times is behind a paywall, which limits the damage. I certainly won’t pay Rupert Murdoch any money just to see what he said… but then I don’t have to. Here’s what he said:

I don’t know why Tories say stupid things like this, though. It only lays them wide open to mockery and ridicule, viz.:

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This former Commons speaker can still put a prime minister firmly in his place

This clip speaks for itself.

Former Commons Speaker Lady (Betty Boothroyd), speaking in today’s (October 19) Lords debate on how badly Boris Johnson has cocked up the UK’s departure from the European Union, said the following:

“Never in my Parliamentary experience have I witnessed such a collapse in the people’s trust.”

That is a warning.

Johnson will be too stupid – or too selfish – to take it.

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Lords defeat Johnson over food standards because they don’t want chlorinated chicken

Chicken: if this one was of the US chlorine-washed variety, do you think Boris Johnson would be soiling his hands with it?

Boris Johnson’s hopes of a trade deal with the United States are looking increasingly like a house of straw… built on sand.

Already leading figures in Congress have said they will block a trade deal if Johnson pushes his Internal Markets Bill into UK law, as it would break international law and – particularly – threaten the peace in Northern Ireland.

(Did Johnson really dream up this Bill because his Russian donors demanded it?)

Now the House of Lords has amended his Agriculture Bill, so that food products imported under any future trade deals must meet or exceed current standards in the UK – to prevent farmers in this country from being undermined.

For the opposition, Lord Grantchester warned: “Low-quality food cannot be allowed to jeopardise rural communities by undercutting UK farmers with products using methods that would be illegal here.”

Consumers did not want chlorinated chicken or hormone-treated beef to be imported from the US, he said.

It was only by supporting the Labour-led move that peers could be sure the Government was “bound to its commitment not to import food of lower standards than our own domestic products”, Lord Krebs said.

Baroness Boycott, a crossbench peer, said chlorinated chicken was the “tip of the iceberg” of “bad food” which could come into the country.

The amendment is a rejection of the Tory government’s claims, as summarised by Baroness Noakes:

“The government’s policy is clear. They are committed to higher food and welfare standards.

“We do not need to write into law what the Government is committed to.”

Clearly the majority of the Lords disagree – and who can blame them?

The whole point of not writing such a commitment into legislation is to ensure that a government can U-turn on it, once it has been enacted, and we all know it. That’s why the amendment has been brought in.

Unfortunately, it is well within Boris Johnson’s power to throw out the Lords’ amendment, so that the eventual law will undermine UK farmers, and will allow diseased meat onto our plates.

It is possible that MPs will stop and think for a moment before blithely voting it away, though; debate in the House of Lords is of a higher standard than that in the Commons and their reasons for changing a Bill deserve careful consideration.

Many Tories represent rural constituencies full of farmers.

How will those people take it if one of the earliest actions of these MPs in the new Parliament is to stab their voters in the back?

Source: Government defeated in Lords over post-Brexit food standards | The Independent

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Johnson’s hypocrisy: before attacking Starmer over IRA sympathy, he gave a GENUINE IRA sympathiser a peerage

Sympathy: this is a Labour Party image so the support for Keir Starmer may be overstated – but the fact about Boris Johnson is accurate enough. What a shame he didn’t remember it in PMQs.

Two-faced Boris Johnson accused Keir Starmer of supporting an IRA sympathiser – but it turns out he himself is more guilty of that.

Johnson’s ill-advised outburst during Prime Minister’s Questions on September 3 was nothing more than a “dead cat” to distract attention from his inability to explain the algorithm that downgraded millions of ‘A’ level students just because they didn’t go to private schools.

But it seems he spoke without considering his own actions.

Thanks are due to Evolve Politics for researching the background of one Claire Fox, most recently a Brexit Party MEP but previously of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) and the Irish Freedom Movement (IFM):

Fox was involved with both groups during The Troubles – a time in which they overtly supported violence carried out by the IRA.

Following the 1993 Warrington bombing – which killed two children, Tim Parry and Johnathan Ball – the RCP responded by condoning the killings, writing in their newsletter that it was “the right of the Irish people to take whatever measures necessary in their struggle for freedom“.

Shortly before the European Elections in May 2019 – in which she was elected as an MEP – Fox was asked in an interview whether she still agreed with the RCP’s stance on the Warrington bombing

However, not only did Fox again refuse to condemn the bombing, she also refused to apologise to the father of one of those killed, stating:

“I’m not going to apologise. I didn’t do anything. […] I think that there was a war going on at that time, and you have to accept that I think that is long since gone and […] move on with it.”

So not only did she sympathise with the IRA, but she remains unrepentant about it.

And Boris Johnson put her in the House of Lords.

What a hypocrite.

He is the UK political leader who supports and IRA sympathiser.

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Johnson’s new lords: BLATANT corruption?

Boris Johnson and Evgeny Lebedev: 10 days after saying he saw no evidence that Russians were influencing UK politics, Johnson has elevated a Russian to the House of Lords.

Boris Johnson has started packing the House of Lords with his cronies in what seems an example of blatant political corruption.

First, look at the number of new peerages he has announced – 36 – at a time when all the debate has been about reducing numbers in the Upper House of Parliament.

Every lord receives an allowance of £305 per day, simply for attending debates – which is why so much television coverage seems to show decrepit members of the gentry snoring on their red benches rather than doing any actual work.

With the number of peers approaching 830, if they all attended sessions, the public would be spending nearly a quarter of a million pounds subsidising their sleep, every day.

And look at the candidates Johnson has chosen!

At a time when concern over Russian intervention in politics is at a height, he has given a peerage to Russian-born newspaper magnate Evgeny Lebedev, who owns both The Independent and the Evening Standard. Lebedev is a personal friend of the prime minister who threw a party for him after Johnson’s election victory last December.

Other appointments show similar cronyism:

Johnson’s brother Jo, who quit a ministerial role – and then stepped down from the Commons – last year saying he did not believe supporting the then-new prime minister was in the national interest, gets booted up to the Lords.

It means he’ll have access to public cash (the £305 per day) for life, and if he opposes his brother’s policies it won’t matter – because brother Boris’s 80-strong majority in the Commons will reverse any major changes to legislation that the Lords try to impose.

Former Chancellors Kenneth Clarke and Philip Hammond, who both lost the Tory whip last year because they rebelled against Johnson’s threat of a no-deal Brexit, also get booted up to the Lords, where they can rant all they like without doing him any harm.

From the Labour Party, prominent Brexiteers Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart are rewarded for their betrayal of the nation with seats on the red benches.

And so is former Work and Pensions Committee chair Frank Field, who gave himself a bad name in his own party by joining in with accusations of anti-Semitism, while supporting the Tory government in Brexit votes.

Ruth Davidson will get to take up a peerage after she stands down from the Scottish Parliament next year – but is it in gratitude after she led the Scottish Tories to become the second most popular party north of the border behind the SNP? Or is it to neutralise an influential Tory who had once been tipped as a possible UK party leader, who openly criticised Johnson’s Brexit plans and decision to suspend 21 Tory MPs who didn’t agree with him?

Also getting a peerage in what seems a straight reward for services rendered is Sir Edward Lister, who was Johnson’s chief strategic advisor.

So far I have mentioned only nine of the 36 people Johnson has nominated.

Notable absences from the list include former governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, who was perceived as hostile to Brexit, and former Commons Speaker John Bercow, whose hostility to Johnson’s attempts to corrupt Parliamentary process were plain to everybody. Convention dictated that both should be elevated – but Johnson had no room for them, despite drawing up a much longer list than anybody expected.

Do you honestly believe those he has chosen will use their new positions in the interest of the people of the United Kingdom? I don’t.

I think Johson is baking his corruption into the fabric of the UK’s Parliamentary system – deliberately wrecking our democracy.

Oh, and he’s giving a knighthood to former PM Theresa May’s husband Philip – presumably in gratitude for selling all those missiles that the Saudis have been using to annihilate Yemen and its people. Did I get that right?

Now brace yourself – because it could have been worse.

According to the Daily Telegraph – the Torygraph, for crying out loud – Johnson is now threatening “reform” of the House of Lords after the House of Lords Appointments Commission objected to his plan to reward Tory donors with peerages.

It seems he is absolutely furious at being blocked from stuffing the Upper House with fatcats. Presumably he was planning to let them take back from the national Treasury what they gave to the Tories’ private funds.

But his plan has only been delayed – a new list of peerages for Tory supporters including businessmen Johnny Leavesley and Peter Cruddas, due to be published in the autumn

Nobody can do anything about this scandal apart from comment – and the outrage has come thick and fast on Twitter:

Sadly, the new New Labour Party is too deep in its own hypocrisy to do anything about the situation.

The UK’s democracy could have been saved from all this if right-wing factionalists in Labour had taken their heads out of their own rectums and supported Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign in 2017, instead of sabotaging it. They managed to do just enough harm to give Theresa May leadership of a hung Parliament, we’re told.

So it is unsurprising that criticism of Johnson’s nominations by Labour centrists like Chris Bryant has been treated with the contempt it deserves:

Source: Botham and PM’s brother to join House of Lords – BBC News

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Rona Fairhead’s record should disqualify her from public office, but the Tories have found her two. Why?

Rona Fairhead: With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens? [Image: David Hartley/Rex/Shutterstock.]

Rona Fairhead was well-known to be a Conservative when she was appointed as chair of the BBC Trust. I commented on her political persuasion here and here.

It turns out she was also chair of HSBC’s audit committee when the bank was mired in tax avoidance and money laundering scandals. It also transpires that George Osborne, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, warned the US government not to press criminal charges against HSBC for allowing terrorists and drug dealers to launder millions of dollars.

One has to question whether Mr Osborne would have – if he had been editing the Evening Standard at the time – discouraged reporters there from writing about HSBC, as happened at the Daily Telegraph. Ah, but of course the Torygraph had recently benefited from a stonkingly huge HSBC loan – £250 million. That kind of money can seal a lot of laptops.

But then again, it was alleged earlier this year that HSBC laundered £5 million into Conservative Party hands, in advance of the 2010 general election. Would that be enough to buy George Osborne’s loyalty? I leave that to your own judgement.

Meanwhile, Ms Fairhead is now the Tory minister in charge of trade and export promotion, after being rewarded with a peerage for… well, for being involved in lots of scandals, apparently.

Tories have ‘form’ in this respect – former HSBC chairman Stephen Green quit his job (after the bank was involved in the scandals listed above) to become a Tory peer and minister of state for trade and investment in 2011.

Stephen Green: With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens?

Here‘s the Guardian‘s piece on Ms Fairhead’s appointment:

The former chair of the BBC Trust Rona Fairhead has been appointed as an international trade minister with a life peerage, Downing Street has announced.

Fairhead will replace Mark Price, the former Waitrose managing director who quit after a year as trade policy minister. The MP Greg Hands has taken over the policy role, and Fairhead’s title will be minister for trade and export promotion.

Fairhead was the chief executive of the Financial Times Group before taking on the BBC role, from which she resigned after Theresa May indicated that she would have to reapply for the job to which she had been appointed by David Cameron.

Fairhead was the chair of HSBC’s audit committee when the bank admitted to “past compliance and control failures” in the group, after it was mired in a tax avoidance row uncovered by the Guardian’s HSBC files investigation.

The Graun reported that Labour’s Margaret Hodge had attacked the appointment, saying it was “not down to her capabilities”. And she’s not the only one with issues:

It seems clear the Conservative government has a problem understanding the concept of trustworthiness.

A person who has been involved with a business that has regularly and unrepentantly engaged in criminal activities should not have been made chair of the BBC Trust, as David Cameron did. It casts doubt on the reasons for the appointment and raises questions about interference with BBC current affairs coverage.

Theresa May was right to demand that Ms Fairhead re-apply for the job, under those circumstances. But now she has shown a colossal error of judgement in giving the same person a peerage and ministerial appointment. Why? One has to ask what is behind this decision.

Whatever the answer to that question, we can be sure that Ms Fairhead’s appearance in the House of Lords can only undermine what little faith is left in the Conservatives as a party of government.


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Bain Capital advisor Andrew Lansley tries to derail Lobbying Bill. Conflict of interest?

Listening on lobbying: Andrew Lansley proved exactly how trustworthy he is with the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Now he stands ready to hear discussion of his amendments to the new Lobbying Bill.

Listening on lobbying: Andrew Lansley proved exactly how trustworthy he is with the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Now he stands ready to hear discussion of his amendments to the new Lobbying Bill.

This seems nothing more than a filibuster. Now that Lord Lansley has a cushy job working for a lobbying firm, he doesn’t want it coming under scrutiny.

Right?

But doesn’t that raise the issue of conflict of interest? Why is Lansley being allowed to talk about this matter at all?

Come to that, after the atrocity that was the Health and Social Care Act 2012, why is this creature allowed to talk about anything at all, ever?

Andrew Lansley, the former health secretary, who now advises health companies, has been accused of trying to stall a parliamentary bill that proposes to expose lobbyists in Whitehall to greater scrutiny.

The Tory peer has tabled 30 amendments to a bill before the House of Lords that seeks to establish a new register for lobbyists who meet ministers, senior civil servants and special advisers.

Labour and transparency campaigners suspect there will not be time for a parliamentary committee to discuss the amendments, and that the changes are in effect an attempt to scupper the bill.

Lord Lansley has denied their claims, saying he wants to ensure that the bill enshrines current regulatory powers and protects those being regulated.

The lobbying (transparency) bill won support from across the Lords last month when it was introduced by the Labour peer Clive Brooke.

The proposed legislation would replace the government’s much-criticised lobbying register with one that would be far more comprehensive.

It would cover in-house lobbyists as well as agency lobbyists, and would be extended to cover meetings with senior civil servants and special advisers. At present, only meetings between agency lobbyists and ministers and permanent secretaries are recorded.

Source: Tory peer Andrew Lansley accused of trying to stall lobbying bill | Politics | The Guardian

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Botched VIP paedophile inquiry: peers demand release of unredacted report

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, an independent crossbench peer, took part in the emergency debate [Image: Rex].

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, an independent crossbench peer who had been removed as chair of the independent inquiry into historical child sex abuse, took part in the emergency debate [Image: Rex].

How interesting that the Guardian should run with comments by Baroness Butler-Sloss, who was de-throned as chair of the inquiry into historical child sexual abuse because of past associations with people she might have had to investigate.

I mention this merely because the Graun doesn’t.

Like the Lords, This Writer has an automatic suspicion of redacted reports. Who decided what should be hidden, and on what criteria? How tight an interpretation of those rules did they use? What do they have to hide?

And it is no surprise that the police were working on a presumption that the people who had been accused were guilty. It seems the legal presumption of innocence is put aside whenever child sex offences are investigated. I have experience of this myself, in a case here in Mid Wales.

There was no material evidence to prove that the defendant had committed any offence, but the prosecutor simply demanded that – if he wasn’t guilty – he demonstrate who else could be. I thought that was the job of the police.

So, despite there being no evidence against him, this man was imprisoned for six years on the basis that he could not prove he wasn’t guilty, which is not a valid way for the UK legal system to work.

In this light, it seems that sight of the full report is vital. These inquiries are all about the secrets that people try to hide – let’s see what the police are hiding too.

A judge-led inquiry which has severely criticised the police investigation into an alleged VIP paedophile ring should be released in full, peers have said.

A summary of the report by Richard Henriques into Operation Midland, which was redacted by senior Metropolitan police officers, was released on Tuesday. It found the inquiry was launched on the basis of a single witness and made 43 separate errors.

Officers from the Met misled a senior judge to obtain search warrants and seemed to set aside the presumption of innocence to traduce the reputations of former MPs and war heroes, the report found. But only a fraction of the original 493-page report by Henriques was released to the public – and that was redacted after being examined by officers and their legal representatives.

In an emergency debate in the House of Lords, the retired judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, an independent crossbench peer, said: “It is so patently unsatisfactory that the full report is not produced for the public to read. Could I ask the minister whether in fact the Home Office should be urging the commissioner of police to make this report public?”

Following the release of the key findings, the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, said he “fully recognised” D-day veteran and former army chief, Edwin Bramall, former Tory MP Harvey Proctor and the late former home secretary Leon Brittan were all “innocent of the offences of which they were accused”.

Source: Operation Midland: peers demand release of unredacted report | UK news | The Guardian

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House of Lords ‘will not block Brexit’, Labour’s leading peer asserts

87692292_houseoflords

Another opportunity to get rid of the House of Lords – lost. Oh, well.

At least the Conservatives won’t have an opportunity to flood it with another few hundred unwanted chinless wonders, just to see through their ill-starred ‘Brexit’ plans (whatever they turn out to be).

Baroness Smith is right to say the Lords will not block a democratic decision to leave the EU.

This still gives the Lords plenty of leeway for argument.

For those of you who like nautical metaphors, it has been suggested that the UK is sailing away from the EU and into stormy waters.

It seems likely there will be a few squalls before we even leave port.

Labour’s leader in the House of Lords has said the party’s peers “will not block” Brexit, in what could be a boost for Theresa May.

Baroness Angela Smith said peers had to be “adult” in approaching the issue and that threats over blocking Britain’s EU withdrawal only gave Brexiteers reason to cry foul.

She said: “We will scrutinise. We will examine. But my Lords – we will not block.”

Explaining the approach, the shadow Leader of the Lords added: “We have to be adult about this.

“We can’t have the most enthusiastic Brexiteers crying foul every time Parliament asks for more details or seeks to scrutinise.”

She said few Lords did not have “genuine concerns” about what she claimed is the government’s “confused and unsettled approach” to negotiations.

Baroness Smith also said that while Labour peers would not block Brexit, they did take seriously their responsibility in “assisting the Government to make the best possible arrangements for the UK”.

She said peers would use their “expertise and knowledge” to fully understand the implications of Brexit and try to advise the Government on how to address problems.

The peer added: “It’s complex, it’s difficult and the Government should see this House as an asset and not try to avoid helpful scrutiny.”

Source: House of Lords ‘will not block Brexit’, Labour’s leading peer admits | The Independent

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Is Brexit threatening the future of the House of Lords? No. It is offering YOUR money to Tories

161022-house-of-lords

The Conservative Party is really tying itself in knots over this.

Apparently the plan is to flood the House of Lords with new members if those already there oppose Theresa May’s plan for an unscrutinised exit from the European Union.

She doesn’t want anybody in the House of Commons to have a chance to veto any secret agreement her Brexiteer minister make, and she doesn’t want the Lords to block it either.

But this puts Mrs May in an extremely difficult position with regard to another policy of hers – the plan to gerrymander Commons constituency boundaries by cutting the number of seats to 600 and giving Conservatives an advantage in elections by doing so.

Her pretext for doing so is that the cost of democracy is too high and it will save millions of pounds.

But the House of Lords currently has 812 members, not counting those who are on leave for one reason or another.

Between February 2014 and January 2015 each of them took home an average of £25,826 of public money, tax-free. Net operating cost of the House of Lords in 2013-14 was £93.1 million, or around £118,000 per peer.

So, the Tories have 256 peers at the moment, who are outnumbered by 556 from other parties, the Church, or who are non-aligned.

They would need to create at least 301 new peers in order to ensure their plans are carried to fruition – at a cost of at least £118,000 per year, each.

That’s £35,518,000.

Any saving on boundary changes would be wiped out completely. So the argument that Theresa May will save money must fall.

But take note: The money would not be going to MPs, some of whom belong to other parties. It would be going to Conservatives.

So it seems likely that they will go through with it, no matter that their argument is wrong.

Think on that.

A leading cabinet minister has warned the House of Lords that its future is at risk if it tries to block Brexit.

The senior figure said the government may have to “do a Lloyd George” and flood the upper House with friendly peers if those already there undermine the drive to implement the EU referendum result.

Some Tories in the Lords, where Conservatives are in a minority, have demanded Theresa May let Parliament vote on her preferred Brexit deal before talks with the EU begin. If she refuses, they have threatened to stymie other pieces of legislation the government needs to pass through the Lords to make Brexit happen.

One Tory peer has told The Independent: “There are people who are worried that if the Lords pushes back on this, it could be the end of the Lords.

“But the Lords has to be reformed anyway, it has to happen. There are far too many of us. So some of us don’t see that as an impediment.”

Source: House of Lords future at risk if it tries to block Brexit, leading cabinet minister warns | The Independent

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