Welcome to the latest edition of Letter of the Lords – the weekly newsletter aimed at shining a light into the

work the party‟s peers are doing in the second chamber. Why not let us know what you think? Email the newsletter onlordsmedia@libdems.org.uk. And that‟s also the address to give to friends, colleagues and loved ones to sign up too. Plus don‟t forget to keep up to date with the blog at libdemlords.org.uk and follow us on Twitter at@LibDemLords.

IN THE CHAMBER

If the pomp of last month‟s prorogation of Parliament wasn‟t enough, this week saw the circumstance of the State Opening of Parliament, a pageant of horses, hats and Her Majesty. But beneath the historic theatre lay the Government‟s legislative programme for the year ahead. A number of the Bills have begun their journey at the Lords end of Parliament, including of particular note the Offender Rehabilitation Bill, introduced this week by Lord McNally. This would see all offenders released from prison in England and Wales receiving at least 12 months' supervision. At present, people serving sentences of less than 12 months are not allocated a probation officer. Lord McNally told peers that breaking the cycle of reoffending was “the key challenge not only in youth justice but throughout the criminal justice system”. He said: “We spend £3bn a year on prisons. You do not have to be some woolly-minded liberal – if that is not a contradiction in terms – to see this as a bad return on investment if we continue to tolerate a high rate of reoffending. “The worst part is that, at the moment, despite those sentenced to less than 12 months being most at risk of reoffending – I remind your Lordships that women are represented disproportionately among that group – they do not get help with rehabilitation. They are seen off at the prison gate with £46 in their pocket and very little else.” The Government hopes the bill will reduce reoffending rates for the most prolific criminals.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK “The ceremonial that we have seen today would be recognisable across many centuries, with only slight differences. In 1854, for example, ministers also took part in the procession. The Illustrated London News reported it as follows: „Her Majesty‟s Ministers drove rapidly along the line of route, and those of them who were recognised were cheered.‟ Ministers cheered in the streets, my Lords – there is a thing.” On the day of the State Opening of Parliament, Lord German seconds the Humble Address to the Queen‟s Speech and harks back to more innocent times.

TWEET OF THE WEEK "@mrjoelclark: Enjoyed This House at the National Theatre this evening.Did you , @oakeshottm?"Gt trip down memory lane for me as Spad in 74.” Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay (@oakeshottm) gets nostalgic over the political drama which has hooked Westminster.

Three Lib Dem Lords introduced private members‟ bills this week for their First Readings . Lord Clement-Jones‟ Cultural and Community Distribution Deregulation Bill would exempt community and cultural events from rules allowing councils to designate areas within which people must buy a licence to hand out flyers. The Alan Turing (Statutory Pardon) Bill, introduced by Lord Sharkey, would pardon computer genius Alan Turing, convicted of gross indecency with another man in 1952 when such sexual encounters were unlawful. And Lord Tyler‟s Voting Age (Comprehensive Reduction) Bill would lower the voting age to 16.

Lord Tyler also used the first day of the Queen‟s Speech debate to refer to one measure not contained in it – Lords reform. Saying that peers could “hardly have expected the resurrection of the Government‟s 2012 Bill”, he reminded that of Labour‟s role in ensuring it did not get to the statute book. Noting that the Bill received a record majority at its Second Reading in the Commons, he said Labour‟s refusal to agree to a programme motion showed they “sacrificed political reform at the altar of political opportunism”.

In the same debate, Baroness Williams of Crosby warned that “one thing that we have to be very cautious about in this country is our attitude towards other people who want to come here”. Telling the House how the UK had benefited immensely from immigration, she drew on both “the great Jewish

entry between the ward” and the entry of Asian immigrants from East Africa after the rise of Idi Amin, “who in turn brought to this country great entrepreneurial skills and great innovation”.

And Chief Whip Lord Newby renewed his invitation for constituencies to have a peer visit them. He has set the group a challenge of making 1,000 visits between now and the General Election and this week reported “with some satisfaction” that they were right on course to do, with a third of the target already reached. “I felt strongly that we needed to do more to work with constituency parties to tell the story of how we are influencing legislation and debate on a daily basis, both to members and wider groups,” he said. More information can be found here.

WHAT’S COMING UP The Lords will continue debating the Queen‟s Speech from Monday to Wednesday. TUESDAY Baroness Parminter to ask the Government whether it is considering a mandatory charge for plastic bags in England. THURSDAY Baroness Brinton to ask the Government what funding is available to enable children who have dropped out of school due to severe bullying to return to education. Lord Dykes to ask what proposals for EU reform the Government will present to the forthcoming meeting of the European Council. Lord Greaves will lead a debate on the economic contribution of the great outdoors.

‘The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook’ – Julia Child

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