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

All eyes really were on the Lords this week as peers debated the Bill on equal marriage– not least among the Stonewall activists and Christian campaigners who set up camps on College Green opposite Parliament. Crossbench peer Lord Dear tabled a so-called “wrecking amendment” against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill which, if passed, would have meant it would not have got its second reading in the Lords – in effect, scuppering the entire Bill. What followed were two days of high emotion as a total of 97 peers on both sides of the argument made their case. Voices from the Liberal Democrat benches were led by Baroness Barker, who first had to declare an interest: “Many years ago, I had the good fortune to meet someone. She and I have loved each other ever since – that is, apart from the occasional spectacular argument, usually about driving or DIY.” It was the first time she had ever spoken publicly about her relationship. She went on: “What we are doing today does not undermine any existing or future marriage. It extends the status of marriage to gay men and lesbians who want to make a public commitment in the presence of their families and friends, and sometimes their co-religionists. It reflects the wishes of those people who today do not want just to tolerate lesbians and gay men; they want to celebrate and support them as people in their own right.”

In the event, there was no doubt about the result – Lord Dear‟s amendment was overwhelmingly rejected, by 390 votes to 148, with 73 Lib Dem peers voting against it and just two for. It now moves on to its committee stage later this month.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK “My Lords, I need the guidance of the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, on the correct pronunciation of the word „chutzpah‟.” Lord McNally struggles with his Yiddish in the Chamber (Labour peer Lord Beecham assured him “it is glottal”).

TWEET OF THE WEEK “Extraordinary vote in the Lords against attempt to wreck the gay marriage bill 390 to 148. It's not true that we are silly old farts ;-)” Lord Strasburger (@LordStras) puts paid to old stereotypes.

Baroness Hussein-Ece, following a question on violent extremism, reminded the House that people of all faiths had deplored the barbaric murder of Lee Rigby on the streets of Woolwich. She asked: “Does the Minister think that it is appropriate for decent voices of moderation to be drowned out by radicals such as Anjem Choudary – discredited people – who are given a media platform on the BBC and Channel 4? Drowning out other voices does more harm than good.”

Lord Stoneham of Droxford asked the Government when it would publish the prospectus for the establishment of new garden cities. It promised to do so in his housing strategy published in November 2011, but has yet to do so. “Unless the Government publish their prospectus for garden cities this summer or within at least two years of promising to do so, is there not a danger that people will question the Government‟s determination to tackle the past decade‟s undersupply of housing and avoid the possibility of a house price boom in the next 10 years?,” he said. The Minister, Baroness Hanham, said such sites were “very complicated”.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre has warned that the growing availability of access to the internet is likely to see an increased threat to children‟s safety, Baroness Benjamin told peers this week following aquestion on child abuse. She said: “Recently there has been a 14% increase in the reported sexual abuse of children. Will my noble friend tell the House what financial support the Government are giving to CEOP and other agencies to deal with this increase?”. CEOP has had its budget cut by 10%, Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach said.

And Lord Bradshaw questioned whether businesses who will profit from London‟s Crossrail project should be contributing to it. Noting that “Crossrail 1 is very expensive and there is now a possibility of Crossrail 2 which will be much more so”, he said: “While at Ealing huge rises in property prices have benefited several private sector investors, the taxpayer gets nothing.” Minister Earl Attlee said he hoped to see a full business case in the coming weeks.

BEST OF THE BLOG

This week on the Lib Dem Lords blog, Baroness Tyler of Enfield wrote about changing health and social care frameworks in England, Lord Stoneham of Droxford said new Garden Cities needed to be considered as a way of tackling the housing shortfall, and Lord Wallace of Saltaire looked back on the Queen‟s Coronation anniversary celebration – 60 years after singing for her as a choirboy.

WHAT’S COMING UP

MONDAY Peers continue to examine the Care Bill on the second day of its committee stage. TUESDAY Peers continue to examine the Offender Rehabilitation Bill on the second day of its committee stage.

WEDNESDAY Lord Storey will ask the Government what plans it has to re-examine the status of films, videos and DVD currently exempt from classification. Lord Clement-Jones to ask the Government when it expects to reach conclusions on changes to Ofcom‟s public sector broadcasting duties. THURSDAY Lord Shipley will ask the Government its plans to make it easier for deaf people to access telephone services. Lord Dykes to ask the Government what representations it has made to the German government following recent comments by one of its ministers on the UK‟s place in the EU. For more detailed information on what‟s coming up in the Lords, click here.

‘Everyone is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day. Wisdom consists in not exceeding that limit.’ – Elbert Hubbard

Follow the Lib Dem Lords on Twitter @LibDemLords, contact the newsletter at lordsmedia@libdems.org.uk and see the blog at libdemlords.org.uk.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful