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IN THE CHAMBER
Baroness Northover this week used a debate on the International Development budget to reaffirm the Government‟s commitment to spending 0.7% of gross national income on aid. There had been “gratifying agreement” in the Lords about the importance of supporting development and the UK‟s stance in reaching the 0.7% figure. “We are, of course, the first G8 country to do so,” she said. She added: “Especially in a period of austerity, I am very proud of the fact that we have done that and know how important it is morally. “We are clear that the Government are committed to spending 0.7% of GNI on aid. Aid is defined as official development assistance by the OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development]. We need to work across departments to achieve as much as we possibly can while we work with international organisations, both public and private, as shown in the nutrition summit. “We are all agreed on how important it is to deliver the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] and their successors so that we can eradicate poverty worldwide. There is a sophisticated understanding in this House that to achieve that requires working across government.”
QUOTE OF THE WEEK “My noble friend Lady Hamwee accused me of teasing her – something I would never dream of doing. I admire the fact that she gets the same pleasure from taking to bed a 200-clause Bill plus schedules as some women get from Fifty Shades of Grey.” In his continuing bid to monopolise the quote of the week section, Lord McNally casts an approving eye over Baroness Hamwee‟s night-time reading material.
TWEET OF THE WEEK “Can't wait to see David Dimbleby on the Nigel Farage Show #bbcqt” Baroness Hussein-Ece (@meralhece) looks forward to watching the leader of Ukip (MPs = 0) becoming the panellist to appear most often on the BBC‟s flagship current affairs show since 2009.
It would be “bordering on the criminal” if further funding cuts to the Science Museum Group meant that it would have to close one of its three regional museums, Lord Lee of Trafford told the House. Asking a question on museums, he said it faced a possible further 10% funding cut on top of a 25% cut already imposed. On the same question, Lord Shutt of Greetland said he had “had a look at the names of two dozen people who are trustees of the Science Museum Group or members of the Science Museum Advisory Board and – would you believe it? – 22 of those 24 people are based either in London or in Cambridge.”
Lord Shipley asked the Government what proposals it had to make it easier for deaf people to access telephone banking and other similar services. “Given that some 800,000 people in the UK are severely or profoundly deaf and 25,000 rely on British Sign Language, and given also that the technology exists pretty cheaply to provide the necessary communications and security checks, does the Minister agree that implementation of the Equality Act 2010 by all providers be speeded up?”, he said. The Minister, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, said they “must clearly do better”.
Lord Storey asked the Government for its plans to re-examine the status of films, videos and DVDs currently exempt from classification by the British Board of Film Classification. He said he was sure that the Minister was “not aware of Cannibal Corpse‟s „Live Cannibalism‟ DVD being legally supplied to British children or, indeed, the double-disc set „His Name was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th‟, so the change in the law for such content to be brought within the regulatory scope of the BBFC cannot come to soon”. The Minister said the Government would be doing more in the area of online video labelling.
And Lord Roberts of Llandudno introduced a private member‟s bill which would allow asylum seekers the right to work after six months waiting for a decision in their case. At the moment all asylum seekers are barred from taking up employment, denying them a living and leaving them dependent on handouts from the taxpayer. Lord Roberts said: “Allowing asylum seekers to work would not only save taxpayers money, but it would afford them the dignity of earning a living and reduce dependence on state handouts.”
BEST OF THE BLOG This week on the Lib Dem Lords blog, Lord Roberts of Llandudno wrote about allowing asylum seekers the right to work, Lord Storey looked at ways of making online videos safer for children, Lord Lester of Herne Hill dissected the Defamation Bill and the next steps for libel reform, and Lord Shipley said more needed to be done toimprove telephone banking services for the deaf.
WHAT’S COMING UP MONDAY Lord Lee of Trafford will ask the Government for its assessment of the National Autistic Society‟s findings from its Push for Action campaign. Peers will examine the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at committee stage. Lord Avebury leads a debate on the impact of town planning regulations on vulnerable traveller families. WEDNESDAY Baroness Benjamin will ask the Government what plans it has to protect children from easily accessing pornography online. The committee stage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill continues. THURSDAY Lord Roberts of Llandudno will ask the Government what action it is taking with other EU members to tackle youth unemployment. Baroness Falker of Margravine to ask the Government for its assessment of the political situation in Turkey. Baroness Brinton leads a debate on education support and mental health provision for children severely bullied at school. Lord Lester of Herne Hill leads a debate on the report of the Commission on a British Bill of Rights. Baroness Tyler of Enfield leads a debate on tackling social mobility. Lord Dykes leads a debate on measures to support the contribution of the UK financial services sector to the economy. For more detailed information on what‟s coming up in the Lords, click here.
‘Every man has two countries; his own and France’ – Thomas Jefferson
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