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As many minds in Westminster turned to the summer and holidays on the continent, the Lords were focused on Europe this week, too – but on Police and Criminal Justice Measures, rather than poolside margaritas. Peers were voting on the final position negotiated in government on an opt-out on European Justice and Home Affairs measures, which is a good outcome for both UK law enforcement and for the Liberal Democrats. Lib Dem negotiations with the Conservatives had ensured that we retained the most vital of the measures – particularly the European Arrest Warrant. “The Government have approached the question of the measures we should seek to rejoin from the perspective that our citizens should not have fewer protections after 2014 than they have now,” Justice Minister Lord McNally told peers. “We have listened to the views of law enforcement and other agencies that operate on the front line to keep our country safe. The piece of work we have put before both Houses is the result of that careful analysis.” Conservative eurosceptics originally wanted to withdraw from all 136 measures, including the European Arrest Warrant, which would have made it harder to bring offenders to justice if they fled oversees, or to deport foreign criminals from our shores. As a result of negotiations, the Government will seek to opt back into 35 measures of the 136 listened, in addition to nine measures already opted back into. And many of the others, as Lord McNally said, are “obsolete, defunct or simply unused”. As Lord Stoneham said: “There has to be a compromise and we in this part of the coalition believe that this is a firm and solid compromise.” The motion was agreed by 216 votes to 104.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK “My Lords, I have a great deal of sympathy with the noble Lord because my first job as a new employee was working on VAT. It was very complicated when it was introduced, it has got more complicated since then and should not be allowed to get any more so.” Lord Newby answers a question in the House on the “anomalies and complications” of VAT.

TWEET OF THE WEEK “Nicholas Witchall looks exhausted after such a long labour...#royalbaby #BBCNews” Baroness Hussein-Ece(@meralhece) voices concern for the Royal Correspondent forced to find 400 different ways to say “it hasn’t been born yet”.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno used a question on homelessness and rough sleeping to ask the Government about a Home Office campaign seeing billboards driven around some London borough warning illegal immigrants “go home or face arrest”. He asked: “Does that not cause a g reat disturbance in our communities, possibly also for the homeless people who may feel under threat?”. Communities and Local Government Minister Baroness Hanham said the campaign was “intended to be helpful”.

Lord Taverne asked the Government if, in the light of the number of alcohol-related deaths among women in their 30s and 40s, whether it would reconsider its policy on alcohol unit pricing. “In 2008, the Government’s own research department showed that increasing the price o f alcohol led to a steep decline in alcohol consumption and was a most effective way of dealing with it, and lots of other research confirms that,” he told Home Office Minister Lord Taylor of Holbeach. “Why, then, have the Government changed their mind?”. Lord Taylor said the Government had introduced the policy of “duty plus VAT”, effectively introducing minimum prices.

Baroness Jolly asked the Government how much of the £30m allocated to fund the development of new technologies to impact on poverty-related diseases had been spent on HIV/AIDS and TB in the past five years. Lib Dem International Development spokeswoman Baroness Northover said it had provided approximately £60m for biomedical and scientific research into HIV/AIDs and £39m for TB research.

And Lord Sharkey asked what assessment the Government had made of the recommendation of the Independent Reconfiguration Panel’s report into children’s congenital heart services calling for all relevant bodies to be included in future reviews. “The now discredited Safe and Sustainable review proposed closing the Royal Brompton Hospital children’s heart surgery unit yet, over the past three years this unit, along with Newcastle, has been the best performing in the country,” he told peers. Health Minister Earl Howe said it was the responsibility of NHS England.


This week the Government announced that the big banks had agreed to reveal how much they were lending locally for the first time, following pressure from Lib Dem members of the House of Lords. Baroness Kramer welcomed the move as “a vital first step to ensure that no community is excluded from access to proper financial services and left to the mercy of payday lenders”. Read her comments in full on the Lib Dem Lords blog.

WHAT’S COMING UP MONDAY Lord Ezra to ask the Government whether it thinks there will be enough electricity generation capacity to meet winter demand in the next two to three years. Peers continue to debate the Care Bill at Committee stage.

TUESDAY Lord Greaves will ask the Government what progress is being made on greening the Common Agricultural Policy. Lord Strasburger to ask the Government about the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. Peers continue to debate the Intellectual Property Bill at Third Reading.

For more detailed information on what's coming up in the Lords, click here.

‘Now the thing about having a baby – and I can’t be the first person to have noticed this – is that thereafter you have it’ – Jean Kerr

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

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