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 @LibDemLords.


Liberal Democrat peer Lord John Sharkey welcomed a government change of heart this week as, just a day before his amendment to the Banking Reform Bill introducing a cap on payday lending costs was heard in the Lords, the Chancellor adopted the policy. George Osborne announced on Monday that there will be controls on charges on such loans, including arrangement and penalty fees, as well as on interest rates. The move came just a day before the House of Lords was due to debate Lord Sharkey’s amendment to the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill which would have introduced such measures. Lord Sharkey’s amendment would have allowed a maximum loan of £300, set a cap on charges of a maximum 10% of the loan value and prevented people from having two or more loans at the same time. It would also have allowed a loan to run for no more than 31 days, with a 60-day extension, and required a 24-hour gap between loans. Although the Government has not adopted the specifics of the amendment – the cap will be decided by the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority – Lord Sharkey said he was "delighted" the Chancellor had accepted the principle. He said: "Uncapped payday loans get people into real trouble so I am delighted George Osborne has acted in response to my amendment. For far too long unscrupulous payday loan companies have been allowed to prey on some of the most vulnerable people in our society with impunity.

"Far from leading to a reduction in access to credit, as the payday lenders are claiming, evidence from the USA has shown that the volume of money lent to people actually increased after a regulatory system was put in place. People need protection from the worst excesses of the payday loan companies, and I am glad that the Treasury has seen the light."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK "As for his sporting triumphs, if he wore all his medals, he would sink in a pool, he has been so successful. It is quite remarkable. However, I will set a new precedent: I will tell him off slightly while paying tribute to him. Where was he when the Lords were against the Commons swimming last night? My noble friend Lord Paddick won, but he might not have had the noble Lord been there." Lord Dominic Addington pays tribute to the maiden speech of new Tory peer Lord Holmes of Richmond, a former Paralympic gold medal swimmer, and drops in Lord Brian Paddick’s own success against the Commons this week. He won a sword, which he is yet to decide what to do with.

TWEET OF THE WEEK "If you don't need your Winter Fuel Allowance, how about giving it to BBC Children in Need, PO Box 1000, London W12 7WJ?" Lord Eric Avebury (@EricAvebury) makes a clarion call to the wealthier recipients of the annual £200.

Cigarettes could be sold only in plain packets after the Government reacted to amendments to the Children and Families Bill by a cross-party group of peers, including Baroness Claire Tyler, which would have introduced standardised packaging. The Government had previously appeared to have dropped the idea. Baroness Tyler said: "The Government’s decision is a major step forward for children’s health and wellbeing following an impassioned debate in the House of Lord s last week. Peers from all parties and none were able to work together in the public interest to ensure that the Government reconsidered its decision not to go ahead with standardised packaging in the light of the emerging evidence from Australia."

Lord Brian Paddick led a debate in the Chamber for the first time, on the subject of public trust in the police. He told peers that the "culture of blame and cover-up in the police must change", something he said would not happen without political pressure from outside. "We need a system for the investigation of incompetence, mistakes and deliberate malpractice that is both fair and independent and one that has the confidence of both the public and police officers," he said.

Three more of the new intake of Lib Dem peers made their maiden debates in the Lords, all in a debate led by Baroness Jane Bonham-Carter on the contribution of broadcast media to the UK economy. Baroness Olly Grender, as a former director of communications for Shelter, spoke about how she always understood "the special role that broadcast media can play in holding those who are in power to account on behalf of those most left out of power, like homeless people". Lord Jeremy Purvis paid tribute to Border Television, which covers an area "not easily represented by the large cities north or south of the border", while Baroness Christine Humphreys spoke about broadcasting in Wales, notably S4C and BBC Wales, the home of Doctor Who.

And Baroness Joan Walmsley led a debate on promoting early childhood development. "Focus on early childhood holds the long-term solutions to solving the economic and social problems of intergenerational poverty, and to achieving world peace and our environmental su rvival,” she told peers. “That may sound like a very big claim, but mountains of evidence from almost every discipline come to one conclusion: the earliest years of life can give us the strongest foundation for individual, societal, national and global sustainable development.”

BEST OF THE BLOG This week on the Lib Dem Lords blog, Lord John Sharkey welcomed the Government’s adoption of his proposals to cap the costs of payday loans, Baroness Joan Walmsley wrote about the need to invest in children’s early years and Lord Brian Paddick called for a change of culture in the police service.

WHAT’S COMING UP MONDAY Peers continue to debate the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill. TUESDAY Lord John Sharkey to ask the Government for its assessment of progress in achieving proficiency among 15-year-olds in reading, maths and science.

Peers debate the Pensions Bill. WEDNESDAY Lord Tony Greaves will ask the Government about opportunities for increasing the quantity and improving the quality of railway rolling stock in the north of England. THURSDAY The Earl of Glasgow leads a debate on providing terminally-ill patients with the legal right to decide when, where and how they die. For more detailed information on what's coming up in the Lords, click here.

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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