PoliticsUK - 2001

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As a long time supporter of abolishing an upper chamber and a staunch Eurosceptic I am of the belief that joining the Euro and having a Senate are rotten ideas. Yet I'm also of the belief that these decisions require the input of the British people through a referendum. I hope we will have the opportunity to persuade our countrymen on these important issues.

Agnes Hamstead

Harriet Roth is right: joining the Euro and replacing the Lords with an elected senate are indeed rubbish ideas. Prime Minister Finch is an unelected Prime Minister - the second that the Labour Party has gifted the country. He has no mandate for either of these measures, and a referendum is not the answer. Instead, the Prime Minister must immediately seek a mandate from the people; Conservatives will stop the radical Labour agenda dead in its tracks.

Agnes Hamstead

The government has finally tabled a third piece of legislation, regarding apprenticeships. And, by and large, it pursues something worth implementing. But the lack of accountability and transparency in the bill before the House is astounding. It uses public funds but features vague language about what can be done when public bodies miss targets and does not lay out when the Secretary of State will provide updates to the House on problematic organisations that fail to do what they need to do under the bill. The government must do better and fix the bill to ensure that transparency and accountability are at its core; when it comes to public funds, there cannot be expenditure without transparency. 
Although the government has pledged not to bring additional Lords reform forward prior to the next General Election, I applaud the proposal for an elected Senate. Is there anything less progressive, less representative or less democratic than the House of Lords? An elected Senate would provide much needed representation for women, minorities, the Regions and other underrepresented communities that the Lords have left behind. I am confident this proposal will be backed by Britons at the next election.

Anyone who points to Harriet Roth and sees an example of a fractured party doesn't understand the Labour Party. We are a big church, welcoming of those of different backgrounds, ideas and experiences. Yes, we are the party of Harriet Roth. But we are also the party of Neil Kinnock, John Smith and Sean Manning. We are the party of Callum Finch. We are the party of hope, progress and change. We are the party that can vigorously debate but still deliver for the British people. That is a legacy to be proud of.
Despite being a member of the Cabinet I couldn’t stand by the direction of this Government outlined in the Queen’s Speech. Particularly on the subject of the abolishion of the House of Lords, a chamber that has served its function for centuries, and the introduction of an elected Senate. There is no mandate for this Government to make such a monumental constitutional change and policy positions are for election manifestos not for the Queen’s Speech; we are still operating on the manifesto from 1997 and are on our third Prime Minister, the second not publicly elected. I supported Tanner for leader as we needed continuity and stability for the vision John gave the party, and the nation. But that continuity or stability no longer appears to be a priority. I have abstained from the vote as I believe we need a new mandate and we need a collective discussion about policy. I will continue to serve in cabinet until the Prime Minister informs me otherwise.
While I agree with the broad aims of the legislation presented by the Conservatives on tenant fees it was clear that the legislation could have gone further to protect the rights of tenants and ensure that unscrupulous landlords are held to account. That is why I have proposed amendments that create a new deposit protection scheme and a new register of landlords. These two changes will ensure that deposits paid by tenants are protected and can not be withheld by landlord without reason and the new register will provide true accountability of landlord by those they seek to attract to their business. We must move past the time of landlords acting without recourse, and these amendments will ensure that legislation in front of the House is strong, robust and is capable of protecting tenants from cowboy landlords who seek to pray on unsuspecting tenants.
Can anyone remember the last time that a government had a Queen's Speech containing things they didn't intend to implement not only in the forthcoming year, but also not in this Parliament? The Queen's Speech is not a tool for policy announcements and the Government should be condemmned for using Her Majesty to announce Labour Party policy - Her Majesty, during the Queen's Speech, announces the policies that her government seek to implement within the next Parliamentary year, in that same Parliamentary session - she is not to be used to announce the future election manifesto pledges of the party who at any one point have formed a Government - Labour have there own resources to do that. They have conferences and the press to use to announce future policies, I suggest they use them rather than make a mockery of democracy!
The Tory Party's faux hysteria over the issue of presenting proposals for an elected Senate before the election is nothing short of laughable. The Government will publish plans before the whole House of Commons for feedback, question and criticism before the election so that the people and MPs know what may happen in the new Parliament. It is not unusual for White and Green Papers to be promised in the Throne Speech, it is not unusual for the House to consider business that isn't a simple Bill or a Motion. This Government will get constitutional reform right, preparing the ground so that the next Government can introduce proper democracy, an accountable and elected Senate. My colleague Mr Omondi is right, there is nothing less progressive, less representative or less democratic than the House of Lords, an unelected body that has the right to frustrate the democratic will of the people.

Agnes Hamstead

Alwyn Thomas' climb down on behalf of the government is absolutely astounding. The government is in complete chaos: their plans for an elected Senate have set off a bomb inside the cabinet, and the Prime Minister trots out Thomas to try and control the damage. The reality is clear: the government is divided, the country is not on board with the plan for an elected Senate, and to top it all off the government is under investigation for a breach of ethics. It is time for this government to go.
The fact that the Tories are so incredibly unwilling to even consider an extension of democracy to the House of Lords and must resort instead to promoting lies about some mystical "climb-down" says it all. The Tories are not interested in democracy nor in helping the people, they are only interesting in helping their wealthy donors. The Tories want the House of Lords to remain as a nice retirement home for their old hands and a reward centre for people who write them a large enough cheque. The Government will provide the House with a proposal for an elected Senate to extend democracy to all facets of Government and Politics, we shall consult with all parties and we shall work out a solution that works for all. The Tories know that their days of using the Lords to hold up legislation that they dislike, legislation like Section 28 repeal, are coming to an end, that's why they're out in such force to reject anything to do with reform, even mere consultations and white papers.

Agnes Hamstead

Governing backwards: that's the Labour approach. Alwyn Thomas is now trying to feed a load of malarky to the British public by telling them the Lords reform is just an idea, and that consultations will happen. That's not how government works. If you want evidence based policy, you get the evidence first, not the other way around; the government clearly did not do that on the issue of an elected senate, and now is trying to pull the issue back. It's too cute by half, and the British public deserves better from their government.
The goal is a democratically accountable Upper House, the policy is a regionally and nationally elected Senate, the consultation will ensure that all views are heard, all nations and regions are represented and all conventions and norms of British Parliamentary life are able to continue where they are useful to good government. The Tories seem to think that the very idea that one could want to break down the door to their retirement home is unthinkable, Labour believe that giving unelected and unaccountable individuals a say in the British law making process by accident of birth, faith or having a large enough chequebook is the unthinkable option. It's time to end the House of Lords and replace it with a Senate of Nations and Regions, to do this we must consult with constitutional experts to ensure that the new Parliamentary structure will work in the way intended. To suggest that this is any sort of attempt to push a Senate on the people before they get their say in the General Election is farcical, Kirton is lying to the British people and they deserve better from the man who would be Saxon's Deputy Prime Minister if the worst should happen.
I did not take the action of abstaining against the Queen's Speech because I was afraid of debate or the concept of consulting on the replacement of the House of Lords with a new elected Senate. I did it because this Government has no mandate for such an historic change and in cabinet is was clear to me that the aspiration of removing the House of Lords went beyond consultation and proposals - an Act of Parliament was drafted. An Act of Parliament was ready to be presented. If a Government plans on consulting the people, on discussing the best way forward to make such monumental changes to the way this country creates, manages and debates law it doesn't start with creating an Act of Parliament. It was this.....

Quote:[Image: 332w9Ib.png]


A
BILL
TO

Create a new fully elected Upper House, termed the Senate, for the purposes of establishing further democracy in our Parliament

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

1. Definitions
1) ‘The Senate’ shall mean the Upper Chamber of the United Kingdom Legislature
2) ‘Senator’ shall mean an elected representative sitting in the Senate

2. Abolition of the House of Lords
1) The House of Lords is henceforth abolished

3. Institution of the Senate
1) The Upper Chamber of the United Kingdom Parliament shall henceforth be referred to as ‘The Senate’

4. Composition of the Senate
1) The Senate will consist of:
   a. 235 Senators elected in England
   b. 56 Senators elected in Scotland
   c. 39 Senators elected in Wales
   d. 21 Senators elected in Northern Ireland
2) Accordingly no-one is a member of the Senate by virtue of a peerage or other means

5. Electoral System and Regions
1) Elections to the Senate shall use a regional list system across the UK, by the method and regions set out for use in European Parliamentary Elections in Great Britain in the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002
2) The number of Senators per region in England will be as follows -
   a. the East Midlands region will have 21 Senators
   b. the East of England region will have 25 Senators
   c. the London region will have 35 Senators
   d. the North East of England region will have 14 Senators
   e. the North West of England region will have 32 Senators
   f. the South East of England region will have 39 Senators
   g. the South West of England region will have 21 Senators
   h. the West Midlands region will have 25 Senators
   i. the Yorkshire and Humber region will have 25 Senators

6. Candidacy for Senate Elections
1) To be eligible for a place on a list for a Senate Region a person must:
   a. Have their primary residence be situated in the region within which they are standing
   b. Be eligible to stand in a House of Commons Constituency at the time of the Senate Election
2) Nothing in subsection(1) is to be interpreted as mandating that a Senate Candidate stands in a House of Commons Constituency, neither is it to be interpreted as the reverse.
3) Independents standing for Senate Election may file as an Independent on a list of one person if they meet the following criteria:
   a. They must be proposed by an unrelated proposer and 200 unrelated seconders
   b. They must meet all requirements set out in subsection(1)

7. Classes of Senator
1) Senators shall be elected to one of three classes, to face election every three years and are to be structured as follows
   a. Class One Senators are to be Senators elected from the nations of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland
   b. Class Two Senators are to be Senators elected from the regions of the East Midlands, the North West of England, the South East of England and the West Midlands
   c. Class Three Senators are to be Senators elected from the regions of the East of England, London, the North East of England, the South West of England and Yorkshire and Humber

8. Senate Elections
1) A Senate election is to be held on the first Thursday of May every three years
2) Senators are elected to serve a nine year term starting on the first day of the first session after their election and ending on the final day of the final term before the next Senate Election for their class
3) A Special Senate Election is to take place on the first Thursday of the first May after the enactment of this Bill, this election shall cover every region encompassed in this Bill.
4) Senators are to face election at a time corresponding to their class:
   a. Class One Senators are to be elected three years after the Special Senate Election and every subsequent nine years
   b. Class Two Senators are to be elected six years after the Special Senate Election and every subsequent nine years
   C. Class Three Senators are to be elected nine years after the Special Senate Election and every subsequent nine years
5) A person is entitled to vote in a Senate Election if on the day defined under subsection(1) they are entitled to vote in any parliamentary election for a constituency in the United Kingdom.

9. Presiding Officer of the Senate
1) The Presiding Officer of the Senate shall be styled “The Lord Speaker of the Senate”
2) The Lord Speaker of the Senate shall be elected at the start of every Senate term by all elected Senators for that term
3) The Lord Speaker of the Senate shall be elected by simple majority

10. Amendments to Other Legislation
1) Any legislation referring to the House of Lords shall be amended to reflect the transfer of powers, responsibilities and other requirements to the Senate

11. Enactment
1) This Act extends to the whole of the United Kingdom
2) This Act shall come into force on the day it receives Royal Assent
3) Nothing in this Bill shall be construed as repealing or amending the text or spirit of the 1911 Parliament Act or the 1949 Parliament Act.
4) Nothing in this Bill shall be construed as overriding, repealing or ignoring the Salisbury Convention

....that drove me to action. I urge the Government, and especially Alwyn Thomas to stop being disingenuous about the Governments intentions or ambitions.
Solomon Trevitt shows the World an early draft bill and suggests that it is evidence that we plan to legislate before the end of this Parliament, Solomon Trevitt is lying to the British people. Yes the Bill he has exposed to the World is a draft bill for an Elected Senate, I myself wrote large portions of it in collaboration with other departments of Government, but that bill is not the finished article, that bill is nowhere near the finished article. In the coming months the Government will publish a White Paper laying all of the proposals in the draft bill out before the House and before the nation, and then more proposals on top of that. There will be proposals for legislating to keep financial privilege conventions, there will be proposals for legislating the Salisbury Convention into law. The Government is committed, by the Queen's Speech and many other comments I and other Government Ministers have made to the House, the press, and to the public to legislating only after the General Election. Mr Trevitt may wish to join Mr Kirton in Year 1 reading comprehension classes, clearly he skipped a few lessons.

Agnes Hamstead

When a debate can't be won on facts, the arguments turn to personal attacks. And so, while the Minister of Spin insults my reading abilities, I'll stick to the issues: and it's clear that he is a liar. Mr. Trevitt has shown that with the leak of the legislation to bring forward an elected Senate - something that Labour has promised was not in the works. The last shred of credibility this government had is gone. They lied to the House, they lied to the British people and that is unacceptable.
Now we have an evil of modern politics making an appearance - the act of spin in order to deflect from the truth. It is normally the case a white paper comes before a consultation which comes before drafting an Act of Parliament. Yet here we have an Act of Parliament minus the white paper, and minus the consultation and debate. Why have it now if there is no intention to use it? Why waste civil service time and resource to explore and make a bill that may not reflect the outcomes of any debate or consultation? The answer is easy to reach: whatever the Government says they will do this act will always be the final outcome. They have pre-determined what they want to achieve and democracy will have no say. They will bring an elected chamber about by behaving like an unelected Government - which they sadly are. What is needed now is less evasion and more openness that a new mandate is needed for this constitutional reform and the Prime Minster should call an election or he should stand down and someone with courage and conviction in the Labour Party should lead them into a general election where this issue can be put to public vote as part of a manifesto. If they don't this weak and unstable Government will continue to limp along desperate to cling to a semblance of power it no longer deserves.
The Government have said repeatedly that there will be no legislation before the House on the issue of an elected Senate before the General Election, Mr Trevitt's leaking of early draft proposals does not change that and Mr Kirton's faux outrage doesn't either.

Agnes Hamstead

The Minister of Spin strikes again. Let's get the facts clear:
  • The government says they promised no bill before consultations
  • The government wrote a bill before doing any consultations
Mr. Thomas and the entire government have lost what little credibility they had left. They lied about their plans, and they lied to the public; it begs the question: why the lies? And why should anyone trust a single thing they say now as they back pedal?
Frankly it is Mr Kirton who is lying to the British public, lying to protect the Tory retirement home and donation rewards scheme. We have pledged to not legislate on the matter of the House of Lords before the next election and we will stick to that pledge.
This Government are full of empty promises. They promised to take action on violent crime when we've seen them do nothing, they agreed to meet the family of the late Damilola Taylor and the Home Secretary is nowhere to be seen to tell us what measures the Government will take to prevent a tragedy like this happening again. The Government's approach to crime is not only pathetic but it is embarassing, their silence just shows they have no plan and they have no intention of addressing the issue, they should take action before the British people decide enough is enough.
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