Monday, March 31, 2008

Lords arising.

What's happened to their Lordships. Has someone slipped something arousing into their china teacups? Suddenly the red benches are rising up from their slumber and taking up arms against the Government. There are two very big and very hot stories brewing up. It looks as if we are going to see another fireworks display on the banks of the Thames.

Firstly, there's more than a possibility that the House of Lords will attempt to force the Government to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. That's the one that used to be called a 'constitutional' treaty and on which Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives all promised the people of Britain a referendum. Its the treaty on which Labour reneged, and the rampant (I've had 30 women) Nick Clegg got his knickers in such a frightful twist. Now, we've quite often seen a row between the two Houses of Parliament, when a Government has tried to force through a controversial proposal that hadn't been in its manifesto. But this is the first time that I can remember the House of Lords trying to force a Government to stick to a manifesto commitment that it doesn't want to stick to. When Lord Lamont was asked if he thought Ministers had lied over the need for a referendum, he said "I hesitate to accuse people of being dishonest, but I would come close to it on this issue". Strong stuff. Perhaps when he speaks in the debate, he should accuse the Government of misspeaking - just to test whether the word is an acceptable Parliamentary term.

The other big issue emanating from the Lords is a report on the impact of immigration into the UK over recent years. We have become very used to all official reports claiming great economic benefit flowing from the huge level of immigration that has taken place since workers from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania etc started moving in . Tomorrow's report is the first significant Parliamentary challenge to this orthodoxy. I think its going to be a big story, which will get even bigger if the BNP performs as well in next months local Government elections as some of us fear.

As the Government increasingly seeks to force important issues through, paying scant regard to the wishes of either the people or sometimes even its own MPs, the House of Lords decides to ride to the rescue of democracy. Lets hope we see more. It gives hope that our system of democracy is strong enough to withstand the casual disregard in which out current Government holds it.

9 comments:

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

"Lordships arising and my true love said to me: four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree ..."

Mutated from "The Twelve Days of Christmas".

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Oh boy ... 'HEAR THIS' (if u have ears to hear with):

Glyn and all> Have u heard? I have it from a very reliable journalist friend ‘in the know’ that Lembit Opik is going to announce his imminent departure from what passes as front line Lib-Dem politics. He will not be standing in the next election.

This is such wonderful news for the Glyn Davies team ...

Glyn Davies said...

Christopher - OK, I know its April 1st, but this is a touch too far fetched to cath me out.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Your smart Glyn, you will make a good MP!

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

What about "Boris will lead for the Tories against Harriet Harman at PMQs?"

There's a documentary or article with 'flying penguins' as the subject matter. Not as good as the Panorama (or was it Nationwide) that did a really good piece about spaghetti growing on trees. Let's not forget the one about Gordon Brown becoming PM (opps, which one did happen).

Anonymous said...

I wish people would stop talking about imigration from eastern europe as being a problem, they have come here to do a job and when the balance changes between our economy and theirs (ie the gap closes) which will hapen quite rapidly the flow will cease or may be reverse. Meanwhile the greatest imigration problem, two thirds of the total over the last 10years, comes from Africa and Asia.

Glyn Davies said...

anon - I think we all realise that imigration from other EU countries cannot be limited, and in fact I've read somewhere that the numbers going back to Poland are as great as the numbers coming in. The main problem is that no-one believes the Government statistics - which is why the BNP rhetoric is attractive to some. Another problem is that immigration has been an issue that no politician could discuss without being accused of being racist - but just because politicians avoid the issue does not mean that the general public will. Two important developments today. Firstly the House of Lords report, and secondly the establishment of an independent UK Statistics Authority under Sir Michael Scholar, a former Permanent Secretary to the Welsh Office.

Frank H Little said...

The main problem is that no-one believes the Government statistics
which is why Liberal Democrats are calling for a clearly independent body to collate and publish these. (See Peter Black)

By the way, our proposed "National Border Force, bringing together the present border control functions of HM Revenue Customs, the Immigration Nationality Directorate and police guarding ports and airports" could easily be expanded to prevent the import of bushmeat and other unsafe biological material. This would ease the dangers of another FMD outbreak, ease the fears of farmers and protect the Treasury from massive compensation payments.

Glyn Davies said...

Frank - I believe that a new UK Statistics Authority was established this week under the leadership of Sir Michael Scholar, who used to be Permanent Secretary at the Welsh Office - a good man too as far as I know.

We do need effective controls on meat importation, but the last outbreak was as the result of virus escaping via the drainage infrastucture at Pirbright, a Governemnt maintained establishment in Surrey - and the source of the previous outbreak was never identified.