Category Archives: Letters

William Wallace: Defence capabilities cannot be separated from foreign policy (via the Financial Times)

Lord Wallace of SaltaireIn a letter to the Financial Times, Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesperson William Wallace has written:

“Sir, Your call for UK prime minister David Cameron to “make the case for strong defence capabilities” (editorial, June 2) does not spell out the link between the pursuit of a semi-detached relationship with continental Europe and the shrinkage of the UK’s military ambitions.”

The full letter can be found here

Paul Tyler: House of Lords reform was within reach but Labour blew it (via The Guardian)

Lord Tyler
Lord Tyler

Your editorial comment (Too many peerages. First cap the total, then change the system, 10 February) reignites the case for reform of the House of Lords. On 10 July 2012 the House of Commons gave an unprecedented 338 majority to the second reading of the coalition government’s Lords reform bill, squarely based on Jack Straw’s 2008 white paper. Conservative MPs voted 193 to 89 in support, Labour 202 to 26, and Liberal Democrats were unanimous.

Only then did the Labour leadership refuse to support a programme motion – anyprogramme motion, no matter how many days’ debate it allowed – choosing instead to play party games to embarrass the government.

Had Labour stuck to its principles, we would by now be within weeks of the first elections to the Lords, with the resultant end of political appointments and a consequent reduction in the size of the house. Will the UCL Constitution Unit recommend the reintroduction of the bill immediately after the general election?

Brian Paddick & John Hemming MP: The injustice of pre-charge police bail (via The Daily Telegraph)

Lord Paddick
Lord Paddick
John Hemming MP
John Hemming MP

Lib Dems Brian Paddick & John Hemming MP have both put their names to a letter in the Daily Telegraph calling for a time limit on pre-charge bail:

Pre-charge bail was introduced 30 years ago to limit the freedom of individuals while police conducted further investigations. No restriction was put on the amount of time police could hold someone on pre-charge bail.

This has led to a perversion of justice where, today, more than 70,000 people are languishing in a form of legal limbo in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

More than 5,000 have been on police bail for at least six months. Innocent people have been left on bail for years before their cases are dropped or thrown out of court. Their careers are put on hold, and the mental anguish of not knowing what will happen is in itself a form of punishment without trial. There is no right of appeal.

These individuals are innocent until proved guilty, but justice delayed is justice denied. Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has called for a time limit for pre-charge bail. We believe it should be a maximum of 28 days, reviewed by a judge and not by police. The Government must act swiftly to turn words into action.

The letter, with a full list of signatories, appears on the Daily Telegraph website 

 

Alex Carlile QC: European Arrest Warrant – the case for opting in (via The Telegraph)

Lord Carlile of Berriew
Lord Carlile of Berriew

Lib Dem Peer Lord Carlile of Berriew QC has co-signed a letter to the Telegraph warning that MPs must opt in to the European Arrest Warrant as there is ‘no credible alternative.

The letter reads:

Parliament will soon face a crucial vote on the Government’s proposal to opt into certain EU measures. A key concern is the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

Without the EAW, other EU members may be unable speedily to extradite suspects such as Hussain Osman or Jeremy Forrest to Britain – both in jail after use of the EAW. The Association of Chief Police Officers says we cannot afford to lose it.

Britain also risks becoming a safe haven for fugitives from justice – a handful of them British citizens, but the vast majority foreign nationals wanted for crimes elsewhere in Europe.

At home, recent statutory changes should help prevent extradition to long pre-trial detention overseas, and curb EAW use for trivial offences. Overseas, Britain can only lead reform of Europe’s criminal justice co-operation by being part of the system.

There is no credible alternative to the EAW. Other EU members will be reluctant to adopt new laws if we reject a system that works. Resort to international law on extradition would be slow and ineffective.

A vote to opt in will be a vote for security and for fair and effective criminal justice.

A full list of signatories can be found here

James Palumbo: Despite the Austerity Narrative, Public Spending Continues to Rise and Debts Continue to Grow (via Huffington Post)

Lord Palumbo of Southwark
Lord Palumbo of Southwark

I chose to talk about the country’s financial position in the Queens Speech debate last week as I believe it is central to the government’s programme for the final year of the coalition.

Current UK Government debt is approaching 100% of GDP. Household debt is roughly the same. Financial sector debt is over double this amount due to the historically large size of our banking industry.

None of this includes the off balance sheet issues such as Private Finance Initiatives and unfunded pensions. I appreciate it is a matter of opinion as to whether these should be included as liabilities of the state. If the country were to account like a business they would be. If government did account like business then they would add perhaps another 200% of GDP to our debt.

Economists differ as to our total debt burden, but on any basis it must be approaching 500% of GDP. This makes Britain one of the most indebted countries in the world.

Over the past four years the Government has made heroic efforts to combat the legacy of the 2008 financial crisis. Whilst opinions might differ as to the wisdom and effect of Quantitative Easing and other stimulus programmes, the Government has steadied the financial ship.

Full article here

Dick Taverne: Scotland and the UK are better together (via The Herald)

Lord Taverne
Lord Taverne

I AM an immigrant. My native tongue is Dutch. I was delighted in due course to become a British citizen (not an English or Welsh or Scottish citizen) because of Britain’s contribution to democracy and culture. That contribution was Scottish as much as English; think of the Enlightenment.

I am also a strong supporter of our membership of the EU, a union formed to turn away from the nationalism and chauvinism that has played such a destructive role in history. Instead its members agreed to share some of their sovereignty for the common benefit.

Currently we see a resurgence of nationalism and separatism in many countries in Europe that would turn the clock back to pre-war Europe. As a Brit living in England, my plea to the Scots is: please do not leave us alone at the mercy of the Little Englanders in Ukip and the Tea Party tendency in the Conservative Party.

Full letters page here