Tag Archives: lord sharkey

Letter of the Lords – 19 January 2015

This week’s newsletter on the work of the Liberal Democrat group in the House of Lords


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Lord Sharkey: There isn’t a specific sugar reduction pledge. There should be

Today in the Chamber Lord John Sharkey will ask the Government what progress it is making in persuading fast food chains to sign up to the Public Health Responsibility Deal pledge on calorie reduction.  But the big issue, he writes here, is cutting the amount of sugar in our diets more generally

Lord Sharkey
Lord Sharkey

About a year ago, I asked the Government how many fast food chains had signed up to the Department of Health’s pledge on calorie reduction.

The answer was “one”. That was Subway.

And when I checked the Department’s website this morning, the answer was still “one”. Still only Subway. No sign of the other major chains. McDonald’s hasn’t signed up. Nor has Burger King. Nor has KFC.

That’s why my question asks the Government to explain what progress they’re making in signing these people up.

But there’s another reason for my question. It gives me a chance to ask about sugar consumption.

There’s been a lot of publicity this weekend about the terrible effects of too much sugar in our diets. And there is too much sugar in our diets. Excessive sugar consumption is a clear contributor to obesity, which in its turn is associated with many other conditions, such as diabetes. The incidence of both obesity and diabetes is already at alarming levels and looks set to get even worse unless we take urgent action.

We can see by looking at salt consumption how we might do that.

The story of the attempt to reduce our salt intake is a success story. There is a dedicated salt reduction pledge in the Department’s Public Health Responsibility Deal. This pledge sets out clear numerical targets for salt reduction.

There isn’t a specific sugar reduction pledge. There should be.

We need a sugar reduction pledge to be part of the Public Health Responsibility Deal. And this pledge should set clear numerical targets for reducing the amount of sugar we eat.

I hope the Department of Health is becoming more alert to the need to up our game on sugar reduction.

There are some encouraging signs. Dr Susan Jebb is the Chair of the Department’s Public Health responsibility Deal Food Network. Over the weekend, the Telegraph reported her as suggesting we remove fruit juice from the five-a-day recommendations. According to the Telegraph, she pointed out that some fruit juice contains as much sugar as Coca-Cola.

This sounds a sensible first step. But we do need a proper, joined-up approach to excessive sugar consumption.

The Government should make a start by adding a specific sugar reduction pledge to the other pledges in its Public Health Responsibility Deal.

And that’s what I’ll be saying to them today.


Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.

Lord Sharkey welcomes Government’s adoption of his payday proposals

Lord Sharkey
Lord Sharkey

Liberal Democrat peer John Sharkey today welcomed the Government’s adoption of his proposals to cap the cost of payday loans.

The Chancellor has announced there will be controls on charges on the loans, including arrangement and penalty fees, as well as on interest rates.

The move comes just a day before the House of Lords is due to debate Lord Sharkey’s amendment to the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Bill which would introduce such measures.

Lord Sharkey’s amendment would allow a maximum loan of £300, set a cap on charges of a maximum 10% of the loan value and prevent people from having two or more loans at the same time.

It would also allow a loan to run for no more than 31 days, with a 60-day extension, and require 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 this morning, 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.”


Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.

Liberal Democrat Lords welcome move to shed light on how much banks are lending locally

Baroness Kramer
Baroness Kramer

Liberal Democrat members of the House of Lords have today welcomed news that the big banks have agreed to reveal how much they are lending locally for the first time.

The Treasury has today announced that the UK’s biggest banks will reveal how much they lend at a local level by publishing detailed data broken down across 10,000 individual postcodes.

The move follows pressure in the House of Lords led by Lib Dem peers Baroness Kramer and Lord Sharkey.

Baroness Kramer said today: “This is 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.

“Armed with this information local authorities, social enterprises and the banks themselves can find ways to tackle damaging exclusion.”

Lib Dem peers pushed for an amendment to the Financial Services Bill –now Act – forcing banks to publish more detailed local information on local lending as it passed through Parliament last year.

Following negotiations between the Government and the seven major lenders the new data will allow it to be clearly seen how the banking sector is serving the wider economy and in what areas of the UK there is a lack of lending.

Lord Sharkey said: “We must now make sure that other lenders including payday and other high-cost lenders make the same information available.

“Access to credit at a fair price is essential to successful communities and economic growth.”


Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.

Public sector pension boards to get equal member representation thanks to Lib Dem Lords

Lord Sharkey
Lord Sharkey

Public sector pension boards will have equal representation of employers and members in future following pressure from Liberal Democrat Lords.

The House of Lords has passed an amendment to the Public Service Pensions Bill, currently going through Parliament, which will ensure equal numbers of both on all boards.

The move is a major Government concession and was pushed in the Lords by Lib Dem peer Lord Sharkey.

Lord Sharkey told the Lords: “With the amendments now before us, I think that the Government have taken a realistic and fair view of member representation.

“The equality of employer and employee representatives on pension boards is an entirely satisfactory resolution to the problems that we outlined earlier.

“Equality of representation is very simple and clear and completely unambiguous.”


Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.