Revolt of the Lords

The government has suffered a series of defeats in the Lords over the last few weeks with the Lords passing amendments to the major legislation on Immigration, Agriculture and Fisheries. The biggest rebuff was the Lords voting by 226 votes to 'regret' the provisions in the Internal Market Bill that undermine the rule of law. 

Your Green Party peers have been directly involved in supporting these revolts within the second chamber by initiating key amendments and adding their voices in the main debates. 

Passing amendments in the Lords does not make them law, but it does mean that our elected MPs are constantly being forced to face up to additional pressure about key issues from the climate emergency to animal welfare.

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Government suffer historic defeat in Lords

An amendment to the Internal Market Bill regretting the provisions which, if enacted “would undermine the rule of law and damage the reputation of the United Kingdom.” was passed by 395 votes to 169. There are 256 conservative peers and many voted against the government. 

The government are not defending the Good Friday Agreement - as this Bill gives Ministers the power to by-pass Parliament in modifying or misapplying the Northern Ireland Protocol. Nor are government defending parliamentary sovereignty - as it was Parliament which recently voted for Boris Johnson’s deal that had been sold to people at the General Election and which this Bill tries to unpick.

The Internal Market Bill is part of the government’s executive power grab and the main losers will be the devolved nations and regions. If the Lords are unsuccessful in amending this legislation, then our neighbours won’t trust us and Northern Ireland will start to dominate our headlines for all the wrong reasons. If this Bill cannot be sufficiently amended, then the Lords must act as guardians of the constitution by rejecting the Bill in its entirety.

Greens force vote on Freedom of Movement

Natalie forced a vote in the Lords to keep Freedom of Movement. The Lib Dems and many cross benchers backed Natalie’s amendment, but Labour abstained and so the vote was lost. Freedom of movement has been a birthright for everyone in the UK born since 1992 and has been enjoyed by their elders since then.

Natalie raised the plight of the 18 year-olds who are having such a torrid time at university or college or in seeking a job. They have endured all the chaos of A-level and GCSE results and now face losing an escape route - a safety valve - but, above all, an opportunity to roam a continent without restraint, free to study, to work, to live and to love without thought of visa or restriction.

Jenny also spoke and repeated her points about the negative impact on those reliant on social care that these restrictions will have. The government were beaten seven times on amendments to the Immigration Bill, six of them are described in this article. There is also a rightful focus on the Britons who now face being unable to live in their own country with their European spouse and children. The government has proclaimed a “big concession” in extending time for Britons to return from Europe until March 2022, but that’s not helped many.
Corona virus regulations

A ‘motion of regret’ directed at the Covid-19 regulations (the Lords way of giving the government a slap on the wrists) was rejected by the Lords despite a lot of angry Conservative peers as Labour abstained.
Jenny argued that the coercive elements of the Act should be repealed (Section 51 and Schedule 21). They are no longer necessary, arguably were never necessary, and have never been used lawfully. The Crown Prosecution Service took the unprecedented step of regularly reviewing every prosecution made under the Act, and not a single prosecution was lawful. People have been wrongly prosecuted and wrongly convicted under this rushed and chaotic legislation and Jenny maintains that any law which results in 100% wrongful convictions should be immediately repealed!
The government is using draconian powers to deal with the Covid-19 crisis instead of putting its energy into generating agreement. The result has been rushed laws that are a 100% misapplied, along with whole blocks of legislation that have been passed but never used. Parliament was bounced into passing the laws without scrutiny and the government has then never allowed for any. At no point in the last six months have the Lords debated the current rules on Covid-19, as by the time they are scheduled for discussion, the government are already operating under a new set.

Natalie called for the repeal of those sections in the Act that allow the government to delay the local and Mayoral elections, instead calling on the Government to publish a plan for elections to go ahead safely in 2021.

We should be seeing significant elements of the Act repealed now, replaced by an economic plan and a way forward. Where is the thinking about how this is a chance to support small independent businesses up and down the land and flourishing newly peopled communities?

What were once commuter centres empty most of the time are now humming, with chances for outdoor cafes, catering vans, print and home-office services and computer support, with something like a 15-minute commute - a social and community environmental ideal - to level up by spreading economic activity to every community in the land?
Paying the police to break the law

One of the most dangerous pieces of legislation any government has ever proposed has sailed through its second reading in the Commons (with Labour abstaining) and will soon be heading to the Lords. Jenny argues that the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill appears to legitimise state actors who will kill, injure and destroy the lives of others. The government has learnt a major lesson from the spycops scandal and are passing legislation to ensure that innocent people, who become victims of devastating state intrusion in their personal lives, can never take legal action to get justice.
Trade and minimum standards

The Trade Bill finished its third reading with no significant shift in the government’s position, despite a long list of amendments from the Lords, which is always a bad sign. Natalie again appealed for Parliament to dump its 19th century ideas on trade. She said we need to keep existing workers rights and environmental standards as part of trade negotiations. The government have consistently said, in public, that they agree with keeping these minimum standards, so it is very hard to see why the Government would disagree with any of these amendments.

Devolved powers are one of the tricky areas of the Trade Bill with Natalie seeking to stop what could be described as dictatorship from Westminster.

Despite all the talk amongst Conservative MPs of the government by-passing Parliament when pushing through Covid Regulations, the same logic needs to be applied to trade talks, with MPs given a decisive say. That is the only way to guarantee minimum standards set by Parliamentary being kept during trade negotiations.

Jenny helpfully reminded the Government of all their promises on maintaining the UK's standards of food production and animal welfare and pointed out it would be helpful to have those outlined in the Trade Bill. It's likely there will be a further amendment cross party on the same issues at Report Stage.
Green Party Conference

Jenny and Natalie hosted the ever popular 'Meet Your Lords' session where members got the chance to ask them about their work and to raise issues they want covered in Parliament.

Jenny hosted a well attended and well received fringe debate - on Power and why we should want it - with speakers Molly Scott Cato ex MEP, Rupert Read ex Cllr and ex XR spokesperson, and Cllr Zoe Nicholson, Leader of Lewes Council. 

Jenny also took part in PekaKucha at the request of game host Cllr Andy Cooper. Invitees had to present 20 photographs and were allowed 20 seconds of explanation on each. Jenny talked about the House of Lords and her hobbies and there were several requests for her jam recipe :-)
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House of Lords Green Group · House of Lords · London, Greater London SW1A 0PW · United Kingdom

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