Lords Gallery: this week’s key action in the Upper Chamber
Regional inequality, protection for whistleblowers and mental health services in BME communities are all on the agenda this week. Gary Connor looks ahead
Lord Cromwell (CB) has a question on Monday about the current system of protection for whistleblowers in the financial sector, which he argues is inadequate. The crossbencher tells us those who go public with concerns too often face being “hunted down” and risk financial ruin, as the Financial Conduct Authority offers no help with their legal fees. Cromwell says he was compelled to table the question after being contacted by a whistleblower from a major bank, who told him they wanted to go public with concerns – only to decide against it over fears for their future careers. Cromwell favours the US system, where a percentage of any fine imposed against a wrongdoer is awarded to the whistleblower.
Economic Development Strategy
Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne will press the government on how it plans to implement DfID’s Economic Development Strategy on Monday evening. Published in January 2017, it sets out how “advancing economic development in the poorest countries is a hallmark of building Global Britain”. It pledges to bring “economic opportunity” to some of the world’s most fragile states and argues for fairer trading rules for developing countries. The strategy places particular emphasis on the economic empowerment of girls and women, as well as helping disabled people to access employment.
Improving mental health services in BME communities
Lord Boateng (L), a former mental health minister, leads the first of two debates in the chamber on Tuesday evening. He tells The House that while he welcomes the emphasis Theresa May has put on mental health, the recent “helpful” survey on race inequalities has highlighted the disparity of treatment for BME patients. Boateng says that some patients are moved too quickly to medication, and is calling for a greater use of talking therapies, as well as a greater focus on data collection to measure the outcomes of treatment. The second debate of the evening, on the Future of the Royal Marines, is led by former Marine Lord Burnett (LD),
Drug dealing telecommunications
Away from the main chamber, Wednesday’s proceedings in the Moses Room are dominated by a series of Statutory Instrument debates. One of the eight to be considered aims to provide police with additional powers to tackle the expansion of urban drug dealers by closing down phone lines. They would be able to apply for a court order to close down lines they suspect are being used for dealing, as it is often difficult to link them to an individual for prosecution purposes. Disconnected lines will still be able to phone emergency services, and the government say the risk of cutting off phones in error is “low”.
Addressing regional inequalities
The second of Thursday’s longer debates is led by Lord Liddle (L), who argues that active regional policies are needed to rebalance the economy. Liddle is urging the government to “find the money to invest in infrastructure in the more deprived parts of Britain”, and warns that, although northern cities are succeeding, smaller towns face growing problems with aging populations.