Lords Gallery: what to watch out for in the Upper Chamber
Local democracy, human rights law and EU citizenship after Brexit are all debated this week. Gary Connor looks at what’s coming up in the upper chamber
Question on citizenship
The first question of the week comes from Lord Teverson (LD), who wants to know whether the government would support any moves to allow UK nationals to retain a form of EU citizenship post-Brexit. Teverson thinks young people in particular – the majority of whom did not vote to leave the EU – would welcome such a move. He suggests to The House that it might be a way to bridge the divides caused by the referendum vote. The European Parliament’s negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said earlier this year he was in favour of such a move.
Human rights and Brexit
Lord Cashman (L) is seeking clarity from the government to ensure there is no dilution of human rights laws when the UK leaves the EU, in his debate on Tuesday evening. The issue is about “the kind of country we want to be,” he says, citing the rise in racist and anti-Semitic attacks that followed the referendum. Cashman tells The House he has concerns over the future of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and wants to make sure the rights enshrined in EU law “travel with us when we leave”.
High risk family situations
On Thursday Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde (L) leads a debate on a report highlighting that some 670,000 children live in high risk family situations. Dean says it played an important role in identifying the true scale of the problem, and that it’s a “scandal” that so many children are losing out on a proper childhood. “There’s no excuses now, this work has been done,” she tells The House, adding that there can be no reason for departments not to accept responsibility. She thinks that peers’ expertise in the area makes the Lords a good place for the report, which was published back in July 2017, to be debated.
Local Government Elections Bill
Lord Balfe (C) tells us he’s lucky to be getting a Second Reading of his bill, after coming fifteenth in the private members’ bill ballot. Balfe, a rare Conservative advocate of proportional representation, says he’s aiming to start a “discussion” on democracy in local government. His bill would require the Secretary of State for Communities to introduce a bill for a referendum on PR in a local government area if a petition of electors, or the local council, call for one to be held. He notes that the system is already used to elect councillors in Scotland – “and it’s done no harm there”.
Data Protection Bill
Peers will get through two of the three days of Report Stage on the bill next week, but what could be the potential flash points? At the time of writing, a lot of discussions were still taking place behind the scenes. But expect debate on writing Article 8 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights into the legislation to feature – it was raised by Labour at Committee. Baroness Kidron (CB) is expected to press the issue of age-appropriate design online and data ethics and anti-doping could also feature. Peers will be watching very closely for government amendments that could persuade them to back down.
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