9 Baroness Morris of Bolton debates involving the Leader of the House

Amendment 284 agreed.
Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Morris of Bolton) (Con)
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My Lords, I have been asked by the Clerk of Legislation to inform the House of an error in the reprint of the Bill as amended in Committee, House of Lords Bill 142. At the end of Committee, government Amendment 504HA was applied to the Bill in the reprinted copy of the Bill when in fact it was not moved on the final day of the Bill’s consideration in Grand Committee on 24 May. As a result, what is now Clause 231, page 273, line 25, subsection (8)(l) was added in error to the Bill. No amendments on Report have been tabled for that line of the Bill. To remedy this, the Public Bill Office will correct the Bill when it is reprinted at the conclusion of Report, but for the sake of transparency the House is being notified now before it considers Clause 231.

Clause 231: Regulations

Amendments 285 and 285A not moved.

Economic Update

Baroness Morris of Bolton Excerpts
Wednesday 19th October 2022

(1 year, 9 months ago)

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Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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I have set out the position to the House. That was a good try by the noble Lord but this morning the Prime Minister made a statement in the House of Commons on the pensions triple lock, and that is the position of His Majesty’s Government.

Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait Baroness Morris of Bolton (Con)
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Does my noble friend agree that alongside supporting families and businesses with their energy costs, it is critical that we work to secure our own long-term energy supplies?

Lord True Portrait Lord True (Con)
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Yes, I agree with that, and my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford has been so wise on this point for such a very long time. Again, this may involve difficult decisions and reflections, and some people may have to lay aside some of their prejudices in the national interest. We will be giving very careful thought to seeking to move towards greater energy independence. I hope that that goal, which must be in the national interest, will allow all of us from different points of views to temper some of our ardour in the collective public interest.

Covid-19 Update

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Tuesday 3rd November 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and the noble Lord, Lord Newby, for their comments and will attempt to answer their questions. They asked what had changed to mean that we are now looking to introduce these new restrictions. As SAGE said in September in relation to a circuit break, we had to balance the epidemiology against the real damage that lockdowns cause for the economy and people’s mental health, which is something we all acknowledge. We had hoped that the strong local action we were looking to take would get the rates of infection down. It is important to say that the measures have made sure that the R rate is lower than it would have been but, unfortunately, we have seen the rates going up and have exhausted every other tool at our disposal in trying to suppress local outbreaks with local action.

We were presented with national data that we could not ignore. It suggested, for instance, that if we did not take further measures, we could exceed the first wave peak around 20 November, exceed currently available hospital beds around 23 November and exceed surge capacity—capacity freed up from postponing some local hospital services—around 4 December. Data like that meant that the Prime Minister felt that we needed to take further action.

The noble Lord, Lord Newby, mentioned scientific evidence and the data. I should stress that the case for the latest measures was not built around the analysis to which he referred about possible deaths. As I have said to noble Lords on many occasions—I know that everyone is aware of this—a whole series of metrics is involved in these decisions, including the medium-term projections on hospital admissions and daily deaths, as well as the evidence on the ground, which in too many areas, unfortunately, were going in the wrong direction.

The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and the noble Lord, Lord Newby, talked about the economic support. I am grateful to the noble Baroness for acknowledging the extension of the furlough scheme and some of the other measures we have taken in relation to the self-employed. We have had one of the most comprehensive economic responses of any country, with more than £200 billion of support. She and the noble Lord mentioned sectors that are struggling and need support. I hope that noble Lords will accept that we have moved to try to address the circumstances and support our businesses. We will continue to do that. The noble Lord mentioned the charter and looking at the carers’ allowance. We will of course keep all this under review as we start to see the impact of the latest lockdown as we move towards 2 December.

The new restrictions are being accompanied by additional support through the extension of the furlough scheme, whereby employees receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked. There is an additional £1.1billion for local authorities to enable them to support businesses in their areas more broadly. We will continue to look at the economic package and there is strategic long-term planning to make sure that we can provide the support needed.

The noble Baroness asked about evictions. From the start of the pandemic, we have provided nearly £1 billion of support by raising the local housing allowance to cover at least 30% of market rents. As she will know, we changed the law to double eviction notice periods from three to six months, allowing someone who is served notice today to stay in their home until May, save for the most serious cases. We will continue to protect renters facing hardship from eviction and set out further details of measures soon.

The noble Lord talked about our relationships with the devolved authorities. I think that there are more similarities than differences in our approaches. For instance, we have all brought in measures at a local and national level to control the virus, mandated closing times for hospitality and brought in social distancing restrictions. We work closely with the devolved Administrations; obviously, the CMOs of the devolved nations talk regularly. However, it is right that they make their own public health assessments and decide what measures they should put in place and are most appropriate.

I assure the noble Lord that we have had hundreds of committee meetings, calls and meetings at official and ministerial levels, and that will continue. We have provided Wales with £4.4 billion of extra funding this year, Scotland with an extra £7.2 billion and Northern Ireland with an extra £2.4 billion through the Barnett guarantee. We are working as a United Kingdom as we tackle this terrible pandemic.

Both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness rightly asked about the end of the current restrictions. As the Prime Minister has said, these measures will be time limited, ending on 2 December, which is when the SIs that we will debate tomorrow will expire. At that point, we will review the restrictions, which will be eased on a regional basis, according to the latest data. Of course, the aim of this action is to get the R number down now, beat this surge and use this opportunity to exploit the medical and technological advances we have made. For instance, I am sure noble Lords have seen the pilot in Liverpool of the mass city testing as well as the better drug treatments that we have and tackling some of the issues we have seen with test and trace.

The R rate is lower as we move into this new phase than it was in March, so we are confident, knowing that the great British public will stick to these rules, that we will have a good reduction in the R rate and that we will be able to come out of these restrictions. I cannot predict what will happen after 2 December, but I assure noble Lords that we will work to make sure that everyone has as much clarity and confidence as they can.

Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait The Deputy Speaker (Baroness Morris of Bolton) (Con)
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My Lords, we now come to the 30 minutes allocated for Back-Bench questions. I ask that questions and answers be brief so that I can call the maximum number of speakers.

Syria: UK Military Action

Baroness Morris of Bolton Excerpts
Wednesday 2nd December 2015

(8 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait Baroness Morris of Bolton (Con)
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My Lords, in August 2013, when we last debated whether the United Kingdom should engage in military action in Syria, I said that although there was an understandable desire to do something, we were torn by the drive to act in the certain knowledge that in a desperate and complicated situation, there were no easy answers.

There are still no easy answers, but the situation then was very different, as was the question posed. Faced then with the atrocities of Assad and his indiscriminate use of all manner of evil against his people, particularly the use of chemical weapons, we were being asked to take direct action against him. That was direct action against a despot with a horde of nasty weapons who had, and still has, powerful friends.

There seems to be a lack of a clear strategy and legitimate concern that our actions would inevitably carry unintended consequences. Despite having sympathy with the Government’s argument that bombing Assad was necessary, if your Lordships’ House had been given a vote that day, I would have voted against military action.

Today is different. In an initiative sanctioned by the United Nations, we are being asked to help a large coalition of Governments from across the globe, including Arab countries, to counter an evil and thuggish organisation which masquerades under the name of one of the world’s great religions and yet thinks nothing of killing and maiming innocent Muslims. Daesh is a threat to us all, and we have an obligation to help in whatever way we can.

I understand the concerns raised in this important debate and share some of them. I also recognise that those who oppose this Motion do so with principle and a firm belief that we should combat Daesh in a different way, but I believe that we have to act now, and therefore I support the Government in their actions to try to make this world a safer place. However, military action has to take place against wider diplomatic efforts: that imaginative diplomacy of which my noble friend Lord Hague of Richmond spoke in his brilliant maiden speech. I was pleased to hear my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal stress that military action should be seen in the context of a comprehensive solution encompassing political, diplomatic and humanitarian dimensions.

In October, I had the privilege of meeting Syrian refugees in Zaatari camp in Jordan. We can only imagine what life must have been like when they are prepared to risk their lives and the lives of their children in seeking a safe refuge. If they are ever to have the hope of returning home, it is, in the words of King Abdullah of Jordan—a country which has borne more than its fair share of the burden of this conflict— up to all of us to face this moment of truth with determination.

Iraq

Baroness Morris of Bolton Excerpts
Friday 26th September 2014

(9 years, 9 months ago)

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Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait Baroness Morris of Bolton (Con)
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My Lords, 392 days ago, following the vote not to intervene militarily in Syria, my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said in a BBC interview:

“I hope this doesn’t become a moment when we turn our back on all of the world’s problems”.

I think that Parliament was right in the decision it took in August last year, but taking that decision did not in any way negate our responsibility to play a full and constructive role in securing a more tolerant and peaceful world; nor did it mean that Britain had made the decision to turn her back and simply ignore what was happening elsewhere. So it is that we find ourselves recalled on another Friday to address a situation in the Middle East which is truly shocking in its proportion and horrifying in its brutality and from which no corner of our world is safe.

I declare my interests as set out in the register, especially as chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council, CMEC. Last week, a small CMEC delegation went to Erbil to analyse the realities on the ground. Its conclusion, published in a short pamphlet, Towards a New Iraq?, is that a political solution to Iraq’s current crisis must dictate the terms of any military engagement and that ISIS can be defeated in Iraq only by a local Sunni force. However, that force needs a clear incentive, otherwise it will fail. Such an incentive would include guarantees about the status of the Sunni population in Iraq and would likely involve devolving powers to the Sunni areas along the same lines as Kurdish regional autonomy. It would also have to be fully implemented and agreed by Erbil and Baghdad.

The role of the Arab nations will be crucial in the defeat of ISIS, and I applaud their resolution and commitment to that. While the West may have the world’s most overwhelming firepower, in this conflict it must lead from behind and allow Arab states to lead the region’s Islamic community in rejecting the grotesque perversions of the so-called Islamic State.

However, where the West should lead from the front, supported by the wealthier Arab states, is in shouldering the burden of humanitarian relief. The consequences of hundreds of thousands of refugees from this conflict and the troubles in Syria are in themselves a gravely destabilising factor in the neighbouring countries—I think in particular of Jordan—which so selflessly open their borders to the frightened and dispossessed.

We must also ensure that young Muslims in this country have no excuse to rally to the flag of the extremists because they perceive the West to have double standards. Our message has to be clear: this is not a war with Islam; this is a fight for the dignity, freedom and identity of Iraq and her people.

I had the pleasure of visiting Iraqi Kurdistan exactly two years ago. I found it to be a haven of tolerance and tranquillity in a region that was reeling from political turmoil. Before the bloody regime of Saddam Hussein smashed up Kurdish villages and slaughtered the inhabitants, there had peacefully coexisted in this region mosques, churches and synagogues. There are too few places in this troubled world of ours where people can feel comfortable with their own identity while accepting the differences of others. Those places, those people and those values are worth fighting for.

Ukraine (Shooting Down of MH17) and Gaza

Baroness Morris of Bolton Excerpts
Monday 21st July 2014

(9 years, 12 months ago)

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Baroness Stowell of Beeston Portrait Baroness Stowell of Beeston
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Our first priority over the last few days has been applying pressure to Russia to use what influence it has to ensure that what occurs is exactly what the right reverend Prelate asked for. While this has not yet been confirmed, I hear that there are now reports that the refrigerated train has left Torez and is now en route to Kharkiv. That is exactly the kind of progress we need to see continue so that people are able to grieve, while knowing that their families and friends are being treated properly and being looked after by the people who they would want to be doing so.

Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait Baroness Morris of Bolton (Con)
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My Lords, I declare my interests as set out in the register. At the beginning of this crisis in Gaza, my right honourable friend William Hague called for an immediate ceasefire and a fundamental transformation of the situation in Gaza. Can my noble friend the Leader of the House say whether the Government are talking to Qatar to see whether it might be best placed to broker a ceasefire, following yesterday’s talks in Doha? Regarding the long-term fundamental transformation of Gaza, does she agree that economically active people seek peace and that all Palestinians should be free to trade, travel, hope and dream, and lead ordinary lives?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston Portrait Baroness Stowell of Beeston
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The Foreign Secretary is in contact with a range of countries in the region to try to progress the situation there. My noble friend is absolutely right that we need to ensure a durable ceasefire, so that all people who are desperately affected by this current situation find some peace and security as soon as possible.

European Union (Referendum) Bill

Baroness Morris of Bolton Excerpts
Friday 31st January 2014

(10 years, 5 months ago)

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Baroness Anelay of St Johns Portrait Baroness Anelay of St Johns
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My Lords, if the Motion is agreed, I will not be able to offer my noble friend Lord Dobbs more time for the Bill because the House itself will have collectively indicated that it no longer wishes to consider the Committee stage. If the House disagrees the Motion, I will take that as a desirable, clear indication that we should complete the remainder of the Committee stage today.

It is not a difficult question and I think we all know where we are so, after some consideration of our proper conduct, I beg to move that the Question be now put.

Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Baroness Morris of Bolton) (Con)
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My Lords, I am instructed by order of the House to say that the Motion “That the Question be now put” is considered to be a most exceptional procedure and the House will not accept it save in circumstances where it is felt to be the only means of ensuring the proper conduct of the business of the House; further, if a Member who seeks to move it persists in his or her intention, the practice of the House is that the Question on the Motion is put without debate. Does the noble Baroness still wish to move the closure Motion?

Libya

Baroness Morris of Bolton Excerpts
Monday 5th September 2011

(12 years, 10 months ago)

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Lord Strathclyde Portrait Lord Strathclyde
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My Lords, the noble Baroness brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to her questions. She has demonstrated how much good work has already been done, and there is absolutely no reason why it should not continue, though there is an immediate security problem to overcome.

There is no reason that I can think of why proper re-engagement on all these areas should not continue with the NTC and, ultimately, under a new Government over the course of time. That is very much what the British Government will seek to support.

I cannot comment on the EU but, again, I cannot see a good reason why those agreements should not be made with a new Government when they are established.

Earl Attlee Portrait Earl Attlee
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We have had four Labour questioners and only two Conservatives.

Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait Baroness Morris of Bolton
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My Lords, I welcome the Statement repeated by my noble friend the Leader of the House and also his replies to the noble Baroness the Leader of the Opposition and to the noble Baroness, Lady Symons. They are important because the Libyan people feel close to the British at the moment. I chair the Conservative Middle East Council. Our director, Leo Docherty, and my deputy and honourable friend, Adam Holloway MP, have just spent the past five days in Tripoli. They are flying the union jack and Qatari flags at the moment in Martyr Square and asking when the Prime Minister might visit. The Prime Minister undoubtedly made an impact when he visited Tahrir Square after the revolution in Egypt. If he could visit Libya as soon as possible, he would have a very warm welcome from the Libyan people.

Lord Strathclyde Portrait Lord Strathclyde
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My Lords, I commend the work that my noble friend does in the Middle East Council. I am delighted to hear that some of her colleagues have been in Tripoli in the course of the last five days. The whole House will understand that, for entirely obvious reasons, I could not possibly comment on when or if the Prime Minister is planning a visit to Tripoli. I also agree with my noble friend that the links between the people of Libya and the people of this country are close, should be closer and no doubt will become closer over the course of the next few months and years.

Libya and the Middle East

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Monday 28th February 2011

(13 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Strathclyde Portrait Lord Strathclyde
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My Lords, the noble Baroness did not ask a mundane question. It is a crucial one and goes to the heart of how the situation will develop possibly over the next few months but certainly over the course of the next few years. The key is about the economy in these countries. As the noble Baroness pointed out, a lot of that is dependent on the price of oil and how it is managed. The second part of her question was about the role of young people, the proportion of whom as a population appears to be far greater in some of these countries than in Europe.

To the specific question on whether discussions are ongoing with oil producers, particularly OPEC, the answer is yes, and they will continue. There are no easy answers to what the noble Baroness called her mundane question, but we are very much aware of them. The decisions, depending on how events pan out over the next few weeks, will have a great bearing on the success of the north African economy over the next few years.

Baroness Morris of Bolton Portrait Baroness Morris of Bolton
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I thank my noble friend for repeating the Statement. I am delighted that the Prime Minister visited Tahrir Square and leaders of the opposition in Egypt last week. While it is absolutely right that the peoples of the Middle East should determine their own futures, we have a lot to offer in institution-building and in developing the concept of stable and effective opposition. I am delighted that my noble friend said that the Westminster Foundation for Democracy will receive funding and that the British Council and others will be encouraged to work with civil society. However, there are a number of opposition leaders in Arab countries who have not had the luxury of being able to travel here and who would like to come to visit different political parties and institutions. Will my noble friend do all that he can to facilitate that as quickly as possible? That has to be in all of our interests.

Lord Strathclyde Portrait Lord Strathclyde
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My Lords, I agree with my noble friend Lady Morris. She is right when she talks about institution-building and the role that we can play. That includes looking at the experience post-1989 and the building of democracy in central and eastern Europe. Bodies such as the Westminster Foundation for Democracy play a very important part. As I said in response to the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, it is partly about building these institutions and partly about rebuilding their economies. The two very often go hand in hand, and we should be looking at the two in making sure that we can bring all of this to a successful conclusion.