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Lib Dem Peers rebel on Welfare reform Bill

January 12, 2012 10:55 AM
By Charles West

There is much public misunderstanding about the nature of coalition government.

Some people think that the Liberal Democrat Party has disappeared and we are all closet Conservatives now. Not So. The Liberal Democrats are alive and well. We have our own ethos and our own policies. There are policy areas where we agree with Conservatives and there are areas where the coalition agreement has defined policy. Those our parliamentarians generally are bound to support. Where cabinet has discussed and agreed policy then any of our MPs and Peers who hold government office have to support it. But that does not mean that we are not still fighting for the things we believe in.

Witness the fight against Lansley's attmepts to break up the NHS. See posts elsewhere.

And now the House of Lords has inflicted three defeats on the Government's Welfare Reform Bill. 14 Liberal Democrat Peers voted against the Bill. Peers defeated the proposal that Employment Support Allowance (ESA) for severely disabled children should be means tested. They also raised the proposed limit on ESA from one year to two years, and removed the limit for cancer patients.

We have, of course, not heard the end of this story. The Government may well try to reverse the decisions of the House of Lords, but if you believe in supporting the most vulnerable in our society now would be a good time to contact your MP or any contacts you may have in the House of Lords.

Liberal Democrats joined the coalition because we felt it was in the best interests of the country. We joined the coalition because we believe in democracy, and though we would have like the country to have voted overwhelmingly for Liberal Democrat policies, unfortunately they did not. And just as we promised before the election we spoke firt to the Party that had won the greatest support from the electorate. But the Liberal Democrats have not disappeared.

Liberal Democrats are alive and well!