Local MP secures debate about Chilcott Inquiry and calls for the Iraq Inquiry report to be published

Lib Dem Norman Baker MP has won time for a House of Commons debate, calling for the immediate publication of the official Inquiry report into the Iraq War by Sir John Chilcott,  about how the Government behaved at the time. The debate, jointly secured with Tory David Davis and Labour Fabian Hamilton, will take place on January 29th. Four hours has been allocated.

The inquiry was established before the last General Election, some six years ago and Norman says that is long enough.

Norman saysI firmly believe that the people of this country are entitled to see this report before they go to the polls in May, yet there are no signs this will happen.

That’s why I have joined with David Davis and Fabian Hamilton to secure a debate on the matter in the House of Commons, thus ensuring that the calls for release are supported by Lib Dem, Tory and Labour MPs. The debate, in which I will speaking, will take place on January 29th.

“Why is this so important? Because, as I set out in my book The Strange Death of David Kelly, the period 2002/3 was a time when the normal conventions of government were set aside. A time when we had Tony Blair’s special advisor Alistair Campbell, amending intelligence reports which then turned into “dodgy dossiers”, hyping up fears about non-existent weapons of mass destruction. A time when unminuted sofa government replaced the proper civil service procedures. A time when the cabinet was bypassed. A time when Parliament was gravely misled about the threat the country faced, or didn’t face, as it turned out.

“As well as seeing the final report, we are also entitled to know why it has taken so long to produce, who is blocking release, and why.

The lessons of 2002/3 are not merely an historical matter. They go to the heart of how our country operates. We need to ensure there are safeguards in place to ensure what happened then can never happen again.”

Local MP calls for discount bus travel for under 21’s

A Scheme developed by Lewes MP Norman Baker to help young people with their transport costs has been adopted by the Lib Dems and will feature in the party’s manifesto for the next General Election.

Under the scheme, developed by Norman when he was a transport minister, under 21’s would receive discount bus passes so they can afford to get to college or work.

The education leaving age has now risen to 18, but entitlement to support for school transport now ends at 16. Bursary payments are not always enough to cover rising bus fares. More people have started an apprenticeship under this parliament than ever before, with nearly 2 million new apprenticeships, training our workforce for 21st century jobs and by providing support for young people to access travel the LibDems are seeking that more young people can access training and work opportunities.

Norman says:Young people have identified travel and the cost of travel as a barrier in accessing work and employment.

“By investing in our young people and enabling them to access the opportunities being opened to them we are insuring not only individuals but also the future of a skilled workforce and stronger economy

Local MP announces Lib Dem plan of ‘Stop and Search’ overhaul

Local Lib Dem MP and Home Office Minister, Norman Baker, has announced Lib Dem manifesto policy proposals to overhaul ‘stop and search’, seeking to help transform community relations and the public’s trust in the police through tightening the laws on stop and search, and requiring some police officers to wear body cameras when they stop someone.

In November 2013, Equality and Human Rights Commission research found that black people were six times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people, but in some areas this was as high as 29 times more likely.

Liberal Democrat Home Office Minister, Norman Baker, is bringing forward the plans in the party’s ‘pre-manifesto’ which will be published in September.

We will introduce rules making the wearing of body cameras by officers mandatory for:

  • Section 60 stop and search areas
  • Officers armed with firearms
  • Members of Territorial Support Groups

The policy also includes plans to:

  • Tighten up the rules on stop and search
  • Eradicate the target-driven incentives which can cause the powers to be overused by police
  • Improve safeguards through tighter guidance
  • Ensure that authorisation for area-based Stop and Search is subject to judicial approval

Norman says: “The Liberal Democrats want to transform community relations and restore the public’s trust in the police. Far too many innocent people are subjected to stop and search, which is often based on crude stereotyping of minorities. “Stop and search has led to tension, and it’s something that cannot be ignored. Liberal Democrats in Government have been taking the lead, and believe more must be done in the next parliament.”

Government and National Union of Students work to reduce binge drinking at universities

Seven universities have signed up to a 12 month pilot scheme to encourage responsible drinking among students.

A radical new project designed to tackle the culture of binge drinking at universities across England and Wales has been launched by the government and National Union of Students.

Seven universities have signed up to a 12 month pilot scheme to encourage responsible drinking among students including the University of Brighton.

Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: “Binge drinking at universities is nothing new, but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea.

“Some students find themselves encouraged to participate in alcohol fuelled activities which can damage health and in some cases spill over into disorder and anti-social behaviour.

“The NUS Alcohol Impact project, backed by the Home Office, will help participating universities to encourage responsible drinking leading to safer and more productive places to study and live.

“Accreditation should become a badge of honour for universities, and another factor which helps promote their world class teaching and research to prospective domestic and international students.”

For more on this please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/alcohol-government-and-national-union-of-students-work-to-reduce-binge-drinking-at-universities