Posted by: Isabel Hardman20/09/2010
Clegg is speaking now. More to follow.
After a little more debate, party members vote overwhelmingly in favour of the motion. The auditorium is now filling up in anticipation of Nick Clegg’s speech.
Lembit Opik is being rather amusing about losing his seat. He tells the audience that he has been stopped in the street by people who have asked: ‘Didn’t you use to be Lembit Opik?’ He also says the party should support non-taxpayer-funded nuclear power to stop the lights from going out in this country as demand for electricity increases.
There’s now a lot of debate on whether a carbon tax will hit poor people as well as large polluters. Liberal Youth have claimed it will hit the elderly and fuel poor.
‘We can send a message to the Treasury,’ says Mr Davies. ‘Hands off our environmental commitments.’ He also says that the party needs to learn from the lessons of ‘Yes, Minister’, which he says is a ‘training video’ for those in government.
Chris Davies MEP is telling the audience that their biggest enemy is the Treasury. He says there is no evidence that the Treasury is green at heart. He claims that the Treasury is ‘trying to turn ministers strong pledges into weak aspirations.’
Mr Burrall says that it is also vital that the government addresses the homes of the most vulnerable people, so that their properties are made more energy efficient.
Mr Burrall says he has faith that the Lib Dems can do better than Labour on this. The motion plans to reform the ‘failed’ climate change levy. He says that the ETS and any other scheme that depends on pricing carbon to have an effect on behaviour in investment needs to have a high enough price to make a difference.
The motion on green taxation is just starting now. Paul Burrall(North West Norfolk) is introducing it.
Former Lib Dem housing spokeswoman Sarah Teather was taking part in a panel discussion on child poverty this lunchtime. She told the audience that June’s emergency Budget will make a ‘real difference’ to tackling child poverty. Also sitting on the panel was Sally Copley from Save the Children, who disagreed with this assessment. She pointed to the recent research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, which called the budget ‘regressive’. No mention from Ms Teather about the effect the Budget’s cuts to housing benefit would have on child poverty, or on children being forced to leave schools because their parents can no longer afford to rent in their catchment area…
Apparently, Nick Clegg’s speech this afternoon will also include details on how councils can raise money by borrowing against future projected income. His speech is at 16.15, and I’ll be blogging and tweeting from it.
Nick Clegg may have done a pretty good job of making party grumblers look silly yesterday, but that hasn’t stopped them grumbling about the coalition. Mike Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South has given an interview to the BBC saying his relationship with the party is ‘straining at the straps’. He says he has written a letter to Nick Clegg, in which he accuses him of ‘abandoning a key aspect of Liberal Democrat policy in supporting the welfare state’ by pursuing cuts to benefits.
This is the such second letter Mr Hancock has written in a week. He also wrote to Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform, demanding that ministers spend a month trying to live on benefits before they go ahead with planned cuts to housing benefit.
Bob Russell, meanwhile (who we have interviewed about his thoughts on the coalition) told Radio Five Live: ‘I agreed to the coalition through gritted teeth. It was basically the only realistic option in the national interest and I’m battling for the things I believe in.’
Simon Hughes is still working on housing though: he’s co-chairing a new review of Lib Dem housing policy with Richard Kemp, leader of the Local Government Association’s Liberal Democrat Group. Mr Kemp told a Shelter fringe event that the review would ensure the party’s housing policy was ‘fit for purpose’.
Simon Hughes’ motion on security of tenure failed to make it to debate. It came second in a ballot of MPs.
A couple of updates from last night’s fringe events: Grant Shapps flatly denied newspaper reports that he was going to conduct a review of the right to buy to appease Lib Dems unhappy about security of tenure reform. He also told a Lib Dem fringe event that different areas would be able to choose what sort of tenure arrangements they could have for future social tenants. Sounds like a nice commitment to localism, but I can’t help but wonder whether this will just lead to a postcode lottery, with tenants in neighbouring towns getting very different deals on whether they keep their council house for life, or just for a few years.
From Out of office
What the Inside Housing writers have been up to when they’ve been prised away from their desks