Other domestic

Lord Owen sets out proposals for a Federal UK Council

Addressing a seminar on ‘Politics post-Brexit’ at Cardiff University’s School of Law and Politics, Lord Owen today (Thursday 3 November) set out proposals for a UK-wide Federal Council in a comprehensive pamphlet drawing comparisons with the German Bundesrat.

Download the pamphlet here: a-federal-uk-council-2

“This pamphlet argues for a focused cross-party investigation of the German federal Bundesrat, without any commitment as to the outcome. It is something which needs to be offered early in the term of office of the new Prime Minister Theresa May, and is designed to appeal to the many Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish people spread across the UK who sense post-Brexit we need a new mechanism to hold the UK together by common consent.

“Providing for elected members at Holyrood, Cardiff Bay and Stormont, as well as devolved and decentralized government in England, to participate in a UK Federal Council is a very different and potentially more acceptable form of federal governance. It would involve the devolved London Assembly and the eight big cities in England, with separate representation for County and Borough Councils and unitary authorities in England.

“If the UK post-Brexit is to deepen its unity it is a reasonable assumption that there has to be some kind of structural interrelationship between all its parts and not just an ad hoc series of relationships with Whitehall. National identity, whether it be Scottish, Welsh, Irish or English deserves to be treasured as a binding force, not a divisive one. It all depends on whether we can find the correct balance.

“Referendums will not be in fashion at Westminster after the 2016 EU referendum. A federal UK could become a post-Brexit priority with broader support than would have been conceivable before 2016. If the Prime Minister does not form an all-party convention to consider a Federal UK Council, every possible step should be taken by Labour to negotiate key elements of a Federal UK Council with the SNP first, which then must include as many MPs from all the other parties as possible so as to create legislation for a Federal UK Council as soon as possible after the 2020 General Election.”

View the full pamphlet here: a-federal-uk-council-2

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Lord Owen on the Chilcot Report. “Let us be courageous enough to face the need to examine this issue in Parliament.”

Read the full speech here: HLIraqInquiry12.7.16

Extracts: It would have been much easier if the former Prime Minister had made an open confession that he had made many mistakes. Unfortunately, on the day of the report, having no doubt had access to it for some time, he produced a written statement of defiance. That defiance – the only word to describe it – cannot be left unchallenged.

He said: “If I was back in the same place with the same information, I would take the same decision”.

If that is left to stand unchallenged, Chilcot will have failed. Let us be quite clear: that statement is unacceptable and it is no honest reading of the Chilcot report.

Some people say that there should be no scapegoating. No, there should not, but it is the duty of Parliament, and particularly the House of Commons, to examine this report and make judgments.

… We now have a body of civil law to represent a civil society. It is for the courts to decide on that for the families of the soldiers who tragically lost their lives, or those suffering appalling injuries, much of which we still do not really know about.

There is the question of bringing Parliament into disrepute. That is why in another place they are perfectly right and proper to examine whether this represents contempt of Parliament.

Otherwise, what do we do? Do we just leave it? How many people ever knew, years on from the Suez crisis, that we had colluded with the Israelis and the French to occupy the Suez Canal? It is absolutely essential that this much is learned, because I am one who believes that we may have to intervene in the future.

I do not want what happened in the aftermath of this war to condemn all military interventions in the future. Let us be courageous enough to face the need to examine this issue in Parliament.

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Labour’s 2015 leadership election: Lord Owen interview on BBC Newsnight

Lord Owen discusses Labour’s 2015 leadership elections and media speculation that it could lead to an SDP-style split in an interview on BBC Newsnight. View the interview, from around 16’50” in the programme, here.

Please note, access is time-limited by the BBC, expires approx 17 August.

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Lord Owen hopes cooperation over Caroline Lucas’s NHS Bill could lead to a wider progressive alliance amongst the political parties.

The Campaign for the Reinstatement Bill has, in essence, been adopted in this new Parliament by Caroline Lucas in her Private Member’s NHS Bill which has received a First Reading. The importance of this Bill is that prior to the Election it was supported by Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Green MPs and now this newly tabled Bill continues to be supported by that same grouping though slightly different names.

This, in my view, provides the basis for a progressive alliance in UK politics to emerge.  It is best for them to focus first on the health service in the UK as a building block for quickly moving on to a constitutional convention which should be established on the understanding that if the Conservatives were ready to involve themselves that would be far better but that in the absence of such cooperation others should get on with it.  I recognise for the SNP and Labour in Scotland that will be a difficult dialogue and therefore I believe it would be wiser to establish it on a UK basis.   Such an alliance might move then into austerity and economic and social policy.  It will have to sort out a proportional system for the Westminster elections and agree it before a general election.  This is not an academic issue: it is a question for political horse trading when they have got used to the concept of working together to form a government in 2020.  If they have any sense they will also enter into negotiations over standing down from specific constituencies in order to help each other beat the first past the post system.

This may be all too ambitious. But starting on the health service gives substance and structure to a cooperative project so that by the time the Second Reading of Caroline Lucas’s Bill comes before the House of Commons on 11 March 2016 I would hope there is a readiness of the SNP MPs to stay on in London to ensure 100 MPs are present to enforce a closure debate when, as is inevitable, Conservatives try to talk the Bill out.  I also hope that then in Committee, in the light of changes in the NHS in England and elsewhere in the UK, the Bill can be amended and that this process will continue throughout the Parliament.  It will not of course become law but that same Bill could be reintroduced if someone wished, having been lucky in Private Member’s ballot, in every session until the Election, all the time adjusting and reflecting changes and new thinking.

 

 

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Lord Owen calls for time limits on Prime Ministers’ tenure of office

Prime Ministers should stay in office for no more than ten years or eight years if the Fixed Term Parliament Act is changed from five to four years, according to former Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen. He believes limitation would curb the hubristic behaviour of Prime Ministers who become intoxicated with power. Speaking at a conference on Leadership: Stress & Hubris on 17 November, hosted by the Daedalus Trust and the Division of Occupational Psychology of the British Psychological Society, Lord Owen outlined his Private Member’s Bill, introduced in the House of Lords on 11 November, to provide for a maximum limitation related to the period during which a Prime Minister can hold office of two terms of Parliament under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. For a full copy of the Bill and the Explanatory Notes  please click links below..

Prime Minister (Limitation of Period of Office) Bill

Prime Minister (Limitation of Period of Office) Bill Explanatory Notes

For more on Hubris Syndrome, visit DaedalusTrust.com – the website of the academic and research oriented Trust dedicated to raising awareness of this important leadership and governance issue.

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Lord Owen speaks in House of Lords debate on the Chilcot Inquiry Report

To view the the full speech by Lord Owen please click here

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Statement By Lord Owen On the Labour Party Special Conference Decision

STATEMENT ISSUED BY LORD DAVID OWEN, SATURDAY 1 MARCH 2014 ON THE LABOUR PARTY SPECIAL CONFERENCE DECISION TO REFORM THE VOTING SYSTEM FOR THE LABOUR PARTY LEADER

“This is a brave and bold reform by Ed Miliband and one I strenuously argued for as a Labour MP at the special conference on Saturday, 25 January 1981.  This very desirable change, nevertheless, threatens to weaken Labour’s financial support at a critical time when I and many others are hoping to see the Party produce a plan for Government from May of next year to rescue our NHS. Saving the NHS is my main political priority and I suspect that of many others. To help Labour reverse the 2012 NHS legislation without yet another major reorganization, I have made  a declarable contribution of over £7,500 to Labour funds. Unless there is a change of Government the NHS in England will be completely destroyed by 2020.

I want to support Labour but also value my independence. I have informed the Convenor of the Crossbenchers in the House of Lords of this. I will continue to sit, as allowed under their rules, on the Crossbenches as I have done from 1992. However, since I can no longer be called a Crossbencher under their rules, I will now be an independent Social Democrat.”

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Lord Owen raises serious concerns over the Cabinet Secretary being final arbiter on disclosure of documents by the Chilcot Inquiry

Cabinet boss must not decide on Iraq papers, says Owen: Former Foreign Secretary demands Sir Jeremy Heywood is stripped of responsibility because he worked closely with Tony Blair…

To read the Mail Online article (published 12 November, 2013) please click link below:

Mail Online article

To read The Times article (published 13 November, 2013) please click link below:

Times article

For the full text of Lord Owen’s letter to the Prime Minister please click on the image below

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