Saturday, July 7, 2007

Williams' letter provides requested clarification and explanation of Peers' advisory roles for the government

On Thursday I wrote to the LibDem party leadership asking for clarification and explanation of the LibDem peers' advisory roles with the Labour government. Thank you to Linda Jack for pointing out that, the very next day, the Liberal Democrat News published a letter from Shirley Williams providing precisely the sort of clarification and explanation I thought was needed.

I feel that Shirley's letter has answered all the questions in my email to the leadership (bar the one about whether there might be any more advisory posts offered, but I suspect that events have answered that question in the negative).

I am particularly relieved to hear from Shirley that she, Lord Lester and Baroness Neuberger will not accept any payment for their roles. I think that is absolutely crucial.

I also welcome Shirley's assurance that these roles are narrowly remitted on specific experience which the three peers have, that they will retain "full independence" and remain fully able to criticise government policy.

I also feel it is important that, Shirley says, she will be free to state her "own position if the government decided not to take (her advice)". I think that is very important. The government could introduce some ill-conceived policy on nuclear proliferation and infer that Shirley suggested it. So it is absolutely fundamental that Shirley (as well as the other two peers) is able to state if her advice is not followed in that sort of situation.

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