Friday, February 22, 2019

The great Brexit trade myth has been busted



Responding to reports that the Conservative Government has admitted they will not be able to negotiate deals with Japan and Turkey before March 29, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

“One of the great myths of Brexit was that we could instantly sign new trade deals whilst seamlessly rolling over the existing deals we already have with over 70 countries as a member of the EU.
 
“This is damaging myth which has proven to be false. Should no-deal materialise, this will cause serious problems for our economy.
 
“Theresa May must take no-deal off the table and give the public the final say with a People’s Vote and the option to stay in the EU.”

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Cable: Government must level the playing field between the high street and online

Responding to the report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee calling on the Government to consider the options of an online sales tax and reforms to business rates, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

“While our high streets are going through an extremely difficult time, with the right action from government, councils, businesses and local communities, they can prosper once again.

“Instead of trying to recreate the high streets of the past, our towns and cities need to tailor their offer to local tastes and focus on experiences at a time of growing demand for online shopping.

"There must be a level playing field between brick and mortar businesses and online companies. Business rates should be replaced with a land value tax that encourages businesses to invest. Local authorities must also be given more power to run their own affairs and support local businesses, as pioneering Liberal Democrat councils are currently demonstrating."

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Begum should face justice for her crimes in the UK


Responding to the reports from Shamima Begum's family lawyer that she will lose her UK citizenship, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“Membership of a terrorist group is a serious crime, as is encouraging or supporting terrorism. But Shamima Begum should face justice for those crimes in the UK.
 
“It is not only hard to see Ms Begum and her baby as constituting a serious threat to national security, but it also seems a huge wasted opportunity. We can learn lessons as to why a young girl went to Syria in the first place; lessons which could improve Britain’s security by helping us prevent this happening again.”

Monday, February 18, 2019

Rail reform proposals signal that change is needed

Responding to the release of the report containing the Rail Delivery Group's proposals to the Williams Rail Review, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

"It has been long overdue for the Conservative Government to introduce the legislation needed to reform our outdated and unfair rail fares system. The proposals put forward by the industry which would modernise the way in which we pay for our train tickets are encouraging and it is now essential the Government sets the wheels in motion.

"Simplifying the system and introducing smart ticketing would help transform what is an incredibly outdated system, invented before people bought their tickets online. Equally, with more and more people now working flexible hours it is vital the system offers fairer ticket prices to reflect the way modern businesses work.

"With so many passengers wanting to overhaul the way they pay their rail fare, surely this should be something that Chris Grayling cannot delay."

Government consultations on plastic must be followed by action

Responding to the Government's launch of a number of consultations looking at overhauling the waste system, cutting plastic pollution, and moving towards a more circular economy, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael said:

“Whilst the Government fail to get a grip of the crisis facing our environment, the detrimental effects to the UK’s wildlife continues. The Liberal Democrats have been clear about the need for a plastic bottle deposit scheme and the Conservative Government must follow through on these consultations with action.

"The Liberal Democrats will also continue to fight for a ban on all single-use plastic within three years and the introduction of a levy on all producers and retailers that produce or use single-use plastics."

“If the Conservative Government was as good at recycling plastic as they are at recycling consultations then our environment would be in better shape than it is.  It is good that the Government is thinking of acting, but the problem is urgent and needs to be taken seriously.” 

Lib Dems will work with like-minded MPs

Responding to the Labour party split, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:


“It is not unexpected, or unwelcome, that a group of Labour MPs have decided to break away from Corbyn’s Labour; in part motivated by his refusal to follow the party’s policy on Brexit.

“The Liberal Democrats are open to working with like-minded groups and individuals in order to give the people the final say on Brexit, with the option to remain in the EU. We will be engaging in talks to progress both that campaign and a wider political agenda.”

On short prison sentences, Tories say one thing and do another


Responding to the Justice Secretary’s speech this morning where he advocated abolishing prison sentences of six months or less, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said: 

“I’m glad the Justice Secretary is finally accepting what the evidence – and the Liberal Democrats – have been saying for years: short prison sentences are destructive and just lead to more crime.
 
“But even as he makes that admission, his Tory colleagues at the Home Office are busy introducing more short prison sentences in their Offensive Weapons Bill.
 
“This Tory Government is saying one thing and doing another, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. Ministers must end short prison sentences and stop creating new ones.”
 

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Tories failing on air pollution

New figures released by the Department for the Environment show that emissions of air pollutants have not dropped significantly over the past three years, despite the Government promising to tackle air pollution as a priority.
 
Responding to the figures, Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, said:

 
“These figures show that this Tory Government is failing to tackle air pollution, which they described themselves as ‘the biggest environmental threat to public health.’

"Long-term exposure to these emissions can cause heart and lung problems as well as potentially contribute to cancers, with the young and the old being particularly vulnerable. People deserve better and Liberal Democrats demand better.
 
“Liberal Democrats would pass a new Clean Air Act, giving people the legal right to unpolluted air wherever they live. New Clean Air Zones must also be brought forward in the most polluted towns and cities,  and we would also restore subsidies to electric vehicles foolishly cut by the Tories.”
 

Farron slams 'Tory death tax'

Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron has taken a swipe at the Conservative Government ahead of the introduction of what he has dubbed a “Tory death tax”.

From today, new regulations introduced by the Conservative Government mean that the cost of death certificates, as well as birth and marriage certificates, is going up from £4 to £11.

Citizens Advice recommends people get “several copies of the [death] certificate, for which there will be a charge.” Upon losing a loved one, people now face a charge hike of £49, on the basis that seven copies are purchased.

Mr Farron accused the Conservatives of introducing these measures “by the back door” as MPs have been denied a vote on them.

The former Leader of the Liberal Democrats added: “These regressive fees, charged to people just when they are grieving for loved ones, are nothing more than an insensitive death tax.

“People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. Profiteering off the back of people losing loved ones should bring shame on those who call themselves 'compassionate conservatives."

Thursday, February 14, 2019

May's time wasting rejected by parliament


Responding to the defeat of the Government's motion this evening by 45 votes, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

"The vote this evening demonstrates a complete failure of Theresa May's Tory Government and Parliament's rejection of more reckless time wasting as they drag us closer and closer to the cliff edge.

"Theresa May's brinkmanship may seem to her as a clever tactic in trying to force MPs to support her deal, but tonight Parliament rejected this ploy. The reality is the Prime Minister's political games in refusing to take no deal off the table is having a serious effect on people's day-to-day lives.

"The Liberal Democrats have campaigned for a people's vote for over two years. Tonight's defeat of the Government makes clear it is long overdue that the Prime Minister took no deal off the table, and offered the public a final say on Brexit with the option to remain in the EU."

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Lib Dems back call for regulator to protect access to cash


The Liberal Democrats are backing calls from consumer rights charity, Which?, for a regulator to protect access to cash following new analysis revealing a rapid decline in cash-points.  

New figures obtained by Which? show cash-points disappeared at a rate of 488 per month between June 2018 and December 2018 with over 250 free-to-use machines also closing monthly.

Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron said: 

“This research will be concerning for people in smaller communities right across the country who depend on being able to access cash when they need it, without having to trek into the nearest town. 

“People deserve better. Conservative Ministers in Whitehall need to appreciate that not everyone is comfortable with or able to use digital payments and on-line banking. For many, cash is still king. These closures will mean rural areas in particular are being left behind.

“Liberal Democrats demand better. That is why we are backing the call from Which? for a regulator to ensure that no one is left unable to access their own money when they need it.”

Rudd's Universal Credit admission is too late for tens of thousands


Responding to comments from Amber Rudd about the link between the rise of food bank usage and the roll out of Universal Credit, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“This belated admission of responsibility comes far too late for the tens of thousands of people forced to rely on food banks because of the Conservatives’ stubborn refusal to fix Universal Credit.
 
“In 21st century Britain no one should be dependent on charitable handouts for their survival, yet that is precisely the situation that Government policy has created.
 
“While some tinkering around the edges has happened, the Conservative Government must go all the way and give UC claimants full flexibility over when and how they are paid, while completely reversing the swingeing cuts made to the programme in 2015.”

Digital exclusion shows Universal Credit not fit for purpose


Responding to reports that almost half a million people needed help to apply for the government’s flagship Universal Credit benefit on-line, DWP Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

"The Liberal Democrats raised the issue of digital exclusion with Conservative ministers months ago, but these concerns clearly haven’t been taken on board. This underlines the need to look again at Universal Credit, which is clearly not creating the simpler and more accessible benefits system that was intended.
 
“It is failing the very people it was supposed to be designed to help. Now the Government has acknowledged that Universal Credit has created a greater need for food banks, it is time they accepted it needs more than just the tinkering we have seen.
 
“Universal Credit just isn’t fit for purpose, and it’s time the Government accepted responsibility.”
 

Monday, February 11, 2019

Immigration rules for Commonwealth soldiers are outrageous

 

Hundreds of troops who joined the British Army after a targeted Commonwealth recruitment drive in 2016 are having to work second jobs in order to meet the Home Office threshold necessary to relocate their families.

Commenting, Lib Dem Defence Spokesperson Jamie Stone said:

"This is yet another example of the Tories' botched immigration policies. These soldiers were asked specifically to come and defend our nation and the government repays them with a hostile environment. It has all the hallmarks of the policies which caused the Windrush crisis.

"These people have responded to a call to serve the country and it is outrageous that immigration thresholds mean they must work second jobs just to bring their spouses and children with them.

"The Liberal Democrats demand better. Commonwealth soldiers who have been asked to come and serve must be welcomed into UK society."

PM's meaningful vote time-line irresponsible and insulting to parliament



Responding to the news that the PM will seek to wait until the end of the month for a second attempt at winning the meaningful vote, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

“This is worse than irresponsible.

"It is deeply insulting to the country and to Parliament. It goes against what she has been mandated to achieve. I would not be surprised if she faces a massive rebellion by Conservative MPs.”

Property guardians caught in poverty trap


Responding to the investigation by the i newspaper into property guardians , Liberal Democrat peer Olly Grender said:

"This undercover investigation shows how desperately bad the housing crisis has become. More and more people are living as property guardians in buildings that are dangerous and insanitary and the law fails to protect them.

"Safeguards must be introduced before the Government has another tragedy on its hands such as Grenfell. This is a hidden crisis for people caught in a trap of poverty and lack of decent housing and needs urgent attention. 

“The fact these properties are unsafe and unhealthy to live in should result in a rapid review of the relevant laws. It is vital that the Government now re-evaluate our HMO regulations to ensure that this form of tenancy, in all but name, cannot be ignored and left out of all important legal protections.

“There are responsible property guardian companies and they are working hard to provide cheap housing in empty properties. But the revelations in Colchester suggest a more exploitative approach and a growing crisis.”

Immigration white paper an enormous red tape threat to UK businesses

 

Responding to a report by Global Future which shows the deep costs to our economy of the Government's immigration white paper, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:
 
“Conservative immigration plans represent the biggest red tape threat UK businesses have ever seen – far outweighing anything that came from Brussels.
 
“Local hospitals are already struggling to recruit the doctors and nurses they need, and now the Tories would take millions away from front-line care to pay for the cost of navigating the Home Office’s complex and bureaucratic immigration system.
 
“These policies would be expensive and destructive for employers across the country, and Britain simply can’t afford them. That’s why the Liberal Democrats are opposing the Tories’ half-baked plans to end free movement with the EU.”

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Thousands dying waiting for social care as government ignores crisis


Responding to the research by Age UK showing that more than 50,000 older people have now died waiting in vain for care during the 700 days since the Government first said it would publish a Social Care Green Paper, Former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb said:
 
“These figures are tragic for many families and the stories of some of those who have been impacted should give many in government and across politics pause for thought.

“People are turning for help in their old age and help is not there. Despite the crisis in adult social care the Conservatives are consistently and consciously underfunding these services and the social care green paper promised in March 2017 has now been delayed six times.
 
“The Conservative Government is incapable of solving this problem themselves. They must now work with other parties to achieve a genuine long term, sustainable settlement for the NHS and social care. 
 
“Liberal Democrats would put a penny on income tax and directly invest funds in social care. We will also keep making the case for a new, dedicated NHS and care tax to guarantee a modern, effective and efficient NHS and care system which will be there for our loved ones when they need it.”

Civil Service support for Tory meetings must be investigated

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable and Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake have today written to the Head of the Civil Service urging him to investigate allegations that civil servants are assisting with the so-called Malthouse Compromise working group.

This working group of Conservative MPs has been meeting with officials in the Cabinet Office. Given that the group are not members of the Government, the Liberal Democrats believe the provision of civil service support breaches rules and raises questions for the Prime Minister to answer.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

"The civil service should not be spending time on a Tory party peace initiative which has no relevance to our negotiations with the EU and which is undeliverable."

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake added:

“If Ministers have been instructing civil servants to assist Jacob Rees Mogg and Nicky Morgan in their quest to find a unicorn, that can piece the Tory party back together again, this would be a flagrant breach of Ministerial rules.

"Any costs associated with such a naked party political stunt would have to be reimbursed to taxpayers and instructions issued to all Ministers to refrain from abusing civil service resources in this way." 
  

Lib Dem peers force U-turn on knife crime


The Liberal Democrats have forced the Conservative Government to withdraw their amendments on controversial knife crime prevention orders.

Following the Home Secretary's announcement last week of his intention to introduce 'ASBO style' prevention orders, the Government intended to today amend the Offensive Weapons Bill at the House of Lords Grand Committee. 

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson in the House of Lords, Brian Paddick, threatened to oppose these amendments forcing the Government to withdraw them due to the need at Grand Committee for unanimity.

Responding to the withdrawal, Brian Paddick said:
“ASBOs were jettisoned because they unnecessarily criminalised young people, were seen as a badge of honour in some communities and did little to prevent crime, but now the Conservatives want to resurrect them under a new guise.
 
“The Liberal Democrats are wholly opposed to Knife Crime Prevention Orders being imposed on children as young as 12 who haven’t been convicted of any crimes, where a minor breach can result in a criminal record and a prison sentence.
 
“There are not enough community police officers to patrol our streets, let alone enforce these orders. Instead of gimmicks that won’t work, the Government must urgently give forces the funding they need to restore community police and stop the rise of violent crime.”

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Car emissions: government must act


Today a report from Friends of the Earth and the think-tank Transport for Quality of Life highlights that a rise in emissions from the roads could have a hugely detrimental effect on climate change and public health.

Commenting, former Liberal Democrat Climate Change Secretary of State Ed Davey said: 

“The Liberal Democrats welcome this report and agree more radical thinking needs to be done in the transport sector to tackle climate change.

"While real progress has been made in the power sector, with renewables now replacing by dirty fossil fuels, thanks in part to Liberal Democrat policies, the Conservatives must now cut emissions elsewhere.
 
“Transport is one of the biggest contributors of emissions so we desperately need a more ambitious plan to slash emissions.
 
“Liberal Democrats want a new Green Transport Act with a new programme of measures to significantly reduce emissions from road transport."

Jenny Randerson, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson said:
 
“The Conservatives are presiding over a shameful decline in public transport at a time when we need to cut emissions, not only to combat climate change, but to tackle the public health disaster in our towns and cities.
 
“Since 2015 the DfT’s own figures show a decline of nearly 200 million bus journeys. This Tory Government claim they are committed to public transport, but instead they are driving it into a wall. It is clear that for the Conservatives the car remains king.
 
“Liberal Democrats would aim to improve bus services, encouraging people to move out of cars and into public transport. We would create a nationwide bus plan, creating a model shift towards public transport use, we would enable councils to choose how they run their own services and we would introduce a discount card for Young People.”

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Nissan decision symbolises the loss of confidence in the UK


Responding to reports that Nissan is expected to announce that it is cancelling a planned investment at its Sunderland plant, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

"The Conservatives have lost the right to call themselves the party of business. If these reports are true, the extent to which the Government have destroyed businesses' confidence in the UK is clear.

"This is a massively significant decision which has largely been driven by Brexit. Nissan has been a big British success story based on confidence in the United Kingdom.  This decision is just as symbolic as it is important. 

"The Liberal Democrats are clear that the only way to give business the certainty they need and get the country out of this chaos is to offer a people's vote, with the option to remain in the EU."

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Landmark conviction in fight to stamp out FGM


Responding to the reports of the first conviction of female genital mutilation in the UK, former Liberal Democrat Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone said:

"We have waited a long time to see a conviction for female genital mutilation. The victim here was just three years old. There is no doubt that this is child abuse and this prosecution makes clear this practice is against the law.
 
“I welcome this prosecution and hope to see other perpetrators of this vile crime brought to justice. Communities in the U.K. will now know that if they commit FGM they will be brought before the courts.

"Prosecution is crucially important, but it is vital that the Government work to support those working in the communities to stamp out FGM, ensuring no future generations of girls suffer this crime."

Product safety symbol another Brexit hit for businesses

Responding to reports that the Government has drawn up plans to make companies change their packaging, advertising and products to replace the CE safety symbol in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:
 “Brexit has lost the Conservatives the right to claim they are the party of business. If we needed more evidence they didn't care, then here we are. It is within Theresa May's power to take no deal off the table, she is simply using it as an option to frighten people into supporting her already defeated deal.

 "However, Liberal Democrats are clear any Brexit will be damaging for business and result in a loss of jobs. The only way out of this mess is a people’s vote, with the option to remain in the EU.”

Friday, February 01, 2019

Tories failing to act on modern slavery in car washes

The Liberal Democrats have called for urgent action to tackle modern slavery in hand car washes after Conservative Ministers rejected a licensing scheme in their response to the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report published yesterday.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“Yet again the Tories are failing to take the necessary action to tackle modern slavery, even though Theresa May once called it ‘the great human rights issue of our time’.

“Both a committee of MPs and the Government’s own Director of Labour Market Enforcement have called for a trial licensing scheme to prevent car washes exploiting vulnerable people. Conservative Ministers, however, have decided to ignore them. Instead they are leaving it up to the public to choose ‘responsible’ businesses on the basis of a kitemark.

“The victims of human trafficking and modern slavery deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must urgently give the anti-slavery authorities the powers and resources they need to inspect car washes and enforce the law.”