Friday, October 22, 2021

Leaked climate report: UK oil drilling and Cumbria coal mine must be cancelled

Responding to the leaked documents revealing countries lobbying the UN to play down the impact of fossil fuels, Liberal Democrat Climate Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:
"These leaks show the Conservatives have their work cut out for them if we're to get a good outcome from COP. It is vital the world moves away from fossil fuels, but it is hardly a shock that countries still dependent on them are trying to play down their significance.
"But the Tories are supporting fossil fuel expansion too, from a new coal mine in Cumbria to expanding oil drilling in Surrey. The UK cannot tell other countries to transition away if we're still backing new projects on our doorstep.
"Liberal Democrats want a successful COP, but without the cancellation of both these projects we are unlikely to see it."

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Government new heating plan "kick in the teeth for families facing soaring bills"

Reacting to the Government's new low carbon heating announcement, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change Wera Hobhouse MP said: 

"These plans are a kick in the teeth for families across the country facing soaring energy bills this winter.
"These proposals will do nothing to lift people out of fuel poverty and hardly make a dent in the emissions produced from homes. And they will help around just 1 in 300 homes, whilst millions of households face record high bills due to rising gas prices.
“We urgently need an emergency programme of investment to better insulate our homes, cut emissions and end fuel poverty. Instead the government is delaying the inevitable while condemning millions to eye-watering bills for years to come.”

Ed Davey on Net Zero: Government ignoring City of London "elephant in the room"

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has warned that the Government's new Net Zero Strategy is ignoring the "elephant in the room" by failing to include measures to stop investment in fossil fuel industries through the City of London.
The former Energy and Climate Change Secretary is calling for new oil, gas and coal companies to be banned from the London Stock Exchange and for urgent action to stop the UK hosting the world’s fossil fuel investments.
Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:
“The UK must be net zero as soon as possible - Britain’s economy needs it just as much as the world’s climate does. Yet rapid progress to net zero just isn’t possible while the Government keeps ignoring the elephant in the room.
“The UK produces just 2% of global emissions, so to really impact the global fight against climate change we need to stop financiers in the City of London funding the world’s fossil fuel industries.
“Whilst millions of people across the UK are doing the right thing, often making difficult decisions to live more sustainably, big finance and big fossil fuel giants are raking it in hand over fist on dirty coal, oil and gas deals. 
“If the Conservative Government is really serious about Net Zero it will get this dirty money out of the City of London.”

Friday, October 15, 2021

Butcher visas: Groundhog day for half-baked visa schemes

Reacting to the Government giving overseas butchers a six month temporary visa, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Food and Rural Affairs Tim Farron MP said:

“It is groundhog day again as Ministers scramble to rush out another half-baked and inadequate visa scheme.
"If Ministers think the answer to the shortages we face is a handful of temporary visas for one sector after another, they are badly mistaken. They just can't seem to learn from their mistakes. 
“Businesses across the UK are suffering because of the Conservatives’ damaging new immigration rules, imposed in the midst of a pandemic. The answer must be to rewrite those rules and abolish the arbitrary distinction that rejects key workers such as care staff and HGV drivers as ‘unskilled’.”

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Dowden admits only 20 fuel tanker drivers from overseas on UK roads


Responding to Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden's comments this morning on HGV drivers, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“It is staggering that just 20 fuel tanker drivers from abroad who applied to work here are now on UK roads. 

“In the face of a national crisis and our ports going into gridlock, the response from Conservative ministers is too little too late. This incompetence will mean more empty shelves and more misery for British consumers in the run-up to Christmas.

“The immigration system is broken, and it is hurting everyone. The government needs to end their arbitrary rules that shut out lorry drivers as ‘unskilled’ and take visa applications away from the Home Office to get them decided quickly and fairly.”

Davey: Fuel poverty report shows government is failing millions of households

The government has missed its 2020 fuel poverty targets and is already at “high risk” of failing to meet its goals for 2025, a report by the Committee on Fuel Poverty has found.

Commenting on the findings, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Energy Secretary Ed Davey MP said:

“The Conservatives are failing millions of hard working families and leaving them in fuel poverty at a time when energy bills are rocketing.
“As a result of this Government’s abysmal failures, people could find themselves unable to heat their homes this winter. With empty shelves in the supermarket and soaring energy bills, the Conservatives are leading us into a winter of discontent.
“The Government needs to step up now and help those struggling to pay their bills. Ministers must expand the Warm Homes Discount now and roll out an emergency programme of home insulation right across the country.”

Hate crimes: Highest on record despite misogyny exclusion

Reacting to new statistics released yesterday which show that there has been a 9% rise in hate crimes since last year - now the highest on record - Liberal Democrat Justice and Equalities Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:

“Violence and abuse of any kind has no place in our society. It is unacceptable that so many people are victimised simply because of who they are. This has to change.
“There are even more hate crimes – against women – that are not included in these statistics, because the Government still refuses to make misogyny a hate crime. It’s time for the Prime Minister to listen to our calls for change, so that crimes motivated by hatred against women are treated as seriously as those motivated by racism or religious hatred.
“Everyone should be able to be who they are and live the life they choose, without fearing for their safety. That demands responsible leadership that celebrates our diversity and condemns the divisive, intolerant rhetoric that inflames hatred.”

High Court ruling on trafficking victims shows Conservatives must abolish hostile environment

Reacting to the High Court's ruling earlier this week that trafficking victims should be granted leave to remain in the UK, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“It shouldn’t have taken a court to tell the Home Office that victims of trafficking – some of the most vulnerable people in our country – should be protected. Instead of appealing this judgment, the Government should implement it in full, so that victims are supported when they come forward, helping to bring their slavers to justice.
“The Conservatives’ hostile environment is undermining the fight against modern slavery. Priti Patel must abolish it and put tackling these evil criminal gangs first.”

Action needed to tackle surge in homelessness of women and girls

Responding to concerns from homelessness charities that the number of women relying on their services is increasing, Liberal Democrat Women and Equalities Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:

"The Conservatives pledged to end rough sleeping, but now their policies are making it worse - especially for women and girls. They ignored all the warnings about cutting Universal Credit and ending the eviction ban, and now we are seeing the tragic results.
"No one should be forced to sleep on the streets. The Government must get on with the job of ending rough sleeping by 2024, including banning 'no-fault' evictions as they promised more than two years ago."

NI Protocol: Tories talking casually on breaking international law

Reacting to Lord Frost's speech in Lisbon yesterday on the UK-EU relationship and the Northern Ireland Protocol, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs and Northern Ireland Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“This Conservative Government is playing out like a badly-written farce. The same minister who just months ago was trumpeting the Government's botched Brexit deal now says it’s intolerable and has to be changed.

“After all the upheaval British businesses have suffered and all the challenges they face now, they need certainty and support from the Government, not more pointless posturing. The solution to disruption and shortages is working together with our friends and neighbours, not picking needless fights.

“Boris Johnson's Conservatives have got to stop talking so casually about breaking international law. Every time they do this, it weakens the UK’s standing with our closest neighbours and around the world."

Monday, October 11, 2021

Rishi Sunak recycling aid money deals "damaging blow" to UK reputation ahead of COP summit

The Liberal Democrats have warned a UK government decision to effectively slash the aid budget by billions more pounds will send "completely the wrong message" to the world ahead of next month's COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
It comes after it was a reported that the Chancellor Rishi Sunak will include the UK's share of financial assistance provided by the International Monetary Fund through Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) as part of the 0.5% aid target. The move is expected to reduce the aid budget by another £4bn to £5bn over a number of years.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and International Development Layla Moran MP said:

"This Conservative government has dealt yet another damaging blow to Britain's global reputation, by recycling aid money to avoid helping the world's poorest people.
"It sends completely the wrong message to the world ahead of next month's crucial climate summit. 
"Rishi Sunak should listen to the voices within his own party urging a rethink and reverse this mean-spirited decision. The UK should also use the money from its windfall to boost the UN Green Climate Fund, and urge our partners at the G7 to do the same ahead of COP26."

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Raab's comments on misogyny are callous and insulting

Responding to the news that new Justice Secretary Dominic Raab does not understand the meaning of misogyny, Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:
“It’s little wonder the Conservatives are failing to tackle misogyny when their Justice Secretary doesn’t even seem to know what it is.”
"These comments are an insult to the millions of women and girls impacted by misogyny and show just how out of touch the Conservatives are on this issue. 
"Women and girls deserve better than these callous remarks. The Government must make misogyny a hate crime so that police forces take these crimes more seriously and support women and girls who are being so desperately let down."

Green electricity: PM full of "bombast and bluster"


Local Lib Dems party secretary Frank Little writes:

The Conservatives had to find a new hall in Manchester for Boris Johnson's keynote speech because the normal conference venue was not big enough to accommodate his ego. Before he even shambled on to the platform, Liberal Democrats called him out for being full of “bombast and bluster” on green electricity, pointing to the Government’s poor record on renewables.


Amidst all the careless use of statistics and the downright lies, the Prime Minister indeed waxed lyrical about huge offshore wind farms and made extravagant claims about how much of Britain's electricity will come from renewable sources.


But a recent analysis by the Liberal Democrats found that UK renewables growth is actually at its slowest rate since 2010. The UK also recently fired up old coal power plants to meet the nation’s electricity demand, as gas prices have soared.


Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Climate Emergency and Energy, said:


“Yet again this Government is guilty of chasing headlines whilst failing to take the necessary action to achieve what they claim they can.


“The Conservatives have utterly neglected the UK renewables industry to the point where coal power stations are being fired up. They need to come clean on a firm end date to fossil fuel use in the energy sector, but Boris Johnson studiously avoids this topic.


“It’s insulting that the Prime Minister is talking a good game on green electricity whilst families are left feeling the pinch this winter, thanks in no small part to the UK’s overreliance on gas and Government inaction on renewables.


“Liberal Democrats nearly quadrupled renewable energy in government, but the Tories have since dropped so many balls on this they could fill a children’s crèche. 


“If we’re to make any significant progress towards meeting these green ambitions, we need serious investment in renewable energy - not a Prime Minister full of bombast and bluster and a Government dragging our green record through the mud.”

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Tory donor scandal: Electoral Commission must launch investigation

Responding to reports about a prominent Conservative donor in the leaked 'Pandora papers', Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said:
"It is simply wrong that wealthy donors get privileged access to Conservative Ministers, while millions of people and small businesses have been excluded from their support throughout the pandemic. It’s even worse when those donors are seemingly implicated in corruption themselves.
"The Electoral Commission should launch an immediate investigation into these allegations. The Tories must comply with this investigation and explain what they are doing to stop the flow of dirty money into the UK and apparently into their own party coffers."

Tory ministers' attacks on Human Rights Act must end

Responding to Dominic Raab's comments on the Human Rights Act, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Home Affairs Alistair Carmichael MP said:
"This Conservative Government’s attacks on human rights and the rule of law must stop.
"Trying to weaken people’s ability to challenge the Government just because the courts sometimes rule against you is the act of dictators and despots, not democrats.
"Liberal Democrats will oppose any attempts to water down the Human Rights Act and will always defend individuals’ abilities to challenge the government and uphold their rights."

PM refusing to make misogyny a hate crime is "out of touch" and "tone deaf"

Responding to the news that Boris Johnson does not support making misogyny a hate crime, Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:

"Violence against women and girls is endemic in our society. Since the tragic death of Sarah Everard, 80 women have allegedly been killed at the hands of men. We need stronger political leadership for a huge culture change.

"The Prime Minister today ruling out making misogyny a hate crime shows just how out of touch and tone deaf he is.

"Making misogyny a hate crime is a crucial step at the heart of reforming our criminal justice system, which has failed women and girls for too long. Yet this Conservative government is refusing to look at the real causes for violence against women and girls.

"Women and girls are being desperately let down time and time again, and this Tory Government is cruelly ignoring them."

Pandora papers: Foreign property ownership law must be introduced when Parliament returns

The Liberal Democrats have demanded that the Conservatives finally bring in long-delayed legislation to tackle money-laundering through UK properties as soon as Parliament returns later this month.

It comes as the latest revelations from the Pandora papers suggest that £4 billion worth of UK property has been bought using offshore firms.

The Conservative government still hasn’t introduced legislation to establish a public beneficial ownership register of overseas entities that own UK property, despite promising it nearly five years ago. A draft bill was published in 2018 and was mentioned in the 2019 Queen’s Speech, but the law still hasn’t been introduced to Parliament.

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran commented:

“The stench of corruption and sleaze at the heart of the Conservative party is becoming hard to ignore.

“The Conservatives have been sitting on this legislation for years, despite repeatedly promising to act. In that time millions of pounds worth of UK property has been bought using offshore firms, including it seems by major Conservative party donors.

“The government must introduce this long-delayed legislation as soon as Parliament returns. The longer they wait, the more this looks like a deliberate delay to help their wealthy donor friends.”

EU HGV driver visas: Elastoplast solution is dismal failure

Responding to the news that the Government has only received 127 visa applications from EU HGV drivers, Liberal Democrat Business Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:
"The Government's sticking plaster solution to recruit drivers at the last minute has been exposed as a dismal failure.
"Ministers knew that their new immigration rules were worsening the HGV driver shortage for months, yet they sat on their hands and waited until it was too late. This lack of leadership has let down all those people still struggling to fill up their tank and go about their daily lives.
"The Government must urgently treat this crisis with the urgency it deserves. They need to stop branding HGV drivers and other key workers as 'unskilled', and allow them to work here for a longer period instead of sending them packing after a few months."

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Sunak's £500m support fund "cold comfort" for struggling families

Responding to the news that the government will launch a £500m support fund for vulnerable households this winter, Christine Jardine MP, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson said:

"This will be cold comfort for struggling families seeing their universal credit slashed and facing the risk of eviction.
"People need a generous package of support to help them cope with soaring gas bills this winter. Instead Rishi Sunak is offering then some crumbs off the table. He’s kidding himself if he thinks this will be enough to prevent the looming winter of discontent.
"If the chancellor really wanted to support vulnerable households, he would scrap his cruel cuts to universal credit and the planned tax hike that will kick people and businesses when they're already down."

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Grant Shapps "passing the buck" on fuel shortages

Reacting to suggestions made by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps that fuel shortages are a crisis "manufactured" by the public and "one of the road haulage associations", Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Business, Trade and Transport Sarah Olney MP said:

“Grant Shapps is shamefully passing the buck for the Government’s own failures.

“The Conservatives have repeatedly ignored calls from businesses to address the shortage of drivers. It is a bit rich for ministers to now blame the public and the road haulage industry for the mess we find ourselves in.
“The Transport Secretary should focus on getting a grip of this crisis instead of trying to duck responsibility.”

Friday, September 24, 2021

NHS and care workers to face £900 million tax bill under National Insurance hike

Nurses, care home staff and other health and social care workers will pay over £900 million more in tax under Boris Johnson’s increase to National Insurance, new research reveals.

Analysis by the House of Commons Library commissioned by the Liberal Democrats estimates that those working in health and social care will pay 12% of the £7.4 billion expected to be raised from employees through the tax rise. The estimate also doesn’t include those working in health and social care who are self-employed, meaning the real figure is likely to be even higher. The Liberal Democrats said this showed the government was launching a “tax raid on NHS and care home heroes” who have been on the frontline of the pandemic.

The research also shows the expected tax hike that will be faced by those working in the NHS and social care next year due to the 1.25% increase in national insurance. A nurse or midwife on an average salary will see their tax bill rise by £310 next year, care home workers will pay around £140 more and ambulance staff will see a £420 increase. The average NHS worker across all staff groups will pay £315 more a year.

The Liberal Democrats are warning that the government’s plans will do nothing to fill the estimated 120,000 vacancies for social care workers, and will actually make them worse by hammering those working in the sector with a tax rise. The party is calling for measures to give care staff the pay and recognition they deserve, as well as an increase to the carer’s allowance to £1,000 a year.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

“Boris Johnson’s broken manifesto promise amounts to a £900 million tax raid on our NHS and care home heroes.

“These are the nurses, ambulance drivers and care workers who worked day in day out to save lives on the frontline of the pandemic. Now their reward is to be hit with a tax bill worth hundreds of pounds, at a time when incomes are being squeezed by the cost of living crisis.

“The Conservatives must rethink this unjust tax hike that will disproportionately impact those on low and middle incomes. Their plans risk worsening the staffing crisis in our care homes instead of fixing it.

“The Liberal Democrats will offer a fair deal for our carers, along with an increase to the unpaid carers’ allowance to give them the pay and recognition they deserve.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Afghan interpreter data breach is shocking betrayal

Responding to the news that the Ministry of Defence has ordered an investigation into a data breach involving the email addresses of dozens of Afghan interpreters who worked for British forces, Liberal Democrat Defence Spokesperson Jamie Stone said:
"This is shocking and truly a betrayal. It is deeply unworthy of the standards all of us had thought defined British honour.
"Ministers must to see to it that whoever in Government oversaw this horrific blunder is no longer in a position of responsibility.  All decent people will expect no less."

Monday, September 20, 2021

Ed Davey on energy crisis: Taxpayers risk footing bill for government failures

Commenting on the gas energy crisis, Liberal Democrat leader and former Energy Secretary Ed Davey said:
“The Conservatives have taken their eye of the ball by failing to insulate millions of people’s homes and diversify our energy supply. Now taxpayers risk having to foot the bill for the Conservatives’ energy policy failures over the last six years.
“We now need urgent action to end this crisis and prevent families having to choose between eating and heating this winter.
“Today ministers must restore calm to the market and consider creating a Northern Rock style energy company to take on customers of companies that have gone under.
“But we also need a massive home insulation programme so we are prepared for the next crisis. The Liberal Democrats are demanding that all UK homes are upgraded within ten years - including fully funded grants for those in fuel poverty and on low incomes.”

Friday, September 17, 2021

22,000 fraud cases dropped by the police last year, new figures show

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Home Secretary Priti Patel of being “asleep at the wheel” in the fight against fraud, after the party revealed that over 22,000 investigations into fraud cases were dropped by police last year.

Analysis of Home Office figures shows that between April 2020 and March 2021, 22,420 fraud cases were closed without a suspect being identified, an increase of 20% on the previous 12 months. Only 9% (4,853) of all the 51,870 cases closed in 2020/21 resulted in a suspect being charged.

The Liberal Democrats are demanding an urgent government strategy to tackle the fraud epidemic, support victims and catch the criminals responsible.

Online fraud has soared during the Covid pandemic, with internet banking fraud more than doubling between 2019 and 2020. Those falling victim to scams are also often not receiving their money back, with just £147 million (47%) of the £312 million of losses to bank transfer fraud being reimbursed last year. [Scale of losses is shown in a pdf here]

At its Autumn conference today (Monday 20 September), the Liberal Democrats will call on the government to step up efforts to tackle fraud and support the estimated 3.5 million people who fall victim to this crime each year. Measures being proposed include naming and shaming banks with the worst records on fraud, making it mandatory for banks to refund blameless victims and requiring social media companies to do more to clamp down on scams on their platforms.

The party is also calling for a real-time warning system for scams to be established allowing people to report suspicious activity, along with an Online Crime Agency to effectively tackle illegal content and activity online.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“The country faces a growing fraud epidemic, yet Priti Patel is asleep at the wheel.

“Far too many criminals are getting away with this appalling crime, and far too many victims are being left without justice.

“It is a national scandal that vulnerable people are being abandoned after losing life-changing sums of money.

“The government must urgently toughen up its approach to fraud, ensure victims are refunded and give police the resources they need to catch those responsible.”