Tuesday, October 31, 2017

No serious action on "crack cocaine" fixed-odds betting terminals

The maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals could drop to as little as £2 under a government review announced today. The government have launched a 12-week consultation exploring ways to reduce the risk of problem gambling.

Gambling campaigner and Liberal Democrat peer Tim Clement Jones, who had a Private Members' Bill calling for a £2 maximum stake, said:

“The Liberal Democrats have been calling for the maximum stake to be reduced to £2 for nearly a decade and pressed the issue during the Coalition.

“We are glad that the government are finally addressing FOBTs, as these machines are highly damaging to some of society’s most vulnerable, but we need to know when real action will be taken, this consultation cannot be another attempt to push this issue into the long grass.”

Jane Bonham-Carter, Liberal Democrat Culture, Media & Sport Spokesperson, added:

"Problem gambling is wrecking lives and FOBTs allow people to lose hundreds of pounds in minutes, this is clearly a problem that needs fixing.

"This is a welcome step in the right direction but every day without serious action more lives are wrecked by the financial damage of gambling addiction." 

Cable: City job losses show no deal Brexit would be "foolish"

It has been reported that the Bank of England believes up to 75,000 financial services jobs could be lost as a result of Brexit, particularly in the event of a no deal in the sector. 
In response, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: 

“The analysis by the Bank of England shows what is at stake should the government be foolish enough to takes on a course that crashes us out of the European Union.
“The financial services sector is extremely important to the UK economy and for job creation. The sector is also a major source of government revenue at a time when finances are weak.
“It’s clear the so-called WTO alternative – a no deal – would be hopeless for our financial services industry. Crashing out of the European Union would be a foolish and damaging act that should not even be considered.”

Sunday, October 29, 2017

We need action on gender pay gap, not Theresa May's warm words

Responding to Theresa May's call on smaller companies to voluntarily publish their gender pay gap, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson said:

"It was the Liberal Democrats in government who ensured large companies have to report their gender pay gaps.

"If the Prime Minister is serious about wanting more companies to publish their pay gaps, we need action not warm words.

"Theresa May should introduce penalties, and name and shame companies who don't comply.

"At the last count, fewer than 1% of large employers had published their gender pay gap, six months into the reporting year."

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Cable: Chancellor must act to unlock EU Investment Bank funding

Vince Cable has called on the government to urgently take action to ensure UK organisations don't lose out on loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The housing association Stonewater has said it may build around 300 fewer homes, after its application for a £100m loan ground to a halt because the EIB is waiting for assurances from the UK government.

Other projects still waiting for approval by the EIB include a £500m loan to upgrade signalling on the London Underground, a £375m loan to build Bombardier trains, £100m to upgrade a hospital in Hampshire and £60m for economic development in the North East.

Liberal Democrat Vince Cable commented:

 “The European Investment Bank is a vital source of low-cost loans for infrastructure in the UK.

 “But funding to build social housing, upgrade transport links and improve hospitals is all being put on hold because of the deadlock in the Brexit talks.

“The Chancellor must urgently act to ensure the UK can continue to benefit from this vital infrastructure funding.

“All the talk of a no Brexit deal is not helping to resolve this impasse.

“We need clarity from the government over our future role in the European Investment Bank, whether the UK will have its own infrastructure bank and if so how quickly it will get off ground post-Brexit.”

A no deal Brexit would cost Neath Port Talbot £370 million

New research by the London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance and the Liberal Democrats has revealed just how damaging a no deal Brexit will be to Neath Port Talbot.

A no deal Brexit will mean an economic hit of £370,000,000 to Neath Port Talbot.  

David Davis and other members of the cabinet have recently been talking up a "no deal Brexit", but this data show that the country simply couldn't afford it.

If the UK exits the EU in March 2019 without a deal, Britain's economic output (gross value added) in the five years after Brexit would be reduced by 5.3%, or £430 billion.

Even if the UK agreed to a Norway style arrangement with full single market access, this would still result in a reduction to five-year economic output of 2.9%, or £235 billion.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson Frank Little said:

 "These figures a real indictment of the government's strategy. David Davis is still talking up the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, yet these figures suggest that this would cost Neath Port Talbot
 a ruinous £370m over five years. Even a relatively soft Brexit could cost the area £270m.
"The government must end the uncertainty and confirm its commitment to stay in the single market and customs union.
"The study suggests that, for Neath and Port Talbot, Mrs May's "clean break" would be devastating."

Cable: Rise in personal debt as insolvencies reach 5-year high

Vince Cable has warned that a rise in personal debt and insolvencies will get worse if the Bank of England goes ahead and raises interest rates.

It comes as figures showed that the number of people registering as insolvent in England and Wales hit a five-year high in the three months to September.

In total 27,807 people in England and Wales registered as insolvent between July and September, the biggest total since the third quarter of 2012.

Applications for individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) – a way to manage personal debt – reached a record high of 15,523.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:
"These worrying figures demonstrate the unsustainable situation we find ourselves in, with personal debt growing many times faster than the wider economy.
“Pay packets are falling behind rising prices, leading to increased borrowing.

"Now growing numbers of people are simply unable to pay back that debt, with all the financial and psychological difficulty that entails.

“If the Bank of England does indeed raise interest rates as expected, this will only exacerbate the problem.
“This underlines the need for the government to urgently implement proposals for a breathing space to help those in serious debt.”

Friday, October 27, 2017

Save the Royal Marines!

No further cuts to the Royal Marines.

The government has just announced cuts of 200 Royal Marines.
This is disgraceful. The Royal Marines’ expertise is unparalleled. Strong, flexible and incisive, they keep us, and the world, safe.
Join Paddy Ashdown and the Lib Dems in our call for no further cuts to the Royal Marines - sign our petition today:

The May government shows utter disdain for Parliament

Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom, yesterday released a Written Ministerial Statement stating that the response to government defeats on opposition motions will now take the form of a written statement up to three months after the vote has taken place. This follows a slew of votes in recent weeks where Conservative MPs have been whipped to abstain.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said:

“This is the latest example of a Conservative government who are showing utter disdain for parliament.

“Responding to Government defeats in the form of a vacuous written statement, delivered up to three months after the fact is unacceptable. This shows the shocking lack of respect the government have for parliament, and the people we seek to represent.”

NAO report criticises Hunt over failure to prepare for NHS cyber attack

Jeremy Hunt was warned about the risks of cyber attacks on the NHS a year before the devastating WannaCry attack, a damning report by the National Audit Office has revealed.

Reports by the National Data Guardian and the Care Quality Commission warned the Department of Health in July 2016 that cyber attacks could jeopardise access to critical patient record systems.

However, the Department didn't publish its formal response to the recommendations until July 2017, two months after the Wannacry ransomware attack.

The NAO report also concluded that all the NHS organisations hit by the cyber attack could have taken relatively simple action to protect themselves, but that the Department for Health had no formal mechanisms in place to assess whether trusts were properly prepared for a cyber attack.

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Judith Jolly commented:

“This damning report shows Jeremy Hunt was warned about the risks of cyber-attacks on the NHS but failed to act.

“Such a simple cyber-attack should never have been allowed to bring the NHS to its knees in this way.

“Thousands of patients had their operations cancelled due to the government’s complacency.

“Ministers must ensure lessons are learned and that NHS trusts have the resources to defend themselves against future cyber-attacks.”

Local Liberal Democrat Frank Little commented:
"Top marks to our devolved NHS administration in Wales for taking cyber-security seriously and thus avoiding the crippling attack on NHS computers in England."

Arrests fall by half as police left overstretched and under-resourced

The number of arrests in England and Wales has halved in the past decade despite a recent rise in crime, statistics today have revealed.

The total number number of arrests has fallen from 1.5 million in the year ending March 2008 to 779,660 in the year ending March 2017.

Arrests have fallen by 12% in the past year alone.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey commented:

“There are many factors behind this fall in arrests, including the increase in fixed penalty notices and summons.

“But there is no doubt that our police are increasingly overstretched and under-resourced.

“Officers facing a large backlog of work will be more reluctant to tie themselves up with another arrest.

“Unnecessary arrests should be avoided, but there is a real danger that criminals who should be going before the courts are being let off with a warning.“

Thursday, October 26, 2017

May pledges U-turn on supported housing "cruel and heartless policy"

Theresa May has announced a U-turn over plans to apply the Local Housing Allowance cap to supported housing, a move that could have hit thousands of elderly and vulnerable people.

The Liberal Democrats have now called on the government to also U-turn on its decision to scrap housing benefit for 18-21 year-olds.

Wera Hobhouse MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Communities and Local Government, commented:

“This cap would have hit the most vulnerable in our society, including the homeless and victims of domestic violence living in shelters.

“It is right that the government has U-turned on this cruel and heartless policy.

“Ministers must now reverse their damaging decision to scrap housing benefit for 18-21s, that risks pushing more young people into homelessness.

“This would show that today's decision was not a one-off and that the government has started to rediscover its moral conscience.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Hammond slaps down Sajid Javid over £50bn for housebuilding

Philip Hammond has rejected Sajid Javid's suggestion the government could borrow billions of pounds to to fund new housing.

Vince Cable at Treasury questions yesterday said he was glad the government has agreed to borrow an additional £50bn for housebuilding. However, the Chancellor replied that this is not government policy

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“There was a brief shaft of light when it seemed the Treasury had finally agreed to finance public sector house building through borrowing.

“Sadly Sajid Javid has been slapped down by the Chancellor, who denies all knowledge of the commitments that the Secretary of State made over the weekend.

“This is bad news for families struggling with soaring rents and younger people increasingly shut out of the housing market.

“We’re left with the absurd situation where councils can borrow from the Treasury to engage in property speculation on the other side of the country, but can’t borrow to build more housing for their own residents.”

Reopening of Heathrow consultation shows that government case is deeply flawed

Chris Grayling yesterday announced that a public consultation into the planned third runway at Heathrow Airport has been reopened to include new evidence.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“I urge all those concerns about the environmental and social impact of Heathrow expansion to made their voice heard through this consultation.

“The fact this consultation has had to be reopened shows the government’s case remains deeply flawed.

"It is difficult to see how a third runway can be delivered without breaching legal air pollution limits.

“We will continue to work with other parties in Parliament to stop Heathrow expansion in its tracks.”

Lib Dems strike a blow against dodgy cold calls

Liberal Democrats in the Lords, led by John Sharkey, have won key amendments to the The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill which could bring an end to cold-calls from organisations selling financial services. 

The Bill is designed to merge three existing financial and pension guidance services – the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise – into one Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB).

The amendments won yesterday mean that the Secretary of State will be able to bring in a ban on cold calling, if the SFGB finds cold-calling detrimental to consumer protection. 

Commenting, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Lords, Dick Newby, said: 

"Liberal Democrats are delighted that the government has had to accept our amendments on this vital issue. Cold calling is a scourge of modern society and companies flogging financial services often prey on the most vulnerable."

"This move is another step towards ending the menace of cold calling once and for all."

GDP growth at 0.4% while construction sector tips into recession

Responding to today's GDP figures, which showed the economy grew by 0.4% but the construction sector shrank for the second quarter in a row, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

"“This is a welcome, if modest, improvement in economic growth.

“But the economy is still growing at historically low levels, while people’s living standards continue to be squeezed by high inflation.

“It is also worrying to see the construction sector, which tends to act as an economic bellweather, tipping into recession.

“The Chancellor must use next month’s budget to boost the economy by investing in housing and infrastructure.

“This is especially important if the Bank of England does take its foot off the accelerator and announce an interest rates rise.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Cable: FCA report confirms RBS took small businesses to the brink

The Financial Conduct Authority has confirmed it is investigating whether “further action” is needed against Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) for the way it treated small business customers. 

In 2013, then Business Secretary Vince Cable commissioned a report by Lawrence Tomlinson that alleged RBS of pushing SMEs to the brink of financial ruin for their own profits, sparking the FCA investigation.

The regulator published an interim summary of its independent review into RBS’ treatment of SMEs that were put into its Global Restructuring Group during the depths of the financial crisis.

RBS claims the most serious allegations have not been upheld, despite a litany of criticisms levelled at it by the FCA’s report. Today’s news, however, comes amid reports the police are conducting inquiries into the GRG units conduct.

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:

“RBS is trying to play down the significance of the findings in the interim FCA report.

"More than 90% of potentially viable businesses saw their cases mishandled and, even worse still, one in nine of all businesses thrown into the GRG division likely suffered material financial distress by RBS’ actions.

“These findings cannot be simply dismissed with what was, at best, a qualified apology from RBS’ chief executive.

"The report reaffirms the need for a robust regulatory regime to protect small businesses from being exploited by the banks, which still do not seem to have grasped the significance of the terrible pain they caused during the financial crisis.”

Monday, October 23, 2017

Conservatives are not taking border force seriously

The National Audit Office report on the UK border that was released at the weekend shows:
  • Over the past four years the Border Force workforce has reduced by 4%.(Page 24)
  • If the existing entry regime for non-EEA nationals is extended to all EEA arrivals, UK Visas and Immigration will need to make 230% more decisions a year.(Page 27)
  • If customs declarations are required for trade between the UK and the existing EU, HMRC estimates that the total number of customs declarations could increase by around 360.(Page 27)

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said: 

“This independent report shows the stark reality facing Britain’s border security. A 4% cut in the workforce over the last few years risks undermining public confidence and increasing illegal immigration. Added to this is the Brexit disaster which could lead to a potential 360% increase in customs declarations, and a more than doubling in the number of entry checks.

“What this could mean is gridlock for millions of people returning from their holidays waiting longer for their passports to be checked, and a backlog of lorries entering and leaving the UK. This is not what people voted for.”

Vince says that cuts have fatally undermined whole purpose of Universal Credit

Vince Cable and Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson, have penned a joint letter to David Gauke to reverse the cuts to the work allowance in the Budget, which they say has "fatally undermined the whole purpose of Universal Credit"

The letter warns the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions  that "reducing work allowances – even abolishing them entirely for people without children – will both worsen poverty and severely weaken incentives to work."

The letter references analysis published at the weekend by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealing that keeping the work allowance at current levels – as opposed to restoring it to its previous levels – will push 340,000 people into poverty in 2020/21. 310,000 of these live in families with children. 

Universal credit: waiting period must go, agrees Archbishop

Responding to Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu's comments that the six-week waiting time for universal credit must be cut as the idea that people have a nest egg to fall back on is "grotesquely ignorant" Stephen Lloyd, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson, said:

"Now we have the Archbishop alongside a former Conservative Prime Minister in John Major, and a good number of backbench Tory MPs, in agreement with the Liberal Democrats over universal credit.

"All these objectors are emphasising to the government that the current system is not sustainable and that they must shorten the waiting period before new universal credit recipients receive their money. 

"I am hoping that the government now do the right thing before many thousands of our fellow citizens are driven into a downward spiral of debt."


Friday, October 20, 2017

Cable: Retail sales fall as shop prices see biggest rise in five years

Retail sales fell sharply by 0.8% in September 2017 compared to the previous month, figures published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics have revealed.

Meanwhile prices in the shops increased by 3.3% compared to last year, the largest annual rise since March 2012.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

"This fall in retail sales shows shoppers across Britain are feeling the Brexit squeeze.

“A toxic combination of rising prices and stagnant wages is severely constraining household spending.

“Year on year retail growth is also looking weak compared to previous years.

“Given the UK’s unhealthy over-reliance on consumer spending, the government must clarify where future economic growth is going to come from.”

Rise in violent crime shows May failing to back police in England and Wales

Violent crime has increased by 19% in the last year, figures published today have revealed.

Knife crime was up 26% year-on-year, while overall crimes increased by 13%.

Commenting on the reported rise in violent crime, Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson, said: 

“People’s lives are under threat because Theresa May is failing to back Britain’s police.

“These increases in violent crime are frightening and it ought to be government’s first priority to protect the public. Yet with her police cuts, Theresa May has gone soft on crime and is letting the country down.

“Theresa May was the Home Secretary for six years: she ought to understand the needs of the police. Instead, she has left them out in the cold.”

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Gauke's premium rate climbdown cold comfort

Following an announcement by Stephen Gauke that the Universal Credit hotline will be made free, Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesperson Stephen Lloyd said:

“I welcome the government's change of heart, but it is no compensation to the those on the breadline who have already been fleeced. Given the mess of Universal Credit, this is likely to become the hotest hotline in Britain.

"To even think about charging our most vulnerable citizens before they received their benefit shows just how out of touch the Conservatives are over Universal Credit.

"To prevent the car crash which is clearly heading our way over their whole UC project I urge, yet again, the government to pause the programme before it is too late and tens if not hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable are broken on the ideological wheel of a deeply flawed and cruel new benefits initiative.”

Fresh thinking needed in Northern Ireland

Responding to James Brokenshire’s comments that power-sharing talks in Northern Ireland are stalling, Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dem Spokesperson for Northern Ireland, said:
“The comments from the Secretary of State regarding the current state of the talks process in Northern Ireland is deeply troubling. There are very real consequences for the people of Northern Ireland with the continuing stalemate – budgetary decisions are waiting to be taken, NHS targets are being missed and waiting lists are getting longer, and there is uncertainty for economic investment. Northern Ireland is also lacking a voice in the crucial Brexit negotiations.
“It is clear that the Government and political parties now need to consider fresh approaches to finding an agreement. The Government must now move from a closed DUP-Sinn Féin format towards a more multilateral process, bring in an external mediator, and make it clear that other approaches to the formation of power-sharing government will be considered.”

Vince Cable responds to think-tank's report on inequality

A report by the IPPR has revealed that wealthiest 10% of households have five times the wealth of the bottom 50% and nearly 900 times the wealth of the bottom 10%.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“This report reveals just how unequally wealth in the UK is distributed.

"When the richest 10% of the population are almost 1,000 times wealthier than the poorest 10%, it puts the very existence of social mobility in 21st century Britain into question.

"Tackling inter-generational inequality and the growing concentration of wealth will require radical solutions, including reforms to the taxation of land, property and inheritance.

“Our current tax system, by focusing on income rather than wealth, facilitates the accumulation of unearned assets while punishing productive activity by individuals and businesses.
"The Liberal Democrats are the only party committed to changing this, in order to achieve the fundamental re-balancing our economy so sorely needs."

Govt must listen after Universal Credit defeat

The Liberal Democrats have accused the government of treating parliament with contempt by ordering their MPs to abstain at the end of the Universal Credit debate, and have now called on ministers to listen after their defeat.
Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions spokesperson Stephen Lloyd MP said:
"The government has shown contempt for parliament by yet again seeking to ignore votes that happen to be inconvenient. Parliamentary votes are meant to matter, this is not a debating society.
"None of this changes the fact that the government's Universal Credit proposals are a slow motion car crash. The government lost the argument, and now it has lost the vote. 
"Ministers must now re-consider these proposals that will draw millions into poverty. Parliament has spoken, the government has a duty, a moral duty, to now listen.

"Maybe it is Theresa May who needs to ring an emergency hotline to get some help running the country."

Jo Swinson responds to Social Mobility Commission report on low pay

Responding to the Social Mobility Commission's report which has found millions of workers remains trapped in low-paid jobs, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson:

“This report shows that a whole section of society are being failed by this government and remain permanently trapped in low-paid work.

“This is only being made worse by the Conservatives’ pursuit of an extreme Brexit that is damaging businesses, pushing up prices and hitting the poorest hardest.

“We urgently need to invest more in education, including adult learning, to improve social mobility and help people escape from poverty.

“Employment rules must be made fit for the 21st century, to strengthen rights and increase security for workers.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Brexit squeeze gets worse as inflation reaches 5-year high of 3%

Vince Cable has called on the government to end the benefits freeze, after figures showed consumer inflation has reached a five-year high of 3%.

Rising food prices made a large contribution to the change, with an increase of 0.8% between August and September 2017, compared with a 0.4% fall last year.

It comes as analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found the benefits freeze is expected to leave over 10 million families an average of £450 a year worse off in real terms by 2020.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable commented:

“The Brexit squeeze caused by the falling pound is getting worse, and it is hitting the poorest families hardest.

“This above-target inflation is increasing the cost of the weekly shop and cutting into people’s living standards.

“The Chancellor must end the benefits freeze that is set to leave millions of families hundreds of pounds poorer a year.

“Above all, the government must change course from a destructive Brexit that would damage living standards and push up prices further.”

Government plan on foreign takeovers doesn't go far enough

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable says that the government Green Paper on foreign takeovers does not go far enough.

Vince Cable said:

“There is a powerful case for strengthening public interest case on takeovers, as indeed I argued following the attempted takeover of Astra Zeneca.

“However the government’s proposals as they stand are far too narrow.

“Their scope must be widened to properly defend Britain’s entire science base, not just a narrow subset of businesses in the military and computer hardware sectors.

“In recent months, several of our high-tech companies have been snapped up by foreign competitors taking advantage of the cheap pound.

“These underwhelming proposals from the Government are unfortunately a case of too little, too late.”


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Parliamentary Boundary Review is a dead duck

Liberal Democrat chief whip Alistair Carmichael MP has called on the government to stop wasting money on a dead-duck boundary review and scrap it.

Alistair Carmichael said:

“The DUP will not wear this review. Nor will many Tory backbenchers. The government should stop wasting public funds and bow to the inevitable.

“But if by some miracle it does go through, the Liberal Democrats will fight and win seats on these boundaries, in considerably stronger numbers than we managed last time.

“We will be making representations in the final eight week consultation for retaining strong community ties just as we have done at every stage of the review.”

Monday, October 16, 2017

Vince says Vauxhall should be given reassurance

Following the news that Vauxhall is to shed 400 jobs at its Ellesmere Port plant, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said ahead of a Commons debate on the subject that the government must give the car manufacturer assurances over the single market:
“As Business Secretary in the coalition I put in place measures to keep Ellesmere Port open protecting against the loss of 2,800 British jobs. Vauxhall has been making cars in the UK for over a century and is a significant employer. 
“We need Vauxhall to continue to make cars in the UK. The company has said that its future investment here is on hold until the government can give greater clarity on the UK’s trade with the EU post-Brexit.
“So every worker receiving a P45 will know that government in-fighting is hitting Vauxhall investment. It is time the government gave the assurances manufacturers need that Britain will continue to have full access to the world’s largest market.

"Given that foreign investment has fallen from a £120bn a year surplus to a £25bn a year deficit, the government needs to wake up fast to the rising level of concern in the business community about the state of the British economy.”

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Penalty for causing death by dangerous driving to be increased

The Government have committed to raising the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life. This follows a campaign spearheaded in Parliament by former Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland, who introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill with cross party support last year calling on the government to make these changes.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey MP said:
"Liberal Democrats welcome the government's commitment to raising the maximum sentence for those who cause death by dangerous driving, and for careless drivers who kill while under the influence of drink or drugs.

"The devastation caused to the loved ones of those killed through criminal driving is heartbreaking. This move will ensure justice for the families of victims and serve as a clear warning that dangerous driving will be tackled with the full force of the law."

Saturday, October 14, 2017

"Every time Trump opens his mouth, the world becomes a less safe place."

Responding to news that President Trump is expected to withdraw backing from the nuclear accord with Iran in a speech later today, newly appointed Liberal Democrat Defence spokesperson Menzies Campbell, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem said: 

"This is yet another example of Trump's boneheaded belligerence. 

"Not content with senseless responses to every provocation of Kim Jong Un, he is determinedly undermining a treaty which has proved to be an important influence on nuclear non-proliferation. 

"Every time Trump opens his mouth, the world becomes a less safe place."

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dr Fox's one-man make-work scheme

Commenting on news that International Trade Secretary Liam Fox's new Board of Trade has only one member, Liam Fox, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said: 

"Talk about a job creation scheme.

"The Secretary of State, no doubt embarrassed by his lack of a real role in Government beyond accumulating millions of air miles, has had to invent a grandiose title for himself.  It will convince nobody.

"The signing of the first trade deals are years away, whereas the damage to our existing largest trade deal, with the EU, is happening now."

Conservatives trashing Lib Dem legacy on apprenticeships

Commenting on official apprenticeship levy figures that show a 61% fall in starts, Leader of the Liberal Democrats and former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills,  Vince Cable said:

“As Secretary of State I presided over a huge increase in the quantity and quality of apprenticeships. It was a system that gave millions a chance to develop new skills and find work. The Conservatives are trashing that legacy.

“It is damning that this government are giving new apprentices such a poor deal. Hundreds of thousands of people will lose out from the opportunity to enter high skilled work.

“We should be working towards a system that helps all people, no matter their background, get an opportunity to get ahead in life. These figures expose a major setback towards that goal.”

Vince announces reshuffle

Vince Cable has appointed his first team of principal spokespersons since becoming leader this summer.

The team includes notable strength in depth on the economy, foreign affairs and local government at a time when the impact of Brexit, social inequality and lack of investment is fostering tensions in these areas. 

Cable said:

“I am fortunate to lead such a great, gender-balanced team, which is comprised of the most talented and promising politicians in the House of Commons and battle-hardened, experienced campaigners.

“The team has a wealth of senior ministerial experience. It also includes the former council leaders of Newcastle and Liverpool, signalling my intention to restore and build on our local government base.”

Former leader Tim Farron will take up a new position focused on regenerating the north of England. This is a sign of the Lib Dems’ commitment to building a more balanced national economy and making sure the government delivers on the Northern Powerhouse. Farron will also lead on rural affairs.

Another former leader, Menzies Campbell, has been appointed principal defence spokesman. The broader foreign affairs team includes deputy leader Jo Swinson, international affairs spokesperson Shas Sheehan and armed forces spokesperson Jamie Stone.

Cable will represent the party on economic and business issues in the Commons, reflecting his expertise and experience in predicting the causes of the financial crisis and his five years as Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills.

The party’s economic credibility is further strengthened by the appointments of Susan Kramer, Chris Fox and Lorely Burt to treasury, business, and small business briefs in the House of Lords. All have economic or business backgrounds and political experience in these portfolios.

Christine Humphreys holds the Wales portfolio. The complete list is here.

Full to bursting prisons have become academies of crime

Responding to comments by the president of the Prison Governors Association that prisons in England and Wales are "full to bursting" and the number of inmates should be reduced, Jonathan Marks QC, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson, said:
“The Government must listen when people on the front-line speak up. Prison numbers are sky high and it is this overcrowding that has led to the violence and complete lack of control and discipline in our prisons.

"It is time that Theresa May and her Cabinet stopped pandering to the right-wing press and started doing what works to turn prisons into places of rehabilitation.

"Today’s Chief Inspector’s report shows once again that our prisons are in deep crisis.  Unless the Government get a handle on this, our prisons will simply continue as academies of crime, cutting prisoners off from society for a while, then letting them out to re-offend, with new criminal contacts and new criminal skills.

"We must turn our prisons into places for reform and rehabilitation, education and training and tackling prisoners' issues.  If we don't we will just increase the misery crime inflicts on victims, offenders and all their families and communities.”

Frank Little, Liberal Democrat candidate for Neath in the 2017 general election, added:
The rise in the prison population has led to suspension of the programme of closing old unsatisfactory prisons. It could also lead to "category creep" in the super-prison to be built in the Swansea Bay area, so that what is planned as a Category C gaol would be pressed to take overspill of career and violent criminals from England.

Government's Internet Denial Of Safety

Responding to the proposals set out in the Government’s Internet Safety Strategy, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey commented:

"The substance in this Green Paper falls far short of its ambitious title.

"We must make the internet a much safer place – particularly for young people.

"But that means the hard graft of better digital education, faster reporting of problems and stronger partnerships with industry.

"Regrettably this Government is still in the blame game, scapegoating and castigating internet firms, and failing to see the huge economic benefits of investing in better digital education.

"Hopefully this Green Paper will be the last of the weak policy reheats and signal the start of real hard work on this issue."

Trump should be under no impression that UK endorses his views

Commenting on the postponing of a Trump state visit, Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, said:

“It is entirely right that when Donald Trump visits he will not be given red carpet treatment.

“Trump should be under no impression that the United Kingdom endorses his abhorrent views.

“If Trump makes a normal visit in the future, Theresa May must stand up for our fundamental values and use it to pile pressure on Trump to move away from his destructive positions on climate change, civil rights and foreign affairs.”

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Farm profits may halve after Brexit - Farron

Farm profits could fall by as much as half after Brexit, new research suggests.

The report, by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), says the "worst-case scenario" would cut average farm profits from £38,000 a year to just £15,000.

Former Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron commented:

"This shows what a disastrous situation ‘no deal’ would be for farmers and the future of our rural communities.

"The Government’s inability to make progress on negotiations is leaving farmers in the lurch and creating huge uncertainty.

"Farmers are unable to plan for the future and make informed business decisions because they do not know if tariffs will be imposed, what the cost and availability of workers will be and what level of support will be available.

"Farmers need a commitment from the Government that the billions of pounds currently received by British farmers from the EU will still be available post-Brexit.

"This should involve farmers being rewarded for providing public goods, rather than on the size of their farm, so the money is distributed more fairly."