Monday, April 30, 2018

Cable: supermarket mega-merger must be referred to competition watchdog immediately

Sainsbury’s and Asda have agreed a merger which would account for 30% of the UK grocery market, further concentrating the market in just a few hands. 

Commenting, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: 

“The grocery market - and the British shopper - already suffers from the mid-market being dominated by just a handful of big players. What the merger of the second and third biggest supermarkets threatens is the creation of even more concentrated local monopolies, so it is obvious that there must be an investigation by the Competition & Markets Authority, starting immediately.” 

Now Rudd has resigned, Theresa May’s role in the Windrush scandal must be questioned

Responding to news that Amber Rudd has resigned over the Windrush scandal, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said: 

“It’s clear that Amber Rudd has ended up, at least partly, being the fall guy to protect the Prime Minister. Theresa May must face questions now given these dreadful failures largely took place under her watch as Home Secretary.” 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Lib Dems back safe standing at football grounds

Commenting on the launch of the joint campaign by the English Football League and Football Supporters' Federation calling on fans of EFL Clubs to ‘Stand up for Choice’ on the issue of licensed standing areas at stadiums Liberal Democrat Peer Don Foster said: 
“I am delighted to see the EFL and FSF call for clubs to have the right to introduce safe standing at their grounds if they want to. Liberal Democrats are committed to changing the law to introduce this right, and I introduced a Bill in parliament in 2010 that would have made this possible. 
"Safe standing is already allowed in many other sports and it can be safely introduced. The government should stop standing in the way of this and let clubs introduce a system that would help provide more choice, and a more affordable experience for everyone.”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Charter win sets bar for civil, political, social and economic rights

Liberal Democrats have voted with a majority of cross-party Peers in the House of Lords to inflict another defeat on the government. 

An amendment to retain the Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK law was successfully moved and is the third defeat for the government in the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Lords at Report Stage.

Commenting on the victory, Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords, Lord Newby said: 
“The Charter of Fundamental Rights has been a key component of EU law since 2000 and has set the bar on civil, political, social and economic rights.

“The UK’s continued use of this piece of legislation shows the rest of the world that we are still committed to the highest standards on human rights and the principles of the Charter going forward.”

Wherever Universal Credit is introduced the pressure on local food banks goes up

Responding to reports that the Universal Credit roll-out is leading to an increased need for food bank parcels, Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson Stephen Lloyd said:
“Wherever Universal Credit is introduced, the pressure on local food banks goes up; in Hastings last year it soared by a shocking 80%. Given major cuts to benefits since 2015, it’s no wonder that many more vulnerable people, tens of thousands, are having to go to Food Banks just to feed themselves and their children.
"Theresa May and her Conservative government are continuing their utterly merciless attack on the poorest and most desperate in our society. I would urge they stop before it’s too late, by ending the benefits freeze, pausing the roll-out of Universal Credit and reversing the swingeing work allowance cuts, so that work really  does pay.”

Capita warnings show it's time to break-up big government contracts

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has challenged ministers to break-up large government contracts so the public sector is less dependent on "a handful of financially fragile" outsourcing contractors. 

Vince Cable secured an Urgent Question on Capita on Tuesday after the outsourcing giant revealed losses of more than £500m last year. Capita has also launched a £700m fundraising to reduce its vast debt pile. The news follows the collapse of another major government contractor, Carillion, in January. 

In the Parliamentary debate, Vince Cable said: 

"What steps has the government taken to reform the system of procurement so that we do not have companies low-balling to win contracts which then make losses? [What steps] have then been taken to break-up some of these contracts so that we are not over dependent on a handful of financially fragile companies?" 

May must address concerns about access to Home Office data

Commenting on Theresa May’s refusal to maintain people’s access to their data in the Home Office, Vince Cable said:
“The Prime Minister refused to address the growing concerns about government plans to remove people’s right to access their own data in the Home Office.
“If EU citizens lose access to their data, it would be impossible for them check mistakes made, which could change their right to remain status.
“The Tories cannot be trusted with treating 50,000 people from the Windrush generation fairly. It is impossible to see how anyone can trust them with 3 million EU citizens after Brexit.

Government must create specific up skirting law

The government is set to consider making upskirting a specific offence. Justice Secretary David Gauke has said he is reviewing the current law to "make sure it is fit for purpose".

This breakthrough comes after efforts by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse and campaigner Gina Martin to ensure the law is changed so that upskirting is made illegal. Wera’s Bill to make upskirting an offence had it first reading in March and she has been demanding change from both the Justice Secretary and Equalities Minister on the issue.

Commenting on the Justice Secretary’s plan to review the law, Wera Hobhouse MP said:
“It is great to see that the government are taking this seriously. Upskirting is a horrific crime and it is shameful that it is not already an offence in England and Wales.

“Changing the law would see a focus on the victims and the crime committed against them. It would also mean that finally the true scale of this issue can be brought to light. Upskirting causes serious emotional distress and it is essential that victims are given adequate support and recourse.  
“I will continue to fight for upskirting to be made what it should be: a criminal offence.”

Monday, April 23, 2018

EU - Mexico agreement

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, text

See how the EU-Mexico trade agreement benefits companies and communities across the EU

Sunday, April 22, 2018

We cannot tolerate suffering due to government inertia

Responding to the news that Allied Healthcare will file for protection from creditors, Liberal Democrat former Health Minister Norman Lamb, said:

"The implications of this potential corporate failure could be really serious for those who depend on the company for home care.

"The financial difficulty that Allied Healthcare faces is symptomatic of a sector in serious trouble. Across the country providers have been withdrawing from the provision of local authority commissioned care and focusing instead on the private market. We face the prospect of those with money getting good care and those without, suffering. 

"It seems everyone except the Government recognises a system under impossible strain. This reinforces the need for a comprehensive, long term settlement for the NHS and social care - and, to achieve that, the Government has to overcome its reticence to working with other parties so that we can build a consensus. We cannot tolerate vulnerable people suffering as a result of the Government’s inertia and complacency.”

Allied Healthcare in Wales: the company has homes in Carmarthen, Haverfordwest and Swansea. We await a statement from the Health Minister.

Vince Cable: tech sector threatened with ill-thought-out legislation

Responding to Jeremy Hunt's letter to large tech corporations, leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

"Although clearly action must be taken to address the disproportionate power of large tech corporations, Hunt is wrong to threaten this sector with more ill-thought-out legislation. 

"Technology and social media are here to stay, and we must establish a long term solution rather than allow MPs to rush out with outrage and criticism, making erratic, piecemeal changes every time they want to score political points.

"As outlined in my speech earlier this week, we need an independent standards body with the ability to hold the tech industry to account."

Electoral identification rules must be reviewed

Responding to the leaked EHRC letter revealing that ethnic minorities may be disproportionately affected by new electoral identification rules, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“The government has proven itself unable to strike the right balance between preventing the very limited electoral fraud we see, and encouraging as many people as possible to vote.

“After the pilots for this May’s council elections, ministers must guarantee the evidence is reviewed independently, and make clear they that will act if there is any sign that ethnic minorities were put off voting by these new ID tests."

Friday, April 20, 2018

A government not fit to negotiate Britain’s future global role

Commenting on the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Jo Swinson said:

“Pinning all our hopes for the future of UK trade on the Commonwealth is reckless.
“The UK currently exports nearly five times as much to the EU as it does to the Commonwealth countries. If Theresa May thinks that she can simply replace the EU market with new agreements with Commonwealth countries she is deluded.
“The government wanted to use CHOGM as an opportunity to develop new relationships. Instead it has embarrassed itself in front of the whole world with the Windrush fiasco and alienated several Caribbean countries in the process. This government is not fit to negotiate Britain’s future global role.”

Persecution of whistleblowers must be punished

Commenting on the decision to fine Barclays boss Jes Staley, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: 

“I welcome today’s announcement from the FCA and PRU, which recognises and penalises Mr Staley’s unacceptable persecution of whistleblowers at Barclays.
“Whistleblowers have played a crucial role in exposing misconduct at the time of the financial crisis and since. They must be supported not suppressed, and banks – or any other organisation – that try to do so must be held accountable and punished. 
“While some punishment is better than no punishment, Mr. Staley has been allowed to continue in his role, and it remains to be seen how substantial the fines levied on his salary will be. Barclays’ relief at the judgement suggests this penalty may not be enough to disincentivise similar behaviour in future, both there and elsewhere.”

Thursday, April 12, 2018

English local government election campaign has started

Image may contain: text

Good luck to our fellow party members standing in English council elections, in record numbers.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Conservatives failing thousands of vulnerable domestic violence victims

Responding to reports that thousands of domestic violence victims abandon cases after being denied legal aid, Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey commented: 

“The Conservatives pledged to expand access to legal aid in cases of domestic violence, but have failed to make good on this promise, and continue to let down thousands of highly vulnerable victims.

“The Prime Minister’s talk on tackling domestic violence amounts to nothing if she and her Government continue to ignore the evidence from authoritative reports like this.
“Vulnerable individuals attempting to escape an abuser must be granted financial support. Means-testing domestic violence victims might be saving the Treasury money, but it is ruining lives, and allowing abusers to continue to control their victims.”

Amber Rudd's desperate defence of police cuts "nonsense on stilts"

Responding to Amber Rudd's statement on increases in violent crime, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said: 
 "It’s nonsense on stilts for the Home Secretary to argue lower police numbers don’t matter in the fight against serious crime and she knows it.
“Amber Rudd’s desperate defence of police cuts is a crude attempt to shield the Prime Minister from blame. It was Theresa May who so enthusiastically culled police officers.
“The alarming rise in violent crime in London and elsewhere of course can’t just be blamed on police cuts – there are always multiple causes of crimes. That’s why Liberal Democrats have consistently argued for a broad range of measures, with a much greater focus on crime prevention and investment in communities and young people.
“Yet the really dangerous, irresponsible simplification in this debate is Ministers arguing that new laws are the key solution.
“The strongest evidence suggests that a return to well-resourced community-based policing, with intelligence-led targeting, is the best solution.
“The problem for Rudd is that admitting that would amount to the Conservatives acknowledging that Boris Johnson’s cuts to community police during his term as Mayor were wrong, and that Theresa May’s slashing of police budgets bears some responsibility.
“Yet the public won’t ignore the fact that at the start of this year police numbers hit record lows and we witnessed a 14% increase in crime, with knife and gun attacks increasing the most; the fastest rate since national records began."

Lib Dems respond to reports of chemical attack on Syrian civilians

Responding to the use of chemical warfare in Douma, Syria, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Jo Swinson, said:
"The devastating reports and images from Douma point to a heartless, inhumane and illegal chemical attack by Assad's forces, killing innocent Syrian civilians, including children.

"The international community must loudly and unequivocally condemn this vicious, ruthless act. United Nations investigators must have access to gather evidence so that those reesponsible can ultimately be held accountable for the war crimes committed"