Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Home Office report highlights the appalling extent of slavery in the UK

Commenting on a Home Office report into "the economic and social costs of modern slavery" Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“Monday’s Home Office report lays bare the huge costs of modern slavery to both our society and our economy.
“The extent of slavery in the UK today rightly appals us. Theresa May once called it ‘the great human rights issue of our time’, but many of her own policies are now undermining efforts to tackle it.
“The Conservatives’ ‘hostile environment’ policies, cuts to the police and the Border Force, and their insistence on a destructive hard Brexit, all make it more difficult to protect victims and put traffickers behind bars.
“Liberal Democrats demand better in the fight against modern slavery. I call on Theresa May to abandon these harmful policies so we can end slavery in the UK once and for all.”

Friday, July 27, 2018

Government completely neglecting the future of research

Commenting on figures which reveal the extent to which top UK universities rely on Horizon 2020 funding Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

"As these figures show, UK universities have benefited from Horizon 2020 funding to the tune of hundreds of millions of pounds - helping to keep them at the forefront of innovation and research, and rated among the best in the world. 
"Yet, the Conservative Government have completely neglected the future of research in their negotiations with Brussels and have not been able to offer our universities any clarity about whether this funding will continue.  It is no wonder thousands of academics have resigned from UK universities in the last year. 

"If we want our universities to remain world-leading, then we must guarantee this vital source of funding. We must give the people the final say on the deal and the opportunity to Exit from Brexit."

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Cable: Government must focus on damaging takeovers from US data companies

Commenting on a white paper into foreign takeovers, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“The Government is rightly concerned about the security impact of overseas takeovers. But they should be focusing on the damaging takeovers made by big US data companies that harm Britain’s long-term capabilities in AI and related fields.

“The European Commission is demonstrating serious awareness of this problem and is taking action. It is not at all clear how the Conservatives would deal with these big tech companies in the event of their chaotic plans for Brexit going through.

“We believe that the Competition & Markets Authority must be much less supine when it comes to takeovers. It is currently stuck with an old model that only seems to judge competition through rising prices rather than market dominance.”

Monday, July 23, 2018

Davey: Use of the death penalty - no matter the crimes involved - is wrong

Commenting on reports that the UK government will not block death the penalty in the case of Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said: 

“The crimes committed by these terrorists are amongst the most heinous imaginable. Clearly these two individuals present a serious danger to the public and the argument that they should spend the rest of their lives in prison is overwhelming. 
"However, the use of the death penalty - no matter the crimes involved - is wrong. By refusing to stand up to Donald Trump's administration on this issue, Sajid Javid has abdicated his responsibility to uphold fundamental human rights. He has undermined the UK's efforts to end the use of the death penalty around the world.
“We will only ever see an end to terrorism by sticking to our morals and principles. If the Conservative Government once again dances to the tune of a dangerous US President it will do nothing but fan the flames of terror.”

Amazon warnings are deeply worrying

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake MP has warned that there is “no returns policy” when it comes to Brexit following reports Amazon’s UK Manager, Doug Gurr, has told the Tory Government that the UK would face “civil unrest” within weeks of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Brake said: 

“Although Amazon were referring to an extremely unlikely scenario, warnings of this nature from leading business leaders are embarrassing for the Tories, and deeply worrying for the public when it comes to the state of our economy.

“The Tories are delivering an absolute mess of a Brexit. Time is running out to prevent this disaster, and when it comes to Brexit there is no returns policy. 

“The best way to avoid a crisis is to give the people the final say on the deal, and an opportunity to Exit from Brexit.”

Frank Little, candidate for Neath at the last general election, added:

"Dr Gurr has not spelled out publicly his scenario of how Amazon could be involved in the descent into unrest, but the implication is that several of the company's distribution centres, including the one in Neath Port Talbot would become unprofitable, resulting in hundreds of redundancies locally."

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Drug advisers right to recognise need for reform

Responding to calls from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs to enable doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis, former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb MP said: 

“The recommendation from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs that doctors should be allowed to prescribe medicinal cannabis is more than welcome. The Government now has a moral duty to accept this advice and change the law without any further delay. 

“People should never be left to suffer when medicinal cannabis can safely relieve them from pain. However, there is also a mountain of evidence backing the case for legalising and regulating cannabis for recreational use as well as medicinal use.

“That is why Liberal Democrats are the only party campaigning for a regulated cannabis market in UK, with robust and responsible licensing, as opposed to a market run by criminals who have absolutely no interest in people's welfare.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Gove would have said anything to secure leave vote

Responding to Michael Gove's comments acknowledging that he misled voters on Turkish immigration during the EU referendum campaign, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“Gove’s acknowledgment of the fearmongering at the heart of the Leave campaign just goes to show that high profile leave campaigners, such as Gove and Johnson, were willing to say anything to secure a leave vote.
“Gove’s admission only strengthens the Liberal Democrats’ call for a final say on the Brexit deal and an opportunity to Exit from Brexit."

Friday, July 13, 2018

Government must safeguard our forces

Commenting on the Public Accounts Committee’s report into the Ministry of Defence’s contract with Annington Property Ltd ("Forces homes deal disastrous for taxpayers and worse could follow"), Liberal Democrat Armed Forces Spokesperson, Jamie Stone MP, said:

“The UK’s armed forces play a crucial role in the defence of the nation, and Liberal Democrats believe that it is the role of government to safeguard the interests of service personnel and veterans.

"Not only has this deal cost taxpayers billions, the lack of clarity around future negotiations adds to the uncertainty faced by many forces families who have for far too long endured poor standards of subsidised accommodation.

"The MoD needs to clarify its negotiating position and bring coherence to its strategy. The Department must treat the quality of housing it provides as a priority. The number of empty properties must be reduced and all armed forces families ought to be able to expect service family accommodation of a high quality.”

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Trump's divisive and disruptive behaviour damages NATO

Commenting after attending Donald Trump's NATO press conference Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Defence Menzies Campbell said:

"Today NATO was treated to a stream of unconsciousness from the US President. Throughout the summit Trump's behaviour has been disruptive and divisive. His determination to describe the summit as a success beggars belief.

"No US president in living memory has ever been as damaging to NATO as Trump.

"Adding insult to injury he is off to meet President Putin whose aggressive behaviour in recent times has only served to emphasise the vital importance of NATO as a defensive alliance."

Prisons Inspector's report shames government

Responding to a report from the Chief Prisons Inspector Peter Clarke on prison conditions, Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said: 

“The prison conditions described in this report should shame the Government.
“Prisons should be centres of rehabilitation, yet these inhumane conditions show prisons are purely punitive.
“The Conservatives cannot continue to treat prisoners as though they are subhuman.”

Vince says: Trump is fast becoming Britain’s enemy

Commenting on Donald Trump’s visit to the UK, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said: 

“Trump is fast becoming Britain’s enemy. He is trying to destroy the rules-based system of trade and cooperation on which we depend. 

“Trump befriends autocrats and despises democrats. He does not rate NATO; he even regards the Canadians as a threat to US national security.

"Those businesses and other leaders who fraternise with Trump should be careful of their reputations.” 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

May's new Brexit Minister a slap in the face for our thriving university sector

Commenting on the appointment of Chris Heaton-Harris – who previously wrote to universities asking for the names of those who teach courses on Brexit and the content of their lectures – as Brexit Minister, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:
“Chris Heaton Harris’ letter to British universities was straight out of a dystopian novel and an attempt to spark a witch-hunt against academics and academic freedoms.
“To learn that he has been appointed as a Brexit Minister by the Prime Minister would be laughable if it wasn’t such a slap in the face for our thriving university sector.
“It seems that Theresa May’s new Brexit strategy is to appoint ministers who will try to clamp down on anyone in society that doesn’t believe in her miserable little Chequers compromise.”

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Chequers Agreement leaves economy exposed

Figures released by the ONS this morning show that GDP growth for the three months to May was just 0.2%, with services the only positive contributor to growth, and both construction and manufacturing contracting.
Commenting on the figures, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“These unimpressive growth figures, with manufacturing and construction declining and services the only sector keeping the economy afloat, highlight the utter inadequacy of the so-called plan ‘agreed’ by the Cabinet last Friday.

The Chequers Agreement, by conceding lower access for services to crucial EU markets, leaves 80% of our economy exposed after Brexit.
“The only way to protect jobs and businesses is to remain in the EU. That is why the public must be given a final say on the Brexit deal, with the option to remain”.

Legal ivory trade fuelling mindless slaughter of elephants

Catherine Bearder MEP, Chair of the MEPs For Wildlife group reacts to the shocking Avaaz study on ivory released today.
Avaaz, in collaboration with Oxford University, tested 100 pieces of ivory across the EU and found 74% were from elephants killed after the 1947 CITES ban.  
Bearder said:

"These shocking results show that the supposed 'legal' ivory market is actually driving the mindless slaughter of elephants.

"It is time for all EU countries to introduce a full ivory ban with a limited number of exceptions for exceptional art works."

Sunday, July 08, 2018

May's soft fudge will satisfy nobody

Commenting on the outcome of the Chequers summit, Lib Dem Exiting the EU Spokesman Tom Brake MP said
“May’s soft fudge will satisfy nobody - Leavers, Remainers, business or the EU. It leaves the UK a rule taker on goods and agricultural produce, puts the UK services sector at great risk and could fall foul of the EU’s ‘no cherry-picking’ and deliverability rules.
“The PM may have secured a Tory truce and lip service to cabinet collective responsibility, but she does not have collective public support for her plans. That is why the public deserve a final say on the deal and a chance to exit from Brexit.”

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Legalise recreational cannabis too

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Judith Jolly has called for cannabis to be legalised for recreational use following news the Government have commissioned the second part of a review into cannabis-related medicinal products. Judith Jolly said: 
“The benefits of medicinal cannabis for those with chronic illnesses is clear, but even William Hague recognises the strong case for legalising cannabis for recreational use too.
"Only the Liberal Democrats are campaigning for radical drugs reform and a regulated cannabis market in the UK, with robust and responsible licensing, as opposed to an unregulated criminal market. 
"The war on drugs just simply isn’t working. The Tories should open their eyes to the evidence and extend this review to consider legalising cannabis for recreational use."

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Tories have broken their promise to ban pensions cold calling

Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd has today slammed the Tory Government for failing to meet their deadline to ban cold calling by companies selling pension products.
During debates on the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, Treasury Minister John Glen committed to “ban pensions cold calling quickly” and promised to make a statement to Parliament if he failed to do so by the end of June.
That deadline has now passed and Stephen Lloyd is demanding that a minister appears before the House of Commons to explain the reasons for the delay.
The Government commitment to ban pensions cold calling was secured by Liberal Democrat peer John Sharkey through winning key amendments in the House of Lords to ban cold calls from organisations selling various financial services.
Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson, Stephen Lloyd MP, said:
“A cold calling ban for pension products is urgently needed to protect the most vulnerable in our society from harassment and deception.
“The proposed ban had cross-party support, including from the Work and Pensions Select Committee, and the Government said they were committed to bringing in the ban as soon as possible. But this promise sounds increasingly hollow.
“Whilst the Treasury is hopelessly consumed by Brexit, they are standing by as vulnerable people are deprived of their financial security.
“The Tories have promised to get on with this. It is past time they did.”

Government must commit to torture and rendition inquiry

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP has reiterated calls, ahead of President Trump’s visit to the UK next Friday, for a full public inquiry into what British Intelligence agencies knew about US kidnap and torture of suspected terrorists after 9/11.
Speaking yesterday in the House of Commons, Ms Jardine urged the Government to “ensure a judge-led inquiry takes place, in order to show that the UK stands firmly opposed to this violation of human rights.”
Sir Alan Duncan MP, Minister of State for Europe and the Americas, confirmed the Government would “maintain its integrity” on human rights.
The exchange followed the publication of two reports by the parliamentary intelligence and security committee last week into the scale of UK involvement in torture and rendition.
Ms Jardine said:
“President Trump, who is due to visit the UK next Friday, has openly endorsed torture. That is abhorrent and these practices are completely unacceptable.
“The Government must therefore be unequivocal with the President and condemn his comments on torture and recommit UK support for the absolute torture ban.
“Moreover, if it is the case that UK intelligence was aware of reprehensible behaviour by a foreign agency then there must be a full inquiry.
“That is the only way the UK can maintain its integrity on human rights.”

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Blistering implications of no deal for NHS

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens has admitted, on the Andrew Marr Show, that the NHS is now preparing for a no deal Brexit.

Responding to Stevens' interview, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

"Stevens' admission confirms the ever-increasing probability of a no deal Brexit. It is undeniable that leaving the EU without a deal would devastate our health service. 

"Stevens, an outspoken critic of the Government, was forced to bite his tongue when Andrew Marr pushed him on the consequences of a no deal. That is because Stevens knows it would have blistering implications, from staffing levels to the availability of drugs.

"A no deal scenario must be avoided at all costs. The public need a final say on the deal and an opportunity to exit from Brexit."

Frank Little, secretary of Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats, points out that the same considerations - a drying-up of drug supply and a flight of trained staff - would also impact the NHS in Wales and the other devolved administrations.