Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Grayling's complacency on airline route access is breathtaking


Responding to reports that the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has admitted to members of the Airport Operators Association that no talks on route access have been undertaken in preparation for Brexit, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Baroness Randerson said:

“Grayling’s complacency is breathtaking and is not shared by the aviation industry, who are at the sharp end of the uncertainty Brexit has created.

"Only last week the NAO reported on the lack of preparation at our ports and airports and the huge economic and security impact that is likely to have. Instead, the Tory Government is happy to muddle on leaving passengers with huge uncertainty. Liberal Democrats demand better.
“This Government have been saying that everything will be fine for over two years, but they have never attempted to grapple with the complex detail Brexit. This is why the Liberal Democrats are demanding a final say on Brexit with an option to remain in the EU.”

Chancellor ignores rising violence and worsening prison crisis

Responding to the Chancellor’s Budget today, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:
“Given the sharp rise of serious violence on our streets and the worsening crisis in our prisons, it’s almost unbelievable that the Chancellor’s Budget contained not a single penny to tackle these problems. Merely promising to ‘review police spending power’ isn’t nearly good enough.
“Liberal Democrats demand better. We are calling for an extra £300 million a year to boost community policing and urgent investment to recruit more prison officers.”

Fiscal Phil's sticking plaster Budget

Responding to the Chancellor's Budget, Liberal Democrat Leader and former Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

“This was all very modest stuff, with more in it for potholes than schools and the police. A standstill non-event. 

“With growth remaining stubbornly low and Brexit weighing down our economy, it is clear the big problems are still to be tackled. It was a sticking plaster Budget, when major surgery lies ahead.

“If we are to see an end to austerity, then we need a proper injection of cash - at least £19bn according to the IFS - in our public services. The Chancellor said he could end austerity without raising taxes, but that is highly unlikely in practice.

“The Chancellor dined out on the borrowing improvements the OBR has given him, but these are overshadowed by the damaging impact Brexit will have on the UK's public finances. These costs, which could reach £80bn a year in the event of 'no deal', risk turning today's Budget into a sideshow."

Conservative government throws in the towel on halting climate change

Responding to Chancellor Hammond's Budget, former Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said: 

“This budget is grossly disappointing for those, like me, who care about fighting climate change and protecting the environment. The Chancellor has simply thrown in the towel.

"The Tories have frozen fuel duty, slashed electric car subsides, committed £30bn to new road building and promise to continue at the same level subsidies to the oil and gas industry, while offering a measly £60 million to planting new trees, as if that will negate the damage they’re doing.

"Liberal Democrats demand better. We would deliver a green budget, which promises more investment in renewable energy, not fossil fuels, borrowing to invest in infrastructure like rail, buses and electric vehicle charging points.”

Another year of the crack cocaine of fixed-odds betting terminals

Responding to the Chancellor's announcement today that the £2 maximum stake for Fixed-Odds-Betting-Terminals will not be implemented until October 2019, former Liberal Democrat Communities Minister Lord Foster said:

"We know with absolute certainty that this delay will see yet more lives ruined by these highly addictive machines. 

"Communities up and down the country see the damage that can be done when hundreds of pounds can be lost in minutes, if not seconds, day after day.  

"Families will be despairing tonight that a problem gambler that they care about faces another full year of living captive to these machines until the Government steps in and does the right thing."

Chancellor's Universal Credit spending barely recovers half the cuts of his predecessor

Responding to the Chancellor's Universal Credit plans from the Budget, Liberal Democrat DWP spokesperson Stephen Lloyd said:

“After stubbornly resisting for far too long, the Government has finally responded to pressure from the Liberal Democrats and put back some of the money into the Universal Credit Work Allowance, which they stupidly cut the moment we were no longer around to stop them. 
“However, the £1.7 billion per year the Chancellor committed to still does not make up for the £3 billion pa his predecessor George Osborne slashed from the benefit in 2015. We also heard nothing on ending the gratuitous benefits freeze early, or on making UC fairer for the self-employed. 
“UC’s serious design flaws were also not addressed, from long waiting times that are pushing people into indebtedness, to problems in how landlords are paid housing benefit. The pain caused by the roll-out of UC is not over yet.”

Brexit risks a repeat of the Windrush scandal for EU citizens

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has warned Brexit “risks a repeat of the Windrush scandal for EU citizens” following the appearance of Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes before the Home Affairs Select Committee this afternoon.

 Under questioning, the Immigration Minister was unable to answer how employers would be able to tell the difference between EU citizens who have been living in the UK for five years or more – and are therefore entitled to settled status – and those who haven’t, and would therefore be subject to new controls.
The Home Office is currently trialling the scheme for applying for settled status, but it isn’t due to be fully open until March 2019. The Government has said that EU citizens have until 30th June 2021 to apply. However, the Minister said today that, in the event of ‘no deal’, new immigration controls – including employer checks of immigration status – will apply to EU citizens as of next year.
Following the exchanges, Ed Davey said:
“Millions of EU citizens in the UK have been living under a cloud of uncertainty for more than two years. Far from clearing up that uncertainty today, the Immigration Minister made it worse.
“We’ve already seen in the Windrush scandal how the Conservatives’ hostile environment checks can destroy the lives of people who have every right to be in the UK. The Government’s chaotic approach to Brexit risks a repeat of that scandal for EU citizens.
“Liberal Democrats demand better. Conservative Ministers must end this uncertainty and offer a way out of this mess entirely by giving the people a final say on the Brexit deal, with the option to remain in the EU.”

CPS guidelines must be reformed to tackle ‘sex for rent’

Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Housing, today met the Ministry of Justice to call for the guidelines on prostitution to be updated to include digital platforms to help tackle ‘sex for rent’ crimes.

Following the meeting, Wera Hobhouse said: 
“The housing crisis is leaving many vulnerable individuals unable to afford their rent and at risk of exploitation. ‘Sex for rent’ crimes are not only vile, but completely illegal and the Government must do more to ensure those committing this crime are being brought to justice.
“The current Crown Prosecution Service guidelines for prostitution cover advertising in telephone boxes and newspapers, but not digital platforms. It is vital these guidelines are fit for purpose and police are given the tools they need to stamp out this crime.
“Updating these guidelines is long overdue and further inaction will leave some of the most vulnerable in our society with a choice of homelessness or exploitation.”

Monday, October 29, 2018

Government infrastructure plans lack future proofing

Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson has urged the Government to invest in "rail, low emission buses and electric charging points" as reports indicate the Government is set to announce new investment for roads in the Budget. 

Jenny Randerson said:

"While it is welcome news that the Government will finally set aside much needed investment for our roads, their infrastructure plan lacks any future proofing.

"With climate change an ever greater threat, Liberal Democrats demand better. Ministers should be focusing on a model shift away from car use to public transport. That means investment in rail, low emission buses and electric charging points."

Chancellor should work with EU on taxing tech giants

Responding to reports that the Chancellor is considering a tax on tech giants, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:
“Tech giants have got away without paying their fair share for too long. That is why I have urged the Chancellor on numerous occasions to introduce a new tax, and he has accepted the argument.
“The Chancellor will know the EU has already indicated a new EU-wide agreement is doable. Instead of working in isolation, the Chancellor should be willing to work with our European allies and others around the world. Now is the time to deliver.”

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Cable: Broken business rates system should be abolished

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable has warned that the Chancellor's business rates relief is nothing more than "hand-to-mouth support" and has called for the broken business rates system to be abolished. 

Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: 

"The UK high street is suffering the worst year on record, with in-store sales falling and hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. 

"While I welcome any relief, hand-to-mouth support for businesses simply isn't sustainable. Liberal Democrats demand better. There needs to be a fundamental change to the system. 

"We must create a level playing field between the high street and online retailers. That means scrapping the broken business rates system and replacing it with a tax on land values that would boost investment and cut taxes for businesses in nine out of ten English local authorities."

Government dragging its feet on helping Chagos islanders

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine MP has today demanded the Government address the immigration struggles of Chagos islanders, after the British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill was blocked from advancing for the second time. 

The Bill, which has cross party support, was objected to at its initial Stage 2 reading on Friday 16th March 2018 and has now been blocked in the House of Commons for a second time.

The Home Affairs Committee report on the Windrush generation recommends that the Government support the British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill and “allow anyone who can prove that they are descended from a person born on the Chagos Islands to register as a British overseas territories citizen and thereby have a right to remain in the UK”.

Christine Jardine said:

“The Government cannot kick the can down the road on Chagossians’ futures forever in the hope it won’t be noticed. We will not let them repeat the mistreatments of Windrush. 

“The Home Secretary has promised to consider this appeal for months now. He must immediately confirm whether the government will support the BIOT Bill and quash the worries of the descendants of those evicted from Chagos, who can’t return home and can’t meet the steep costs of citizenship.

“This is is the Windrush scandal all over again. This Conservative Government has neither learned nor changed.”

Government wasting hundreds of millions on short term sentences

Responding to new statistics on the number of people going to prison on short-term sentences, Liberal Democrat spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“The Justice Secretary has admitted that short-term sentences don’t work, and yet we are still spending hundreds of millions of pounds to lock people up for a matter of months.
“Even worse, the Government is now trying to create new mandatory short-term sentences, which will tie judges’ hands and worsen prison overcrowding while failing to actually prevent crime.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. We are opposing the Government’s new mandatory sentences, and calling for a presumption against short prison sentences and greater use of tough community sentences, which have been shown to be more effective at reducing reoffending.”

Friday, October 26, 2018

Minister must answer for ‘secret’ fracking meeting

Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Tim Farron has today called for the Climate Change Minister, Claire Perry, to make a statement to Parliament to explain why she held an unrecorded meeting with fracking companies.

The Liberal Democrat MP also wants the Climate Change Minister to explain her proposed plan to relax rules designed to halt fracking operations given Cuadrilla has been forced to suspend fracking at their Lancashire site after a 0.8 magnitude earthquake was recorded.

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said: 

“The public will expect questions to be asked about the Climate Change Minister and her ‘secret’ meeting with fracking companies. We need to know who Minsters are being lobbied by and what they discussed, otherwise there can be no confidence in the Government. 

“Given the Climate Change Minister has also proposed a plan to relax rules designed to halt fracking, the public have a right to know why. Lib Dems put those measures in place to safeguard communities, as has been the case in Lancashire. 

“The Liberal Democrats demand better. The Climate Change Minister must give a statement to Parliament and be held to account by MPs.”

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Chancellor must use budget to boost community policing

Responding to a report from the Home Affairs Select Committee called 'Policing for the future', Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“Unnecessary Conservative police cuts have already made our streets less safe. The Home Office’s own analysis shows that police cuts have likely contributed to the rise in serious violent crime, yet the Conservatives continue to squeeze forces’ budgets.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. We’re calling on the Chancellor to use his Budget to give police forces an extra £300 million a year to recruit more officers and boost community policing.”
“If the Chancellor refuses to give police the funding they need, he should make sure that some of his extra money for the NHS is used to improve health services for people in mental health crisis, to stop the burden falling on police officers.”

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Hostile environment hinders fight against modern slavery

Responding to the Government's modern slavery report, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said: 

“Theresa May once rightly called modern slavery ‘the great human rights issue of our time’, yet her own policies are playing into the hands of slavers.
“Her hostile environment makes it harder for victims to come forward, cuts to the police and the Border Force have left fewer officers on the frontline, and now Brexit threatens the cross-border co-operation that puts traffickers behind bars.
“Liberal Democrats demand better for the victims of modern slavery. We will end the hostile environment, invest in the police and the Border Force, and fight to protect our cross-border crime-fighting tools.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Lamb: PM should follow Trudeau and legalise cannabis

Responding to the news that Canada has legalised the recreational use of cannabis, former Health Minister Norman Lamb said:

“Theresa May should follow Justin Trudeau’s lead in this liberal and sensible approach to legalising cannabis. As the former Home Secretary, she should know full well that the Government has lost control of drug-related crime in this country; and that the criminal market is causing violence in many communities.  
“An independent expert panel, which I set up in 2015, estimated that by legalising cannabis in the UK we could raise up to £1 billion annually in taxes, money that could be invested in policing, health and education.
“The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to legalise cannabis and take the market out of the hands of criminals, so that we can properly protect young people from the risks of buying cannabis on the streets.”

Tories must not be allowed to run out the Brexit clock

Responding to Michael Gove’s comments that there might not be a Brexit deal until December, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said: 

“The Conservatives are making a mess out of Brexit.

“Theresa May is trying to run out the clock and push Parliament into a bad deal, or no deal at all. The future of this country must not come down to diplomatic filibustering.

“MPs must not allow this form of legislative blackmail. Instead they must give the people the final say on Brexit and an option to remain in the EU.” 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Swinson and Cable call on Hammond to work with EU on taxing tech giants

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling on him to throw his weight behind a new EU tax on tech giants. 

Leader Vince Cable has co-signed the letter, which urges Philip Hammond to use the Budget to set out how he will incorporate the EU's initiative into any Treasury initiative to tax big internet firms. 

Following reports that a new European tax on internet companies could be agreed by the end of the year, Jo said:

“I urge the Chancellor to focus his energy on making this EU-wide tax happen. This is a golden opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.

“Tech giants are getting away with not paying their fair share of tax because we make it easy for them.

"The time to act is now if we want to create a level playing field for businesses in the UK and give our struggling high streets a much needed boost.

“Britain is always at its best when it brings countries together in a common cause. If we want to tax tech giants we must work together with our European allies and others around the globe.”

Monday, October 15, 2018

Action on climate change must replace yet more chat

Responding to news today that the Government will ask the Climate Change Committee for guidance on reaching net zero carbon, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson and former Leader Tim Farron said: 

“We’re well past the time for talking. Driven by ideological compulsion rather than facts, the Conservatives have lurched drastically away from supporting green technologies. 

“This has created the uncertainty that has caused businesses to put their money elsewhere. Investment in solar, wind and other renewables in the UK slumped by 56% - billions of pounds - last year, while the rest of the world’s spending grew. 

“No more chat, no more prevarication. The Conservatives must get on with the job and provide necessary support to green technologies, as the Liberal Democrats did in government.” 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

No-deal Brexit means UK walking away from global trade deals

Responding to the release of the 'no-deal Brexit' papers Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“The Government have parted company with reality: they are seriously proposing that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, they will at that point start running around, trying to replicate all the deals they would have just walked away from. They are completely silent on how they would deliver this from such a weak position, what businesses are meant to do before bilateral deals are signed and the scale of the damage such an approach would inflict.
“Since triggering Article 50 without a plan, Theresa May has made a mess out of Brexit. The attempts at every stage to placate the right-wing Conservative Brexiters, by putting their interests ahead of the country’s is a national disgrace.
“It is time for the public to be given the final say with a People’s Vote on what happens next, with the right to exit from Brexit.”

Davey: Government gamble on electricity is deeply disturbing


Responding to reports that a no-deal Brexit could damage access to electricity in Northern Ireland, former Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey said:

“As Secretary of State I saw the electricity market in Ireland working extremely successfully, guaranteeing power to Northern Ireland and having a positive impact on energy prices.

“The fact that the Prime Minister is willing to gamble with the electricity which powers thousands of homes in Northern Ireland is deeply disturbing.

"The people of Northern Ireland should not have to wait and see if the lights turn on in April 2019. That is why the government must give the people the final say on Brexit with an option to remain.”

Corbyn is giving small handful of Labour MPs excuse to back Chequers fudge - Brake

Responding to a report in The Independent that some Labour MPs could back Theresa May’s discredited Brexit plan, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said: 

“A small handful of Labour MPs have ended up in this position precisely because there has been an appalling disregard of leadership, duty and official opposition from Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell. 

“Brexit can be stopped. There are enough brave souls among Labour and Conservative moderates to support us in doing the right thing to back the public on having a People’s Vote.” 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Government must cut back dangerous ties with Saudi Arabia until we have answers


Responding to reports alleging that missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi recorded his killing on an Apple watch, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said: 

“While we must not be quick to judge, the weight of evidence against the Saudi Arabia regime has become too great to ignore. 

“I commend the likes of Sir Richard Branson for putting what is right before profit and freezing certain business ties with the country. 

“The Conservatives must follow suit and cut back on very heavy and dangerous trade and security reliance on Saudi Arabia, until the regime gives answers on what happened. 

“If Britain can be justifiably outraged about the deliberate, organised attack on Russian dissidents in our country, we should be equally concerned about what appears to be a similar attack in Istanbul.” 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Worst year for high street sales shows need for tax reform

Responding to the publication of the BDO High Street Sales Tracker which shows the UK high street is suffering the worst year on record, with in-store sales declining 2.7% year on year, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said: 

“This report highlights two significant problems in our economy. Firstly, taxation is skewed directly against shops, particularly small and medium sized retail enterprises. To protect high street businesses the Chancellor must take action in the Budget by undertaking the Liberal Democrat plan to abolish business rates and create a system of taxing land, offering big tax cuts to most British high streets.
“More broadly these results are a clear signal that the economy is weak compared with other developed countries. The weak economy is likely to persist as long as the government pushes the country towards Brexit, cutting the UK apart from our closest trading partners and making the country less attractive to investors."

Former Liberal Democrat AM for South Wales West retires from national politics

The former Welsh Liberal Democrats Regional Assembly Member for South Wales West, Peter Black, has announced that he will not be seeking to return to the Welsh Assembly when his party selects its list candidates for the 2021 elections early next year.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have set in train the process for selecting candidates to contest the seat that Mr. Black held for seventeen years representing Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend, with an advert on the party’s website and an email to all those approved as suitable for selection. The former AM and past Deputy Minister, will not be putting his name forward, however. Instead he will be concentrating on his role as Deputy Lord Mayor and local councillor, as well as pursuing other opportunities.
Commenting on his decision, Mr Black said: “I had 17 very happy and fruitful years in the Welsh Assembly in which I successfully piloted private members legislation on Park Homes onto the statute book, helped set up Wales first national homelessness strategy, negotiated the creation of the Pupil Development Grant to provide extra funding for disadvantaged children, led a review of school transport policy and of special educational needs that is now manifesting itself in new legislation, campaigned on many local issues and helped hundreds of local people with their problems. It is now time for others to take their opportunity to make a difference for Wales and our local area.
“There are a large number of very talented and able candidates who can take on the job of representing Welsh Liberal Democrat values in the Assembly and of championing the needs of Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend there. I encourage them all to put their name forward so that party members can hear what they have to say and choose the best possible candidates for the next Assembly elections. I will still be active locally and in supporting those candidates and I wish them the best of luck and good fortune in securing election to the Welsh Assembly in two and a half years time.”

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Cuts to grants for low emission vehicles shortsighted

Commenting on the announcement that the government are to cut grants for some electric and hybrid cars, Liberal Democrat Environment spokesperson Tim Farron said:
"This short-sighted decision from government is a dagger to the heart of their claims that they are serious about improving air quality. Encouraging people to buy cars that are less polluting makes sense and Liberal Democrats demand better for our environment than more Conservative cuts.”

Unexplained wealth orders an "essential tool"

Responding as details of the first unexplained wealth order are revealed Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

“Unexplained wealth orders are an essential new tool in the fight against corruption, and I am pleased to see that they are actually being used. Our country must no longer be seen as a safe place to launder dirty money.

"But this must only be the start. The Government has been extremely slow in using these against the cronies of President Putin. Ministers must go further and faster to crack down on the illegal wealth held by Putin’s inner circle in the UK, as part of a robust response to the outrage committed in Salisbury.”

Time has come for government to back votes at 16

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran has urged the UK Government to legislate to lower the voting age to 16 in the wake of the Welsh Assembly supporting equivalent plans today. 

In Scotland, a bill allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote was passed unanimously in 2015. 

Ms Moran said: 

“If we are happy to allow a 16 year old to pay tax, be a parent or serve in the army then we should not deny them the right to vote. That is why Liberal Democrats have led on this campaign from the start. 

“With 16 and 17-year-olds playing an active role in elections in Scotland and now the Welsh Assembly backing plans too, the genie is out of the bottle. 

“Given Brexit poses so many threats to the lives of young people, they deserve their voice to be heard. It is time to demand better from the UK Government. It is time Ministers ensured every 16 and 17 year old across the UK has the same right to vote.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Farron to present Bill to make it easier to sack failing rail companies

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron will today present a Bill to the House of Commons which would make it significantly easier for the Government to strip failing rail companies of their franchises.

Mr Farron has repeatedly made the case for failing rail operators to be stripped of their franchise after a summer of chaos on the railways. In Mr Farron’s own constituency, every single train on the Lakes Line was cancelled during the month of June. 

The Bill comes less than a month after the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) warned "no-one took charge" during the timetable chaos and blamed a lack of "responsibility and accountability".

Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said: 

“The Office of Rail and Road’s recent report found the main reason behind the summer of chaos on our railways was a lack of accountability. Liberal Democrats demand better.

“This Bill would mean that the Transport Secretary would no longer be able to shy away from being ultimately responsible for making sure people have a decent train service.

“It would also mean that there will actually be consequences for those companies like Northern and Thameslink who continue to provide diabolical services and treat their customers as nothing more than cattle.”

Friday, October 05, 2018

Dubs refugees case shows Home Office beyond repair

Responding to today’s Court of Appeal ruling against the Government, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has called for refugee policy to be moved out of the Home Office and into the Department for International Development.
The court ruled that child refugees refused entry to the UK had been given “patently inadequate” reasons for their refusals.
Ed Davey said:
“Are there no depths to which the Home Office will not stoop under this Conservative Government? Now we learn that they’ve been turning away vulnerable child refugees without giving them reasons, and preventing them from appealing.
“The Home Office’s rotten culture is clearly beyond repair. Wrong decisions and unlawful policies are ruinous for people’s lives and very costly for taxpayers.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. That’s why we will take responsibility for refugee policy away from the Home Office and give it to the Department for International Development.
“And it’s why the Government must properly implement the Dubs Amendment, to honour our commitment to provide sanctuary to unaccompanied children who’ve been forced to flee their homes.”

Thursday, October 04, 2018

RBS recession warning shows need for an Exit from Brexit

Responding to warnings from the Chief Executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland that a “bad Brexit” could push the UK into a recession, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“There can be no disputing that Brexit will be disastrous for the UK economy, not least the retail and construction sectors. No one voted for this. No one voted to be poorer.

“However, there is still time to protect the UK economy by giving the people a final say on the deal, including the option to remain. Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn should back these calls. If they don’t, they will be responsible for driving the country into recession.”

Cable: PM dancing on the head of a pin

Responding to Theresa May's address to Tory party conference, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

“As somebody who takes dancing seriously, I was delighted to see Theresa May show that she is developing her new hobby. But she was dancing on the head of a pin, confronted by an audience full of people plotting to oust her.
“She said the Conservatives must  be a ‘party for the whole country’, yet she has overseen widening divisions in our society. Trapped by the rabid ideologues of the Conservative right-wing, Mrs May has been driven to illiberal extremes on Brexit, welfare and immigration, to name but three.
“We are pleased to see her finally lift the borrowing cap on councils so they can build houses, a policy I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues have pushed for in coalition. The Conservatives’ long-held resistance to this sensible, pragmatic policy has only deepened the housing crisis.”

Chagossian immigration barriers are deplorable

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine MP has today condemned the UK Government for failing to support the claims of third generation Chagossians for British citizenship, as the Guardian reveals Taniella Moustache from Milton Keynes faces deportation when she turns 20.

The Home Affairs Committee report on the Windrush generation recommends that the government support the British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill and “allow anyone who can prove that they are descended from a person born on the Chagos Islands to register as a British overseas territories citizen and thereby have a right to remain in the UK”.

Christine Jardine said:
“It’s utterly deplorable for the Home Office to consider splitting apart families who have already been torn away from their homes and communities. The very discussion shows they’ve failed to learn the lessons of Windrush.

“Taniella has lived in this country for years and has a bright future ahead of her here. It is outrageous that she is leaving school haunted by threats of deportation.

“Sajid Javid must wake up to the reality of the unjust policy he presides over. Descendants of Chagossian evictees must be granted British citizenship without barriers.

“He can’t put his head in the sand and hope to avoid the tidal wave of distress Chagossian families face as their children approach adulthood without the certainty of being able to stay in the country they were raised.

“The government must commit to support the BIOT bill without reservation. History has done a horrible wrong to the Chagossians and it is the Home Secretary’s duty to right that.”

The Home Affairs Committee’s Sixth Report of Session on the Windrush generation is available here.

In Sajid Javid’s apology to the Windrush generation he said: “The experiences faced by some members of the Windrush generation are completely unacceptable and I am committed to righting the wrongs of the past”. The text of the Home Secretary’s Windrush apology can be found here.

The second reading of Henry Smith MP’s Private Member’s Bill -British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill is due to take place on 26th October 2018.

The U.K. granted the U.S. permission to build a military base on the largest of the Chagos Islands, Diego Garcia, in 1966, and issued an ordinance that made it unlawful for the islanders to remain on Diego Garcia. They were subsequently resettled. In 2000, the Divisional Court ruled that the ordinance expelling the Chagossians was unlawful. However, a 2002 study concluded that  resettling the islanders in their original home was infeasible, which led to a 2004 Order reaffirming the prohibition of settlement on the Chagos Islands. A challenge to the Order failed before the House of Lords in 2008, a decision which was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2016

The International Court of Justice in The Hague is currently hearing a claim to the archipelago by the government of Mauritius.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Lib Dems: Civil partnership change welcome, but cohabiting couples need rights too

Responding to the announcement that civil partnerships will be extended to mixed-sex couples, Liberal Democrat Justice spokesperson Jonathan Marks said:

“It’s very good news that all couples will now be able to have civil partnerships. This is something the Liberal Democrats have been fighting for for years, but it was blocked by David Cameron in Coalition.  I’m glad the Supreme Court’s ruling has finally forced this change, and I congratulate the determined campaigners who made it happen.
“However, this is not a solution for the millions of couples who live together but do not choose to make a formal commitment. They need rights too, to protect them if their relationship breaks down or if one partner dies.
“The Supreme Court, the Law Commission and numerous others have all made this case, and I have tabled a Private Members’ Bill that would give essential legal rights to couples who have lived together for at least three years.
“The Government should support my Bill and get on with these reforms. Like the extension of civil partnerships, this change is long overdue.”

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Govt turning its back on British business

Responding to Conservative plans to halt businesses’ access to workers from the EU, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“With these plans, the Conservatives are turning their backs on British businesses and public services.
“Hospitals, care homes, construction firms and other businesses already struggle to hire the workers they need – and these changes will make that problem much worse.
“No wonder Theresa May has delayed setting out these policies for over a year. They are just so damaging for British jobs, our economy and the public services we all rely on.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must ditch its net migration target and hostile environment policies, and adopt an effective and compassionate approach to immigration that works for everyone.”

Javid must end cuts to police numbers

Commenting ahead of Sajid Javid's address to Conservative party conference Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“Sajid Javid talks a good game when it comes to tackling serious violence, but if he really wants to make our streets safer he must stop cutting the number of police officers.
“The Home Office’s own analysis shows that police cuts have likely contributed to rising violent crime, yet the Conservatives continue to squeeze forces’ budgets.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better for our communities and our police. We will end the Conservative cuts and invest an extra £300 million a year to recruit more officers, boost community policing and reverse the rise in serious violence.”