Thursday, December 27, 2018

Government must take "no deal" off the table to protect the public

Responding  to Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick's concern that no deal Brexit would make protecting the public more difficult,  Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“The primary responsibility of any government is to keep the public safe. Clearly the Conservative government will be unable to do this if we crash out of the EU.

“The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Prime Minister to take no deal Brexit off the table and then give the final say on Brexit to the public with a people’s vote.”

Monday, December 24, 2018

Lib Dem call to scrap Vagrancy Act gets Labour backing

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran’s campaign to scrap the 1824 Vagrancy Act has received Labour party support.

Responding to the announcement, Ms Moran said:

“The 1824 Vagrancy Act is a heartless, Dickensian law that is shamefully still being used thousands of times a year by police forces – including to try and remove homeless people from the streets of Windsor ahead of the Royal Wedding earlier this year.
“Despite support from charities like Crisis and St Mungos, sadly the Government have – so far – failed to back my campaign and accept my Vagrancy (Repeal) Bill to axe this legislation. I hope that this growing support from the Labour party will help to convince the Government to do the right thing.
“Scotland and Northern Ireland have already repealed the law. England and Wales must follow and axe this cruel, outdated legislation which allows the Police to arrest those sleeping rough or begging even if they aren’t doing any harm.”

Friday, December 21, 2018

Government must end ‘wild west’ drone market

The Liberal Democrats have demanded the Conservative Government end the ‘wild west’ drone market and tighten up laws on who can own drones following the disruption caused at Gatwick today.
Speaking after securing an urgent question in the House of Lords, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson, former Welsh Liberal Democrat AM, Jenny Randerson said that the incident at Gatwick “illustrated the frightening ease with which drone vessels can inflict massive damage to our safety, our security and our economy”.
The Liberal Democrat peer urged the Government to set out plans for “proper controls on drones early in 2019”. In response, the Minister accepted the Government must “absolutely introduce new laws” but failed to set out in detail what that would mean and when.
Following the exchange, Jenny Randerson said: 
“The failure of Conservative Ministers, despite ample opportunity, to implement tighter regulation on drones has allowed an irresponsible act this morning to cause disruption to thousands of people trying to get home for Christmas.
“It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of drones will be bought as Christmas presents. There is a greater risk to aircraft and public safety than ever before. The rules are ultimately too lax.
“Liberal Democrats demand better. Conservative Ministers must end the wild west drone market, not least by starting with a compulsory registration of drones and compulsory training for all users.”

Government must act to prevent deaths on our streets

Responding to Government figures that nearly 600 homeless people died on the streets last year, Liberal Democrat Housing Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

“These deaths are absolutely tragic. As a wealthy country, we simply cannot accept people dying on our streets.

"The Conservative Government’s failure to look after these individuals is a shameful dereliction of duty. Conservative Ministers must recognise the urgent need to build more social homes. The Liberal Democrats want to see 50,000 social houses to be built every year, rising to 100,000 as soon as possible.

"These figures also bring into sharp focus how homelessness services for mental health and substance abuse desperately need more funding.

"The housing crisis is a human crisis. It is depriving people of a roof over their head with devastating consequences. The time for warm words and little action"

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Rival Brexit plans reveal a government without a course


Responding to rival Brexit plans set out by Amber Rudd and Andrea Leadsom, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has said: 
“While people at home over Christmas will be worried about Brexit uncertainty, these rival plans reveal a Conservative Government without a course.
“Theresa May is looking more and more like Captain Bligh. Her mutinous crew have lost faith in her. We even have Andrea Leadsom so lost at sea that she is speaking irresponsible gibberish about an impossible ‘managed no deal’.
“Amber Rudd has land in sight by accepting a People’s Vote is ‘plausible’. Not only that, Liberal Democrats know it is the only way to break the parliamentary deadlock. It is time all parties got on board.” 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tory immigration plans would bring chaos, not control

Responding to the Government’s immigration white paper, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:
"These Tory immigration plans would bring chaos, not control. Does anyone really believe that the Home Office can cope with a massive new temporary worker scheme? It already can't cope with managing non-EU migration.

“Every year, tens of thousands of employers would for the first time have to apply for visas – with all the costs, bureaucracy and delay the Home Office specialises in. 

“Britain's immigration system isn't broken because of the EU, it's broken because Home Secretaries like Theresa May pandered to populism and failed to do their day job.

“The Liberal Democrats demand better. We recognise the huge benefits of immigration and would fix the system so it works for everyone, not least by scrapping the Conservatives’ shameful hostile environment.”

Cable: EU planning reinforces PM must rule out no-deal

Responding to the European Commission's plans for a no-deal Brexit, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said: 

“The European Commission should not be playing the same game of chicken as the UK Government.

“We cannot allow British citizens in Europe to lose their right to live and work in the EU. Nor can we allow the damage that a no-deal Brexit would inflict on the UK economy and the EU alike. 

“It doesn’t need to be this way. I disagree greatly with the Prime Minister on a range of issues, but surely she would not allow the country to fall off the cliff with a no-deal Brexit? It is in the power of the Government to stop it happening.

“The people deserve the option to say no to this mess and no to Theresa May’s discredited deal. That is why the Liberal Democrats are fighting for a People’s Vote, including the option to remain in the EU.”

Dropping migration target an admission Brexit won’t control immigration

Responding to reports the Government’s migration target has been left out of draft proposals for a new immigration system, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said: 

“If the Conservatives really are dropping their manifesto commitment of a net migration target, that is good news. 
“It’s an admission that Brexit won’t control immigration as Mrs May promised – otherwise the target would surely be kept.
“This was yet another deception of the people by the right-wing nationalist Brexiteers. The truth is that it’s the needs of our economy and the NHS that drive recruitment from overseas, not membership of the EU.
“But dropping the target isn’t enough to repair our broken immigration system. The Liberal Democrats demand an end to the hostile environment and investment in an accountable Border Force to secure our borders and rebuild public confidence.”

Cable: Decision to ramp up no-deal is psychological warfare

Responding to the Cabinet decision to increase preparations for a no-deal, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said
“The decision to ramp up the no deal pressure is psychological warfare. The Conservative Government are attempting to scare MPs, businesses and the public with the threat of a no-deal.
“Theresa May is irresponsibly trying to run down the clock so that the only option is to support her discredited deal.

"It is time to stop playing political games with our future and take the issues at hand seriously. The only real way out of this deadlock is to hold a People’s Vote, with the option to remain in the EU.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Cable: Corbyn bottling a real confidence motion

Commenting on Jeremy Corbyn’s motion on the Prime Minister’s future, Liberal Democrat Leader, Vince Cable said:
“Corbyn knows that for a no confidence motion to matter it should relate to the Conservative Government as a whole.  That is the way to precipitate the General Election he says he wants.

“Instead he turns his fire not on the Tories or Brexit but Theresa May personally, ducking the real issue and bottling the real vote the Commons needs.

“Jeremy Corbyn should support a proper, effective confidence motion straight away, test whether MPs will vote to remove them from office and, if not, honour Labour’s promise to get behind a People’s Vote.

“A choice between the deal and remaining in the European Union is the only way to get the country out of the present logjam.”

Lib Dem peers defeat Government to force Prevent review

Liberal Democrat peers have defeated the Government for a second time on its Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill.

Amendment 32, tabled by a cross-party group of peers including Liberal Democrat Andrew Stunell, requires the Government to carry out an independent review of its Prevent strategy and publish a report within 18 months.
The Amendment was passed on Monday evening by 214 votes to 196.
Following the vote, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Home Affairs Brian Paddick said:

“Liberal Democrats have been calling for an independent review of Prevent for years because many in the communities most affected believe Prevent unfairly singles them out.
“We have always argued that a completely independent review could reassure everyone that Prevent is effective, and properly targeted on those who could potentially be a danger to society. It is essential that everyone has confidence in Prevent and that we all work together to keep us safe.
“We’re pleased Labour have now accepted our arguments and together we have voted to insist such a review takes place.”
The Liberal Democrats have also secured further concessions from the Government on new powers to stop, detain and question people at ports and the border.

Originally, the Bill would have granted these powers in connection with acts that “threaten the economic well-being of the United Kingdom”, but in response to arguments made by Liberal Democrat peer Brian Paddick, Ministers tabled amendments to limit these powers to cases involving national security. 

This follows a previous defeat for the Government on Amendment 15, which sets out exemptions to the new offence of “entering or remaining in a designated area”.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Home Office’s £6 million Windrush bill revealed

Responding to new details of the Windrush scandal, published today, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has called for the Home Office to be stripped of responsibility for immigration altogether.

In a letter to Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, the Home Secretary has revealed that, of the 164 people who were wrongly detained or deported, 16 are deceased. This is up from the 11 people who had been identified as deceased last month.

The letter also reveals that the Home Office has now spent £6.05 million in response to the Windrush scandal, including £165,455.75 on independent advisers and consultants and £56,623.85 on external legal advice.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“Each month, the scale of the damage done by the Windrush scandal becomes clearer.

“We now know that at least 16 people who were wrongfully detained or deported have since passed away and will never receive any apology or compensation for the appalling wrongs done to them.

“And we’ve also learned that the Home Office has now spent more than £6 million responding to the scandal – money that could’ve been far better spent fixing our immigration system and investing in public services.

“The Liberal Democrats demand better. We will prevent a repeat of the Windrush scandal by dismantling the Tories’ hostile environment and taking responsibility for immigration away from the Home Office and its toxic culture.”

Friday, December 14, 2018

Lib Dems demand MPs' holidays are cancelled to vote on Brexit

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has written to the Leader of the House demanding Parliament doesn’t rise for Christmas unless MPs get a vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The call follows the publication today of the business in the House of Commons for next week. The business confirms the Conservative Government has no intention of moving a vote on the Brexit deal before Christmas. 

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said: 
“At a time of so much uncertainty caused by this Brexit mess, it is an insult to the British people that Theresa May is happy for MPs to go on holiday without voting on the biggest issue in generations. People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better.

"Liberal Democrats do not believe Parliament should rise for the Christmas recess until Theresa May does what the people expect and give MPs a vote on her deal. Now more than ever MPs should be working to help their constituents, not least by giving them a final say on Brexit with the option to remain in the EU.”

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Cable: May running scared of meaningful vote

In Brussels today, Vince Cable met with leaders from other liberal parties across Europe, including prime ministers, where he led a briefing on Brexit.

Updating them on the changing political mood in the UK, the growing support for a people's vote, and the Government's failure to bring forward a meaningful vote in parliament on her deal.

Commenting on the meeting in Brussels, leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

"From meeting with liberal leaders and prime ministers today it is clear Theresa May needs to change course.

"Substantial changes are not going to be on the table and she is running scared of giving parliament a meaningful vote.

"The only way forward is to offer the public a people's vote with the option to remain."

Local government finance hits poorer communities the hardest

Responding to the English Local Government Finance Settlement announced in parliament today, Liberal Democrat Local Government Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

“This settlement does nothing to address the growing inequalities across our country. The highly regressive council tax system means that, as the Conservative Government continue to underfund local government, subsequent council tax rises hit poorer communities the hardest.

“There must be a reform of council tax to prevent the places with the highest demand for services for vulnerable people, struggling the most to fund it.

“Liberal Democrats demand better than the sticking plaster that has been presented today. The Tories are once again kicking the can down the road, instead of setting out a long term financial package that provides security for our local services."

Liberal Democrat Local Government Spokesperson for the House of Lords, Baroness Pinnock added:

“The local government funding settlement that was released today is a drop in the ocean. The offer of £650 million for social care in 2019-20 falls drastically short when the funding gap is expected to reach £3.5 billion by 2025.

“Social care should not be a post code lottery.”

Local Liberal Democrat Frank Little commented:
"This does not bode well for the Welsh consequentials."

Agreement Reached Between new First Minister and Kirsty Williams

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have announced that an agreement has been reached between Education Secretary Kirsty Williams and new First Minister Mark Drakeford.

The agreement affirms both parties’ commitment to the 2016 Progressive Agreement and its shared priorities. Alongside noting the significant progress made since Kirsty Williams became Education Secretary, the agreement also unveils new education policies and reforms that will be implemented over the coming years.

The agreement recognises the distinct identities and policies of each party, while allowing each party to on occasion express different positions on reserved matters.

For more detail, go to

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

PM must now change course and offer people the final say

Responding to the 1922 Committee's confidence vote on Theresa May, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

 “Having seen the Conservative backbenches will not support her deal the Prime Minister must change course.

"Her deal is doomed to defeat in the Commons, so she should show real leadership by putting this question back to the public in a People’s Vote.
“The EU is clear that there is no more negotiating to do, so it’s this deal or No Brexit. That is the choice on which every voter should now have a final say – and Liberal Democrats will campaign vigorously for the UK to remain a full member of the EU.”

Lamb: It is shameful that we continue to criminalise cannabis users


Responding to the narrow defeat of his Ten Minute Rule Bill that sought to legalise and regulate the use of cannabis in the UK, former Health Minister Norman Lamb said:

“Its depressing that rational, evidence-based reform was opposed by Conservative MPs.

"It is total hypocrisy that the most dangerous drug of all, in terms of harm to yourself and others, alcohol, is consumed in large quantities right here in our national Parliament, whilst we criminalise others for using a less dangerous drug - with many using it for the relief of pain.

"It is shameful that we continue to criminalise people who use cannabis for the relief of pain. It is equally shameful that we criminalise many young people for using cannabis, when many people in Government will have themselves used cannabis at some stage of their lives.”

Tories have a lot to answer for over failure of energy market

Responding to the news that OneSelect have gone bust, the seventh household energy supplier of the year to do so, leaving 36,000 customers without a supplier, Ed Davey, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said:

“This is a deeply worrying trend for consumers. Four energy supplier have gone in just a month. Not only does this create major uncertainty for customers, but also undermines competition in the market. People will not switch if they think their new supplier will go under.
“The Tories have a lot to answer for. Rather than trying to shore up competition in the market. they’ve pursued their price cap folly, which clearly has had a negative affect on the small suppliers as the costs rise. Liberal Democrats demand better.
“We would scrap the Tories' price cap and instead bring in measures to effectively boost competition, strengthening the rules to ensure smaller suppliers can stand on their own two feet and provide a decent service to customers, while offering cheaper deals.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

'Gold-plated’ visa chaos shows Home Office can’t take back control

Responding to today’s U-turn on suspending ‘gold-plated’ visas, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has attacked the Government’s immigration plans as “simply unworkable”.

Last week, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes announced that tier 1 (investor) visas would be suspended from midnight last Friday, due to concerns that they were being used for money laundering. However, the Home Office Migration Policy Department confirmed today that the scheme “is not currently suspended”.

Ed Davey said:

“The Home Office can’t even take action on one small part of the immigration system without creating chaos and confusion. How do the Tories expect it to cope with a whole new system for millions of European workers if we leave the EU?

“The truth is that Theresa May’s plans are simply unworkable. That’s why she has refused to publish her immigration white paper for more than a year – because she knows it will expose the hollowness of her promise to ‘take back control’.

“The Liberal Democrats demand better. Now that Theresa May has delayed the meaningful vote on her Brexit deal, there’s no excuse for her not to publish the white paper beforehand, so that MPs can properly scrutinise the proposals.”

Lib Dems demand more action on ‘dangerous’ short prison sentences

Responding to the Prisons Minister’s appearance before the Justice Select Committee today, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has called on the Government to introduce “a presumption against short prison sentences and greater use of community sentences”.

The Prisons Minister, Rory Stewart, told the committee that the “wrong kind of short sentences actually endangers the public” because they increase re-offending and destabilise prisons. He also announced that the Ministry of Justice now has a new GPS tagging system that allows it to monitor offenders in the community.

 Ed Davey said:
“It is good to hear Tory Ministers finally admit what the Liberal Democrats have long been arguing: short prison sentences don’t cut crime.
“But despite the evidence, the Government is trying to create even more short sentences. Even worse, some of these are mandatory sentences, which will tie judges’ hands and worsen prison overcrowding while failing to actually prevent crime.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. We need a little less talk from Ministers about ending short sentences, and a little more action.
“That’s why 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.”

Monday, December 10, 2018

ECJ ruling means "no deal" can be ruled out and Brexit can be halted

Responding to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling the UK can halt Brexit by unilaterally revoking Article 50, Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson and one of the MPs who brought the case Tom Brake said:

"Liberal Democrats have fought tooth and nail to give the people the final say on Brexit. We are now closer than ever before. 

"The ECJ has made clear that the UK can stop Brexit unilaterally. The Government can therefore prevent a chaotic no-deal. For the sake of people's livelihoods, the Prime Minister must end the uncertainty and rule out a no-deal.

"It is clear any Brexit will make people poorer and reduce the UK's standing in the world. MPs should not only vote down Theresa May's deal, but back a People's Vote with the option to remain in the EU."

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Brexit would put the brakes on Britain, F1 bosses warn

Following concerns from Formula 1 team bosses, reported by Autosport magazine, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake has warned that Brexit would “put Britain into the gravel trap”.

Seven of the ten current F1 teams, including world champions Mercedes, are based in the UK.

Jonathan Neale, Chief Operating Officer of the Woking-based McLaren team, told Autosport that after Brexit “It would cost us more time and be more difficult to recruit” and that border restrictions will mean higher costs, as well as “more paperwork, more administration”.

Toto Wolff, team principal of Mercedes, which has its F1 factories in Northamptonshire, described Brexit as “not a very pleasant development”.

Meanwhile, Ferrari boss Maurizio Arrivabene has suggested that his team will gain as EU staff leave the UK. “I suspect in the near future we will find a lot of people that are knocking on the door of Maranello,” he said, referring to the team’s factory in northern Italy.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“Right now Britain is leading the race, but Brexit would put us into the gravel trap.

“Our homegrown F1 teams rely on European talent to build winning cars and rely on our frictionless border to get them to the track. New restrictions will only hold them back.

“Liberal Democrats demand better. We demand that the people get the final say, with the option of an Exit from Brexit.

“It’s time to put the brakes on Brexit and get the UK back on pole position.”

Friday, December 07, 2018

Brexit gambling with UK's safety and security

Responding to the Home Affairs Select Committee Report on the Home Office and Brexit, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“Security co-operation with the EU – from Europol to the European Arrest Warrant – helps to put criminals behind bars and keep our communities safe. Brexit would throw all that away.

“Theresa May is asking us to bet the safety and security of the British people on her ability to negotiate a brand-new treaty within the next two years. Based on the evidence of the last two years, that’s not a gamble anyone should be prepared to take.

“And on immigration, Ministers keep repeating their mantra of ending free movement, but still refuse to spell out what they will actually do.

“The Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must publish its immigration white paper now, before MPs vote on the Brexit deal. And the people must have the final say, with the option of an Exit from Brexit.”

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Asylum seekers need action, not a review of rights

In the Commons chamber this week, Home Secretary Sajid Javid was asked about lifting the ban on asylum seekers working in the UK. 

He said “We currently have no plans to change that arrangement but it is one of the areas that I would like to review.”

Responding to these comments, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said: 
“I’m pleased to hear that the Home Secretary is open to lifting the ban, but asylum seekers don’t need a review. They need action now.
“Along with employers, charities and refugees, the Liberal Democrats are demanding better for asylum seekers. We are calling on the Government to give them the right to work while their cases are decided.
“This would give asylum seekers a sense of dignity and more money, as well as enabling them to contribute to the Exchequer and saving taxpayers money.”

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Lib Dems demand urgent action on prisons crisis

Responding to the Chief Inspector of Prisons’ report on the crisis at HMP Birmingham, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has called for urgent action to reduce overcrowding in prisons and recruit more prison officers.
The inspection report, published today found that violence and drug-taking were rife at HMP Birmingham, with many staff working in fear and unable to maintain control.
In August, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons issued an “urgent notification” letter alerting the Government to the appalling conditions in the prison. He has also issued urgent notifications this year in respect of three other prisons: Nottingham, Exeter and Bedford.
Although the Government has reduced HMP Birmingham’s population since stepping in, the latest official figures show that it was still over-capacity by more than 200 prisoners at the end of October.
Figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats under a Freedom of Information request show that, as of 31st March, 182 prisoners at HMP Birmingham were serving short-term sentences of less than 12 months. The President of the Prison Governors Association said last year that such sentences “don’t work and are pointless”, and the Justice Secretary has admitted that they are ineffective at reducing re-offending.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:
“Ministers need to get a grip on the crisis in our prisons. The violence and chaos isn’t confined to HMP Birmingham – we keep hearing similar reports from across the country.
“Prisons are stuffed full of people on short-term sentences, which cost millions and don’t work to prevent crime. Overwhelmed staff are simply unable to cope, leading to riots, widespread drug use and violence against staff.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government must urgently recruit more prison officers and bring forward legislation to end pointless short-term sentences and reduce overcrowding.
“Our goal must be to transform prisons into places of rehabilitation and recovery, to cut re-offending and make our communities safer.”

Monday, December 03, 2018

Lib Dem peers defeat Government on civil liberties

 Liberal Democrat peers have defeated the Government on a key vote on the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill.

Amendment 15, tabled jointly by Liberal Democrat frontbench spokesperson Brian Paddick and two Labour peers, creates exemptions to the new offence of “entering or remaining in a designated area” so that it doesn’t apply to aid workers, journalists, people visiting ill relatives or those attending funerals.

The amendment passed by 220 votes to 191.

Liberal Democrat peers also voted for another amendment, tabled jointly by Lord Paddick and Baroness Jones, to limit the Bill’s impact on freedom of speech. However, Labour abstained and Tory peers voted against the amendment, so it failed by 93 votes to 198.

Liberal Democrat MPs had previously voted against the Bill in the House of Commons, joined only by Caroline Lucas, but Labour voted with the Tories to pass it 376–10.

Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Home Affairs, said:

“Through our opposition to these unnecessary, illiberal new laws, we have secured important changes that will reduce the risk of innocent people being wrongly convicted.

“However, we are still fundamentally opposed to much of the Bill, most of which is based on the discredited ‘conveyor belt’ theory: that simply expressing extreme views inevitably leads to radicalisation and terrorist violence.

“Completely innocent people could be arrested and detained simply for expressing an opinion or for undertaking legitimate research.

“It would also allow people to be detained at ports, airports and the border area between Northern Ireland and the Republic, have the contents of their phones and computers gone through, even if they had no intention of committing any offence.

“We must do all we can to protect our country, but not at the cost of losing our own liberty.”