Thursday, January 31, 2019

Knife crime: Government must follow evidence, not chase headlines

Responding to the Home Secretary's plan to give new powers to the police to tackle knife crime, Liberal Demcorat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“The UK is in the grip of a knife crime epidemic, so all ideas should be considered, especially ways to stop the glorification and incitement of this violence on social media. 
“But Ministers must remember that ASBOs have a very mixed record - they were often seen as a 'badge of honour’ by young offenders and required significant police resources which no longer exist thanks to the Conservatives’ police cuts.
“Worse still, this plan ignores the evidence and the policy of the current Justice Secretary, that short term prison sentences won’t deter young people from carrying knives and instead increase the risk of re-offending.

“Ministers must follow the evidence not chase the headlines.

“The victims of knife crime and their families deserve better and Liberal Democrats demand better for them. We will recruit more officers to restore community policing and invest in a proper public health approach that brings together youth services, community groups, schools and the NHS to tackle this shocking rise in violent crime.”

Shocking new figures expose prison crisis

The Liberal Democrats have called for urgent action to tackle overcrowding and recruit more prison officers following new figures showing a dramatic increase in deaths, self-harm and assaults in prison.
The statistics, published today by the Ministry of Justice, show that in 2018 there were 325 deaths in prison, up 10% since 2017.
The figures also reveal self-harm incidents. Assaults have reached new record highs. In the 12 months to September 2018, there were:
  • 52,814 incidents of self-harmup 23% year-on-year;
  •               33,803 assaultsup 20% year-on-year & the highest on record; this includes 10,085 assaults on staffup 29% year-on-year.
Liberal Democrats Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:
“These shocking statistics are yet more evidence that our prisons are in crisis. They are stuffed full of people on short sentences, leaving overstretched staff simply unable to cope and unable to provide the rehabilitative and mental health services prisoners need.

“Prisoners are attacking staff, fighting, self-harming and even dying as a result. The Liberal Democrats demand better.
"Ministers should urgently recruit more prison officers and reduce overcrowding by ending pointless short-term sentences. Our goal must be to transform prisons into places of rehabilitation and recovery, to cut re-offending and make our communities safer.”

Vince says: cancelled recess shows extent of Tory chaos

Responding to the announcement that February recess for the House of Commons has been cancelled, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

“The Liberal Democrats have no problem with working hard to deliver whatever needs to be done in the national interest.

"But there is no doubt that the Tory Government is in this desperate position as a result of their own chaotic planning. There is a huge tranche of legislation which needs to be worked through and given proper scrutiny.

"The Prime Minister must accept reality and seek a postponement to the Article 50 deadline which would give time, not just for Parliament to legislate, but for the people to have the final say. Nobody voted for this no deal outcome the Conservative Government is threatening as they run down the clock.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Tory cuts have made it easy for ‘county lines’ drug traffickers

Responding to the National Crime Agency’s report on the spread of ‘county lines’ drug traffickers, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“When children as young as 12 are being exploited by drug gangs, the Conservative Government’s approach clearly needs to change. We need to stop both the supply and demand of illegal hard drugs.

“Unnecessary Tory cuts to the police have made it easier for organised criminal networks to spread; cuts to the Border Force have made it easier for them to traffic illegal drugs and weapons into the UK; and cuts to youth services have made it easier for them to prey on young people.

“That’s why the Liberal Democrats demand more community police officers to prevent gangs from operating, more Border Force officers to stop drugs and weapons entering the country, and more youth services to keep children out of the grip of criminal gangs.

“But we must also treat the addiction that fuels demand for these drugs. Rather than simply being locked up, drug users should be diverted into evidence-based treatment programmes and given the support they need to get off drugs.”

Safe standing an important opportunity for football fans

Responding to the announcement that Wolverhampton Wanderers are ready to become the first Premier League club to introduce safe standing if government approves a pilot scheme, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

"The Liberal Democrats have long called for safe standing at football matches and we welcome this first step.

"This is an important move in providing both safe and affordable space for fans watching the game. It is great to see clubs recognise that this is an opportunity to create a better atmosphere and cut ticket prices."

Local Liberal Democrat Frank Little added: "Government is being excessively cautious. Shrewsbury Town (I wish them well in the next round of the FA Cup) installed safe standing at the New Meadow ground, previously an all-seater stadium, at the beginning of this season. It has been a success with both management and the fans."

Travel insurance not guaranteed with no-deal Brexit

Five out of seven leading travel agents are unable to provide insurance cover guarantees in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a mystery shopper exercise has uncovered.

Following the Conservative Government’s own advice, the Liberal Democrats contacted seven of the UK’s largest insurers to ask whether or not they would provide cover for travel plans disrupted by a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

However, with only weeks to go until the UK could leave the European Union with a possible no-deal Brexit, only two of the seven companies could confirm insurance would be paid out as normal in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Another two insurers stated that travellers would not be covered at all while another three were simply unsure as to whether coverage would continue or not.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“Just when people are booking their holidays, the Conservatives’ shambolic handling of the Brexit process could turn their trips into a nightmare.

“It is a nonsense that the Tory Government appeals to people to contact their insurance companies yet they themselves have been left largely ill-informed and unable to address any uncertainties.

“It is time the Prime Minister saw sense and ruled out a chaotic ‘no deal’ scenario. Better still, Liberal Democrats want to give people an opportunity to exit from Brexit with a final say on the deal and the option to remain in the EU."

The findings follow news that 10,000 customers of Brittany Ferries have had their travel plans changed as a result of the company having to prioritise the transportation of critical goods in the event of no deal, with further disruption likely according to a leaked Home Office document.

The findings compound news from March last year, when a report by the House of Lords found that, in the event of no deal, UK travellers to the EU would no longer have their medical needs covered by the EHIC card, meaning that, without insurance cover, they could face large healthcare costs.

More on the story here.

Excerpts from the transcript of the calls.

Question asked: I'm thinking of taking out travel insurance for my holiday in the summer. Could you let me know if you will cover me for disruption to my holiday as a result of a no deal Brexit?


A: "Yes, we will cover for any disruption to travel if it's a result of delay in departure, if it's a result of any hold up on the road or anything like that accident or breakdown, any strikes or industrial action they're all covered, if you're delayed due to public transport failure then absolutely that's covered. There isn't anything particular that says it's going to be covered as a result or anything with Brexit because we wouldn't imagine that would have an impact on your travel - it may be delays and things like that but they would be covered under the usual terms of your policy"


A: "At the moment we do not know what we will cover because we haven't heard any word from the underwriter to say that so at the moment some of that is in the air.

If I were you I would assume at this very point in time there is no cover - well because we haven't heard anything from the underwriter about that, no one can really give you a specific answer but yes you will be covered or not....We do not know if there will be disruption… because that hasn't happened we do not know and there has been no word from any of the underwriter… Probably buy your policy around that time… the thing is I cannot advise you on what to do to be honest, I really can't"


A: "It's not something that we've been made aware of I'm afraid, we haven't had any information about it yet... we're not sure at the moment, I'm afraid… Give us a call nearer the time we should hopefully have some more information"


A: "All our policies wouldn't be affected by that because it's separate to like an EHIC card which is a separate thing but our travel policies nothing would change to the normal cover you'd have, so whatever you're covered for normally would still apply etc. etc... it's best sometimes if you do book ATOL protected holidays just to cover yourself a bit further obviously through our policy you'd still be covered for the same things you would if a Brexit deal was arranged or nothing happened or it's delayed however long etc etc.. it'll all be the same with no changes"


A: "We don't know anything about that at the moment, unfortunately, the best people to ask are the claims department... if you like I can pass you through to them to see if they have any answers about it at the moment"

The mystery shopper was passed through to claims department. The operator said:

"So it's Legal & General, we're not Legal and General we're Allianz… we sell insurance through lots of different if you're thinking about buying it through Legal & General, no the insurance wouldn't cover that situation I'm afraid… I've never come across one that would cover that.”

More Than (RSA)

A: "Let me get you through to the right team who can help you with that…"

The mystery shopper was passed through to the Allianz-Assistance claims line which the operator said could answer my query:

A: "Erm, just bear with me and I'll check... if there's a no deal Brexit the EHIC card would cease if there's no agreement by 29th March. If there is any agreement then the EHIC card will be valid for another year. That's the only information I have."

Direct Line

A: "I couldn't answer that question; we honestly wouldn't know that... I honestly wouldn't know"

Theresa May continues to scaremonger

Responding to reports that up to 1,000 defence staff could be redeployed to help the UK Government cope with a no-deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“Once again this Tory Government are scaremongering about a no-deal Brexit when the Prime Minister could easily take the option off the table.

"Theresa May is attempting to run down the clock, tinker with unviable solutions to the Irish border and frighten MPs, businesses and the public into supporting her already defeated deal.

"The Liberal Democrats are clear the best way out of this deadlock is by giving the people the final say, with the option to remain in the EU.”

Monday, January 28, 2019

Britain deserves a better opposition

Labour U-turn on Immigration Bill

Responding to the Immigration Bill passing its second reading this evening, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

“The Government’s Immigration Bill is so bad that even MPs from their own party joined the Liberal Democrats in the ‘No’ lobby to vote against it this evening.
“But the most bizarre element of today’s debate was Labour’s U-turn on the Bill - from their original plan to abstain, to a mid-debate decision to vote with Liberal Democrats, against this Bill. 

“It is beyond belief that some Tory MPs were more organised on opposing the Government's hostile immigration policies than the Labour shadow cabinet. Just like on a People’s Vote, when it comes to the crunch, Jeremy Corbyn and co are absolutely useless.
“Britain deserves a better opposition, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. We will continue to fiercely oppose Tory plans to end free movement and fight for a People’s Vote and an exit from Brexit.”

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Tesco job losses show deep trouble within retail sector

Responding to reports that Tesco food counter closures and scale-backs could threaten up to 15,000 UK jobs, leader of the Liberal Democrats and former Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

"Job losses on this scale are very serious. 

"There are clearly deep problems within the retail sector, town centres have been declining for years but now out of town stores are struggling too. Perhaps British shoppers have stopped spending and we are on the verge of a serious downturn.

"Confidence in the economy is low and the government must provide some stability and security to individuals and businesses in the UK."

Friday, January 25, 2019

Taxpayer must repay £1.95 million to EU citizens

Today the Conservative Government has confirmed that it may have to return as much as £1.95 million to EU citizens who were forced to pay money to remain living  in the country under the 'settled status' programme. It is expected some of the money will be returned to NHS staff and other vital public servants. 

The Government were forced into an embarrassing U-turn of the policy on the back of pressure from Liberal Democrats and MPs across the political divide. 

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said:

"Theresa May's mean spirited charge was always wrong and I'm proud Liberal Democrats led the campaign to get it abolished. These refunds are right and must be issued without delay - including to the public sector bodies that will have paid some of these charges.

"EU citizens have been fleeced out of millions  and treated appallingly by the Conservatives throughout the mess of their Brexit negotiations and they deserve an apology.

"Having u-turned on this it is now time for the Government to change course and give the people the final say on Brexit through a people's vote."

Thursday, January 24, 2019

New laws only help domestic abuse victims if there’s cash to enforce them


Responding to the publication of the long awaited Draft Domestic Abuse Bill, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:
“Every case of domestic abuse is an abhorrent and unthinkable crime. So we must get behind this welcome work to improve the law and court procedures. 
“However, Ministers have taken rather too long to come forward with these ideas, and if we are to get people the support and justice they deserve, there must not be any more unnecessary delay. 

“And Ministers must be honest enough to admit that new laws won’t make any difference if there aren’t higher budgets to enforce the laws and protect victims too. 

“Liberal Democrats want more funding for refuges and rape crisis centres and a new national rape crisis helpline to support victims, increase the chances of convictions and back up any legal change.”

Friday, January 18, 2019

Boris still peddling mistruths on Brexit

Responding to the speech Boris Johnson made today, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“No one will take lessons from Boris Johnson on eroding trust in our democracy. The fact he is still peddling mistruths about money from Brexit going to our NHS is shameful. Brexit will make us poorer.

"As exit day approaches, with Theresa May’s deal soundly defeated, extending Article 50 is the only responsible course of action left.

“We can then hold a people’s vote with the option to remain in the EU. This could happen much sooner than has been suggested and dig the country out of the huge hole the Tories have excavated."

Saturday, January 12, 2019

UC needs investment, not just reform

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine has warned that the Conservatives must commit to “major investment” to remedy the problems with Universal Credit. Ms Jardine said:
"The Conservative's botched roll-out of Universal Credit continues to cause real pain and misery that must be stopped. Liberal Democrats demand better than the Conservatives’ cruel policy of balancing the books on the backs of the poor.

“Instead of putting the most vulnerable in society through another 12 months of misery, Rudd should end the benefits freeze immediately and fully restore the billions the Tories cut from Universal Credit’s Work Allowance. That is the major investment we need. Failure to do so will see this crisis go on and on.

"Meantime, Liberal Democrats know child benefit can make the difference between families with young children making ends meet or not. Rudd simply has not gone far enough. Nothing short of fully reversing the two-child cap on child benefit will be acceptable."

Grayling has lost the plot

Responding to claims from Chris Grayling that blocking Brexit could lead to a rise in neo-Nazi extremist groups, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

"Chris Grayling has lost the plot. This kind of scaremongering is not only dangerous, but it is embarrassing.

“Politicians should be focused on healing the divisions in our country, not shamefully stoking the fire in order to secure support for Theresa May's botched deal.

“This Conservative Government has lost all moral authority. It is time to take back control of this Brexit process and give the people a final say on the deal, including the option to remain in the EU.”

Short-term sentences of 12 months or less must be scrapped now

Responding to the Prisons Minister's comments that jail sentences of six months or less should be scrapped, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said: 

"Short-term sentences perpetuate the crisis in our overcrowded prisons, cost millions and don’t work to prevent crime. Robust community-based sentences are far more successful in reducing re-offending and the chance of more people becoming victims of crime.

"Indications from the Prison Minister that he agrees is testament to the campaigners who have long made this case. However, the Prison Minister does not go far enough. Liberal Democrats demand better.

"Our goal must be to transform prisons into places of rehabilitation and recovery, to cut re-offending and make our communities safer. That means urgent action now to scrap prison sentences of 12 months or less, not just six months or less."

Friday, January 11, 2019

Lib Dems secure vital change to tackle 'Sex for Rent' crimes

Following a campaign by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, started back in October, the Crown Prosecution Service has published new guidance on the prosecution of 'Sex for Rent' crimes.

Responding to the victory, Wera Hobhouse said:

"This is a huge step forward in protecting vulnerable people. The new guidelines should give police and prosecutors the tools they need to bring to justice these predatory landlords taking advantage of the housing crisis.

"Sex for rent is a vile crime which has risen as more and more people struggle to afford to put a roof over their heads. The perpetrators are preying on incredibly vulnerable individuals and I am glad Ministers have listened and worked with me to ensure more is done to put an end to it.

"Updating these guidelines is important not only to make clear that asking for sex in place of rent is illegal, but also to ensure police are more aware of this exploitation. I hope now to see more prosecutions of this crime, so that justice is done and we stamp out this vile practice once and for all."

Blackwood appointment shows Tories ignoring demands for House of Lords reform

Responding to the reports that Nicola Blackwood has been given a peerage in the House of Lords, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords Dick Newby said:

“With the announcement of another Tory peerage for life, the Prime Minister continues to move away from the proposals set out in the Burns Report which would ensure a fair reduction of numbers in the House of Lords.

“The proposed reforms are completely undermined by this appointment.  If we are to make serious progress with reform of the House of Lords we need cross-party agreement and, crucially, cross-party commitment.

“Our outdated electoral system means that many feel politics does not work for them. It is long overdue that the Conservative Government stopped ignoring demands for reform.”

[Note: Nicola Blackwood is the Conservative who gained the parliamentary seat of Oxford West and Abingdon from Evan Harris in 2010, but lost to Layla Moran, now our party's speaker on education in England, in 2017.]

We will use “any means possible” to secure proper Brexit debate

Responding to reports that Downing Street believes that if May’s deal is voted down, as expected, the Plan B debate outlined under the Grieve amendment will only be 90min long with one amendment, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said: 
“This is yet another shameful attempt from Theresa May and her cronies to shut down the right of MPs to debate the unraveling consequences of this Brexit mess.
“Clearly the Conservatives have learnt nothing from the last two defeats if they believe Parliament will accept a measly 90 minute debate with only one amendment.
“Liberal Democrats demand better. We will use all parliamentary means possible to secure proper debate, including debating a People’s Vote with the option to remain in the EU.”

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Manufacturing companies let down by blundering Conservative Government

Responding to the news that 72% of manufacturers have said Brexit was their biggest source of uncertainty, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:
 “We have already heard today about how car sales have fallen by the biggest amount since the days of the financial crisis, and now we can see the damage Brexit is doing to the manufacturing sector.

"The uncertainty surrounding Brexit is doing untold damage to our economy. With businesses up and down the country left in the dark by this blundering Conservative Government, Theresa May must stop playing political games with people's jobs.

"The Tories have lost the right to call themselves the party of business. The only way out of this mess is to end the deadlock with a People’s Vote."

Cable: Bumbling Government taking 'Dad's Army' approach to Brexit

Three times as many lorries using Portsmouth International Port as a result of a no-deal Brexit would result in gridlock and potential closure to parts of the motorway, Leader of the Liberal Democrats was told today. 
The warning from Mike Sellars, Manager of Portsmouth International Port, came during Vince Cable's visit to the port alongside the Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Gerald Vernon-Jackson.
Following the visit, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said: 
“This shows the bumbling incompetence of the Government taking a 'Dad’s Army' approach to no deal Brexit preparations.

“Motorway closures are unacceptable; throwing the Portsmouth port into chaos shows the disregard Conservative Ministers have for the people of a city who voted for Brexit.

"Now the people of Portsmouth must pay for the Conservative Government's incompetence.”

Government defeat shows NO DEAL not an option

Responding to the Government’s defeat on Amendment 7 to the Finance Bill, which limits their ability to raise tax if there is a no deal Brexit, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“The Conservative Government’s defeat this evening shows Parliament’s rejection of a no deal. This amendment goes some way to taking no deal off the table, but it is crucial it is removed as an option entirely.

“Theresa May must stop gambling with our future. It is entirely within her power to take no deal off the table, however she is recklessly keeping it there as a scare tactic due to the lack of support for her deal.

“The only real alternative to get us out of this mess is to legislate for a people's vote, with the option to remain in the EU.”

Friday, January 04, 2019

Government must follow airports and invest in drone protection

Responding to reports that both Heathrow and Gatwick airport have spent millions of pounds in anti-drone technology, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

"It appears that, rather belatedly, airports are now investing in the technology needed so that in the future they can manage any misuse of drones much more effectively. The Conservative Government must follow suit immediately to ensure that both police and armed forces are also better prepared to deal with any future disruption caused.

"The chaos over Christmas could have been avoided. Chris Grayling must stop sitting on his hands and reverse his decision to abandon legislation which would regulate the drone market. 

"This whole fiasco has not only demonstrated how much of a distraction Brexit is becoming in stalling vital legislation in Parliament, but that the extent of this Government's ineptitude knows no bounds."

Tories must end brinkmanship over security in Northern Ireland

Responding to the reports that nearly 1,000 police officers are to begin training for deployment in Northern Ireland in case of disorder from a no-deal Brexit, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

“The Brexiters' claims that the security of Northern Ireland is not at risk as a result of Brexit have been further dismantled by these reports. In the interest of public safety the Government must take 'no deal' off the table.
"The Conservative Government's policy has been driven by the DUP who do not represent the majority in Northern Ireland who voted to remain.
"The people of Northern Ireland demand much better than this. The Prime Minister must act responsibly, end this brinkmanship, and give the people the chance to get out of this mess once and for all with a people's vote."

Thursday, January 03, 2019

All that Gove is offering farmers is uncertainty

Responding to Michael Gove’s speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said: 

“Mr Gove is still not listening to any experts while it is clear he has forgotten the assurances he and his cronies gave the farming community during the referendum. Farmers have certainly not forgotten. 
“To plan for their business properly, farmers need to know how much money they’ll get, what standards they need to meet and what tariffs they need to pay. All Gove and co. are offering is yet further uncertainty. 
“This is a national embarrassment, and the Liberal Democrats demand better. The people must have the final say on Brexit, with the option to restore certainty and security for farmers by remaining in the EU.”