Friday, January 31, 2020

Self-harm in prisons at record high

Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper has called on the Government to scrap “pointless” short sentences and end prison overcrowding, as new figures reveal record high levels of self-harm in prisons.

The latest Safety in custody statistics, published yesterday by the Ministry of Justice, show that there were 61,461 self-harm incidents in prisons in England Wales in the year ending September 2019. That is the highest rate on record and a 16% increase since the previous 12-month period.

The self-harm rate in women’s prisons is almost 5 times higher than the rate in men’s prisons. There were 3,007 incidents per 1,000 women prisoners, compared to 633 per 1,000 men.

Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

“Our prisons are in crisis. It is a huge relief that rates of violence and deaths in prison appear to have stopped rising, but they are still far, far too high.

“Most concerning is the large and growing number of self-harm incidents, especially in women’s prisons.

“Because of overcrowding and understaffing, prisoners spend far too much time locked in their cells, with a lack of support or purposeful activity. To make matters worse, the Government is now introducing new laws that its own assessment says could well lead to more violence and self-harm in prisons.

“Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to turn prisons into places of rehabilitation by ending overcrowding, including by scrapping pointless short sentences that cause overcrowding and actually increase reoffending.”

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Sacking Northern is just the first step


Responding to news that Northern Rail will be taken into public ownership on 1 March, Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for the north of England, said:
“I am delighted that my calls to ‘Sack Northern’ have finally been listened to by this Conservative government. For far too long, people across the north of England have suffered a substandard service.
“However, this is just the first step on a long road to improving the trains across the north. The Conservatives must now reverse their cancellations of the electrification of the Lakes Line and the Trans-Pennine line. It must press on with HS2, while increasing transparency and accountability of this project. 

"It must also approve the new Northern Powerhouse Rail between Manchester and Leeds and publish the Williams Review, implementing its recommendations as a matter of urgency.
“Sacking Northern will not fix the problems with our railways overnight and Liberal Democrats will continue to hold the Tories to account on their delivery of rail services across the north and the rest of the UK.”

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Layla Moran: “Make 2020 the year that we finally scrap the Vagrancy Act”

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran will today urge the Government to adopt her legislation this year and "finally scrap the Vagrancy Act" during a homelessness debate in Parliament.  

The MP will warn that "even one person sleeping rough in this country in 2020 is a disgrace” as she brings back to Parliament her campaign to scrap the Vagrancy Act.

Layla Moran is also expected to warn against the "out of sight, out of mind mentality’” shown in the installation of a new gate close to MPs’ and peers’ private entrance to Westminster tube station.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran said: 
“Even one person sleeping rough in this country in 2020 is a disgrace. We need to be taking a more compassionate approach to tackling this crisis. The Vagrancy Act, a Dickensian law from 1824 that criminalises rough sleeping, represents the first hurdle on that journey.

“According to a new survey commissioned by the charity Crisis, 71% of people think arresting people for sleeping rough is a waste of police time. Over half said that it shouldn’t be a crime at all, and of course it shouldn’t! 

“Liberal Democrats want to make 2020 the year that we finally scrap the Vagrancy Act. Ministers should be in no doubt, my Bill can be brought back in a heartbeat with their support.

"Frankly, if there was a sizeable amount of political will in this House to spend £500,000 to make Big Ben bong for Brexit, then I firmly believe that there must be the will to repeal this law and work harder to eliminate homelessness in all its forms."

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Kushner aims to divert attention from domestic investigations into Trump and Netanyahu

Responding to the news that Donald Trump has released his plan for the Middle East, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, the first UK MP of Palestinian descent, said: 

"The first step of an effective and meaningful negotiation is to include all parties. The exclusion of Palestinian representatives from the negotiation of this settlement is evidences enough that this is nothing more than a sham. 

"Trump and Netanyahu are motivated by a desire to distract from domestic problems, rather than by the desire to build real consensus. It's clear that this is about scoring points, rather than a genuine attempt to solve conflict in the region. 

"The Liberal Democrats have long advocated a two-state solution to this crisis. This starts by bringing both Israel and Palestine to the negotiating table as equal partners. This is the only hope of achieving a workable settlement."

Tory proposals to end free movement will make it harder to recruit teachers, nurses and doctors

Responding to the publication of the Migration Advisory Committee report which has advised against against a full points-based system for UK, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“The Conservative Government wants to impose an entirely new immigration system in less than 12 months, without any proper consultation and managed by the discredited Home Office. That is a recipe for disaster.

"The Conservatives’ proposals to end free movement will make it harder for our schools and NHS to hire the teachers, nurses and doctors they need.

“As the Migration Advisory Committee makes clear, these plans will make the crisis in social care even worse. They will also mean huge amounts of extra costs and bureaucracy for thousands of British businesses. No amount of spin will change that fact.

“Liberal Democrats recognise the enormous contributions people who move to the UK make to our society, our economy and our communities. We are fighting for a fair, effective immigration system that treats everyone with dignity and respect.”

Davey calls for 'Net Zero' department to slash UK greenhouse gas emissions

Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has today called for a new governmental department to get the UK to Net Zero as soon as possible.

In comments today at the Institute for Government, Ed Davey said the new department would take on all the powers of the previous Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) but would have "much more teeth and responsibility", with influence over transport, housing and finance.

Speaking at the Institute for Government today, Ed Davey, Acting Leader of Liberal Democrats said:

“When Liberal Democrats ran the Department for Energy and Climate Change we managed to more than treble Britain’s renewable power and led Europe to adopt tougher climate change targets. As the world is waking up to the threat of the climate emergency, DECC is needed more than ever.

“But rather than building on the work we did, the Conservatives abolished the Department. And alongside it they halted progress in its tracks, banning onshore wind, abolishing zero carbon homes and privatising the Green Investment Bank.

“If Britain is to regain a leading role ahead of hosting this year’s UN conference on climate change, we must make action on climate change a much higher priority. Liberal Democrats are calling for a new government Department – a Department for Net Zero. It would have the power and responsibility to transform our country and to take tough but necessary decisions on transport, housing and finance.

“If the Tories fail to do that, they are simply not serious about tackling the climate emergency.”

UK access to crime databases at risk post Brexit

Following reports that the exchange of key security information is at risk post Brexit, due to concerns over Britain’s record in protecting personal information, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“Our police rely heavily on co-operation with our EU partners to identify criminals and bring them to justice. It’s incredibly alarming that these government scandals threaten to undermine that co-operation, making us all less safe.

“We already know that some EU countries will refuse to extradite their citizens to the UK under the European Arrest Warrant after Friday. Now there’s a real danger that our police will also lose access to EU-wide crime databases next year.

“Liberal Democrats will fight to maintain these vital cross-border tools that keep us all safe. The Government must prioritise as close a security and justice partnership as possible, as part of our future relationship with the EU.”

Monday, January 27, 2020

New visa is nothing more than a Tory gimmick

Responding to the Government's announcement of a "Global Talent" visa to attract top scientists, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“This announcement is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Boris Johnson is showing that he fundamentally doesn’t understand what makes our science sector so successful. Changing the name of a visa and removing a cap that’s never been hit is not a serious plan.

“Science relies on thousands of researchers, and this announcement does nothing for the vast majority of them. If the Government is serious about championing UK science, it must prioritise continued mobility as part of our future relationship with the EU.

“The Government’s new immigration system is due to come into force in less than 12 months, and we still have no idea what it will look like. UK employers, individuals and families urgently need certainty about what the rules will be next year.”

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Tories’ headline-grabbing gestures on knife crime have clearly failed

Responding to the new official crime statistics, released today, which show knife crime continuing to rise to a new record high, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“These statistics are heart-breaking. Far too many young people are having their lives destroyed by knives and gangs. We urgently need to break the grip of this epidemic of serious violence.
“The Conservatives’ approach has clearly failed. Their huge surge in suspicion-less Stop and Search is wasting police time and undermining crucial trust in communities, while knife crime continues to rise.
“Instead of the Tories’ pointless headline-grabbing gestures, Liberal Democrats are arguing for an evidence-based approach that will actually make our communities safer. That means more police, more youth services and a proper public health approach to serious violence.”

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Lib Dems launch child refugee lobbying campaign


The Liberal Democrats have launched a national lobbying campaign urging Conservative MP’s to “restore public faith in politics” and back amendments in the House of Commons to protect the rights of EU citizens and child refugees in the UK.
The campaign was launched after Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords handed Boris Johnson his first parliamentary defeat since the election by passing three amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, including on the rights of EU citizens and child refugees in the UK.
The amendments will now return to the House of Commons today. Despite No 10 confirming Conservative MPs will be whipped to overturn the defeats, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine has penned an open letter to Conservative MPS urging them to “vote in line with commitments made in your own manifesto” and back the amendments.
Party officials are also mobilising their 100,000 strong members and supporters base by urging them to write and tweet their MPs to back the amendments. 
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“EU citizens living in the UK are our friends and our families, our carers and our colleagues. But they have been living under a cloud of uncertainty ever since the referendum.
“All Liberal Democrats are asking from Conservative MPs is to vote in line with commitments made in their own manifesto and protect the rights of millions of people who contribute so much to our society, our economy and our communities.
“It is heart-breaking, frankly, that Conservative MPs are also expected to vote against offering sanctuary to child refugees. These are children who have been forced to flee their homes and separated from their families.
“Boris Johnson talk’s about bringing the country together, but his approach seems designed to divide it even further. I am hoping there at least some Conservative MPs left who will search their conscience and back these amendments today.”

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Lib Dem peers win vote to protect child refugees

Liberal Democrat peers today helped to inflict another defeat on the Conservative Government in the House of Lords, this time on a vote to protect child refugees.
By 300 to 220, the House of Lords passed an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill to maintain the rights of unaccompanied refugee children elsewhere in Europe to be reunited with their family members in the UK.
This marks the fourth government defeat on the Bill, after the Lords passed three amendments yesterday: one moved by Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and two to prevent Ministers from instructing lower courts to ignore legal precedent.
The Bill is set to return to the House of Commons tomorrow, when the Conservative Government is expected to try to overturn these amendments – against opposition from Liberal Democrat MPs.
Following the vote, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Hamwee, who argued for the amendment in the House of Lords, said:
“Liberal Democrats will not stand by while the Conservative Government uses Brexit to undermine the UK’s proud tradition of providing sanctuary to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
“I am proud that Liberal Democrat peers have, along with the tireless campaigner Lord Dubs, passed this crucial amendment to uphold our commitments to child refugees.
“I hope that MPs will resist government pressure to overturn today’s vote in the House of Commons.”

Tories’ new counter-terror plans undermine civil liberties

Responding to the Government’s announcement of new counter-terror legislation, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“If you could stop terrorism by passing illiberal new laws, the Conservatives would have ended it ages ago.
“It’s less than a year since the Conservatives passed their last piece of unnecessary, reactionary legislation in the name of combatting terrorism, and they’re already proposing another one.
“We need policies based on evidence, not cheap headlines. Judges already have the power to lock up terrorists for life; tying their hands with mandatory minimum sentences simply won’t help. And polygraphs simply aren’t accurate or reliable enough for such critical decisions.
“Liberal Democrats will always stand up for human rights and civil liberties. We will continue to oppose authoritarian laws that do little to make us safer, but a lot to undermine essential British freedoms.”

Monday, January 20, 2020

PM must put child refugees above politics

Today Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, spoke at a rally for child refugees in Parliament Square, organised by the legal charity Safe Passage.
Commenting ahead of the crucial vote in the House of Lords to protect child refugees tomorrow, Ed Davey said:
“Today the Prime Minister said he wants to put people before passports, but he is wantonly taking rights away from refugee children. It is time Boris Johnson put children above politics.
“The Conservatives are preventing child refugees from being reunited with their families in the UK, turning away from our country’s proud history of offering sanctuary to people in need.
“Liberal Democrats are fighting for these children. We will vote to restore the protections for child refugees in Europe and have tabled new legislation to allow unaccompanied children in the UK to sponsor close family members to join them.”

Peers defeat government on vote to protect EU citizens’ rights

This afternoon, the Liberal Democrats defeated the Government on a vote in the House of Lords to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.
The Lords passed an amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, moved by Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates, by 270 votes to 229. It would give EU citizens in the UK the automatic right to stay, rather than having to apply to the Home Office, and would ensure they can get physical proof of their rights.
Following the vote, mover of the motion and Liberal Democrat Peer Jonny Oates said:
"This amendment simply seeks to uphold the promise repeatedly made by Boris Johnson that the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK would be automatically guaranteed. 

"It would remove the risk that those who failed to meet the cut off deadline would be automatically criminalised and subject to deportation. 

“It was very disappointing to see the Conservatives vote against protecting the rights of millions of people who contribute so much to our society, our economy and our communities.

“Liberal Democrats will always champion the rights of EU citizens in the UK and hold the Conservative Government to account for the promises they’ve made.”

Lib Dems pay tribute to Lord Robert Maclennan

Lord Robert Maclennan of Rogart, known as Bob Maclennan, was the last leader of the Social Democrat Party before it merged with the Liberal Party. He then became joint interim leader of the new party. 
Bob Maclennan was a Member of Parliament from 1966 to 2001. Upon stepping down as MP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Bob Maclennan was elevated to the House of Lords. 
Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey said:
"It is with great sadness that we learn our friend and colleague Bob Maclennan has died.
"Bob was the kind of politician we all strive to be. Considerate, honest and hardworking with an uncanny ability to reach out across the political spectrum to find common ground.
"He was also a great servant, over many decades, to his Highland constituents. A passionate advocate of devolution, he campaigned tirelessly for the creation of the Scottish Parliament and wider constitutional reform. 
"As Liberal Democrats, we also pay him a huge dept of gratitude. It was his determined leadership and bravery that proved critical in the formation of the movement we know today. 
“I personally owe a huge debt to Bob. He advised me through my own career and was a real source of strength and encouragement. His love of the arts and his commitment to a fairer society shone through so many of our conversations.
"Bob made our politics and our country better. He will be sadly missed and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Dick Newby, added:

“Bob Maclennan was passionate about Europe, constitutional reform and social justice. He saw them all as interconnected and pursued them with energy and determination throughout his political career. I worked with him for almost 40 years and will miss him greatly.”

Ministers must explain to Parliament why HS2 costs have soared


Responding to a Government report, seen by the Financial Times, which warns HS2 could soar to £106bn alongside the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds link being put on hold for six months, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Munira Wilson said: 

“HS2 is a vital project for reducing our carbon emissions and unlocking the economic potential of the North, but Ministers should not be given a blank cheque. 

“Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent, but the suggestions of a ‘pause’ or cancellation of the northern section is exactly the wrong thing to do. Liberal Democrats will not allow the Tories to once again fail to invest in the North.

“Ministers must now come before Parliament and make clear why these costs have soared and set out how the Government will seize control of the project.”

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Chancellor must take blinkers off and pay attention to industry

Responding to the Chancellor's comments today, warning manufacturers that "there will not be alignment" with the EU after Brexit, Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

"Major industries across the country have time and again made clear that pan-European regulatory alignment has been a success in supporting the creation and retention of millions of jobs. 

"To risk all that in favour of narrow, ideological ends is a real slap in the face. It is the height of irresponsibility for which the British public will be forced to pay.

"Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose Brexit and hold this shambles of a Government to account. The Chancellor must take the blinkers off and pay attention to industry."

PM should seek to bring the country together


Responding to the Government’s plans to mark the UK leaving the EU on 31st of January, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: 

“The Prime Minister should be seeking to pull the country together, not blowing the public’s money on inviting his mates around for a party. 

“The 31st isn't a day of triumph. The reality is the Conservatives have set out a reckless approach to conclude our future relationship with the EU that could see the country straight off the no-deal cliff.

“Liberal Democrats will continue to oppose Brexit. We believe people deserve better than a future where a Prime Minister willingly threatens jobs, the environment and the NHS.”

Friday, January 17, 2020

Lib Dems oppose Johnson's Parliamentary agenda

The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to the Queen's Speech for debate on Monday 19 January. The amendment details the key reasons why Liberal Democrat MPs will oppose Boris Johnson's agenda for government, including: 
  • failure to introduce ambitious plans to tackle the climate emergency; 
  • failure to set out measures to tackle poverty and inequality;
  • failure to protect human rights or to strengthen the voice of citizens.  
The amendment also urges Government to introduce a system of proportional representation. 

Speaking ahead of Monday's debate, Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader, said: 

"The Liberal Democrats are determined to hold Boris Johnson's government to account. Our amendment is about doing just that: exposing the Prime Minister's failure to act on the most pressing issues facing the UK today. 

"The Tories' agenda not only lacks ambition when it comes to tackling the climate emergency, it fails to outline measures to reduce the poverty and deep inequality that threatens social cohesion and denies people the opportunity to succeed.

"Johnson's preoccupation with vanity projects - like getting Big Ben to 'bong' for Brexit - is yet more evidence that his priority is to massage his ego, not protect the national interest, or support families who are struggling. 

"We are determined to ensure that the millions of people who voted Liberal Democrat on 12 December have the strongest possible voice in Parliament - a voice pushing for real change, including reform of our electoral system, to ensure that every vote truly counts in the future."

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Lib Dems call on PM to back automatic rights for EU citizens

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Conservative Government to back legislation to guarantee automatic rights for EU citizens, as new official statistics show the number not granted permanent Settled Status has risen to more than 1 million.

Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates this week tabled amendments to the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill to automatically guarantee EU citizens’ rights in law.
The latest EU Settlement Scheme Statistics, published yesterday by the Home Office, show that more than 1 million EU citizens have now been given the weaker “Pre-Settled Status”. This means that they will have to reapply for the right to stay in the UK within 5 years, while a further 16,000 have not been granted either status.

The figures show that, as of the end of 2019, just 1.43 million of the estimated 3.6 million EU citizens living in the UK have been granted Settled Status.

Responding to the figures, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“EU citizens are our families and friends, our colleagues and carers. Boris Johnson promised to automatically guarantee their rights in law, but today’s figures show that his Government’s Settled Status scheme is anything but automatic.
“Unless the Government changes course, tens of thousands of EU citizens will be left without legal rights in less than 18 months – at risk of eviction, detention and deportation.
“Liberal Democrats are fighting for the rights of EU citizens. We are calling on Boris Johnson to honour his promise by backing our amendments next week.”

Tories have failed on knife crime

Responding to new statistics revealing knife crime is at a 10-year high in England and Wales, Liberal Democrat Justice spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

"With knife crime at its highest in a decade, the Conservatives’ approach to knife crime has clearly failed.

"They have unnecessarily criminalised thousands of young people, made them more likely to offend by locking them up on pointless short sentences, and undermined trust in the police through a surge in suspicion-less Stop and Search. 

"Liberal Democrats are calling for the Government to stop wasting money trying to seem tough on crime, and instead spend it on the things that actually make our communities safer. We need more community policing, more youth services and a proper public health approach to serious violence."

Ed Davey calls for better support for bereaved families at PMQs

Yesterday Ed Davey, in his first Prime Minister's Question as Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, secured a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the issue of inadequate support for bereaved families in the UK. 

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, Ed said:

"Mr Speaker, when my mother was widowed, with three young children, bereaved families received small payments until the youngest child left school. In our case that would have meant payments for 14 years, except my mother died too early.

"In 2017, the duration of those payments was reduced – and the new Bereavement Support Payment was paid for only 18 months. Many of us thought that was far too short.  

"So will the Prime Minister deliver on his Government’s promise to review the new Bereavement Support Payment – and will he meet with me and charities helping such families – to discuss how we can better care for bereaved parents and their children?"

In response, the Prime Minister committed to meet Ed to discuss this issue. 

Lib Dems question FlyBe bailout


Responding to news that the Government intends to bail out Flybe, Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP, said: 

"Flybe provides a vital service in connecting many regions of the UK which are otherwise hard to travel between, not least as a result of poor rail infrastructure. Keeping these routes open has to be a top priority.

"However, Boris Johnson's decision to bail out Flybe is a misuse of taxpayers' money to say the least. If Flybe is a failing business, then it is not the right business to run these routes.

"The fact that the Tories are considering cutting air passenger duty is even worse. Our planet is under threat, yet this Conservative Government is offering to cut taxes for high-polluting aviation instead of investing in rail. This is the only way to reduce reliance on domestic flights in the long term."

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Lib Dems call out Johnson duplicity on Iran Nuclear Deal

Responding to the Prime Minister's suggestion that the Iran nuclear deal should be replaced with a 'Trump deal', Ed Davey, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats said: 

"Johnson's dishonesty is apparent yet again. His claim that he will continue to support the current Iran nuclear deal is immediately undermined by his suggestion of a 'new Trump deal'. Let there be no doubt: when Trump says jump, Johnson asks 'how high?'. 

"The current nuclear deal with Iran is all about stopping this brutal regime from becoming a nuclear state. Johnson needs to remind President Trump just how high these stakes are.

"The UK is best served by working with our allies in Europe and the wider world to reinvigorate the Iran nuclear deal as a means to deescalate the current crisis. 

"If Boris Johnson won't robustly defend what's in our national interest and in the interest of stopping Iran from enhancing their nuclear capabilities - by keeping the deal on the table - then what hope do we have of negotiating a positive outcome for the UK-US trade deal Johnson is promising? 

"The Prime Minister is sending a clear message to Donald Trump: your wish is my command." 

Shameful Home Office cover up

Responding to news that the UK failed to pass on the details of 75,000 convictions of foreign criminals to their home EU countries and tried to conceal the scandal, Christine Jardine MP, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson, said: 

“UK police rely on EU-wide data-sharing systems to identify criminals and keep us safe. For the Home Office to fail so badly to live up to its side of that agreement is shameful.

“The Home Office has serious questions to answer over this. Not just the failure to pass on details of convicted criminals to other EU countries, but the cover up afterwards as well.

“Ministers must also tell us how this affects negotiations for a future security partnership with the EU. We urgently need a deal that protects access to these databases for our police, but this scandal doesn’t inspire confidence that they will achieve one.”

Tories should be cutting emissions, not air passenger duty

Following the reports that the Conservative government is considering cutting air passenger duty on domestic flights as part of a plan to save regional airline Flybe from collapse, Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

"Flybe looks set to follow Thomas Cook, despite only being 'rescued' last year. The way to ensure our businesses stay afloat is to provide certainty, rather than the chaos the Conservatives have presided over for the last three years.

"Offering troubled airlines like Flybe cuts to Air Passenger Duty is not the answer and a huge worry for climate campaigners - particularly when Boris Johnson is going soft on his commitment to high speed rail.

“This Conservative Government must not only commit to building HS2, but start taking the climate emergency seriously. In a year when the UK is hosting the COP26 climate change conference, we need action to cut emissions, not air passenger duty."

Monday, January 13, 2020

UK facing worst slowdown since aftermath of financial crisis

Responding to GDP figures which show the UK has had the lowest 12 month growth for 7 years, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“The UK’s economy is suffering from the worst slowdown since the aftermath of the financial crisis, yet Boris Johnson has no plan to turn this around.

“Businesses looking for certainty about the Conservatives' economic policies won’t find any with Boris Johnson who seems to make it up as he goes along.

“Johnson’s insistence on a hard Brexit and his willingness to keep a no-deal Brexit is a major cause of this shockingly poor economic performance.

“Liberal Democrats will challenge Johnson and the Conservatives on behalf of workers and business across the UK who know they are being let down badly.”

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Government must stop young people falling prey to 'county lines' gangs

Responding to a report released on Friday by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services into 'county lines' gangs, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

“When children as young as 12 are being exploited by drug gangs, the 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 gangs to traffic illegal drugs and guns into the UK, and cuts to youth services have made it easier for them to prey on young people.

“The Conservatives have now promised to strengthen the National Crime Agency to tackle county lines, and the Liberal Democrats will make sure they deliver on their promise.

“But the Government must also do more stop children falling prey to these criminal gangs. That means a public health approach, with police, teachers, health professionals, youth workers and social services all working closely together to give young people love, opportunity and support.”

Swansea among nine prisons overcapacity by more than 50%

The Liberal Democrats have called on the Government to end “pointless” short prison sentences, as new official figures show that nine prisons are overcapacity by more than 50%.
The extent of overcrowding in prisons is revealed today in the Ministry of Justice’s latest Prison Population bulletin. It shows that, as of the end of 2019, there are 68 prisons in England and Wales (58%) where the number of prisoners exceeds capacity.
This includes nine prisons whose population exceeds capacity by more than 50%:
  • Leicester
  • Durham
  • Swansea
  • Wandsworth
  • Lincoln
  • Leeds
  • Pentonville
  • Preston
  • Exeter
Commenting on the figures, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:
“Prisons are in crisis. With overcrowding at these levels, it’s little wonder that violence, self-harm, suicide and drug use are so common.
“Overstretched staff simply can’t cope. That means prisoners aren’t being rehabilitated, resulting in high re-offending rates and more victims of crime.
“The Conservatives’ sentencing plans will only make the problem worse. They will mean more prisoners and more overcrowding, while doing nothing to actually prevent crime.
“If the Government is serious about cutting crime and making our communities safe, they must end the pointless short prison sentences that cause overcrowding and actually make people more likely to reoffend.”

Fight against upskirting is far from over

Responding to data revealing that incidents of upskirting have been reported to the police at a rate of almost one a day since it became a specific sexual offence, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who originally proposed the Bill, said:

"This horrifying statistic serves to show how necessary a change in the law was. Victims across the UK were failing to get justice and perpetrators of the crime were walking free.

"The change to make upskirting a specific sexual offence has not only given protection to victims and punishment to offenders, but it has shown how widespread the crime is.

"The Conservative government must now do everything it can to prevent sexual offences from happening in the first place, such as through better sex and relationship education in schools, as the fight against upskirting is clearly far from over."

Govt must back Lib Dem bill for family reunion rights for child refugees

Responding to an NGO report calling for child refugees to be given the right to sponsor close family members to join them, the Liberal Democrats have urged the Government to support their bill that would do just that.
Without My Family, a report published today by Amnesty International, the Refugee Council and Save the Children, criticises the Conservative Government for “deliberately and destructively preventing child refugees from being reunited with their families”.
The Refugees (Family Reunion) Bill, tabled by Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Hamwee, would expand family reunion rights so that unaccompanied child refugees in the UK can sponsor close family members to join them.
Responding to the report, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:
“Child refugees who’ve been forced to flee their homes and separated from their families are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. We must do all we can to protect them.
“The UK has a proud history of providing sanctuary to those in need, but the Conservative Government is doubly failing to uphold that tradition.
“The Conservatives are preventing child refugees in the UK from being reunited with their family, and this week they voted against allowing child refugees elsewhere in Europe to join family members here.
“Liberal Democrats are fighting for these children. We have tabled legislation that would allow unaccompanied child refugees in the UK to sponsor close family members to join them.
“Sadly Conservative Ministers have so far refused to support our bill, but I urge them to think again.”

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Johnson's hard negotiation deadline is unrealistic


Responding to comments by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that Johnson’s December 2020 is ‘very tight’ and that ‘it is basically impossible to negotiate all topics I have been mentioning’, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the hard deadline Boris Johnson has set for negotiating the future relationship between the EU and UK is unrealistic.

“Von der Leyen’s comments highlight that the Tory government must be open to extending the transition period beyond the end of this year to ensure we do not leave with a half-baked deal or crash out without any deal at all.  

“A no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for our NHS, jobs and the environment. The government’s own reports have detailed how devastating a no-deal scenario would be. It is unacceptable that the Tories have refused to take it off the table.

“Liberal Democrats will continue to fight to stop a no-deal Brexit at the end of 2020. It is essential that the transition period can be extended to prevent this devastating prospect.”

Child refugees vote reveals Tory MPs’ true colours

Responding to today’s Commons vote on protecting child refugees, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said that Tory MPs had “earned the labels” of “insular and inhumane” by voting against the cross-party amendment.

Every Liberal Democrat MP voted for an opposition amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to retain a statutory duty on the Government to negotiate an agreement with the EU that protects family reunion rights for unaccompanied child refugees in Europe. However, Conservative MPs voted down the amendment by 348 votes to 252.

Responding to the vote, Tim Farron said:

“Tory MPs love to talk about ‘global Britain’ and claim that Brexit is really some great internationalist project. By turning their backs on child refugees they have shown it is anything but.

“These Tory MPs get irritated when they are labelled as insular and inhumane, but by blocking our amendment today they have earned those labels.

“We must do all we can to protect child refugees and Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for them – including when this Bill moves to the House of Lords.”

UK must not abandon Iran Nuclear Treaty

 Following Donald Trump’s call on the UK to break away from the Iran nuclear deal, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

“Trump’s call for the UK to break away from the Iran nuclear deal is dangerous, and Britain should reject it.
“It’s time for Boris Johnson to decide where his values lie. It is essential the UK stands up for international law and human rights. He must not allow the UK to be used as the lapdog of President Trump, and should remember that the Iran nuclear deal was signed by an American President, whose strategy of diplomatic engagement worked with Iran. 
“Rather than rejecting the nuclear deal, Britain should be calling on Trump to get back to the table. With our European allies, we must do all we can to de-escalate this situation and return to dialogue with Iran.”