The Government has been accused of “extreme negligence” after it has emerged that almost one in five items in its stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) are not usable, with billions of pounds having gone down the drain.
A written parliamentary question tabled by Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Wendy Chamberlain, has revealed that the Department for Health and Social Care has identified 3.4 billion units of PPE as “potential excess stock”. This would represent £2.2 billion of expenditure on items without demand.
Of 6.96 billion items of PPE that are not currently provided to frontline services, 1.2 billion of these (17.2%) are deemed to be not fit for use. These items were purchased for £458 million.
Meanwhile, storage of all PPE - usable or otherwise - is costing the taxpayer £4.5m a week, or the equivalent of £642,857 a day.
It comes after the revelations that one million counterfeit face masks were sent out for use in NHS hospitals despite warnings about their authenticity, raising questions over the systems and checks in place both during the procurement process and in assessing the quality of PPE.
Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain said:
“This is extreme negligence on an industrial scale. The Government is burning a hole in the pocket of the taxpayer through its wastage of personal protective equipment, at a time when those pockets don’t run deep.
“The Government has misspent billions of pounds of public money on vital PPE for frontline staff that is either inadequate or will never be used. This is carelessness of the highest magnitude.
“Awarding contracts to chums unlawfully, frontline workers wearing bin bags and dodgy masks, and billions wasted - this is merely the latest sorry chapter in this Conservative Government’s dismal record.
“Ministers have this string of damning failures to answer for when the Covid inquiry comes to town. In the interim, it’s high time they get a grip on this mess once and for all and come up with a plan to ensure excess stock doesn’t go to waste.”
Note: although most NHS services in Wales have been devolved, procurement policy remains at Westminster.
Responding to the Government announcing the freeze on the student loan repayment threshold for the financial year 2022/3, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP commented:
"Freezing the student loan repayment threshold is yet another hit on young people by the Conservative Government.
"This means a real terms increase in repayments of around £150 a year on graduates with student loans.
"It’s a truly shameful move from the Government. Let’s not forget the Government has just increased taxes for young people by raising National Insurance.
Responding to the Met Police statement this morning on the Sue Gray report, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:
"So first the police were waiting for Sue Gray, now Sue Gray has to wait for the police?
The Liberal Democrats have slammed Liz Truss spending £500,000 on a private jet to Australia as a “staggering” waste of taxpayers’ cash and demanded she apologise to the public who are facing a National Insurance tax rise in April.
Analysis by the party shows that the money spent on Liz Truss’ flight would cover the tax hike faced by almost 2,000 people.
Liberal Democrat Business Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:
“This is a staggering waste of taxpayer’s cash at a time many families are feeling the pinch.
“Once again we see just how out of touch this Conservative government truly is to the millions of people struggling to get by.
“Not content with breaking their manifesto promise not to raise National Insurance tax, Conservative ministers are now jetting round the world on private jets at the taxpayers’ expense.
“Liz Truss should apologise for jetting around on ‘Air Force Sun’ and assure the public she won’t waste their money in this way again.”
Responding to today's quarterly crime stats, which show that sexual offences are at their highest level recorded within a 12 month period and rape offences are at their highest annual number on record, Liberal Democrat Justice and Women & Equalities Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:
“These appalling figures lay bare the disturbing truth that violence against women is endemic in our society.
“Survivors deserve justice. They deserve to be properly supported to come forward and be listened to when they do. What they don’t deserve is to be failed by a Government that sits on its hands and allows far too many violent predators to walk free without facing the consequence of their actions.
“Wholesale changes are needed across the board to ensure survivors get the justice they need. That starts with better relationships and sex education in schools and must be followed through with more training and resources for police forces and the courts”.
Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats have slammed the government for failing to keep their promise to communities, adding that there needs to be a return to full and proper community policing.
The Liberal Democrats have called for Boris Johnson to be placed on gardening leave and removed from Number 10 while the Metropolitan Police investigate the numerous rule-breaking parties that took place.
Traditionally, people under investigation are placed on leave whilst the proceedings are ongoing. This is to prevent them from attempting to prevent a fair investigation from being carried out by influencing witnesses or destroying evidence.
It’s been reported in recent weeks that Downing Street staff have been advised to delete emails or texts pertaining to parties, ahead of the Sue Gray investigation.
Whilst Boris Johnson is on leave, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab would be expected to take over running the day-to-day affairs of the Government.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:
“Since Boris Johnson is such a fan of spending time in his garden, it’s only fitting that he be placed on gardening leave and leave Number 10 whilst the police investigate. This will ensure he cannot try and abuse his position to get himself off the hook.
“Refusing to do so will show both the Conservatives’ utter contempt for the public and erode trust in this government even further.
“This truly is a Government in chaos, and every day the story gets worse. We have a Prime Minister who is at war with his own backbenches and desperate to cling onto power.
“With Downing Street under investigation by the Metropolitan Police for numerous lockdown-breaking parties, we must ensure that this investigation can proceed unhindered so we can finally see justice served."
warns Deputy Leader of Liberal Democrats
Responding to allegations from Nusrat Ghani MP who says her faith was raised by a Government Whip as a reason as to why she was sacked as a Minister in 2020, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, Daisy Cooper commented:
“Nusrat Ghani is incredibly brave to speak out. These very serious allegations of Islamophobia clearly need to investigated by a complaints process that is independent of the Conservative’s party machine so that she and others can have confidence that her claims won’t be swept aside.
“With every passing day, the public are shocked by more and more revelations and allegations from Conservative MPs about the way their Conservative government operates. It’s time for a clear-out, starting in Number 10.”
More than 1,300 rape cases are waiting to be brought before the Crown Court, as new figures from the Ministry of Justice reveal the backlog in the Justice system has grown.
In total there are 1,336 cases involving charges of rape waiting to be heard. Of these, 289 cases are still ongoing more than a year after reaching the courts, and the average case now takes more than 14 months (435 days) from charge to completion.
Responding to the figures, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:
“This Conservative Government is failing survivors by letting too many rapists walk free. Cases drag on far too long and conviction rates are appallingly low.
“Even before the pandemic, Tory Ministers had let this backlog soar out of control. They need to now get a grip and ensure that justice is served.
“We cannot keep failing survivors of sexual violence. We need urgent improvements across our whole justice system to ensure survivors are not left waiting whilst their attackers walk free.”
Responding to Liz Truss’s visit to Australia, thereby missing a meeting of the ‘Quad’ (comprising the US secretary of state Antony Blinken; French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock) to discuss the Russia/Ukraine crisis, Layla Moran MP, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Foreign Affairs, commented:
“Agreements with Australia are all well and good - but is flying to the other side of the world really a matter of diplomatic urgency at a moment when Europe is coming perilously close to war?
“At this moment of danger, we would expect the Foreign Secretary to be at the table, with her counterparts from the US, France and Germany. But she’s not in the room - she’s not even on the continent.
“Truss’s diplomatic priorities are half a world away from where they should be. For the second time in as many weeks, she’s dispatched her junior counterpart to vital talks - shrinking our role on the world stage at this critical time. Vladimir Putin will be rubbing his hand in glee.
“What is it with Conservative Foreign Secretaries and chasing the sun in moments of crisis? Truss should stop following in the footsteps of her predecessor she should start doing her job as Foreign Secretary. She should join this meeting and show she is willing to work with others to stand up to Putin and his aggression.”
Liberal Democrat peers worked across the political divide tonight to defeat a number of controversial Conservative Government amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
The Government had attempted to forcibly rush through anti-protest measures without the appropriate time afforded for the House of Lords to scrutinise them - and without any consideration by the House of Commons at all.
But nearly 70 Liberal Democrat Lords voted into the early hours of today to ensure the provisions were roundly defeated.
Such provisions included a potential 51 week prison sentence for chaining (attachment to objects) and a proposed new offence for obstructing major transport works.
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Home Affairs in the House of Lords, Brian Paddick, said:
“This is a huge victory for people’s rights and effective policing, and a crushing defeat for this Conservative Government and their anti-democratic attempts to silence any opposition they face.
“To be able to peacefully assemble and protest is a fundamental human right. With these votes tonight, a message has been sent to the Government that their dangerous and draconian policies that aim to undermine this will be fiercely resisted.
“Some of the worst parts of this Bill - particularly the expansion of suspicionless stop and search and court-ordered bans on protests - will never see the light of day. This is a big win for British rights and freedoms."
"What comes as no surprise, however, is a fervent desire from the Conservatives to entrench themselves within a system that breeds the entitlement and self-serving behaviour we have seen over the past few weeks.
Responding to Conservative MP Simon Hoare telling Sky News the No.10 Garden Party was held to thank Dominic Raab, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper MP said:
“Raab must come clean now. If he attended the party then he must resign.
"The public won't stomach any more lies and cover ups from this Government.
"We now have a Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister embroiled in a political scandal just when the country should be focussing on the continuing pandemic. This Conservative party is clearly not fit to govern our country."