Responding to the Government’s statement today on Covid ID cards, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:
“Covid ID cards are intrusive and divisive. They are not an effective way to reopen our economy or keep people safe. They would turn our country into a two-tier society, with many denied their most basic freedoms. Ministers must provide clarity on their use, especially for the pubs and restaurants on the brink that don't want them.
“It is extremely worrying that the Government is still forging ahead with plans for Covid ID cards for international travel without any scrutiny. This is the thin end of the wedge. The Government cannot avoid MPs and the voices of the British people by making this announcement on the last day of Parliament.
“The Liberal Democrats demand that the Government bring its plans for Covid ID cards before Parliament and allow a vote immediately.”
Responding to latest figures which show that self-harm by female prisoners reached a record high in 2020, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:
"Our prisons are in crisis. The amount of self-harm, especially in women's prisons, is shockingly high and rising.
"Far too many women are sent to prison on short sentences for non-violent offences. In many cases these women have been victims of abuse and have suffered trauma which has led them into a life of disadvantage and low level crime, but many also have caring responsibilities.
"Being in prison will set off the next round of trauma and disadvantage for those that depend on them. We have to break this destructive circle.
"Women should only be sent to prison where absolutely necessary: for the most serious crimes, or where they pose a threat to the public. Effective community-based sentences would be far better to stop re-offending, and far less damaging for the people involved."
As the Domestic Abuse Bill completed its final stages in Parliament yesterday, Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine, who moved the motion to record misogynistic hate crimes, commented:
"This bill passing into law will mean so much to so many people who have campaigned and worked to combat the scourge of domestic abuse in our society.
“It was hugely emotional at times but at others inspiring to experience the strength of cross-party support and determination over the past four years to make this legislation something that we can all be proud of.
“Crucial steps like recognising that children who witness abuse at home are also affected and need support and extending protections to survivors in all court cases to reduce the distress these hearings can cause, would not have been possible without that broad support.
"It is not the end of the road however, and Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for the support for migrant women which the Government rejected, and to ensure that it follows through with the money to provide the services which survivors need so desperately."
Responding to the petition from the Bereaved Families for Justice calling on the Prime Minister to apologise, Liberal Democrats Leader Ed Davey MP said:
“This is a powerful initiative from the Bereaved Families. I cannot imagine how tens of thousands of families have felt seeing these appalling comments from the prime minister on the front pages of the newspapers.
“The families want an apology and an immediate public inquiry, that is the very least Boris Johnson can do.
“The Liberal Democrats will continue to support the bereaved families and campaign for an immediate public inquiry.”
The Liberal Democrats are calling on Priti Patel not to impose centralised crime targets on local police forces, warning it “would be a grave mistake” that “risks seriously undermining” police officers.
In a letter to the Home Secretary, the party’s Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael and 27 candidates for Mayor or Police and Crime Commissioner write that “the police need to be responsive and accountable to their local communities, not micromanaged by Ministers in Whitehall.”
The Liberal Democrats argue that the Government should instead be focusing on “ensuring that police forces can restore proper community policing, where officers are more visible, trusted and known personally to local people.”
Following the collapse of the European Super League, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Sport, Jamie Stone MP, has called on the Government to "speak out against slavery" associated with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
According to data compiled from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, 6500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since it won the right to host the World Cup 10 years ago.
Several human rights organisations have raised concerns about Qatar's treatment of migrant workers who arrived in the country following the successful 2022 World Cup bid. There is consensus that the infrastructure supporting Qatar's World Cup has relied on the practice of modern-day slavery, with little to no action from the Qatari Government and with minimal comment from the UK Government.
Liberal Democrats have called for an inquiry into the impact that the cost of the building safety crisis is having on leaseholders and tenants faced with huge bills for fire safety works.
As the Fire Safety Bill returns to the Lords today, Liberal Democrat Peers have tabled an amendment that would stop the cost of remediation work being passed on to leaseholders and tenants, and would also require an inquiry into the cost of the work and whether the Government should have taken action earlier to prevent huge bills landing at the feet of those affected.
Ahead of the debate on the bill, Baroness Kath Pinnock, who tabled the amendment, commented:
“Our top priority is to stop these huge bills being passed on to leaseholders and tenants. But the Government also must recognise the impact that this crisis has already had on thousands of people across the country.
“People are being trapped living in homes that, through no fault of their own, are unsafe. They are facing huge hikes in their monthly bills to cover the cost of waking watches and other measures that are needed to mitigate the risk of fire.
“We have heard the heart-breaking stories of hundreds of people being forced to declare bankruptcy, or even being made homeless, because they just cannot meet these costs. It is clear that the Government itself does not know the true extent of this crisis, or how many are affected.
"An inquiry would lay bare what so many already know to be the reality of the situation, and would be an important step in ensuring those affected are able to seek redress. But the Government must take urgent action to stop thousands more facing these extortionate costs.
“The Liberal Democrats will keep fighting for justice to end the building safety crisis.”
Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords have called on the Government to strengthen the transparency of lobbying legislation, following a question from Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Tyler.
Lord Tyler, who led for the party on the Transparency of Lobbying Act back in 2014, and who secured a number of concessions on the Bill, commented:
“The last few days have shown again that transparency of lobbying laws in this country are not fit for purpose. Earlier today I pressed the Government to strengthen the laws currently in place, but they seem to want to stick their heads in the sand.
"Sunlight is the best disinfectant – even David Cameron has said this – and given that we seem to be back to the back old days of Tory Sleaze, the Government must now take action to crack down on prominent political supporters getting special access to the Prime Minister and other senior ministers.”
We can’t afford to end up with a Mayor that makes excuses for the poor performance of their mates in charge of Parliament or local Town Halls. Only a Liberal Democrat Mayor can take on Conservatives in Government, and Labour town hall bosses alike to deliver better outcomes for the people of West Yorkshire.
About Stewart Golton
Committed - a Born & bred Yorkshireman, Stewart has served the community as a local councillor for 23 years.
Experienced - a current Opposition Member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Stewart brings experience from a background in tourism, energy supply and aviation.
Fair - Stewart wants every community to benefit from better transport links, new green jobs and affordable housing, not just a few favoured areas.
Three things to remember
Community Values - Covid has showed us our local communities need more investment to help deliver a new more home-based, lower-carbon economy. Stewart will have a plan for every highstreet, and will deliver the training & skills needed for new green jobs in construction, energy, farming & forestry.
Fairer Transport - Local bus & rail services have become less reliable, more expensive and overcrowded while ever more attention and money gets piled into HS2 by other parties. Stewart wants a better deal for passengers, and Transpennine investment now!
Safer Streets - Let’s keep as many young people as possible from our region from being sucked into criminality in the first place. Stewart will rebuild community policing, and tackle adult neighbourhood anti-social behaviour to nurture supportive homes within a safe community environment.
Giving you a vote on Deputy Mayor - The West Yorkshire Mayor will appoint a Deputy for Police & Crime. Stewart Golton said “I think it’s important voters should have a say on such an important role before Election Day. Javed Bashir will be my Deputy. Other candidates have chosen not to be so open.
In response to the Health Secretary’s non-answer to his question on Covid ID cards at the Ministerial Statement yesterday, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:
“Covid ID cards would be unworkable, expensive and divisive. They are not the best way to keep people safe from the virus, and would place a huge, unfair burden on pubs, restaurants and the rest of our hospitality businesses.
“The Health Secretary’s arrogance and contempt was clear at the Despatch Box today. By pressing ahead with these plans without even giving Parliament a say, the Government is trying to avoid scrutiny and shut out the voices of the British people.
“Liberal Democrats are standing firm against Covid ID cards. The Government must give Parliament a proper vote on its plans without further delay.”
Ed Davey MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has criticised the reported new European Super League proposals:
“This is greed personified, ripping the heart out of the English game, leaving clubs up and down the country to suffer after an awful year.
“The Premier League is one of this country’s greatest exports. It helps fund grassroots football across the nation. The consequences of these plans reach far and wide. The Government must step in to prevent a small number of greedy, rich owners destroying the game we all love.”
Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael paid a fond tribute to Baroness Shirley Williams, who passed away on Monday.
The Orkney and Shetland MP took the opportunity during Business Questions yesterday morning to eulogise a woman the Liberal Democrat Party Leader Ed Davey had called a “Liberal lion and true trailblazer”.
Addressing the House of Commons, Alistair Carmichael said:
"Thank you Mr Deputy Speaker. Can I say to the Leader of the House I hope members from all parties may be allowed to pay some tribute to my late colleague and friend Baroness Williams of Crosby.
"She was somebody who blazed a trail for women in politics for over five decades of public life in this country. She was blessed with a magic combination of both a fine political mind and a genuine political warmth, which allowed her to reach out to people across the party divide and to people with no parties.
"I realised this for myself in 1983 when I heard her address an outdoor rally at the by-election then in Darlington. There was a man behind me saying "hear hear", a lot of agreement. I turned around to see who this new convert to Liberalism was, and it was in fact none other than Screaming Lord Sutch.
"I told Shirley that story some two decades later, and I think it says a lot about her that she instinctively just loved the joke at her own expense.
"She will be enormously missed by people in all parties, but especially amongst the family of Liberal Democrats."
Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, would in reply share that Baroness Williams helped his father get his first job - testament to her warm heart and giving nature.
The Liberal Democrats will launch their national Police and Crime Commissioner campaign by calling on the Government to restore community policing.
New analysis by the party reveals more than 1.8 million crimes reported to the police last year closed without a suspect being identified. Separate figures show that half of all people say they never see police patrols in their local area.
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey MP, will today call for a return to proper community policing:
“Everyone has the right to feel safe where they live and know those who commit crimes will be punished. But this Conservative Government is leaving our communities vulnerable and letting criminals get away with it.
“Instead of letting police officers get on with their jobs, Tory Ministers want them chasing centralised Whitehall targets and carrying out pointless, suspicionless Stop and Search.
“Police need the officers, resources and time to focus on preventing and solving crimes.
“Liberal Democrats are calling for a return to proper community policing, where officers are visible, trusted and known personally to local people. We will do what works to build communities where people are safe and feel safe too.”
Reacting to the Government disbanding their LGBT advisory panel, Liberal Democrats Spokesperson for Equalities Wera Hobhouse said:
“The Government is badly letting down our LGBT+ community. The resignation of three advisors last month should have been a wake up call, but Tory Ministers are burying their heads in the sand instead.
“Scrapping this advisory panel is a backwards step at a time when we badly need progress from the Government. The Tories are still dragging their feet on banning conversion therapy, and failing to tackle the rise in anti-LGBT hate crimes.
“LGBT+ people still face far too much discrimination, and the Government must do far more to tackle it. Liberal Democrats will keep fighting to build a fairer, more equal society where every person’s rights and dignity are respected.”
The new year has brought with it a new relationship with the European Union. This has presented huge challenges which risk causing economic damage to both the UK and the EU. The border chaos that we have seen, sacrificing free trade of services in preference to fishing rights, and a trade border in the Irish Sea are all Government choices that will have a real impact for many years to come. I worry that this trade deal and new relationship will make our country poorer, less open, and less tolerant.
It is in all our interests to have close relations with the EU. We had a louder voice on the world stage as part of the European Union than we now do on our own. As an MEP I represented the European Union at a United Nations conference in Nairobi, Kenya. I know first hand what a difference working together can have. I championed women’s reproductive rights and gender equality. Our country’s values mattered, and were heard by over 170 world leaders. This was in no small part because I was speaking as the united voice of 500 million people.
My greatest concern is that we as a country, and the world as a whole will be worse off in the years to come. By going it alone; our influence on the world stage is diminished. This is the challenge we now face as a country. As Liberal Democrats we must now fight to make sure that our values of liberty, equality and community are still heard.
Daisy Cooper MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Education, has written to the Secretary of State for Education asking that he sets out proposals for a "Spring Forward" year of an optional fully-funded year of education for 17 to 18-year-olds who have missed out during the pandemic.
"Unlike younger students, they do not have years ahead of them in school to gradually make up for the months of in-person teaching time they have lost during the last two academic years," the letter states.
"So it is particularly urgent that you set out proposals to ensure they are not put at a disadvantage as they take their next steps in education, training or into the world of work.
"As students return to school from 8 March, we are asking you to make a firm offer of a “Spring Forward Year” to these students: that every 17 and 18 year old, leaving school or college this year will be entitled to an optional fully-funded year of post-16 education, if they choose it. This could be delivered in schools, colleges or universities."
The letter concludes:
"It is clear that the summer school plans you have suggested as a way for pupils to regain lost learning time, will simply not go far enough. These students have faced unprecedented levels of disruption and need far more ambitious solutions from the Government.
"Every young person should approach the end of their time at school full of excitement for the next stage of their life. The Government owes it to those whose learning has been heavily impacted by the pandemic to ensure they still feel fully prepared for whatever this stage may hold."
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Treasury Christine Jardine MP attended an online meeting with key figures from the travel industry yesterday morning to discuss the issues facing the sector.
At the event, hosted by the travel industry publication Travel Trade Gazette, attendees spoke of their frustration at lack of sector specific support and clarity from the Government over quarantine, the mounting debts many travel companies and tour operators are facing, and welcomed the idea of the revenue replacement scheme which the Liberal Democrats called for in the Budget.
Christine Jardine MP said:
"Listening to the issues faced by the travel industry it is clear that the Government need to provide a much more tailored approach for the sector, and that the sort of revenue replacement scheme that the Liberal Democrats called for in the Budget would make a real difference for many in the sector.
"They need clarity and consistency from ministers over travel restrictions, quarantine, international vaccine passports and so much more, to give both the industry and consumers the confidence they need to be able to open up again.
"But there are also longer term issues over the debt burden, not just through bounce back loans but the cost of transaction payments on cancelled credit card bookings."
Liberal Democrat candidate for York and North Yorkshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, James Barker, has condemned the Government's cuts to the funds given to councils in York and North Yorkshire to carry out transport maintenance as 'potentially unsafe'.
On 18 February the Government announced their plans to cut road maintenance funding for local councils. For 2021/22 the funding to North Yorkshire County Council has been reduced from £49.6m in 2020/21 to £37m in 2021/22. In York the funding has been reduced from £4m in 2020/21 to £2.8m in 2021/22.
Jamie Stone MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Sport, has criticised the Government’s response to his request in Parliament for a commitment to supporting athletes who choose to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing.
Foreign Office Minister Nigel Adams said it was a matter for the British Olympics Association and individual sports people.
Jamie Stone MP said: “China is responsible for genocide. We know they run so-called re-education camps where they try to eradicate the Uyghur culture and conduct forced sterilisation on Uyghur women.
“I know some athletes are deeply troubled by this 21st century genocide happening in China. Many of them are wonderfully talented athletes with a serious chance of winning big, so this will be a tough dilemma for them.
“I want to make sure that if our Olympians and Paralympians choose to demonstrate and choose to oppose this situation, that the Government will envelop them in support - whatever they need must be given to them. It is only right that we support those that take a stand against genocide.
Layla Moran MP, Lib Dem Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesperson, has described the Government’s decision to cut direct aid to Yemen as “short-sighted” and “appalling”, asking whether this is what should now be expected from the UK, “leaving other, more compassionate countries, to pick up the slack”.
During an Urgent Question in the Commons, Layla also said that the “enormous cut, in a year when 400,000 children under five might starve to death, is not just heartless but also damages the UK’s international reputation.”
Moran noted that the UK’s decision to cut aid, weeks after announcing over £1bn in new arms sales licences to Saudi Arabia, is the exact opposite of the action taken by the Biden administration in recent weeks to halt arms sales and increase aid.