Hungary: Anti-LGBT+ law is "disgusting" human rights violation

Responding to the passing of legislation by the Hungarian Parliament that bans materials in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

"Quite simply this is a disgusting piece of legislation which violates human rights and will lead to lasting harm to LGBT+ individuals. Homophobic persecution of this sort is something we are used to seeing in Vladmir Putin’s Russia, not in an EU member state. It is appalling. 
 
“But this is only the latest repressive step from Viktor Orban, whose record on antisemitism, Islamophobia, LGBT+ and women’s rights, and so much more besides is utterly abysmal. Despite this, Boris Johnson still thought Viktor Orban was worthy of rolling out the Downing Street red carpet last month. What signal does that send out about the type of country we want to be?
 
“In order to combat this assault on LGBT+ rights, the UK Government must commit to working in lockstep with our EU allies. We will only be able to tackle systemic discrimination if we work together.”

Corporation tax: G7 actions long-overdue to tackle tax avoidance

Responding to the announcement that G7 finance ministers have endorsed a unified stance on corporation tax, Liberal Democrats Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine MP said: 
 
"This is a long-overdue step towards tackling tax avoidance by some of the most profitable companies in the world.
 
"It is crucial we push ahead with these steps in order to prevent tech giants exploiting loopholes in our tax system, and these changes must be embraced by the G20, OECD and the rest of the international community.
 
"This Government did nothing to tax the excess profits made by large corporations that benefited from the pandemic. They must now use this opportunity to the fullest to ensure tech giants finally pay their fair share.
 
"This is an opportunity to ensure that those giants who have made huge profits in this pandemic cannot dodge their responsibilities and that they pay their fair share towards recovery."

Govt must urgently tackle NHS and social care staff burnout

Responding to the news that workforce burnout across the NHS and social care has reached an emergency level according to the Health and Social Care Commons Select Committee, Liberal  Democrat Spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, Munira Wilson MP commented:

“As this report shows, the pandemic has clearly taken its toll on NHS staff, health and social care workers, who have gone above and beyond over the course of this crisis. They are burned out, traumatised, and stressed after over a year caring for hundreds of thousands of severely ill Covid patients. On top of this, they have worked tirelessly to get as many people vaccinated as efficiently and as safely as possible. 

“The Government not only need to reward them properly for their service with a proper pay rise but support them for the challenges ahead. Staff are exhausted and will struggle to tackle the growing list of those wating for treatment, which is now nearing 5 million, unless the Government gets a grip of pressures facing the workforce. 

“That’s why the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to recruit more staff and create a proper long-term workforce plan. Current workloads are unsustainable and many are staff are considering leaving. Recruiting more staff, paying them better and planning for the long-term is the only way to tackle this looming crisis.”


Nearly 1 in 3 Brits are carers

New research by Liberal Democrats/Savanta has shown that 30 per cent of British adults self-identify as someone who has unpaid caring responsibilities for a family member or friend due to illness - almost 1 in 3 UK adults. 

The research surveyed over 2,000 UK adults and prompted Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey to call on the Government to give unpaid carers support to take time off. 

In further research commissioned for Carers Week (7 -11 June),  a Carers UK survey revealed 72 per cent of unpaid carers have not been able to have a break since the Coronavirus pandemic began. 

Commenting on the research Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey MP said: 

“Unpaid carers have taken on dramatically increased caring responsibilities during the pandemic. Many carers haven’t been able to take a single break since the pandemic started. Most are simply exhausted,” 

“This pandemic has shown that we are a nation of carers. But people looking after their loved ones are still too often forgotten and ignored by people in power.

“The government must finally recognise the incredible contribution that unpaid carers make and give them the support they deserve. It must give local councils the emergency funding they need to give carers a break.

“Liberal Democrats are standing up for carers and working to build a more caring society as we emerge from this pandemic.”


Appoint inquiry Chair within days

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has written to the Prime Minister urging him to bring forward a public inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Davey first called for a full inquiry into the Government's actions during the pandemic last year in April 2020.

The Prime Minister, who has promised the Liberal Democrats an inquiry at multiple points in the chamber, has recently confirmed a full inquiry will take place in this session of Parliament in Spring 2022.
 
With serious allegations made by the Prime Minister's former chief advisor yesterday, the urgent need for an inquiry now has been reiterated.
 
Davey says in the letter that "the chair and any further members of the panel should be appointed within days".
 
The letter in full is below: 
 
Dear Prime Minister,

I am writing to urge you to establish the independent public inquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid pandemic that you have promised now, without further delay.

Very serious allegations have been made about the Government’s actions – including by your former chief adviser in Number 10. The chaotic mess of claims, counter-claims, anonymous WhatsApp briefings and cryptic Twitter threads is not the way to establish the truth that the British people – and bereaved families in particular – deserve.

It is clear that we need an independent, statutory public inquiry, and we need it now.

You will recall that in July last year, having secured a commitment from you to hold an independent inquiry, I wrote asking you to confirm that the inquiry would be held under the Inquiries Act 2005 and to publish a timetable, draft terms of reference and the name of your proposed chair before the summer recess. It is deeply disappointing that you have still not done so.

While I welcome your promise earlier this month to set up the inquiry within this parliamentary session, there is no substitute for a statutory public inquiry and no good excuse for any further delay. The Covid threat remains very real, and we must learn lessons now to prevent further unnecessary deaths.

You may also recall that, last July, I wrote to you with draft terms of reference for the inquiry, drawn up with advice from specialist lawyers, including those representing the bereaved families of those who have died from Covid. It is essential that this inquiry must ensure the effective participation of the bereaved, and my proposed terms of reference made clear that they must be consulted from the outset. I urge you again to consult them now.

Given the urgency of this crucial inquiry, the chair and any further members of the panel should be appointed within days. The chair must clearly be someone who has the necessary skills to conduct a detailed and thorough examination of the Government’s handling of the pandemic, as well as someone whose impartiality is beyond reproach. It is also vital that the chair and panel have the trust of the bereaved.

I hope you will consider these proposals in the positive and constructive spirit that they are intended, and I urge you to act quickly to establish the independent public inquiry you have promised without further delay.

I look forward to a response at your earliest convenience. In the spirit of co-operation for the national interest, I would be happy to meet with you and representatives of bereaved families to discuss our proposals in more detail.

Yours sincerely,

Ed Davey MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Education Secretary must scrap proposed cuts to arts funding

Liberal Democrat Business spokesperson, Sarah Olney MP, has led a group of 51 MPs and Peers in calling for Gavin Williamson to issue new guidance to the Office for Students (OfS) and reconsider the proposed 50% cuts to the high-cost subject funding of arts subjects. 

In a letter sent to the OfS, the Secretary proposed cutting residual funding in half for Higher Education (HE) subjects not amongst the Government’s “strategic priorities” in England. 

Courses in music, dance, drama and performing arts, art and design, media studies and archaeology will therefore, under the proposals, suffer a 50% cut to their ‘high-cost subject funding’, which is provided for subjects with higher teaching costs.

Independent campaign group Public Campaign for the Arts, whose efforts Sarah is supporting, has launched a petition calling for the proposal to be scrapped which currently has over 160,000 signatures. 

Sarah Olney Lib Dem MP for Richmond Park said:

“This is about what kind of message we as a nation are sending about how we value arts subjects. Without this kind of state support, creative skills development will be largely inaccessible to those from working class and otherwise marginalised backgrounds.  Not only will we be reinforcing existing, harmful barriers to entry, but the Government will be directly contradicting its own levelling-up agenda. 

“Generating over £111 billion a year, our creative industries are economically vital to our country. But beyond the clear economic imperative, there is a cultural cost to what the Secretary is proposing. England is a world-leader in the arts and that is why we are urging him to reconsider his approach.”

Jack Gamble, Director of Public Campaign for the Arts says:

“We are pleased that Sarah Olney and a cross-party group of MPs and peers have joined over 160,000 supporters of the Public Campaign for the Arts to urge a rethink on this damaging proposal. We are proud of the UK’s creativity and want it to be championed, not cut. 

“Arts and creative courses are life-enriching, and they also underpin much of our globally successful creative industries, which before the pandemic were growing five times faster than the UK economy as a whole. For these courses to remain viable and widely accessible, they must be properly supported by the Government.”  


Davey: End sparring with Cummings and set up inquiry

Responding to Dominic Cummings' evidence to the Science and Technology Committee and Health and Social Care Committee yesterday, Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

"If Geoffrey Howe took a cricket bat to Thatcher’s Government, then Dominic Cummings has just taken a wrecking ball to Johnson’s. His allegations against the Prime Minister and Health Secretary are damning.

“While the circus around the fallout between the Prime Minister and his closest advisor continues, the public are only interested in one thing: the truth.

“It is clear that we are not going to get it through a WhatsApp briefing war or a public tit for tat between Johnson and Cummings. The only way to get to the truth is through a full independent public inquiry. We need one now.

“Bereaved families deserve to know exactly what decisions were made and how they were made throughout this pandemic. We owe it to them to learn the lessons right away, so we can be prepared for any further waves of this virus or future pandemics.

"The Prime Minister must establish the independent public inquiry he's promised without further delay. He should appear before it to answer questions under oath, and provide it with all relevant government documents.

“There can be no delay in getting to the truth. End the public sparring with Cummings and get on with setting up the inquiry immediately.”


Local lockdowns by stealth are completely irresponsible

Responding to the news that local lockdowns have been introduced by "stealth" Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

"Changing policy by stealth is completely irresponsible. Matt Hancock should have made clear the changes he was making to guidance in advance and communicated it to the public and local officials. He needs to make clear the situation immediately to Parliament.
 
"Clarification on the new rules in these areas is now needed, not only for residents but for those that would normally travel to the affected areas. People cross these invisible boundaries every day for medical appointments or to go shopping. The Government urgently need to make it clear whether they should avoid travelling to or through these areas and under what circumstances this is now permitted.
 
"It is now critical that the thousands of key workers that travel to these areas everyday, but live elsewhere, should be made eligible for vaccination. Surge vaccination in these areas for residents is key to slowing the spread of the virus but to slow it further it must be extended to anyone who works there too."

Catastrophic trade deal with EU major blow to our trade

Responding to trade stats from the ONS this morning, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Trade Sarah Olney MP said:

“The loss of nearly a quarter of our trade with our biggest trading partner should make the Prime Minister and Trade Secretary hang their heads in shame.

“Despite the impact of Covid-19, the figures are clear: this is primarily the outcome of the Government’s catastrophic trade deal with the EU.

“Hundreds of thousands of British small businesses that rely on trade with Europe have been abandoned by the Government, and their millions of employees will be rightly worried about their future.

“We must finally see an end to empty Government slogans about the opportunities of Brexit and see concrete actions to protect the jobs and businesses that depend on trade with Europe.”


Govt betraying British farmers with Australia trade deal

Responding to reports that the Government is planning to grant tariff-free access to the UK to Australian farmers, Tim Farron MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, commented:

“So often Conservative ministers take to social media to say how much they love British farming but their proposed new trade deal with Australia shows that when push comes to shove they are perfectly happy to sell our farmers down the river.

“The NFU are clear that letting Australian farmers sell their produce tariff-free into the UK would spell a disaster for small British family farms.

“Australian animal welfare standards are lower than the UK’s which makes for lower production costs and cheaper produce. Therefore the only way that small British family farms could compete would be to lower their own standards – which nobody except the Government wants them to do.

“To go ahead with this trade deal on these terms would be a betrayal of Britain’s farmers who are so vital in feeding us and protecting our environment.

“Liberal Democrats will always stand up for British farmers, and fight to protect Britain’s high quality animal welfare and environmental standards.”


Govt must provide clarity on plans for divisive Covid ID cards

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.” 


Record levels of self-harm show women's prisons are in crisis

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."

Domestic Abuse Bill: Govt must follow through with funding for services

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."


Ed Davey backs Bereaved Families calling for PM apology after lockdown comments

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.”

Lib Dems warn against return to 'damaging' Whitehall police targets

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.”

Read more

PM must act now on slave labour World Cup after Super League collapse

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. 

Read more

Fire Safety Bill: Calls for inquiry into impact on leaseholders

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.”


Govt must strengthen transparency of lobbying laws

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.”

 


A strong voice for you

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.


Lib Dems slam Health Secretary's 'arrogance' over Covid ID cards

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.”