Lib Dems produce Bill to properly tackle plastics crisis. Lib Dem Press Release 25th February

Lib Dems produce Bill to properly tackle plastics crisis

Today, Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Environment, will present his Plastic Pollution Bill to Parliament.

The Bill will set targets to help fix our plastics crisis and require the Secretary of State to publish a strategy for the reduction of plastic pollution.

The Bill has been backed by a cross-party group of MPs as well as Friends of the Earth and the Women’s Institute.

Ahead of presenting his Bill, Mr Carmichael said:

Plastic pollution is the scourge of our oceans. The Government must start taking action to reduce our plastic to change our throwaway culture. The answer will need international cooperation but the UK can give a lead for other countries to follow.

The Government’s approach has been about grabbing headlines on easy parts of the agenda – banning cotton buds and plastic straws. That approach falls far short of the proper plan we need for banning single-use plastic.

To make a true difference in our oceans, we must do more than the Government’s current piecemeal approach. My Bill will allow the UK to lead the way in challenging consumer behaviour. We need to eliminate plastic pollution from our seas by aiming to end the use all non-essential single-use plastics within six years.

Urgent rehabilitation reforms needed to tackle serial re-offending. Lib Dem Press Release 21st February

Urgent rehabilitation reforms needed to tackle serial re-offending

Today, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse has called for “urgent reforms to break the cycle of re-offending” in response to new figures showing that serial criminals now account for almost 40% of all offenders

The latest Criminal Justice Statistics, published today by the Ministry of Justice, show that 37.3% people convicted in the 12 months to September 2018 had at least 15 previous convictions or cautions – the highest on record and up from 27% a decade ago.

The proportion of offenders with more than 25 previous convictions or cautions has doubled since 2008, from 11% to 22%. And the proportion with 60 or more is up from 0.8% to 3.4%.

Wera Hobhouse said:

The criminal justice system is failing in its central purpose: to stop offenders committing more crimes.

Our prisons are overcrowded, with too many people on pointless short-term sentences. And probation services are understaffed, under-resourced and unable to deliver the services offenders need to go straight.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. We demand urgent reforms to break the cycle of re-offending, including an end to short-term sentences and proper funding for rehabilitation services.

Cable: Govt must level the playing field between the high street and online. Lib Dem Press Release 21st February

Cable: Govt must level the playing field between the high street and online

Responding to the report by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee calling on the Government to consider the options of an online sales tax and reforms to business rates, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

While our high streets are going through an extremely difficult time, with the right action from government, councils, businesses and local communities, they can prosper once again.

Instead of trying to recreate the high streets of the past, our towns and cities need to tailor their offer to local tastes and focus on experiences at a time of growing demand for online shopping.

There must be a level playing field between brick and mortar businesses and online companies. Business rates should be replaced with a land value tax that encourages businesses to invest. Local authorities must also be given more power to run their own affairs and support local businesses, as pioneering Liberal Democrat councils are currently demonstrating.

Rail reform proposals signals change needed. Lib Dem Press Release 18th February

Lib Dems: Rail reform proposals signals change needed

Responding to the release of the report containing the Rail Delivery Group’s proposals to the Williams Rail Review, Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson said:

It has been long overdue for the Conservative Government to introduce the legislation needed to reform our outdated and unfair rail fares system. The proposals put forward by the industry which would modernise the way in which we pay for our train tickets are encouraging and it is now essential the Government sets the wheels in motion.

Simplifying the system and introducing smart ticketing would help transform what is an incredibly outdated system, invented before people bought their tickets online. Equally, with more and more people now working flexible hours it is vital the system offers fairer ticket prices to reflect the way modern businesses work.

With so many passengers wanting to overhaul the way they pay their rail fare, surely this should be something that Chris Grayling cannot delay.

Govt consultations on plastic must be followed by action. Lib Dem Press Release 18th February

Govt consultations on plastic must be followed by action

Responding to the Government’s launch of a number of consultations looking at overhauling the waste system, cutting plastic pollution, and moving towards a more circular economy, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael said:

Whilst the Government fail to get a grip of the crisis facing our environment, the detrimental effects to the UK’s wildlife continues. The Liberal Democrats have been clear about the need for a plastic bottle deposit scheme and the Conservative Government must follow through on these consultations with action.

The Liberal Democrats will also continue to fight for a ban on all single-use plastic within three years and the introduction of a levy on all producers and retailers that produce or use single-use plastics.

If the Conservative Government was as good at recycling plastic as they are at recycling consultations then our environment would be in better shape than it is. It is good that the Government is thinking of acting, but the problem is urgent and needs to be taken seriously.

Tories failing on air pollution. Lib Dem Press Release 15th February

Lib Dems: Tories failing on air pollution

New figures released today by the Department for the Environment show that emissions of air pollutants have not dropped significantly over the past three years, despite the Government promising to tackle air pollution as a priority.

Responding to the figures, Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson, said:

These figures show that this Tory Government is failing to tackle air pollution, which they described themselves as ‘the biggest environmental threat to public health.’

Long-term exposure to these emissions can cause heart and lung problems as well as potentially contribute to cancers, with the young and the old being particularly vulnerable. People deserve better and Liberal Democrats demand better.

Liberal Democrats would pass a new Clean Air Act, giving people the legal right to unpolluted air wherever they live. New Clean Air Zones must also be brought forward in the most polluted towns and cities, and we would also restore subsidies to electric vehicles foolishly cut by the Tories.

Lib Dem International Trade spokesperson slams Liam Fox for misleading House. Lib Dem Press Release 7th February

Lib Dem International Trade spokesperson slams Liam Fox for misleading House

Following an exchange at International Trade questions today, during which Tom Brake sought assurances from the Secretary of State, Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, that he would provide Parliamentarians with a progress report on the trade deals the UK wants to roll over – a report Fox has already provided to key businesses – Tom has accused Fox of misleading MPs.

Tom explained in a later Point of Order to the Deputy Speaker, that contrary to Liam Fox’s assertion that he had dealt with this issue ‘extensively’ in the International Trade Select Committee hearing the day before, Tom, having viewed the hour long session, could confirm that the Secretary of State had provided no guarantees about making this progress report available. Indeed no reference was made to this progress report at all.

Tom Brake said:

It is clear that to save his embarrassment for the shocking lack of progress in rolling over these trade deals, Liam Fox has concocted a sham story about having dealt with the matter yesterday.

He is clearly one of the people Donald Tusk had in mind when he referred to Brexiters who promoted Brexit, with no plan for delivering it!

Tom added,

This could be another case of a Government in contempt, by providing information to third parties, but refusing to provide it to MPs.

In his Point of Order, Tom asked the Speaker how he could get the Secretary of State to correct the record and, more importantly, provide the information he was happy to share with business with Parliamentarians.

Lib Dems threaten veto to force Govt u-turn on knife crime. Lib Dem Press Release 6th February

Lib Dems threaten veto to force Govt u-turn on knife crime

The Liberal Democrats have forced the Conservative Government to withdraw their amendments on controversial knife crime prevention orders.

Following the Home Secretary’s announcement last week of his intention to introduce ‘asbo style’ prevention orders, the Government intended to today amend the Offensive Weapons Bill at the House of Lords Grand Committee.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson in the House of Lords, Brian Paddick, threatened to oppose these amendments forcing the Government to withdraw them due to the need at Grand Committee for unanimity.

Responding to the withdrawal, Brian Paddick said:

ASBOs were jettisoned because they unnecessarily criminalised young people, were seen as a badge of honour in some communities and did little to prevent crime, but now the Conservatives want to resurrect them under a new guise.

The Liberal Democrats are wholly opposed to Knife Crime Prevention Orders being imposed on children as young as 12 who haven’t been convicted of any crimes, where a minor breach can result in a criminal record and a prison sentence.

There are not enough community police officers to patrol our streets, let alone enforce these orders. Instead of gimmicks that won’t work, the Government must urgently give forces the funding they need to restore community police and stop the rise of violent crime.


Lib Dems: 50 days until Brexit cliff-edge

With just 50 days to go until exit day, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake MP has laid a Private Members Bill to give the people the final say on the Brexit deal.

Commenting on the Bill, Mr Brake said:

With just 50 days to go it is irresponsible that the Conservative Government have failed to rule out crashing out of the EU. The Tories have made a mess of Brexit and are as far away from agreement within their own party as ever.

It is time to stop this mess and move the UK away from the cliff edge. The only way forward now is a People’s Vote.

That is why the Liberal Democrats have tabled this Bill to extend Article 50 and give the people the final say on May’s deal, with the option to stay in the EU.

Greg Clark’s warning exposes recklessness of Tory Govt

Responding on Greg Clark’s appearance before the BEIS Select Committee, in which the Secretary of State said the effective Brexit deadline for exporters was within “the next couple of weeks”, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Greg Clark’s warning exposes the recklessness of this government’s strategy of gambling on an unlikely last-minute breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations.

UK companies exporting competitively to the rest of the world thanks to EU-negotiated free trade agreements are now facing a hit to their business long before March 29th, notwithstanding the uncertainty they have already faced. Businesses and workers are paying the price of No deal already.

This is yet another example of the damage Brexit will inflict on our economy. It is time the people were given the opportunity to avoid all this chaos through a People’s Vote, with the option to remain in the EU.

Lib Dems: Govt must investigate civil service support for Tory meetings

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable and Lib Dem Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake have today written to the Head of the Civil Service urging him to investigate allegations that civil servants are assisting with the so-called Malthouse Compromise working group.

This working group of Conservative MPs has been meeting with officials in the Cabinet Office. Given the group are not members of the Government, the Liberal Democrats believe the provision of civil service support breaches rules and raises questions for the Prime Minister to answer.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The Civil Service should not be spending time on a Tory party peace initiative which has no relevance to our negotiations with the EU and which is undeliverable.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake added:

If Ministers have been instructing civil servants to assist Jacob Rees Mogg and Nicky Morgan in their quest to find a unicorn, that can piece the Tory party back together again, this would be a flagrant breach of Ministerial rules.

Any costs associated with such a naked party political stunt would have to be reimbursed to taxpayers and instructions issued to all Ministers to refrain from abusing civil service resources in this way.


Cable: Brexit causing the economy to stagnate

Responding to the news that growth in the service sector has stalled according to the IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

There is now cumulative evidence that Brexit uncertainty is causing the economy to stagnate. Even if we avoid no-deal, we will have to face the prospect of a blind Brexit.

With our economy in such a fragile state, it would take very little to push the country into a recession. This is the risk the government is taking.

The Liberal Democrats are clear that there is only one way to end this paralysing economic uncertainty. The public must be given a People’s Vote on Brexit, with the option to Remain.

EU citizens in Holyhead face 224 mile round trip to register for settled status

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have slammed the Conservative Government for their “hapless treatment” of EU citizens after the Home Office released guidance on the new EU Settlement Scheme.

The Home Office has confirmed that for the duration of the trial period, until 30 March, EU citizens applying to stay in the UK must either use an Android phone or travel to one of 13 ‘document scanning’ centres instead.

For Holyhead, the closest ‘document scanning’ centre is Trafford. According to analysis by the Welsh Liberal Democrats, EU citizens travelling from Holyhead, would face costs of £55 on the train for at least a six and a half hour round trip. The drive would be a 224 mile round trip costing around £56 in fuel.

Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds said:

Too many people in Wales are deeply anxious about their right to stay. Many of them fill vital roles in the health service, our schools and the tourism sector. They want to register as soon as possible, but Theresa May’s hapless treatment of EU citizens could result in a new Windrush scandal.

For anyone who doesn’t have an android phone, this botched scheme means they will have to travel. For people in in Holyhead that means facing a 224 mile round trip and paying over £50 for the privilege. This postcode lottery is simply unacceptable.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey MP said:

Following significant pressure, the Prime Minister said there will be no financial barrier for any EU nationals who wish to stay. How long did that commitment last?

It is Conservative Ministers who have made a mess of Brexit. They should either pay the cost for EU citizens or change the application system and ensure EU citizens are made to feel welcome in the UK.

Ultimately, the best way to avoid all of this mess is by giving the people the option to remain in the EU with a final say on Brexit.

Davey questions Justice Minister on potential Brexit bribes

The Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has questioned the Justice Minister, David Gauke, on whether the Government are in breach of the Bribery Act (2010) over plans to offer MPs money for their constituency to vote for the Brexit deal. The Justice minister stated that he would meet with Ed Davey to discuss this important matter.

The issue has come to prominence after a letter from Liberal Democrat Peer Martin Thomas was published in the Sunday Times.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

With media reports that a desperate Number 10 is seeking to tempt Opposition MPs to back their Brexit deal by offering constituency favours, Liberal Democrats are right to call foul play.

The Government could be in clear breach of the Bribery Act. I am pleased David Gauke is now prepared to meet me to discuss this serious matter, and I will be seeking an early date.

Brexit should not be stitched up with backroom deals but sorted out with a people’s vote, with an option to remain in the EU.