Govt must close second homes loophole. Lib Dem Press Release 2nd November

Lib Dems: Govt must close second homes loophole

Responding to the Government’s consultation on second homes, which was announced in the budget, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb said:

It is encouraging that the Government has listened to concerns raised about this unfair loophole, but this must be followed by action. They cannot simply kick this problem into the long grass with the promise of a review. Liberal Democrats demand better.

Communities are facing higher council tax bills to fund vital local services, while some owners of second homes are allowed to exploit the system by registering them incorrectly as holiday lets, getting away with paying no tax at all on that property.

The Government must act urgently to close this outrageous loophole that results in already struggling councils losing out on huge sums of money that could be spent on critical services.

Cost of Brexit spiralling out of control. Lib Dem Press Release 2nd November

Cost of Brexit spiralling out of control

Responding to the Government’s admission that Operation Brock will now cost £30 million, £10 million more than was previously stated, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Brexit, Tom Brake MP said:

The cost of Brexit is continuing to spiral out of control. The Conservative Government’s plan to turn Kent into a car park, Operation Brock, is now costing the tax payer an additional ten million more than the figure they gave in the summer.

The Government must be honest about the cost of Brexit. During the referendum campaign, people were told Brexit would mean more money for the NHS, not that they would be paying to churn up our motorway in a desperate bid to avoid grid-lock and a mega-traffic jam on the M20.

This is why it’s essential that the people have the final say on Brexit, including the option to remain in the EU.

Brexiter ranks filled with dodgy demagogues. Lib Dem Press Release 1st November

Brexiter ranks filled with dodgy demagogues

Commenting on news that Arron Banks has been referred to the National Crime Agency Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

This is an extremely concerning development. People have known for a long time that the Brexiter ranks were filled with dodgy demagogues, today’s news will be little surprise.

Brexit will cause great damage to this country and it cannot happen on the back of a Leave campaign littered with lies, deceit and allegations of much worse. That is why the people must have a final say on Brexit.


“A standstill non-event” – Vince Cable

“This was all very modest stuff, with more in it for potholes than schools and the police. A standstill non-event.

If we are to see an end to austerity, then we need a proper injection of cash

“With growth remaining stubbornly low and Brexit weighing down our economy, it is clear the big problems are still to be tackled. It was a sticking plaster Budget, when major surgery lies ahead.

“If we are to see an end to austerity, then we need a proper injection of cash – at least £19bn according to the IFS – in our public services. The Chancellor said he could end austerity without raising taxes, but that is highly unlikely in practice.

“The Chancellor dined out on the borrowing improvements the OBR has given him, but these are overshadowed by the damaging impact Brexit will have on the UK’s public finances. These costs, which could reach £80bn a year in the event of ‘no deal’, risk turning today’s Budget into a sideshow.”

Chancellor ignores rising violence and worsening prison crisis – Ed Davey

It’s almost unbelievable that the Chancellor’s Budget contained not a single penny to tackle these problems

“Given the sharp rise of serious violence on our streets and the worsening crisis in our prisons, it’s almost unbelievable that the Chancellor’s Budget contained not a single penny to tackle these problems.

“Merely promising to ‘review police spending power’ isn’t nearly good enough.

Liberal Democrats demand better. We are calling for an extra £300 million a year to boost community policing and urgent investment to recruit more prison officers.”

Government mental health funding falls well short – Norman Lamb

For all the spin, this £2 billion falls well short of the amount experts say is needed

“While extra funding for mental health is sorely needed, the Chancellor is investing the bare minimum. For all the Government’s spin, this £2 billion falls well short of the amount experts say is needed to deliver vital improvements to services and achieve real equality between mental and physical health.

“Today’s announcement also recycles commitments set out in the Coalition Government’s blueprint for children’s mental health, which pledged a named mental health lead in schools as well as a dedicated professional in specialist NHS services.

“The Conservatives have failed to drive these changes through nearly five years on. Why should we expect things will be any different this time around?

Liberal Democrats demand better. The Government has failed to ensure that money from previous spending commitments gets through to where it is needed. It is vital that the new funding is used properly to invest in community-based care as well as early years support.”

Budget clouded by Brexit disarray and uncertainty – Tom Brake

Brexit must not be allowed to make the UK poorer

May and Hammond can’t agree what a no-deal Brexit will mean for the Budget. Hammond thinks it will require a whole new, emergency budget while May has attempted to save face and insist the Budget will stand regardless. What a mess.

“This fingers-crossed Budget is predicated on the Tories’ hopes that despite the mess they are making of Brexit the economy won’t suffer too severely. In reality, the Tories’ infighting has them gambling with the UK’s finances.

Liberal Democrats demand better. Brexit must not be allowed to make the UK poorer, that is why we need a final vote on the Brexit deal with an option to remain in the EU.”

Gamblers face another year of being held captive to FOBTs – Lord Foster

The Chancellor announced today that the £2 maximum stake for Fixed-Odds-Betting-Terminals will not be implemented until October 2019.

“We know with absolute certainty that this delay will see yet more lives ruined by these highly addictive machines.

“Communities up and down the country see the damage that can be done when hundreds of pounds can be lost in minutes if not seconds, day after day.

“Families will be despairing tonight that a problem gambler that they care about faces another full year of living captive to these machines until the Government step-in and do the right thing.”

Conservative Government throwing in the towel on halting climate change – Ed Davey

This budget is grossly disappointing for those who care about fighting climate change

“This budget is grossly disappointing for those, like me, who care about fighting climate change and protecting the environment. The Chancellor has simply thrown in the towel.

“The Tories have frozen fuel duty, slashed electric car subsides, committed £30bn to new road building and promise to continue at the same level subsidises to the oil and gas industry, while offering a measly £60 million to planting new trees, as if that will negate the damage they’re doing.

Liberal Democrats demand better. We would deliver a green budget, which promises more investment in renewable energy, not fossil fuels, borrowing to invest in infrastructure like rail, buses and electric vehicle charging points.”

Infrastructure plans lack future proofing – Baroness Randerson

“While it is welcome news that the Government will finally set aside much needed investment for our roads, their infrastructure plan lacks any future proofing.

With climate change an ever greater threat, Liberal Democrats demand better.Ministers should be focusing on a model shift away from car use to public transport. That means investment in rail, low emission buses and electric charging points.”

‘Hot air’ Tories abandon commitment to latte levy – Alistair Carmichael

Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for a ban on all single-use plastic

“It is bitterly disappointing that the Chancellor has abandoned the Government’s commitment to introduce a levy on plastic cups.

It proves the Tories are full of hot air and no credible action. It also proves what I have said all along, that headlines are more important to them than the environment.

Our Environment deserves better. Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for a ban on all single-use plastic within three years, the introduction of a levy on all producers and retailers that produce or use single-use plastics and the introduction of a latte levy.”

Chancellor’s UC spending barely recovers half the cuts of his predecessor – Stephen Lloyd

The pain caused by the roll-out of UC is not over yet.

“After stubbornly resisting for far too long, the Government has finally responded to pressure from the Liberal Democrats and put back some of the money into the Universal Credit Work Allowance, which they stupidly cut the moment we were no longer around to stop them.

“However, the £1.7 billion per year the Chancellor committed to still does not make up for the £3 billion pa his predecessor George Osborne slashed from the benefit in 2015. We also heard nothing on ending the gratuitous benefits freeze early, or on making UC fairer for the self-employed.

UC’s serious design flaws were also not addressed, from long waiting times that are pushing people into indebtedness, to problems in how landlords are paid housing benefit. The pain caused by the roll-out of UC is not over yet.


Joint statement from Lib Dems, Green Party, SNP and Plaid Cymru on Barnier meeting. Joint Press Release. 25th October

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable and leading figures from opposition parties met Michel Barnier at the European Commission’s Berlaymont building headquarters in Brussels today.

The Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru and Greens are working together, alongside rebels from Labour and the Conservatives, to fight Brexit. Vince Cable pressed Barnier on the need for the EU to make contingency plans for a People’s Vote and to protect EU and UK citizens rights in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The other attendees were SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford, Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts, and Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party’s MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar.

In a joint statement, these UK politicians said:

In a constructive hour long meeting with Michel Barnier, we emphasised that there is a cross-party resistance in Westminster to the destructive Brexit being pursued by the Tories.

We also pointed out that this is being waved through by the Labour frontbench, but no majority exists in Parliament for the current Brexit trajectory.

With sensible politicians from all parties uniting, we pointed out to Mr Barnier that there is a genuine cross-party consensus that our exit from the European Union must not be assumed.

Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable added:

My message to Michel Barnier was clear: it’s time to start serious contingency planning for a People’s Vote. We know the UK government has started making such plans as a result of the growing demand for such a vote, demonstrated by last weekend’s march.

The EU should do the same, because MPs who back the People’s Vote are fast forming the biggest and most cohesive bloc in Westminster.

I also pressed him on ringfencing rights of British citizens in the EU and vice versa in the event of a no deal. It is simply the right thing to do.

Ian Blackford said:

I am grateful to Mr Barnier for meeting with us today and providing us with the opportunity to set out our position of an alternative to the UK government’s damaging Brexit plans.

The UK government’s reckless approach to negotiations threatens livelihoods and ignores the clear wishes of the people of Scotland.

Scotland voted to remain in the EU and we continue to press the UK Government to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union so we can protect jobs and living standards.

Liz Saville Roberts said:

I pressed Michel Barnier on protecting Wales’s interest through the extension of Article 50 and a People’s Vote.

In Westminster, with the Prime Minister’s proposals amounting to nothing more than a mix of fudge and fantasy, a People’s Vote is more likely than ever.

Corbyn’s Labour are now our biggest barrier to delivering a European future that could work for everyone. The Labour frontbench remain self-righteous and amateur in equal measure, delivering Brexit hand in hand with the Tories.

As every sensible opposition party unites behind workable solutions, Labour must now reconsider its position.

Molly Scott Cato said:

We appreciate having time with the chief negotiator and his willingness to listen to our views. I expressed to him the concerns raised with me by constituents about the undemocratic nature of the Brexit vote and the undermining of British democracy. I let him know that the Green Party is working for a people’s vote with an option to remain in the EU.


Raab is making up Brexit policy as he goes along – Brake

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab told The Andrew Marr Show today that the proposed 21-month Brexit transition period could be extended by three months.

Raab also said a Brexit deal must be agreed by the end of next month.

Responding, Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

Dominic Raab seems to be making up the Conservatives’ Brexit position as he goes along. It’s difficult to see what major difference an extension of three months could possibly make.

The Conservatives have form on using sticky plaster solutions to problems that require major political surgery. Raab should listen to the 700,000 people who formed one of the biggest marches in British history this weekend and hold a People’s Vote to get us out of this mess of the Conservatives’ making.


12% rise in knife crime proves Government must end forces’ budget cuts

Responding to the release of Government statistics which show a 12% rise in knife crime, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:

The Tories always tell us that the Government’s first duty is to keep people safe. On their own terms, they are failing.

Unnecessary Conservative police cuts have left fewer officers on our streets and made communities less safe. The Home Office’s own analysis shows that police cuts have likely contributed to the rise in serious violent crime, yet the Conservatives continue to squeeze forces’ budgets.

The Liberal Democrats demand better for our communities and our police. We will end the Conservative cuts and invest an extra £300 million a year to recruit more officers, boost community policing and reverse the rise in serious violence.


Swinson and Cable call on Hammond to work with EU on taxing tech giants

Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader Jo Swinson MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling on him to throw his weight behind a new EU tax on tech giants.

Leader Vince Cable has co-signed the letter, which urges Philip Hammond to use the Budget to set out how he will incorporate the EU’s initiative into any Treasury initiative to tax big internet firms.

Following reports that a new European tax on internet companies could be agreed by the end of the year, Jo said:

I urge the Chancellor to focus his energy on making this EU-wide tax happen. This is a golden opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.

Tech giants are getting away with not paying their fair share of tax because we make it easy for them.

The time to act is now if we want to create a level playing field for businesses in the UK and give our struggling high streets a much needed boost.

Britain is always at its best when it brings countries together in a common cause. If we want to tax tech giants we must work together with our European allies and others around the globe.

Cable: Brexit means borders, bureaucracy and betrayal

Responding to Theresa May’s statement to the House of Commons on Brexit negotiations, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:

It is not clear why Theresa May felt it necessary to make this statement. She said nothing new, failing to add one iota to our knowledge of what is going on – and just at a time when the public wants and deserves clarity on negotiations.

In relation to Ireland, Mrs May has hopefully at least learned the following: Brexit means bureaucracy; Brexit means borders; ultimately, and worst of all, Brexit means betrayal of the Good Friday Agreement


The report – “Taxing Land, Not Investment” – calls for the abolition of business rates and its replacement with a tax on land values, the Commercial Landowner Levy (CLL). The levy would remove buildings and machinery from calculations and tax only the land value of commercial sites, boosting investment and cutting taxes for businesses in nine out of ten English local authorities.

This ground-breaking research was led by founder of the Lib Dem Business and Entrepreneurs Network (LDBEN) Andrew Dixon, in response to mounting concerns about the negative impact of business rates on struggling high streets and the wider economy.

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • Business rates should be abolished and replaced by a Commercial Landowner Levy based on the value of the land only
  • The levy should be paid by owners rather than tenants
  • Non-residential stamp duty should be scrapped to improve the efficiency of the commercial property market
  • Commercial land should be taxed regardless of whether the buildings above it are occupied; the tax should also apply to unused and derelict commercial land

The report also finds:

  • The CLL would mean lower taxes for businesses in 92% of English local authorities. In places like Oldham, Blackburn, West Bromwich, Barrow, Middlesbrough and 92 other local authorities, average taxes would be cut by over 25%, and in some cases by as much as 46%
  • The manufacturing and technology sectors would be the most significant beneficiaries of the CLL, receiving tax cuts of over 20%. Retailers in struggling areas would also receive a boost.
  • The CLL would represent a tax cut initially, but is likely to be at least revenue-neutral in the long-term. Redistribution between local authorities would be adjusted to ensure no change in local funding.
  • By taxing landowners rather than businesses, half a million SMEs would be spared the bureaucratic burden of property taxation. With less plots of land than individual businesses, the CLL would save councils both time and money

Liberal Democrat members will debate and vote on the proposals at the party’s Autumn Conference in Brighton next month.
The full report to conference can be found on the Lib Dem Website


Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable said:

“Business rates were a badly designed policy to begin with and have become an unacceptable drag on our economy. They are a tax on productive investment at a time of chronically weak productivity growth, and a burden on high streets struggling to adapt to the rise of online retail.

“Many of the areas around the country that voted for Brexit feel they have been left behind. In place of policies the Brexiters offer only rhetoric. Great swathes of the country demand better, and this policy offers change to the manufacturing industry and the small towns passed over by economic growth.”

Chris Richards, Head of Business Environment Policy at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation said:

“This report is a strong addition to the debate on the future of business rates and property taxation, which despite many reviews is not an issue that has gone away.

“Manufacturing as a sector with high capital intensity is perversely affected by business rates, as investments in productivity boosting plant and machinery are included in tax calculations – for some manufacturers making significant investments this is enough to put them off making that investment in the UK.

“Innovative solutions will be needed to remove this challenge while ensuring stability from a future tax regime, and today’s report is an important contribution to finding a solution.”

Philip Salter, Founder and Director of The Entrepreneur’s Network, said:

“Business rates are a tax on investment, adding to Britain’s productivity woes. Introducing a Commercial Landowner Levy would remove a key disincentive to investment and reduce administration costs for thousands of business owners. This is exactly the sort of policy entrepreneurs need to thrive.”

Founder of the Liberal Democrat Business and Entrepreneurs Network Andrew Dixon said:

“By only taxing land and not the productive capital above it, this reform would remove a major disincentive to investment, boosting productivity and contributing to a necessary revival in UK industry. While separate action is needed to ensure online retailers pay their fair share of corporation tax, our proposals would offer a lifeline to struggling high streets.

“I am delighted to support this initiative which I believe would boost business and enterprise across the UK, and I am grateful to members of the Liberal Democrats Business & Entrepreneurs Network for their valuable contributions to this important research”



Following the air strikes on Syria Vince Cable made the following statement.

Riding the coattails of an erratic US President is no substitute for a mandate from the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister could and should have recalled Parliament this week and sought the approval of MPs before proceeding.

Liberal Democrats stood ready to assess the evidence and objectives for any action and if it were properly planned and justified, to support a military response.

At this moment our thoughts are with British and allied troops. But the Government’s decision fatally undermines the integrity of this mission.

It shows a weak Government putting short-term political expediency before democracy and in so doing further diminishing the standing of Britain in the world.

I would add.

At no time since the second world war has world peace been under greater threat. This is a time when we should be working with partners to find a peaceful solution. Instead our divided minority government is pushing down the Brexit path which will only weaken our security and divide us from our natural friends. In the interest of the UK this process should be put on hold now.