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 Dems attempt to bring Tory Chaos to an end. Lib Dem Press Releases 14th February

Lib Dems table amendment to give the people the final say

The Liberal Democrats have today tabled an amendment calling for a People’s Vote with the option to stay in the EU.

The Liberal Democrats have ensured that there is a People’s Vote amendment for MPs to get behind on every single Brexit vote in the House of Commons.

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said:

In an attempt to force through this unpopular deal, the Conservative Government have this week kicked the can another few weeks down the road and closer to the precipice.

That is why Liberal Democrats have tabled this amendment. Our party have campaigned for the people to have the final say on Brexit for over two years. We have ensured that there is always an amendment for MPs, from any party, to sign if they agree with us.

We cannot let the PM or Leader of the Opposition conspire to run down the clock. It is time for those who know the best thing for our country is a People’s Vote to stand with us.

Cable: Govt defeat shows rejection of May’s time wasting

Responding to the defeat of the Government’s motion this evening by 45 votes, the Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

The vote this evening demonstrates a complete failure of Theresa May’s Tory Government and Parliament’s rejection of more reckless time wasting as they drag us closer and closer to the cliff edge.

Theresa May’s brinkmanship may seem to her as a clever tactic in trying to force MPs to support her deal, but tonight Parliament rejected this ploy. The reality is the Prime Minister’s political games in refusing to take no deal off the table is having a serious effect on people’s day-to-day lives.

The Liberal Democrats have campaigned for a people’s vote for over two years. Tonight’s defeat of the Government makes clear it is long overdue that the Prime Minister took no deal off the table, and offered the public a final say on Brexit with the option to remain in the EU.

Conservatives pass one of worst pieces of legislation ever witnessed. Lib Dem Press Release 12th February

Conservatives pass one of worst pieces of legislation ever witnessed

Speaking after the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill was passed in the House of Commons tonight by just 58 votes, former Liberal Democrat Care Minister Norman Lamb MP said:

Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people are at risk of unlawfully having their freedom restricted and receiving inappropriate care. That is the deeply flawed system this Bill should have fixed, but instead the Conservatives produced one of the worst pieces of legislation ever seen.

I set the Government two tests at the beginning of this process. Does the new system safeguard individuals’ human rights and does the new system result in very vulnerable people being better protected? Conservative Ministers have failed both of these tests.

It is incredibly worrying that the Conservative Government are still pursuing this change in legislation when there has been overwhelming and united opposition from parties and care organisations. People deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats will keep fighting for the rights of the most vulnerable.

Property guardians caught in poverty trap. Lib Dem Press Release 11th February

Property guardians caught in poverty trap

Responding to the investigation by the I into property guardians, Liberal Democrat peer Olly Grender said:

This undercover investigation shows how desperately bad the housing crisis has become. More and more people are living as property guardians in buildings that are dangerous and insanitary and the law fails to protect them.

Safeguards must be introduced before the Government has another tragedy on its hands such as Grenfell. This is a hidden crisis for people caught in a trap of poverty and lack of decent housing and needs urgent attention.

The fact these properties are unsafe and unhealthy to live in should result in a rapid review of the relevant laws. It is vital that the Government now re-evaluate our HMO regulations to ensure that this form of tenancy, in all but name, cannot be ignored and left out of all important legal protections.

There are responsible property guardian companies and they are working hard to provide cheap housing in empty properties. But the revelations in Colchester suggest a more exploitative approach and a growing crisis.

Cable: GDP figures reveal the country is now fairly close to recession. Lib Dem Press Release 11th February

Cable: GDP figures reveal the country is now fairly close to recession

Responding to statistics published by the Office for National Statistics which reveal GDP growth has fallen to a nine-year low, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

I am afraid the country is now fairly close to recession. These figures are in fact flattering. The reality is much worse because whatever growth there is has been caused merely by businesses accumulating stocks in fear of Brexit.

The economy is now just bumping along the bottom. These figures show how the closer we get to Brexit, the worse the impact is getting. Far from looking forward to a Brexit bonus we can expect a Brexit tax to deal with the fallout.

There is still time, however, to avoid this chaos. The economy can be given the boost it needs by giving the country the opportunity to exit from Brexit with a final say on the deal.

MORE CHAOS WITH TORY BREXIT. Lib Dem Press Releases 9/10 February

Government ferry plan hits the rocks

Responding to news that the Government has scrapped its contract with Seaborne Freight Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

The Government did not need a siren’s call to get into chaos over a contract with a ferry company, all they needed was to put Chris Grayling in charge.

This Government has now had to fire their ferry company with no ferries, as we drift closer and closer to no deal.

The Conservatives have failed to plan for Brexit and are steering this country to disaster. They must take no deal off the table and then offer the country a people’s vote so we can get out of this mess once and for all.

UK citizens to be left without medical cover in event of no-deal Brexit

The Liberal Democrats have pushed the Conservative Government to admit that Ministers have not secured any bilateral health agreements with EU member states in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In a response to a parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, Health Minister Stephen Hammond MP could not confirm any agreements have been made to ensure British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK would have the same access to medical cover.

Mr Hammond could only confirm that the UK and Irish Governments have “firm intentions to maintain the Common Travel Area and to protect the associated reciprocal rights”.

The revelation will add further woes to UK citizens intending to travel across the EU this summer after a a Liberal Democrat mystery shopper exercise recently uncovered several leading travel agents were unable to guarantee cover in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

In a no-deal scenario, it is now disturbingly likely that UK citizens will have no medical cover in most, if not all, of the EU countries.

With many people already having booked travel to the EU for after 29th March, we need urgent clarification from the Government of what action UK travellers need to take, including whether they should be taking out expensive travel insurance.

This is particularly worrying as most of the large travel insurance firms are not able to confirm whether their insurance will be valid in the case of no-deal.

Conservative Ministers do not need to hold British travellers at ransom. They can instead take no-deal off the table and give the public the final say with a People’s Vote so that we can get out of this mess once and for all.

No specific funding for NHS in no deal scenario

The Conservative Government has refused to reveal how much funding it is allocating to keep the National Health Service running in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Although the Department of Health and Social Care has been allocated £71 million by the Treasury to prepare for Brexit, in an answer to a written PQ it said it was “unable to provide a breakdown of the amount of funding allocated to ‘no deal’ preparations specifically”.

Of the 18 Government departments questioned on their no-deal spending in written PQs tabled by Vince Cable, just one – the Department for Transport – provided a specific figure.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Matt Hancock has been boasting about being the world’s biggest buyer of fridges, yet his department doesn’t even appear to know how much it is spending on preparing for a no-deal Brexit. The Government needs to come clear with taxpayers on which particular Brexit blackholes it is pouring their money down.

Shockingly, only one department is actually aware of what it is spending to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. This suggests the government is either trying to scare the public and MPs about the dangers of a no-deal it doesn’t expect to happen, or it is totally incompetent.