Recent updates

  • Article: Jul 22, 2016
    By Derek Deedman in House of Lords newsletter

    In scrapping the Department for Environment and Climate Change Theresa May has sent a frightening message that the environment is not a priority for her new Government.

    Speaking in this weeks debate in the Lords on the Draft Carbon Budget Order, Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson, called on the Government to prove their commitment to the environment by ratifying the Paris Agreement at the soonest possible opportunity.

    Speaking ahead of the debate Lynne Featherstone said:

    "This new Government has made it very clear that climate change is not a priority. Brexit must not be used as an excuse to relax environmental commitments even further.

    "Abolishing the Department for Energy and Climate Change is a huge backwards step.

    During the debate she said:

    "Our menu for the Government would be to: support and encourage the renewables industry; quicken and intensify energy efficiency measures; introduce urgently a zero-carbon homes standard-something which we Liberal Democrats championed while in coalition and during the passage of the Housing and ​Planning Bill, which the new Secretary of State for Energy sadly did not support in his previous role in the Department for Communities and Local Government-support technological innovation; get on with tidal lagoons and give the go-ahead to Swansea Bay. Proof and pudding need to be the order of the day,

    "The Government should send a clear signal that it has not abandoned the green agenda entirely by ratifying the Paris Agreement immediately."

  • Article: Jul 22, 2016
    By Derek Deedman in House of Lords newsletter

    This week the Home Affairs team debated proposed changes to the Investigatory Powers Bill which would remove Government proposals to retain everyone's web history for the past 12 months.

    Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson in the Lords, outlined the reasons for fighting against keeping internet connection records:

    "Internet connection records do not do what the Government claim they do. They do not provide the police and security services with the internet ​equivalent of the communications data they already have-for example, access to mobile phone provider data. It is far more complex than that. At best, internet connection records provide only details of which communications platforms have been used, most of which are based in the United States.

    "Whether useful communications data can be accessed depends on voluntary co-operation by the American companies, which is unlikely in all but serious cases-for which there is an alternative. Internet connection records may provide leads, but they are difficult, complex and time-consuming to follow up. They fail the necessity test. The security services-MI5, MI6 and GCHQ-say that they do not need internet connection to be stored by telecommunications operators because they have other ways of securing the data that they need. In serious crime cases, GCHQ can, does and will help law enforcement to secure the communications data that the police need without recourse to internet connection records."

    Paul Strasburger added:

    "The intelligence agencies are clear that they have no need for internet connection records. The policemen who gave evidence to the Joint Committee did not seem to have their hearts in it when they were sent in to bat for ICRs by the Home Office, which has been pushing for this power for years.

    "The new power fails the necessity test. Its usefulness is tiny and its intrusiveness for every citizen is very high, which means that it fails the proportionality test as well. It is technically difficult and very costly to deliver. It opens up a whole new set of risks for innocent internet users, making us substantially less safe, and for all those reasons no other country is doing it. Internet connection records have nothing going for them and should not be part of the Bill."

    The Bill will return to finish Committee when the House sits in September.

  • Suzanne Fletcher, Chair of Liberal Democrats for Seekers of Sanctuary (LD4SOS)
    Article: Jul 22, 2016

    The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government for slipping out an announcement that Cedars pre-departure accommodation is to close.

    It raises the prospect of children once again being held in immigration detention centres - a practice ended by the Liberal Democrats in Government.

    Liberal Democrats in Coalition established the centre to end the detention of children, and the Conservatives have used the final day of the Parliamentary session to reverse the move.

    Prior to 2010, thousands of children were being detained in prison-like conditions. During Labour's last 5 years in government, over 7,000 innocent children were held in adult detention centres, sometimes for weeks and months at a time.

    The establishment of the centre was driven by Sarah Teather and Nick Clegg and following the news of its closure the Liberal Democrat Seekers for Sanctuary have set out 10 questions the government must answer.

    Aside from scrapping the centre the Conservatives have failed to offer any assurances on what will replace it, the emotional support that vulnerable children will be given or any preparations that will be made for them ahead of their return to a country that many of them may not even remember.

    Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesman Alistair Carmichael said:

    "Ending the detention of children for immigration purposes was one of the first priorities of Liberal Democrats in government. It is the mark of our society how we treat the most vulnerable and it is disgusting that the Conservatives are now rolling back such an important measure.

    "It is outrageous they slipped out this announcement on the last day of Parliamentary business, and they must now set out what exactly is going to happen to children in the future. We cannot have a return to the days of children being locked up in immigration detention centres, as happened under Labour. The Government has a lot of questions that remained unanswered."

    Chair of Liberal Democrat Seekers for Sanctuary, Suzanne Fletcher, who has visited Cedars, and been part of an Independent Monitoring Board until the change of Government last year said:

    "Cedars provided an oasis of care and calm at a very traumatic time for those families with children who very sadly were being sent against their will back to their country of origin. , and our Government should be ashamed of such a backward step."

  • A pair of wedding rings (Jeff Belmonte. Licensed as Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.)
    Article: Jul 22, 2016

    The Liberal Democrats have branded the Conservative's Flagship Married Couples Tax Allowance policy a 'pathetic failure' after figures revealed that only a fraction of eligible couples had bothered claiming the allowance.

    Only 330,000 people have taken advantage of the allowance, equivalent to 8% of those eligible.

  • Child in prison cell mental health
    Article: Jul 21, 2016

    Alistair Carmichael has demanded the government rule out the prospect of children being kept in prison cells.

    This follows the government slipping out an announcement of the closure of the Cedars facility, which supports families who are being returned overseas by the Home Office. Ending child detention was a major Liberal Democrat achievement in the coalition government. The facilities were described as "exceptional" and their closure has also been attacked by Barnardo's.

  • Nick Clegg (The Guardian)
    Article: Jul 20, 2016

    Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has returned to the Liberal Democrat front bench as the party's European Union spokesperson in order to hold the Government to account over its plans for Brexit.

    Nick Clegg is uniquely well placed to challenge the Conservatives on their plans for Brexit. Not only did he sit around the cabinet table with Theresa May, Liam Fox and others, he was also a leading Member of the European Parliament and a trade negotiator in the European Commission under Leon Brittan. During the coalition years he established himself as the highest profile pro-European voice in British politics and is well known and respected in capitals across the continent.

  • Article: Jul 12, 2016

    Following Andrea Leadsom's withdrawal from the Conservative leadership race Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has called for an early General Election.

    A coronation of Theresa May as Prime Minister carries no mandate.

    Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat leader said:

    "Just 13 months after the last election the Conservatives have plunged the UK into chaos. It is simply inconceivable that Theresa May should be crowned Prime Minister without even having won an election in her own party, let alone the country.

  • Article: Jul 11, 2016

    Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has written to 7 Prime Ministers in fellow liberal sister parties throughout Europe, including the influential Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, asking for their support for a proposal to allow UK expats to reside freely in Europe even with Brexit.

    Tim was the first party leader to call for the UK Government to agree that EU nationals be able to remain in the UK after the referendum. Politicians from across the political spectrum bar Home Office Ministers seem to agree with this and they have been savaged by MP's.

    Next Tuesday, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tom Brake is proposing a bill to offer protections to EU citizens.

    The Liberal Democrats have now called for foreign governments to do the same for UK expats living abroad.

    Tim is also calling for the EU governments to not even look at plans to hike taxes on Brits with property or businesses abroad as a 'revenge' for Brexit.

    The top destinations for British expats in the European Union are Spain (host to 319,000), Ireland (249,000) and France (171,000)

  • Article: Jul 9, 2016
    By Derek Deedman in House of Lords newsletter

    Jenny Randerson is asking Ministers what the Government policy is for determining when a rail franchise has failed to provide the service required and should therefore be terminated. The question follows the announcement by Southern Railway that they have had to cancel 350 services a day.

    lan Beith will be asking what recent discussions the Government have had with the governments of the Crown Dependencies about the Dependencies' relationships with other countries and with the European Union.

    Roger Roberts is asking the Government what steps they are taking to fulfil their pledge to accept 20,000 refugees from Syria into the United Kingdom by 2020.

  • Article: Jul 7, 2016
    By Jeremy Kinsman in Jeremy Kinsman

    In an open memo to the outgoing British Prime Minister, former Canadian High Commissioner to the UK and the EU, Jeremy Kinsman, describes in detail just how badly the Remain campaign failed.

    Spoiler alert: Brexiteers who now permit themselves to read only positive articles about the project to leave the European Union, should cease reading immediately.