21 November 2018 – today’s press releases

Having completed another meeting of the Federal International Relations Committee, featuring an exploration of the distant reaches of Article 7 of the Federal Constitution of the Party, your editor’s mind turns to press releases… Moran: Gov must recognise state of Palestine Cable: Prokopchuk’s Interpol position is still ‘an insult to the victims of the Salisbury […]

Having completed another meeting of the Federal International Relations Committee, featuring an exploration of the distant reaches of Article 7 of the Federal Constitution of the Party, your editor’s mind turns to press releases…

  • Moran: Gov must recognise state of Palestine
  • Cable: Prokopchuk’s Interpol position is still ‘an insult to the victims of the Salisbury attack’
  • Sanctions needed to get Matthew Hedges home
  • Davey: PM must publish immigration white paper now
  • Lib Dems announce Siobhan Benita as London Mayoral candidate
  • (covered separately here)

  • Lib Dems lead fight to protect vulnerable people in care
  • Davey: Something going very wrong in energy market

Moran: Gov must recognise state of Palestine

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran will introduce a Bill to the House of Commons today calling on the Government to give recognition to the state of Palestine.

The Palestinian Statehood (Recognition) Bill would require the Government to recognise the State of Palestine within 3 months of the Bill being passed. It has support from Lib Dem, Labour, SNP, Plaid and Green MPs.

Commenting ahead of the Bill’s presentation, Layla Moran said:

Since I was elected I have been dismayed at the progress the Conservative Government has made towards recognising the state of Palestine.

I am in favour of a two-state solution, but until the state of Palestine is recognised, the two actors can’t come to the table as equal partners.

Given the UK’s role in the Balfour declaration it is vital that Britain recognises the role it has played and the role is has to play in re-igniting the peace talks.

Whilst I acknowledge that the UK recognising the state of Palestine alone won’t be a solution, doing it would go some way to reigniting the spark of hope that has gone out in the hearts of Palestinians across the world.

Cable: Prokopchuk’s Interpol position is still ‘an insult to the victims of the Salisbury attack’

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable has today warned Prokopchuk’s position in Interpol is still “an insult to the victims of the Salisbury attack”.

Vince Cable used an Urgent Question in the House of Commons yesterday to urge the Conservative Government to block the election of Alexander Prokopchuk to the position of President of Interpol.

Mr Prokopchuk has been accused of abusing the international police body’s arrest warrant system. He lost his bid to be President of Interpol to South Korean Kim Jong-yang.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Following a Liberal Democrat-led intervention in Parliament yesterday, it is a relief to see Government lobbying has meant Interpol have not elected Prokopchuk as their President.

Prokopchuk is still, however, the Vice President and able to exercise considerable influence. Given his direct role in the Putin regime’s abuse of Interpol’s red notices, his presence in office represents a disregard for the rule of law and is an insult to the victims of the Salisbury attack.

With the Conservative Government turning its back on Europe, it is absolutely essential that the UK remains firmly part of Europol.

Sanctions needed to get Matthew Hedges home

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine has demanded the Government use sanctions on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in response to the imprisonment of Matthew Hedges.

Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine said:

It is evidently clear that Matthew Hedges has not been given anything like a fair hearing. People will be shocked and horrified by this miscarriage of justice.

The Government must take action now, including sanctions on the United Arab Emirates, in order to secure Matthew Hedges’ full release and reunite him with his family.

He and his family deserve better, and this Government must take every step necessary to return him to the UK.

Davey: PM must publish immigration white paper now

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey has written to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary, demanding that they publish the Government’s immigration white paper without any further delay.

In the letters, Davey writes that MPs “should be given plenty of time” to scrutinise the Government’s proposals for post-Brexit immigration before the meaningful vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal. He says it would be “unacceptable to ask MPs to vote on that agreement without sufficient time to scrutinise those plans” and urges May and Sajid Javid to publish the white paper “without delay”.

In the House of Commons on Thursday, Davey asked the Prime Minister to “guarantee today that her immigration white paper will be published and debated before the meaningful vote on the deal”. May refused to give that guarantee, saying only that “We will publish the immigration white paper in due course.”

Ed Davey commented:

Ministers promised to publish their immigration proposals more than a year ago, but we’ve had nothing but meaningless slogans.

The Prime Minister is telling MPs to vote for her Brexit deal to end free movement, but refuses to spell out what that means. The answer is a lot more red tape for British businesses and a national shortage of NHS workers, carers and builders.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. Theresa May must finally come clean and publish her immigration white paper now, so MPs can scrutinise the proposals before voting on her Brexit deal.

Lib Dems lead fight to protect vulnerable people in care

The House of Lords has passed an amendment to the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill, which would ensure that depriving someone of their liberty, for example in a care home, must be necessary to prevent them from harm.

The Lib Dem led amendment was supported by Labour and Crossbench Peers, who defeated the Government 202 votes to 188.

Liberal Democrat Peer Liz Barker, who tabled the amendment, said:

This is an important victory in ensuring that vulnerable people in care are sufficiently protected when they are deprived of their liberty. This is not something that should be done lightly, and so it is vital to ensure that a strong test for necessity is in place.

The Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill is by and large an unsatisfactory mechanism for reforming the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, and any opportunity we get to ask the Government to think again must be taken.

Davey: Something going very wrong in energy market

Responding to the news that energy supplier Extra Energy have ceased trading and Ofgem have appointed First Utility as the supplier of last resort, taking on Extra Energy’s customers, Ed Davey, former Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said:

I am deeply concerned by the news about the collapse of Extra Energy and the impact it could have on jobs. Clearly something has gone very wrong for this to have happened.

However, they are not the first supplier to go bust this year and most likely won’t be the last. The Conservative’s obsession with meddling with their price cap certainly hasn’t helped, and has distracted them from fixing the real issues in the energy market. Liberal Democrats demand better.

We desperately need proper stress tests for new suppliers, to ensure they can financially support themselves and also continue to provide customers with a good level of service. Otherwise the hard work of the Liberal Democrats will be squandered by the Tories.

20 November 2018 – today’s press releases

Another busy day, but I’m pleased to note that a bit more use is being made of our Spokespeople in the Lords. After all, there are rather more of them than in the Commons, and they’re a valuable asset when it comes to holding the Government to account… Cable: Bank of England must conduct honest […]

Another busy day, but I’m pleased to note that a bit more use is being made of our Spokespeople in the Lords. After all, there are rather more of them than in the Commons, and they’re a valuable asset when it comes to holding the Government to account…

  • Cable: Bank of England must conduct honest assessment of Brexit deal
  • Cable: Govt must block Interpol election of Alexander Prokopchuk
  • Tories to blame for missed NHS targets
  • Cable: Our priority is building the momentum for a People’s Vote
  • Vulnerable people put in homes not fit for human habitation
  • The licence fee is not the Government’s to spend

Cable: Bank of England must conduct honest assessment of Brexit deal

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable has today urged the Bank of England to conduct “an honest assessment of the Brexit deal and the options” and produce economic analysis of what remaining in the EU will mean for the UK economy.

The calls follow the appearance of Bank of England Governor Mark Carney before the Commons Treasury committee this morning where he said that the Bank of England was “not intending to look at providing additional analysis on the third scenario which is no Brexit at all.”

However, just last night the House of Commons forced the Government to accept an amendment to the Finance Bill which means Ministers must publish assessments comparing the UK’s economic prospects between Theresa May’s deal and remaining in the EU. The Liberal Democrats want the Bank of England to follow suit.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Last week the PM confirmed that ‘No Brexit’ was an option for the UK going forward; it is now going from possible to probable.

The public deserve to see a full and comprehensive assessment of all the options available to us – they should have had it two years ago in all honesty.

The Bank of England need to do the responsible thing, and provide an analysis of the benefits of remaining in the EU, the emergence of information such as this is a game changer, and shows more than ever why we need to take this decision back to the people with a final say on May’s deal.

Cable: Govt must block Interpol election of Alexander Prokopchuk

Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Vince Cable will today demand that the Conservative Government vote to block the election of Alexander Prokopchuk to the position of President of Interpol.

Vince Cable will raise the issue in an Urgent Question in the House of Commons later today.

Speaking ahead of the exchange, Vince Cable said:

It is completely unacceptable that the Conservative Government are considering voting to elect Prokopchuk. It is particularly mind-blowing that this is at a time when the UK has Interpol Red Notices out for the arrest of Russian suspects involved in the Salisbury attack and at a time when the EU is moving to a vote on sanctions against Russia.

Prokopchuk has been the head of Russia’s National Central Bureau since 2011, which means that he has had direct responsibility for Russia’s abuse of Interpol, including the inappropriate use of Red Notices to arrest individuals. His election would be an insult to the Salisbury victims and those who have been unjustly targeted by Russia’s red notices. It is making Interpol look like gangsters.

It’s time the Conservative Government stood up for human rights and the rule of law. The Conservative Government must demonstrate that they are taking Russia’s abuse of Interpol and the Salisbury attack seriously. They must vote against Prokopchuk’s election.

Tories to blame for missed NHS targets

Responding to the reports that nearly one in five local hospital services are failing to hit any of their key waiting-time targets, Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson Judith Jolly said:

News that waiting times are consistently being missed across the NHS is shameful, but sadly not surprising.

The Conservative Government are to blame for these missed targets. By not respecting doctors, cutting nursing bursaries and creating a hostile environment for the EU doctors and nurses working in the NHS, the Tories have created a staffing crisis in our hospitals.

Patients deserve better, and the Liberal Democrats demand better of Theresa May and the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats have consistently been the only major party demanding better for our NHS workforce by campaigning for a People’s Vote, with an option to remain.

Cable: Our priority is building the momentum for a People’s Vote

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable today met with opposition parties where he set out his priority to “build the momentum for a People’s Vote”.

The meeting of opposition parties in Westminster today was attended by Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable and Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, Caroline Lucas for the Greens and Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Roberts.

Following the meeting, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

I made it explicitly clear to the SNP and others that the priority must be stepping up efforts to build the momentum for a People’s Vote. That has been the priority for the Liberal Democrats for over two years, and it remains so.

I am glad the other opposition parties were today able to agree to work together to achieve a ‘People’s Vote’, including the option to remain in the EU.

Meanwhile, Labour is missing in action. They claim to want a General Election before a People’s Vote, but are making no moves to get one. Jeremy Corbyn cannot continue to court both sides of this debate: it is time to decide.

We know that any Brexit will hit the pockets of hard-working people he claims to represent. As the Conservative Government falters, the prospect of no Brexit is going from possible to probable.

Vulnerable people put in homes not fit for human habitation

Responding to the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration’s report on the Home Office’s management of asylum accommodation, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Ed Davey said:

This is a report that should shame the Government. It reveals that they are housing some of the most vulnerable people – including pregnant women and people who have suffered torture and domestic abuse – in rooms infested by rats, bed bugs and mould.

Instead of facing up to this evidence, the Independent Chief Inspector accuses the Home Office of underplaying it. This is yet another example of the Home Office’s toxic culture preventing people from living with dignity.

The Liberal Democrats demand better. Asylum seekers should have their cases handled more quickly and fairly by a new, non-political unit, instead of the discredited Home Office. And asylum seekers should be given the right to work while their claims are decided, so that they are not trapped in sub-standard accommodation.

The licence fee is not the Government’s to spend

Responding to the launch of the BBC consultation period to decide how licence fees for over-75s should be paid for, Liberal Democrat Culture spokesperson Baroness Bonham-Carter said:

I welcome the BBC’s public consultation into the TV licence fee concession for older people.

The underhand way in which the Tories made the BBC take on the costs of funding free TV licenses for the over-75s was reprehensible. This was something the Liberal Democrats successfully blocked during the Coalition Government.

The licence fee is not Government’s to spend. It is not public money, but the public’s money which should be used to invest in BBC content.