We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

National News from the Liberal Democrat

  • May 26, 2020:
    • The Prime Minister must terminate Cummings' contract

      Millions of people are worried for their loved ones. They have made heartbreaking sacrifices every day since lockdown, including missing family gatherings like weddings and funerals.

      People are rightly angry about Dominic Cummings' behaviour. It cannot be one rule for senior government officials and one rule for everyone else

      It cannot be one rule for senior government officials and one rule for everyone else

      Cummings' refusal to have the decency to apologise - and the Prime Minister's support for him - is an insult to us all.

      It reveals the worst of their elitist arrogance. The bond of trust between the Government and the people has been broken.

      The buck stops with the Prime Minister and his judgement is now in question. He must come clean about what he knew and when, and terminate Dominic Cummings' contract.

      Each minute the Prime Minister fails to act is another minute the Government is distracted from upscaling Britain's testing capacity, securing PPE for frontline workers and preventing the tragic deaths in our care homes.

      All Conservative MPs must stop defending the indefensible and put the health, wellbeing and economy of our country first by calling for the Prime Minister's scandal-hit spin doctor-in-chief to go.

      It is now clearer than ever that, once we are through this crisis, there must also be an independent inquiry to review the Government's actions, so we can learn lessons.

      Some of the key questions that need answering:

      There must be an independent inquiry to review the Government's actions

      ●Why is the level of testing so low compared to some countries? What is the Government doing to increase testing to prevent a surge in infections as the lockdown is eased?

      ●Why is there a lack of protective equipment for frontline workers? What is the Government doing to get them the kit they need, now?

      ●Why are so many people dying in care homes? What is the Government doing to make sure all care home residents and staff get the testing they need, now?

      The Government is asking a lot of the public during this crisis, and the British people deserve clear, honest answers in return.

    • We must oppose Beijing's power grab.

      We cannot allow coronavirus to blind us to the injustice that is unfolding on Hong Kong.

      Beijing's new national security law is a naked power-grab. It bypasses Hong Kong local law-making processes and demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the Joint Declaration. Clearly China no longer cares for the 'one country, two systems' agreement made between the UK and China during the Handover.

  • May 24, 2020:
    • Eid Mubarak to all those celebrating!

      I would like to send warm wishes to Muslims in the UK and around the world celebrating Eid al-Fitr.

      Eid marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan - a month of prayer, personal reflection, and self-denial.

      I'm sure that this Ramadan must have felt unusual and I know that observing a socially distanced Eid will not be easy either.

      I'm sure that this Ramadan must have felt unusual and I know that observing a socially distanced Eid will not be easy either.

      This year, I joined some of our MPs and party members in fasting for one day of Ramadan and this culminated in a Lib Dem Iftar - the first for our party. The fast was challenging at times, but I'm so proud that we were able to do this one small act as a symbol of our solidarity with British Muslims at this time.

      I want to thank the doctors and nurses who have sacrificed their lives in the battle against COVID-19. We will always remember them, and we must never forget that many of them were British Muslims. A thorough investigation into why BAME communities have been disproportionately impacted by this virus is needed now more than ever.

      Of course, Eid is known as "the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast". It's usually a time to come together with loved ones to enjoy festive meals and share gifts but instead, people will remain isolated in their homes, going out only for essential food and brief periods of exercise. Though this will be tough, I'm sure that the sacrifices we all make now will reduce the impact of this virus.

      So to everyone celebrating Eid, I wish you joy and peace. Eid Mubarak!

  • May 22, 2020:
    • UK must stand up for Hong Kong

      It has been confirmed that Beijing is introducing a resolution that would bypass Hong Kong local law-making processes in order to impose a new 'national security law' on the territory.

      We cannot sit back and watch this violation of rights and freedoms.

      It is clear that China no longer cares for the 'one country, two systems' agreement made between the UK and China during the Handover.

      We cannot sit back and watch this violation of rights and freedoms. We are urging Dominic Raab to take decisive action.

      Alistair Carmichael, our Foreign Affairs Spokesperson and Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong said:

      "This is a naked power-grab by Beijing, demonstrating a complete lack of respect for the Joint Declaration.

      The Chinese government have reneged on the promises made to protect and enhance their rights and freedoms.

      The UK has a moral and legal duty to act. The Conservative government must reopen the British National Overseas (BNO) Passport scheme and extend it to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK. "

      The UK has a legal and a moral duty to act

      That's why we tabled a Bill that would re-open the offer of a British National Overseas (BNO) passports for Hong Kong citizens and extend the scheme to provide the "right of abode", allowing a person to live or work indefinitely in the UK.

      We are calling on the Government to support our Bill, which will have its second reading in Parliament on 11th September 2020.

    • The Weekly Whip

      Welcome to the Weekly Whip. Your one-stop shop for Lib Dem Parliamentary updates, covering the week that was and the week to come.

      For up to date information from the Lib Dem Whips Office, follow us on Twitter: @LibWhips

      Weekly Whip w/c 18th April

      Monday 18th May

      Monday started with Ministerial Questions to the Treasury and the Department for Transport. Where Munira Wilson questioned the government on what they are doing to protect the aviation industry and prevent the loss of jobs in that sector.

      Then followed a Ministerial Statement from the Department for Health and Social Care, with an update on the response to Covid 19. Daisy Cooper asked the government to bring forward primary legislation to govern the collection and any potential misuse of data. This is particularly important as the government is pushing forward with a centralised approach to the NHS tracing app. Sarah Olney also asked about the training that the tens of thousands of COVID tracers the Department of Health and Social Care.

      The house then went to the substantive business of the day. Namely the second reading of the Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill. This bill if passed in its current form would end free movement to work. That with other measures in the bill would show the biggest fundamental change to our immigration system in over 50 years.

      The second reading is the point where MPs vote on the general principle of a bill not the line by line details of the bill. MPs can, however, amend a bill at second reading via a reasoned amendment. This gives MPs the chance to highlight their dissatisfaction with the bill. Christine Jardine with other Lib Dem MPs put a reasoned amendment on this Bill forward.

      Tuesday 19th May

      We started off the day with Ministerial Questions to the Department for Food and Rural Affairs. Then more onto questions to the MPs that are spokespeople responsible for public bodies that heavily interact with parliament. Namely the Church Commissioners, the House of Commons Commission, the Parliamentary Works Sponsor Body, the Public Accounts Commission and the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission.

      Ministerial Questions were followed by two Urgent Questions. The first was to the Health Secretary on COVID 19 outbreaks in care homes. Munira Wilson leads on this for the Lib Dems.

      Alistair Carmichael also questioned the government on what it was doing to protect the Mental Health of Care Workers.

      Update: After both Munira and Alistair's interventions,the government is looking at the Lib Dem plans for 24-hour mental health support for NHS and care workers.

      The second urgent question of the day was on the completion of the latest round of talks with the EU. The Lib Dems have asked the government to extend the talks with the EU.

      The substantive business of the day consisted of two S.I.s on the use of Human Tissue in organ donation and the second on being able to offer more support to victims in the justice system in Scotland.

      The final motion of the day was a Ways and Means motion on the Finance Bill, the bill that brings the annual budget into legal force. A Ways and Means motion is a quick way of amending a bill whilst it is on its journey through Parliament. This Ways and Means enables the Government to amend the current Finance Bill in order to implement reforms to the existing off-payroll working rules.

      Wednesday 20th May

      We started off the day with Ministerial Questions to the Scotland Office and the Prime Minister. However, as these were not the most exciting bits of the day (sorry Boris), we will skip over them this week.

      The next item of business was an Urgent Question from Alistair Carmichael on the government's plan to reopen to a fully physical parliament after the Whitsun recess.

      This Urgent Question was followed by the usual business of the house motion but here is where it gets interesting. The business of the house motion did not contain any motion to continue hybrid proceedings. A joint amendment to add this, was put forward by the Lib Dems and Labour. Without this amendment, it would have meant that all MPs would be travelling to Westminster and, potentially becoming super-spreaders of the virus.

      After that, there was a ministerial statement on the Northern Ireland Protocol published by the government earlier that day. Wendy Chamberlain led the response on this for the Lib Dems.

      This was followed by the 2nd reading of the Trade Bill, which is the bill that authorises and sets the framework for setting trade deals with other countries. Like the Immigration Bill the Lib Dems put in a reasoned amendment. Saying that Parliament did not get a say in the mandate of any trade talks nor the power of ratifying any of those new trade deals.

      The final item of business of the day was a motion on the liaison committee. This Select Committee is the committee of the chairs of all of the other select committees. The Conservatives have been trying to force one of their MPs in as the Chair of this powerful committee. A joint Lib Dem/Labour amendment looked to amend the motion to say that the Chair should be elected from the members of the committee.

      This may appear to be a small point but the Chair of the Liaison Committee directly scrutinises the work of the Prime Minister. It is a powerful position and should not be given away lightly.

      That ended the proceeding in the House of Commons for the week. For the next two weeks MPs will be hard at work in their constituencies over the Whitsun recess. So, Parliament and the Weekly Whip will return in June.




  • May 21, 2020:
    • Government must increase support for asylum seekers

      The latest Immigration Statistics, published this morning, show that 51,906 people are waiting for an initial decision on their asylum claims, an increase of 33% since last year. 31,516 have been waiting for more than six months, a 68% increase.

      People who've come to the UK having fled war or persecution should welcomed, not trapped for months on just £5.39 a day

      Currently, asylum seekers are banned from working while they wait for a decision and forced to rely on asylum support payments of only £37.75 a week - just £5.39 a day.

      All of our MPs have written jointly to the Home Secretary urging her to increase asylum support by £20 a week during the coronavirus crisis - in line with the increase to Universal Credit. This matches calls from charities Refugee Action, the Salvation Army and others.

      In the letter, we also called for asylum seekers to be given the right to work if they are waiting for a decision for more than three months.

      This would allow them to fill essential roles during the pandemic, as well as to support themselves, integrate in their communities and contribute through taxation.

      Our Home Affairs Spokesperson, Christine Jardine said:

      "The coronavirus crisis is leaving the most vulnerable in our society at risk. We must ensure no one is left behind.

      People who've come to the UK having fled war or persecution should welcomed with compassion and enabled to contribute to our society, not trapped for months on just £5.39 a day - especially now during this pandemic.

      The way the Home Office is treating these vulnerable people is appalling and unacceptable. The Government must urgently increase support for asylum seekers in line with the emergency increase for people on Universal Credit.

      Ministers should also finally give asylum seekers the right to work, allowing them to fill essential roles during the pandemic, as well as giving them a sense of dignity, more money and the ability to contribute to the economy."

  • May 20, 2020:
    • The Government must extend the Brexit transition period

      Today we have introduced a Bill to require the Government to seek a two-year extension to the Brexit transition period, in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

      To choose a No Deal Brexit and crash out, when the option to extend the transition is possible, would be an act of national self-harm - especially when our NHS, economy and food supply chains are already stretched and struggling.

      To crash out of the Brexit transition period when our NHS & economy are already stretched due to COVID-19, would be unthinkable

      Speaking ahead of the Bill's presentation, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader Ed Davey said:

      "It is clear the government have not made nearly enough progress on the Brexit trade talks.

      To crash out of the Brexit transition period when our NHS & economy are already stretched due to COVID-19, would be unthinkable.

      It is time the Prime Minister did the right thing. That is why Liberal Democrats are today presenting legislation that would enable the government to seek an extension to the transition period."

      European Union Withdrawal (Implementation Period) Bill:

      A Bill to require Her Majesty's Government to seek a two-year extension of the implementation period under Article 132 of the Withdrawal Agreement; to repeal the prohibition on agreeing to such an extension under section 33 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020; and for connected purposes.

      The Presentation Bill will face its second reading on 12th June 2020. However, the extension request has to be made by the UK before the end of June.

      With just weeks to go until this deadline, it is clear that the Government must extend the transition period as a priority.

    • New Liberal Democrat leader elected this August

      Last week, we published the frank independent review into the 2019 general election. It rightly received plaudits in the media for its candour.

      This review challenges us to change as a party and to change the country for the better.

      We now need to get on with that work - and that's what we've done with a set of key decisions by your Federal Board.

  • May 19, 2020:
    • What's in our plan to improve mental health support for health and care staff?

      COVID-19 will leave a deep scar on our health and care workforce, who have gone above and beyond to tackle this dreadful virus. Thousands have lost colleagues, endured serious illness, or faced significant trauma.

      Whilst we can hope to get a grip on COVID-19 in the coming months, the mental health impacts will last a lifetime.

      That is why we're proposing a series of measures to ensure no-one slips through the net as the scale of the mental health impact of this crisis emerges.

      What is in our plan to improve mental health support for health and care staff?

      1. 24/7 mental health support for health and social care workers.

      • Make the Covid-19 support phone hotline 24 hours per day and extend it to social care workers.

      The Government's current hotline is only available to NHS staff and operates 7am - 11pm seven days a week in NHS England.

      • Guarantee a universal mental health support service that can be accessed by all health and social care workers.

      The Practitioner Health Programme is a Government funded programme for doctors and dentists across England with mental health illness and addiction problems. It's known to be excellent and trusts often refer their doctors to it to support their mental health. The principles of this should be extended to the universal support available to all health and social care staff.

      This support would mirror that provided to our frontline military personnel (MAPS), through a separate specialist service that every individual staff member in the NHS and Social Care can access.

      • Create a signposting service for all health and social care workers, to make it clear what services are available.

      The roll out of these services must be for all staff, whether or not they are directly involved in patient treatment, in recognition of the wide scale of the impact of the COVID-19 across all teams.

      2. Protect the NHS and care system. Guarantee NHS and social care staff get the mental health support they need.

      • Remove the use of the Bradford Factor and other HR practices that reinforce a culture of presenteeism.

      The Bradford scoring system rates workers based on the number of days they've had off absent. This can affect their interview prospects, which can make NHS workers anxious to take a day off for their mental health.

      People must not be penalised for mental health conditions. Employers and employees should be given transparency on what information on sickness is appropriate to be included in references between employers and what is not.

      • Introduce an 'occupational health passport' so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas when they change jobs.

      The NHS has an occupational health department in every trust. When workers move trust, they have to repeat an occupational health test before the job. This can be unnecessary and burdensome on staff, particularly if they move trusts multiple times a year. It's a waste of resources to do repeated tests and staff should not have to repeat traumatic experiences every time they move trusts.

      Some parts of the country have set up an 'occupational health passport' which trusts share when necessary with workers' permission. This means they don't have to repeat assessments.

      The passports must be standardised and input from bodies including RCPsych, the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, the BMA, alongside NHS Employers will be vital.

      3. It's ok to not be ok; creating a culture of support in care

      • Ensure every health and social care worker has access to Balint/Swartz groups to help prevent longer term ill mental health.

      A Balint/Swartz round provides a structured forum for clinicians to meet regularly to discuss the emotional and social aspects of working in healthcare. There is evidence they improve the psychological wellbeing of participants and they are frequently used in psychiatry settings for healthcare workers. This should be rolled out across other settings, with staff given protected time each month to take part.

      • Encourage every setting to have a qualified mental health first aider.

      Every NHS and health care organisation should encourage staff to become mental health first aiders just as they do for physical first aiders.

      The roll out of these services must be for all staff, whether or not they are directly involved in patient treatment, in recognition of the wide scale of the impact of the COVID-19 across all teams. If adopted, the proposals will improve access to mental health support for all those working in health and care settings.

      The clap for carers is not just a gesture - people want to see those on the frontline supported right through this crisis and beyond.

      Ministers must get on top of the mental health impact of COVID-19 by backing our measures to support our vital NHS and care staff when they need it most.




  • May 18, 2020:
    • Health and care staff need more mental health support

      COVID-19 will leave a deep scar on our health and care workforce, who have gone above and beyond to tackle this dreadful virus. Thousands have lost colleagues, endured serious illness, or faced significant trauma.

      Whilst we can hope to get a grip on COVID-19 in the coming months, the mental health impacts will last a lifetime.

      The clap for carers isn't just a gesture - people want to see the frontline supported through this crisis & beyond

      That is why, today, we are proposing a series of measures to ensure no-one slips through the net as the scale of the mental health impact of this crisis emerges.

      Ministers must get on top of the mental health impact of COVID-19 by backing our measures to support our vital NHS and care staff when they need it most.

      Our package of mental health measures designed for rapid roll-out across the NHS and care sectors, includes:

      • 24/7 access to mental health support for health and social care workers, through a dedicated helpline.
      • Guarantees that health and care staff will no longer be penalised for time off due to mental or physical ill health by scrapping the Bradford scoring system and other HR practices that can create a culture of presenteeism.
      • Introduce an 'occupational health passport' so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas if or when they change jobs.
      • Additional training to ensure there are mental health first-aiders in every health and care workforce.
      • Steps to standardise the quality and service offer to ensure that every health and social care worker can access the same, high standard of mental care support regardless of the region in which they are base.
      • The roll out of these services must be for all staff, whether or not they are directly involved in patient treatment, in recognition of the wide scale of the impact of the COVID-19 across all teams.

      If adopted, the proposals will improve access to mental health support for all those working in health and care settings.

      Munira Wilson, who is spearheading the campaign, and our Health and Social Care spokesperson said:

      "The UK mental health response to COVID-19 should be world-class. That means investing now to prepare for the challenges ahead.

      The clap for carers is not just a gesture - people want to see those on the frontline supported right through this crisis and beyond.

      Ministers must get on top of the mental health impact of COVID-19 by backing our measures to support our vital NHS and care staff when they need it most."