13 May 2020 – today’s press releases

We’ve had a bit of a glitch with press releases – it’s a long, rather dull story – but this has been fixed, and the flow of news from HQ has resumed. And so, it’s time to pick up the thread…

  • Lib Dems call for Safe Trace App Law to ensure coronavirus app is safe and effective
  • Moran: Govt must publish scientific advice for reopening schools
  • Govt must publish scientific evidence behind lockdown decisions
  • Jacob Rees-Mogg must not be allowed to undermine public safety

Lib Dems call for Safe Trace App Law to ensure coronavirus app is safe and effective

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to bring forward a new “Safe Trace App Law”, to ensure the Government’s coronavirus tracing app is safe and effective.

The calls comes as it is reported the NHS tracing app is set to be rolled out nationwide by end of next week, despite concerns.

The party says this new primary legislation would force the Government to justify its decision to reject plans for a decentralised app (as recommended by the Information Commissioner) and pursue a centralised app instead, despite experts warning that:

  • It may not work on phones that are locked or when it’s running in the background.
  • It will drain a phone’s battery, so won’t work for long.
  • It will be incompatible with other countries’ apps, including Ireland’s.
  • It puts people’s privacy at greater risk.

The Safe Trace App Law would provide a clear legal framework for this enormous collection, storage and use of people’s personal data, including:

  • A guarantee that your data will be deleted within 21 days of being collected, on a rolling basis.
  • Creating legal safeguards against discrimination so no one can be excluded from any space for not having or refusing to use the app.
  • Introducing significant penalties for the misuse of personal data.

Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said:

Any strategy for easing the country out of lockdown must prevent another surge.

An app alone will not end this lockdown, but a safe and effective app could play an important part in a broader strategy to test, trace and isolate to keep people safe.

It is vital that the Government gets this right first time. It must not lose valuable time and risk losing public confidence by reinventing the wheel when there are already effective models it could use.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to bring forward a new Safe Trace App Law, to ensure that the app will keep people safe, and be a genuinely effective tool in which the public have confidence. The new Safe Trace App Law would also provide a clear legal framework for the enormous collection, storage and use of people’s personal data.

To keep people safe, the Government must be open and honest about the decisions it is making in the design of this app. If the public don’t have confidence in it, they won’t use it – the Liberal Democrats’ plans for a Safe Trace App Law would fix that.

Moran: Govt must publish scientific advice for reopening schools

Following securing an Urgent Question in the House of Commons today, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran has called on the Government to release the scientific advice for reopening schools without delay.

Layla Moran also called on the Secretary of State for Education to clarify “what he thinks ‘safe’ actually means?” in regard to the safety of children returning to school, as well as condemning the Government for failing to consult with teachers and unions.

Following the Urgent Question, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, Layla Moran, said:

Every day that schools remain shut, the disadvantage gap widens and vulnerable children risk falling through the cracks. But that doesn’t mean we should open schools before it’s actually safe.

The Government has failed to consult with school leaders, teachers and unions on the details of its guidance for reopening schools, and that’s just not good enough. We need reassurance that the decisions are being made based on public health advice only, and not economic fears.

That’s why I’m calling on the Government to publish all scientific advice it has received on this today, and for a guarantee that all children, of all ages, will be given the equipment and funding to learn safely, either at home or in school.

Govt must publish scientific evidence behind lockdown decisions

Responding to Robert Jenrick’s announcement at today’s press conference that restrictions on estate agents have been lifted in England, Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:

Recent announcements about easing lockdown have created more confusion than clarity and today’s is no exception.

The reopening of the housing market will leave millions wondering why they can view houses but aren’t able to visit loved ones at home. This could also put potentially vulnerable tenants at risk.

The Liberal Democrats have been clear the Government must publish the scientific guidance behind relaxing lockdown, otherwise they will completely lose the trust of the public.

We must test, trace and isolate to keep people safe. That is the only way to ease out of lockdown whilst minimising risk of transmission of COVID-19. Without this, any measures to relax lockdown are premature.

Jacob Rees-Mogg must not be allowed to undermine public safety

Responding to the Speaker of the House of Commons warning he could suspend sittings if too many MPs enter the chamber, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip and MP for Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael said:

To protect lives and the NHS, MPs should adhere to the public health advice to stay at home as much as possible. That is the example we should set.

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s narrow-minded disdain for progress should not be allowed to undermine public safety or public health.

Forms of remote working will always have limitations, but if the choice is between that and risking democratic representation for constituencies outside of London, there is no choice at all.

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