15 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems question FlyBe bailout
  • Tory minister wrong to promote flying in the face of climate emergency
  • Ed Davey calls for better support for bereaved families at PMQs
  • Government must repeal unlawful Snoopers’ Charter
  • Lib Dems: Prime Minister must now keep his promise to protect Erasmus
  • Lib Dems: PM agrees to work with Lib Dems on human rights abuses in Syria

Lib Dems question FlyBe bailout

Responding to news that the Government intends to bail out Flybe, Liberal Democrat Transport spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP, said:

Flybe provides a vital service in connecting many regions of the UK which are otherwise hard to travel between, not least as a result of poor rail infrastructure. Keeping these routes open has to be a top priority.

However, Boris Johnson’s decision to bail out Flybe is a misuse of taxpayers’ money to say the least. If Flybe is a failing business, then it is not the right business to run these routes.

The fact that the Tories are considering cutting air passenger duty is even worse. Our planet is under threat, yet this Conservative Government is offering to cut taxes for high-polluting aviation instead of investing in rail. This is the only way to reduce reliance on domestic flights in the long term.

Tory minister wrong to promote flying in the face of climate emergency

Responding to claims from Tory Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning on BBC 5-live that people should carry on taking short-haul internal flights despite the climate crisis, Liberal Democrat Climate Emergency spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

Is it really a surprise after yesterday’s proposed cut in air passenger duty that this Tory Government is happy to promote flying despite the climate emergency and the damage air pollution can do to our planet?

While electric planes may be the solution in the long-term, we need a short term solution to reduce emissions from flying. During the election, Liberal Democrats called for increasing taxes on those who fly the most and we will continue to do so.

In the year the UK is hosting the COP26 climate change conference, the country needs a government that takes the climate emergency seriously. We don’t need any more dither and delay.

Ed Davey calls for better support for bereaved families at PMQs

Today Ed Davey, in his first Prime Minister’s Question as Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats, secured a meeting with the Prime Minister to discuss the issue of inadequate support for bereaved families in the UK.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Ed said:

Mr Speaker, when my mother was widowed, with three young children, bereaved families received small payments until the youngest child left school. In our case that would have meant payments for 14 years, except my mother died too early.

In 2017, the duration of those payments was reduced – and the new Bereavement Support Payment was paid for only 18 months. Many of us thought that was far too short.

So will the Prime Minister deliver on his Government’s promise to review the new Bereavement Support Payment – and will he meet with me and charities helping such families – to discuss how we can better care for bereaved parents and their children?

In response, the Prime Minister committed to meet Ed to discuss this issue.

Government must repeal unlawful Snoopers’ Charter

Responding to the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice’s opinion that the UK law requiring internet and phone providers to collect bulk communications data unlawfully interferes with people’s privacy, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Liberal Democrats opposed the Conservatives’ Snoopers’ Charter because it is offensive to the fundamental British values of privacy and liberty. I’m grateful that Privacy International is challenging it in the courts, and today’s opinion is very welcome.

The Government must now repeal the Snoopers’ Charter and replace the current regime of indiscriminate, mass surveillance with smarter intelligence gathering that is targeted based on evidence.

That would be both more in line with the UK’s commitment to civil liberties and far more effective at combatting terrorism and other criminal activity.

This case is also an important reminder that EU law protects fundamental rights such as privacy. Liberal Democrats will be fighting to ensure that these rights are not watered down when we leave the EU.

Lib Dems: Prime Minister must now keep his promise to protect Erasmus

Responding to Boris Johnson’s comments during Prime Minister’s Questions that “there is no threat to the Erasmus scheme”, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, Layla Moran MP, said:

Every year, over 17,000 UK university students study or work abroad through Erasmus, plus hundreds more college students and apprentices. Boris Johnson is right not to throw this away.

But Johnson’s comments beg the question – if Erasmus is not under threat, why did he order MPs to vote down a Liberal Democrat amendment last week to keep the UK in Erasmus?

What’s more, just yesterday, the Education Secretary told the House of Commons that the Government was prepared to ‘develop our own alternative arrangements should they be needed.’

The Prime Minister must now back up his words with actions. The Government must now make a clear, unambiguous promise to negotiate to stay in Erasmus – such as by backing our amendment on Erasmus in the House of Lords tomorrow. Liberal Democrats will not let Boris Johnson lower young people’s horizons.

Lib Dems: PM agrees to work with Lib Dems on human rights abuses in Syria

Today Liberal Democrat MP for Bath, Wera Hobhouse, secured a commitment from the Prime Minister to work together on Turkey’s human rights violations in Syria against Kurdish communities.

Speaking at Prime Ministers Question Time today, Wera said:

My constituent Rosanna, came to the UK as a Kurdish refugee, fleeing persecution and human rights abuses committed by Turkish backed-fighters in Northern Syria. Her family remain in the region and she lives in daily fear.

There have been multiple reports of human rights violations against the Kurdish population – including reports that suggest the Turkish forces used white phosphorus on children in Syria. This is unacceptable.

Will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to condemn the human rights violations committed by Turkish forces against Kurdish civilians? And what will the government do in order to prevent further human rights violations against Kurdish civilians in Syria?

The Prime Minster responded by affirming that he “deplored” the human’s rights abuses referenced and that he would like to “look at the details of the specific case” personally.

Following the exchange, Wera Hobhouse said:

I am pleased that the Prime Minister had agreed to work with me on this issue and I look forward to meeting with him to discuss what can be done to move this forward.

The key thing now is to make sure that aid and supplies can reach the Kurdish communities who have been displaced and are now being forced to live in camps.

These communities have been through hell over the last eight years. The UK government has a responsibility to do all it can to stop any further atrocities and help our Kurdish allies.

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