18 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems use Urgent Question to challenge Govt on DFID merger
  • Govt must regulate big tech companies’ use of COVID-19 app data
  • Lib Dems call for Race Equality Strategy

Lib Dems use Urgent Question to challenge Govt on DFID merger

Liberal Democrat International Development spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain has today challenged the Foreign Secretary on the “wrongheaded” decision to merge the Department of International Development with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In an Urgent Question in the House of Commons, Wendy Chamberlain blasted the Prime Minister’s description of DFID as a “cashpoint in the sky”. She also raised mounting concerns about future funding for DFID projects and the risk of job cuts for current DFID staff in the midst of a public health emergency and economic crisis.

Following the Urgent Question Wendy Chamberlain said:

This merger has already been condemned by NGOs and no less than three former Prime Ministers. The Foreign Secretary’s desperate scramble to mention just one NGO that supports the move demonstrates how unpopular it is.

The fact that the Foreign Secretary came out to defend this wrongheaded decision shows that the Government is railroading this through over the head of the current Secretary of State.

Instead of committing more resources to DFID projects that help the most vulnerable, this Government seems to prefer to splash cash on paint for the PM’s plane and promotional yachts. The cost of abolishing DFID will be a colossal and counterproductive waste taxpayers’ money.

The Liberal Democrats will continue to champion the UK’s role as a world leader in providing aid to those most in need – that’s why we need International Development to have a seat at the Cabinet table. This merger puts that focus and effectiveness at risk. The decision does not reflect ‘Global Britain’, but a Government determined to see the UK turn its back on the world.

Govt must regulate big tech companies’ use of COVID-19 app data

Responding to reports that the Government is now shifting to a COVID-19 tracing app based on technology provided by Apple and Google, Liberal Democrat Digital, Culture Media and Sport spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

Every minute counts in the fight to contain COVID-19, but the Government has spent months working on this now failed app – which many of us warned from the start would not keep people safe.

Ministers must accept that legal assurances are needed to rapidly re-build public trust and keep people safe. They must start by ensuring that restrictions are put in place to regulate how the big tech companies they are now working with can access, use and store people’s medical information and other personal data.

Any app is, of course, only part of the broader test, trace and isolate system, yet there is still not one part of this system that is up and running properly. The Government must urgently ramp up testing and tracing to prevent a new surge as the lockdown is eased.

Lib Dems call for Race Equality Strategy

Liberal Democrat Equalities Spokesperson Christine Jardine has called on the UK Government to introduce a Race Equality Strategy to tackle racial injustice.

Speaking in a debate on the effect of COVID-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Communities, Christine Jardine said the crisis and the disproportionate effect that the pandemic is having on BAME communities had “shone a stark spotlight” on the issue and added “this must be our time for change.”

On 14th June, Boris Johnson announced a review into racial inequality in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests. However, further details of the review are yet to be announced. Christine Jardine said this was not enough, stating “what we need now is action”.

Christine Jardine, Liberal Democrat Equalities spokesperson said:

We have reports, reviews and recommendations weighing down the shelves of Whitehall. What we need now is action. If this Government is serious about tackling racial injustice then a Race Equality Strategy for the whole of the United Kingdom is crucial.

COVID-19 has shone a very stark spotlight on our society and shown, quite clearly, that there are still gaping holes and inequalities that were not just unaddressed, but largely, unacknowledged.

Our society’s acute emotional response to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities has been, perhaps, the one saving grace in this shocking failure to protect our communities- so many of whom were at the very forefront of tackling the virus and have paid the ultimate price.

The commission may be a first step but what it must not be is a way of avoiding tackling the issues that have been brought to light.

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2 Comments

  • On Question Time last night Cleverly was asked about the numerous reviews of the past concerning Racial Equality .. He went into a diatribe of emotions.He knew that in the past no recommendations had been implimented . Result is that NOTHING has been done on passed reviews . Just a way of passing the situation down the road for it to be forgotten. For anything to happen the concerns of Racial Equality should be mentioned on a regular basis.

  • BBC News : 19 minutes ago Breaking News

    Coronavirus: UK’s Covid-19 alert level reduced from four to three.

    Under level three, the virus is now considered to be “in general circulation” and there could be a “gradual relaxation of restrictions”. Previously transmission was considered to be “high or rising exponentially”.

    Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the change was “a big moment for the country” and showed that the government’s plan was working.

    Oh yes, highest number of deaths in Europe, public debt and unemployment rocketing, GDP plummeting, people not following the rules and infections not slowing down as fast as southern European countries…

    But yes.. the government plan is working ???? ……. but yes….is the disappearing Boris Johnson working ?

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