20 May 2020 – today’s press releases (part 2)

  • Govt risking public safety with plan to bring back Parliament
  • Davey presents bill to extend transition period
  • Lib Dems: Govt has serious questions to answer over app delays
  • Lib Dems condemn failure to properly recognise contribution of foreign nationals working in NHS and care
  • Lib Dems: Charities need a multi-billion pound package to survive

Govt risking public safety with plan to bring back Parliament

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of risking public safety and warned “everyone deserves equal representation, including those who are shielding and those with family responsibilities.”

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael MP raised these concerns with the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, having secured an Urgent Question in Parliament today.

Speaking via Zoom from Orkney, the Liberal Democrat MP accepted “none of us are blind to the inadequacies of online scrutiny,” but added “if it is a choice between that and putting the safety of members, their families and the staff of this House at risk then that is no choice at all.”

In response, despite MPs taking part in debates and ask questions via Zoom over the last few weeks, Jacob Ree-Mogg rejected the call to allow MPs to work from home and refused to acknowledge any of the concerns raised.

Following the exchange, Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said:

Tens of thousands of people have already died during this pandemic. To protect vulnerable people, we should all follow public health advice and work from home when we can. We must set the right example.

It is an insult to those who have suffered and died for Jacob Rees-Mogg to suggest that MPs should put their communities at risk by traveling hundreds of miles to London each week for the whims of the Government.

Parliament has demonstrated in recent weeks that we can scrutinise the Government while working from home and ensure communities across the United Kingdom have their voices heard. Everyone deserves equal representation, including those who are shielding and those with family responsibilities.

We should instead be looking at how we can retain the best features of the virtual system to ensure safe and equal representation for every part of the UK. The Government must think again.

Davey presents bill to extend transition period

Today, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey has put forward a bill which, if passed, would force the government into a two year extension of the transition period.

An extension to the transition period is essential, ensuring that the government could focus its full attention on tackling the spread of coronavirus crisis.

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 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.

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.

Lib Dems: Govt has serious questions to answer over app delays

Responding to the daily press conference led by the DCMS Secretary and reports that the NHSX app will not be ready for 1 June, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Daisy Cooper, said:

With the Coronavirus crisis leaving the most vulnerable at risk, the Government continues to waste valuable time and undermine public confidence by experimenting with a new tracing app when there are already effective models it could and should use.

An app alone will not bring an end to the lockdown, but a safe and effective app could play a role in keeping people safe with a strategy to test, trace and isolate.

The Prime Minister and his Government have serious questions to answer about these delays. To restore public confidence and get a grip of the virus, the Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to rapidly upscale their tracing and testing capacity and bring forward a new Safe Trace App Law to ensure that any new app will keep people safe.

Lib Dems condemn failure to properly recognise contribution of foreign nationals working in NHS and care

Responding to the Home Office announcement that they are extending the indefinite leave to remain to the families of NHS support staff and social care workers who die as result of contracting coronavirus, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

This offer adds insult to injury for those who are putting their lives on the line by saying their their contribution will only be recognised if they die. That is not good enough.

The Government must go much further to recognise the contribution of those caring for our loved ones during this crisis. For example, foreign nationals are on the frontline, caring and providing critical care for our loved ones during a pandemic and the Government should recognise their contribution.

The UK should say, loudly and unequivocally, that those who have put their lives at risk for our country are welcome to live in it. We must recognise the risk that each and every one of our health and care staff are taking by working to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

The Home Secretary should give all foreign nationals working in the NHS and social care and their families the indefinite leave to remain in the UK, with no costs or bureaucratic hurdles. It is the very least she can do.

Lib Dems: Charities need a multi-billion pound package to survive

Responding to the announcement that the Government has released £150 million in funding raised through dormant bank accounts for charities, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Daisy Cooper, said:

Charities and voluntary organisations play a crucial role helping the most vulnerable in our society and will be absolutely vital as this crisis continues. But charities have seen their incomes plummet, meaning many face extinction just when we need them most.

It’s been six weeks now since the Chancellor announced funding support for charities, but it is taking far too long for that money to get to the organisations that need it. Charities across the country are warning that if the Government does not get this money to them urgently, they will simply not recover and their invaluable contributions to our communities will be lost.

Even with the extra £150 million announced today, charities will need far more help to make up for the more than £4 billion in revenue they are expected to lose as a result of this crisis.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to bring forward a new, multi-billion-pound package of support for charities now, to ensure that they get the funds they need to survive without further delay.

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