21 January 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Tories’ new counter-terror plans undermine civil liberties
  • Welsh Lib Dems: Every child has a right to RSE
  • Govt must invest to demonstrate it values teachers
  • Welsh Lib Dems: UK Government must rethink Withdrawal Bill
  • Lib Dem peers win vote to protect child refugees

Tories’ new counter-terror plans undermine civil liberties

Responding to the Government’s announcement of new counter-terror legislation, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

If you could stop terrorism by passing illiberal new laws, the Conservatives would have ended it ages ago.

It’s less than a year since the Conservatives passed their last piece of unnecessary, reactionary legislation in the name of combatting terrorism, and they’re already proposing another one.

We need policies based on evidence, not cheap headlines. Judges already have the power to lock up terrorists for life; tying their hands with mandatory minimum sentences simply won’t help. And polygraphs simply aren’t accurate or reliable enough for such critical decisions.

Liberal Democrats will always stand up for human rights and civil liberties. We will continue to oppose authoritarian laws that do little to make us safer, but a lot to undermine essential British freedoms.

Welsh Lib Dems: Every child has a right to RSE

Kirsty Williams, Welsh Liberal Democrat Education Minister, has announced that parents will no longer be able to withdraw children from lessons about relationships, sexuality and religion.

The decision follows an eight-week consultation and will come into force next year before becoming statutory at the start of the new curriculum in 2022.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have long supported removing the ability of parents to remove their children from RSE.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

We are proud to be transforming relationship and sexuality education to make it fit for the future and ensure it supports all pupils’ wellbeing.

Today’s announcement is an important step that will see RSE become inclusive for all pupils. It will ensure everyone has the information they need to understand and embrace who they are, while continuing to support healthy and respectful relationships.

It’s so crucial that our children get the information they need to prepare them for life ahead. That is why these reforms are so important and why I am so proud it’s the Welsh Liberal Democrats who are delivering them.

Govt must invest to demonstrate it values teachers

Responding to the Government’s evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body on teachers’ pay for 2020, Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Layla Moran MP said:

The evidence published today reveals a catalogue of problems in recruiting teachers, with targets missed time and again. Meantime, one in five teachers are now leaving the job within just two years while retention problems are clearly far worse in more deprived schools, making it even harder for those schools to improve.

Tory Ministers should be offering a more generous pay package to teachers to stem the tide. Instead, the 2.5% pay rise proposed for our most experienced teachers is well below average wage growth. Worse still, this Government are not offering schools the extra money needed to cover the increase in teachers’ starting salaries, meaning schools are being forced to pick up the tab, despite already being underfunded.

If Boris Johnson wants to show this his Government values teachers, he must put his money where his mouth is. He should use the next budget to give teachers a properly funded pay rise, plus the training and support they deserve.

Welsh Lib Dems: UK Government must rethink Withdrawal Bill

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have urged the UK Government to rethink their EU Withdrawal Bill ahead of the Legislative Consent Motion in the Senedd later.

The Senedd is expected to vote to withhold its consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill, meaning all three devolved legislatures will have rejected the bill.

Despite this, the UK Government has stated it plans to pursue the bill as it stands anyway.

In the House of Lords, Liberal Democrat Lords have successfully defeated the government on amendments on EU citizens rights.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

Today Kirsty Williams will vote against the UK Government’s deeply flawed EU Withdrawal Bill in the Senedd. The UK Government has had several opportunities to work with the devolved governments to draw up proposals that maintain a close relationship with the EU and could begin to bring the UK together.

It is therefore deeply disappointing that the Prime Minister has categorically rejected this approach, instead deciding to push ahead with his extreme Brexit plans. Plans which leave us open to a hugely damaging no-deal scenario in just 11 months’ time.

What is worse, he plans to ignore the will of all three devolved assemblies by pushing ahead with this bill regardless of whether they or not give their consent. This sets a dangerous precedent and would show just how little the Conservatives care about our Parliament.

They need to respect the will of Wales’ Parliament and should think long and hard before they play games with the constitutional settlement of the United Kingdom for short term political gain.

Lib Dem peers win vote to protect child refugees

Liberal Democrat peers today helped to inflict another defeat on the Conservative Government in the House of Lords, this time on a vote to protect child refugees.

By 300 to 220, the House of Lords passed an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill to maintain the rights of unaccompanied refugee children elsewhere in Europe to be reunited with their family members in the UK.

This marks the fourth government defeat on the Bill, after the Lords passed three amendments yesterday: one moved by Liberal Democrat peer Jonny Oates to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and two to prevent Ministers from instructing lower courts to ignore legal precedent.

The Bill is set to return to the House of Commons tomorrow, when the Conservative Government is expected to try to overturn these amendments – against opposition from Liberal Democrat MPs.

Following the vote, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Hamwee, who argued for the amendment in the House of Lords, said:

Liberal Democrats will not stand by while the Conservative Government uses Brexit to undermine the UK’s proud tradition of providing sanctuary to some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

I am proud that Liberal Democrat peers have, along with the tireless campaigner Lord Dubs, passed this crucial amendment to uphold our commitments to child refugees.

I hope that MPs will resist government pressure to overturn today’s vote in the House of Commons.

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