21 May 2020 – today’s press releases (part 3)

  • Parents, children and teachers need answers before schools open
  • Securing the Midlands Manufacturing Prowess – in spite of devastating news of 9000 job cuts at Rolls-Royce
  • Hong Kong power-grab by Beijing condemned
  • Migrant NHS & social care workers must be given must be given right to remain

Parents, children and teachers need answers before schools open

Responding to reports that the scientific advice on the safety of reopening schools will be published tomorrow, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

Parents, children and teaching staff are worried about the threat of coronavirus and need reassurances ahead of reopening schools.

Liberal Democrats have demanded from the outset that the Government publish the scientific evidence behind their decision to reopen schools. Yet, with just ten days before schools are due to open, parents and teachers are still being kept in the dark.

This announcement is so long overdue. We all want to get children back in school but the public need answers, particularly the likely impact on the infection rate of these measures.

Securing the Midlands Manufacturing Prowess – in spite of devastating news of 9000 job cuts at Rolls-Royce

Yesterday came the terrible announcement that Rolls-Royce has been forced to shed 9,000 jobs across the business due to a downturn in the aviation industry caused by the coronavirus. While admitting the bulk of the job losses will come from the manufacturing site in Derby, the firm are still unable to confirm exactly what roles will be shed due to ongoing negotiations with Unions.

The Liberal Democrats for the Heart of England group would like to send our deepest sympathies to those affected. Rolls-Royce employs not only people in Derby and the surrounding area but across the entire Midlands which is estimated to account for 3% of global aerospace output.
The Midlands is a unique resource as the nation’s manufacturing heartlands due to our production sector accounting for over 30% of our GVA with 16% of this contributed from our manufacturing powerhouses. In the East Midlands the manufacturing sector is responsible for 13% of the employment in the region, the highest in the country, with the West Midlands not far behind at 11.9% (2018).

The Rolls-Royce announcement will have ramifications across the Midlands region, through our sophisticated just in time local supply chains providing best in class products to contractors feeding into OEMs including Rolls-Royce. We must act quickly to secure jobs and talent, or risk wider scale redundancies linked to Covid-19 and falling global demand.

That’s why today, we are calling for the creation of a Midlands-wide Manufacturing Task Force. A partnership of National, Regional and Local Government. With input from business leaders, LEP’s and Unions to find a consensus route to support our regional economy through action and delivery at this extremely challenging period.

With the immediate priority being to identify the people impacted by the redundancies at Rolls-Royce and find alternative employment through initiatives such as through a revitalised Midlands Talent Retention Scheme set up and running based on the ground in Derby.

Vice-Chair of the Heart of England group, Cllr Beverley Nielsen, former Director of CBI West Midlands and West Midlands Mayoral candidate, stated:

Setting up a Midlands Task Force including Midlands Talent Retention Scheme would really help at this devastating moment for so many families and businesses across the Midlands.

We have hard-earned experience to draw on from the results delivered through the MG Rover Task Force which dealt with the crushing blow of over 14,500 job losses in 2005 when that plant closed.

The MG Rover Task Force was successfully able to bring together cross-government working across government boundaries and tiers to implement a policy response tailored to people’s needs. We need this sort of approach again. We urgently need to bring together the leadership, vision, partnership-working and community engagement. This must set about galvanising the necessary delivery of high quality services in support of the Rolls-Royce workers and supply chain.

There are lessons to learn too as the MG Rover experience shows that whilst most ex-workers then took up the support offered, few felt sufficiently supported and this is where the Talent Retention Scheme should really start to contribute this time round as there are pockets of growth in specialist sectors and if we can match up talent needs we can try to prevent ongoing economic collapse.

Hong Kong power-grab by Beijing condemned

Condemning reports that Beijing is introducing a resolution that would bypass Hong Kong local law-making processes in order to impose a new ‘national security law’ on the territory, Alistair Carmichael, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson and Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong said:

This is a naked power-grab by Beijing, demonstrating a complete lack of respect for the Joint Declaration.

The UK has a moral and legal duty to act. It is clear that China no longer cares for the ‘one country, two systems’ agreement made between the UK and China during the Handover.

We cannot sit back and watch this violation of rights and freedoms. Liberal Democrats are urging Dominic Raab to take decisive action. As part of this, it is time to reopen the British National Overseas Passport offer and extend it to give the people of Hong Kong the right to live in the UK.

Migrant NHS & social care workers must be given must be given right to remain

Responding to reports that the Government has u-turned and will exempt NHS and care staff from paying the Immigration Health Surcharge, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

This is a positive step from the Government but the PM must go further. All migrants working in the NHS & social care during this crisis should be given the right to stay in the UK, with no visa fees and no bureaucracy.

Thousands of NHS and care workers from around the world have made huge sacrifices and put themselves in danger for us. It should be unthinkable that the Home Office would ever force them to leave the country they have served so well.

MPs from across Parliament who managed to pressure the Government into the exemption must now focus their attention on .giving these heroes the right to remain.

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2 Comments

  • Can we take it that any member of the Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet who is found to have misused the furlough rules will have the Whip withdrawn ?

  • John Littler 24th May '20 - 8:56pm

    The Rolls Royce cuts are a bitter blow, coming after various cuts in. vehicle manufacturing. High class manufacturing represented an alternative future for the UK, which could still be revived, but the further that Brexit, the virus and Tory Government indifference allows it to shrivel, the less chance there is of building on what is still there.

    Manufacturing has long been able to pay higher wages than the kind of service, or resource related jobs otherwise on offer to most working class people. It is a kind of inconvenient alternative, partly in the way of building the kind of perfect competition of people offering their time for the services of the gig economy, which the Tory right and Patrick Minford wants.

    As manufacturing goes, the land, buildings and machinery are be sold off to developers and speculators, such as Hedge Funds. Brexit Party MEP’s Tice and Habib are very much after this and Habib was on BBC Newsnight admitting a £180m fund to prey on a collapsed commercial property market after brexit, which would be even cheaper from a collapsed Pound.

    The Vulture Capitalist hawks will also prey on recipients of redundancy money and people’s Pension funds, selling them dodgy investments, or just with pure fraud. This is presently by far the biggest crime around and way, way beyond Police abilities to deal with it properly.

    What remains of Britain’s industrial heritage and potentially prosperous future is crumbling away and we cannot pay the nations bills by delivering each other pizza, or by shifting hot Russian money to ex colonial tax havens in the Caribbean.

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