25 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems “delighted” by move to increase protection for abuse survivors in family courts
  • Cross-party group urge Govt to agree to increased aid scrutiny in wake of DfID axe
  • Lib Dems: Jenrick must resign or be sacked
  • Irresponsible for Govt to change social distancing at schools
  • Govt must guarantee NHS Test & Trace fully functional before lockdown eases

Lib Dems “delighted” by move to increase protection for abuse survivors in family courts

The Government has confirmed it will strengthen protections in courts for survivors of domestic abuse through an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill, following calls from campaigning organisations and the Liberal Democrats.

During Committee Stage of the Bill, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine tabled an amendment calling for the introduction of ‘special measures’ in family courts during Committee Stage of the Bill.

The Government has today announced that it will bring in these changes in their own version of the amendment.

Following the Government announcement Christine Jardine said:

These latest recommendations to protect Domestic Abuse survivors in family courts are what we were asking for in the Bill and so I’m delighted the Government is to recognise this with their own version of our amendment.

Too often, perpetrators use court proceedings to continue their abuse and control. We’ve heard survivors describe how painful and traumatic court appearances can be. These changes will help.

We’ve already improved the Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill significantly since it was first introduced last year, and that’s a testament to the survivors who’ve come forward to tell their stories and the campaigners who have kept the pressure on.

Liberal Democrats will keep fighting for further improvements, including vital changes to address the barriers to support faced by migrant women, as we bring this badly-needed and long-overdue legislation into law.

Cross-party group urge Govt to agree to increased aid scrutiny in wake of DfID axe

A cross-party group has called on the Government to “allay the widespread concern” that UK international aid is under threat because of the axing of the Department for International Development (DfID) by agreeing to new Parliamentary scrutiny.

Former Liberal Democrat Chair of the International Development Committee Lord Malcolm Bruce, who has coordinated the cross-party efforts, warned the Government must show it is “not turning its back on the world’s poorest.”

In a letter to the Prime Minister, signed by over 70 parliamentarians, the group call for the Government’s support to retain the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) and International Development Committee. The group also asks for a commitment to have a Development Minister in the Cabinet.

Among the cross-party group include a number of former Ministers in DfID, the former Secretary of State for International Development and Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, and the current Chair of the Committee Labour MP Sarah Champion.

Former Chair of the International Development Committee and Liberal Democrat Peer, Malcolm Bruce, said:

From building health systems to girls’ education and support for the disabled, the UK has long been renowned as a world leader in helping the most vulnerable through international aid.

It is no wonder that so many NGOs fear for the future of that vital aid in the wake of the nonsensical axing of DfID. The Government must show it is not turning its back on the world’s poorest.

The merger of DfID and the FCO will inevitably put effectiveness at risk. There is no two ways about it, we cannot afford to have Ministers sidestep parliamentary scrutiny.

The combination of ICAI and the International Development Committee, put in place by Andrew Mitchell MP, has proved highly effective at scrutinising and monitoring the UK aid policy and programmes. The Prime Minister should therefore agree to retaining ICAI and the International Development Committee and make a commitment to have a Development Minister in the Cabinet.

Lib Dems: Jenrick must resign or be sacked

Responding to Nadhim Zahawi’s comments today suggesting that voters should consider attending Conservative Party fundraisers in their local area if they want access to MPs and local authorities, Liberal Democrat Housing, Communities and Local Government Spokesperson Tim Farron said:

The ‘defence’ of Robert Jenrick is in reality little more than an admission of cash for access. It seems the Tory Party’s commitment to the ‘levelling up’ agenda amounts to sleaze and corruption.

Every new, scandalous detail that emerges about Jenrick’s decision to railroad through a housing deal to help out a Tory donor demonstrates that he is entirely unfit to hold public office.

People deserve better. Up until a very few months ago, a Minister caught in this kind of situation would have done the decent thing and resigned before now. If they didn’t resign, the PM would have sacked them.

I have nothing against Mr Jenrick personally, but integrity in politics matters. He must resign today and – if not – the PM must dismiss him or else lose all moral authority.

Irresponsible for Govt to change social distancing at schools

Responding to reports that social distancing rules will be relaxed as part of plans to get all pupils back to school in September, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

We all want to be able to have pupils back at school in order to give them the education they need, but not until it is made safe.

However, it is irresponsible for the Government to announce a change of tact on social distancing when they don’t know what the R rate will be in September.

Ministers must give reassurances that they will not rush through a decision which could see weaker safety measures in schools than in any other public spaces.

If the Government want people to have confidence that this is the right decision, they must publish the scientific modelling that backs it up.

Govt must guarantee NHS Test & Trace fully functional before lockdown eases

Responding to news that the latest figures for NHS Test & Trace show that nearly 30% of people who tested positive for coronavirus last week were not reached by contact tracers, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

The latest tracing figures are alarming and provide yet more evidence that England’s Test & Trace system is in disarray.

With the Prime Minister’s announcement that lockdown will ease dramatically in a few days’ time, a robust and effective system to test, trace and isolate every case of coronavirus to keep people safe is absolutely critical. Without this system – let alone a cure or a vaccine – the risks of a second peak are grave indeed.

Millions have made heartbreaking sacrifices since lockdown began. Rushing the return to a ‘new normal’ without the proper safeguards in place risks going backwards. Ministers must be crystal clear about the action they are taking to guarantee the system is fully functional by 4 July. They must also confirm how they will deal with new surges, including plans for local lockdowns.

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