3 April 2024 – today’s press releases

  • Aid worker deaths: Davey calls on government to suspend arms sales to Israel
  • Royal Mail proposal to cut second class deliveries: Another slap in the face
  • London Lib Dems response to Khan economic announcement
  • Worst hit rivers for sewage dumps revealed as Lib Dems call for new Blue Flag status
  • Rennie responds to CalMac boss stepping down

Aid worker deaths: Davey calls on government to suspend arms sales to Israel

The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to suspend arms sales to Israel, following the deaths of seven aid workers including three British nationals in an Israeli air strike in Gaza.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

The deaths of these British aid workers in Gaza is an absolute disgrace. These brave people were trying to help starving families in Gaza.

Clearly, the thought that British-made arms could have been used in strikes such as these is completely unacceptable.

The government must take swift action to suspend arms exports to Israel. We must redouble our efforts to secure an immediate bilateral ceasefire.

Royal Mail proposal to cut second class deliveries: Another slap in the face

Responding to the news that Royal Mail wants to reduce second class deliveries to three days a week, Liberal Democrat Business Spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

These plans are a slap in the face for families being asked to pay more for less.

The cost of first and second class stamps has gone up sharply in recent years. It risks creating a cost of postage crisis, as people feel forced to pay for first class stamps because second class delivery days are being slashed.

People shouldn’t have to pay the price for Royal Mail’s failure, after executives missed their delivery targets and paid themselves eye-watering bonuses.

London Lib Dems response to Khan economic announcement

Responding to Sadiq Khan’s joint economic announcement with Rachel Reeves today (Weds), Rob Blackie, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London, said:

Labour’s plan ignores London’s biggest economic problem – Brexit. Labour are too scared to say that Brexit has damaged London’s economy, making us poorer and costing us jobs.

For instance, technology companies now have to spend time and money complying with two data laws, one each from the EU and the UK. And too many European citizens in London are made to feel unwelcome.

As Liberal Democrat Mayor I will campaign to fix the damage done by Brexit, and bring in a London passport to protect London’s EU citizen rights.

Worst hit rivers for sewage dumps revealed as Lib Dems call for new Blue Flag status

  • Sewage dumped into England’s rivers average of 1,500 times a day last year
  • Worst hit river for sewage dumping last year the River Calder where Yorkshire Water was responsible for 33,000 hours worth of spills
  • Lib Dem Leader Ed Davey calls new Blue Flag status to protect rivers from sewage dumping

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey will call for a new Blue Flag status to protect rivers from pollution, as analysis by the party reveals the worst rivers in the country for sewage dumping.

Sewage was dumped into England’s rivers for a shocking 4.5 million hours last year, with 559,546 sewage spills in total. This is equivalent to an average of over 1,500 sewage dumps into rivers every single day.

Ed Davey will call for the new Blue Flag status on a campaign visit to a river in Harrogate, Yorkshire today (4th April). Yorkshire has four of the top 10 worst rivers in the country for sewage dumping. This includes the River Calder which topped the list with 4,200 spills amounting to 33,000 hours of sewage dumping last year.

This was then followed by the River Avon where Wessex Water dumped 32,500 hours worth of sewage last year, then the River Severn which experienced 30,000 hours of sewage dumping by Severn Trent Water.

Under the Lib Dem proposals, rivers could be designated with the special status to protect them from pollution, including water companies discharging sewage into them. This would also give river swimmers the knowledge that certain environmental standards were being met, meaning they could swim in them without fear of getting sick. Water companies that continued to dump their sewage into Blue Flag rivers would face punitive fines.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

England’s treasured rivers risk being ruined by shocking levels of raw sewage dumping, with a catastrophic impact for local communities and wildlife.

It is an environmental scandal and Conservative ministers are letting water companies get away with it.

The public are rightly furious that their favourite local rivers are being spoiled while water company bosses line their pockets with big bonuses.

We urgently need a new Blue Flag status to protect our rivers, along with punitive fines for water companies that continue to pump their filthy sewage into them.

Rennie responds to CalMac boss stepping down

Responding to the news that the chief executive of CalMac, Robbie Drummond, is to step down with immediate effect, Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Willie Rennie MSP said:

Another week, another resignation but still no SNP minister is carrying the can for the ferry chaos.

CalMac have had to cope with an ageing fleet and delayed new ferries thanks to the SNP Government.

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This entry was posted in London, News, Press releases and Scotland.
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28 Comments

  • How does Ed propose to bring about a bilateral ceasefire, when neither side particularly want one just now.

    The U.K. has little influence with Israel or Hamas, and I doubt that the country of origin of the particular missile, shell or bullet is the overriding concern of the people being killed.

  • The state of our rivers is indeed a scandal, but it has occurred over decades and a range of governments.
    Simply insisting that certain rivers are designated as ‘blue flag’ and therefore safe isn’t going to work.

    Where does Ed expect the sewage to go? I assume he does understand why these discharges of raw sewage into rivers are happening?

    The U.K.s infrastructure is no longer fit for purpose as the population has increased rapidly over the last few decades and is set to continue increasing.

    It is going to cost an eye watering amount of money to fix,our sewage, train, road, and energy infrastructure, the money just isn’t there, not if you also want to increase spending on defence, the NHS, education, police, social care and welfare whilst also moving towards net zero.

  • Israel action in Gaza…As the British leader, Calgacus, said of the Romans in his speech ‘ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant’, ‘they create a desert and call it peace’…

  • Nonconformistradical 4th Apr '24 - 11:19am

    @Noah
    “It is going to cost an eye watering amount of money to fix,our sewage, train, road, and energy infrastructure, the money just isn’t there”

    It appears like that but are you sure? Are you sure that tax-avoiding opportunities available to those with plenty of money aren’t part of the problem?

    In any case – these issues need to be fixed – problem might be that in pursuit of lower taxes nowhere near enough has been spent on our country’s infrastructure for years.

    I would add that it might be a great help if people didn’t persist in putting stuff down the loo which shouldn’t go down there. How many times do people need to be told that the only things which should go down the loo are pee, poo and loo paper – nothing else? People need to put those wet wipes etc. in the landfill bin.

  • This morning on BBC News there was a fascinating interview with a Brigadier who in recent years had considerable experience in relating to Israeli Defence Forces. He saw recent Israeli actions in Gaza as indefensible and counter-productive from a military point of view and when asked about suspending arms sales to Israel simply said “Long overdue”.

  • The problem Royal Mail have, is that second class is mostly as good as first class, but cheaper so more people have been switching to second class postage. So RM have to do something to increase the difference between the two services. I’m a little surprised they haven’t simply merged 1st and 2nd (one-price-goes-anywhere service ) and left people to pay extra for guaranteed next day delivery (which seems to be delivered via parcelforce…)

    Living in a village we’ve already seen our daily mail delivery reduced, it seems we are already down to 3 or 4 days from 6 per week.

  • Jenny Barnes 4th Apr '24 - 1:57pm

    Fixing our infrastructure and services to the standards we might like looks impossible in a shrinking economy. Yes, I know all the politicians talk about growth, but GDP/capita has been flat or declining since around 2005, any growth has come from increased population aka immigration. So, just like any household, we collectively have to decide what we have to afford and what we can do without. In the “musthave” list I would put clean water, food, energy, shelter, and sensible defence (excluding big boys toys like aircraft carriers and nuclear missiles) while in the “do without” list would be nearly all commercial aviation, streaming subscriptions, many of the more expensive health interventions, a large fraction of tertiary education, expensive civil engineering projects with no discernible pay off (hs2), bungs to mates purporting to be commercial contracts (as in the Covid days). To be added to!

  • @Nonconformistradical; tax avoidance is undoubtedly part of the problem, however if that nettle is to be properly grasped international cooperation on amending tax laws would seem to be necessary, if very unlikely.

    @Jenny Barnes; I’d agree with much of your, ‘do without’ list, though I suspect some might object to the removal of many of the more expensive health interventions, perhaps it is, at last, time to actually seriously review the benefits of some of the European social insurance funding models? I think we’d still be short of a significant chunk of change though. Just upgrading the sewers, so they are fit for purpose and extending the national grid to carry wind generated electricity is going to cost a pretty chunk of change.

  • Mick Taylor 4th Apr '24 - 7:35pm

    Tax avoidance is legal. It is just utilising tax law as it is to reduce tax liability. It can be cut by removing tax loopholes.
    The real problem is tax evasion, which is illegal. This is when people set out to not pay tax by undedeclaring their income, hiding it in bank accounts in so-called tax havens or getting paid in cash and not declaring it.
    The EU was just about to enact laws to tackle widespread tax evasion, which is why so many uber rich individuals put so much cash and effort into getting Brexit.

  • @Mick Taylor, granted tax evasion is the bigger problem, but even a trade block the size of the E.U. can only do so much time unless all the major players follow their lead.

    Until that happy day I don’t see individual states or blocks of states being to recoup the majority of the missing tax revenue.

  • On the Royal Mail – Vince Cable was enthusiastic in privatising the business so that it could raise money to invest and compete more strongly against TNT and others.

    I am sure he made the best decision he could with the information at hand. And it is difficult to know whether the previous nationalised Royal Mail would be any better or worse than what we have now.

    But as liberals I think we ought to be prepared to accept private businesses fail in a competitive free market and be reluctant to jump in to tell it what to do. We don’t have a great record of government-run services after all. So I would be tempted to let it be. Still, it is a shame there are no other obvious alternatives to the Royal Mail for sending letters.

  • Mick Taylor 4th Apr ’24 – 7:35pm:
    The EU was just about to enact laws to tackle widespread tax evasion, which is why so many uber rich individuals put so much cash and effort into getting Brexit.

    In the real world the UK does more than any EU country to tackle tax evasion and avoidance. The UK, Isle of Man, Bailiwick of Jersey, and Bailiwick of Guernsey all participate in the…

    ‘Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters’ [September 2023]:
    https://www.oecd.org/ctp/exchange-of-tax-information/convention-on-mutual-administrative-assistance-in-tax-matters.htm

    The Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (“the Convention”) was developed jointly by the OECD and the Council of Europe in 1988 and amended by Protocol in 2010. The Convention is the most comprehensive multilateral instrument available for all forms of tax co-operation to tackle tax evasion and avoidance.
    […]
    147 jurisdictions currently participate in the Convention, including 17 jurisdictions covered by territorial extension. This represents a wide range of countries including all G20 countries, all BRIICS, all OECD countries, major financial centres and an increasing number of developing countries.

    ‘Tax Treaty Network of European Countries’ [September 2020]:
    https://taxfoundation.org/data/all/eu/tax-treaties-european-tax-treaty-network-2020/

    The largest tax treaty network among European OECD countries belongs to the United Kingdom, which has treaties with 130 countries. The UK is followed by France (122 countries) and Italy (100 countries).

  • Nonconformistradical 4th Apr '24 - 10:08pm

    “Tax avoidance is legal. It is just utilising tax law as it is to reduce tax liability. It can be cut by removing tax loopholes.”

    So how much effort goes in to removing loopholes? As I understand it the UK has one of the most complex set of tax laws on the planet. So it must be wide open to dodgy accountants etc. finding scope for their wealthy clients to avoid tax. Opportunities not available to the less well off.

    It seems to me tax avoidance is every bit as big a problem as tax evasion.

  • …Brexit has damaged London’s economy, making us poorer and costing us jobs.

    It was being in the EU that made most people poorer; GDP per capita peaked in 2007 (and for many workers outside London and the South East, some years before that).

    …technology companies now have to spend time and money complying with two data laws, one each from the EU and the UK.

    Most of their markets are outside both; by 2050 the EU is forecast to account for just 9% of world GDP. Tech investors see the UK as having increasingly good access to markets around the globe.

    ‘BREXIT 4th Anniversary: Britain’s Brexit Success’ [January 2024]
    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/65ba6d48c75d300012ca1003/brexit-4th-anniversary-print-version.pdf

    Prepared by Department for Business & Trade

    Tech Sector
    In 2023 the value of the UK tech sector reached $1.1 trillion, up from $640 billion in 2012. The UK is the third country in the world to pass the $1 trillion milestone after the US and China. The UK is number one in Europe for Venture Capital (VC) investment (and third in the world behind the US and China) – with VC investment reaching £21 billion in 2023. And the UK has created over 150 unicorns (tech companies valued at over $1 billion) – top in Europe and more than Germany, France, and the Netherlands combined.

  • Nonconformistradical 4th Apr ’24 – 10:08pm:
    So it must be wide open to dodgy accountants etc. finding scope for their wealthy clients to avoid tax. Opportunities not available to the less well off.

    ISAs are one widely available opportunity for the less well off to avoid paying tax on savings and investments – no dodgy accountant required.

  • Peter Martin 5th Apr '24 - 8:52am

    “The EU was just about to enact laws to tackle widespread tax evasion, which is why so many uber rich individuals put so much cash and effort into getting Brexit.”

    It’s an urban myth.

    https://fullfact.org/online/brexit-not-concealing-offshore-accounts/

    The EU tolerates open financial borders with several tax havens such as Monaco. Several EU states themselves including Luxembourg and Ireland can be fairly classed as tax havens.

    The problem is so acute in Ireland that their published GDP figures are largely disbelieved in economic circles.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/business/2023/10/23/ireland-identified-as-one-of-worlds-top-tax-havens/

  • Martin Gray 5th Apr '24 - 9:33am

    ‘A London Passport’…..Fantasy stuff. I’ve got more chance of waking up next to Miss World than Londoners having a distinct passport…Its straight out of an Ealing comedy .

  • Peter Martin 5th Apr '24 - 10:23am

    @ Martin,

    Yes I agree it’s ludicrous for a member of a party with the word Democratic in its name to campaign for special treatment for Londoners.

    A significant minority Londoners didn’t vote at all in the 2016 referendum and another significant minority voted to Leave. Are everyone’s votes going to be checked? Are some remainers going to be ‘penalised’ because they lived a few metres the wrong side of some arbitrary line?

    We, in the UK, all decided to have the referendum and we all voted one way or another , or didn’t vote at all. It’s neither here nor there that the national result wasn’t reflected in every locality.

  • Matt (Bristol) 5th Apr '24 - 10:50am

    The Blue Flag thing is a semi-clever ruse to make a proposal that would bring sewage dumping and the water quality issue within the loose remit of local government, thus justifying spending the local government election campaigning on something that is disgusting but arguably not really fully currently a local government issue.

    Bit naffed off with these local government elections, what with Labour’s ‘vote for us and we’ll give metro mayors powers to over-rule your local council’ phoney devolution schtick and the Green ‘more affordable houses’ thing, which again is about national housing policy and Treasury budgeting and therefore undeliverable by local council candidates whose party has only one MP. At least the Lib Dem blue flag proposal is one that Labour and Tory MPs might vote for if it came up in a private members’ bill, cost-light sticking-plaster as it is.

  • Helen Dudden 5th Apr '24 - 10:59am

    I agree too many chiefs.

    So many problems here. Medical treatment and living on the streets like nothing I have witnessed in my life time.

    Although I practice Judaism I have no comments other than the October 7th was shocking.

    I find the constant parades unhelpful.

  • Does anyone know what/how many arms we sell to Israel? Totally agree with stopping any sales given what Israel is currently using its weapons for. Besides, any weapon sent to Israel is a weapon that can’t be sent to Ukraine, which is surely in much more need of anything we can supply.

  • Martin Gray 5th Apr '24 - 1:14pm

    @Martin…’the plight of the many less well off whose lives are less sustainable under Brexit’….
    The EU was an irrelevance to those less well off as they couldn’t see or feel any benefits of EU membership…Looking around their communities – who could blame them for voting to leave , the status quo is never a good sell….

  • The fundamental rules of international humanitarian law…”Parties to a conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants in order to spare civilian population and property. Neither the civilian population as such nor civilian persons shall be the object of attack. Attacks shall be directed solely against military objectives”
    Hamas broke those rules but they are rightly condemned as a terrorist organisation; israel breaks those rules but they are ‘supposedly’ a civilised nation..

    I find the demonstrations, calling for a ceasefire, inspiring..

  • Nonconformistradical 5th Apr '24 - 1:49pm

    @Jeff
    Indeed any UK qualified person can set up an ISA BUT….

    (a) there is an annual limit of £20,000 one can put into ISAs each year
    (b) there is no overall limit on the total amount of money one can hold in ISAs.

    What proportion of people would be able to save anywhere near £20,000 in ISAs in one year?

    What proportion of such people could keep on doing that year after year?

    This is a tax break skewed in favour of the better off.

  • Peter Martin 5th Apr '24 - 5:40pm

    @ Martin,

    “Jeff and Peter Martin continue to bang on the broken drum of Brexit”

    I don’t know about that. My New Year’s resolution was to keep off the subject but every now and again I do read some nonsense that does need a response. In this post: London passports and the supposed inclination of the EU ruling class to clamp down on tax evasion.

    I’m reminded of the problem I used to have in my working days when travelling in Australia with a German colleague. We had to really be careful not to exceed the limit on daily expenses otherwise he would have to pay extra income tax on what I would I would have thought was quite legitimate spending. I was based over there and so I didn’t have any problem. I could have even stayed at the Hilton providing I kept the receipts. I asked how that applied to politicians in Germany. “Oh the rules don’t apply to them” he said grumpily. “Especially the ones in the EU Parliament. They are the worst!”

    On the question of left opposition to the EU, and I’ve probably said this before, we once had a politician by the name of Tony Benn…….

  • The first I knew of the proposed ‘London Passport’ was delivering Rob Blackie’s election address as it featured in it. From the brief description there, it sounds like the intention is for the GLA to provide EU citizens resident in London with proof of their entitlement to live in the UK, so they have a document to show to landlords and employers. So it’s not really anything like a ‘real’ passport.

    I’m not sure how sensible the idea is, since on the face of it, you would think that if someone doesn’t have documents to prove to an employer they are entitled to work here, then they probably likewise wouldn’t have documents to prove they are entitled to a ‘London passport’. I’m also not clear to what extent the problem the ‘passport’ is intended to solve is widespread or real? On the plus side, it is at least something different that no-one else is suggesting. But maybe someone else knows more about the idea?

  • Simon R 5th Apr ’24 – 7:05pm:
    …a document to show to landlords and employers.

    So, a Passport to Pimlico Plumbers.

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