9 July 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Settled Status figures show need for automatic right to stay
  • Publishing Russia report top of the list for intelligence committee
  • Lib Dems: Consequences of Chancellor ignoring our high streets already clear
  • Govt must foot the bill to keep TV licences free for over 75s
  • Ministers must act to ensure public can have confidence in NHS Test and Trace
  • As the country opens up Test and Trace is more important than ever

Settled Status figures show need for automatic right to stay

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to grant EU citizens the automatic right to stay in the UK, with the physical proof they need, as new Home Office figures reveal thousands are being refused and millions await a final decision.

The latest EU Settlement Scheme statistics, published this morning, reveal 2,300 people have been refused Settled Status, 1.4 million have only been granted temporary ‘Pre-Settled Status’ and 250,000 are still waiting for a decision.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

EU citizens in the UK have been living under a cloud of uncertainty for far too long. They are our families and friends, our colleagues and carers. They must have the right to stay.

Boris Johnson and the Conservatives promised to automatically guarantee the rights of EU citizens to stay, but they have broken that promise.

With so many people being refused Settled Status, granted only temporary ‘Pre-Settled Status’ or still waiting for a decision, it’s clear that the Government’s scheme is anything but automatic.”

And without physical proof of their rights, EU citizens will be at the mercy of the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment. They must not become the victims of a new Windrush-style scandal.

Liberal Democrats are fighting for EU citizens to be given the automatic right to stay in the UK, with the physical proof they need.

Publishing Russia report top of the list for intelligence committee

Responding to confirmation that the House of Commons will be asked to approve membership of the intelligence and security committee on Monday, Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse said:

With the threat of coronavirus, people are rightly worried and need a Government they can trust. Boris Johnson has failed to do that with his conspicuous delay to reconvening the intelligence committee.

After months of pressure from Liberal Democrats and others, I am glad the committee is due to be restored. However, it should never have needed this fight. The Prime Minister has a lot to do to claw back public confidence.

At the top of the list for the intelligence committee must be forcing the Government to publish the report into Russian interference of our democracy, and before the summer recess so MPs can scrutinise it.

A failure to do so would damage the UK’s standing in the world and continue to raise further questions about the Conservative Party’s deep connections to Russian oligarchs.

Lib Dems: Consequences of Chancellor ignoring our high streets already clear

Responding to the reports that two of the UK’s largest high street retailers, John Lewis and Boots, have announced a combined cut of 5,300 jobs, Liberal Democrat Business Spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

The scale of today’s layoffs show the true extent of the crisis facing British high streets. The Conservative Government had the chance to provide real relief for our high streets in yesterday’s summer statement, but instead the Chancellor did nothing for the vast majority of businesses outside of hospitality.

We cannot allow the Government to forget that behind each job loss statistic lies a household struggling to make ends meet. These job losses will devastate our communities and leave families wondering how they are going to get by in the months to come.

The coronavirus crisis has left our economy with an immense economic challenge, but the Government must rise up to it. Supporting the hospitality sector is vital, but the consequences of not helping the retail sector are already becoming clear. Rishi Sunak must expand the support for our high streets as soon as possible, before we witness thousands more losing their livelihoods overnight.

Govt must foot the bill to keep TV licences free for over 75s

Responding to news that the BBC will ask over 75s to start paying for TV licenses from 1 August, Liberal Democrat Digital, Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

Many people over the age of 75 are worried about stepping foot outside their homes due to the risk of COVID-19. For those who are isolated, television is a lifeline – especially right now. It is a travesty that many may now lose access to this vital service.

The Government has forced the BBC into a corner where it has to choose between further cuts to its programming or raising these fees. The Government must foot the bill so that millions of elderly people are not left without television during this ongoing crisis and commit to a new independent body that can determine fair funding without Government interference.

At a time when fake news about COVID-19 is going viral, the Liberal Democrats will continue to champion our public broadcasters, given their vital role providing accurate, impartial information to those who need it most.

Ministers must act to ensure public can have confidence in NHS Test and Trace

Responding to news that NHS Test and Trace has only reached some 70% of ‘close contacts’ of people who have tested positive for COVID-19, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Yesterday the Chancellor offered us discounts to eat out, but many people will be too worried to do so. That’s because the NHS Test and Trace is still failing to reach large numbers of people, despite costing taxpayers some £10 billion in private contracts.

We need to test, trace and isolate every case of COVID-19 to keep people safe. The public need to have confidence that NHS Test & Trace is fully functional. With the figures failing to improve week to week, it’s clear there is still a lot of work to do.

The Government must act now to ensure that this system is as comprehensive as possible to make sure no-one slips through the net. Any failings in this system will put public health at risk and jeopardise our chances of a rapid economic recovery.

As the country opens up Test and Trace is more important than ever

Responding to the Press Conference by the Culture Secretary, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

Many business owners will be breathing a sigh of relief that they can re-open and get some sense of normality. As the country opens up it is more important than ever that we have a comprehensive test, trace and isolate system.

NHS Test and Trace is still failing to reach large numbers of people, despite costing taxpayers some £10 billion in private contracts.

The Government must act now to ensure that this system works, failing will put public health at risk and jeopardise our chances of a rapid economic recovery.

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10 Comments

  • Peter Martin 10th Jul '20 - 8:15am

    ” The Government must foot the bill so that millions of elderly people are not left without television……”

    Why not campaign for the BBC to be totally funded out of taxation? The TV licence has had its day. Changing technology has made it obsolete. The law is unenforceable in any case. It’s technically illegal for a student to look at the BBC on his mobile phone if they are away from the parental home but quite legal if they are not. I’m sure the police and the courts have better things to do than prosecuting young people for watching Eastenders on their laptops.

    In any case, why introduce age into the question? The over 75s are much less likely to be in need of financial support than younger people.

  • Nonconformistradical 10th Jul '20 - 9:11am

    @Peter Martin
    As a supporter of public service broadcasting I agree with you about funding at least some part of the BBC from general taxation. It’s the simplest way of doing it.

    On the age issue – certainly, especially at present, there will be a fair proportion of over 75s who would not be significantly damaged financially through not being able to stop a DD for the licence fee on reaching the age of 75 – including this hosuehold.

    The whole idea of letting over 75s off the licence fee was a cynical exercise in appealing to a certain sector of voters.

  • Antony Watts 10th Jul '20 - 9:28am

    Let’s be innovative about this.

    1. Anyone with their feet on UK soil is regarded as a UK citizen with 100% rights

    2. Properly control immigration at boarders. With a major policy that if a person comes from another country with which we have a legal treaty respecting their equivalence in the law, then they sould have mutual free movement (as it was with the EU).

    There, that’s fixed that.

  • The whole idea of letting over 75s off the licence fee was a cynical exercise in appealing to a certain sector of voters.
    And the whole idea of making the BBC the fall guy in all of this was also a cynical exercise in appealing to a certain (but largely different) sector of voters; glad that at least in this press release the LibDems point the finger at the guilty party.

    @Peter – part of the problem is with what is in the legislation, so the BBC (as a condition of government funding …) is having to set rules accordingly, which as you note lead to some absurd circumstances…

  • “At the top of the list for the intelligence committee must be forcing the Government to publish the report into Russian interference of our democracy”
    Whilst this is important, it does raise a question as to why the intelligence and security committee should be in the position of not being able to make public security-related information/reports without Government approval.
    In any case, MPs have the opportunity to exercise Parliamentary sovereignty and make the approval of government appointees conditional on the report being published…

  • Chris Grayling is expected to be appointed as chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).
    Putting Grayling into any organisation with ‘intelligence’ in the title would be beyond belief in any other government..!

  • Nonconformistradical 10th Jul '20 - 1:38pm

    “Putting Grayling into any organisation with ‘intelligence’ in the title would be beyond belief in any other government..!”

    Scraping bottom of barrel?

  • Antony Watts 11th Jul '20 - 7:45am

    You know, looking at it, the Treaty of Lisbon with the EU was a marvellous thing. Freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital.

    We have destroyed a lot. We are fools. When countries have aligned goals – Europe in the world – and aligned laws – massive amount of EU law still in UK – then these freedoms are exactly the result.

    And that is where we have to get back to. Not slicing and dicing who can or cannot come to UK, especially our European friends. Treaties and laws fix things.

  • Peter Martin 11th Jul '20 - 10:10am

    @ Antony Watts,

    “…….a marvellous thing. Freedom of movement of people, goods, services and capital.”

    The Treaty of Lisbon was just another step in the process. It didn’t make that much difference in itself. The supposed “four freedoms” already existed.

    And they existed without too much problem up until at least the 90s. That’s when it all started to go wrong and you could ask yourself why it went wrong. Too late to do anything about it now, but if you’re interested in coming up with a better reason than “all leavers are fools” you might want to give it some thought.

  • Andrew Tampion 11th Jul '20 - 4:54pm

    At least the UK Government has a scheme for EU citizens in the UK. According to this article in the Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/jun/30/uk-citizens-rights-eu-at-risk-brexit up to 23 EU Countries have yet to implement systems to document the future rights of British citizens living in their territory and some have not even published draft proposals. A little more balance by calling on both the EU and the UK to guarantee the rights of citizens of the other party living in their respective territories is called for.

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