Author Archives: The Voice

Liberal Democrats mark Transgender Day of Visibility

Today is the Transgender Day of Visibility, our chance to celebrate transgender and non binary people and raise awareness of the issues affecting them.  Liberal Democrats have a proud history of supporting rights for transgender and non binary people.

Here’s how some in the party have marked the day:

 

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Ed Davey: Boris Johnson must resign over “Partygate” fines

Ed Davey’s response to the news that the Metroplitan Police have issued an initial 20 fixed penalty notices over the Downing Street Parties held during Covid restrictions was short and sharp. (Plain text below.)

If Boris Johnson thinks he can get away with partygate by paying expensive lawyers and throwing junior staff to the wolves, he is wrong.

We all know who is responsible. The Prime Minister must resign, or Conservative MPs must sack him.

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Wera Hobhouse calls for misogyny to be made a hate crime after research reveals women killed by men in 28% of murders

House of Commons Library Research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has today revealed that 28% of all murder cases since 2016 are women murdered by men.

Since the brutal murder of Sarah Everard last year in March, the data shows that 109 women have been murdered where men were the main suspect, representing more than 2 women per week. This is out of 414 murder victims overall, equalling 26% of all murder cases.

Our Women and Equalities Spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse MP has slammed the Government for turning a blind eye to anti-women hatred and refusing to take violence against women and girls seriously.

Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of ‘turning a blind-eye’ to violence against women and girls, choosing to bury their head in the sand.

Wera said:

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Sunak shows he is “out of touch” on fuel poverty figures

Responding to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s failure to answer how many people are being pushed into fuel poverty on the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

Rishi Sunak doesn’t even care enough to find out how many people he is condemning to fuel poverty. It shows he is completely out of touch with families worried sick about how to cope with soaring energy bills.

People are desperate for help but the Conservatives’ response is to clobber them with an unfair tax rise.

The Chancellor should use this week’s Spring Statement to put money back into people’s pockets,

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WATCH: South Cambridgeshire PPC Pippa Heylings’ speech to Spring Conference

South Cambridgeshire is one of the “Blue Wall” seats that the Lib Dems are targetting for the next General Election.

PPC Pippa Heylings was given a keynote speaking slot at Conference. This is her speech:

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Ed Davey’s speech to Conference: Lib Dems can defeat this awful Government

A powerful selection on Ukraine, a call for Priti Patel to be sacked, a celebration of Chesham and Amersham and North Shropshire, a tribute to Lib Dem by-election stalwart Erlend Watson, a decent gag about Dick Turpin, an evisceration of the Tories over sleaze and partygate (including a call for a public enquiry into Boris Johnson’s relationship with Lebvedev) and an attack on Tory MPs for keeping Boris Johnson in power, setting out what the Lib Dems offer for health and education and a look forward to the local government elections in May…all this and more delivered by Ed Davey to Lib Dem members gathered in York.

 

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Lib Dems adopt most ambitious policy in UK to help Ukrainian refugees

Ongoing bureaucratic barriers to refugees fleeing Ukraine and the appalling UK Government attitude to them, the bravery of young political activists in Ukraine who are having to defend their country against invasion, the courage of young activists in Russia who are protesting Putin’s actions, the need to end our dependence on others for energy supply, the importance of standing up for the right of sovereign nations to be part of Europe, the chilling prospect of how we respond to escalating brutality from Putin’s army. These were just some of the points mentioned in an emotional and powerful debate on the situation in Ukraine this morning.

This afternoon at 5:40 pm, we’ll be hearing from Kira Rudyk, the leader of our Ukrainian sister party Holos from Kyiv. If you want to hear her, it’s not too late to register here.

The policy we passed today was the most ambitious to help Ukrainian refugees of any major UK political party.

We call on the government to enable refugees from Ukraine to come to the UK without having to apply for a visa, to work with allies to create accessible routes to safety for all refugees displaced from Ukraine, to provide economic, military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and to reverse the international development budget cut.

The party’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson Layla Moran said even the government’s latest sponsor scheme would still force Ukrainian refugees to “jump through bureaucratic hoops” to come to the UK.

Ukrainians have been let down by the UK government in their hour of need. Priti Patel is presiding over a chaotic shambles – and the result is that Ukrainians who we should be supporting are being turned away simply because they don’t have the right paperwork.

Even the government’s latest scheme will still leave refugees having to jump through bureaucratic hoops before coming to the UK.

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Conference votes for strong action to improve air quality

At Conference yesterday, Lib Dems blasted the Government for its slowness in taking action on air pollution, the cause of thousands of premature deaths each year in the UK.

We passed a motion submitted by Ealing Lib Dems and moved by Hina Bokhari AM which called for a greater empowering of local authorities and the introduction of stricter, legally-binding national limits for particulate matter and other pollutants.

Our spokesperson for the Climate Emergency, Wera Hobhouse said after the debate:

“Air pollution is a killer. Thousands of people lose their lives each year, with many others suffering from ill health because of it. This is no legacy to leave to our children, who are in particular danger. It is heartbreaking and a damning indictment on the Conservatives, who have looked the other way.

“It is high time we put the power into the hands of local people and those who have directly suffered from the Government’s failure to act more quickly and urgently,

“The Liberal Democrats believe that everyone has the right to clean air. It is incumbent on this Conservative Government to do all they can to uphold that right, by tackling the air pollution crisis head on and cleaning up their act.”

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Federal Board reformed in “peak Lib Dem” debate

Chair Duncan Brack remarked late yesterday evening as he opened the debate on reforming the party’s Federal Board, we had reached “peak Lib Dem” as before us we had 4 options, constitutional amendments, standing order amendments, 3 requests for a reference back and 7 votes.

The Federal Board put forward those 4 options – 3 for reform, 1 to keep roughly the same arrangements in response to the Thornhill Review’s criticism of party governance in the 2019 General Election.

The option passed was to have a slimmed down board of 16 people who are:

The President, who shall act as its Chair;

B. The Leader;

C. The Chair of the English Party, the Convenor of the Scottish Party and the President of the Welsh Party;

D. The Vice President responsible for working with ethnic minority communities;

E. Three people who shall be party members elected by all members of the Party except that persons who, at the date of the close of nominations for election under this paragraph, are members of Parliamentary Parties set out in Article 17 shall not be eligible to be candidates for election under this paragraph. Casual vacancies amongst this group shall be filled in accordance with the election regulations;

F. A Vice-Chair of the Federal Policy Committee;

G. The Chairs of the Federal Conference Committee, the Federal Communications and Elections Committee, the Federal Finance and Resources Committee and the Federal People Development Committee;

H. The Chair of the Young Liberals; and

I. A principal local authority councillor, elected Mayor or Police and Crime Commissioner, elected by the principal local authority councillors, elected Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners of the Party.

This is controversial as it reduces the number of directly elected members of the Board from 15 to just 3.

A request for a reference back made by Board Member Simon McGrath, who criticised the plans here was defeated by a handful of votes.

Conference chose the option to create a Federal Council to scrutinise the work o the Board. Amendments were passed to give it some teeth – eg the ability to call in and overturn some Board decisions. The Federal Council will be made up of:

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Ed Davey: Cut VAT from 20% to 17.5% as an emergency measure

At 2.15pm on Sunday Conference will be debating a motion F30 Tackling the cost of living crisis.

A swathe of proposals are being recommended, including scrapping the rise in NI, ending the freeze on Income Tax personal allowance, uprating pensions and reinstating the £1000 boost to Universal Credit amongst others. These are in addition to policies that have already been agreed such insulating homes, and taxing income from capital more fairly. Three amendments, which add (or remove) options, will also be discussed.

Ed Davey has today added to the mix by calling on the Chancellor to take the radical step on cutting VAT from 20% to 17.5% for one year. This would save families £600 on average. It would also boost the economy by shoring up consumer spending, supporting local high streets and keeping inflation lower than it might have been.

It would also be simple to introduce and would not require primary legislation.

Ed says:

This is crunch time for the Conservatives and the Chancellor. Their cost of living crisis is hitting families hard and it is about to get worse. Will Rishi Sunak act or will he let families up and down the country suffer more financial pain?

An emergency cut to VAT is desperately needed for the millions of people around the country worried about making ends meet. High street businesses that fear going to the wall would receive critical support, as people who are feeling the pinch spend more at their local shops, cafes and restaurants.

This is a once-in-a-generation crisis, and the government must step up to help struggling households and businesses on the brink. Instead of clobbering struggling families with a tax hike, the Chancellor should be putting money back into their pockets.

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Lib Dem MPs propose 9 laws to advance women’s equality

Nine of of the Lib Dems’ thirteen MPs are women. Today, for International Women’s Day, they have proposed nine new bills to tackle areas where women face particular inequality.

The 9 bills are:

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Lib Dems mark International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day and the event has been marked by senior party figures.

Christine Jardine reminds us of the especially poignant reason we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March:

Welsh Lib Dem Leader Jane Dodds called for changes to make it more appealing for women to stand for election at all levels, but particularly local Government:

We urgently need our councils and politics to be more representative of communities they serve. If local governments are so unrepresentative of the population they serve, they cannot possibly hope to deliver for that community effectively.

So this May I want to see more women from different backgrounds, different classes and different ethnicities standing for election. All political parties have a duty to encourage this. And if you are someone in a position of power of influence then make sure you ask them to stand.

“It may seem obvious, but my own political career wouldn’t have started had someone not asked me to stand for council elections. At the time, I had the same view of local Government that many women do, a club for white men over a certain age. I hadn’t thought of entering politics before because I hadn’t believed my voice would be listened to.

“However, we also need structural issues to be resolved. Introducing more flexible schedules for council meetings should be the top priority. Council meetings are often too long and involve unworkable and unsociable hours for those with family, caring and work commitments.

“Society works better when those making decisions are representative of the communities they serve and this International Women’s Day we must remind ourselves of what needs to be done to reach that.”

Lib Dem Women are using the day to highlight women candidates for May’s elections on their Twitter feed,kicking off with one of our most senior and experienced council leaders

ALDC is doing similar:

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Ukrainians deserve better than being stuck in Home Office visa appointment queue

Responding to Home Office figures which show that just 300 visas have been issued to Ukrainian refugees under the Family Scheme, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

Ukrainians fleeing for their lives deserve far better than being stuck in a queue for a Home Office visa appointment.

People across the UK want to welcome Ukrainian refugees with compassion, but instead Priti Patel is keeping them out with pointless extra bureaucracy. No amount of spin can disguise the inadequacy of her response.

Our country has a proud tradition of offering sanctuary to those in need. The Government should remember

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Refugees: Shameful that Ukrainians escaping Putin’s terror are being turned away

Responding to the news that Home Secretary Priti Patel is now investigating a humanitarian route for Ukrainian refugees without family in the UK, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

It is shameful that Ukrainians escaping Putin’s terror are being turned away from the UK. It flies in the face of our country’s proud history of providing sanctuary to people fleeing war and persecution.

Priti Patel has spent her time as Home Secretary closing down safe routes for refugees to come to the UK. For her to say she’s just started ‘investigating’ those routes for Ukrainians is a welcome

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What’s on in our Parliaments this week?

Lib Dem Highlights

On Tuesday at 9:30 am, Sarah Olney holds a Westminster Hall debate on reports of misogyny and sexual harassment in the Metropolitan Police – a sobering start to International Women’s Day.

Also on Tuesday, Jenny Randerson has a question on funding for bus improvement plans.

Westminster

Commons

Monday sees all the stages of the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill which sets up a register of all those non UK people and entities who own property in the UK and strengthens Unexplained Wealth Orders. The Commons Library briefing explains the measures in more detail.  While Labour are supporting it, Transparency International has concerns about the 18 month implementation period and possible loopholes.

On Tuesday we have a Labour opposition day and Wednesday after PMQs is Estimates Day – debates around spending of individual government departments with defence and education coming under the spotlight. The main business on Thursday is a backbench business debate for International Women’s Day.

Lords

The Health and Care Bill gets its report stage on Monday and the Nuclear Energy Financing Bill on Tuesday with various orders and regulations, such as social security uprating and goods vehicle rules coming under scrutiny.

Expect Lib Dem peers to be in action on Thursday against the Elections Bill, which might as well be called the Diminution of Democracy Bill, as it gets its line by line scrutiny.

The full timetable is here.

Holyrood

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Wera Hobhouse: We need to do more to tackle violence against women and girls

This week, Lib Dem Women and Equalities Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse spoke in a parliamentary debate on preventing violence against women and girls. She spoke about the need for age appropriate sex education to help tackle sexual harassment in schools, the need for local authorities to be given sufficient funding to help victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse, the failure of the criminal justice system in this area and the need to make misogyny a hate crime.

She said:

It is a real pleasure and privilege to speak in this debate. We have talked about this issue many times, and I could not agree more with the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) that the time for talking should be over and we need to see a lot more action.

I want to praise the organisations in Bath that are working on tackling violence against women and girls: the Southside project, which supports families affected by domestic violence and abuse; Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support, or SARSAS, a specialist support service for women and girls who have experienced any form of sexual violence at any point in their lives; and Voices, a survivor-led charity supporting those living with and beyond domestic abuse to recover from their trauma, which redoubled its efforts during the pandemic to make sure that no one was forgotten. I was delighted to recognise Voices with the first Best of Bath award last year.

But we should not leave it to charities to tackle violence against women and girls. We must do a lot more not only to support survivors but to prevent the terrible violence from occurring in the first place. We absolutely need to improve police training so that victims and survivors are properly supported. Many crimes do not even enter the criminal justice system. Over 600,000 women are sexually assaulted each year, but only one in six of those assaults is reported to the police. We must give women and girls the reassurance that their concerns are taken seriously whenever they report crimes of assault or domestic abuse.

I would like to add something to the motion before us today. Supporting victims of violence and sexual abuse begins at a local level. The Government must support local authorities to perform this vital task by giving them the duty and funding to provide accommodation for survivors of abuse. Our criminal justice system is failing women. It takes an incredible amount of bravery to not only report sexual abuse but then to relive that trauma in the courts. To add insult to injury, 1.6% of reported rapes lead to a charge. I need to repeat that: 1.6% of reported rapes lead to a charge. We are letting survivors down; it is shocking. We absolutely need better training and more resources for prosecutors and judges to punish perpetrators and deliver the justice that victims and survivors so desperately need.

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Beatrice Wishart’s speech for International Women’s Day

This week the Scottish Parliament held a debate for International Women’s Day, which happens on Tuesday 8th March.

Beatrice Wishart MSP spoke for the Liberal Democrats:

You can read her speech in full below and the link to the debate is here.

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Cole-Hamilton praises public service broadcasters’ role in telling truth about Ukraine war

Scottish Lib Dem Leader Alex Cole-Hamilton this week praised our public service broadcasters for their reporting of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He described how the BBC was keeping Ukrainian people informed through short wave broadcasts while Russian forces attacked other methods of communications. He pointed out that we don’t get that level of service from Netflix subscription.

His whole speech is below:

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LibLink: Ed Davey and Sal Brinton on the end to free Covid tests

Ed Davey has penned a piece for the Yorkshire Post: End to free Covid tests is like a tax on carers.

Boris Johnson’s determination to remove all Covid precautions and his insistence that the public will have to take personal responsibility whilst removing their ability to assess the level of risk around them is absurd.

How on earth are people supposed to take responsibility for themselves when they may be forced to pay up to £600 a year for lateral flow tests at a time when the cost of living is skyrocketing?

Although Covid is not the threat it once was, thanks to heroic work of our NHS staff and care workers, as well as the scientists that invented vaccines in record time, it is still dangerous to the elderly and to those who are vulnerable.

Many of these people rely on carers, often family and friends, to support them, and if not shielding, are taking extra precautions.

What use is a free test for these vulnerable people if the carer they rely on daily cannot visit them for lack of affordable testing?

This week, I calculated that a carer doing just two tests a week would lead to costs of £622.96 a year. That’s nearly 20 per cent of their annual carer’s allowance of £3,500.

For the unpaid carers to endure so much throughout the pandemic and its aftermath, to then be slapped with this huge Covid test bill is disgraceful.

He summarises it thus:

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Want to represent the Liberal Democrats and influence international politics? Read on…

The ALDE Party and Liberal International both hold their next Congresses in June and their committees will face re-election. Accordingly, Federal International Relations Committee (FIRC) is seeking potential candidates to serve on these committees.

Closing date: 15 March

The following opportunities are available to Liberal Democrat members;

ALDE Party Bureau

This is the political leadership of the ALDE Party, and most, but not all, current Bureau members have parliamentary experience. A high level of political experience, preferably with a European dimension, is an advantage. If nominated, the candidate will take part in an election where the electorate will consist of the delegates to the …

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What’s on in our Parliaments this week?

For the first time in a few weeks. Westminster, Holyrood and the Senedd are sitting. The rapidly changing situation in Ukraine is bound to dominate things. We can expect Lib Dems to call for the UK to take in more people fleeing the fighting and for stronger sanctions on Russia.

Westminster

The Commons week kicks off with questions to the Home Office ministerial team. If Kevin Foster is still a minister, he can expect a torrid time over his disgraceful suggestion that Ukrainians, while fleeing Russian troops can jump on Google, find themselves a job fruit picking here and come over for six months, leaving their family behind.

Later in the day, Lib Dem MPs will put up a robust opposition to the final stages of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

This week, there will be an opposition day on Wednesday and a general debate on Welsh affairs on Thursday, fitting in the week of St David’s Day.

In the Lords, our Kate Parminter has a question on ensuring that eating disorders are taught in medical schools on Tuesday as Eating Disorders Awareness Week gets under way and Shas Sheehan has one on the implications of global warning for the UK on Thursday.

Don Foster has a debate on Tuesday on the link between gambling related advertising and gambling related harm.

You can see the full timetable here.

Holyrood

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Lib Dems stand in solidarity with Ukraine and call for UK to do more for refugees

The Russian Consulate in Edinburgh, like many places around the UK,  has seen peaceful demonstrations every day since the Russians invaded Ukraine.

Today was the biggest so far, with Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton and Christine Jardine MP.

Yesterday, Deputy Leader Daisy Cooper attended a similar event in St Albans

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Ukraine: Live thread on the political reaction

You know things are bad when you wake in the early hours and hear the announcement on the BBC World Service that it is to broadcast rolling news from 4am. There is almost no space for other news items other than the situation in Ukraine.

As in the early days of any war, reports are partial, sometimes confused, sometimes contradictory and sometimes downright lies. This is war in Europe and the full impact of the conflict cannot yet be predicted.

We will be adding reactions from Lib Dems to the conflict throughout the day.

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You are invited to Shirley Williams’ Memorial Service

Embed from Getty Images

You are invited to celebrate the life of
Shirley Vivian Teresa Brittain Williams

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Living with Covid: Shambolic Govt taking NHS & Care services for granted

Responding to the Government’s plan on Living with Covid, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Daisy Cooper MP said:

The Conservatives have been planning to end free Covid testing for more than two months, yet still we have no clarity on what this means in reality.

Boris Johnson wasn’t even able to answer the simple question of whether any free testing plans would be kept in place for essential workers, such as NHS staff, or for those who are clinically vulnerable.

This so-called plan has been cobbled together on the back of a fag packet. People are being asked to exercise personal responsibility whilst

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Ed Davey: Scrapping Covid tests means 4 million face £500 tax on caring

Boris Johnson’s latest attempt to rehabilitate himself with sceptical Tory MPs is to scrap the need to self isolate if you have Covid in England. So you are now free to spread it far and wide. You would think that you would have to monitor the impact really carefully. That is way too sensible for this Government who also reportedly plan to scrap free lateral flow tests. So we will have no idea how many cases we have  until hospitals start filling up.

The BBC asked this week if this move was brave or stupid. NHS chiefs said it was an unnecessary risk and the Guardian reports that SAGE said that it would be harder for people to take precautionary measures and cause anxiety amongst vulnerable groups.

But following the science comes second to following the whims of Conservative MPs, it seems.

Ed Davey and the Lib Dems have done some research into the cost of lateral flow tests for those who need them to keep loved ones safe.

The latest figures show that every week nearly four million people take regular Covid tests, taking two tests a week on average. This includes people who take tests to protect their elderly relatives and friends, or vulnerable workers who work in people-facing industries such as hospitality and are concerned about their health.

Those people now face an average hit of £534 a year, assuming lateral flow tests cost around £5.80 each. This is based on the average costs of a lateral flow test in similar Western countries including Belgium, France, Spain and the US.

Ed said that this would lead to a lockdown by stealth for vulnerable people:

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What’s on in our Parliaments this week?

Holyrood and Westminster are back from their half term break this week and the Senedd starts its break. Here’s what to watch out for.

Westminster

The Lords get to grips with the Elections Bill. Unlock Democracy have written to peers expressing their concerns with the measures it contains.

The bill gives this Government, and future governments, unprecedented power over the way our elections are run.

I want to give you one clear example of this.

Elections in the UK are overseen by an independent watchdog, the Electoral Commission. This bill would give the power to the Government of the day to set the commission’s policy and strategy. Furthermore oversight of the Commission’s work is carried out by the Speaker’s Committee, which now, for the first time, has a Government majority.

Put simply, this leaves the fox guarding the henhouse.

It means that a Conservative Government could tell the Electoral Commission to focus its efforts on investigating union funding of Labour. It could mean that a future Labour Government tells the Commission to focus investigations on Conservative donors.

This power shouldn’t be in the hands of any Government – it should stay in the hands of the independent watchdog.

Most readers of this site will agree and you can sign up to support this here.

On Wednesday Lib Dem peer Mike Storey has a question on the effect of Covid-19 on school children in the most deprived communities and Sarah Ludford will be leading for us on the Refugees Family Reunion Bill.

On Thursday, Don Foster has a debate on the link between gambling advertising and gambling related harm.

On Friday Alison Suttie has a debate on “An Electoral System fit for Today”

In the Commons, Munira Wilson has a Westminster Hall debate on the future of the old Teddington Police Station. She and local Council Leader Gareth Roberts want it to be used for affordable housing and wrote to the Mayor to express that view recently:

Munira Wilson MP and Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, have written to London Mayor Sadiq Khan calling for the site of the former Teddington Police Station to be retained for community use. The site is currently being advertised for sale on the open market.

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Conference amendment and questions deadline approaches

Spring Conference takes place online between 11th and 13th March. You can register for that here. There is an accompanying Conference Live event in York run by ALDC on 12th and 13th March and you can register for that here.

At the live event, you will be able to watch the online debates and got to numerous social and training events. You can find the agenda here.

The main Conference agenda, including the motions has been published. Items up for discussion include:

British Sign Language

COP 26 follow-up

Tackling sleaze in politics

Improving air quality

Catching up on education post Covid

Fixing the Ambulance Crisis

Supporting British Farmers

Ending Sewage Discharges

Swift Justice for victims and offenders

Democracy and public debate

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Lib Dems force the Government to cancel the “Golden Visa” scheme

The “Golden Visa” scheme, technically known as Tier 1 investor visas, has been scrapped following pressure from the Liberal Democrats in the Lords.

The scheme offered residency to people, and their families, from overseas if they invested £2million in the UK.

The Liberal Democrats in the Lords had tabled an amendment to the Nationality and Borders Bill calling for the scheme to be stopped until a full review is published.

Yesterday the Home Secretary finally recognised that it was a complete can of worms, and scrapped the scheme, with immediate effect.

Layla Moran, who is our Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said:

The Conservatives have turned a blind eye to Russian interference in this country for years and had an open door policy to Kremlin cronies.

Shockingly this Government still hasn’t published a report about the possible misuse of golden visas.

Cancelling the scheme is long overdue, it shouldn’t have taken the threat of a defeat in Parliament to finally get this Government to act.

They must publish this report immediately and take urgent steps to tackle the influence of Russian money including a public register of overseas property ownership.

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Daisy Cooper: Scrapping free lateral flow tests would leave the public flying blind.

Yesterday, LBC reported that the Government would scrap free PCR and lateral flow tests for Covid from as early as next week.

Lib Dem Health spokesperson Daisy Cooper highlighted the dangers in this approach, saying it would also make it impossible for those at highest risk of severe disease to properly assess what was safe for them to do. She also highighted the impact of making people pay or tests when they are already struggling with rising living costs.

Scrapping free tests when case rates are still sky high will leave the public and scientists flying blind. If there’s one sure fire way to put the country at risk of another lockdown, it’s scrapping all the warning lights like this.

It will also be impossible for the immunosuppressed to take ‘personal responsibility’ for assessing their risk if there’s no actual data on the level of risk in their community.

Charging for essential tests would hit those who can least afford it hardest, at a time when families are already being clobbered by rising taxes and soaring energy bills.

The Government was happy to waste billions of taxpayers’ cash on useless PPE, but is penny-pinching when it comes to providing people with vital Covid tests.

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