Tag Archives: norman lamb

How Lib Dems have made the news this week – Gosport, upskirting, trains and cannabis oil

It’s worth noting that Lib Dem MPs have featured in some of the top headlines this week.

What does that tell us about the kind of things we do and the people we are?

Well, Norman Lamb spoke about how he ordered the review into the deaths of elderly people at Gosport War Memorial Hospital after the NHS closed ranks.

Lamb told BBC Newsnight: “I just think it’s horrific and there has been a real systemic failure here, a closing of ranks in my view and a sense that ordinary people just weren’t being listened to at all, and an unwillingness by

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Gosport findings ‘shocking and devastating’

We have all be shocked by the revelations about the inappropriate treatment of elderly patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital. Here is Norman Lamb talking about the way the NHS closed ranks when he was Health Minister, and how he called for the enquiry that has just been completed.

We also have some quotes from him:

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Theresa May shamelessly takes up discredited Leave campaign slogan

Most of my memories of the Leave campaign involve the blatant lies it told. 77 million Turks, we were told, would pretty much be here the day after we voted Remain, according to their literature. And the biggest lie of all was emblazoned on the side of a bus. £350 million a week for the NHS.

It was the thought of more money for our beleaguered NHS that prompted many people to vote Leave, something confirmed by Vote Leave’s director, Dominic Cummings.

Within hours of the referendum result, that pledge was in tatters. Nigel Farage distanced himself from

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LDV wishes Norman Lamb well


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The Liberal Democrat Voice team would like to send our heartfelt best wishes to Norman Lamb as he recovers from his “very minor stroke”.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Norman is a much loved member of the Lib Dem family. His personal courage, energy and passion are much admired.

Take care, Norman, and we hope you recover well!

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LibLink: Norman Lamb on the Government’s Industrial Strategy

Following the Government’s publication of its industrial strategy, Norman Lamb, who chairs the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, has let his feelings be known.

In a balanced and thoughtful piece, Norman places the proposals within the context of risks due to Brexit, and a potential funding gap whilst the economy recovers. He also notes that the investment has to be spread around the co7ntry more evenly;

We also need to make sure that this investment is dispersed around the country, promoting excellence in research in lower-income regions. Research in science and

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Liberal Democrats mark World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day.

For me it’s a day to reflect on how far we have come since I started to suffer from mental ill health as a child. Forty years ago, nobody understood the desperate, isolating, all-engulfing Depression that I couldn’t shake off, that took every ounce of my energy just to get through the day. I remember trying to talk about it to a friend once, and she scared the living daylights out of me, telling me I’d be locked up in a hospital if anyone found out.

There was the exhausting anxiety which punctuated every day – not helped by the fact that round every corner there might be another bully lurking to shout “Yak” at me. That’s what they called me at school. I just wish I’d had Google then to reassure me that, whatever my tormentors meant, these beasts were actually kind of cute.

My teens were a struggle and because I didn’t get the help I needed, I either didn’t cope very well or developed some fairly unhelpful strategies to deal with it. Comfort eating for one.

We can perhaps be a little bit proud of ourselves as a society that four decades on, we are at least attempting to tackle the stigma around mental health, so that no young person need fear that they are going to be locked up.

However, we should also be ashamed that this new openness has not been accompanied by the provision of sufficient support services for people with mental ill health.

There is one area I want to focus on – the transition from child to adult mental health services. Once you get into the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, you can actually get some pretty reasonable support. It’s arranged in a fairly logical way with consultants, psychologists and nurses working together to support young people. Unfortunately not every young person who needs help can get it at all, and most have to wait far too long.  It is not uncommon to wait for more than a year to even see a specialist.

Mental health issues generally aren’t resolved overnight, so you have a year of turmoil while you are waiting to be seen and, maybe another couple of years of reasonably intensive support – and then you turn 18. All the effort put into helping you is now at risk as you are put into the virtually non-existent twilight world of adult mental health services which are disparate, insufficient and as suitable for the scale of the problem as  trying to surf the Atlantic on a My Little Pony lilo.

This country is being robbed of the talents of some wonderful individuals simply because it does not invest in the services they need to stay well.

Even the most cruel and heartless government should surely recognise that the cost of not supporting these people is enormous to both our economy and our society.

I’m incredibly proud that Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb have done so much to improve mental health services and tackle the stigma around mental health. One of the most horrible things about the run-up to the 2015 election was the almost certain knowledge that Norman wouldn’t be mental health minister any more.

Today, Liberal Democrats have been marking Mental Health Day in a variety of ways:

Kirsty Williams made this video highlighting mental ill health in the workplace:

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Lamb: Government failing abysmally on GP target

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Last week a study highlighted that almost a million EU workers could leave the UK after Brexit simply because they “feel less welcome and valued” in the country and in their jobs.

The impact that is going to have on our health service and the wider economy is severe.

Today, it emerged that the Government is going to spend £100 million recruiting GPs from abroad .

More than half of the Government’s 5000 targeted increase in the number of GPs are going to be recruited in this way.  Other health workers will also be sought.

As well as the £100 million, each GP who comes from abroad will cost  taxpayers £1000 per year because of the Immigration Skills Charge. Surely the sensible thing to do would be to exempt the NHS when we need these people so badly. In fact, why have it at all? It seems to me like a silly nonsense to convince the Daily Mail that we’re doing something about immigration.

Norman Lamb said that the whole thing was absurd.

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Want to see Norman Lamb in lycra?

It is dangerous for politicians to make pledges during an election campaign. I’m sure you all know what I am talking about – Stephen Tall’s pledge to run naked down Whitehall.

And then there was Vince Cable’s hat.

But Norman Lamb rashly said he would join a zumba class if he won his seat in North Norfolk, which, of course, he did.

But he did it!

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The new standard bearer for science and innovation is… Norman Lamb

Congratulations to Norman Lamb, the newly-elected Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, who overcame competition from fellow Lib Dem Jo Swinson.

In seeking the role, Norman pledged to offer “sound guidance, leadership and authority” to the Committee and ensure that science and technology are “fully considered in Brexit negotiations”, all while emphasising the importance of science for the UK’s future prosperity.

The new role gives Norman a great opportunity to hold this Government to account on a whole range of issues covering science, technology, research and innovation.

This is especially important in today’s political landscape, because Parliament’s Select Committees have become increasingly powerful in the last couple of years – and they can only get stronger with a weakened Government in place.

(To see what I’m talking about, it’s worth reading a recent paper by the Institute for Government that talks about how Select Committees can exert their influence during a hung-parliament). 

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It’s Swinson vs Lamb today

Today, MPs elect their Select Committee chairs. The Liberal Democrats are to chair the Science and Technology Committee. The House will have the chance to choose between two of our MPs, Norman Lamb and Jo Swinson.

Each has produced a statement in support of their candidacy:

Jo Swinson

Statement

“more collegiate than tribal” – Telegraph

Collegiate

Even the Telegraph said I’m collegiate, and they’re not known for their love of Lib Dems.  If you’ve been in Parliament for many years, I hope you agree that I engaged constructively with MPs regardless of party when I was a Minister: from pubs to payday lending, employment rights to equalities.  If you’re newer, you don’t need to take my word for it, do ask your colleagues.  And feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or ideas.

Fair

Select Committees are about the art of asking good questions to get to the heart of an issue.  It’s a wonderful privilege – and fascinating – to be able to quiz experts on any given subject, and I hugely enjoyed my time on the Environmental Audit Committee from 2007-2010.  Every member of a Select Committee has an important role to play.  In creating reports and recommendations for Government, Select Committees should be both challenging and constructive: giving credit where it’s due, and being bold about where change is needed.

Enthused by science and technology

Science and technology offer hope for the advancement of society, as an engine of growth for the economy, and to solve the big problems we face as humanity, from climate change to disease.  The UK has a pivotal role to play, with a well-respected scientific community that should be supported and celebrated.  I’m enthused by these opportunities, as an early adopter of technology for democratic engagement, a former Vice-Chair of the Prime Minister’s Digital Taskforce, and having served as a Non-Executive Director of a data science start-up.  My constituency is home to the Beatson Institute, a world-class science facility focused on cancer research.

Can v Should

Science rightly pushes the frontiers of knowledge, and asks “Can we?”.  In public policy terms, we must also ask “Should we?”  Ethical questions range from balancing online privacy with security to preventing artificial intelligence entrenching current inequalities, from how to assess the benefit of new pharmaceuticals to understanding fully the impact of drones and driverless cars on employment.  The Select Committee should play a crucial role in exploring these dilemmas and finding a path forward.

Norman Lamb

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Mental Health deaths must not be neglected

This October,  I will have been associated with the Liberals and the Liberal Democrats for some 45 years. In 1972 I joined the Liberal Students at Manchester University Medical School where my best subjects were Psychology and Psychiatry so it is unsurprising, perhaps, that I have not only pursued the interests of the NHS as a whole but have also retained a special interest in Mental Health matters.

One of the much-trumpeted achievements of the Llib Dems in Coalition was to raise the profile of mental health within the NHS and Norman Lamb in particular pushed the need for an earmarked expansion of funding so that Mental Health Services (whether we talk about Alzheimers or child psychiatry services) could reach a ‘level playing field’ with physical health matters.

But has this happened?  Two years after the Coalition has ended, there are reports that mental Health Services have been CUT across a wide range of NHS Trusts.  It is fine for Theresa May to talk the talk but does her government walk the walk?

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No Normtroopers this time – Norman Lamb won’t stand for leader

Well there’s a surprise. I had honestly thought that Norman Lamb would stand again to be leader.

This afternoon, though, he has ruled himself out in an article for the Guardian:

I have just fought a gruelling campaign to win my North Norfolk seat. Attempting to win a seat for the Liberal Democrats in an area that voted quite heavily to leave the EU was bound to be a challenge. Not only was the party’s position on Brexit toxic to many erstwhile Liberal Democrat voters in North Norfolk, but I found myself sympathising with those who felt that the party was not listening to them and was treating them with some disdain.

I abstained on article 50 because I felt it was wrong in principle to vote against, given that we had all voted to hold the referendum in the first place. For many in the party that abstention was an act of betrayal. I have been accused of supporting a hard Brexit – the last thing I want – while a Lib Dem source told the London Evening Standard this week that the abstention “looks like he can’t make a tough call”. It is actually quite tough to go against your party, and I did it on a matter of principle.

He’s realised that his position on the EU puts him at odds with a large number of members, especially since so many joined after the EU referendum. 

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Queen’s Speech Round-up: What the Liberal Democrats said about it

The Lib Dem Press Office has issued a veritable storm of press releases in response to the Queen’s Speech today. Here’s a round-up of what our key figures said about their areas of expertise.

Tim Farron looked at the whole speech and was unimpressed:

This slimmed down Queen’s Speech shows a government on the edge.

Having dropped everything from the Dementia Tax to fox hunting I assume the only reason they have proposed a Space Bill is so they can shoot their manifesto into space and pretend it never existed.

People up and down the country are seeing our schools and hospitals in crisis.

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Grenfell Tower fire: Answers, accountability and help are needed

At approximately 00:54 on Wednesday morning an horrific fire was reported at Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, London. Within half an hour the flames were reported to have engulfed an entire side of the building, leaving many people trapped inside. We need answers and to do whatever we can to help the victims and ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.

Firstly, The Guardian has are some questions that need to be answered:

  • How did the fire start?
  • Why did the fire spread so quickly? Was the recently fitted new cladding at fault?
  • Did the new gas pipes, which were

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Frank Bruno to campaign for Norman Lamb today

Norman Lamb has the endorsement of a heavyweight today. Frank Bruno, who is a great supporter of Norman’s work as health minister although he doesn’t support any political party, is visiting North Norfolk to campaign for him.

From the Eastern Daily Press:

Since meeting Mr Lamb during his time as a Health Minister, the pair have worked together on a number of initiatives to improve mental health support.

Bruno, who is not party political, is a long-time ambassador for people suffering from mental health problems and has spoken of his own experiences with bipolar disorder and will join Mr Lamb on the campaign trail.

The pair have worked together on a number of initiatives to improve mental health support.

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Tory warnings about “bad Brexit” have one word too many

The latest Tory tactic seems to be to warn against a “bad Brexit” and to say that only they, if they get a whopping enough majority, can make sure we get a “good” deal. On that majority point, think of the last time you said to yourself “Oh, Merkel has a huge majority, we need to do what she says.” The point is that we go into these negotiations in a weakened position anyway. There are 27 EU member states and 1 of us. Who has the power here? The Tory brexiteers needn’t bother trying to blame the EU for a situation that they created.

Jeremy Hunt is the latest to talk of the dangers of Brexit going wrong and what that will mean for our NHS. In fact, if Brexit happens, it will damage our NHS on various fronts. The crash in our economy that would result if Theresa May’s extreme Brexit goes ahead would cost the NHS dearly. And today a report says that the NHS could stand to lose an extra half a billion if returning ex-pats came back to be treated on the NHS in Britain. This was entirely predictable.

That is just one problem of several highlighted by the Nuffield Trust:

According to the Nuffield Trust, it may not be easy to continue with this agreement after Brexit.
If all of these pensioners decided to return to the UK – a big if – they could be expected to fill 900 NHS hospital beds a year, it says.

The NHS would need about 1,600 more doctors, nurses and other workers to provide the care, it estimates.

Also, hospitals could end up short-staffed if migration of workers from the EU slows or stops post-Brexit.
And access to medicines could also become more difficult if the UK leaves the EU’s medicine licensing system.

So, we have a crashing economy, extra people to treat with fewer staff and restricted access to medicines. All of these are en entirely predictable consequence of any Brexit. It’s not exactly what was written on that bus, is it?

In response to today’s report, Norman Lamb said:

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Liberal Democrats set 10 questions for Theresa May on the “Dementia Tax”

Rarely has such an ill-thought out policy made it into a manifesto. The Tory proposals for what’s been dubbed a “dementia tax,” going back on previous proposals to set a cap on care costs for those who need care, don’t even seem to have the agreement of senior Conservatives. In fact, if the Sunday papers are to be believed, they don’t even have the backing of Theresa May’s two chiefs of staff.

Vince Cable outlines the main issues here:

The Liberal Democrats have today put 10 questions to Theresa May on the implementation of this policy. Her speech last Monday was initially presented as a u-turn. She then claimed in her Andrew Neil interview that it was anything but. Voters need to know exactly what this policy means before they go to the polls in 11 days’ time.

The questions are:

1. At what level will the cap on care costs be set?

2. How will it be uprated? Will it be in line with house prices?

3. Does the £100,000 floor apply to households or individuals?

4. Will the cap and £100,000 floor apply to care costs only, or will it also include accommodation costs?

5. Will people still need to pay an arrangement fee and interest for care costs, and if so how will these charges be set? The Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead (RBWM) currently charges 2.25% interest and a £900 set up fee plus £300 a year.

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Norman Lamb “The best MP in the region”

“Can Norman Lamb hold on in Leave voting North Norfolk?” is the headline from a PoliticsHome article.

The constituency is profiled and this is what Norman has to say about it:

After four general election victories, can the region’s lone Lib Dem fend off the Tories and cling on his largely rural constituency for a fifth time? On the surface the signs are ominous. In 2015, his majority dropped to just over 4,000. In last year’s referendum, North Norfolk voted to leave the European Union by 59%. And while the Greens are getting behind Lamb, Ukip has pulled out of the race and urged supporters to vote Tory to “rid ourselves of our Liberal Democrat MP”.

But Lamb – who defied his party line and abstained on the vote to trigger Article 50 – says Brexit doesn’t come up on the doorstep very much and “the majority of people you talk to don’t mention it at all”. The clumsy Ukip intervention has galvanised non-Tories who “don’t like that sort of attitude and language”, he claims.  He is also finding it “very easy to persuade people who in the past voted Labour to support us this time”. And above all, he is optimistic that his personal connections with voters will win the day.

“In a way, this is a contest between the Conservative national message … and a growing sense that a Tory landslide is pretty much an inevitability. So do we really want a one-party state? And do people actually want to lose an MP who has a got a long track record of active campaigning?” he asks.

“Interestingly, as you go round talking to people on the doorsteps and in town centres and outside schools, a lot of people are saying ‘I will vote for you because of what you have done here or what you’ve done for our family’. Yesterday, someone said ‘You saved my daughter’s life’. It was a case of an eating disorder where they weren’t being listened to and I intervened on their behalf and got things moving.

“A lot of people say ‘We’ll vote for you, we want to keep you as our MP’. And this is a side of politics that the commentators often don’t see.”

“The best MP in the region”

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A tale of two buses

 

Apparently that bus now looks like this:

 

Which might explain why Boris Johnson got a bit confused yesterday on Peston on Sunday.

Would you like to see him claiming that the Conservative manifesto promises £350m a week for the NHS? Of course you would.

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Tories in social care meltdown

It appears that the brutal Tory approach to social care is not going down so well with its own candidates.

From PoliticsHome:

One candidate said the author of the proposal “should be shot”, The Times reports.

Another candidate standing for re-election said it is “very hard to justify” the plan. “This plan was coming up on the doorstep this morning and there has not even yet been much coverage it. It is very hard to justify, because people with a house of £300,000 could have a liability now of £200,000. I thought the campaign was just right until yesterday,” they said.

Bob Blackman, the Tory candidate in Harrow East, told the Evening Standard: “I broadly support the policy but clearly there needs to be a limit on how much any individual or family should be required to pay.”

A third candidate said the plan was “not great. Theresa should have stuck with Dilnot and an insurance scheme.”

Norman Lamb said:

The Tory high command is now in meltdown. It realises it has misjudged the British people, who don’t like this cold, mean-spirited Conservative approach to our most vulnerable citizens.

First Theresa May was revealed as the lunch-snatcher. Now she is pushing a Dementia tax. This will go down as her poll tax – not only a colossal political miscalculation, but also cruel, showing that she just doesn’t care.

No wonder the Tories are panicking. The Liberal Democrats will continue to campaign to give social care the extra funding it needs, properly funded with a penny on income tax to pay for it, and to give Britain a brighter future.

The Tory plan was also condemned by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, who said:

A life-time cap on care costs, as proposed by the Dilnot Commission, is a solution to the insurance problem. It is effectively a form of social insurance, funded from general taxation. It may also make it easier for a private market to emerge that would offer insurance against care costs up to the cap.

By contrast, the Conservative plan makes no attempt to deal with the fundamental challenge of social care funding. That is the big problem – not how many people might win or lose.

In response to that, Norman said:

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Lib Dems would boost mental health care with £1 billion investment

Liberal Democrats have stated that £1 billion of the party’s additional health funding would be spent tackling the “historic injustice” faced by people with mental ill health.

Last weekend, we unveiled a Five Point NHS and Care Recovery Plan to increase funding for health and social care services, including a penny on income tax to provide a £6 billion funding boost.

Today we are saying that £1 billion of this extra money would be ring-fenced as dedicated funding for mental health services.

This would help to deliver on 12 key priorities, including improving waiting time standards for mental health care on the NHS and providing support for pregnant women and young people suffering from mental health problems.

We would  also set out to end the inappropriate use of force against people with mental ill health, end out of area placements for mental health patients and prioritise national action to reduce the number of suicides.

Norman Lamb said:

The Liberal Democrats are committed to ending the historic injustice against people with mental ill health.

Under the Conservative government, services have been stretched to breaking point at a time when the prevalence of mental ill health appears to be rising.

Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have outlined how they will fund mental health services. We’ve made it clear that our priorities will be funded from our ambitious plan to inject £6bn a year into the NHS with an additional penny on income tax.

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Yesterday’s Press Releases in review: 1 May 2017

It may have been a Bank Holiday, but the Press Team never rest. Here are some of the releases they sent out yesterday that aren’t covered elsewhere in our pages;

Farron: FAZ report on May’s Juncker dinner show this Govt has no clue on Brexit

According to damning reports in the German press on Theresa May’s dinner with Juncker last week, EU sources believe there is now more than 50% chance of a disorderly Brexit, while May has made clear to the European Commission she fully expects to be re-elected as Prime Minister.

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron commented:

These reports blow a

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Norman Lamb’s speech in health debate at Liberal Democrat Conference

Here s Norman Lamb’s speech from this afternoon’s health debate:

First, we condemn Theresa May for her refusal to guarantee the rights of EU citizens working in our NHS and care services to stay in this country.

We value the vital contribution you make.

We demand that their right is guaranteed.

The Budget completely failed to address the dire financial situation facing the NHS and care.

Whatever your politics, it makes no sense to spend a reducing share of our national income on the NHS as demand rises at 4% every year

Whatever your politics, it makes no sense that in 2018/19 spending per head in real terms will actually fall as pressures grow

Whatever your politics, surely we can’t tolerate over a million older people with care needs left unmet.

Yet this is the reality today.

And it’s not just numbers or statistics – it’s the impact on people which is so disturbing. There are real consequences for families up and down our country.

This is what the brilliant charity, Young Minds, reports from its Parents’ Helpline:

‘The helpline receives calls every day from parents who are desperately trying to get support from Children’s Mental Health Services. We regularly hear from parents who can’t even get a referral or who have been waiting months for an initial assessment and whose children’s conditions have got worse during that time. Children who have started to self harm or become suicidal during the wait – or who’ve dropped out of school, which not only has a big impact on their own education but also means that one of the parents has to give up their job to look after them.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: Time for honesty about future funding of our NHS

Liberal Democrats have been talking a lot about health and social care this week. In the Yorkshire Post, Norman Lamb argues for an urgent change of direction to give the NHS a sustainable future which meets our needs.

First he seems out the crisis facing the NHS.

But it seems this Conservative Government has become increasingly ambivalent to the state of our health service. In Yorkshire, vital A&E wards in Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Scarborough are all at risk of being closed or downgraded – it’s the same over the border at Darlington. Communities are set to face even longer waits for emergency care, including those in rural areas who may soon have to travel hours to receive treatment. These changes are happening for a simple reason – this Conservative government is failing to give the NHS and care services the cash they need to cope with rising demand. To make matters worse, local people on the ground are not being given a say into these decisions which will have a huge impact on their lives. The stark reality is that we are seeing the gradual downgrading of our health service taking place behind closed doors.

He attacked the use of well-paid consultancy firms drawing up cuts in services with no consultation of the public.

So what is the solution? It’s two-fold. First of all a cross party commission:

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Lamb and Mulholland to abstain on Article 50 vote – what does this mean for the party?

In news which should surprise nobody, both Norman Lamb and Greg Mulholland have said today that they will be abstaining rather than voting against the Article 50 Bill.

The three-line whip tells MPs to vote against if there is no referendum on the final deal with an option to remain in the EU.

Greg Mulholland explained his decision to the Yorkshire Post:

“The outcome of these negotiations is hugely important to the British economy… So I support there being a referendum on the terms of exit so the British people are the ones who decide what our relationship with these nations will be,” he said. ” as I have made clear, including to constituents, I do think that these negotiations should be allowed to commence and that I would not block them doing so, so I will not be voting against Article 50. “What is crucial is that all MPs scrutinise the progress of the negotiations and continue to push the Government to ensure British businesses have access to the biggest market in the world. “I will support sensible amendments to the Bill to ensure the Government does keep Parliament and the British people informed, that our NHS is protected and that British businesses do continue to be allowed to trade with European nations without damaging and costly tariffs and barriers that would harm them and the British economy. I also believe that we should seek to agree that British people living on the continent should be allowed to stay and that EU workers who moved here because we were part of the EU should also be permitted to stay and contribute to our economy and public services.”

Norman wrote about his decision in an article on his website

I fully believe that Remain voters and politicians across all parties must play a key role in influencing negotiations, to ensure that we avoid the damage to the economy and the country’s international status that a Hard Brexit would bring. My personal preference is for the Government to fight for full access to, and preferably membership of, the Single Market, and I will continue, alongside my Liberal Democrat colleagues, to seek to achieve this. I continue to give my full support to Open Britain’s campaign “to keep Britain tolerant, inclusive and open to Europe and the world”.

The Liberal Democrats are united in our opposition to a damaging hard Brexit, united on the Single Market, and united in our determination to make sure the British people have the final say over the final Brexit deal. I fully support our leader Tim Farron and my colleagues inside and outside parliament in campaigning for these outcomes.

However, I have already committed, in public, not to block the triggering of Article 50. It’s no secret that I have an honest disagreement with the party’s position to vote against the triggering of Article 50 unless the Government guarantees a referendum on the terms of the final Brexit deal. Given the vote of the British people on June 23rd, I am not prepared to vote to block the triggering of Article 50 when the bill is brought before Parliament.

Irrespective of my views of the outcome of the referendum, there is a democratic principle at stake, and I feel very strongly about this. When we voted to hold the referendum, we did not set out any preconditions for triggering Article 50, in the event of a vote to leave the EU. I do not see how we can introduce them now. I have therefore made the difficult decision to abstain on this vote.

No Liberal Democrat MP will vote to trigger Article 50

So what does this mean for the party?

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Norman Lamb leads calls for National Convention to resolve NHS funding crisis

Norman Lamb has co-ordinateda cross-party group of MPs to call for a national convention on health and care to resolve the crisis in NHS funding.

Norman said:

The health and social care system in England is facing unprecedented challenges. Failing to find a solution to this crisis puts some of the most vulnerable people at risk – frail and elderly people in need of care services, disabled people who need support and people with long-term illnesses, particularly those suffering from mental ill health.

Building a sustainable health and care system that can provide high-quality care can’t be realised without putting aside party political point-scoring.

The public is sick and tired of the NHS and care system being treated like a political football.  People have had enough, and are crying out for an honest discussion and bold solutions to these challenges.

It speaks volumes that so many Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum are backing this initiative.  At Prime Minister’s Questions, I will urge Theresa May to recognise the gravity of the situation we are facing, and to agree to meet with us to listen to our proposal.

Norman has persuaded an illustrious group of MPs and former health secretaries to back his call. They include the  Conservative former health minister Dan Poulter MP and Labour former shadow care minister Liz Kendall MP. It is also supported by four Select Committee Chairs – Sarah Wollaston MP (Health Committee), Meg Hillier MP (Public Accounts Committee), Clive Betts MP (Communities and Local Government Committee) and Frank Field (Work and Pensions Committee) – along with former Health Secretaries Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn.

The full statement says:

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Now, Theresa, you weren’t really the driving force behind mental health crisis care improvements, now, were you?

So, Theresa May gave an interview to Sky’s Sophy Ridge today in which she gave the biggest signal yet that leaving the single market is very much on the agenda.

In time honoured tradition, there’s a nice petition you can sign if you agree with Tim Farron that “reckless plans to leave the Single Market would make us all poorer.”

But it’s something else she said in her interview that grabbed my attention. She had moved from saying not much actually on Brexit to a very small amount on the NHS to talking about her speech tomorrow. Apparently mental health is a priority of hers. Who knew? The Prime Minister said:

If I can give you an example of something I have already done, when I was in the Home Office one of the issues that concerned me was people in mental health crisis being taken to a police cell as a place of last resort.  It wasn’t good for them, it wasn’t good for the police.  Actually we’ve changed that and we’ve seen the number for whom that happens coming down by 80% and that was a small sum of money that the NHS has been able to put in in order to ensure that there are more, for example more and different places of safety for people …

“I have already done.” Really?

Well, let’s look at an unbiased source, shall we? The Government website which announced this initiative back in 2014 didn’t mention Theresa May anywhere. The main names were Liberal Democrat ministers Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb. Yes, there was Home Office involvement, but it was Lamb who had done all the work bringing it together across government. He was the driving force behind all the mental health measures introduced by the Coalition Government.

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What the Party said yesterday…

The Liberal Democrat Voice team now appear to be on the Party’s press release list – it wasn’t like that in my day (mind you, there were dinosaurs then…). It dawns on me that, for campaigners out there, and the generally curious, it might be interesting to see what the Party is telling the world…

Commenting on the Govenrment’s announcement that there is to be extra investment in cyber security Liberal Democrat Shadow Defence Secretary Judith Jolly said:

It is crucial that more is done to increase our cyber security in a world where attacks on computer systems are growing ever

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What Lib Dems have been doing on World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day organised by the World Health Organisation. This year’s theme is around offering support to those in psychological distress – mental health first aid.

Norman Lamb has written for the Guardian arguing that there should be parity between physical and mental health in the workplace with employers being required to provide mental health first aid. He said that he had recently done a training course in mental health first aid.

Employers could find that investing in mental health support saves them money given that mental ill health accounts for 70 million days of sickness absence every year.

How can we possibly justify leaving the law as it is? So far as the NHS is concerned the government has committed to the principle of “parity of esteem” between physical and mental illness. Surely they must apply the same logic to the workplace.

Put simply, this is a call for every workplace to have trained mental health first-aiders just like they have physical first-aiders. A number of employers are taking action. WHSmith has committed to match the number of staff that are physical first-aiders with mental health first-aiders over the next 12 months.

There’s a growing momentum for change, and hundreds more businesses across a range of sectors are implementing mental health training for staff from Unilever and Crossrail to Channel 4. Employers have a duty of care to their workforce, and with the scale of mental issues in this country much more needs to be done. The government must act now to ensure every employee has access to mental health support at work.

In a tweet, Tim Farron called for the NHS to be given the resources it needs to tackle mental ill health:

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Lib Dems to consider NHS tax #ldconf

The Liberal Democrats are to set up an independent expert panel to consider the case for a dedicated NHS and care tax,  Norman Lamb will announce in his Conference speech at Brighton later today.

Members of the ‘New Beveridge Group’ will include Dr. Clare Gerada, former President of the Royal College of GPs, Prof. Dinesh Bhugra, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and current President of the World Psychiatric Association, Peter Carter, the former General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, and the chief executive of the Patients’ Association, Katherine Murphy.

It will report its recommendations to the party in six months’ time, presumably in time for Spring Conference.

Speaking to party members in Brighton, Lib Dem Health spokesperson Norman Lamb will say:

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Recent Comments

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    "Agreed Joe. What’s more shocking is the complete absence of any bold statement of the party standing for civil liberties and free speech. " Not...
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    Don’t worry folks. After Brexit the U.K. is going to become an exporting “Super Power”. Who says so? Why, none other than a certain Dr...
  • User AvatarNeil Sandison 21st Aug - 5:24pm
    Having been through a few recessions with governments of different political hues all have put the brakes on at times of fiscal crisis .The only...
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 21st Aug - 5:10pm
    In order to bring in the freedom theme and the logo how about "Lib Dems - Free as a bird"
  • User AvatarDavid Evershed 21st Aug - 4:52pm
    I strongly agree with Joe Otten. Plus it's worth pointing out that Lib Dems were in office from 2010-2015, not just the Conservatives. We should...
  • User AvatarJohn Barrett 21st Aug - 4:29pm
    Paul - That was a quote from Roland that I was commenting on. I just assumed that was correct. Maybe that's a dangerous thing to...