Tag Archives: norman lamb

Norman is right: Common Market 2.0 was the compromise the Lib Dems should have made

I have immense respect for Norman Lamb.

While some of the language he has deployed in the last day and a half has been a little strong for my liking, I sympathise completely with his frustrations.

On Monday night, four Liberal Democrat MPs joined dozens of pro-referendum MPs from other parties in voting down the Brexit option being pushed by Nick Boles, referred to as ‘Common Market 2.0’, or sometimes as ‘Norway plus’. Only two Liberal Democrats – Lamb and former leader Tim Farron – voted in favour of Common Market 2.0.

In so doing, these four Lib Dem MPs spurned the opportunity to win a majority for a Brexit outcome that is 90% of what membership of the EU is.

The Common Market 2.0 plan would maintain Britain’s membership of the single market. It would preserve the four freedoms of that market, including freedom of movement. The plan includes a customs arrangement that would avoid the need for a hard border on the island of Ireland and would allow the UK to continue to benefit from the EU’s trade deals with other countries. The only real drawback to the plan is that it would require the UK to follow single market rules and regulations without having any formal say on how those rules are made.

Common Market 2.0 is inferior to membership of the EU, but not by very much. Moreover, this plan has a chance of bringing our divided nation back together. It gives leave voters what they want, by ensuring the UK leaves the EU, while respecting those of us who voted remain and want to protect our existing rights.

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+++Norman Lamb says he’s considering resigning the party whip

From the Guardian Politics Live:

The senior Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb (he was not far off being elected leader in 2015) has told the BBC that he is considering resigning the party whip because he is so angry about how the Lib Dems acted in the indicative votes last night. Lamb voted for the customs union amendment, but around half of colleagues voted against it along with other MPs who did not want it to succeed because they want a second referendum instead.

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Layla running for President and Norman to join TIG?

The Sunday Times has an article today (£) in which a highly worrying quote is attributed to Norman Lamb:

I want to be part of this movement. This is an opportunity that cannot be missed. We have to play our cards in giving it its best chance of succeeding.

Is he about to join TIG?

Well, I’d love to know what he was asked and in what context. By movement, he could mean the general prospect of this leading to a massive realignment of politics. He could be talking about the movement that this party’s strategy wants to drive.

Norman would be missed if he left us, but several senior sources have told me this weekend that they think it is unlikely that he will.

One said:

He is such a passionate Liberal and so loyal to the Party.

He has always been really good at working together across parties. I really wouldn’t want to lose him. However, his comments are not out of step with the feeling among our MPs generally. They think that the TIG project is just the start and that there are great opportunities for us from what may unfold in politics in the short to medium term.

The Sunday Times report has this to say about relationships between the two groups:

Meanwhile, a merger with the Liberal Democrats appears unlikely. Many of TIG’s founders believe the taint of the coalition years makes a formal alliance with the party politically toxic. What they instead want is for the party’s 11 MPs to join their new one, and they have been sounded out by Leslie and Berger about switching.

Lib Dems, on the other hand, feel protective of their party’s machinery, membership and history, and will not abandon it all for an upstart group with no official status and no formal policy platform. Some even feel uncomfortable about the prospect of joining forces with former Tories. “I worked with Anna Soubry during the coalition,” said one. “I like her, but she’s not a liberal. In many ways, she’s one of the last genuine Thatcherites left.”

I suspect that first paradoxical paragraph is an accurate reflection on what some members of TIG think of us. But it doesn’t make sense to say that  we’re toxic because of the coalition while accepting two MPs who were part of it, one of whom as a minister.  And then to say that we should join them. That’s about as all over the place as it gets. However, we have amongst our MPs three excellent and highly skilled former Cabinet ministers and two excellent and highly skilled former ministers. TIG is bound to be hoping that they can get someone to move across, but I see no indications that this will happen.

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12 February 2019 – today’s press releases

Digital exclusion shows Universal Credit not fit for purpose

Responding to reports that almost half a million people needed help to apply for the government’s flagship Universal Credit benefit online, DWP Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

The Liberal Democrats raised the issue of digital exclusion with Conservative ministers months ago, but these concerns clearly haven’t been taken on board. This underlines the need to look again at Universal Credit, which is clearly not creating the simpler and more accessible benefits system that was intended.

It is failing the very people it was supposed to be designed to help. Now the Government has acknowledged

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6 February 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Thousands dying waiting for social care as Govt ignores crisis
  • Lib Dems: 50 days until Brexit cliff-edge
  • Greg Clark’s warning exposes recklessness of Tory Govt
  • Lib Dems: Govt must investigate civil service support for Tory meetings
  • Lib Dems threaten veto to force Govt u-turn on knife crime

Thousands dying waiting for social care as Govt ignores crisis

Responding to the research by Age UK showing that more than 50,000 older people have now died waiting in vain for care during the 700 days since the Government first said it would publish a Social Care Green Paper, Former Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb said:

These figures

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7 January 2019 – today’s press releases

Back to our normal scheduling, I’m pleased to say, so we’ll be publishing on weekdays and Sundays from here until the next Parliamentary recess. That said, the Lords hasn’t indicating that it’s taking one yet, so it could be a long session…

  • Fall in car sales shows extent of Brexit damage
  • Lamb: NHS plan fatally undermined by insufficient resources
  • Manufacturing companies let down by blundering Conservative Government
  • Govt failing their duty over vital Brexit legislation

Fall in car sales shows extent of Brexit damage

Responding to the news that UK car sales have fallen by the biggest amount since the days of the financial crisis, Liberal …

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13 December 2018 – (not just) today’s press releases

You’d think that putting the day’s piece to bed after 11.30 p.m. should cover everything. But no, the Press Teams both in London and Cardiff had one last shot in the dying moments of yesterday, so I’m including them with today’s batch. Enjoy…

  • Theresa May Must Give the People the Final Say – Welsh Lib Dems
  • PM must now change course and offer people the final say
  • Soaring numbers of children trapped in temporary accommodation is shameful
  • Welsh Lib Dems Welcome Prostate Cancer MRI Scans
  • Govt must set out plans to avoid NHS winter crisis
  • Lib Dems demand MPs holidays are cancelled to vote on Brexit
  • Cable:

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12 December 2018 – today’s press releases

So, another day when much has happened, but little has obviously changed. It’s a bit like ‘Waiting for Godot’, in that Brexit is supposedly coming, but never actually seems to turn up…

  • Cable: Conservative spat won’t resolve deepening divisions
  • Agreement Reached Between new First Minister and Kirsty Williams
  • Lamb: Labour’s abstention on cannabis vote ‘deeply depressing’

Cable: Conservative spat won’t resolve deepening divisions

Responding to the reports that the Prime Minister will face a vote of confidence in her leadership, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said:

Theresa May’s deal is a total mess and is the latest backdrop for yet another Conservative meltdown over

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11 December 2018 – today’s press releases

Amidst the chaos that is Westminster at the moment, at least somebody was trying to do something liberal. Admittedly, it wasn’t successful, but as another step towards a more liberal drugs policy, it was certainly worth the effort. Otherwise, another day of national humiliation for our country, as Theresa May found herself child-locked into a limousine. It’s a metaphor for something, isn’t it?…

So, what has gone out in the name of the Party today…

  • Lamb: Prohibition of cannabis is causing harm across the country
  • Cable: Govt economic analysis on Brexit misleading
  • EU confirms May has no room to renegotiate Brexit
  • Lamb: It is

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6 December 2018 – today’s press releases

You begin to sense the uncertainty emanating from Whitehall, but there’s plenty going on elsewhere in the governance jungle…

  • Brexit plans could lead to European Windrush scandal
  • Mental Health Review must lead to more investment
  • Universal Credit Causing Housing Crisis – Welsh Lib Dems

Brexit plans could lead to European Windrush scandal

Responding to the Department for Exiting the EU’s policy paper on Citizens’ Rights, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Home Affairs Ed Davey said:

The Government has finally admitted that free movement of labour won’t end this March.

The fact they tried to sneak this out shows yet again that people can’t trust anything this

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29 November 2018 – today’s press releases (the 500 miles edition)

Later than usual this evening, as I’ve spent the evening at a Proclaimers concert, courtesy of my lovely wife… it wasn’t 500 miles away…

  • PM leaving us in the dark on immigration
  • Cable: May “running scared” of real opposition
  • Lib Dems warn BBC that ‘Brexit debate’ may breach Ofcom code
  • Government has let down victims over second Leveson Inquiry

PM leaving us in the dark on immigration

Theresa May has today refused to confirm when the immigration white paper will be published. She was asked by Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb after Ministers originally promised to publish the white paper last year, but that deadline has …

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22 November 2018 – today’s press releases (part 1)

Our Press Team have been incredibly busy today, so much so that I’m going to have to deal with this in two parts, both of which are going to be larger than usual. So, without further ado…

  • Lib Dems: Levels of homelessness an ‘absolute disgrace’ (see article here)
  • Tory paralysis failing domestic abuse victims
  • Health Sec knows UK in critical condition
  • PM’s deal goes from fudge to farce
  • Tory bucket list for pupils ‘an insult’
  • Lamb: Tories must not neglect young people with mental illness
  • (see article here)

  • Davey: Reducing climate-changing gases demands real leadership

Tory paralysis failing domestic abuse victims

Responding to official statistics published …

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2 November 2018 – today’s press releases

It’s a sign of how much is going on ‘under the radar’ whilst Brexit unfolds that, of today’s press releases, only one is obviously Brexit-related…

Cost of Brexit spiralling out of control

Responding to the Government’s admission that Operation Brock will now cost £30 million, £10 million more than was previously stated, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Brexit, Tom Brake MP said:

The cost of Brexit is continuing to spiral out of control. The Conservative Government’s plan to turn Kent into a car park, Operation Brock, is now costing the tax payer an additional ten million more than the figure they gave in the

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29 October 2018 – today’s press releases (part one)

Budget Day always generates a lot of press coverage, and this year is no exception, but there have been plenty of other issues worthy of comment. Indeed, there has been so much that I’ve been forced to do this in two parts…

Welsh Lib Dems – Budget a Golden Opportunity

Ahead of the UK Government’s budget, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have urged Chancellor Phillip Hammond to seize the opportunity the budget presents to end austerity and create a fairer, more prosperous Wales.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are calling on the UK Government to stop Brexit, fix Britain’s broken tax system, fund public services …

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17 October 2018 – today’s press releases

Moran to move amendment to deliver votes at 16

Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran will today move an amendment to the Overseas Electors Bill to lower the voting age to 16 for UK citizens living abroad.

The Overseas Electors Bill, which proposes extending the right of UK citizens living abroad to vote in UK elections, will be debated at the Public Bill Committee today .

Ms Moran is moving her amendment in the wake of the Welsh Assembly supporting plans last week to introduce votes at 16.

Ms Moran said:

If we are

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LibLink: Norman Lamb Don’t let science suffer as the collateral damage in Brexit negotiations

Norman Lamb has written for Politics Home about the dangers to science from Brexit. He’s holding a debate today on the issue:

In today’s House of Commons debate, I want to get answers from the Science Minister on whether an accord on science and innovation is going to be struck, and whether the groundwork can be laid so that we can keep vital science collaboration afloat in a no-deal scenario. I also want to hear about whether he is making progress to strike a deal on participation in Horizon Europe—the 100 billion euro programme that will replace Horizon 2020. The Minister

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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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