Tag Archives: wera hobhouse

WATCH: Wera Hobhouse asks PM to support her bill to tackle workplace sexual harassment

Yesterday, Wera Hobhouse asked the Prime Minister to ensure her bill aimed at tackling workplace sexual harassment has a safe passage through Parliament. The Government has already agreed to support it, but it needs to free up the parliamentary time for it to complete its stages before the end of the session in the Spring.

Watch her here:

In response, the Prime Minister’s words were warm but he didn’t actually give a specific commitment:

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Wera Hobhouse’s bill to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace passes Committee stage

We’re now into the annual 16 days of activism against gender based violence which runs from the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November through to International Human Rights Day on 10th December.

We will be bringing you a series of articles to mark this important annual event, including a horrific story of the death of a young woman in Scotland after she was let own by all of the services who should have been there to protect her.

Today we report on the Committee Stage of Wera Hobhouse’s Bill to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace, which took place on Wednesday. It would make employers liable for sexual harassment of their employers by third parties, eg contractors, as well as their co-workers.

Introducing the Bill, Wera said:

Workplace sexual harassment is a blight on our society. It remains widespread and vastly under-reported. Half of British women and a fifth of men have been sexually harassed at work or a place of study. Too many people have been left to suffer for too long. The question of whether employers have taken adequate steps to prevent sexual harassment arises only as a defence if an incident of sexual harassment has already occurred. Employers are therefore not required to take actions to prevent sexual harassment. That leaves individuals with the burden of challenging it.

The Bill, which passed its Second Reading last month, introduces two new measures to strengthen protections for employees against harassment. The first is the introduction of explicit protections for employees from workplace harassment by third parties, such as customers and clients. The second is the introduction of a duty on employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent their employees from experiencing sexual harassment.

Fellow Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine emphasised why the Bill was needed:

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Sarah Olney (and other Lib Dems) on the problem of night flights

Sarah Olney was granted an adjournment debate yesterday, so took the opportunity to visit an issue that plagues her constituency – aircraft noise, especially at night. She was joined by her neighbouring MP, Munira Wilson, whose Twickenham constituency is affected even more. Christine Jardine and Wera Hobhouse also chipped in. Who knew so many Lib Dem constituencies had this problem?

You can read the full debate in Hansard, but here are some highlights.

Sarah Olney:

Night flights are the most intrusive form of aircraft noise and there is clear evidence that they harm both the physical and mental health of residents who live under flightpaths. This summer, the delays and chaos at Heathrow airport resulted in an increased number of flights landing through the night. For my constituents and for many others across west and south-west London, that disturbance resulted in countless sleepless nights.

This disturbance is completely avoidable. Night flights are by no means essential for airport operations. These flights can and should be moved and it is within the Government’s remit to ensure that that happens.

I therefore have two asks of the Department for Transport. My primary call is for a ban on scheduled flights at Heathrow airport between 11 pm and 6 am.  That is the only way we can be sure that residents will not continue to suffer from noise disruption. If the Government will not commit to that, they must commission a full independent analysis of the impact of night flights on the health of local communities, the environment and the UK economy to inform future policy development.

Munira Wilson:

My constituency of Twickenham is, of course, that bit closer to Heathrow and further along the flightpath, so I wholeheartedly welcome and support the two asks that she is making of the Minister today about trying to balance the economic benefits of night flights against the health risks and the distress that they cause to constituents. Does she agree that the Government could start by looking at extending the night-time restriction to 10 pm, from 11.30 pm, given the large number of frequent late-night departures that are blighting my constituents’ sleep?

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2 November 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Sunak at COP27: PM embarrassed by Boris Johnson’s attendance
  • Welsh Government Must Do More to Combat Fuel Poverty
  • Matt Hancock should resign and trigger by-election
  • Welsh Conservatives Dysfunctional, Divided and Ineffective
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats – Welsh Government Must Change Their Mind on COVID Inquiry

Sunak at COP27: PM embarrassed by Boris Johnson’s attendance

Responding to the news that Rishi Sunak will now be attending COP, Liberal Democrat Climate Change Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said:

This whole debacle has shown the environment is simply not a priority for Rishi Sunak. He’s only going after being embarrassed by Boris Johnson’s attendance.

We need action rather than just attendance from the Prime Minister. Building more renewables, the cheapest and most popular form of energy, and insulating our cold and draughty homes will accelerate progress towards net-zero, cut energy bills and increase the UK’s energy security.

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31 October 2022 – today’s press releases

  • COP27: Boris Johnson embarrassing Rishi Sunak into attendance
  • Braverman: One rule for Conservative Ministers and another rule for everyone else
  • Scandal-ridden Home Secretary has no credibility left
  • Suella Braverman Risks Inciting Violence – Jane Dodds

COP27: Boris Johnson embarrassing Rishi Sunak into attendance

As Rishi Sunak refuses to confirm his attendance at COP27, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change, Wera Hobhouse MP said:

It shouldn’t take Boris Johnson going to COP to embarrass Rishi Sunak into doing the right thing.

He must immediately confirm his attendance at COP27 and appoint a climate minister to the Cabinet.

We cannot wait another second to tackle the climate crisis. Rishi Sunak must act before he destroys our country’s reputation and the planet even more.

Braverman: One rule for Conservative Ministers and another rule for everyone else

Responding to the Home Secretary’s letter to the Home Affairs Committee, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Wendy Chamberlain MP, said:

This was not a one-off error, the Home Secretary has admitted breaking the rules on an industrial scale. Deliberately sending a sensitive government document to a friend without clearance is completely beyond the pale.

If the Home Secretary wants to maintain even a shred of her dignity and credibility, she must resign now and apologise for her violations of the public’s trust.

Unless Suella Braverman resigns for the second time, the Conservatives will be putting their own party ahead of this country’s security. By reappointing her, Rishi Sunak showed there is one rule for Conservative Ministers and another rule for everyone else.

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28-30 October 2022 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Lib Dems call for Suella Braverman to hand over texts and emails for future inquiry
  • Jane Dodds – The Housing Sector in Wales is Broken
  • COP27: Nadine Dorries as the voice of reason?
  • Liz Truss phone hacking story: Urgent investigation needed
  • Suella Braverman: Government must publish legal advice on detention of asylum seekers

Lib Dems call for Suella Braverman to hand over texts and emails for future inquiry

The Liberal Democrats have written to the Home Office Permanent Secretary, asking him to facilitate the handover of Suella Braverman’s text messages, WhatsApps, and emails for use in any future inquiry into her misconduct.

Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael raised concerns that the embattled Home Secretary could take advantage of a loophole exploited by Boris Johnson during an inquiry into the funding of the refurbishment of the Downing Street flat. The former Prime Minister claimed that he had been unable to hand over important messages because he had changed his phone.

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael said:

We need an independent inquiry with access to all the relevant evidence, to establish the true scale of Suella Braverman’s rule breaking.

We saw how Boris Johnson and other Conservative ministers have tried time and again to duck accountability and cover up the truth.

Suella Braverman must be required to hand over all relevant evidence now before it is too late.

It took less than a day for Rishi Sunak’s government to be mired in the same old Conservative sleaze. His promise of ‘integrity’ was broken within hours of entering Downing Street. If he was serious about integrity he would commit to an independent inquiry now.

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19 October 2022 – today’s press releases (part 2)

And here are the rest (at the time of writing)…

  • Liberal Democrats Press Conservatives on HS2 Funding for Wales
  • Braverman departure: a “carousel of Conservative chaos”
  • Fracking vote: The Conservatives will not be forgiven
  • This Conservative soap opera needs to end now
  • Conservatives Cannot be Trusted to Maintain Fracking Ban if they Came to Power in Wales

Liberal Democrats Press Conservatives on HS2 Funding for Wales

During today’s Wales Office questions in Westminster, the Liberal Democrats continued to press the UK Conservative Government to release the £5 billion of consequential funding owed to Wales from HS2.

The HS2 rail line is currently classed by the UK Government as an “England and Wales project” despite not a single metre of the track being located in Wales and economic impact assessments showing that the rail line will result in a slight net loss to the Welsh economy. As a result, the UK Government is avoiding paying out over £5 billion in consequential funding to the Welsh Government, which could be spent on rail transport in Wales itself.

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19 October 2022 – today’s press releases (part 1)

It’s been an “interesting” day, to say the least, and there have been so many press releases coming out of HQ that, rather than try to get them into one post, it’s probably easier to do it in two. Think of it as a display of governance and organisation…

  • Inflation figures: Truss must confirm rise in pensions and benefits today
  • Welsh Liberal Democrats Respond to Proposed Boundary Changes
  • PMQs: Truss refuses to increase support for carers
  • Fracking vote: Conservative MPs must “show some backbone”
  • Triple lock: Truss dragged kicking and screaming into protecting pensioners

Inflation figures: Truss must confirm rise in pensions and benefits today

In response to the announcement of an inflation rise of 10.1%, Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokesperson Sarah Olney said:

In the midst of this cost of living catastrophe, pensioners and those relying on benefits cannot be undercut and left to struggle further.

Liz Truss must act today to reassure the public and confirm in Parliament that pensions and benefits will rise to match inflation.

Not one penny can be lost, to do so would be gross negligence and failure of our most vulnerable members of society.

Welsh Liberal Democrats Respond to Proposed Boundary Changes

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29 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: Truss must cancel Conservative conference to deal with economic crisis
  • Revealed: 32 crumbling hospital buildings including in PM’s backyard
  • Truss in complete denial on BBC Local Radio round
  • Liz Truss refuses to guarantee people’s pensions are safe
  • Fracking interview: Truss shows contempt for rural communities

Davey: Truss must cancel Conservative conference to deal with economic crisis

Ed Davey demands Liz Truss and her ministers spend time fixing the budget as new research finds Government energy bill support will be wiped out by higher mortgage bills

Typical family faces £2,000 rise in mortgage bills following last week’s disastrous budget

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has called on Liz Truss to cancel the Conservative party conference this weekend, and instead recall Parliament to vote to fix the disastrous mini-budget. The party is also calling on the Government to bring forward a rescue package for homeowners unable to pay higher mortgage bills as a result of last week’s budget.

Ahead of the energy price cap rising on Saturday (1st October), new analysis by the Liberal Democrats reveals the predicted rise in mortgage bills is more than double what the Government has offered to support households with their energy bills.

The Government has pledged to freeze energy prices at £2,500 for the average household, which would have equated to around £1,000 support for the average household.

However, the fallout from last week’s budget is predicted to force the Bank of England to raise interest rates to as much as 5% next year, costing the average mortgage borrower on a Standard Variable Rate a staggering £2,100 per year. Those on an average tracker mortgage would face an even higher annual increase of £3,000 per year if interest rates rise to the predicted 5% next year.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

There is no way the Conservative Party can hold their conference whilst the British economy nosedives. The arrogance of Liz Truss and Conservative Ministers is frankly an insult to millions who now face higher bills as a direct result of last week’s budget. From this weekend they will abandon their posts in Downing Street, leaving a mess behind them and heading for the cocktail parties and mutual back-patting of the classic conference season.

In one fell swoop, Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng crashed the economy, trashed the pound and paved the way for record interest rate rises.

Innocent mortgage borrowers will be left to pick up the bill of this gross incompetence. It is time Parliament is recalled and new measures passed to save families and pensioners unable to cope with this mortgage crisis. This botched budget cannot survive any longer.

Revealed: 32 crumbling hospital buildings including in PM’s backyard

  • Dangerous roofs not set to be replaced until 2035, Freedom of Information request reveals.
  • Hospitals in the Prime Minister’s and Health Secretary’s local areas have roofs at risk of collapse.
  • Liberal Democrats call on Government to fix the budget to save NHS from real-terms cuts amid rising inflation

32 hospital buildings across the country are fitted with dangerous roofs at risk of sudden collapse, data uncovered by the Liberal Democrats have revealed.

The Freedom of Information request has revealed that 32 buildings at 19 NHS Trusts are fitted with reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) which is said to be ‘structurally weaker’, ‘lightweight’ and ‘cheaper’ than a regular fitting. NHS England has also revealed that the dangerous roofs are not set to be fully replaced until 2035.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn, near Liz Truss’s constituency, is the worst in the country with four buildings fitted with the dangerous material. The chief executive of the hospital has previously likened the material to a “chocolate Aero bar” with bubbles that could break and collapse at any point. Liz Truss this morning refused to guarantee that the hospital would be fixed in an interview with BBC Norfolk, adding that she couldn’t make any promises on the Health Secretary’s behalf.

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22 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Fracking: Rural areas treated like guinea pigs
  • Interest rates: Homeowners being punished by Government failure to control inflation
  • Recession: Blame lies with Conservative MPs
  • NHS announcement an ‘A, B, C of failure’
  • Lib Dems table motion to cancel Parliament recess and scrutinise mini Budget
  • Kwarteng growth plan: Shocking admission of Conservative failure

Fracking: Rural areas treated like guinea pigs

Responding to the British Geological Survey’s Report on fracking, Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

The government’s own experts have refused to say fracking is safe. That they choose to plough on regardless shows a callous disregard for our communities and countryside. From Surrey to Somerset, the government are treating people in rural areas like guinea pigs.

The Conservatives obsession with fracking lays bare that they don’t actually think that Climate change is happening and are not willing to take the urgent action needed. They are delaying climate action at every corner. The mask has finally slipped and is revealing Liz Truss and Jacob Reece Mogg as climate change deniers. It is bizarre that this has become their priority, rather than renewables: the cheapest and most popular form of energy.

If people suffer polluted water and dangerous earthquakes, this decision will prove unforgivable.

Interest rates: Homeowners being punished by Government failure to control inflation

Responding to the Bank of England raising interest rates by 0.5%, Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said:

This a hammer blow to struggling homeowners who are being punished by the Government’s failure to control inflation. This monster rate rise could have been avoided if Conservative Ministers bothered to take action sooner on energy bills and the rising cost of living. Instead, the Bank of England is left with no choice but to hike mortgage costs for millions.

It is first time buyers I fear for the most, who have scrimped and saved for their first house. Tomorrow Liz Truss has to clean up the mess made by this Conservative Government and bailout families and pensioners who will suffer as a result of this mortgage hike. This should start with re-installing an Emergency Mortgage Support Fund which was cruelly scrapped by Conservative Ministers.

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“Phony Freeze” – Ed Davey calls out Government as bills double from last year

Ed Davey has accused the Conservatives of bringing in a “phony freeze” on energy bills, after it emerged the average family will see their heating costs almost double this winter compared to last year.

Here he is challenging the Prime Minister:

Under the plans set out by Liz Truss today, energy costs will be capped at £2,500 a year for the average home, almost double the £1,277 the cap was set at last October. It is also an increase of over £500 on the current price cap.

Liberal Democrats were the first to call for energy bills to be properly frozen by keeping the current cap in place, funded by a tougher windfall tax on the record profits of oil and gas companies.

Ed said:

This phony freeze will still leave struggling families and pensioners facing impossible choices this winter as energy bills almost double.

Liz Truss and the Conservatives are choosing to allow this huge hike to people’s heating costs, while refusing to properly tax the eye-watering profits of oil and gas companies.

This is a deliberate choice and it is the wrong one. People are furious that once again the Conservatives are on the side of oil and gas giants making record profits rather than families struggling to make ends meet.

The point about a cap being funded at least in part by a windfall tax is an important one. Why should huge energy companies get an unexpected £170 billion bonanza and not have to contribute at all, yet a household on the average wage gets a huge hike in their bills this Winter?

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6 September 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Davey: Make energy bosses pay for freezing of bills, not our children
  • Truss Speech: Only way to end crisis is to get the Conservatives out of power
  • Chope appointment to Partygate inquiry – government backs down

Davey: Make energy bosses pay for freezing of bills, not our children

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey has warned that Liz Truss’ plan to make taxpayers pay for the freezing of energy bills would “make our children pick up the tab”, while letting the oil and gas companies raking in record profits off the hook.

It comes as the Liberal Democrat Leader introduces legislation in Parliament today to bring in a tougher windfall tax on companies like BP and Shell that are raking in huge profits, to fund the freezing of energy bills.

The proposed Liberal Democrat Bill would prohibit Ofgem from increasing the energy price cap above its current level in October, funded by extending and backdating the windfall tax. It also calls for small businesses to be supported with their bills, paid for by reversing Conservative tax breaks for banks.

Liberal Democrat Leader Ed Davey said:

Liz Truss spent weeks during this summer leadership contest leaving families and pensioners worried and in limbo by refusing to set out her plans to tackle soaring energy bills. Now she seems set to make our children pick up the tab for this mess, while letting oil and gas firms making record profits off the hook.

It shows Liz Truss and the Conservatives are completely out of touch with the British people.

The Liberal Democrats have today tabled legislation to protect people and businesses from sky-high heating bills this winter. This would be paid for by a tougher windfall tax on oil and gas companies and the scrapping of Conservative tax cuts for big banks.

That would be a much fairer and more responsible way to tackle rising energy bills than even more borrowing for taxpayers to pay back in the future.

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5 September 2022 – today’s other press releases

  • Truss must block Chris Chope from joining partygate inquiry
  • Action needed now to address cladding concerns

Truss must block Chris Chope from joining Partygate inquiry

The Liberal Democrats have called on Liz Truss to block Conservative MP Christopher Chope from being appointed to the privileges committee leading the Partygate inquiry, after reports he is being nominated by Boris Johnson’s government.

Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who brought in the Private Members’ Bill to ban upskirting which Chris Chope initially blocked, said:

Chris Chope’s lack of respect for MPs trying to protect women from upskirting shows the contempt he has for Parliament. There is

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LibLink: Wera Hobhouse on downblousing

In The House Wera Hobhouse introduces us to the concept of downblousing and calls for it to be recognised as an offence.

Downblousing is the latest manifestation of misogyny enabled by the smartphone era. The law must catch up with the times.

Somehow downblousing is not covered by existing legislation – voyeurism nor revenge porn laws. Downblousing is where someone’s chest is photographed without their consent. An obviously intrusive, disgusting and frankly wrong act that currently carries no consequences.

It is another manifestation of misogyny and violence against women and girls that the law overlooks. It is time that the law caught up with the 21st century. Recently, the Law Commission proposed that new offences are made in England and Wales, following the lead of Northern Irish law. This law would cover all acts of intentionally taking or sharing a sexual, nude or intimate photo or video without consent.

Of course, Wera has successfully tackled others forms of harrassment against women in the past.

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Lib Dem MPs submit Private Members Bills on carers and worker protection

Of the 460 MPs who entered the ballot for Private Member Bills only 20 were selected. And two of those were Lib Dems – Wendy Chamberlain and Wera Hobhouse.

Unfortunately only the top seven are guaranteed debating time so the others have to hope they can be squeezed in somewhere. Wendy was at position 10, and Wera at 15.

So we should be watching the progress of these two (quoted from Politics Home):

10. Wendy Chamberlain: Carer’s Leave Bill

The Liberal Democrat MP for North East Fife is proposing a bill to make provision about unpaid leave for employees with caring responsibilities.

Chamberlain said: “Unpaid carers are the absolute backbone of our society. According to government estimates, there are at least 2.3 million working carers who could be eligible for leave under this bill: a huge number of people who currently receive far too little support.

“This bill will help carers juggle work and care whilst supporting employers to maximise retention and wellbeing. Passing it will be a significant step forwards from all sides.”

And

15. Wera Hobhouse: Worker Protection (Amendment of Equality Act 2010) Bill

This legislation – the unofficial name of which is the Protection from Workplace Harassment Bill – makes provisions about the duties of employers and protection of workers under the Equality Act 2010.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Bath said: “My winning number on the ballot was 461. I chose this because I was the 461st woman to be elected to Parliament. This encouraged me to choose an issue that will tackle violence against women and girls as harassment in the workplace is experienced by 40 per cent of women in the workforce in their career.

“This bill would shift responsibility from the individual to the institution and make employers responsible for protecting their employees. There is no place for harassment anywhere. At a minimum, sexual harassment is experienced by 40 per cent of women in the workforce. It causes various harms, and employers should be morally and legally required to take all reasonable steps to stop harassment from occurring.

“Workplace harassment has no place in our society and this bill will take steps to prevent cases of harassment.”

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Wendy Chamberlain slams PM’s “appalling attempt to rig the rules”

You would think, wouldn’t you, that when the culture of your Government has been slammed in a report which outlined disgraceful behaviour, you would be absolutely mortified and would make sure that your actions showed that you were truly sorry. Especially when you had been saying so at length and you knew that nobody believed a word of your apology.

Well, you could think that of virtually any other PM than Boris Johnson. But the current incumbent’s capacity for brazen disregard for rules or accountability is second to none. We saw this when he tried to change the rules to save his mate Owen Paterson last Autumn.

Yesterday, Boris Johnson watered down both the Ministerial Code and the role of the so-called “Independent Adviser.” The Guardian reports:

The prime minister faced a barrage of criticism after he amended the rules on Friday to make clear that ministers will not always be expected to resign for breaching the code of conduct. Under new sanctions, they could apologise or temporarily lose their pay instead.

Johnson also blocked his independent ethics chief, Christopher Geidt, from gaining the power to launch his own investigations, and rewrote the foreword to the ministerial code, removing all references to honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability.

Our Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain is reported as saying that this was an:

appalling attempt by Boris Johnson to rig the rules to get himself off the hook.

It seems the Conservatives have learned nothing from the Owen Paterson scandal.

It has been clear for some time that the Government doesn’t care that accountability and justice are seen to be done where its own behaviour is concerned. With these moves they are effectively giving themselves the right to mark their own homework. The legitimacy of any Government depends on having some sort of check on its power.

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LibLink: Wera Hobhouse on green mortgages

Wera Hobhouse has been writing for The House Magazine under the headline “A green mortgage drive could upgrade our leaky homes and slash household bills“.

She writes:

With household bills soaring, those hit the hardest are families living in the leakiest homes. Green mortgages could combat the UK’s leaky homes and bring down household bills in the long-run.

Research shows that households living in homes with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of D or worse will be paying an average of £470 per year more than homes rated EPC C or better. That’s more than the average annual UK water bill.

It seems many banks now offer various incentives, including lower mortgage rates, to homeowners who either buy energy efficient homes or who borrow to fund upgrades. However they are still only a small proportion of mortgages.

Wera says:

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4 April 2022 – today’s press releases

  • Conservative MPs must rediscover their moral compass and get rid of the PM
  • Conversion Therapy: Chaotic u-turns shredding UK’s reputation
  • Channel 4 privatisation is “trashing a uniquely British legacy”

Conservative MPs must rediscover their moral compass and get rid of the PM

Responding to government minister Simon Hart’s comments this morning that “the world has moved on” from partygate, Liberal Democrat Christine Jardine MP said:

These comments are an insult to every family that suffered in lockdown while Downing Street partied.

Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have got something else coming if they think the public has moved on from this shameful scandal.

Boris Johnson broke the rules he asked us all to obey then repeatedly lied about it. Conservative MPs must rediscover their moral compass and get rid of him.

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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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Lib Dems table motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson

Liberal Democrat MPs have tabled a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson and have written to Jacob Rees-Mogg to ask that it is given parliamentary time.

The motion been so far been signed by 18 MPs from four parties. These include all thirteen Liberal Democrat MPs, two Labour MPs, two from Plaid Cymru and Stephen Parry from the Alliance Party.

The Liberal Democrats have also written to Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg, demanding he put the motion to a vote within the next week. Labour Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting says that Labour would back it in a Commons vote.

The question is, would enough Conservatives? And what would the public think if their Conservative MP backed a PM who has had such a chaotic approach to government and treats the laws of the land as an optional extra?

Ed Davey said:

It’s time for Conservative MPs to show where they stand. Are they going to continue to put up with a Prime Minister who lied to Parliament and to the public, who admitted he broke lockdown rules and refuses to hold himself accountable?

By remaining in Number 10 Boris Johnson is a threat to the health of the nation – no one will take anything he says seriously and that is simply unacceptable during a pandemic.

Conservative MPs should not only support our motion of no confidence but they should pressure Jacob Rees Mogg to give the motion time for a vote and soon. The country deserves a chance to move on from this deceitful Prime Minister.

The full text of Wera’s letter is below.

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Senior Lib Dems mark 9/11 anniversary

Senior Lib Dems have been reflecting on 9/11 and its aftermath:

 

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Wera Hobhouse: Democracy is failing us – Day of Action Saturday 31 July

Attacks on our fragile democracy are ramping up. The evidence comes in a raft of recent Government proposals that include voter ID cards, curbs on peaceful protest and plans to introduce more elections by First Past the Post (FPTP).

Take the controversial plan to introduce voter ID cards, proposed as part of the Elections Bill. This would actually disenfranchise millions more voters. Ministers say asking voters to prove their identities will safeguard against potential voter fraud in polling stations. They also claim that ‘showing identification is something people of all backgrounds do every day’. But I’m not convinced there is any evidence that voter fraud is even an issue. You could be forgiven for thinking this is a tactic put forward by a Tory Government fearful that its ‘blue wall’ will come crashing down at the next general election. Their crushing defeat at the Chesham and Amersham by-election certainly goes to show how a well-fought campaign at grassroots level can do so much to bring communities together.

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Wera Hobhouse on 100 days to COP26

Yesterday, MPs debated COP26 Conference Priorities in a Westminster Hall debate. The debate was co-sponsored by Wera Hobhouse. Lib Dem MP for Bath. She said this is the biggest opportunity for real climate action since the 2015 Paris agreement, after which we have had a “string of incredibly disappointing COPs”. Wera called for the government to get its own house in order instead of paying to lip service to climate change. The Government has failed to set any direction on how to heat homes in the future, how to expand the electricity grid for increased electricity need, let alone on tackling emissions from heavy industry, shipping or aviation.

COP26 must be a COP of global solidarity. It is time for the Government to put their money where their mouth is. The world is watching to see whether the UK will step up to the plate.

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Wera Hobhouse calls for Olympian steps to halt Xinjiang atrocities

In a Commons debate on Thursday, Bath MP Wera Hobhouse warned it would be unacceptable for the Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, senior diplomats and officials to attend the Winter Olympics in Beijing next year. To do so would give credibility to a regime that is accused of genocide in Xinjiang. Western countries had to take a stance against China’s human rights abuses.

Hobhouse told MPs is totally unacceptable that peaceful demonstrations during protests on the field of play or in medal ceremonies are barred by the IOC under the threat of sanctions. Given the ongoing human rights abuses, is it at all justifiable for the games to go ahead?

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20 March 2021 – the day’s press releases (part 1)

  • Small businesses must be at the heart of our recovery
  • Liberal Democrats champion a fairer deal for consumers
  • Liberal Democrats call for emergency £2.6bn carers support package
  • Small businesses must be at the heart of our recovery

    Liberal Democrats have passed a motion at their Spring Conference calling for a comprehensive package of support for small businesses and the self-employed, including:

  • Dedicated support schemes for the worst-affected sectors, such as hospitality, tourism, charities and the creative industries.
  • More support for businesses as we return to normal, by extending business rates relief, VAT reductions and tax deferrals.
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19 March 2021 – the day’s press release

We haven’t been publishing Party press releases for a while now, as we weren’t receiving any. However, the ‘teleprinter’ has suddenly sprung back into life…

Government letting down disabled workforce

Liberal Democrats have backed a new policy at its Spring Conference demanding better support for the disabled workforce.

The motion noted that the Chancellor’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ in response to the pandemic made only one reference to disabled people and “contained nothing to address the specific challenges facing disabled people”.

The Liberal Democrats are proposing a range of measures to support disabled people into work, including a Jobs Guarantee for unemployed disabled people …

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Wera Hobhouse MP: “Women will not be silenced. We have had enough.”

The appalling murder of Sarah Everard and the inappropriate Police action in response to the vigil last Saturday night came too late for the Conference motions deadline, so the Federal Conference Committee used its power under the standing orders to allow our Westminster Women and Equalities spokesperson, Wera Hobhouse, to make a statement on the events and the issues they raised. Here it is in full:

The killing of Sarah Everard horrified a whole nation.
That sickening feeling when we heard she was missing.
The wait. The search. As we all tried to hold on to hope, even as we feared the worst.
And then it came.
The heart-breaking news
This is every woman’s nightmare, every parent’s nightmare, every sibling’s nightmare, every friend’s nightmare. It could have been us – no, this is us. It is our fear, it is our reality.
I think Sarah’s death hit us all so hard because we know it could really have been any woman.
Sarah, a thirty-three-year-old marketing executive who grew up in York, studied in Durham, and then moved to London.
Who lived in Brixton Hill and had just started a new job.
A young woman who her family described as “bright and beautiful”, “kind and thoughtful”, “caring and dependable”.
Who “always put others first and had the most amazing sense of humour.”

Our thoughts have been with Sarah’s family ever since we heard Sarah was missing.
And our hearts go out to them still.
We grieve with them.
And we are angry.

Because – while the killing of a woman by a stranger is particularly awful and relatively rare – violence against women and girls is not.
On average, a woman is killed by a man in the UK every three days.
Every three days.
Most of them killed by their partner or their ex.
Their lives viciously snatched away. The lives of their family and friends destroyed.
Why does it keep happening?
Because beneath these evil killings lies a culture of normalising sexual harassment, abuse and violence.
This culture doesn’t only target women, men are victims too. But 99% of the perpetrators are men.

This is what we need to talk about. Let’s start changing our language. Not ‘violence against women’ as if there were no active perpetrators. Let’s call it violence by men.
More than six hundred thousand women are sexually assaulted each year,
And only one in six report it to the police.
More than fifty-thousand women reported being raped last year,
Only fourteen-hundred rapists were convicted. Why?
Because our culture, our language and our criminal justice system still works around the assumption that rape was to some extent the woman’s own fault. She asked for it, she provoked it. She consented.
99% of perpetrators of sexual violence are men. They are all too often missing from the discussion.
Rape continues to be normalised by the absence of talking about the perpetrators.
Many women experience harassment and discrimination in the workplace on a daily basis.
Many women receive appalling abuse online – threats and intimidation, for daring to have an opinion.
Too many women never feel safe on our streets.
Everything has to change.
Women are speaking up. More men should do the same.

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Lib Dems support Small Business Saturday

After the year they have had, small businesses need a break.

So many have struggled as a result of the pandemic, either unable to trade or severely restricted.

Think of all those little independent shops who have been closed, open, closed and open again throughout the year.

The weeks before Christmas should be their busiest time.

The first Saturday in December is always Small Business Saturday, a day when we encourage people to support small businesses. This year it has even more resonance. We would miss the vibrant diversity of our local communities if we lost these assets.

Lib Dem parliamentarians have been out and about supporting small businesses in their constituencies. Here’s a flavour of what they have been up to:

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2 November 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Four nations meeting welcome “first step” – Liberal Democrats
  • Government urged to “lead by example” and restore hybrid Parliament

Four nations meeting welcome “first step” – Liberal Democrats

Responding to news that the four Governments of the UK have met to develop a UK-wide approach to restrictions for the festive period, Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

People across our family of nations will be reassured to hear that efforts are at last underway to ensure everyone is subject to the same guidance as they plan for the festive period, as first called for by the Liberal Democrats.

But today’s meeting can

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20 October 2020 – the overnight press releases

  • Liberal Democrats: Government inaction failing survivors of sexual violence
  • Reversing Liberal Democrat Immigration Bill amendments risks “new Windrush-style Scandal”

Liberal Democrats: Government inaction failing survivors of sexual violence

Responding to the Victims Commissioner’s report on rape survivors and the criminal justice system, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse said:

Survivors deserve justice. They must be properly supported to come forward and be listened to when they do.

However, as this report shows, far too many survivors are put off reporting the crime for fear of being disbelieved, and far too many who do come forward find the whole process traumatic. Government inaction is failing survivors of sexual violence and allowing too many criminals to walk free.

It is incomprehensible that the Government’s review of rape cases is doing so little to engage with survivors – especially given the clear evidence that the system simply isn’t working for them.

Ministers must listen to survivors, complete the review as soon as possible, and urgently make improvements across the whole justice system. Survivors mustn’t be left waiting any longer for the justice they need.

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