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  • Article: May 18, 2020
    By Danny Simm

    Responding to today's coronavirus press conference, Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson said:

    "Any progress on a vaccine to fight coronavirus is welcome, but we must not solely base all our hopes on this one trial, nor should we turn our backs on international cooperation should we be successful.

    "We have seen the importance of international cooperation, whether it has been sourcing ventilators, processing tests when our own laboratories could not process them all, or in working with others to fly back citizens stuck abroad. Whether we are the first to be successful, or another country is, it is vital we continue to fight the virus with other countries rather than pursuing an isolationist approach as we have seen from the President of the United States.

    "In the mean time, the Government must not lose sight of ensuring we have a comprehensive test, trace and isolate system in place to keep people safe until a successful vaccine is readily available."

  • Article: May 16, 2020
    By Danny Simm

    The Liberal Democrats are calling for the new online system enabling MPs to vote remotely to be made permanent, after the successful first vote under the system this week.

    The system, using the online "MemberHub" portal, has been introduced in the House of Commons as a temporary measure to allow MPs to vote on legislation and other motions from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

    However, Liberal Democrat Political Reform Spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain says making it permanent would "put an end to MPs having to choose between going into Parliament when they're ill or leaving their constituents unrepresented on key votes."

    The Party believes permanent remote voting would remove the reliance on pairing agreements, which have proved controversial such as when a Conservative MP voted in a knife-edge Brexit vote in 2018 despite being paired with former Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, away on maternity leave.

    The Liberal Democrats will submit their proposals for remote voting as an alternative to physical voting to the House of Commons Procedure Select Committee's inquiry on procedure under coronavirus restrictions.

    Wendy Chamberlain, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Political Reform, said:

    "It is right that, like everyone else, MPs stay at home as much as possible to protect the NHS and save lives. But proper parliamentary scrutiny of the Government's actions is essential, and allowing MPs to vote remotely is therefore absolutely vital.

    "I'm grateful to the parliamentary staff who have put in place a secure system of remote voting for all MPs, so that we can continue to do our jobs.

    "Now that the system up and running, there is no good reason not to make it permanent. Allowing MPs to vote remotely will put an end to us having to choose between going into Parliament when they're ill or leaving their constituents unrepresented on key votes.

    "It shouldn't have taken a pandemic to drag Parliament into the 21st century. But now that it has, we must not see Parliament go back again when this crisis is over.

    "Liberal Democrats have been working for years to make Parliament more accessible and will continue to do so."

  • Article: May 15, 2020
    By Danny Simm

    Lib Dems oppose Govt's Immigration Bill

    The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment in the House of Commons that would prevent the Government's Immigration Bill from progressing.

    • The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill, which would end EU free movement, will be debated in the House of Commons on Monday. The Liberal Democrat amendment would refuse to grant the Bill its Second Reading, stopping it from becoming law.
    • The "reasoned amendment" sets out the party's opposition to the Bill - including its failure to fully guarantee the rights of EU citizens already living in the UK, something Boris Johnson repeatedly promised to do. It also criticises the Government for failing to set out "an immigration system to replace free movement that would allow businesses and public services to recruit the workers they need.
    • It is hard to believe that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Conservatives are still pressing ahead with their destructive plans.
    • Now more than ever, we should be celebrating the enormous contributions that workers from all over the world make to our NHS, social care and across our society. Priti Patel may consider care workers to be 'low skilled', but they are on the front lines protecting us and our loved ones every single day.
    • If the Conservatives go ahead with these plans, they will deal a massive new blow to the NHS and British businesses, just as the economy is beginning to recover from the coronavirus crisis.
    • Liberal Democrats are opposing this Bill and arguing instead for a fair, effective and compassionate immigration system that works for our economy and treats everyone with the dignity they deserve.
  • Article: May 14, 2020
    By Danny Simm

    Responding to the Government's admission that there will be customs checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea after the Brexit transition period ends, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs and Brexit spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

    "Johnson's Government has failed to give businesses much needed clarity on this issue. It now seems Johnson was deeply dishonest with businesses when he previously asserted there would be no checks and businesses could put paperwork "in the bin".

    "His Brexit deal will mean extra costs and bureaucracy for businesses in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, at a time when many are already struggling with the impact of coronavirus.

    "Liberal Democrats will continue to call on the Conservative Government to do the right thing and protect UK businesses. As part of this, it is vital the Government extend the transition period to help prevent any additional economic damage."

  • Article: May 14, 2020
    By Danny Simm

    Govt must publish scientific advice for reopening schools

    The Liberal Democrats are urging the Government to release the scientific advice for reopening schools without delay.

    • Every day that schools remain shut, the disadvantage gap widens and vulnerable children risk falling through the cracks. But that doesn't mean we should open schools before it's actually safe.
    • The Government has failed to consult with school leaders, teachers and unions on the details of its guidance for reopening schools, and that's just not good enough. We need reassurance that the decisions are being made based on public health advice only, and not economic fears.
    • That's why Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to publish all scientific advice it has received on this today, and for a guarantee that all children, of all ages, will be given the equipment and funding to learn safely, either at home or in school.
  • Article: May 13, 2020
    By Danny Simm

    Following securing an Urgent Question in the House of Commons today, Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Layla Moran has called on the Government to release the scientific advice for reopening schools without delay.

    Layla Moran also called on the Secretary of State for Education to clarify "what he thinks 'safe' actually means?" in regard to the safety of children returning to school, as well as condemning the Government for failing to consult with teachers and unions.

    Following the Urgent Question, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson, Layla Moran, said:

    "Every day that schools remain shut, the disadvantage gap widens and vulnerable children risk falling through the cracks. But that doesn't mean we should open schools before it's actually safe.

    "The Government has failed to consult with school leaders, teachers and unions on the details of its guidance for reopening schools, and that's just not good enough. We need reassurance that the decisions are being made based on public health advice only, and not economic fears.

    "That's why I'm calling on the Government to publish all scientific advice it has received on this today, and for a guarantee that all children, of all ages, will be given the equipment and funding to learn safely, either at home or in school."