The Liberal Democrats have today announced they will back a cross-party amendment to the Finance Bill to ensure the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals are introduced within six months.
Speaking ahead of the vote next week, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable said:
“A few months ago I was approached by a mother who was distraught after her son had committed suicide as a result of distress caused by debts that had accrued from compulsive gambling.
“There is now a network of grieving relatives who have been brought together by the same dreadful experience. Like them, I want the NHS to recognise gambling addiction as a serious mental health condition. Preventive action is also needed including urgent steps to curb some of the more exploitative practices like high stake fixed-odds betting terminals.
“I and the Liberal Democrats will therefore work with others to stop these abusive practices and introduce a crackdown as promised. The Government has been utterly craven in giving in to lobbying from the industry and must now back the cross-party amendment or face defeat.”
Liberal Democrat Culture, Media & Sport Spokesperson in the House of Commons, Christine Jardine, added:
“Further delays are causing more and more vulnerable people to face financial stress, mental health problems and worse.
“It doesn’t need to be this way. Liberal Democrats demand better, which is why we have been calling for the maximum stake to be reduced to £2 for nearly a decade.
“The Tories have already taken too long to act, now they are kicking it into the long grass. It simply isn’t good enough.”
Responding to the news that NHS Digital has withdrawn from its immigration data-sharing arrangement with the Home Office, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:
“The Home Office should never have been forcing NHS staff to supply patients’ data in the first place. Doctors and nurses’ time should be spent providing healthcare to those who need it, not acting as border guards in Theresa May’s hostile environment.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. We will completely scrap the Tories’ hostile environment and instead invest in an accountable, intelligence-led Border Force to prevent people entering the country illegally and quickly identify those who overstay their visas.
“That way we can secure our borders and rebuild trust in the immigration system, while leaving NHS workers to focus on their jobs.”
We're with Ed Davey on the rights of EU citizens:
He says: "I am furious.
The government have been telling EU citizens for months that they will be able to stay in the UK, and keep their rights as settled citizens if we leave the EU.
But it has now emerged that these are empty words.
It seems that there are no provisions in place for employers to determine when an EU citizen came to the UK – and therefore, whether they are able to employ them.
The Conservatives’ hostile environment checks have already wreaked havoc on the lives of many members from the Windrush generation - and others.
And in just five months, these Conservative Ministers seem happy to do it all over again, and destroy the lives of EU citizens who have every right to be in the UK.
The Government’s incompetence in planning for Brexit has real world consequences.
If this makes you angry too, join our campaign.
The government must act now to guarantee that European citizens settled in the UK the right to stay here.
Sign this petition now to say you support EU citizens' right to stay.
Leading figures from opposition parties will meet Michel Barnier in Brussels today [Thursday] to say the UK must remain within the Single Market and the Customs Union.
The campaign to resolve Brexit through a People’s Vote will also be discussed. The Liberal Democrats, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have all said they would support the public to have the final say on any Brexit deal in a vote in the House of Commons.
Last weekend saw hundreds of thousands of people march in London for the People’s Vote and polling shows the option is increasingly the preferred choice across the UK.
The group will open a cross-party line of communication to the European Commission, so that officials are aware of Parliamentary progress made on securing the People’s Vote, while continuing to make the case for the UK to stay within the Single Market and the Customs Union.
Those attending the meeting with Barnier will be: Vince Cable, Leader of the Liberal Democrats; Ian Blackford, Westminster Leader of the SNP; Liz Saville Roberts, Westminster Leader of Plaid Cymru; and Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West of England and Gibraltar.
Vince Cable said:
“Our ‘unholy alliance’ has provided a sensible counterpoint to the hard-line Brexiteers who have pushed the Conservatives and Labour’s frontbench into senseless and fudged positions. It is vital that Michel Barnier and the European Commission know that there is another view in Parliament, one that has cross-party support and that can get the EU and the UK out of this mess.
“I will also tell Michel Barnier that there are also brave Conservative and Labour rebels involved in leading this fight to give the people a final say. As a result, there is now tremendous Parliamentary and public pressure to hold that vote.”
Liz Saville Roberts said:
“Plaid Cymru will not stand by and allow the British Government, along with their collaborators in the Labour party, to drag Wales out of the Single Market and Customs Union. Negotiations between the Prime Minister and Michel Barnier have reached another embarrassing stalemate. The only realistic option available to us is to extend Article 50 and take the Withdrawal Agreement to a People’s Vote.
“Leaving the key European economic frameworks will wipe £5 billion off the Welsh economy. In making the case for a People’s Vote, I will impress upon the Chief EU Negotiator the full gravity of the impact of Brexit on Wales. The British Government has never had Wales’s best interest at heart.”
Ian Blackford said:
“While the UK Government clearly still has no plan to break the Brexit impasse, and Labour fail to act as an effective opposition, it has been left to the 'unofficial opposition' to speak up for a deal that would protect jobs and livelihoods. I am grateful to Mr Barnier for meeting with us.
“Any Brexit deal that falls short of staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union will not get through Parliament. It’s time for Theresa May to drop the jargon, quit playing games and act to protect our economic future.”
Molly Scott Cato said:
"There is now Parliamentary paralysis on Brexit. The Chequers plan is dead, but neither is there support for alternative versions of Brexit being driven by a Brexit syndicate of far-right think tanks.
"It is clear the only way out of this deadlock is to hand the process back to the people. Last weekend 700,000 people marched in support of the People's Vote; more than the combined membership of the Tories and Labour. The momentum behind this idea can no longer be ignored; it now looks unstoppable."
In a pre-Budget speech to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation this morning, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable called for a series of reforms to Universal Credit.
These include the reversal of cuts to the work allowance, worth around £3bn a year, and ending the benefits freeze a year early.
"The problems stem from conflicting objectives: providing minimum family income; providing incentives to work; simplification; and saving money. Simplification, saving money and work incentives have taken precedence over the first, crucial, priority.
"Practical problems have been ignored creating real hardship, payment delays in the switchover, penalties for the self-employed; use of a single bank account for divided families; barriers to work from lack of childcare; monthly payments for those on weekly or casual wages; technical complexities in establishing online payment; and the use of Universal Credit to facilitate debt collection...
"[But] the fact that UC is becoming loathed and is being implemented incompetently and harshly does not invalidate the reasoning behind it. I strongly repudiate the Labour Party’s suggestion that Universal Credit should be scrapped without being clear what the replacement is: a classic case of soundbites taking precedence over thought-through policies ."
Responding to a report from the Home Affairs Select Committee into domestic abuse, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said:
“The Government’s Domestic Abuse Bill is urgently needed, but the Liberal Democrats agree with the Committee that it should go beyond domestic abuse to cover all violence against women and girls. The Government must ensure that all victims are listened to and supported throughout the criminal justice system.
“But changing the law will make little difference without the resources to actually help victims of violence and abuse. We need more funding for refuges and rape crisis centres, as well as a new national rape crisis helpline. And we need to reverse Conservative cuts to the community policing that helps to keep us all safe.”
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 [17/10/2018].
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 happy to allow a 16 year old to pay tax, be a parent or serve in the army then we should not deny them the right to vote. That is why Liberal Democrats have long supported votes for 16 and 17 year olds.
"With 16 and 17-year-olds playing an active role in elections in Scotland and now the Welsh Assembly backing plans too, the genie is out of the bottle.
"The Overseas Electors Bill gives us a chance to give 16 and 17 year olds living abroad the chance to vote in Parliamentary elections, and in the process urge the Government to do the right thing and extend votes at 16 for all elections in every part of the UK.
"Given Brexit poses so many threats to the lives of young people, they deserve their voice to be heard. It is time to demand better from the UK Government. It is time Ministers ensured every 16 and 17 year old across the UK, and those British citizens living overseas, have the same right to vote."
Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron yesterday presented a Bill to the House of Commons which would make it significantly easier for the Government to strip failing rail companies of their franchises.
Mr Farron has repeatedly made the case for failing rail operators to be stripped of their franchise after a summer of chaos on the railways. In Mr Farron’s own constituency, every single train on the Lakes Line was cancelled during the month of June.
The Bill comes less than a month after the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) warned "no-one took charge" during the timetable chaos and blamed a lack of "responsibility and accountability".
Liberal Democrat MP Tim Farron said:
“The Office of Rail and Road’s recent report found the main reason behind the summer of chaos on our railways was a lack of accountability. Liberal Democrats demand better.
“This Bill would mean that the Transport Secretary would no longer be able to shy away from being ultimately responsible for making sure people have a decent train service.
“It would also mean that there will actually be consequences for those companies like Northern and Thameslink who continue to provide diabolical services and treat their customers as nothing more than cattle.”
LibDem Newhaven town councillor Dave Twaits, has opened a new guitar shop in the town centre.
"Councillor Dave Twaits is determined to see Newhaven back on the up again.
"His new shop, Guitar Central, sells, buys and repairs guitars.
"Mr Twaits was previously a band member of the Reform Club, founded by former Lewes MP Norman Baker."
Responding to today’s Court of Appeal ruling against the Government, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Ed Davey has called for refugee policy to be moved out of the Home Office and into the Department for International Development.
The court ruled that child refugees refused entry to the UK had been given “patently inadequate” reasons for their refusals.
Ed Davey said:
“Are there no depths to which the Home Office will not stoop under this Conservative Government? Now we learn that they’ve been turning away vulnerable child refugees without giving them reasons, and preventing them from appealing.
“The Home Office’s rotten culture is clearly beyond repair. Wrong decisions and unlawful policies are ruinous for people’s lives and very costly for taxpayers.
“The Liberal Democrats demand better. That’s why we will take responsibility for refugee policy away from the Home Office and give it to the Department for International Development.
“And it’s why the Government must properly implement the Dubs Amendment, to honour our commitment to provide sanctuary to unaccompanied children who’ve been forced to flee their homes.”