Alistair Carmichael has demanded the government rule out the prospect of children being kept in prison cells.
This follows the government slipping out an announcement of the closure of the Cedars facility, which supports families who are being returned overseas by the Home Office. Ending child detention was a major Liberal Democrat achievement in the coalition government.
The facilities were described as “exceptional” and their closure has also been attacked by Barnardo’s.
The Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson said:
“Cedars was a civilised way of dealing with some of the most vulnerable young people in our care.
“Ending the detention of children in lock-down institutions was something that the Liberal Democrats forced Theresa May as Home Secretary to do against her will. Now there are no restraints on her, she will indulge the more callous instincts of her party."
The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government for slipping out an announcement that Cedars pre-departure accommodation is to close.
It raises the prospect of children once again being held in immigration detention centres – a practice ended by the Liberal Democrats in Government.
Liberal Democrats in Coalition established the centre to end the detention of children, and the Conservatives have used the final day of the Parliamentary session to reverse the move.
Prior to 2010, thousands of children were being detained in prison-like conditions. During Labour’s last 5 years in government, over 7,000 innocent children were held in adult detention centres, sometimes for weeks and months at a time.
The establishment of the centre was driven by Sarah Teather and Nick Clegg and following the news of its closure the Liberal Democrat Seekers for Sanctuary have set out 10 questions the government must answer.
Aside from scrapping the centre the Conservatives have failed to offer any assurances on what will replace it, the emotional support that vulnerable children will be given or any preparations that will be made for them ahead of their return to a country that many of them may not even remember.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesman Alistair Carmichael said:
“Ending the detention of children for immigration purposes was one of the first priorities of Liberal Democrats in government. It is the mark of our society how we treat the most vulnerable and it is disgusting that the Conservatives are now rolling back such an important measure.
“It is outrageous they slipped out this announcement on the last day of Parliamentary business, and they must now set out what exactly is going to happen to children in the future. We cannot have a return to the days of children being locked up in immigration detention centres, as happened under Labour. The Government has a lot of questions that remained unanswered.”
Chair of Liberal Democrat Seekers for Sanctuary, Suzanne Fletcher, who has visited Cedars, and been part of an Independent Monitoring Board until the change of Government last year said:
“Cedars provided an oasis of care and calm at a very traumatic time for those families with children who very sadly were being sent against their will back to their country of origin. Children should never have to be behind the locked doors of a detention centre, and our Government should be ashamed of such a backward step.”
The Liberal Democrats have branded the Conservative’s Flagship Married Couples Tax Allowance policy a ‘pathetic failure’ after figures revealed that only a fraction of eligible couples had bothered claiming the allowance.
Only 330,000 people have taken advantage of the allowance, equivalent to 8% of those eligible.
The Tories had believed over 4 million would take allowance.
The Liberal Democrats also revealed that the Government had launched an advertising campaigning around the allowance in a desperate bid to increase take-up of the scheme.
The Married Tax allowance was extracted from the Liberal Democrats in coalition in exchange for the Free School Meals for infant school children.
Commenting, Lib Dem Leader, Tim Farron said:
“When the Conservatives demanded to introduce their allowance, Liberal Democrats said that it was a needless gimmick. These figures show that their plan is indeed a pathetic failure.
“Unsurprisingly, it turns out that people don’t choose to get married in order to secure a tax break. Rather than spending taxpayer’s cash trying to promote their flop, the Tories should abandon the policy and put the money into something useful.
“Liberal Democrats in Coalition chose to spend our time fighting to give hot healthy meals to young children, not on gimmicky giveaways. Now the Tories are governing alone it’s time they too started trying to do some good rather than clinging to half-baked ideas like the Married Couples Allowance."
Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has returned to the Liberal Democrat front bench as the party’s European Union spokesperson in order to hold the Government to account over its plans for Brexit.
Following Andrea Leadsom’s withdrawal from the Conservative leadership race Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has called for an early General Election.
A coronation of Theresa May as Prime Minister carries no mandate.
Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat leader said:
“Just 13 months after the last election the Conservatives have plunged the UK into chaos. It is simply inconceivable that Theresa May should be crowned Prime Minister without even having won an election in her own party, let alone the country.
“There must be an election. The Conservatives must not be allowed to ignore the electorate, their mandate is shattered and lies in ruins.
“Britain deserves better than this Tory stitch up.
“May has not set out an agenda, and has no right to govern. She has not won an election and the public must have their say.
“From her time as Home Secretary we know she is divisive, illiberal and calculating.
“The Liberal Democrats will set out an optimistic, positive plan for Britain. We will stabilise the economy, improve education, deliver a new deal for our NHS, restore the green agenda and secure Britain’s place at the heart of Europe. ”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has written to 7 Prime Ministers in fellow liberal sister parties throughout Europe, including the influential Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, asking for their support for a proposal to allow UK expats to reside freely in Europe even with Brexit.
Tim was the first party leader to call for the UK Government to agree that EU nationals be able to remain in the UK after the referendum. Politicians from across the political spectrum bar Home Office Ministers seem to agree with this and they have been savaged by MP’s.
Next Tuesday, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Tom Brake is proposing a bill to offer protections to EU citizens.
The Liberal Democrats have now called for foreign governments to do the same for UK expats living abroad.
Tim is also calling for the EU governments to not even look at plans to hike taxes on Brits with property or businesses abroad as a ‘revenge’ for Brexit.
The top destinations for British expats in the European Union are Spain (host to 319,000), Ireland (249,000) and France (171,000)
“Far from being Bush’s passenger, Blair was his co-pilot in taking this catastrophic decision which has destabilised Iraq, provided the hotbed for Daesh and tarnished Britain’s reputation around the word.“
“Daesh has arisen from the complete absence of any post conflict planning by the government.
“Charles Kennedy’s judgement has been vindicated in every respect. I hope those in the Labour and Conservative parties who were so forceful in their criticism of him and the Liberal Democrats at the time are equally forceful in their acknowledgements today that he was right. An absence of scrutiny by the Conservative party opened the door for Blair and the Labour Government to pursue a counter-strategic, ill-resourced campaign.
“I hope Sir John Chilcot’s findings can in some way provide comfort to the families of the British servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives, and to the people of Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives and a generation has been shaped by this illegal war.
“Blair was fixated in joining Bush in going to war in Iraq regardless of the evidence, the legality or the serious potential consequences.
The Liberal Democrats have called on the UK government to introduce a new Act to tackle poor air quality and ensure vital pollution limits are not watered down post-Brexit.
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, which was introduced in the 1950s to tackle deadly smog affecting UK cities.
In a letter to Secretary of State for the Environment Elizabeth Truss - signed by the Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Kate Parminter, Transport Spokesperson Jenny Randerson and MEP Catherine Bearder - the government is urged to ensure it follows through on EU agreements to tackle air pollution and enshrine essential limits into British law.
The letter concludes that the government must not “betray the legacy of the Clean Air Act by allowing the UK to become the dirty man of Europe once again.”
Full text of the letter
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has today demanded that EU nationals residing in the UK are given complete assurances that they will have the right to stay in the UK indefinitely.
The Prime Minister has said that whilst negotiations are ongoing the status of EU nationals in the UK will not change, something repeated by the Home Secretary in her leadership launch yesterday
But the future status of these people is not clear beyond any renegotiation period, leading to uncertainty.
The Liberal Democrats are clear that those EU nationals who are currently resident in the UK should be allowed to live here indefinitely.
The party is has committed to standing in the next election on the platform of securing Britain’s place in the EU.
The Liberal Democrats are also clear that if Brexit were to happen that any model that did not secure membership of the single market would severely damage Britain’s economy and would be entirely inadequate.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said:
“There is real, and legitimate, upset and worry from European citizens across our country about their long-term status in the UK. Liberal Democrats will not stand by whilst our communities are divided by uncertainty. Regardless of the outcome of any negotiations with Europe around Brexit, EU citizens who have made Britain their home must be allowed to stay.
“To Europeans whose lives are now rooted in the UK my message is simple – the Liberal Democrats stand with you, and will speak for you. To the French family raising their children in Manchester, to the Polish mother working to pay her mortgage in Portsmouth, to the German graduate starting his business venture in Birmingham - the Liberal Democrats value you, we will stand by you and we will champion your future here in Britain.
“There are plenty of decent people who voted for Leave, who do not want to see Europeans who live in the UK in our communities forced to uproot their lives. There must be a cast iron guarantee that their futures can be in the UK, the country they now call home.
“We are the party who recognises that British people are compassionate and open-hearted. I have always been proud that Paddy Ashdown and the Liberal Democrats took the brave stance on the issue of Hong Kong passports – we will do the same today."
Liberal Democrats have welcomed the announcement that George Osborne is to abandon his fiscal rule and called on the Government to move Government spending to a ‘war footing’ to combat the impact of a Brexit Recession.
The Liberal Democrat shave long said the fiscal rule would restrict growth, but it’s impacts would be even more severe given the impact of a Brexit vote. They said that now is the time to dramatically increase spending on infrastructure to boost the economy.
They called on the Government should provide direct support to businesses that risk failure due to the restriction of bank lending caused by the Leave vote.
Specifically, the Government should provide the British Business Bank with a significant capital injection to providing lending, overdraft and bridging loans to high growth businesses in the technology and advanced manufacturing sector.
Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Farron said:
“Abandoning these unrealistic spending plans is the right thing to do, but it needs to be backed up by action. The current Government cannot just sit on its hands and wait for the next Tory leader. They need to move to a war footing against a Brexit recession.
“George Osborne must now begin to aggressively invest in infrastructure and projects to support jobs and encourage growth.
“The British Business Bank, set up by Vince Cable during the coalition, will be a key player in ensuring that the Brexit recession does not claim our newest and brightest companies. The UK has the potential to be a world leader in advanced manufacturing and technology services, but these companies are already struggling to get banks to lend. The Government must immediately inject money into the British Business Bank to step in as the banks withdraw to their core business.
“The Chancellor often favours words over actions, but if he does not act now then his legacy as Chancellor will be as badly damaged as David Cameron’s has been as Prime Minister.”