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Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrat Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus developments are unfolding ever more quickly, and leaving the most vulnerable in our communities at risk. Find out what we are doing to ensure everyone gets the support they need.

By Liberal Democrats, Apr 08, 2020 2:04

Overcrowding will create coronavirus crisis in prisons

Responding to reports that Public Health England and HM Prison and Probation Service have advised the Government that a reduction of 15,000 prisoners is needed to safeguard prisoners and staff during the coronavirus pandemic, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Daisy Cooper said:

"While prisons remain overcrowded, they risk becoming a crucible for coronavirus. The steps Ministers have announced to release some prisoners early are welcome, but – as prison governors are warning – they clearly do not go far enough.

The Justice Secretary must publish the advice he has had from Public Health England and the Prison Service. If the Government has decided not to follow their advice, he should explain why."

If the Government doesn’t listen to prison governors and expert advice, it risks creating a Covid crisis in our prisons.

Ministers must urgently end overcrowding in prisons, including releasing all low-risk prisoners serving short sentences – not just those already reaching the final months of their sentence.

Government must extend transition period to focus on coronavirus crisis

Responding to a poll which has demonstrated the widespread support for extending the Brexit transition period, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

“People will rightly see no reason why the Government should stick to its self-imposed deadlines on negotiating a new deal with the EU. At the moment we must focus on saving people’s lives by tackling the coronavirus."

That is why the Liberal Democrats have been calling for the transition period to be extended. Brexit is still a divisive issue and will have a serious impact on the economy – but right now we must be united and resolute in doing everything we can do support vulnerable people through the coronavirus crisis.

Lib Dem Chief Whip calls for all-party meeting on parliamentary proposals

The Liberal Democrat Chief Whip has today called for an urgent all-party meeting to discuss remote working for Parliament, including a special committee of MPs, chaired by the Leader of the Opposition, to scrutinise the Government’s coronavirus response.
In a letter to the Chief Whips of all parties in the House of Commons, Alistair Carmichael MP warned the necessary constraints caused by the spread of coronavirus mean “we must consider alternative arrangements.”
The letter follows confirmation from the Speaker of the House of Commons has backed calls for a "virtual" Parliament to allow MPs to keep on scrutinising the Government during the coronavirus outbreak.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael said:

People deserve reassurance that their representatives can fulfil their duties wherever they are in the country, even in these exceptional circumstances. MPs have to agree a plan that is fit for purpose for Parliament to return from recess on 21 April.
The Speaker of the House announced important steps towards remote working for Parliament this week. Leaders from all parties must now meet to urgently discuss these and other measures, in a spirit of cooperation in the national interest."

The proposals for a special committee to evaluate the Government response are just as important.

In uncertain times and with sweeping powers enacted, democratic accountability demands that the parties outside of government are at the heart of the discussion. We believe that it is right and proper that the Leader of the Opposition chair this committee.


Government must strengthen guidance on PPE in social care settings

Responding to reports in the Health Service Journal that plans are in place to deliver 30 million pieces of personal protective equipment to social care providers, Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care said:

"Many social care staff, who are on the frontline of this crisis, will feel a huge sense of relief at the prospect of finally receiving personal protective equipment.

However, the suggestion from Ministers that supplies should be prioritised for those who currently have "close unavoidable contact with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases" is like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted. We should be doing everything possible to stop transmission of the virus into care settings in the first place, as well as onward transmission when a patient already has the virus."

The Government must also lay out exactly how Local Resilience Forums will guarantee delivery to all care providers in their area. At the moment, some care providers are excluded from local delivery networks, leaving them on their own when it comes to sourcing PPE, often at significantly inflated prices. 

The protection of all care staff, regardless of setting, must be an absolute priority.

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