8 June 2020 – today’s press releases

  • Empty pharma stockpiles show govt must rethink transition extension
  • Covid-19 infection rate in Welsh prisons tops 20%
  • Derisory increase in asylum support is appalling
  • Testing announcement shows protective ring around care homes claim untrue
  • Rees-Mogg must follow through on promises to look at voting rights for carers

Empty pharma stockpiles show govt must rethink transition extension

Responding to reports that No Deal Brexit stockpiles “significantly reduced and/or used up entirely” by Covid pandemic, Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said:

These reports show the recklessness of the government’s approach to Brexit negotiations and protecting our economy and NHS.

The stockpiles created to protect against the risk of a no deal Brexit have now been used up, and building them back up to safe levels by the end of the year is going to be very difficult.

So by pushing the UK into a no deal Brexit the Conservatives could be putting more lives and more jobs at risk.

The calls to extend the transition period have come from people who voted leave and remain a like. The government must put national interest ahead of Brexit ideology and extend the transition period.

Covid-19 infection rate in Welsh prisons tops 20%

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have reacted with shock at the situation of Covid-19 in Welsh Prisons, after new figures reveal an infection rate of more than 20% for inmates.

Figures published by the UK Department for Justice have shown that Wales has 165 recorded cases of Covid-19 within prisons. This represents 12.4% of cases across England & Wales, with 1,329 total cases being logged – 882 Staff, 447 Prisoners.

Of the 165 recorded cases in Wales, 75 cases have been prison staff and 90 have been prison inmates. These represent 8.5% and 20.1% of the respective England and Wales totals, showing the huge extent to which Welsh prison inmates are vulnerable to the virus.

In response, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have called for trasparency around what extra measures are being taken to contain the spread and treat those infected.

They’ve also called for a review into the prison system, looking both at the size of Welsh prisons and the way the current devolution settlement splits responsibility for justice and prisoner welfare.

Jane Dodds, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:

The fact that 20% of Covid-19 in prison inmates took place in Welsh prisons is shameful. the Welsh Liberal Democrats have repeatedly warned the situation in Welsh prisons was out of control.

We now need urgent transparency about what steps are being taken to get to grips with this dire situation and protect the welfare of prison staff and inmates.

This is a wake up call. It is clear that locking people up in giant super prisons is not the solution and we need greater focus on rehabilitation – to get people reintegrated into society and break the cycle of reoffending.

We also need justice to be fully devolved to Wales. It is ludicrous that the UK Government decides who gets locked up, but leaves the Welsh Government to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to prisoner health and wellbeing.

I hope that both the UK and Welsh Government will be able to provide swift answers about what is being done to end the rampant spread of Covid-19 in our prisons.

Derisory increase in asylum support is appalling

Responding to the Immigration Minister announcing today an increase in Asylum Support from £37.75 a week to £39.60, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs Spokesperson Christine Jardine said:

People will be appalled that the Home Office thinks that a derisory increase of less than £2 a week to £5.66 a day is somehow sufficient for vulnerable people to live on during this crisis.

The way the Home Office is treating these vulnerable people is unacceptable. People who’ve come to the UK having fled war or persecution should be welcomed with compassion and enabled to contribute to our society, not trapped in poverty.

Instead of this miserly raise, the Government should urgently increase Asylum Support by £20 a week. Ministers should also finally give asylum seekers the right to work, allowing them to fill essential roles during the pandemic, as well as giving them a sense of dignity, more money and the ability to contribute to the economy.

Testing announcement shows protective ring around care homes claim untrue

Responding to the daily coronavirus press conference, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Health, Wellbeing and Care Munira Wilson said:

The announcement today that care homes for the disabled and those with learning disabilities are finally getting access to tests is long overdue.

The Government allowed the virus to sweep through care homes right across the UK where the most vulnerable individuals were being looked after. The idea that there was a protective ring around care homes is both untrue and insulting to the loved ones of all those who tragically lost their lives.

The Liberal Democrats have repeatedly stated the importance of the test, trace and isolate system being fully in place to keep people safe – testing alone is not enough. Whilst we wait for the Government to get this up and running properly, the risk of a second peak of the virus in our care homes and wider society is alarmingly possible.

Rees-Mogg must follow through on promises to look at voting rights for carers

Tonight the Liberal Democrats have secured assurances from the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, that proxy voting rights will be considered for MPs who are carers or living with those who are shielding.

During the emergency debate secured by Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael, the Leader of the House agreed to look at the Liberal Democrat proposals for extending voting rights to all MPs living with those needing to shield or acting as carers during the pandemic.

Following the debate, Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Alistair Carmichael said:

If the Leader follows through and backs voting rights for MPs who are carers or living with people who are shielding, then this will be a win for equal representation. Our communities must not be excluded from their rights simply because of physical difficulties.

However, it should not have taken Jacob Rees-Mogg to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept this concession. The Government’s decision to return to Westminster and unwillingness to respect its own public health advice has not only created a parliamentary mess, but put all those who work in Parliament at risk.

The Leader of the House has to be aware that he will be accountable for this system – and any potential harm caused.