The Press Pack: A round-up of Lib Dem media comments – 22 August 2017

Here’s a roundup of  media comments made by Lib Dem parliamentarians and spokespeople today.

GP numbers

Norman Lamb slammed the Government for failing to deliver more GPs:

The government’s promise to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020 lies in tatters, with fewer GPs now than when this pledge was first made.

“The pitiful increase we have seen in recent months is nowhere near enough to cope with rising patient demand.

“This failure to recruit enough doctors will inevitably have a damaging impact on the ability of patients to access the healthcare they need.

“We are already close to breaking point, with people in many parts of the country struggling to get appointments with their GP.

“More doctors are urgently needed to guarantee a fully-staffed NHS that provides everyone with the care they need.

Swinson criticises UK support for Trump Afghanistan move

The government didn’t really get round to condemning Donald Trump’s appalling remarks in the wake of Charlottesville, but they were quick off the mark to support him sending more troops to Afghanistan. Jo Swinson said:

For once, sense seems to have prevailed in the White House.

“But to succeed in Afghanistan will require winning the hearts and minds of its people and working closely with neighbouring countries.

“On that front, Donald Trump has already done untold damage through his proposed refugee ban, Islamophobic comments and cack-handed approach to foreign affairs.

“The government’s rapid statement of support for Trump today contrasts with its failure to swiftly condemn his divisive views and actions in the past.

“Simply pouring more troops into Afghanistan will not work without a broader strategy involving careful diplomacy and redoubled efforts to build a stable government.”

Even Brussels must be tired of this waffle

Tom Brake commented on the latest Brexit paper to come from the Government, this time on civil judicial links post Brexit:

Each Brexit paper the government releases leaves us with more questions than answers. Even Brussels must have had enough of this waffle by now.

“The Conservatives are admitting the current system has served British citizens well, giving them certainty that the same rules will apply across Europe. So why are ministers hell-bent on ripping up this system and plunging British citizens abroad and EU citizens here into uncertainty?

“No clarity has been given over which court will resolve disputes and how this will work in practice.

“The government doesn’t even seem to know what it wants to negotiate, so how can it possibly secure a good deal for Britain?”

And he rounded on the Government after they admitted a no-deal Brexit would make it harder to return abducted children:

This exposes the reality of a no deal Brexit, abducted children at greater risk and families plunged into uncertainty.

“The Government needs to end its heartless insistence that no deal is better than a bad deal.

“Avoiding the devastating human consequences of an extreme Brexit should come ahead of the ideological obsessions of Tory Brexiteers.

“The Conservatives claim to be the party of family values, but their plans would risk tearing more families apart.”

BHS prosecution: Carmichael says no court case can restore 11,000 jobs

The legal process must now run its course but no prosecution will give back the jobs of 11,000 people who Philip Green effectively put on the dole by passing the company on to Mr Chappell.

“While Green continues to enjoy his knighthood and his yacht, we need to ensure that workers and pensioners are never again put through such an ordeal.”

SNP failing on skills – Caddick

Responding to a new survey which suggests that almost two thirds of Scottish firms are concerned they will be unable to recruit sufficiently skilled employees over the next few years, Scottish Liberal Democrats have called upon the Scottish Government to boost investment in education and skills.

A total of 120 companies in Scotland were questioned as part of a UK-wide survey by Pearson UK and the Confederation of British Industry(CBI). Just over three quarters of businesses said they expect their need for “high-level skills” – including qualifications, employability skills and industry knowledge – to increase in the next three to five years, but 59% are concerned that candidates will not meet their requirements.

Scottish Liberal Democrat economy spokesperson Councillor Carolyn Caddick said:

“The Scottish economy faces serious challenges. A disastrous hard Brexit from the Tories would deprive businesses of the people they need while the SNP preside over a skills shortage and an education system that has slipped.

“The results of this survey underline the importance of remaining in the single market. The Scottish Government must also make a transformative £500 million investment in education so that everyone has the skills they need to get on in life. This is essential to building the high skill, high wage economy of the future and enabling employers to find staff and grow.”

Barclay Review “missed opportunity for radical change” to Land Value Taxation

The Scottish Government’s review into Business Rates was published today and was, as ever, timid.

The review misses the opportunity for radical changes that would benefit Scottish business. We could have moved to a system of land value taxation which would have avoided the big rate increases that Scottish businesses face when they improve their property with renewable energy or sprinkler systems. All Barclay does is ask for a further review. Land value tax would also provide an automatic incentive to redevelop brown-field sites.

“It is a good idea to exempt new buildings from rates for a year to give a new business the chance to get established. This will encourage enterprise and innovation.

“However, it is disappointing that the Barclay Review does not recommend giving businesses protection from the gigantic rate increases that some of them have faced this year. Hotels and pubs have been hammered by the last two reviews.

“Ministers will have to explain clearly if they are going to adopt the recommendation to transfer money away from local authority sports’ bodies and towards big business. These are the big headline cash transfers in the report and will concern people worried about local council services.”

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