Ed Davey’s response to the London lockdown

The Government have completely lost control of coronavirus across vast swathes of the country, and the situation in London is looking very difficult.

In the north of England, and now in London, the sacrifices of millions of people have been squandered by this Government.

Because of Boris Johnson’s failure to ensure our test, trace and isolate system worked, millions of people will have to make those sacrifices again.

“We’ve not seen the scientific evidence that tiered restrictions will stop this virus.

The evidence we have seen from the experts suggests that we need to move to a national circuit breaker. That’s what the Liberal Democrats are backing.” – @EdwardJDaveypic.twitter.com/s5Trm1EsjV

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) October 15, 2020


We need to understand the science behind the tier system immediately, otherwise there will be fears that this fresh wave of restrictions will do very little to help stop the spread of the virus.

We need a circuit-breaker introduced now, on the condition that government overhaul the failing test and trace system – otherwise restrictions will need to remain in place for the foreseeable future.

The government must do much more to protect jobs and livelihoods and keep people safe.

We must end hair discrimination

On behalf of the Liberal Democrats, I have written to Equalities Minister Liz Truss calling on her to stop all forms of hair discrimination.

We must combat racism wherever we find it in our society, and this all-too-prevalent form of prejudice must end.

Read my letter in full…

Dear Liz,

We are writing to urge you to take action to end hair discrimination in schools, colleges and workplaces, and throughout society.

This is racial discrimination, pure and simple.

In the UK today, too many people’s lives are still blighted by discrimination, inequality or injustice. Sadly, hair policies enforced by schools and employers – officially or unofficially – are an all-too-prevalent form of racial discrimination.

Despite the clear ban on racial discrimination in the Equality Act 2010, we still hear appalling cases of black children being sent home from school because of their afros, black boys being told to cut off their dreadlocks, black women being turned down for jobs because they wear their hair in braids or cornrows, and black employees being told to chemically straighten their natural hair.

The UK must move further and faster to combat racism wherever we find it in our society.

This is racial discrimination, pure and simple. It is unacceptable and it must stop.

We therefore urge you to work with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, as well as your colleagues in the Departments for Education and Business, to develop new guidance for schools and employers to prevent hair discrimination in policies and practices.

We believe your office should also develop an awareness campaign to help schools and employers understand their obligations not to discriminate in relation to hair, and to help pupils, parents and employees understand how to uphold their rights not to be discriminated against.

Finally, we urge you to conduct a review to determine whether any further changes – including legal changes – are necessary to prevent hair discrimination.

We are sure you will agree that the UK must move further and faster to combat racism wherever we find it in our society, and that includes ending hair discrimination.

We look forward to your response.

Ed Davey’s response to the new coronavirus guidelines

People across this country have endured terrible hardships over the past six months: losing loved ones, losing livelihoods and isolating from friends and family.

People are angry to see their hard work and sacrifices utterly wasted by the incompetence of Boris Johnson.

That’s why people are so angry to see their hard work and sacrifices utterly wasted by the incompetence of Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister has has failed the north of England and the whole country.

With the announcement of the Government’s Covid-19 ‘three tier’ system that will be put in place across England, the priority now has to be keeping people safe and ensuring no one is left behind, particularly in the north of England, which is bearing the brunt of the government’s shambles.

Boris Johnson must get testing, tracing and isolating right, and provide proper economic support to save jobs and livelihoods. If the Government does not do more to help, it risks pushing millions of families into poverty.

2020 has been extremely difficult for people & the Government has asked them to make incredible sacrifices.

My message to @BorisJohnson – the British people deserve to know that the new sacrifices he is asking of them today won’t be wasted this time. pic.twitter.com/hJV8AdDxmS

— Ed Davey MP 🔶🇪🇺 (@EdwardJDavey) October 12, 2020

In the Commons, I asked the Prime Minister:

“The Government has asked a lot from people during this pandemic. Stay at home. Close your business. Don’t be there at the death of a loved one.

Johnson must get testing, tracing and isolating right, and provide proper economic support to save jobs and livelihoods.

The British people have borne such sacrifice with grace and resilience. All they ask in return from Government is clear communication and basic competence.

“Yet it seems, Mr. Speaker, their sacrifices have been squandered by the Government’s failure to build a robust test, trace and isolate system or even communicate competently.

“So can the Prime Minister promise that the new sacrifices he is asking from people today will not be squandered this time?”

Johnson chose to ignore the question, but Liberal Democrats will continue to hold this Government to account on its handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Ending Child Hunger – Your Questions Answered

What are we calling for?

We want the Government to commit to three steps which will make a world of difference to struggling families and help end child hunger:

  1. Extend eligibility for free school meals to every pupil in primary and secondary school, whose parents or guardians are in receipt of Universal Credit
  2. Food vouchers for every one of those pupils in every school holiday
  3. Food vouchers for every one of those pupils during any period of lockdown

Why is this needed?

The coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on the issue of child hunger. But this is not a new problem, and it will not go away when we finally beat this virus. We need the Government to commit to practical and long-term measures, to stop any child going hungry, on any day of the year.

All too often, families with children simply do not have enough to eat

Each year as the school holidays approach, many parents dread the fact they will have to find an extra £30-40 per week to buy meals for their children which are usually provided at school. With further local and national lockdowns rumoured, parents now also have to worry about how their child will access a free school meal if their school has to close.

There have been widespread reports that foodbank usage has soared during the pandemic and that all too often, families with children simply do not have enough to eat. But even before the pandemic, many parents would skip meals so they could afford to feed their children during the school holidays.

Who gets free school meals currently?

In England, every child in reception, year 1 (age 5-6) and year 2 (age 6-7) is entitled to a free school meal. However from year 3 onwards (age 7-8), eligibility is based on whether the child’s parents or guardians are in receipt of certain benefits.

With regard to Universal Credit, a child may only be eligible for a free school meal if their household income is less than £7,400 a year after tax (and excluding any benefits). We believe that threshold has been set too low and means that many children who are living in poverty are missing out on a free school meal altogether.

The Children’s Society estimated that more than a million children living in poverty in England are missing out on a free school meal – and in over half of these cases it is because they are not eligible for them.

What is the Government doing about this?

Following a fantastic campaign by footballer Marcus Rashford, the Government performed a u-turn and agreed to provide a ‘COVID Summer Food Fund’ – food vouchers during the school summer holiday, for children who are usually entitled to benefits related free school meals.

More than a million children living in poverty in England are missing out on a free school meal

While this was a welcome relief for many struggling families, it didn’t go nearly far enough. Many families who needed the vouchers missed out under the scheme, and the Government have made no commitment to extend this in future school holidays or if schools have to be closed during periods of lockdown.

What are the Liberal Democrats doing about this?

We are calling for a plan to tackle child hunger – both during the pandemic and afterwards.

We will be writing to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling for him to make funding available in the Spending Review this autumn, to extend Free School Meals to every child whose parents are in receipt of Universal Credit, and to provide vouchers to every child who usually gets a FSM during school holidays and lockdown.

We will be reaching out to charities and campaign groups to work with us on this and calling on MPs from other Party’s to support us too.

World Mental Health Day

This World Mental Health Day, it’s more important than ever that we take the time to reflect on our wellbeing.

The coronavirus crisis has exacerbated mental ill health for many people across the UK, and although tackling Covid-19 is the most critical battle our health system is facing right now, it’s crucial that we remember to take care of our mental health too.

While we can hope to get a grip on coronavirus in the coming months, the mental health impacts will last a lifetime. We must ensure no-one slips through the net as the scale of the mental health impact of this crisis emerges.

It’s more important than ever that we take the time to reflect on our wellbeing.

That’s why the Liberal Democrats have been fighting for better mental health support for the frontline workers who have put their lives on the line throughout the pandemic.

In order for them to look after us, we must look after them.

Liberal Democrat conference voted overwhelmingly to support a package improving mental health support for health and care workers! 👩‍⚕️

We’re calling for a comprehensive package to support the mental health needs of health and social care staff. 👇#LDConfhttps://t.co/njW2Y10NSh

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 25, 2020

At Autumn Conference last month, members voted overwhelmingly in support of a package improving mental health resources for those health and care workers.

These measures include making the Covid-19 support hotline available 24/7, introducing an ‘occupational health passport’ so workers do not have to relive mental health traumas every time they start a new job and taking steps to encourage every health and social care workplace to have a qualified mental health first aider.

When we think about the future, it’s clear that going ‘back to normal’ is not an option.

But it’s not just health and care workers who deserve better. We all do.

As I set out in my speech to Autumn Conference, it’s clear that going ‘back to normal’ is not an option when we think about the future. It is time to re-boot and re-think the way we live our lives.

“When we think about the future, it’s clear that going ‘back to normal’ is not an option. It’s time to re-boot and re-think the way we live our lives.”@munirawilson sets out a bold vision for the future of public health at #LDconf. Her speech in full > https://t.co/LsvHEjwY6Epic.twitter.com/yYrPTpH69Y

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) September 27, 2020

That starts by appointing a Minister for Wellbeing to Cabinet who will scrutinise the Government’s actions and ensure they are fundamentally in keeping with health and wellbeing.

If you are in need of mental health support, Mind offers a range of information and guides on looking after your wellbeing throughout coronavirus.

You can also call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123.

The Weekly Whip!

Welcome to the Weekly Whip. Your one-stop shop for Lib Dem Parliamentary updates, covering the week that was and the week to come.

For up to date information from the Lib Dem Whips Office, follow us on Twitter: @LibDemWhips

Weekly Whip w/c 5th October

Monday 5th October

Another week, another issue with Track and Trace.

Recent Ministerial Statements and Urgent Questions on healthcare have a serious Groundhog Day likeness to them, as Matt Hancock seems to update the House on systemic issues each time he is at the despatch box. This time, it involved an Excel spreadsheet error which may have ‘lost’ 16,000 coronavirus cases. Munira Wilson took the chance to press the Secretary of State on the lack of joined up working at the national and local level, pleading him to utilise local knowledge for more effective contact tracing.

“Some local authorities are reporting that up to 500 unexpected positive cases have been downloaded to their system. Some are two weeks old and have had no contact at all from the national system.”@munirawilson slams the government’s shambolic #TrackAndTrace system. pic.twitter.com/Pu4K55yDDR

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) October 5, 2020


The main business of the day concerned the Second Reading of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill, which Liberal Democrats have fundamental issues with. Essentially, the Bill allows for a wide range of public bodies, ranging from security services to the Food Standards Agency, to authorise criminal conduct where necessary. This could include murder or torture. Although this is not new activity, it puts existing practice on statutory footing.

Liberal Democrats will be tabling various amendments to this Bill next week. The fight on the detail will take place on Thursday.

Away from the main Chamber, Wera Hobhouse made important contributions to the Westminster Hall debate on the impact of Covid-19 on maternity/paternity leave. Westminster Hall debates are a useful opportunity for MPs to discuss wider issues, but they have been cancelled during the pandemic. It is good to see them back.

Depression before, during, and after birth is a serious condition. It can go unrecognized and untreated for nearly half of new mothers.

Covid-19 has only made things worse.

Yesterday I asked Ministers to extend parental leave for families during the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/07bwllIPGQ

— Wera Hobhouse MP 🔶 (@Wera_Hobhouse) October 6, 2020

Tuesday 6th October

As Coronavirus cases began to tick-up across the country, many local businesses feared that they could not survive new lockdown announcements.

Mass unemployment is a serious threat as we head into the winter and The Chancellor of the Exchequer was dragged the Commons by an Urgent Questions to speak to the House.

Lib Dems have been pushing for an extension to the furlough scheme, and Christine Jardine, Treasury Spokesperson, virtually reminded Rishi Sunak that experts say it is the best way to protect millions of jobs.

“Many companies are under threat because they’re being responsible and following restrictions.”@cajardineMP calls for the protection of more than a million jobs by once again urging the government to extend furlough to June 2021. pic.twitter.com/iQYpqtcmDL

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) October 6, 2020


Wednesday 7th October

Wednesday was a quiet day in the Chamber for the Liberal Democrats, as there were no UQs, no Ministerial Statements, nor was the main business controversial.

Wendy Chamberlain, DWP Spokesperson, spoke during the Second Reading of the Pension Schemes Bill, raising common fears of younger people and their general inability to save for retirement given the economic environment. With cross-party support, we are generally supportive of this important Bill.

Pensions are a fundamental part of everyone’s future. They provide support and investment in people of all ages future. That is why the triple-lock guarantee for pensions has never been more important. pic.twitter.com/Lw9bMC0E0Y

— Wendy Chamberlain MP 🔶️ (@wendychambLD) October 9, 2020


A quiet day turned into a Lib Dem dominated evening after Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond Park, managed to secure an Adjournment Debate on policing in her patch of South West London. Joined by neighbouring MP for Twickenham, Munira Wilson, and Minister of State for Policing, Kit Malthouse, Sarah discussed the impact of officers being sent into central London to respond to people breaking Coronavirus rules.

Really pleased to have secured an Adjournment Debate tonight on policing in SW London 👍👍👍 pic.twitter.com/n5RQsZQpMc

— Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) October 7, 2020

Part of my adjournment debate speech this evening talking about the effects of anti-social behaviour on communities #policingpic.twitter.com/IhTUfFhSDw

— Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) October 7, 2020

Thursday 8th October

The week drew to a quiet close with Backbench Business Debates on Planning and House Building Targets, which Sarah Olney covered.

The government’s White Paper on Planning received wide criticism from across the House, with Lib Dems taking particular issue with the lack of community involvement and decision-making on house building, one of the major motions passed at recent Lib Dem Conference.

I spoke earlier during the Planning Debate about the importance of community forums, the issues facing @BreweryMortlake development and protecting our views. pic.twitter.com/9bovq0F9js

— Sarah Olney (@sarahjolney1) October 8, 2020


The latter debate was on the spending of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport during the Coronavirus Crisis. Various industries and businesses within this sector have already been economically hit by the virus, and further lockdown measures could exacerbate this. Wendy and Wera were the voice for creatives in their constituencies of North-East Fife and the City of Bath respectively.

“I don’t need a better job; I’m in it already.”@wendychambLD shares the frustration from one constituent whose job the Government now deems ‘unviable’. pic.twitter.com/PLSkO3bTtU

— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) October 8, 2020

Next week will be a busy week for Parliament.

The Agriculture Bill and the Fisheries Bill will decide the future of UK food standards and fisheries management post-Brexit. The 10pm curfew for Pubs and restaurants will be voted on by Parliament, and the details of controversial Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill will be contested.

Ending Child Hunger

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to extend access to Free School Meals to all children whose families are on universal credit, and guarantee food vouchers to those children when schools are closed for holidays or during periods of lockdown.

Coronavirus has shone a new spotlight on the issue of child hunger – but this is not a new issue

The coronavirus crisis has shone a new spotlight on the issue of child hunger, with demand for food banks soaring and almost a fifth of households with children unable to access enough food in the first weeks of lockdown.

However this is not a new issue – and sadly, it will not go away once we’ve beaten the virus.

Every year many parents feel a real dread as the school holidays approach, at the idea of having to find an extra £30-40 per week to buy meals for their children which are usually provided at school. Now the same parents are worried that access to free school meals will be put at risk if schools have to close for further lockdowns.

Many children living in poverty also miss out on free school meals altogether, because the earnings threshold for eligibility is set too low.

We are calling on the Government to take the following steps to help stop child hunger for good, in the Comprehensive Spending Review this autumn:

  1. Extend eligibility for free school meals to every pupil in primary and secondary school, whose parents or guardians are in receipt of Universal Credit
  2. Food vouchers for every one of those pupils in every school holiday
  3. Food vouchers for every one of those pupils during any period of lockdown

Please join us in calling on the Government to stop child hunger.

Fighting for Free School Meals

The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Government to extend access to Free School Meals to all children whose families are on universal credit, and guarantee food vouchers to those children when schools are closed for holidays or during periods of lockdown.

Coronavirus has shone a new spotlight on the issue of child hunger – but this is not a new issue

The coronavirus crisis has shone a new spotlight on the issue of child hunger, with demand for food banks soaring and almost a fifth of households with children unable to access enough food in the first weeks of lockdown.

However this is not a new issue – and sadly, it will not go away once we’ve beaten the virus.

Every year many parents feel a real dread as the school holidays approach, at the idea of having to find an extra £30-40 per week to buy meals for their children which are usually provided at school. Now the same parents are worried that access to free school meals will be put at risk if schools have to close for further lockdowns.

Many children living in poverty also miss out on free school meals altogether, because the earnings threshold for eligibility is set too low.

We are calling on the Government to take the following steps to help stop child hunger for good, in the Comprehensive Spending Review this autumn:

  1. Extend eligibility for free school meals to every pupil in primary and secondary school, whose parents or guardians are in receipt of Universal Credit
  2. Food vouchers for every one of those pupils in every school holiday
  3. Food vouchers for every one of those pupils during any period of lockdown

Please join us in calling on the Government to stop child hunger.

The Liberal Democrats are here for you.

This is an incredibly difficult time for people. Right across our country, coronavirus has caused enormous upheaval and uncertainty.

Too many have lost loved ones. Too many have lost their livelihoods.

In many ways this crisis has amplified pressures in our communities that have for too long been ignored. That must change.

But we have endured three deeply disappointing general elections, in five tough years. At the national level at least, too many people think we’re out of touch with what they want.

We can’t fix this with a catchy new slogan. Or by fighting the same battles, in the same way. The answer is to listen to what people are really telling us. And to change.

That’s why our new leader Ed Davey has been touring the country, meeting people and listening to their problems and fears, hopes and dreams.

We want to help people get on, and build a fairer, greener, more caring future.

That’s who we are. That is what we will be. And that is the future we will build.

If those are your values too,why not join us today?

Black History Month 2020

October is Black History Month – a time to celebrate the enormous contributions Black people have made to our country.

Black History Month – a time to celebrate the enormous contributions Black people have made to our country.

Their contributions have shaped our national identity and are evident in every field from literature, politics, science, business, music and arts.

Throughout this month, we remember icons from the trailblazing composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, to Margaret Busby – Britain’s youngest and first Black female book publisher.

We also celebrate those who helped establish our National Health Service, joined the war effort, marched for justice and worked tirelessly to build a better world for all of us.

Just a few months ago, the world watched in horror as George Floyd died at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

The violence inflicted on him and so many other Black people across America is abhorrent, and it is time everyone woke up to the multiple injustices Black people face – and not simply in America.

It is time everyone woke up to the multiple injustices Black people face – and not simply in America.

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, the demand for justice, that Black lives matter, has reverberated around the world and a new generation of activists has arisen in the longstanding battle for racial justice.

We must support these movements and help them provoke reform, in America, in our own country and wherever racial injustice and racial discrimination raises its ugly head.

The shocking reality is, systemic discrimination is a lived reality for Black people; we see it in classrooms, in offices and throughout the criminal justice system.

For example, in the UK a Black person is 47 times more likely to be subject to Section 60 ‘Suspicionless’ Stop and Search than a white person. This is unacceptable. That’s why I have demanded that the government scrap that power once and for all.

It’s upon all of us to start doing the honest, hard, uncomfortable work of dismantling anti-Black racism.

The last few months have made it clear that there must no longer be anywhere to hide for racial injustice: the curtain must be finally being pulled down on systems complicit in the oppression and dehumanisation of Black people.

We can longer be content with the status quo, nor can we merely pay lip service to issues of racial injustice. It’s upon all of us to start doing the honest, hard, uncomfortable work of dismantling anti-Black racism.

As a party, we will continue to stand with Black communities and we will keep affirming the fundamental truth that Black lives matter.