Saturday, May 29, 2010

David Laws.

I feel very sad for David Laws who resigned this afternoon. As Julian Glover puts it in the Guardian, "This is a scandal – if it is a scandal – caused by one man's inability to face up to his sexuality, not a desire to fiddle expenses."

David Laws was respected as an honorable man and was proving to be a great asset to this country through his work at the Treasury. I hope the media respect his wishes and give him and his family the space they need at the moment.

Iain Roberts has a good analysis of the situation in his Blog.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Compensation for Equitable Life victims is long overdue

Local victims of the Equitable Life collapse can finally expect compensation as Liberal Democrat MPs push forward new legislation.

Some of our local firms had pension schemes with Equitable Life. Many of my colleagues were affected and I had many letters and emails from people during the general election who were worried that years of saving would amount to nothing.

The previous Government continually ignored the millions of people who lost their savings. The Equitable Life Bill, which was outlined to the House of Commons on Wednesday, will give the Treasury the authority to make payments to policyholders or dependents who have been fighting the Labour Government for compensation since 2000.

I am delighted that we are using our position in Government to give policyholders the money they deserve.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Thanks for all your support.

I just want to say thank you for all your support during the general election. Your support, hard work and encouragement really made a difference to me personally and locally leaving our party here in Warwick & Leamington stronger than ever. This afternoon during a quick trip to Leamington many people stopped me in the street with words of encouragement, which I really appreciate.

Nationally It is clear that no party has been granted an overall majority. It has been a mixed set of results for all of the major parties. We had some disappointing losses and at the same some stunning results such as Redcar where we won on a massive 25% swing.

There is a lot of media speculation over what may happen next and it is clear that Nick Clegg and his team are holding their nerve, after all we have been preparing for the eventuality of a balanced parliament for a long time. I am sure we are not going to give that away lightly.

As the Conservatives gained the most seats and highest share of the vote it is only right, as Nick has stated right from the start that they be given the opportunity to form a government. Whether this is possible; with or without our support will be subject to discussions over the coming days.

This morning Nick spoke on his way into meetings with key advisers and our new Parliamentary team. He was clear that he would press our case for our four priorities - tax reform to make the system fairer, a "new approach" to education to give a "fair start" to all children, the economy and "fundamental political reform to our political system".

It is clear from the Unlock Democracy demonstration supporting electoral reform this afternoon that there is a lot of support for electoral reform as key to these discussions, something I find encouraging.

Back here in Warwick & Leamington we continue to hold our District and County councils to account as the effective opposition. Our leadership of Leamington Town Council is recognised across the country as outstanding.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Lib-Dem Pub Policy

I think I've missed a trick in this campaign. The other week a landlord in Warwick told me how much he liked our policies on pubs. This evening a landlord in Leamington asked me about them. Not that I have spent the entire campaign in the pub you understand, yet it seems having a quick read to refresh my memory I could have done a lot worse.

I especially like the part about relaxing the rules on Live Music and I think overall our policy to support this great British institution is spot on.

Liberal Democrats have a proud history of championing British heritage and tradition. We will address the issues facing pubs to enable them to compete with the offlicence alcohol trade to preserve these valuable social and community assets.

We will create a more equal playing field for pubs by preventing supermarkets from selling below-cost alcohol. Supermarkets and off-licences selling alcohol at pocket-money-prices have undercut the pub trade and contributed to the binge drinking culture. We will set up an independent panel to consider the evidence for a fuller scheme of minimum pricing for alcohol.

We will also reduce the burden of bureaucratic licensing requirements which prevents pubs from putting on live music events. We will re-introduce the “two in a bar’’ rule allowing two performers of unamplified music in any licensed premises without the need for an entertainment licence. We will also exempt small venues from the requirement to apply for a new licence if they want to host live music performances. However we will provide for a review if local residents object.

Local pubs often form the social hub of a community, strengthening local social networks as well as facilitating many local services, events and activities which contribute to local life. These can include: hosting a range of important public services such as running post offices, and general stores; and providing a place for local charities, sports clubs and civic groups to host meetings and activities. We believe that every effort should be made to keep local pubs open and that where pub companies are seeking to sell community pubs, the community and current lessee should have the opportunity to buy the business at a fair market price.

In addition we will address issues in planning legislation that make it difficult for communities to protect and preserve their pubs.