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Tim Farron's Recent Appearances in Parliament

Tim Farron speaking on unaccompanied refugees (Liberal Democrat Newswire)Content supplied and updated by theyworkforyou.com

  • Sep 29, 2020:
  • Sep 23, 2020:
    • End of Eviction Moratorium | Commons debates

      I am grateful to you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question.

      The ban on possession proceedings has given many private renters protection against the economic impact of coronavirus; at least the roof over their heads could not be taken away. That protection ended on Sunday and now 55,000 households are in immediate danger of losing their homes. They are the 55,000 served with eviction notices between March and August. Their landlords were not required to give six months' notice, so courts could be processing their eviction orders as I speak. In addition, by the way, asylum seekers who fled to Britain for sanctuary will receive eviction notices with immediate effect. For context, in the same period last year, just 21,000 eviction notices were served. The scale of the hardship that is now being unleashed is unprecedented and no one is ready for it. Shelter estimates that a colossal 322,000 private renters are newly in arrears since the pandemic began, so things will get worse even more quickly. Unless he acts now, the Secretary of State will break his promise made in this place on 18 March that

      "no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home".

      The Minister insists there are new measures to provide protection. That is not so. The new civil procedure rules require the landlord seeking possession to describe the effect of the pandemic on their tenants' circumstances, but judges have zero authority to take those circumstances into account. In practice, it provides no protection. We recognise, too, that some small landlords will be unable to pay their mortgages or put food on their tables, so I remind the Minister of his promise to landlords that none should face unmanageable debt. The Minister believed the eviction moratorium was justified as the pandemic took hold in spring, but as we battle a second wave in the harsh depths of winters are not such measures justified still?

      I do not ask the Minister to kick the can down the road. Instead, I ask for an extension to the eviction moratorium, so that the underlying problems can be solved. The 55,000 at risk of homelessness today cannot afford to pay their rent now, they are not likely to have the money in a few months' time, and they are not going to have enough money for a deposit for a new place if they are evicted, so, very briefly, my four suggestions are these.

      First, let us enact a further six-month moratorium on the bulk of evictions starting today, but this time do not waste the six months. Secondly, let us amend section 8 evictions to give judges discretion over tenants who are in need. Thirdly, the Minister should, as his manifesto promised, fast-track legislation to repeal section 21 no-fault evictions. Throughout the crisis, the Government have swiftly moved through legislation when they have needed to and there is nothing more urgent than preventing avoidable homelessness. Finally, the Minister should provide a comprehensive package of financial support for those in arrears, so that when the moratorium does end, we do not see the appalling misery of mass homelessness, whether that is in the Lakes or in London.

      The British people are united in their decency and in their belief that the virus should not bring families to their knees and dump them on the street. The Minister has the power to prevent a pandemic of homelessness. I beg him to use that power and take the actions I have outlined.

    • End of Eviction Moratorium | Commons debates

      (Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State if he will make a statement on the end of the eviction moratorium.

  • Sep 22, 2020:
    • Question | Ministry of Justice | Written Answers

      What steps he is taking to tackle the backlog of family court hearings accrued during the covid-19 outbreak.

    • Covid-19 | Commons debates

      I accept the need for these restrictions, but the Prime Minister must know that they come at the worst possible time for hospitality and tourism in Cumbria, the lakes and dales and elsewhere, because furlough is ending just as the low season begins. He could back the targeted package proposed by the tourism industry and me to save jobs and businesses through these tough winter months, or he could cost the taxpayer billions in benefits and lost tax revenue by letting them all go to the wall. Will he meet me and tourism and hospitality industry leaders, so that we can find a solution and save jobs?

  • Sep 21, 2020:
  • Sep 15, 2020:
    • Clause 28 - Functions of the CMA under this Part: general provisions | United Kingdom Internal Market Bill | Commons debates

      I do not think that any of us doubt the integrity of the people on the board or on that body. We doubt their powers to be able to ensure that there is equity. Does the Minister not understand that there is a real difference?

    • Clause 28 - Functions of the CMA under this Part: general provisions | United Kingdom Internal Market Bill | Commons debates

      I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his intervention. We should be aware that, on top of the desire politically for greater regulated markets, which I absolutely welcome, there is also a desire to maximise profit. What do we do when we are trying to maximise profit? We reduce costs. What are regulations? Well, sadly, they often involve more costs. One of the benefits of the European Union is that we lock ourselves in to an understanding that there are common rules. If, within the United Kingdom, we create an in-built incentive for one part of the United Kingdom to reduce its standards and therefore automatically drag down the standards of the other three parts of the UK at the same time, we have made this possible. Indeed, I argue that, thanks to the laws of free-market economics, we have made it more than likely-we have made it almost certain.

      The Competition and Markets Authority should be representative of all the nation. There needs to be unity in the decisions and not just in the implementation of the conclusions. I am afraid for the future of our United Kingdom. Do this Government want to be the Administration responsible for the disintegration of our Union, whether by negligence or design? That is where they are taking us. This Bill, through its inherent relegation of the importance of devolution, is a colossal step-a witless step even-towards undermining the unity of the Union. This Government have taken us out of one Union. We will not let them wreck another, which is all the more precious even than the one that we have left.

    • Clause 28 - Functions of the CMA under this Part: general provisions | United Kingdom Internal Market Bill | Commons debates

      It is a great honour to serve under your chairmanship, Sir Graham, and to follow the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh West (Christine Jardine).

      The Bill claims to be about unity based on the pillars of mutual recognition and non-discrimination; in reality, unamended, the Bill is something quite different. It will enforce the lowest common denominator in goods and services across the United Kingdom. There is such a focus on the fear of letting in through the front door chlorinated chicken or whatever other emblem of lowered standards there might be from a trade deal with the US or anywhere else. This Bill unamended is the route through the back door to lowered standards, whether it be for farmers, in retail or in manufacturing.

      What is the value in consistency if it leads to the lowest possible standards, and how do we ensure the integrity of the Union and the dignity and, indeed, sovereignty of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England as we consider how to regulate these deals? We have in front of us the proposal for the Office for the Internal Market, which looks to be utterly toothless, in effect. At the apex of its terrifying range of powers is the ability to launch investigations and to deliver written statements-and that is it. That is the entire arsenal for the devolved nations to protect their standards of goods and services, while those nations will not be around the table making the decisions in the first place.

      If the Government think this is a Bill about creating a united front, they are completely and utterly deluded. Rather than finding unity and a common position between the nations of the UK, this set of proposals in reality drives a deeper wedge between them. Like my hon. Friends who spoke before me, that fills me not with joy in the anticipation of another bite at the cherry of independence, but with complete and utter dismay. It should fill Conservative and Unionist MPs with utter dismay, and I am bewildered that it does not.

      The problem is that the Government voted for and the Prime Minister signed a withdrawal agreement that he knew-he must have known-was a trade-off between a border separating Northern Ireland and the Republic and a trade border in the Irish Sea. One threatens the Good Friday agreement and the other threatens the very existence of the United Kingdom. There was never a third option: there was no Malthouse compromise and nothing else was on the table. It was all guff, and I pity any Tory candidate who fell for it.

      It was a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic or a border between Ireland and Great Britain, and the Prime Minister made a choice, but now he says he does not like his choice, or he did not understand his choice, or it is all the fault of the nasty foreigners. But we have discovered in the last few days, as have millions of people who voted in good faith for this Government last December, that Brexit is not done: it was never done. Either the Prime Minister did not understand what he was signing, or he said a thing, indeed a series of things, that was not so. On this also, there is no third option.

      More than 20 years ago, as has been said, this country rightly moved towards devolution to empower Wales, Scotland and then Northern Ireland. To their great shame, the Labour Government at that time did not do go further in empowering the regions of England also. Of course, the devolution that did happen at the time was opposed by the Conservative party in opposition, but in time it grew to accept the new devolved nature of Government in these islands, because-guess what?-proportional representation gives it seats in Scotland.

      If on issues where the devolved Administrations have competence this Government force them to submit to whatever standards they decide on in the guise of unity, all we are doing is enforcing the lowest common denominator. We will not be levelling up; we will be forcibly levelling down. The Government will be sticking up two fingers at devolution.

      This is a significant threat to the Union. I am waiting and waiting for the moment when Conservative and Unionist party Members will grasp the second part of their name and their mission. The current Conservative leadership deems this Bill to be just another convenient trench in the culture war. I implore Conservative MPs to take back control of their party before it is too late and we lose our country, for then there will be no Union for us to be Unionist about.

      In South Cumbria, I am 50 miles from the Scottish border. I have no desire to live 50 miles from a foreign border-not in my lifetime, nor in my children's or grandchildren's lifetimes.

      There are both practical and emotional reasons why this Bill is the worst thing to come to this House in the 15 years that I have been a Member of Parliament. Cumbria does not have a more important internal market than our relationship with south-west Scotland. It is a porous border, not even recognised by many: people work on one side of the border and live on the other; they go to school on one side and visit their GP on the other. Sheep reared in Cumbria are sold in Scotland. Cattle reared in Scotland are sold in Cumbria. Farmers dependent on common standards on both sides are about to see those standards undermined. Our farmers, across all nations, are to be sold down the river. Every poor decision, every compromise will sow more seeds of discontent in the devolved nations, playing into the hands of those who are desperate to split us asunder.

      To many, this might feel academic, perhaps to the genius spin doctors in Whitehall who play with our country as though it is some kind of great board game, some game of Risk; it is academic for them, funny for them, a game for them, but it is not for us in Cumbria-not for our farmers and not for our tourism sector. In fact, for most of us, it matters massively. It is emotional and it is practical, and you are playing games with the future of our relationship with our most important trading partners.

      The Government seem not to care one bit about the cross-border single market of Cumbria and Dumfriesshire, for example. We need all the nations around the table and robust regulation of market and trading decisions, so that my farmers in Cumbria are not undercut by Government regulations-and then really until they are none the wiser and it is too late. We have the best standards of animal welfare, environmental control, and food safety in the world. I do not want there to be an in-built race to the bottom within the nations of the United Kingdom that undermine that correct reputation.

    • Coronavirus | Commons debates

      Has the Secretary of State seen today's analysis revealing the terrifying scale of the backlog in cancer treatment and diagnostics? It is now clear that it would take the system operating at 135% capacity for six whole months just to catch up with where we were in March. Until then, the tragic reality is that people in my constituency and around the country will be unnecessarily losing their lives. I beg him to urgently meet the clinician-led Catch Up With Cancer campaign so that we can give him the solutions to boost cancer services and save tens of thousands of lives.

  • Sep 14, 2020:
    • Question | Department for Work and Pensions | Written Answers

      What steps she is taking with Cabinet colleagues to (a) tackle unemployment and (b) promote job retention in the tourism and hospitality sector.

    • Topical Questions | Work and Pensions | Commons debates

      There are 4,500 people in my constituency in south Cumbria and 3 million across the country who have been excluded from any covid-specific support over the last six months-those who have recently become self-employed, directors of small limited companies and people who were new starters in March. After six long, desperate months, will the Minister support a compensation package for those people?

  • Sep 9, 2020:
    • Awarding of Qualifications: Role of Ministers | Commons debates

      As a dad of two kids, one of whom went through GCSEs and one of whom went through A-levels this year, I understand massively the disruption that was caused to families and especially to the young people looking to their futures. Does the hon. Lady agree that, looking to the future, the Secretary of State should show humility, listen to the teaching profession and learn, and he should understand that all-or-nothing exams next spring are a huge risk to our young people, particularly given the crisis we might be in then? Is it not better to assess along the way, as many teachers are telling us would be far wiser?