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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

  • Jul 1, 2020:
    • Review of impact of Act on the environment | Finance Bill | Commons debates

      There has been much talk of Roosevelt and the new deal but, as the hon. Member for Cardiff North (Anna McMorrin) said, the Roosevelt new deal comprised 40% of US GDP and the Prime Minister's announcement 0.2% of UK GDP. The new deal rhetoric is right-let us congratulate the Government on that-but the reality is utterly limp.

      We stand on the precipice of a recession, probably the worst of our lifetimes, and so it is good to hear Conservatives, for the first time in generations, looking to the great liberal economist John Maynard Keynes for inspiration. This is a time to boost demand and economic activity, to create jobs by direct Government intervention. We will do that by borrowing to invest, and we should do so on a colossal and ambitious scale. Yesterday's announcement of £5 billion investment would transform Cumbria, if all of it was spent there. No serious person thinks it will even make a dent in the UK-wide economic situation.

      Nor does that investment, of course, comprise a green infrastructure revolution. Yet, if we really are to build an economy that is better, that is the revolution we would choose. An active, ambitious Government would invest not £5 billion, but the £150 billion that the Liberal Democrats propose, over the next three years. That way, we would stand a chance of ending the recession before it starts, protecting and creating jobs and preventing hardship. We would also stand a chance of leaving a legacy that future generations will thank us for.

      In working together, in a collective national endeavour to build the sustainable infrastructure we need, we can generate the national unity and common purpose that has been absent ever since the debate about our relationship with the rest of Europe turned into a self-destructive culture war. We can unite the country, avert the recession and save the planet all in one go, but it will take an awful lot more than 0.2% of GDP.

      So what should we do? We expect to see as few as 3,500 social rented homes built across the entire country this year, the lowest number in history. In my constituency alone, we have 3,000 people languishing on the housing list. We need new homes, genuinely affordable homes and zero-carbon homes. The Government must fast-track the affordable homes programme and spend it on building new, zero-carbon social rented homes.

      The Government must also launch a nationwide programme of energy insulation, starting with the homes of those with the lowest incomes, and they must also use this time of fast-tracked legislation-since they are in the mood to do it-to reform the Land Compensation Act 1961 to prevent land values from being inflated, so that we can make zero-carbon homes more affordable to build and more likely to be built.

      Transport is key to rural communities such as mine, and to the environment and the recovery. In the north-west, transport spend per head of the population is still barely half of what it is in London, despite the promises made when the northern powerhouse was established. Bus services in London receive a £722 million annual subsidy; in Cumbria, we receive nothing at all. What little money exists rarely makes it north of the M60-not much of a powerhouse, and not very northern.

      Our communities in South Lakeland have done a spectacular job putting together community bus services, such as the Western Dales Bus service connecting Sedbergh and Dent with Kendal and the surrounding communities, to plug some of the gaps caused by the steady loss of services, but we should not have to do that. The lack of subsidy means that fares are extortionate, which is a huge challenge, especially for low-paid workers. The 5-mile journey from Ambleside to Grasmere costs £4.90; a journey of equivalent length in London costs £1.50.

      Bus services are essential to life in rural communities such as ours-essential to boosting our economy, moving to zero carbon and tackling isolation. They are also key to Cumbria's vital tourism industry. Between 16 million and 20 million people visit us each year, and 83% of those visitors travel to us by car. With the right interventions and conditions, our visitors will travel sustainably.

      We ask for a comprehensive, affordable rural bus service connecting all our villages to our main towns regularly and reliably. We ask for a network of electric hire bike stations. There should be such stations at all railway stations, in village centres, and at major bus stops, and action to make cycling easier and safer throughout Cumbria. We ask for the Lakes line, which connects the English Lake district to the main line, to be electrified. It is shameful that the Government cancelled electrification plans in 2017 for utterly bogus reasons. Now is the time to keep that promise and electrify this iconic line, which serves Britain's second-biggest visitor destination after London. We ask that there be a passing loop on the Lakes line at Burneside to enable a huge increase in capacity, and we ask for Staveley station to be made accessible, so that it is no longer out of reach of those with mobility difficulties, who cannot make it up the 41 steps.

      We ask that the Government show their commitment to industrial renewal and to tackling the climate emergency by investing in wave, hydro and tidal power in the most beautiful but-let us be honest-wettest part of Britain. Why is it that the UK, with the highest tidal range on the planet after Canada, spends so little on the reliable power that water offers? We are proud to have Gilkes in Kendal, beacon to the hydro energy industry. Let us back it, and others like it, so that we can get Britain working, sustainably.

      For Cumbria and Britain, building back better and greener is possible-essential-but it means doing more than just using Roosevelt's name; it will mean deploying Roosevelt's courage.

    • Breast Cancer: Radiotherapy | Department of Health and Social Care | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what information his Department holds on the number of patients who have had shorter courses of breast radiotherapy as a result of the covid-19 outbreak.

    • Hong Kong National Security Legislation | Commons debates

      The offer to BNO passport holders and to those eligible is the right, decent and thoroughly British thing to do, but those people and the Chinese Government must be convinced that this offer is not theoretical and that it is absolutely real. Will the Foreign Secretary set out the practical steps he will take to ensure that those who arrive in the UK are welcomed in our society and in our wider communities?

  • Jun 30, 2020:
  • Jun 29, 2020:
    • Pavement licences | Business and Planning Bill | Commons debates

      I shall speak to new clause 1, which I will not push to a Division because, for reasons mentioned by others-not least the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier)-I accept the premise of the Bill. It is about boosting the economy and creating flexibility so that people can begin to make a living again within the confines of the important safety restrictions that there are. However, I am very much looking to the Minister and the Government to be very clear that they will accept the terms and the general approach of my amendment, which seeks Government support for the hospitality and tourism industry beyond the current date set, which is the end of October, when the Government's financial support schemes currently run out.

      We welcome this Bill, rushed though it is, and understanding the necessity of that. We also welcome the support that the Government have given to the sector and the economy more widely. Undoubtedly the furlough scheme, the grant schemes and, more recently, after a lot of lobbying by myself and plenty of others, the discretionary schemes delivered through local authorities have helped to save thousands of companies from bankruptcy and protected millions of jobs. I am grateful to the Government for that.

      But tourism and hospitality is a special case. It is a special case because, for many parts of the country, and especially the Lake district, the Yorkshire dales and the rest of south Cumbria in my constituency, it operates on a seasonal basis-on a feast and famine basis. The reality is that covid-19 kicked in at the end of the winter, so there was famine and then the feast was cancelled. October-the month when the Government support for this industry and others will end-is the beginning of the next famine. We have to be very clear about this: if we say to the hospitality and tourism industry that, having missed out on its feast, it has to survive on its own two feet after October, we will simply be signing the death warrant of an entire industry right across this country. As I say, the industry operates on feast and famine. The other way of looking at this is that our hospitality and tourism industry across the UK will be expected to live on the basis of three consecutive winters, and there is no way it can absorb that-there is no way that many of these businesses will be able to survive it.

      We are all working towards 4 July, and we are excited about it, with trepidation, but I want to remind the Minister and anybody else who needs reminding that, on 4 July, we will not see the widespread opening up of all the tourism and hospitality sector. In a survey of its members just a few days ago, Cumbria Tourism revealed that 69% of hospitality and tourism businesses in Cumbria will not be able to open fully on 4 July or any time soon after that, and 10% will not be able to open at all. The Government must not fall into a false sense of security that opening up to a degree on 4 July rescues the industry. Instead of famine, feast, famine it will be famine, small picnic, famine. We must not allow ourselves to assume that all is well within the industry just because of 4 July, welcome though that may be.

      I remind the Minister that my constituency has had the single biggest increase in unemployment in the country since March-314%-and that 37% of my entire workforce is on furlough, which is the single biggest percentage outside London. The vast bulk of those people work in the tourism and hospitality sector. We hope that, having waited through the summer without a holiday, some of the people who would have travelled abroad might decide to holiday at home; I hope they do, and I support them in doing so. But we cannot assume that a rise in staycations will do anything to compensate for the losses that the industry has had over the summer months, which are of course not the Government's fault, but we look to the Government to extend the support.

      Alongside others, I have presented a petition calling for Government support beyond October through to spring 2021. It has the support of MPs across the House, including, I am pleased to say, my neighbours the hon. Members for Penrith and The Border (Dr Hudson) and for Barrow and Furness (Simon Fell). It also has the support of the heads and chief executives of the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales national parks, and many other destination organisations around the country such as Visit Cornwall, as well as my own, Cumbria Tourism.

      This is a cross-party effort. New clause 1 is in my name, but it is supported by many Members. I hope that the Government will take notice and provide support for an industry that is the fourth biggest employer in the United Kingdom and the biggest employer in Cumbria. While I recognise that extending support for that industry from October through to spring will be expensive, I want the Minister to realise that not providing that support will also be hideously expensive, as tens of thousands of people become unemployed and we see the collapse of businesses that would otherwise be healthy and ready to start the fightback from the beginning of the new season in spring. I will not seek to divide the Committee on this matter, but I strongly urge the Minister to acknowledge what I am saying and to commit the Government to supporting a package of support for hospitality and tourism right the way through to spring 2021.

    • Business and Planning Bill | Commons debates

      Not North End? Fair enough. Anyway, all the best. Both maiden speeches were wonderful. On to even more serious matters, Mr Deputy Speaker. You must really have to sit on the fence where you are-good golly. Burnley? Blackburn? My goodness me. Stick with Clitheroe-that is my advice.

      The Liberal Democrats support the provisions in the Bill and recognise how necessary they are. We recognise the colossal sacrifice that so many people have made in the last three and a bit months. Many did so before there was any guarantee of any kind of financial support, which might have made it a little easier for them. My constituency has an average age 10 years above the national average, and we were one of the infection hotspots right at the beginning. The number of deaths was tragically high in our community in south Cumbria. Many people running businesses of all sorts closed down or restricted their economic activity right at the beginning, before any compensation was available to them, because they put the interests of their neighbours and people they had never met before their own financial interests. I pay tribute to my constituents and indeed folk around the country for doing that.

      At the head of the movement to try to get people to restrict their economic activity right at the beginning, even telling people not to visit the Lake district-Britain's biggest tourist destination after London-was Cumbria Tourism itself, our tourism board. It led the calls for people to visit us, but just not now, not yet, in order to keep people safe. We need to remember that sacrifice. I am very moved by and proud of it.

      Of course, the Government package did come weeks later and it is very welcome. It is important in this process-in this crisis-that we find ways of working together and being collectively responsible for the mission to get Britain through the covid crisis as much as possible. It is right for those on the Opposition Benches, and indeed on the Back Benches, to hold the Government to account, and to do so constructively. I take my role as Cumbria's only Opposition MP seriously. I have a responsibility, which must not be abused, to speak out, but I recognise that my job would be undermined, and I would be undermining my constituents and folks across Cumbria, if I was oppositionist for opposition's sake. So it is important to congratulate the Government and work with them, when they have done the right thing. The furlough scheme, the grant schemes and so on undoubtedly saved, at least for the time being, millions of jobs around the country and thousands of jobs in my constituency.

      There are, however, some gaps, and I want to spend a moment or two talking about them. It is still beyond me that the Government have still not been able to find a package to support people who make their living by being directors of very small limited companies. I can think of a person I know well in my constituency who is a photographer. He is a one-person band, effectively; he is not the director of some large corporation. His income has been completely stopped these past three months. The Government surely could still find ways of ensuring that directors of small limited companies are able to get support.

      I also think, in relation to this package of measures, of the plight of people in the mobile catering industry, whose interests have been represented incredibly well, especially by my hon. Friend the Member for North East Fife (Wendy Chamberlain). It is important that they are explicitly referenced in the Bill so that they are supported to be able to make a living, and supported for the shortfalls in their incomes over the last few months.

      I am bound, though, to focus on the gap in provision for those who have been self-employed for not so long. One in four people who work in my constituency work for themselves; they are self-employed. Our community is hugely entrepreneurial and we are very proud of that. New business start-ups are one of the council's most important focuses. Many small business do not make a profit in their first, or even their second, year; it just does not happen. People put their effort, money and capital into getting going, and they maybe turn a profit in year three. Those innovative, risk-taking people, who have perhaps made a lifestyle choice to earn a bit less money, but to live in a nice part of the world, put their kids through the local school and add to our community, are falling through the gaps. When Westmorland and Lonsdale had the largest single increase in umemployment in the United Kingdom-of 312%-we know that many of those were those hard-working, innovative people who were starting off, and the Government did not find a way to be able to support them.

      The Government said that they were not able to support them because there was not 12 months' worth of evidence of them operating. I would argue strongly against that, but even if that is an argument, why, when we came to the second iteration of support-when some of the people who were denied the first time round would have then done 12 months-were those people not included? It is so important that those people are not forgotten and that we as a country invest now in supporting them.

      In my constituency, 37% of the entire workforce is on furlough. That is the biggest number anywhere in the north of England and the biggest number of anybody outside London. It is important to remember that a large part of that will be down to the significance of the hospitality and tourism sector, with 60,000 people working in it throughout Cumbria, the bulk of whom are in my constituency, the Lake district, the Yorkshire dales and other parts of south Cumbria. While we look forward nervously and cautiously, but with a level of excitement, to 4 July and the comeback of much of the hospitality and tourism industry, we recognise that many, many businesses will not be able to fully function. I am thinking of, for example, the survey that Cumbria Tourism did of its members just last week, when they discovered that 69% of those businesses will not be able to open fully even after 4 July. We must not assume that everything is back to normal in just a week or two's time.

      With your permission, Mr Deputy Speaker, in Committee, I will want to talk about our new clause 1 and hospitality and tourism in a bit more detail, so I will not go further at this point, save to say that I recognise many of the comments from my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Sarah Olney) and the hon. Member for Hackney South and Shoreditch (Meg Hillier) about antisocial behaviour sometimes coming with the immediate upsurge in visitor numbers. That is not just in urban areas. The road on the east side of Coniston water had to be closed down in the last couple of weeks because of the antisocial behaviour we have seen there, and many of the florid descriptions from my hon. Friends can be repeated about the Lake district and the Yorkshire dales. I could say many things about that. One is that the countryside code is very good. It does not need amending. It needs publicising and embedding in our schools and to be promoted by the Government. I hope that they will do just that.

      I turn to planning and the easing of planning restrictions being seen as underpinning the revival of our economy. That is absolutely right-at times, that will be worth pursuing. However, I point out to the Minister that in some cases, the revitalisation of a local community can be helped by restrictions or new changes in planning law. In particular, I am thinking of absentee ownership, or second home ownership, in places such as the Lake district, the Trough of Bowland, Yorkshire dales and other places of natural beauty.

      In my constituency, 7,000 of our properties are not holiday lets, but second homes-they are boltholes that are not lived in for nineteen twentieths of the year. That means it is a home owned by somebody who sends no children to the local school and who rarely contributes to the local post office, the bus service and so on. It is possible to make planning laws that would enable places such as the Lake district and the Yorkshire dales to have a lid on the number of empty homes in our communities. Therefore, a community that has been built and shown to be vibrant during the covid crisis can have the opportunity to grow still and not peter out due to a lack of full-time homes.

      I am intrigued by the speech the other night about Roosevelt-we will wait to see whether there is anything behind that. Undoubtedly, the only answer as we build back better from all this is to take that Keynesian, investment-based approach and do so in a thoroughly green way, with renewables, recycling, making sure that we have retrofitted insulation and moving forward with public transport. This is an opportunity not only for us to build back better and demonstrate our ambition for a different kind of country, but to do so in a way that our children and our grandchildren will thank us for, because we did so sustainably, renewably and in a thoroughly green way.

    • Business and Planning Bill | Commons debates

      It is a pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond Park (Sarah Olney), and indeed to speak in the same debate as two excellent maiden speakers. The hon. Member for Sedgefield (Paul Howell) made an excellent speech. It reminded me that we are next-door-but-one neighbours, because I am also a neighbour of the Chancellor of the Exchequer-they are big seats up north, some of them. I would be delighted to work alongside the hon. Gentleman in making sure that we get the right investment for the north of England.

      Once upon a time, in 1997, when Sedgefield was on the map for a different reason, I was a candidate for South Ribble and got annihilated, just about holding my deposit, so I very much congratulate the hon. Member for South Ribble (Katherine Fletcher) on an excellent and very entertaining speech. However, she has the biggest and most formidable task ahead of her, because she is now my dad's MP. That will make life difficult for her. I note that she was very on the fence, shall we say, on which team she supports. Just to be clear, her predecessor supported the right team. Anyway, it was a marvellous speech and I thank her ever so much.

    • Radiotherapy | Department of Health and Social Care | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what the planned timescale is for the roll-out of Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy; and if he will make a statement.

  • Jun 25, 2020: