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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

  • Apr 29, 2021:
  • Apr 28, 2021:
    • Asylum: Eritrea | Home Office | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the reasons for the increase in asylum applications from Eritrean nationals in 2020.

    • Hill Farming | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of the Agricultural Transition Plan 2021 to 2024 on (a) uplands and (b) hill farming businesses.

    • After Clause 2 - Legislative proposals relating to prohibition on passing remediation costs on to leaseholders and tenants | Fire Safety Bill | Commons debates

      I, too, rise to support the Lords amendment. The amendment is simple; it protects leaseholders and prevents them from being charged crippling, life-changingly colossal bills to make safe properties that are unsafe only because of the actions of developers and a lack of Government regulation.

      Here we are: the Government have played to the final whistle, and they are down by the corner flag keeping ball and feigning cramp in the hope that the final whistle will go and we will all move on. Let me be clear. I assure the Minister-and, more importantly, I encourage anxious and distressed leaseholders-that we will not give up. We will not troop off the field, not to play again, once the 90 minutes are up. We will come back next Session and fight the corner of leaseholders who currently face bills that they can never, ever hope to be able to afford, and that are not theirs to pay in the first place.

      As has been mentioned, the Government's stance on this issue sets out starkly whose side they are on. They are on the side of the wealthy developers, some of whom fund their party. They are on the side of negligent officials who allowed this to happen. They are not on the side of those who are working hard to afford a roof above their heads. This is a Britain, it would appear, where innocent householders have to pay to remove dangerous cladding while somebody else pays for the Prime Minister's new curtains. We believe in a better Britain where there is justice, not crushing, undeserved debt. If we do not win today, then, for the sake of leaseholders across this country, we will be back.

    • Environment (Regulation) | Commons debates

      I beg to move,

      That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish an independent regulatory body to monitor and enforce the compliance of public bodies with climate and environmental requirements and targets; to make provision for associated sanctions; to require the regulatory body to assess the environmental effects of potential trade agreements; to make provision about environmental standards, including in relation to animal welfare; and for connected purposes.

      I am introducing the Bill because the UK is without meaningful environmental regulation and without any kind of independent environmental regulator. Having left the EU and having promised four years ago to introduce legislation to provide the UK with its own independent regulator, the Government continue to fail to meet that promise. Unregulated and unpoliced, our standards of biodiversity, air quality and animal welfare need to be protected or the Government will allow them to be eroded.

      Politicians on all sides have a habit of saying that British farming is the best in the world. That claim happens to be true, but I fear that the Conservative Government do not understand why it is true. We can protect British farming only if we understand it. I am compelled to introduce the Bill, because the Government do not seem to understand it and do not seem to get it.

      British farming is the best in the world, mainly for two fundamental reasons: standards and culture: standards, because we have led the development of the world's most ambitious and comprehensive system of agricultural and environmental regulation alongside our partners on the continent; and culture, because the unit of farming in Britain is the family farm, which has underpinned our reputation for unrivalled care and compassion for livestock, and for a ratio of humans to animals that allows the welfare of those animals to be a priority. Furthermore, the culture of Britain's family farms is one in which they are not just proud to produce our food but proud to be the stewards of our countryside and environment, to be on the frontline of the fight against climate change and the fight to restore nature. If we lose our world-class regulation and have no effective regulator, and if we allow family farms to be undercut and go to the wall, we fatally undermine British farming and all that is good about it. It is not acceptable for the Government to promise regulation and a regulator, and continually to break that promise, while our farmers are put under increasing pressure and our environment is put at increased risk.

      That is why, along with my Liberal Democrat and Alliance colleagues, I am pushing the Bill. There is an urgent need for safeguards to be put in place. We need a regulator that is well resourced, has comprehensive and strong powers, and is completely independent of Government so that it can set and enforce regulation without fear or favour, and have the strength to hold public authorities at all levels to account. We need much more than a body that just points out where the Government are failing. We need an office that can force the Government to comply; an office that can prosecute, and can levy fines and other sanctions to prevent abuse; a watchdog whose bite is as great as its bark. Without powerful, independent regulation or a regulator, we will begin to see more complexities in bureaucracy as food producers seek to comply with traditional, high-quality British standards but simultaneously have to operate with lower production costs as they battle to avoid being undercut by cheap imports.

      A huge fear for consumers and farmers alike is that the Government will allow lower quality, cheaper imports into the UK as they seek deals with other countries to provide some compensation for the loss of nearby European markets: countries that do not take care of their animals like we do, which lack animal welfare protections and do not produce food in ways that reduce carbon emissions or take care of the natural environment. Those countries allow their producers to have lower input costs due to those lower standards. Is it right that the UK should have to see an increase in products on our supermarket shelves that have come from inhumane or environmentally irresponsible production methods? Is it right that farmers should be undercut and ruined by those cheaper and morally inferior products? The answer to those questions is absolutely no, yet the Government's continued failure to step back and allow themselves to be regulated mean that we have no means to ensure that new trade deals do not open the door to food produced in ways that damage the environment, harm animals and put UK farmers out of business.

      There is a real fear that the Government will do such deals-perhaps by accident, but quite probably by design. After all, the farming Minister wrote to Conservative MPs a few months ago telling them that if we required imports to meet the same animal welfare and environmental standards as British farmers it would make it very difficult to secure trade deals. In other words, "Please do not tie our hands, because we can only get these trade deals if you allow us to throw British farmers under the bus." That is why my proposal for a new, powerful and independent regulator is vital to protect British standards and British farmers.

      Without a regulator, we will allow the Conservative Government to continue their path of inaction on the natural environment. We see a lack of natural flood protection; loss of British biodiversity at an ever increasing rate; and the tragic, premature deaths of thousands of people every year due to air pollution. In the past five years, this Government have been told by multiple court systems that they need to do much more to tackle the toxic levels of air pollution in this country. Their 2017 national action plan on air pollution was deemed unlawful by the UK High Court, as it was simply not strong enough to enforce change among local authorities. This year, in a case started before we left the EU, the European Court of Justice found this Government to have "systematically and persistently" breached air pollution limits. Without an independent regulator with the teeth to hold our Government to account, they will be even less accountable for their failures to tackle these ecological and human crises. The lack of action from the Conservatives should not be left to the court systems to sort out. It should be dealt with directly by an independent body, just as the Government have promised.

      Our lack of environmental protections extend beyond air quality and into the quality of nature in the UK. We are already living in the most nature-depleted country on the planet. Only 14% of our waterways are in good condition, and more than 40% of native species are in decline. This is an embarrassment for us all. We are in the run-up to COP26, and at the moment our likely message to other countries will have to be, "Do as we say but not as we do." We cannot set a good example when the Government are threatening the livelihoods of farmers across the UK with a lack of regulation on animal welfare and other standards.

      The Government are compounding that error by their stubborn and penny-pinching approach to the transition from the basic farm payment scheme to the new environmental land management scheme. The Government insist on forcing many family farms to accept a 50% cut in their income, with no immediate replacement. This plan will inevitably put hundreds of family farms out of business. This matters because without farmers we have no partners to deliver natural flood prevention schemes, to enhance biodiversity and carbon sequestration, and to maintain the stunning landscapes that underpin the tourism economy in places such as the lakes and the dales. This stubborn penny-pinching goes hand in hand with the Government's failure to ensure a powerful independent regulator. Both those failures seem certain to contribute to undermining British farming and our natural environment, unless we act.

      Today, I am giving Parliament the opportunity to act. This Bill aims to unite town and country in favour of a new deal for our environment that values British farmers and enshrines British values. How can we say that we are proud of our animal welfare standards, our environmental protections, and the quality of British farming if we then are happy to sell them out to the highest bidder with the lowest regulation? We need an environmental regulator, as the Government have promised. Given that the Government have failed to deliver that promise, I stand here to deliver it for them. For the good of our farmers and our environment, there is no more time to lose.

      Question put and agreed to.

      Ordered,

      That Tim Farron, Mr Alistair Carmichael, Wendy Chamberlain, Daisy Cooper, Ed Davey, Stephen Farry, Wera Hobhouse, Christine Jardine, Layla Moran, Sarah Olney, Jamie Stone and Munira Wilson present the Bill.

      Tim Farron accordingly presented the Bill.

      Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 297).

  • Apr 27, 2021:
  • Apr 26, 2021:
  • Apr 20, 2021:
  • Apr 19, 2021:
    • Agriculture: Subsidies | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that landlords cannot take a disproportionate share of their tenant's delinked farm payments.

    • Second Homes: Rural Areas | Treasury | Written Answers

      To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of the Stamp Duty holiday on the number of second homes purchased in rural communities.

    • European Football Proposal | Commons debates

      This is a devastating attack on the English game, as a shameless, arrogant and desperate elite seek to make millions at the expense of the millions of us who love the game and love our clubs. The statement contained some rhetoric that I found good and urgent, and detail that was ponderous and thin, so as well as a lengthy review, will the Secretary of State fast-track legislation that will force any club seeking to break away and join a new league to first ballot its fans and be mandated to abide by the outcome of the ballot; and will he make sure that the legislation is retrospective and active from the beginning of the current football season? Those who wish to steal and destroy the English game must be stopped. English football must be saved. This Parliament has the power to do it, not just to review it.

  • Mar 26, 2021:
  • Mar 25, 2021:
    • Coronavirus | Commons debates

      As my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Munira Wilson) said a moment ago, Liberal Democrats will not support the proposals on the table today. We consider the request for extended powers for the period of time to be an overreach-these are powers the Government do not need, and certainly do not need for a period of six months, taking us right into the autumn.

      My great concern is that the Government's default, knee-jerk attempt to seek these draconian powers for a lengthier period is beginning to fit into a pattern. We saw the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill in this place just a week or so ago, under which the Government are seeking powers to incarcerate people for up to 10 years if they protest against the Government. We are also seeing reports of the Government wanting to force carers to be vaccinated, when they have done so by choice already. That shows a complete lack of respect and tenderness towards people who have put their lives on the line for this past 12 months and longer to support others in their deepest moment of need. Of course we now have pub landlords being asked to be, in effect, border guards in their own pubs and to check a vaccine passport.

      All this seems to indicate that we have a Conservative party in government that loves talking about liberty until it has to do something about it in practice, and when it comes to dealing with these issues in practice, its instincts are authoritarian. As always, if you care about liberty, you need your Liberals-and so the Liberals are guaranteed to be voting against this draconian set of powers on the table today. It is also worth bearing in mind that I do not think the police are crying out for additional extensions to their powers. What they want is two things: resources and clarity in the guidelines and laws that they do seek to enforce.

      Throughout this pandemic the strictness of the laws has not been the issue; it has been the clarity of the guidance. The Government have very often been contradicting themselves, mixing messages and sending out the wrong messages, as well as not keeping the guidance themselves as individuals and therefore setting a terrifyingly awful lead.

      I want to make just one suggestion. On the road map out of this difficult time that clearly we are all experiencing as a national community, outdoor education has no place whatever. We know when nightclubs are going to open, but outdoor education facilities in my constituency in the lakes and dales, and across the rest of the country, have no date for reopening. The Government are killing off a vital industry that is there to support our young people. Its skills are especially needed at a time like this, when we want to reconnect young people with a love of learning.

      The lack of a date and of bespoke funding is killing off outdoor education. My friend Kirsty Williams, the Minister for Education in Wales, announced just the other day a particular package for outdoor education centres in Wales. There is a package in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Why is there not a bespoke package for outdoor education centres in England today? Today is surely the day for them to do just that.

      It is also worth bearing in mind that as people become able to move in significant numbers, as of next Monday, to beautiful places such as the Lake District, we need-and have needed for some months now-investment in popularising the countryside code. That is so that people know how to behave in beautiful places, how to treat the local residents with respect and how to look after the environment that they have come to enjoy. I am pleased that the Government are, as of the Easter weekend, putting resources into the countryside code. They should have done it nine months ago when we asked them to.

      My final point is about hospitality and tourism businesses beginning to reopen. They will not all be able to open at capacity when they are allowed to. That is why financial support for them must continue until the autumn.

  • Mar 23, 2021:
    • Education After Covid-19 | Battle of Barnet: 550th Anniversary | Westminster Hall debates

      I will start my remarks by focusing upon the plight of our outdoor education centres. I am deeply concerned about them. We know that of the 15,000 people who worked in the sector at the beginning of the pandemic, 6,000 have already lost their jobs, and there will be many more who are freelance workers and who have not been taken on again for the seasons that have been missed.

      There has been a complete drying-up of the market for these outdoor education centres and of course there is no direct bespoke financial package for them either. We should remember that in Scotland and Northern Ireland there has been a specific financial package to help outdoor education centres. The fact that there has not been one in England is a reason why we are losing thousands of staff and beginning to see the closure of such centres.

      On 22 February, which is now more than a month ago, the Prime Minister read out his road map for the unlocking of the country. Lots of things are on that road map-an opening date for nightclubs was on it. That is very good; I am glad it is there. However, there was nothing for outdoor education centres. If, as I do, the Minister speaks to the heads and teachers of primary and secondary schools, he will discover that those heads and teachers throughout primary and secondary education are desperate to be able to confirm, or indeed to book, day sessions and residential sessions at our outdoor education centres, many dozens of which are in Cumbria, especially in my constituency. So, I ask the Minister this: why have he and the Government not added outdoor education centres and their reopening to that road map?

      Will the Minister today do three things? First, will he announce the road map for the reopening of outdoor education centres? Secondly, will he provide a bespoke financial package to keep our outdoor education centres going and the outdoor education industry's head above water, as Scotland and Northern Ireland have done? Thirdly, will he do something truly radical and positive, which is to deploy the talent within our outdoor education centres within schools, to help reconnect our young people with a love of learning, building up the confidence they may have lost during the pandemic and connecting them to education again? Outdoor education centres contain people with exactly the set of skills that we need at this time; the tragedy is that that is exactly the time when this Government are allowing those skills to wither on the vine.

      So, will the Minister do those three things? Will he also pay tribute to the teachers who have made such an outstanding contribution in every part of education over the last 12 months? Many people are reflecting-indeed, we all are-that 12 months has passed since the start of this pandemic. It is right to pay tribute to so many different people who have been public servants throughout that time, but it is also right to focus in particular today on the service provided by our teachers.

      Thinking about what teachers did at the drop of a hat last March-teach remotely from scratch-we see that, throughout the time since, they have cared for the vulnerable and the most needy, very often providing food for them directly out of their own pockets. We have also seen how, at short notice, they provided ways of ensuring that assessments were made when exams were cancelled; we have seen how they went through their school holidays without taking any break whatsoever, in order to get ready for new arrangements, such as covid testing; and we have seen how schools have reopened again, and how they have done so seamlessly and with attendance maintained at such a high level. Teachers have ensured that our young people get the best possible education, in school if they are the children of key workers, and at home by remote teaching.

      Teachers' performance has been outstanding; they are national treasures. On behalf of every parent in my constituency-indeed, I think every parent in the country-I pay tribute to every single one of them.