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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

  • Jun 18, 2019:
    • Free Prescriptions | Health and Social Care | Commons debates

      Access to prescriptions is made much harder given the closure of 233 community pharmacies in the last two years, so will the Minister introduce an essential community pharmacies scheme to support rural pharmacies such as those in Cumbria and keep them open?

  • Jun 17, 2019:
  • Jun 12, 2019:
    • Engagements | Prime Minister | Commons debates

      This logjammed and underworked Parliament could become one of the best if we chose to work across the parties to fix our broken social care system. Through free votes, good will and hard work, we could design and then enact a new deal for social care that would bring hope for the future to millions. So in her last few weeks as Prime Minister, will she agree to meet me and to establish a cross-party group so that we could bring this social care new deal to fruition?

    • Housing Associations - [Albert Owen in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

      Does the hon. Gentleman share my concern that, owing to their status, neither housing associations nor private landlords are required to respond to freedom of information requests? Given that, tenants might therefore have no access to fire safety reports or other such important information?

  • Jun 11, 2019:
    • Post Office Services: Rural Areas | Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy | Commons debates

      One of the silver linings of the decision of the high street banks to abandon our town centres is that post offices are now able to pick up that slack. The Minister said earlier that she was meeting with Post Office Ltd and that the income that postmasters get from banking transactions has trebled. The reality is that they are getting a few pence for every £1,000 of work that they do for the banks, so a trebling is still a pittance. Will she ensure that the banks remunerate our post offices for, basically, doing the work that they have left behind?

  • Jun 6, 2019:
  • Jun 5, 2019:
    • Sure Start: Ifs Report | Commons debates

      I congratulate the hon. Member for Manchester Central (Lucy Powell) on raising this incredibly important issue. The Minister talks rightly about evidence-based decision making. The evidence shows that in recent years, there has been a 17% increase in the number of children being taken into care and that the reduction in funding for Sure Start centres is a contributory factor. Some 655,000 referrals to children's services-[Interruption.] The Secretary of State is muttering from a sedentary position that that is not backed up, but the correlation is very clear for all to see. It is both tragic and expensive to reduce funding for Sure Start centres, leading them to need much more drastic and tragic intervention later. In rural communities such as mine, parents have to travel much further to a Sure Start centre. Will the Government commit to capital funding, so that local authorities can co-locate libraries, children's centres and Sure Start centres so that they can keep performing?

  • Jun 4, 2019:
    • Telephone and Online Scams - [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

      I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising an important point. One issue is resource; another is time and expertise. We are not dealing with stuff that is simple to fix. He is right that one of the impacts of, let us be honest, the underfunding of our police service in the last few years has been that police commissioners seek to protect the number of visible police officers, for good reasons and because it is politically sensitive. How do they then save money? They get rid of all the admin staff. Police are therefore unable to focus on frontline policing, because they are taken off to do the admin work that the back-office staff used to perform.

      Banks are saving perhaps hundreds of millions of pounds by closing branches and changing the way in which we relate to them, but they thereby put our communities at greater risk of online and telephone fraud. There is a real opportunity for the Government to take-not in a punitive way-a small fraction of the profits that banks have made by closing those branches. That windfall tax could be used for two purposes: compensating victims and resourcing our police service properly, so that we can protect people.

      I would love the Minister to give us more information on those two points. First, will she backdate the code and ensure that it has teeth, so that historical victims of authorised push payment scams are compensated, as well as future victims? Secondly, will she consider a windfall tax on the banks, based on the profits they make from closing so many branches, so that we can resource our police properly, in order to protect the victims and pursue the criminals?

    • Telephone and Online Scams - [Mr Philip Hollobone in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

      It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I am grateful to the hon. Member for Ogmore (Chris Elmore) for securing this extremely important debate. As he has rightly set out, the growth in recent years of online and telephone scams, which are often combined, is a deeply troubling development. The impact on individuals is colossal.

      I can think of three examples that I am working on in my constituency. An early-retired teacher was recently scammed into investing £25,000 into a fake bond through an incredibly plausible copied website of a reputable bank. A young man who works in the arts was recently scammed out of an amount just shy of £50,000; he was presented with what was apparently a bill from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, and was told that if he did not pay, he could be subject to prosecution. A couple who had no conventional pension were convinced by a combination of telephone and online scamming-their computer, but not their online banking operation, was hacked-into transferring nearly £200,000, which has utterly destroyed their retirement. Those are three instances of bright, not terribly elderly people being scammed by sophisticated criminals. It has had a massive impact on those people's self-esteem; the hon. Member for Ogmore rightly talked about the sense of violation felt by victims of these scams. They have had their lives trashed, and, in one case, their retirement turned upside-down. The impact on the victims of online and telephone fraud is colossal, and we need to be aware of it.

      My quick assessment of the people I am supporting through my constituency office is that there has been roughly £1 million of personal fraud perpetrated on individuals across the age ranges. Almost all the cases focused on online fraud. As the three cases I mentioned have not been resolved, we have been successful in getting significant amounts of compensation-full compensation for some-for victims of fraud in my constituency, but in the other cases, there has been nothing as yet, which is completely unacceptable. The hon. Member for Ogmore rightly pointed out the rise in fraud and the amounts of money involved. In the first half of 2018, there was some £95.7 million of online fraud.

      I want to draw a correlation, which is not complete, but is hugely significant, with the loss of bank branches and physical banking opportunities in our communities. My constituency of Westmorland and Lonsdale has pretty much the same geographical area as Greater London, though it has a slightly smaller population. Of all our towns and villages, only two retain physical bank branches. In the past three or four years, we have seen the closure of branches in the villages and towns of Milnthorpe, Grange, Ambleside, Sedbergh, Kirkby Lonsdale and others. To a degree, bank branch closures have come about because banks have responded to our changing banking habits. I understand that, but they have pushed it. It makes life a lot easier and cheaper for the banks if we completely relate to them online. It saves them a fortune. Think of the hundreds of thousands of pounds that banks will have saved, in my constituency alone, in wages, rent and overheads by closing down branches. When they have owned the buildings, they have had a huge cash sale capital receipt, and the money they have saved has gone into their profits.

      There is also a correlation between the increase in online fraud and the decrease in the number of bank branches in our communities. Recklessly, banks have put customers-particularly, but not exclusively, older ones-at greater risk, while saving millions upon millions of pounds. I do not say that there is no business case for some branch closures, but the banks have been reckless, and have done nothing-or very little, having left it very late to do anything-to help victims of the increase in fraud as people who feel less comfortable going online have become more likely to feel obliged to do so. The banks have increased risks to their customers-our constituents-while saving themselves a fortune.

      Authorised push payment scams are key to what we are talking about. We should welcome the voluntary code that came in just a few days ago, which I hope will result in significant changes. At the moment, if someone has been the victim of an unauthorised scam-in other words, if someone else has got hold of their details and taken money out of their account-nine times out of 10, or perhaps 99 out of 100, the bank will compensate them. If, however, someone has been fooled into moving some money out of their account themselves, as in the three instances I just related, nine times out of 10 they are on their own. The authorised push payment scams voluntary code ought to mean that future victims of authorised push payment fraud will be compensated.

      Of course, all the people I have spoken about-indeed, all the people we will talk about today-are historical victims. Whether they were scammed in the last few weeks or the last few years, they stand to get not a penny of compensation. It is very good to see the Minister in her place. I really want her to focus on what we will do to help people who have been victims historically, which is everybody apart from those scammed in the last week. I ask her to take action so that the code can be applied retrospectively to all victims of authorised push payment schemes.

      The hon. Member for Ogmore rightly talked about the need to catch the criminals who do something so utterly despicable. My police force in Cumbria is under enormous resource constraints, but is doing a good job, in so far as it can, in providing support. In recent days, local media have reported on the relatively small number of police available to respond to incidents in our community. One of the reasons for that is that many have been taken off to do this kind of work. It is important to recognise that our police force must be given additional resource to catch those who are guilty of such crimes, and to support victims.

  • May 22, 2019:
    • Leaving the European Union | Commons debates

      In 1992, the Prime Minister and I toured the working men's clubs of north-west Durham and I was hugely impressed with her resilience in front of audiences that were as hostile to her as they were indifferent to me. [Hon. Members: "What's changed?"] Indeed. But it turns out that the audience behind her is tougher still. She will fail in her bid in two weeks' time because people behind her who are for Brexit refuse to vote for Brexit. That is not her fault, but it is her problem. For old times' sake, I want to help her out. If she will agree to put her deal-to be fair to her, it is the only concrete version of Brexit we have yet seen-to the British people in a confirmatory vote, I will join her in the Lobby. Will she help me to help her?

  • May 21, 2019:
    • Child Poverty | Oral Answers to Questions - Treasury | Commons debates

      While there are only 300 people registered as unemployed in my constituency, there are nearly 2,500 children living below the poverty line, which tells us that living in a workless household is not the principal or only cause of poverty; low wages are also a cause. Will the Chancellor urgently review the living wage, so that it actually becomes a living wage, rather than giving it an inaccurate label intended only to ease the consciences of the comfortable?

  • May 14, 2019:
    • Health | Commons debates

      It is an honour to follow the hon. Member for Chichester (Gillian Keegan), with whom I work closely and proudly on the all-party parliamentary group on radiotherapy.

      When the NHS long-term plan was published, the emphasis on strengthening preventive care was a welcome step in the right direction. Good preventive care and public health are kinder and cheaper than the late interventions that are often caused by not addressing issues that could have been spotted earlier.

      The Government's actions since then suggest that their commitment to preventive care was little more than smoke and mirrors. Having loudly proclaimed their commitment to preventive healthcare, Ministers ever so quietly, ever so slyly, just before the Christmas recess, sneaked out £85 million-worth of cuts to public health budgets. That money is used for key services, as we have heard, such as preventive mental healthcare, preventive physical healthcare, "stop smoking" clinics, sexual health clinics, and drug and alcohol misuse services. The Government may say that public health spending is the decision of local authorities, but all they have done is give them the responsibility to care for their communities while leaching away much of the resource that would enable them to do so. Councils' public health budgets, which fund school nurses and public mental health services, have been reduced by £600 million since 2015. In Cumbria, the public health budget is set to be slashed by half a million pounds, and it is one of the 10 local authorities receiving the least money per head from the Conservative Government. Cumbria's spending is now set to drop to just £36 per head-barely half the national average of £63 per head, and ridiculously lower than that of the City of London, which receives £241 per head.

      The impact of this has of course been tangible. School nurses not only provide a host of services but are a valuable source of health education for children and young people-a place to turn to as they try to navigate the complexities of adolescence. The removal from schools of health professionals who contribute so much to children's health education means that children are vulnerable to slipping into bad mental, dental and physical health. In 2015, the coalition Government made a commitment to spend £25 million a year on Cumbria's public health, but cuts to spending since then mean that Cumbria gets less than £18 million a year. Pernicious, heavy cuts to the public health budget mean that Cumbria now only spends a pathetic 75p per child per year on preventive mental health care.

      In the face of this, young people themselves are determined to fight for better mental health provision. In my constituency, the CAMHS crisis service was not available at the weekend or after school hours in south Cumbria until our community campaign forced local health bosses to change this. But we still have an awfully long way to go. Proper investment in public health budgets would allow us to place a mental health worker in every school. The key to young people being resilient and healthy, and to making sure that problems do not become so severe further down the line, is surely to do just that.

      The Government's failure to take prevention seriously puts at risk a range of preventive health measures-physical as well as mental. I very much welcome the Minister to her new role. She is the most senior Blackburn Rovers supporter to sit on the Front Bench since Jack Straw; I hope she does far better than he. The question that she must answer is this: when the Government verbally prioritised preventive care but then cut public health by £85 million, were they being deliberately cynical or was it mere incompetence? Either way, will she fix this matter and restore public health funding to Cumbria and elsewhere so that we can tackle mental and physical health problems before they become tragically serious?