We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Tim Farron's Recent Appearances in Parliament

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

  • Jun 21, 2017:
    • [1st Day] | Debate on the Address | Commons debates

      For what it is worth, I absolutely accept all that. However, DUP Members do not need me to tell them how sensitive perceptions are. The reality is one thing, but perceptions might as well be reality. My concern is how this will be viewed, and what it means for this most sensitive time in the history of Northern Ireland and, in fact, of the island of Ireland. We all ought to be concerned about that. I do not say that to make a partisan point, or to deny DUP Members the right to represent their constituents or, should they choose to do so, to form some kind of arrangement with the current Government.

      We, as Liberal Democrats, could have supported a Queen's Speech that set out a Brexit negotiating position that would keep us in the single market and the customs union, with a referendum on the final deal once all matters were negotiated. A cross-party approach to the negotiations should have been pursued in the first place. I have called in recent days for a joint Cabinet Committee, to be chaired and led by the Prime Minister and to include Labour Members, Liberal Democrats and nationalists into the bargain, so that a deal could be negotiated on behalf of us all. We would have voted for a Queen's Speech that set out a real-terms increase in schools funding, gave a cash injection to the NHS and social care and invested an extra £300 million in police officers to keep us safe, as we had argued for. We would have voted for a Queen's Speech that set out real action on climate change and air pollution and supported renewable energy. But that is not the Queen's Speech that the Prime Minister has set out, and so my party will not support it.

    • [1st Day] | Debate on the Address | Commons debates

      We are a party that believes in pluralism. We simply reflect on the appalling nature of first past the post, which gives such unstable and unbalanced electoral outcomes. Perhaps we should change the system.

      There have been many things said about the DUP. I will make one observation, which I hope people will consider to be neutral and honest. Peace in Northern Ireland was incredibly hard-won, at great cost. All active politicians in Northern Ireland, including those who are sitting behind me now, are owed great credit for that achievement. The difficulty is simply this: the current minority Government will be perceived to have taken sides for the first time in decades. That is a responsibility that the Government, the Prime Minister and the DUP will need to deal with as we seek to maintain that hard-won peace.

      To return to the point that was made a moment ago, I made it clear throughout the election campaign that my party would do no deals and form no coalitions, and that we would support a Queen's Speech only if we felt that it was in the interests of the country.

    • [1st Day] | Debate on the Address | Commons debates

      I think I am right in saying that the hon. Gentleman and I both indicated during the referendum campaign that, according to those who cited Norway as a model, in such a situation we would get the economic benefits of being in the European Union, but none of the political ones. We would not get decision-making powers, and all the rest of it. Norway was always the least-dreadful option on the menu if we were to leave the European Union, and it remains so. I am all in favour of the least- dreadful option, if we cannot have absolutely the best one.

      It is fair to say that the lack of clarity over the version of Brexit that the Government are pressing for and pursuing is alarming. What does success look like? What does a bad deal look like? Nobody knows, because the Government's plan is as clear as mud, and the only details we have had are empty platitudes. The Government today have presented us with a number of so-called Brexit Bills on immigration, customs and agriculture, but how on earth can we be expected to support these things when we have no idea what the end goal is? The majority of people in this country did not put their faith in the Government at the ballot box, and it would be dangerous for any Member of this House to put blind faith in these Brexit Bills without full details of what they will mean for our borders, our trade, our security and our jobs.

      As the Brexit Secretary begins the horse-trading and concession-making with politicians in Brussels, the fact is that we are no closer to knowing what Brexit will look like. Those who have expressed concern about this House and the people of this country having insufficient sovereignty over the law of this country must, surely, see the irony in our children's and grandchildren's future being stitched up in vape-filled rooms in Brussels and imposed on the British people, without a single inhabitant of this country-outside this House-having any say whatsoever. And yet the Prime Minister still refuses to give the people the final say on that deal, with the right to reject it and remain if they do not think that it is a good deal.

      The Prime Minister may pretend that it is business as usual, but clearly that is not the case. She wanted a landslide, but the people said no. She wanted a mandate for her plans for an extreme version of Brexit, but the people rejected that, too. She promised strong and stable leadership, but no Government have ever looked weaker or less in control. The Prime Minister has gone cap in hand to the DUP and tried to stitch up a deal to keep her in power, and now it is making her look like a fool as well.

    • [1st Day] | Debate on the Address | Commons debates

      The short and blindingly obvious answer is yes. The fact that no savings were made in the security services' funding whatsoever is testament to that, as is the fact that we have in my right hon. Friend the Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) the person who has done most in living memory to advance mental health in this country from a Government Bench.

      As is very clear from recent statements and from the Gracious Speech, the Prime Minister has sought to pursue, and continues to seek to pursue, an extreme version of Brexit, having failed to gain any mandate to do so. There is, as the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe mentioned, no plan to keep Britain in the single market or the customs union. We will therefore seek to amend the Queen's Speech to add membership of the single market and the customs union. We are pleased to hear that 50 colleagues from the Labour party take a similar view, believing that we should be members of the single market. Access to the single market is a nonsense; many countries around the world have access to the single market. I could be wrong, but I think North Korea has access to the single market. The issue is: are we members of that market?

      The right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe pointed out earlier that apparently we all believe in free trade now. Do not believe what people say; believe what they do. People may say, "We are in favour of free trade now," but if they vote in these Lobbies in the coming weeks and months for us not to be members of the single market-and therefore not just to rip up our biggest free trade deal, which is with the largest and most valuable economy on the planet, but, as a consequence, to rip up the deals that we have at second hand with North Korea and the rest of it-they are not free traders.

    • [1st Day] | Debate on the Address | Commons debates

      I will come to that in a moment. The Gracious Speech is nevertheless a statement of the Government's priorities. Given the conversation that we rightly have about our security as a country, the fact that the Government are not seeking to do something to strengthen in number our police force-the most obvious way of making sure we are all kept safe-beggars belief.

    • [1st Day] | Debate on the Address | Commons debates

      My right hon. Friend is absolutely right; he speaks with immense experience and capability, and a record in this area. This is a reminder that warm words from the Government are not sufficient when hard cash is not present. During the election, my party offered the British people the opportunity, which of course they did not take, to place a penny on income tax in order to pay for real investment in health and social care, including, as a priority, mental health. I say that because somebody needs to be honest with the British people that if we want the best health and social care in the world, then we will have to pay for it.

    • [1st Day] | Debate on the Address | Commons debates

      We absolutely do, and he is an example of what genuinely unites us and of our love and concern for others. Indeed, he reflects the values of the colossal majority of Muslim people in this country, and it is important that we reflect that.

      In their absence, let me also pay tribute to the humorous, witty and wise remarks of the mover and the seconder of the response to the Gracious Speech, and move on to my own remarks, which I promise will not be all that lengthy-whether they are wise, Members can judge at the end.

      The Prime Minister is not in her place now; she is entitled not to be. She and I have a lot in common. We both contested North West Durham in 1992, and neither of us won; we both led our parties in the recent general election, and neither of us won; and soon neither of us will be leading our parties any more, but at least I have got the honesty to admit it publicly. Britain, for all its immense and glorious heritage, its potentially wonderful future, and all its tremendous values, is nevertheless a country in a mess. It is essentially a mess caused by two choices made by two Conservative Prime Ministers who put their party before their country. First, David Cameron called a referendum on Europe for no other reason than to attempt to put a sticking plaster between two sides of the Conservative party. Secondly, our current Prime Minister thought she could gain narrow party advantage by calling a snap election. Pride comes before a fall. It is tempting to be amused at the hubris turned to humiliation that has now come upon the Conservative party, but the problem is that this is a mess that damages Britain-that damages the future for all of our children.

      So, to the Gracious Speech. Her Majesty has launched many ships in her time, but never such an empty vessel as the one today. I am not sure whether wasting the monarch's time is a treasonous act; I hope for the Prime Minister's sake it is not. The Queen's Speech shows that we have a Government who have lost touch with their people and lost touch with reality. If they have the first, foggiest idea of what the will of the people is now, they have chosen to ignore it. Why is there no additional investment in health or social care? As two in three of our head teachers across our country in the next few weeks are having to lay off teaching staff, why is there no plan to cancel the £3 billion-worth of cuts to our schools?

    • [1st Day] | Debate on the Address | Commons debates

      I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that. Paul stepped down from the House in 2010, but he was a friend and colleague of mine. I am bound to say that, among his many other achievements, he was the defence spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats during the Iraq war. People will remember-wrongly-that the Liberal Democrats took the popular side in opposing the Iraq war, but we did not: we took the unpopular side. Sometimes it is important to do right, and Paul Keetch sat on the Front Bench, next to the equally late and great Charles Kennedy, making that case at that very difficult time for our country.

    • [1st Day] | Debate on the Address | Commons debates

      It is an honour to follow a wise speech, and in my shorter contribution I may reflect on some of the points made in it.

      I should also like to pay my respects to two colleagues who departed in the past 12 months. The losses of Gerald Kaufman and Jo Cox were deeply and strongly felt. Both people made huge contributions to this place, their constituencies and our wider community. Gerald Kaufman's career in this place lasted as long as I have been alive. We do not just reflect on his great contribution to the Labour party and our national public life but contrast that with the single, solitary year that Jo Cox spent in this place; in so many ways, she made as big an impact. It is right that we celebrated her life and values in the recent Great Get Together. I hope that that will continue for many years to come as we stand by her, her family and her legacy.

      I should also refer to some of the appalling events that have taken place in this country in the past few weeks.

      The Grenfell Tower tragedy left many of us utterly speechless. The sense of appalling tragedy, the horror that those people had to go through, and the immense personal loss-the loss of loved ones, the loss of everything -is something we can barely imagine. But there is something very different about this tragedy, in that it is a source-I feel it myself, if I am honest-of great anger. Whatever we say and whatever we do, the implications of what happened-the loss of dozens and dozens of lives-is that some lives in our society are apparently worth less than others. That is how that outrage came to take place, and we must learn from it and take action to demonstrate we have learned from it.

      We have all spoken at length about the three terrorist incidents-Finsbury Park just recently, London Bridge and Manchester-and about our horror and outrage at what happened. But let us remember what terrorists seek to do: they seek to divide us, and our response must be to be united. I went to the Muslim welfare centre next to Finsbury Park mosque last night, and among the people I met I had the honour of meeting Mohammed, the young imam, whose dignity shone out on the night of the attack, and who actually protected the assailant from a very dangerous situation. That is a reminder that, when we speak about the different communities in our country, we must do so with care, with love and with inclusion.

      It is not just us in politics who should use language in that way, as the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke) rightly pointed out. Dare I say gently that our friends in the media must also be immensely careful about how they report such incidents and, indeed, all matters to do with community relations in this country? If a person living in a non-diverse part of the United Kingdom gets their information about community relations, terrorism and risks only from certain newspapers, they will end up believing that there are problems that, perhaps, there are not, and demonise others when there is absolutely no place for that. We have to work incredibly hard, in uniting our communities, to use language that is right and inclusive, and to make sure we do not allow those who seek to damage and divide us to actually win.

  • Jun 13, 2017:
    • Election of Speaker | Commons debates

      Many congratulations to you, Mr Speaker-Elect. I associate myself with the remarks that have been made so far, especially in the light of the outrages that took place in Manchester and London during the general election campaign. Those outrages were meant to divide us, and our response is to be united and to show love and respect as well as immense gratitude to those who came to our aid, who came to help those who were stricken and who keep us safe. We were attacked in this place a few months earlier and saw the death of Keith Palmer, and we are reminded in the most utterly visceral way of how safe our police and our security services keep us. We are immensely grateful to them.

      Let me associate myself with the generous remarks made, correctly so, about the right hon. and learned Members for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) and for Rushcliffe (Mr Clarke), and also with the remarks made by the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan), who did make one mistake-she said that we have got rid of nearly all the Whigs. May I say that there are 12 of us now-a 50% increase? [Interruption.] Thank you very much. [Interruption.] Come on-I'm here all week! [Interruption.] Actually, if you are quiet, I will take about 90 seconds.

      Mr Speaker-Elect, congratulations on your re-election, which is of course utterly well deserved. You had the privilege of serving and presiding over one of the most interesting Parliaments in recent years. I think you are the first Speaker, certainly in any modern times, to preside over not one but now two balanced Parliaments. Between you and me, we really have to do something about the chaos and the absolute instability caused by the first-past-the-post electoral system. We have every right to expect, and every confidence, that you will continue with characteristic good grace and humour to preside over this place. You are known for your fairness and willingness to ensure that voices right across this place, from every corner of the United Kingdom and from every party, are heard.

      I am sure that my colleagues returned here in greater numbers will look forward to speaking up very clearly for their constituents, particularly as we embark on the critical Brexit negotiations. After this recent divisive period, it will be our intention to seek unity in the national interest and common purpose across this House, and where we disagree with other parties, to seek to disagree well and with grace. We shall also speak out in favour of restored investment in schools, health and social care, and our police force, believing that a Parliament that does not invest in those public services is no servant of its people.

      Once again, Mr Speaker-Elect, many congratulations from me and all of my colleagues.

  • Apr 27, 2017:
  • Apr 26, 2017:
  • Apr 24, 2017: