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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 21, 2021:
    • Windrush Lessons Learned Review | Home Office | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the recommendations of the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, what progress her Department has made on implementing a learning programme on UK history from June 2021.

    • Windrush Lessons Learned Review | Home Office | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether, with reference to the Answer of 18 May 2021 to Question 263 on the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, what the planned completion date is for publishing an evaluation of the compliant environment policy and associated measures.

    • Windrush Lessons Learned Review | Home Office | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, with reference to the Windrush Lessons Learned Review, when the draft ethical framework for decision making will be published.

    • Trade and Agriculture Commission: Role in International Trade Deals - [Hannah Bardell in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

      It is a real pleasure to serve under your leadership and chairmanship this afternoon, Ms Bardell. I give my huge thanks to the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish) for characteristically introducing this debate, which is of such importance.

      The Trade and Agriculture Commission reported in March and made 22 recommendations. Here we are, two thirds of the way through July, and we have heard nothing in response. There has been inaction on responding to the Trade and Agriculture Commission's recommendations and lots of action on the negotiation of a deal with Australia. Why this mismatch and inequity-frantic effort on the deal, and Olympic-standard heel-dragging when it comes to dealing with the Trade and Agriculture Commission's recommendations? It does not make any sense.

      One's best guess is that the Government set up the Trade and Agriculture Commission under pressure from the National Farmers Union and others in order to appease their Back Benchers and get through Third Reading, among other things. People fell for that, but I believe the Government's plan all along was simply to disregard anything that their new watchdog said. That shows contempt for the very good people on the Trade and Agriculture Commission, and for the commission itself. It shows even more contempt for Cumbria's farmers, rural communities and the agricultural community right across the country. In fact, it shows contempt for the Conservative Government's own Back Benchers.

      Among the recommendations-I will just pull out two-is the proposal for the development of core standards that have to be met before a deal can be agreed. In other words, that would ensure that standards are not reduced and that farmers are not undercut and ruined by any deal. To push ahead with trade deals of any kind, but particularly one with Australia, which has demonstrably lower trade, agriculture and animal welfare standards than ours, is to deliberately throw Britain's farmers under a bus.

      One of the other recommendations is to improve the modelling of the impact assessments. In other words, it is to ensure that the Government, Members of Parliament, farmers and consumers can be sure of the consequences of each trade deal before it is signed. We should know before it is signed whether a deal will increase or undermine the quality of animal welfare, reduce animal welfare standards or damage the livelihoods of British farmers.

      The failure to produce proper impact assessments resonates with other failures that the Government are inflicting on our farmers. The movement from the basic payment scheme to environmental land payments will clearly create a position where our average livestock farmer depends for 85% of their revenue-their business income-on the basic payment scheme. The basic payment scheme will be got rid of before there is a replacement scheme to fill our farmers' pockets and keep them farming. Yet at the same time the Government are introducing golden goodbyes to get rid of farmers, with no plan for new blood. That can be seen in our county of Cumbria, where the Government have failed to intervene and save the Newton Rigg agricultural college. Where is the new blood? Where is the confidence in British framing in the future? We ask that especially as we see that the Government's plans for trade deals will undermine the livelihoods of so many farmers. We say we have the best farmers in the world. Yes we do, but do the Government understand why? It is because of good regulation and culture. The culture of British farming is rooted in the small family farm that not only breeds good-quality animal welfare-close husbandry-but also means that we take care and look after the landscape.

      We saw earlier that Liverpool has lost world heritage site status-we could speak more about that. It reminds us that that status is not sacrosanct and can be taken away. The landscape of the Lake District is a world heritage site. If we see the Government undermining family farmers in Cumbria, across our beautiful county and the Lake District, we will not be surprised if the killing of that important goose that lays the golden eggs for our local economy leads to a ravaging of our landscape, and we lose world heritage site status. The Government must answer those 22 recommendations before any deal is signed.

  • Jul 20, 2021:
    • Peat Bogs: Conservation | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many peatlands have been restored in England in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021 to date.

    • Peat Bogs: Conservation | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much funding the Government has committed to restoring peatlands in the years (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021 to date.

    • Tree Planting: Finance | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how much funding the Government has allocated to planting trees in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021 to date.

    • Tree Planting | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of trees that have been planted in England in (a) 2019, (b) 2020 and (c) 2021 to date.

    • [2nd Allocated Day] | Nationality and Borders Bill | Commons debates

      The Bill feels like a series of poor choices made on the basis of ignorance of the evidence, or maybe even contempt for it.

      Let us start with the Bill's major premise, which is that we are overwhelmed with asylum seekers. That is not true. The United Kingdom had 35,000 or so asylum seekers last year; Germany had 120,000; France had 96,000. By the number of people we take in and consider for asylum each year, we are behind 16 members of the European Union, so we are low or mid-table. We are an island, so there is an extent to which we are protected; that has some horrific consequences as well, but the notion that we are overwhelmed with asylum seekers is bogus nonsense. It is not true, yet it is the premise of much of the Bill.

      There is a problem with the asylum system, but it is the colossal backlog. Somehow, even though the number of people claiming asylum here has dropped by 58% in the past couple of decades and by 21% in the past two years, the number of people languishing in the asylum system has increased by 28%. That is proof that we are overwhelmed not with asylum seekers, but by the incompetence of the Home Office, which is what the Bill ought to be tackling. It pretends there is a problem that there isn't, and it pretends that there isn't a problem that there is.

      Secondly, let us be quite honest about the whole issue of safer routes. So many comments have been made by Members on both sides of the House about how we need safer routes to prevent people from making dangerous crossings. There is such a need, but unless the Government allow people to apply for asylum from outside the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom will be complicit in and responsible for people making dangerous crossings. That is the safer route, but the Bill sets out nothing of the sort.

      Creating two categories of asylum seekers-which I am sure the Government are doing because it winds up namby-pamby liberals and therefore somehow pleases them and their base-is probably illegal under international law. It is morally repugnant and wicked, and surely it is utterly counterproductive. Maybe that is the argument that might land with Ministers: that it will make things worse.

      Just yesterday, I was talking to one of the Home Office's own asylum accommodation providers. I will not name it, because that would not be fair, but it told me that the two-tier system will make no difference whatever to the number of people who come here via the irregular route; it will simply lead to refugees coming here, not claiming asylum and slipping into the informal economy. In other words, the Government are presenting to the House and the people a charter for a massive increase in exploitation, modern-day slavery, a wicked use of people through trafficking and all the awful things that come about when people go below the radar.

      That seems an obvious consequence. the Government's own suppliers know it, and I assume that the Government know it themselves, but they somehow think that they can get some useful clickbait by separating desperate people into the deserving and the undeserving. That is shocking. It undermines what it is to be British, and the Government should be ashamed of themselves for proposing it. Even if they have no shame, surely they have some practical understanding of the consequences of this foolish procedure: that it will force people underground into exploitation, modern slavery and appalling things like that.

      It is not just on those issues that the Government have shown contempt for the evidence, or let us say an accidental ignorance of it. There is a huge impact on the world of work. In my constituency and right across Cumbria, the hospitality and tourism industry is by far our biggest employer. If I were to tell the House that, in the Lake district, 80% of the entire working age population already work in hospitality and tourism, Members will be able to see that there is no huge, sufficient reservoir of the additional people we need to work in our hospitality and tourism industry. Eighty per cent. of the working age population already work in hospitality and tourism. We are Britain's second biggest destination, behind only London. Do the maths: we need overseas labour.

      This year, and in the past few days especially, people I have spoken to right across my community, from Grasmere to Grange, from Sedbergh to Staveley, have been telling me that they have fought and struggled, spent their life savings and gone into debt to survive covid. They have been grateful for the Government support that has helped them to just about do that. Having survived covid, guess what? Loads of them are closing now. Why? Because of the Government's barmy, impractical, stupid visa rules.

      Home Secretary, why did you do all this? Why did the Government make provisions to support hospitality and tourism in the past 16 to 17 months if they were only going to kill them off by stupid visa rules at the end? The simple fact is that, if an Italian restaurant or a gastropub in the Lake district sources half its staff from overseas and half from the local area, if it cannot get the half from overseas and the business therefore closes, as dozens have done, the half who are local will lose their jobs too. So I will use the last few seconds to ask the Government to do something sensible- I and many Conservative Back Benchers think this should happen-and have a youth mobility visa with the countries that are close to us in Europe so that we can at least provide a source of labour to protect excellent businesses from going under because of stupid Government policies.

  • Jul 15, 2021:
    • Planning - [Judith Cummins in the Chair] | Backbench Business | Westminster Hall debates

      It is a huge privilege to serve under your chairmanship, Mrs Cummins, and I thank the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Bob Seely) for raising some massively important issues for all our constituents. I am speaking from just outside the Lake District in Westmorland, where we have always had a huge problem of excessive second home ownership and, indeed, the pressure that too many holiday lets can put on a local community. However, over the past 12 months that problem has become catastrophic.

      We have been deeply concerned that Governments over the years have failed to acknowledge this problem, but surely now it is unmissable. To give an idea of the problem, over the past 12 months, estate agents I have spoken to say that up to 80% of all house sales have been into the second-home market. There are communities in my constituency where 90% of the homes are not lived in. We do not need to think too hard to work out what the consequences of even 30% of a community not being lived in all year round will be: they lose the local school because nobody is going to that school from the homes within that community, and they lose the local bus service, pub, post office and all the other facilities as well. These beautiful places can become ghost towns, but the problem has got so much worse in these last 12 months.

      We have also seen the massive growth in the number of holiday lets. Here in the south lakes, we have one of the highest proportions of holiday lets anywhere in the country. That huge number has gone up by 32% in a year. As hon. Members have said, that has come about due to a variety of different sources, but in particular the Airbnb market.

      Anecdotally, what does that mean? Constituents that I have spoken to in Ambleside, Kirkby Lonsdale, Grange-over-Sands and other places who had a private rented property costing maybe £600 to £700 a month find they are being kicked out, now that the evictions ban has ended, and they discover that the property is on the market for £1,000 a week on Airbnb. That is outrageous, and it is something that Government have the power to do something about through planning reforms that would actually make a difference.

      What I am asking the Government to do-the hon. Member for Isle of Wight alluded to this earlier and I completely agree with him-is to change planning law. The Government should change planning law so that holiday lets and second homes are separate categories of planning use, and they should give the Lake District national park, the Yorkshire Dales national park, South Lakeland District Council and all planning authorities the power and the resource to police that, so that the leakage of those homes out of the family home market is prevented.

      It seems outrageous that these beautiful places that we are so proud of, in our rural parts of the United Kingdom, can end up bleeding local talent and families and becoming places where only the wealthy can stay or visit. We wanted these radical interventions to happen years ago, but surely now these extreme circumstances mean that extreme and radical action is necessary. I add that the Government could copy what the Welsh Government have done-give local authorities the power to increase council tax on second homes to well above 100% and up to 200%, and use that revenue first to dissuade people from having second homes in certain areas, but also to invest in the schools, post offices and bus services that would otherwise close, so that we do not, by letting the market let rip, see communities like mine in Cumbria die through the lack of intervention.

  • Jul 14, 2021:
    • Health and Care Bill | Commons debates

      My point is about boundaries. Lancashire and south Cumbria have a perfectly reasonable boundary, but does the Secretary of State agree that there is concern that, because most rural communities are attached to bigger, more populated urban ones, that can lead to an imbalance in decisions? One of the proposals that our community faces is that the Preston and Lancaster hospitals could be replaced by a single super-hospital somewhere in the middle. HIP2-the health infrastructure plan 2-is a good thing, but that would be very bad thing, because it would mean that people in south Cumbria could have a two-hour round trip just to get to A&E. Will he intervene and ensure that any proposals under HIP2 that undermine access to healthcare in rural communities are taken off the table?

    • Health and Care Bill | Commons debates

      Will the Secretary of State give way?

  • Jul 13, 2021:
  • Jul 12, 2021:
  • Jul 9, 2021:
  • Jul 7, 2021:
    • Delays in the Asylum System - [David Mundell in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

      It is a real pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Mundell. I pay tribute to the hon. Member for Stockport (Navendu Mishra) for raising this massively important issue. How we treat people who come to this country seeking sanctuary is probably the most significant measure of whether we are allowed to call ourselves Great Britain. It speaks of us as a people and it speaks around the world about what kind of country we are.

      I have some figures of which people will perhaps be aware. At present, 66,185 people in our asylum system are waiting for a decision-that is the highest figure for a decade. Of those people, 50,000 have been waiting for an initial decision for more than six months-again, that figure is the highest for a decade. In 2014, 87% of cases were decided within six months; in 2020, it was just 20%.

      I understand, as we have heard it before, that Ministers will say that that is down to the covid crisis, the pressure on the system and excessive numbers. The reality, of course, is that the number of asylum seekers coming to this country fell by 21% last year, to among the lowest recent levels, with just 35,355 applications-down from the height of 84,000 in 2002. That gives us a bit of a sense that what we have is a massive backlog that has a colossal impact on the lives of people who have already gone through desperate situations.

      Let us not have any nonsense about them being bogus asylum seekers, because we know that the majority of them will succeed in claiming refugee status and a right to remain in the end. By the way, if I apply for a job and I do not get it, I was not bogus; I was unsuccessful. The notion that people who come here seeking asylum are doing something nefarious is a rotten thing to start off with in any event.

      The idea that we are being swamped by asylum seekers, and that that is why there is a problem, does not stack up. What does stack up is a failure of Government-perhaps we could be generous and argue that it is a failure of Governments over the years-to tackle this issue. Their lack of competence is being disguised by the bogus rhetoric that we have too many asylum seekers. As I say, we have fewer this year than last year by the order of 21%, so there is even less excuse for this backlog than there has been in the past.

      The notion that we are overwhelmed with asylum seekers is, again, the same rhetoric and the basis on which the "New Plan for Immigration" is formed. We will get bad legislation if it is formed on a bogus basis. That bogus basis is that we are overwhelmed with asylum seekers, but we had 35,000 asylum seekers in 2020, while Germany had 120,000 and France and 96,000. If we were to add ourselves back into the EU for the purpose of a league table, we would be 17th out of 28-we would be a Blackburn Rovers, in the lower-mid table. The notion that we have a problem is nonsense. Actually, we do have a problem, but it is the competence of the Home Office's systems, not that we are "overwhelmed" with asylum seekers. Because this country is an island, we find ourselves with fewer of those desperate people to help, so why on earth are we making it so hard for them when they are here?

      Imagine the things that they have gone through and experienced on their way here. We then make them wait six months, a year, 18 months and longer, in poverty and often in totally inappropriate accommodation, almost punishing them for having fled appalling circumstances. The "New Plan for Immigration" will make that worse. It will formalise the incompetence in the process because it will mean that some people will have to wait more than six months before they can even be looked at, and then they will be given a maximum right to stay of only 20 months.

      I will finish by challenging the Minister to think about an intelligent, compassionate way through this: giving people the right to work. Why cannot people who are waiting for asylum be given the right to work? That would be good not just for the Exchequer, because they would pay their way, but for their mental health, their personal income and, given that we know that most of them will be given the right to remain, their ability to integrate into our community. As the MP for the Lake district, which is desperate for staff because the Government's new visa rules have robbed my businesses of a workforce this year, I say that that might be one way of helping us through this.

      I will end with this cheeky request. Will the Minister meet me and, more importantly, Cumbria Tourism chiefs to talk about how the Government's immigration policy could help rather than hinder the Lake district's tourism industry? Finally, surely we have to prioritise solving the backlog in a compassionate and competent way, not legislate to make things worse, which is the Government's current plan.