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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 18, 2018:
    • Govia Thameslink Franchise | Commons debates

      My constituents stand in strong solidarity with, and have great sympathy for, the passengers of Govia Thameslink. Will the Minister make a statement on Arriva Northern Rail's now tedious and predictable ongoing failure to serve Cumbria, in particular? Having cancelled every single train in June, four days ago Arriva Northern cancelled 33 trains on the Furness, lakes and coastal lines on one day. Given that the chaos predates the new timetable, the company cannot blame it. Will the Minister help us out by explaining precisely how dreadful Arriva Northern needs to be before he will get his act together, remove its franchise and give us back our trains? [Interruption.]

  • Jul 17, 2018:
    • Petition - Home Education: Draft Guidance and the Consultation | Commons debates

      I rise to present a petition on behalf of 76 of my constituents on the issue of home education, draft guidance and the attendant consultation.

      The petition states:

      The petition of residents of Westmorland and Lonsdale,

      Declare that the 'Home Education - Call for Evidence and revised DfE guidance' has been written following significant consultation with local authorities and no consultation whatsoever with the home education community…

      The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to withdraw the draft guidance and the consultation, until it has put in place an accessible and workable complaints procedure and further has consulted with home educating parents, as it has with Local Authorities, what the contents should include.

      And the petitioners remain, etc.]

      Following is the full text of the petition:

      [The petition of residents of Westmorland and Lonsdale,

      Declare that the "Home Education - Call for Evidence and revised DfE guidance" has been written following significant consultation with local authorities and no consultation whatsoever with the home education community; further that the consultation is consequently for little more than show as an intention to implement the content has already been stated: further that it seeks to encourage local authorities to breach the ECHR Article 8 and the GDPR; and further that the report provides no accessible means for a parent to address ultra vires behaviour by their local authority, where many of those authorities already act routinely in an ultra vires manner.

      The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to withdraw the draft guidance and the consultation, until it has put in place an accessible and workable complaints procedure and further has consulted with home educating parents, as it has with Local Authorities, what the contents should include.

      And the petitioners remain, etc.]


    • Homelessness among Refugees - [Sir Henry Bellingham in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

      The hon. Lady is making some excellent points. Does she accept-I am sure she does-that a contributory factor to refugees being in severe hardship once they have been awarded status is that they are not permitted to work during the time that they are here? Would it not be better, not just for them and their families, but for the country, if they were able to potentially build up savings and contribute and pay taxes during the time they are waiting for their asylum case to be heard, so that they are ready to be fully fledged members of our society at the point at which they are given status?

  • Jul 16, 2018:
  • Jul 10, 2018:
    • Leaving the Eu: Negotiations | Commons debates

      If the hon. Gentleman is going to read out questions from the Whips Office, he should at least read them out properly. We will come to what it might look like in a moment or two, but there are bigger things on the plate.

      I am quite sure the Government's assumption is that Friday's Chequers deal will be unacceptable to Brussels, and they therefore proposed it because it makes it look like they have been listening to businesses, farmers and people of moderate intent-compromisers from both sides of the divide. The Government presented it, and the most hard-line separatists went along with it, because they thought, "Well, it'll never be accepted. It will then be Brussels' fault and not ours." That seems a dishonourable approach, but it could be argued that it is a politically savvy one.

      It was all going very well until vanity struck. In the early hours of Monday morning, or late on Sunday night, the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) had an attack of vanity and, as we found out in the hours that followed, vanity is contagious. That is the problem we have.

      The motion seriously offers the idea of having a Government of national unity because the Prime Minister is beholden to people who are not putting the country first. They are not even putting their party first; they are completely and utterly obsessed with their own career and their own vanity. There is nothing honourable about that situation. Whether or not people like the idea of our leaving the European Union, and whatever variety of leaving the European Union they favour, it is not right that this country should be beholden to such pressure in this marginal situation.

      Last night, because there was no World cup on the television, I decided to seek entertainment by heading over to the 1922 committee. I hung around outside with some friends from the press and, at that historic moment, it was interesting to hear the comments made by the right hon. Member for Great Yarmouth (Brandon Lewis), the Conservative party chairman, who said, "Chequers stays. Chequers is the right path. We're going to stick to it." On the other hand, the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) came out and said, "Chequers is effectively a betrayal and we cannot vote for it."

      The problem our country has is that, with no parliamentary majority, the Prime Minister has to balance those two extremes. All of us in this House, no matter which party we support and no matter our record on the referendum vote two years ago, should care about the future of our country. Is it right that our children's future and their children's future-the next half century and the next century-should be dictated by a Prime Minister who is having to balance the interests of the venal and the vain? That is why we should work together to make sure we deliver a deal that works for everybody and that allows the people to have the final say.

    • Leaving the Eu: Negotiations | Commons debates

      I will tell the hon. Gentleman what we did. Among other things, we forced the Tories to implement benefit rises of 5%, and we ensured that we raised the income tax threshold to lift more than a million people out of poverty. It is much easier to be on the Opposition Benches than the Government Benches, but I am rightly proud of the five years that the Liberal Democrats spent in government, preventing the Tories from doing their worst and ensuring that we did the best for our country. We know that the Government have war-gamed throwing farming under a bus, but they are also preparing to levy shocking increases in food prices on both the poorest and middle-income families.

      The Chequers deal is interesting. It is worth saying that I think the Prime Minister is a decent person. We go back quite a long way, and I take her to be a decent person who is seeking a consensus where perhaps none is to be found, so I will give her the benefit of the doubt. Of course, the reality is that the Chequers deal is unimplementable, undeliverable and unacceptable to the European Union. It would mean effectively being in a single market for goods while not being in the single market, effectively being a member of the customs union while not being in the customs union, and effectively having freedom of movement while not having freedom of movement, and the European Union will say no to that.

      My assumption over the weekend was that the most hard-line separatists within the Conservative party were accepting the Chequers deal, no matter how soft it looked, because they knew that the Prime Minister would present it to Brussels, Brussels would say, "Get knotted," and it would then be Brussels' fault that we did not get a decent deal.

    • Leaving the Eu: Negotiations | Commons debates

      We are having a slight let-off from the hot weather, but it strikes me that we have become a bit of a cliché with our similarities to a Mediterranean country over the past few weeks. We have had incredible weather, we are good at football and we have chaotic politics. In the chaos of the past 48 hours, many things have been revealed, not least the fact that the now former Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union spent a grand total of four hours this year negotiating the deal with Michel Barnier. I can inform the House that I have spent more time filling in my World Cup chart than the former Secretary of State spent doing his job.

      I want to focus on our countryside and on the production of food. Cumbria and the Lake District won their own world title a year ago this week when the area became a world heritage site. We are very proud of that, and it was clear in the document that the world heritage site status that we were afforded by UNESCO was just as much down to the work of the farmers who maintain the landscape as it was down to the physical nature and the geology itself. It is massively important to recognise that it is not just the landscape that makes our countryside so beautiful, not only in the Lake District but in the dales and all the other beautiful parts of the United Kingdom; it is largely down to the work of our farmers.

      The production of food is also of massive significance. I am sure all Members will share my concern that we have seen a massive rise in the amount of food that we import over the past 20 years. In 1990, we imported about 35% of the food that we consume. The figure is now about 45%. As the process of leaving the European Union trundles on, one thing that will undoubtedly have an impact on this country's ability to feed itself will be the agriculture Bill that we are expecting to see, perhaps before the summer or perhaps shortly after.

      It will also massively depend on what kind of deal we get. What situation will we face when it comes to tariffs or no tariffs on our imports and exports? That is why it is right, and respectful of the British people, to decide to engage fully in what kind of deal we get and to object if the Government present us with a shabby deal or if others in the Government wish to have a deal that is even shabbier than the one that the Government are presenting.

      I am one of the 6% of Members of Parliament who bothered to go and look at the Brexit impact assessment documents in Whitehall when they were sort of semi-released earlier this year. Obviously I would not leak a single word of what I read-oh go on, since you've twisted my arm. One of the things that most struck me was the war-gaming that the Government had done for some rather terrifying prospects. For example, it is worth bearing in mind that, whether we like it or not, membership of the European Union has removed from this place and this country the imperative to debate whether it was right to subsidise food over the past 40 years, but by golly we have, and we will notice if we stop subsidising food.

      Over the past 40 years, the average spend of a lower-middle-income household on food has gone down from 20% of the weekly wage packet to 10%. At the same time, housing costs have doubled. If we remove direct payments for farmers and/or if there are tariffs on imports into this country, the reality is that we will see a significant rise in the price of food on the shelves. The wealthiest people in this country spend 10% of their income on food, but the poorest spend 25%. I do not care how anyone voted two years ago or what they think about the Chequers deal, because they should care about impending food poverty on every street in this country. That is likely to be the most worrying aspect of what we get if we have a bad deal.

      The Government are mindful of the problem, which is why they war-gamed what it would look like if the EU charged tariffs on UK exports into the single market, but the Government chose not to retaliate with import tariffs on EU goods. I can understand that the Government would do that to protect the interests of the poorest consumers in this country, but UK farming would be thrown under a bus. It would be decimated within a decade. That is why such issues matter. That is why the content of the deal matters. It is not anti-patriotic, anti-democratic or anything of the sort to question the nature of the deal, not based on esoterica about sovereignty or anything else, but based on the hard, visceral reality of whether people in this country can afford to feed their children.

    • Leaving the Eu: Negotiations | Commons debates

      My right hon. Friend will of course remember that the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis) proposed exactly the same course of action whereby one could have an initial referendum and another that confirmed it later on. Does he agree with the right hon. Gentleman?

    • Offenders: Help to Find Employment | Oral Answers to Questions - Justice | Commons debates

      Eighteen months ago, a constituent of mine who had left prison just before Christmas and been through perfunctory training and employment introductions found himself out of prison and living on the street within 36 hours. Before the new year came round, he had committed another offence and been given another 12 months in prison. Will the Secretary of State commit to making sure that packages that are aimed at getting prisoners into work after prison actually work and are not perfunctory and that, from the day a person enters the criminal justice system, they are trained to live a fruitful life once they leave it?

  • Jul 4, 2018:
  • Jul 3, 2018:
  • Jun 28, 2018:
  • Jun 26, 2018:
    • Agriculture: Environment Protection | Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs | Written Answers

      To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how his Department plans to use payments to land managers in the proposed environment land management scheme to support the creation of the Nature Recovery Network as outlined in his Department's 25 Year Environment Plan.

    • Leaving the Eu: Upland Farming | Westminster Hall debates

      It is an honour to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Pritchard. I congratulate and thank the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr (Jonathan Edwards). Hill farming is of colossal importance to the United Kingdom it brings the public benefits of biodiversity and flood prevention, and economic benefits. In my constituency we have the Lake District national park, the Yorkshire Dales national park and South Lakeland, and the Lake District became a world heritage site just 12 months ago. The tourism economy of Cumbria is worth £3 billion a year and 60,000 jobs, all underpinned, as other hon. Members have said, by the work of our farmers to protect and maintain that landscape.

      Why are most of our hill farmers involved in hill farming? It is about food production. Some 45% of UK lamb is produced in the uplands; 55% of the UK suckler herd is located in the uplands; and 35% of UK milk is produced in the uplands. Of course, straw and feed grown in the lowlands goes to feed animals in the uplands, so without hill farming, lowland farming would soon go. That should concern and bother us all.

      Rightly, we are often concerned about fuel security, but we think too little about food security. Some 45% of the food we consume today is imported. Twenty years ago, that figure was more like 35%. It is a very worrying trend. The future for hill farming is vital. Providing a future for our uplands must be at the heart of the Government's plan in the agriculture Bill that we look forward to in a few weeks' time.

      The ring-fencing and protecting of the common agricultural policy budget post Brexit of £3.8 billion until 2022 is important. I have heard some Government Members talk about that as a long-term commitment, but anyone who thinks four years in farming is long term understands nothing about farming. It does need to be a long-term commitment, and there needs to be a growing, not fixed, budget. The Government must take immediate action on existing payments.

      Many hill farmers are coming to the end of their high-level stewardship and entry-level stewardship agreements. A friend of mine, a farmer in the Westmorland part of the Yorkshire dales, comes to the end of his HLS agreement in January 2019. He is not allowed to start an application or have a start date for a countryside stewardship scheme until January 2020, so he has to live for 12 months without a scheme of that kind. Even then, mid-tier countryside stewardship schemes offer little value, and higher tier schemes are frankly unfathomable and incredibly difficult to get through. Many farmers simply do not bother with them. Will the Minister ensure the continuation for hill farmers of HLS and ELS agreements until a new, better and bespoke scheme for the uplands can be introduced? I also suggest that the new scheme has monthly start dates, to ease the workload for the RPA and Natural England.

      It looks like the one thing we are sure of in the agriculture Bill is that basic payments will not be part of it. Over the last 40-odd years, we have subsidised food in this country and we have never had a debate about whether we thought that was a good idea. But we can be certain that we will feel it when we stop subsidising food. We can welcome public goods being funded, but we should all take a step back and consider what that might mean for the upland farmer. If we over-commodify every single thing that they do, will we not be in a situation where we see the price of everything and the value of nothing?

      I do not really have time to express my concern for the future of young people in hill farming; about how to create incentive schemes to get them in and to allow older farmers to retire with dignity to an affordable home, given the astonishing price of housing in rural areas such as mine. Every £1 invested in farming produces a £7 return. British farming begins in the hills. It has a future only if the uplands have a future.

    • Phenylketonuria: Treatment and Support - [Mr Laurence Robertson in the Chair] | Westminster Hall debates

      I congratulate the hon. Lady on this important debate. She makes a hugely important point about the licensing of Kuvan. The European Medicines Agency licensed the drug in 2008, and 10 years on we have buck-passing between the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England. It is deeply concerning. I am representing two children with PKU-I am sure there are many more-in my constituency. I got a letter back from NICE just a few weeks ago that said that the condition and the treatments for PKU are

      "the subject of a NHS England commissioning policy…not covered by any existing NICE guidance."

      It went on to pass the buck back to NHS England. Does the hon. Lady agree that it is time for the buck-passing to stop, and for the treatment to be licensed?