Liberal Democrat education spending pledges would mean an additional £330 million for Wales, it has been announced today (10 May).
The Liberal Democrats have said that they will invest nearly £7bn more in schools and Colleges over the next parliament. Through Barnett consequentials this would mean an additional £330m for Wales.
Welsh Lib Dem candidate for Monmouth, Veronica German said:
“This spending pledge shows the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to education.
“Education reform in Wales is our national mission. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are focused on raising school standards, reducing the attainment gap, and delivering and education system that is a source of national pride and confidence.
"A landslide for the Conservatives would allow Theresa May to take people across the country for granted and cut public services, such as schools, to the bone. This would then lead to less funding for public services in Wales.
"Only the Liberal Democrats can provide the strong opposition Britain needs to stand up for your community.
"Vote for the Liberal Democrats and you can change Wales’ future."
Responding to Theresa May's refusal today at PMQs to guarantee the triple lock for pensioners, introduced by the Liberal Democrats in coalition, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Susan Kramer said:
"Theresa May is preparing to raid pensions to pay for her hard Brexit.
"The Conservatives must clarify their position now to pensioners across the country.
"The triple lock was one of the Liberal Democrats' biggest achievements in government, lifting many pensioners out of poverty. Now this progress risks being undone.
"This election is a chance to prevent a hard Brexit and secure the strong economy we need to protect pensions and public services."
Liberal Democrats in Monmouth have selected experienced campaigner and politician, Veronica German, to be their candidate for the snap General Election.
Veronica has been campaigning in our area with the Lib Dems since she joined the party nearly 30 years ago. She previously represented this region as the Assembly Member for South Wales East, and had the roles of the Shadow Minister for Health and Local Government and for Equalities.
After the selection Veronica said: “Over half of Monmouthshire residents voted to Remain in the EU. Many more oppose the reckless decision of this hard-right Conservative government to pursue a ‘hard Brexit’ which involves leaving the Single Market. Only the Lib Dems here in Monmouth are truly fighting her plans."
“The Labour Party is split, ineffectual and has no policy on Brexit. They are not providing the effective opposition this country so needs.”
“I will be campaigning and making the case that anyone who wants to avoid a disastrous hard Brexit, keep Britain in the single market, and who wants an effective Opposition party in Parliament, then the only party to vote for is the Liberal Democrats.”
Leaked negotiating guidelines, set to be approved at a special summit of EU leaders in Brussels on Saturday, show that EU governments have toughened up their Brexit negotiating position.
The news comes as Theresa May and David Davis prepare to meet with Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s lead negotiator Michel Barnier this evening. It has emerged that EU governments will insist that any post-Brexit relationship must fully respect EU rules after Brexit.
Brussels will also demand all EU citizens who have lived in the UK for five years acquire permanent residence rights. In light of the widely reported problems encountered by EU nationals legally seeking permanent residency, Brussels will demand that Home Office application procedures are streamlined.
Welsh Lib Dems deliver for Monmouthshire pupils and young people
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today secured, amongst other things, £4,461,188 extra investment in Monmouthshire’s schools.
Last year the Welsh Liberal Democrats agreed to a two year deal, worth £223m, to allow the Welsh Government’s budget to pass in exchange for the implementation of Welsh Liberal Democrat policies. Assembly Members today voted on that budget.
Amongst other achievements, the Welsh Liberal Democrats secured an increase in the Pupil Premium(also known as ‘Pupil Deprivation Grant’) so every school receives £1,150 per pupil on free school meals, a Young Persons’ Bus Pass so young people can travel for free to work and training, and 5,000 new apprenticeships.
Veronica German said:
“I’m delighted we have secured this extra investment for our area.
“Let’s be clear: the positives in this budget are because of Welsh Liberal Democrat influence.
“Whether it is securing over £200m investment for education, delivering funding for thousands of new apprenticeships, or supporting young people getting to work and training, the Welsh Liberal Democrats have a record of delivery for our communities.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats continue to punch above our weight and today’s budget, which delivers on a number of priorities which have a positive impact on people’s lives, is evidence of that.”
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have today secured agreement from the Welsh Government that cuts to Monmouthshire Council will be mitigated.
The Finance Minister announced today that Monmouthshire will get an extra £109,000 in the Local Government Settlement.
Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, has had several meetings with the Finance Minister to make the case for a grant to assist rural areas such as Monmouthshire.
Veronica German, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly candidate for Monmouth, said:
“I am delighted that the Welsh Lib Dems have secured this money for Monmouthshire as well as extra funding for Powys and Ceredigion.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been clear from the very beginning that there was absolutely no way these unfair cuts could be carried through. We made a stand on behalf of our rural communities and I am pleased we have been able to deliver for them.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats will continue to lead the fight for a better funding deal for our communities.
“The Conservatives have been very cynical in their attempts to mislead people over this issue. This has been yet another episode when they have 100% failed to deliver for rural people. The Tories may seek the media headlines, but not once did they lift a finger to actually mitigate these cuts. As always, they have shown themselves to be an ineffectual opposition and a wasted vote.
“While today’s announcement is welcome, the Welsh Liberal Democrats believe there needs to be a complete review of the funding formula to deliver a fairer deal for rural areas.”
Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-business agenda is the exact opposite of what Wales needs, says Kirsty Williams, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.
Despite Labour pledging that Jeremy Corbyn would visit Wales once a month, today (19 November 15) will be his first visit since his election as leader (over 60 days ago).
Kirsty Williams AM said:
“Under Corbyn, the Labour party is completely shambolic. The only coherent narrative Labour currently has is that they are anti-ambition, anti-enterprise, and anti-business. This is the exact opposite of what Wales needs.
“Under Labour, Wales is the only part of the UK where average wages are decreasing. We need ambition and fresh ideas, not the politics of Jeremy Corbyn trying to drag us back even further backwards.
“People want a vibrant Welsh economy with real job opportunities so they can get on in life. Welsh Liberal Democrats will help empower business to thrive in Wales, creating the high-value jobs that will finally get our economy moving.
“The Welsh Liberal Democrats are the only party that knows a fair, liberal and sustainable economy is essential to enable people to succeed and to shape their own future.”
DIWEDD / END
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have expressed fears for the future of the planned Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon, after the project was not mentioned once in the Energy Secretary’s key speech today.
The project was spearheaded by former Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey, who led a renewed commitment to new renewable energy technologies as part of the Coalition Government.
Despite being an ongoing major energy project today’s speech by Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, dubbed “a new direction for UK energy policy”, failed to even refer to it.
Peter Black AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, said:
“For such a major energy project to not get a single mention in the Minister’s speech is a very worrying sign. I sincerely hope that the Conservatives aren’t getting cold feet and starting to row back on this vital scheme.
“The tidal lagoon will create and support thousands of jobs in the Swansea Bay area, as well as make Wales a world leader in this exciting new green technology. The opportunity here is immense – that’s why the Liberal Democrats spent so long in Government ensuring that this scheme would become a reality.
“We’ve already seen dithering and feet-dragging by Conservative ministers on the tidal lagoon, but climate change won’t wait for them to get their ducks in order. We need action and swift assurances from the UK Government as soon as possible.”
The speech also contained very little mention of support for other new renewable technologies, a key focus of the Liberal Democrats during their time in Government.
Veronica German. Lead candidate for South Wales East added:
“If anyone ever doubted the importance of having Liberal Democrats in Government, this speech spells it out in black and white. If this is the new direction for our energy policy, I think the Conservatives need to turn around as soon as possible.
“This speech is a clear sign that the Conservatives are set on rowing back years of hard work by Lib Dem ministers on encouraging green energy and expanding renewables. The Tories are abandoning all pretence of caring about climate change.”
DIWEDD / END
The full text of Amber Rudd’s speech can be found at:https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/amber-rudds-speech-on-a-new-direction-for-uk-energy-policy
The Labour party is in “complete disarray” over its M4 plans, said Veronica German after the First Minister sacked a Labour AM as a committee chair after she spoke out against the plans.
Jenny Rathbone said an "unhealthy culture" at the top of the government stopped AMs from speaking out on issues. Another AM and former Minister Alun Davies has said he's disappointed at the sacking and that Labour AMs should be “free to debate these matters”. Labour’s Deputy Leader of Flintshire Council has also called for a vote of no confidence for the First Minister.
Last year the Welsh Liberal Democrats secured an agreement with the Welsh Government that “no construction of an M4 relief road would start before the next Assembly elections.”
Veronica German, Welsh Liberal Democrat Lead Candidate for South Wales East said:
“For members to break ranks now shows how desperate Welsh Labour are becoming. There must be an election coming, as never in the past 4 years has she spoken out against Labour’s disastrous running of our health service, our schools or Cardiff Council.
“The Labour party is in complete disarray. They long have had a culture of stifling debate and avoiding scrutiny and this has clearly caused resentment.
“The chances of the Welsh Government ever getting a strong enough majority to force through its plans are slim to none. It’s time the Government accepted this.
“In budget negotiations, the Welsh Liberal Democrats used our influence to ensure that no construction of the M4 relief road will start before the next Assembly elections and that a detailed Environmental Impact Study into the project will be commissioned.
“Our proposed alternative is less expensive, less likely to damage vast swathes of our environment and academically recommended. It will invest in public transport, not just tarmac, and reduce congestion by taking cars off the road.
“It’s for all these reasons that we ensured no final construction contracts would be awarded this side of the Assembly election, meaning the entire project can still be scrapped by the next Welsh Government.”
The wording of the budget agreement secured by the Welsh Liberal Democrats includes:
The Welsh Government has made a decision to use some of its borrowing powers to build an M4 relief road around Newport (borrowing powers will also be used to fund infrastructure investment in North, Mid and West Wales) and a preferred route has been identified. However the Welsh Government recognises the objections and concerns about aspects of the plan.
Both parties have agreed that no construction of an M4 relief road would start before the next Assembly elections.
They have also agreed with the Welsh Liberal Democrats to commission a detailed Environmental Impact Study on the Welsh Government preferred route before any detailed design work begins. The Welsh Government maintains that they are open to reviewing their position dependent on the outcome of the study and any public inquiry. Both will be considered in detail before deciding how to proceed.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats received the backing of the the National Assembly to unite against plans by the Tory UK Government to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998.
In their 2015 manifesto the Conservative Party pledges to scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a ‘British Bill of Rights’. In coalition, Liberal Democrats blocked plans to repeal the Human Rights Act and leave the European Convention on Human Rights, but now David Cameron is re-heating proposals to scrap fundamental human rights protections.
Leading a Welsh Lib Dem debate in the National Assembly, which states that the Assembly “firmly opposes any attempt by the UK Government to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998’, Welsh Liberal Democrat leader Kirsty Williams AM said
“These human rights laws protect the most vulnerable in society: they have stopped the state spying on us, helped victims of rape or domestic abuse, supported peaceful protest, protected soldiers, guarded against slavery and provided answers for grieving families.
“Scrapping the Human Rights Act would undermine our Welsh devolution settlement and be a retrograde step in the promotion and protection of human rights. It would only make the system more complex with one set of laws applying to devolved issues and another to non-devolved issues. Far from breaking the link with the ECHR, scrapping the Human Rights Act would make it harder to pursue cases domestically and would force people to use the Strasbourg route instead.
“There is certainly a debate to be had about how we can improve the ECHR and promote a deeper understanding of human rights. However this must be framed within sensible debate and not nationalistic furore spearheaded by right-wing politicians for short term political gain.
“The Liberal Democrats blocked David Cameron from scrapping the Human Rights Act in Government and we must stop him again now. That is why we are leading this debate today, calling on the National Assembly to unite to stop the Conservatives riding roughshod over our hard-won rights.”