Government Breaks Promise to ban Pensions Cold Calling

Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Lloyd has slammed the Government for failing to meet their deadline to ban cold calling by companies selling pension products.

During debates on the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, Treasury Minister John Glen committed to “ban pensions cold calling quickly” and promised to make a statement to Parliament if he failed to do so by the end of June.

That deadline has now passed and Stephen Lloyd is demanding that a minister appears before the House of Commons to explain the reasons for the delay.

The Government commitment to ban pensions cold calling was secured by Liberal Democrat peer John Sharkey through winning key amendments in the House of Lords to ban cold calls from organisations selling various financial services.

Liberal Democrat Work and Pensions Spokesperson, Stephen Lloyd MP, said:
“A cold calling ban for pension products is urgently needed to protect the most vulnerable in our society from harassment and deception.

“The proposed ban had cross-party support, including from the Work and Pensions Select Committee, and the Government said they were committed to bringing in the ban as soon as possible. But this promise sounds increasingly hollow.

“Whilst the Treasury is hopelessly consumed by Brexit, they are standing by as vulnerable people are deprived of their financial security.

“The Conservatives have promised to get on with this. It is past time they did.”

The Pankhursts: Suffragette City Tour

You are invited to this professionally led walk is in memory of the Pankhursts – Emmeline, Christabel and Sylvia – fierce campaigners, resolute radicals, recalling their city centre haunts and outlining their struggle.

Starting at St Ann’s Church at 17:30, the tour will last approximately 2 hours.

To RSVP please go here:

GMSF Delayed, Again…

The next draft of the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework (GMSF) has been delayed again by the ten Labour Council Leaders in Greater Manchester.

The second draft was originally meant to be published in June 2018, but was recently delayed to July – now we’re not expecting to see anything until much later in the year.

The previous plan had been to provide for an extra 227,000 new houses across Greater Manchester (the equivalent of another Bolton and Bury added together) in the next 20 years. New population growth figures released by Government show a lower rate of predicted population growth for Greater Manchester, and there are more figures expected in September.

Previous plans would have seen whole swathes of Green Belt Lane across Bury destroyed by housing and industrial land.

The first draft of the GMSF would have seen 20% of Bury’s greenbelt land lost, almost 50% in Prestwich and Whitefield. We’re demanding that this should now by 0%. 

Bury Council is refusing to commit that the Green Belt is now safe saying: “Although no guarantees can be given is likely that less Green Belt land will have be released in Bury to meet housing needs than originally envisioned”. At the Greater Manchester Mayoral election in May 2017 Labour promised “no net loss of Green Belt land”, a promise they still seem to be breaking.

Our view as Liberal Democrats is that we DO need more housing. In particular we need more housing the people need and can afford, which is not necessarily the same as what developers want to built to make the most profit.

We want to see 100% of this building outside of Greenbelt land, using the extensive brownfield sites that exist across Greater Manchester.

Vince Cable Speech: Housing

Vince Cable explores how we can end the housing crisis through pragmatic steps to create more affordable homes, protect those who are renting, and help people get on the property ladder.

“At the centre of the last budget was a pledge to build 300,000 UK houses a year to address the ‘housing crisis’.

We were taken back to the days when a post-war Conservative Government, under Churchill, was elected with this level of ambition, and more than succeeded.

Or to the interwar National Government when, under the much-maligned Neville Chamberlain, when there was a similar level of ambition and achievement in the aftermath of, and as an antidote to, the Great Crash.

More recently, in 1969, when I was embarking on a political career as a councillor in Glasgow, a record level of 378,000 homes were built.   Large scale house building was then the template of successful local government.

Today, there is a significantly larger number of people per home available.

Yet in the 2010 post-crisis nadir only 133,000 homes were built during the year. And even as the economy comes out the other side, there were just 178,360 in 2016/17.

Brexit now threatens development rates again.  Already two-thirds of small and medium sized construction firms are struggling to hire bricklayers and carpenters, 10% more than was the case even three months ago.  There is a worsening crisis in construction recruitment which threatens any political aspiration to build more homes.

An estimated 240,000 to 300,000 units per year are needed to keep up with the rate of household formation but even that figure excludes a lot of hidden demand – in the form of young people living with their parents, for example.

This historic failure of governments – of all stripes – to stimulate housing supply at anything like the levels needed to meet demand is at the root of a great deal of social, and particularly inter-generational, injustice in the country today.

So while some of the solutions are necessarily technical, we should keep in mind throughout the end game. An affordable, secure home for all – and in particular for young people, to whom it is presently out of reach.

I want to set out how we could return to the levels of house building last seen two or three generations ago; and how a Lib Dem, mixed-economy approach, of public and private sector, can deliver it.”

Reporting Back: Health Scrutiny

Councillor Steve Wright represented the Liberal Democrats at last weeks meeting of Bury’s Health Scrutiny Committee.

Fairfield Hospital Update
Senior management from Fairfield Hospital gave a presentation on the ‘Improvement Journey’ Fairfield Hospital in the last couple of years.  The hospital was rated by the Care Quality Commission as  ‘Requires Improvement’ and now it is ‘Good’. This was hard to achieve because only half the set criteria were checked. According to management the main reason for the change is due to a high level of engagement with staff ‘on the ground’ and lot of the ideas and resolution to issues has come from them.

The full presentation is here.

Children and Young People Autism Waiting Times.
Burt Clinical Commissioning Group came to give a presentation on what they are doing to improve the length of time it is taking for children and young people to be able assessed for a diagnosis of autism.

– The number of Children under 9 requiring review has increased from 75 2012/13 to 144 in 2017/18.
– Referral to First Assessment wait time – average wait is 8-9 weeks (though this has been significant improvement seen since July 2017)
– Referral to Diagnosis Outcome waits – some children waiting up to 18 months for consideration at the SCDDG.

A number of improvements to services have already been put in place, with more planned. A full summary is in the presentation here.

Shameful Tory MP Blocks Upskirting Bill

Despite widespread support for the anti-upskirting Bill, it was single-handedly blocked by Tory MP Christopher Chope.

We were so close.

Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse has been fighting to make ‘upskirting’ (taking photographs up a woman’s skirt without their consent) a specific criminal offence.

Last week it looked likely that this vile practice would be outlawed after it received backing from the Ministry of Justice, Number 10 and numerous MPs across the house.

However, last Friday in Parliament, the Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope used an antiquated piece of Commons procedure to block the Bill from proceeding, amid cries of “shame” from outraged MPs. His actions meant that the Bill could not even be debated.

We’re disappointed, and angry on behalf of all the women for whom this meant so much…but completely unsurprised this happened.

Arch-Brexiteer Chope has repeatedly been on the wrong side of history. He has voted for the minimum wage to be abolished, against same-sex marriage, and in favour of fox hunting. This is not the first private members bill he has blocked – in 2014 he blocked a Lib Dem Bill which would have banned revenge evictions by private landlords, and in 2015 he blocked a Bill to restrict hospital parking chargers imposed on carers.

The Upskirting Bill will come back to Parliament in June, but there would be nothing to prevent Chope or other out of touch Tory MPs from pulling the same stunt again.

We need to make sure this bill passes.

In order to do so we need to make everybody aware of what Chope did today, and show him exactly how the public feels about his shameful actions.

We are exposing Chope’s actions to thousands more through social media ads. You can donate to our campaign here:

MP’s Victory in ‘Up-Skirting’ Law

Liberal Democrat MP Were Hobhouse, who was previously a LiB Dem Councillor in Rochdale, has declared victory her bid to make ‘upskirting’ a specific criminal offence.

Ms Hobhouse had brought a Private Members’ Bill to make the practice a specific officen, but the Bill was blocked by a Conservative MP Christpher Chope (he also blocked a bill to make injur police dogs and horses on the same day…).

The Government’s Justice Minister has met with Ms Hobhouse and, on behalf of the Government, agreed to take her Bill through Parliament.

Wera (second from left above) said:

“I’m very happy that the law is changing, this is a huge victory for women across the country. I hope this can go through on Friday 6th July with my Bill, but my main concern now is that the law is changed as soon as possible and therefore I also welcome the Government Bill.

It seems unfair that just one person was able to block a Bill that we had spent so long building cross party consensus behind, but reform for Private Members’ Bills is for another day.”

Vince Cable speech: Capitalism in Crisis

In a speech entitled ‘Capitalism in Crisis’, Liberal Democrat Leader Vince Cable explains how a modern, liberal approach can help capitalism save itself.

He explores some of the serious problems facing capitalism today, and how these issues have provoked reactions from the extremes of the political spectrum. Common sense reform is necessary to curb the worst excesses of capitalism.

“Scarcely a day goes by without a scandal erupting around greedy or bullying bosses, pilfered pension funds, business tax dodging, chaotic private train operators, rewards for failure, bankers’ bonuses, price gouging or exploitation of gig workers, zero hours contract employees or modern slaves.

The public appears to want more nationalisation, more regulation and higher taxes on business.

Populist politicians on the left, like Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders in the USA, get a respectful hearing at business conferences. Leading business spokespeople and gurus preach contrition, restraint and self-flagellation.

There is a palpable sense of capitalism being in crisis or, at least, facing a crisis of confidence.

Although it does not explain everything, the financial crisis of a decade ago played an important part in puncturing the confidence generated by the collapse of Communism two decades earlier confidence that the capitalist model, the liberalisation of markets and the ‘animal spirits’ of entrepreneurs, could be relied upon to generate an ongoing, inexorable rise in living standards.

This view was epitomised by Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” thesis now the subject of universal mockery but taken very seriously at the time that liberal democracy and the market economy had conclusively and for all time settled the ideological debate.

Instead, financial markets proved to be highly unstable and prone to excess.

Lib Dem Call for new money to fund teachers pay rises

Leading Liberal Democrats have written to the Chancellor calling for new, dedicated money from the Treasury to fund teachers’ future pay rises and are seeking cross-party support.

The call comes amid fears that the Government will accept a pay rise for teachers, but won’t provide schools extra money to fund for it.

The Liberal Democrats MPs argue that schools are “under huge financial pressures” and it is the responsibility of the Chancellor to “save them and their pupils from the inevitable consequences of a further erosion in the funding.”

The School Teachers Pay Review body has been looking into the issue of teachers pay and has made recommendations to the Government, which Education Ministers are due to respond to in the near future.

The party’s Education Spokesperson Layla Moran has written to MPs seeking cross-party support for the campaign.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Layla Moran said:

“We have seen school spending slashed, resulting in a narrowing curriculum and dedicated, hardworking teachers being forced out of the profession they love. Up and down the country, parents are already fundraising to pay for resources for schools. This shows the scale of the problem.

“Our hardworking teachers deserve a pay rise, but quite simply schools will not be able to cope if they have to fund pay increases from existing budgets.

“Despite raising this issue several times in Parliament, Education Ministers are refusing to say if they will give schools the money they need to pay for any increases in pay.

“Cross-party support is building. The Government must commit to new funding to ensure teachers get a decent pay rise without placing extra pressure on school budgets.”

Public Meeting: Democracy Needs You!

Bury Liberal Democrats have organised a public meeting on the theme: “Democracy needs you: why you should get involved in politics today”.

“Democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted” former USA President Barack Obama says. We will look at how democracy works, why sometimes it doesn’t and how you can be part of fixing it. Remember – decisions are made by those who show up!

Wednesday 27 June, 18-30 -20.30, St Margaret’s Church Hall, St Margaret’s Road, Prestwich. 

Our speaker is Councillor Lisa Smart, Deputy Leader of the Opposition on Stockport Council, and the Liberal Democrat Target Parliamentary Candidate for Hazel Grove constituency.

The event is free and open to the public. We ask everyone to register for a free ‘ticket’ in advance so that we can manage number.

18.30 to 19.00 Doors and Light Refreshments
19.00 to 19.45 Speaker
19.45 to 20.30 Q&A

Event details can be found at: