Labour has let down unpaid carers

“The Liberal Democrats will guarantee that a million unpaid carers who work the longest hours get a week’s break every year – to be taken in whichever way they choose,” says the Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary. Commenting on today’s Princess Royal Trust for Carers report, which reveals that next year Primary Care Trusts only plan to spend 25% of the £100m they have been allocated to increase services for carers for this purpose, Norman Lamb said: “This report makes clear that Labour has completely let down millions of hardworking unpaid carers across the country.

“Yet again we see that ministers have chased headlines with grand spending commitments but completely failed to make sure the money gets through to the people who really need it. This is tantamount to a fraud on vulnerable people.

“The Liberal Democrats will guarantee that a million unpaid carers who work the longest hours get a week’s break every year – to be taken in whichever way they choose. Only a guaranteed right will stop vital funds for respite being diverted into other parts of the NHS.”

Liberal Democrats pass plans to clean up politics

Liberal Democrat Spring Conference this weekend passed plans to clean up politics and urgently create a fairer and more local political system. The proposals include:

· A fairer voting system

· A requirement for those who stand for Parliament or sit in the House of Lords to pay tax in Britain

· A fully elected second chamber

· The right for voters to sack their MP.

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Manifesto Chair, Danny Alexander said, “Our broken political system desperately needs to be cleaned up. Public confidence in politics is at an all time low, and the way the country is governed needs urgent reform.

“The Liberal Democrats have passed plans today to make politics fairer, local and more transparent.

“Labour has had 13 years to change our broken politics, and it’s failed to do so.

“Only the Liberal Democrats would end safe seats, reform the voting system and give local people a real say over how their neighbourhoods are governed.”

Longest serving Tory in Europe joins the Liberal Democrats

The former leader of the Conservative MEPs has announced his defection to the Liberal Democrats at the Party’s Spring Conference in Birmingham. Edward McMillan-Scott, who was the Conservative’s most senior MEP, has joined the Liberal Democrats. He announced his defection to the Liberal Democrats at the Party’s Spring Conference in Birmingham.

Edward McMillan-Scott, the Vice-President of the European Parliament with responsibility for human rights and democracy, was welcomed to the Liberal Democrats by Leader Nick Clegg.

Edward, who is MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire said: “I have been around the higher circles of the Conservative Party for long enough to fear that on Europe Cameron says one thing in opposition and will do another in Government.

“I have long fought against totalitarianism and the extremism and religious persecution it brings. It was wrong of Cameron to associate with MEPs who have extremist pasts in his new European alliance.

“My reasons for joining the Liberal Democrats are that in Nick Clegg they have a leader whom I like, admire and respect. They are internationalists, not nationalists. They are committed to politics based the values of fairness and change.

“From being a liberal Conservative I become a conservative Liberal. Most of my family are liberals: I am pleased to join the Liberal family.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg said:”I am delighted to welcome Edward McMillan-Scott to the Liberal Democrats.

“For many years he has fought for human rights and democracy world wide and he is rightly a respected politician across Europe.

“As someone of principle he has refused to cosy up to right wing extremists, despite pressure from the Tory machine.

“This flies in the face of David Cameron’s claims of change. It shows that people of principle, who believe in fairness and want real change for Britain are at home in the Liberal Democrats.”

Tameside BNP Euro-MP accused of expenses cover-up

Nick Griffin has been accused by Tameside’s Lib Dem MEP of an expenses cover-up. British National Party leader Griffin has yet to publish any details of how he is using expenses from the European Parliament that could be worth more than £280,000 per year. He is the only one of the North West’s 8 MEPs to provide no financial information at all on his website.

Despite an allowance of £14,000 a month for the payment of staff Griffin lists only 3 employees, one of whom is part time and one of whom also works for Yorkshire MEP Andrew Brons.

Nick Griffin’s failure to make details of his expenses available comes despite a BNP election campaign last year that attacked MEPs for having “snouts in the trough.”

The Electoral Commission is currently investigating the party for a breach of regulations after its own auditor refused to sign off the 2008 accounts.

Tameside Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies has led a campaign for openness and transparency in the European Parliament and publishes all details of his expenses.

Today he called on Nick Griffin to reveal all. He said, “No-one likes hypocrites, and the BNP will do itself no good by gaining a reputation for sleaze as well as hate.”

“It is time that the stone was lifted on Griffin’s expenses and light was allowed to shine on what lies beneath.”

Tory party has been bought like a banana republic

Commenting on Lord Ashcroft’s admission that he is non-domiciled for tax purposes, Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said, “The Conservatives’ biggest donor is a tax-dodger from Belize who has not paid a penny of British tax on the vast bulk of his estimated £1.1bn fortune held offshore.

“This raises extraordinary questions about the judgement of successive Tory leaders – William Hague, Michael Howard and David Cameron – whose view seems to be that only little people should pay tax.

“The Tory party has been bought like a banana republic.”

If Brown believed in fairness he would stop RBS bonuses

Commenting on reports that RBS is set to pay out over £1bn in bonuses despite expectations of poor performance to be announced tomorrow, Liberal Democrat Shadow Scotland Secretary, Alistair Carmichael said, “The idea of a bank which is still propped up by taxpayers paying out over a billion in bonuses is offensive. There should be no rewards for failure.

“With people across the country having to tighten their belts, bankers are living on another planet if they think they deserve millions in bonuses.

“RBS is effectively owned by the public. If Gordon Brown really believed in fairness he would intervene to stop these bonuses going ahead.”

EU failing on CCS goals

A pledge by EU leaders to have up to 12 plants to demonstrate carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology operating by 2015 is set to fail, local MEP Chris Davies has warned. CCS development is regarded as crucial to curbing the emission of CO2 from the world’s growing number of fossil fuel power stations. Instead of being released into the atmosphere the gas is buried permanently deep underground.

Earlier this month a subsidy package likely to be worth more than £4 billion was approved by EU governments.

But Chris Davies, the MEP who leads on CCS issues in the European Parliament, has warned that the funding approval process for demonstration projects is too slow.

He told a CCS conference in London today: “As things stand there is no prospect of the EU meeting its target. We will be lucky to have 2 or 3 commercial-scale projects in operation by 2015.

The MEP called on the European Commission to sweep aside “bureaucratic obstacles” to accelerate the selection and construction of CCS-equipped power plants.

Davies said: “Every week of delay increases the risks of global warming and denies European industry the opportunity to become the world leader in CCS technology.”

Overcrowded housing reveals Labour’s failure

Commenting on today’s report by Lloyds TSB Insurance which reveals the number of families living in overcrowded homes has hit a record high, Liberal Democrat Shadow Housing Minister, Sarah Teather said: “The news that a record number of families are trapped in overcrowded housing is yet more devastating evidence of Labour’s failure on social housing.

“We urgently need to build new family-sized homes, and get a grip on the number of properties sitting empty and unused.”

Greenpeace boss praises Lib Dem green jobs plan

John Sauven Greenpeace Executive Director has said of the new Lib Dem plans to create jobs in wind power: “This is the kind of practical vision that will bring Britain huge benefits.

“Using shipyards to launch a fleet of offshore turbines could make Britain an international powerhouse in wind power, and create thousands of jobs.

“But if we don’t realise the huge potential of renewable energy in the UK, then we risk being left behind by other European countries.”

Nick Clegg talks about the green jobs plan (Youtube video)

Our Green Jobs Plan

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg today set out a manifesto pledge to create 57,000 jobs by investing £400million upgrading disused shipyards to enable the production of off-shore wind turbines. The proposals would enable firms to manufacture off-shore wind turbines in the UK, instead of seeing them built abroad due to out-of-date facilities. Current plans to expand wind farms in the North and Irish seas could see every one of the 6,400 turbines needed brought in from abroad, as there are currently no turbine manufacturers in the UK.

Wind turbines in wind farmLib Dem renewable energy plans would create 57,000 jobs

British ports are ideally located to host turbine manufacturers due to their proximity to the off-shore wind farms; however, they are currently unable to invest due to the lack of appropriate docks with suitable space.

The proposals to invest in physical infrastructure to support a greener economy also include a pledge to invest £100million in training and testing facilities, including at universities with specialist engineering research facilities such as Loughborough, Durham and Newcastle.

Commenting, Nick Clegg said:

“We need to make sure we come out of this recession with a rebalanced and green economy.

“Our plans would act as a huge boost for Britain’s budding wind industry and create nearly 60,000 jobs in many shipyard cities where unemployment is a huge problem.

“New off-shore turbines, with blades the size of the London Eye, need to be built and launched from modern docks, so we need to upgrade our shipyards to take advantage of this massive opportunity.

“Just imagine the docks and shipyards along the coastline of Britain coming to life and leading the world in this new technology.

“Expanding off-shore wind will create jobs but unless we act now, these jobs won’t be British jobs. It’s a scandal that 90% of the £1.75bn contract for a wind farm off the coast of Kent is going to foreign contractors, with the turbines being manufactured in Germany.

“Investing in infrastructure for a new green economy not only helps create jobs now but will allow Britain to take its place at the cutting edge of this growing industrial sector for the future.

“Britain clearly has the manufacturing and engineering expertise to lead the world in this green technology but government must play its part in supporting this.”

The Policy in brief

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The Liberal Democrats will renovate and adapt facilities in seven North and Irish Sea ports so they can be used to build the giant turbines needed for off-shore wind energy. This will be a huge boost for Britain’s budding wind industry and create 57,000 jobs in many shipyard cities where unemployment is a huge problem.

This plan forms part of the Liberal Democrats’ economic stimulus and job creation package. In the first year of a Liberal Democrat government, over £3.6bn of spending will be redirected to create jobs and build up Britain’s infrastructure. In the following years this money will be redirected to other Liberal Democrat spending priorities and reducing the structural deficit.

Why is it necessary

Energy from wind must meet a much larger proportion of Britain’s energy needs if we are to cut carbon emissions and our reliance on fuel imported from abroad. But there’s a problem: there is hardly anywhere in Britain suitable to build the giant turbines needed. That holds back our industry and also the much-needed expansion of wind energy.

Liberal Democrats are committed to increasing the proportion of our electricity that comes from renewables to 40% by 2020. The majority of that electricity will have to come from off-shore wind – so we need to build at least 6,400 offshore wind turbines, 2.5 a day.

The technology we need is ready and the consortiums who have won the right to build offshore wind farms in the North and Irish Seas are now looking for manufacturers to build the turbines. If action is not taken now all the manufacturing jobs that these orders could create will go abroad where there are already the facilities to build huge wind turbines. Only if existing port facilities close to the off-shore wind farms of the North and Irish Seas are converted will the turbines be built here and the jobs created here too.

Renovating ports: The Liberal Democrats will invest £400million in refurbishing ports in the North of England and Scotland so they can manufacture offshore wind turbines. They will be upgraded so they are suitable for construction and testing facilities and are of a reasonable depth for the large boats used to transport the blades and towers. All port authorities with direct access to the North and Irish seas, the crucial areas for offshore wind development, will be invited to bid to be part of the scheme.

For example, ports in the North of England around Liverpool, Newcastle, Hull, Middlesbrough and ports in Scotland around Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Glasgow will all be eligible for funding. Based on the cost of the recent renovation of Great Yarmouth, it is estimated that £400million will be enough for the renovation of seven ports.

The Liberal Democrats will also invest £100million through the Renewables and Energy Efficiency Delivery Authority (an agency we will establish, modelled on the Olympics Delivery Authority) who will invest in training and testing facilities, including at universities which specialise in this kind of engineering research such as Loughborough, Durham and Newcastle. In Government, the Liberal Democrat would work with the education sector and industry to ensure we have the skilled workforce to support new world class facilities.

Jobs: This investment will create 12,000 jobs in port development and facilitate a further 45,000 new jobs in the manufacturing, construction and supply chain of offshore wind energy within the UK.