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Nick Clegg Speaking at Spring Conference 2013 (Photo taken by Gary Fuller)Welcome to our website. The Liberal Democrats are now the only party that can deliver social justice. We are the only choice for anyone who wants a stronger economy in a fairer society enabling everyone in Britain to get on in life.

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  • Steve Webb MP
    Article: Apr 17, 2014
    By James Coney in The Daily Mail

    Steve Webb's idea of relaxing on holiday is to fill in complicated number puzzles.

    But perhaps this geekiness is part of the reason why no politician has ever held this position for as long. He's been in office since 2010. Before that the job switched hands ten times in a decade.

    'It was a revolving door,' says Mr Webb. 'I've had the great advantage of coming in at the start of the Parliament. Pensions is a long-term game, so you need time to see things through. In a way, this is the perfect job for me. You've got the social, human side of how pensions affect people's lives, and then all that lovely technical detail.'

  • Article: Apr 17, 2014

    I am confident that Lib Dems will be united in welcoming today's news that Vince Cable has put out a call for evidence on a new register of arms brokers. The proposed register would introduce tougher regulations on the arms trade and is yet another historic victory for the Lib Dems in government.

    Arms brokers act as intermediaries in many arms deals by bringing together potential buyers and sellers in return for a cut of the transaction. Currently UK companies require a license before they can export military goods, but brokers are somewhat of an unknown entity. Under the proposals all brokers will have to appear on a public registry, with possible requirements to attend training courses and suitability assessments.

  • EU Flag
    Article: Apr 16, 2014
    By Professor Tony Travers, Director of LSE London, a research centre at the London School of Economics, and Visiting Professor in the LSE's Government Department. in The Euroblog

    There will be both local and European elections on 22nd May. Intriguingly, the BBC has recently commissioned IPSOS Mori to undertake polling which suggests that, compared with 10 years ago, the British are becoming less connected to 'your country' but more connected to 'your neighbourhood' and to 'the global community'.

    Against such a backdrop, this year's local elections are a particularly good pairing, though, it is worth noting that the turnout will probably be under 35 per cent, compared with around 60 per cent for a general election. National government in Britain is still very powerful.

    The European Commission, which has long had a keen interest in 'regional' issues is now becoming involved in city policy. I took part recently in an event in Brussels where larger towns and cities from across the EU explored the kind of things that the Commission might do to help them. There is clearly a continuing EU and European Commission interest in local economies. Cities and city regions, as in the UK, are now becoming more important.

    In fact, EU institutions are of significant importance to local government, LEPs and local economies more generally. In considering the local and national economic outlook, it is important to bear in mind the many ways in which 'Europe' is involved.

    People may or may not welcome it, but the EU's regulatory and legislative regimes affect every part of the UK and every local economy.

    Thus, for example, rules about energy efficiency and consumption will affect civic buildings, social housing and public transport. Targets for the delivery of renewable energy create planning struggles throughout the country.

    The internal market procurement rules affect the way councils and other local public providers offer contracts. State aid rules similarly reduce the opportunities for unfair competition between areas, but in doing so limit local discretion.

    Directives on working hours and health & safety affect local government and other local economic actors. Such interventions often improve people's lives, but can be seen by some commentators as anti-enterprise.

    European consumer policy has often been popular (for example, in relation to mobile phone charges and airline competition), but may add to the burdens faced by trading standards officers. Common EU retail and service standards can have similar effects, both positive and negative.

    But probably the most visible and politically-charged interventions from Brussels relate to 'cohesion' and other regional funding and, spectacularly, in relation to the free movement of people and labour enshrined in underlying EU treaties.

    There can be no doubt that all the above policies, regulations and legislation will affect the functioning of local economies. Councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) will have to take account of the full range of European actions. It is perceptions of some of these actions which have stimulated much of the opposition to 'Europe'.

    There is now a Wikipedia page about 'Euromyths' such as 'Europe banning curved bananas' or Brussels creating 'metric martyrs'. Misleading though some of these stories may be, they doubtless signal wider disquiet about the State's (that is, not just Europe's) willingness to become over-involved in our lives.

    Local government finds itself facing EU and UK government enforcement costs at a time of continuing austerity. Brussels and Westminster both need to be aware of the major reductions which are being made to local government's funding in England and Wales.

    The EU and the Commission must be sure they consult local government, LEPs and other sub-national players about the impact of any new legislation and regulation. Relying on central government to feed messages through will not always work: in fairness, it is not DCLG's job to do so.

    Many European interventions are important and can be for the wider good. Clean air, for example, as last week's Saharan smog showed, is an international matter. And while no EU interventions could have stopped the natural phenomenon which saw a Saharan sand cloud drift over eastern Britain, there are many other pollution issues which require European-wide action.

    Looking ahead, local areas, represented by councils, city regions and LEPs will need to continue to strengthen their involvement with Europe, both inside and outside the EU. There will be very few new public sector jobs in the coming years. Virtually all new employment will have to come from the private sector.

    Inward investment will be very important and a major part of such money is likely to come from Europe. Of course, the United States, China, Japan, India and others will also be important. But the UK remains a major trading partner with Germany, France, Ireland and other EU countries. Opening up areas beyond London and the South East to international investment is one that local partners can work together to achieve.

    Skills, foreign languages, transport (particularly air links) and a responsive planning system will all help. Britain has a good reputation for reasonably low taxes and its legal system. Local effort to strengthen Britain as a European base for overseas companies will surely pay off.

    Finally, it is important in looking at the economic future to be realistic about local government's financial position. Austerity will last until at least 2020: it will take that long to get rid of the UK's budget deficit. Councils have shed over 500,000 jobs since 2010. At the same time, central government services have shed none.

    This pattern is fixed. Local government will almost certainly continue to face budgetary pressure for at least another six years. Therefore, the key to reducing unemployment (particularly among the young) and to 'rebalancing' the economy will be by local and city regional government embracing the private sector.

    The EU may help this process, though uncertainty about the future of the UK within the EU may cause challenges. There is the risk that an 'In-Out' European referendum in 2017 would result in the UK leaving the EU. In the past, most polling has suggested that when there is a risk that a vote would lead to a British exit, the 'pro-Europe' vote increases. But no one could be sure that an 'In-Out' referendum would absolutely and definitely lead to the UK staying in. Any suggestion that Britain might leave would create uncertainty which might affect inward investment and other kinds of confidence
    .
    Whatever happens, Britain will need to strengthen its trading and investment links with our European allies. Local government and LEPs will be very much a key part in this story.

    "The views expressed on the euroblog are those of the authors and not necessarily of the European Movement UK. The European Movement UK is pleased to publish articles on a variety of EU policy areas as a contribution to the debate."

  • Article: Apr 16, 2014

    New figures show the rate of unemployment has fallen below 7% for the first time since the recession. The number of people out of work dropped by 77,000 in the last three months, while total employment has seen the biggest annual jump in a generation.

    There are now more people in work than ever before, with nearly 0.7 million more people in employment since this time last year, showing that the Lib Dem plan to create a million jobs is working.

  • Article: Apr 15, 2014

    The European Parliament has approved new rules to make big lorries safer for other road users and more fuel-efficient.

    Under changes pushed by Liberal Democrat MEPs, the design of lorry cabs are set to be changed to reduce the number of blind spots under the front widescreen and the side of the vehicle. The new designs would also include safer cab fronts to reduce damage caused by impacts with cyclists and pedestrians. It is thought the proposal could help prevent dozens of fatal accidents each year.

  • Cyclist Jane Oseman keeps a wary eye on a large lorry at the Green Long Eaton
    Article: Apr 15, 2014

    Bill Newton Dunn, Liberal Democrat MEP for the East Midlands has welcomed a European Parliament vote to improve lorry safety through tougher design standards today, which was approved by an overwhelming majority with 604 MEPs in favour.

    Under changes pushed for by Liberal Democrat MEPs, the design of lorry cabs are set to be changed to reduce the number of blind spots under the front windscreen and the side of the vehicle. The new designs would also include safer cab fronts to reduce damage caused by impacts with cyclists and pedestrians. It is believed the proposal could help prevent dozens of fatal accidents each year.

  • Bill Newton Dunn in EU Parliament
    Article: Apr 15, 2014

    Imperial Tobacco Group announced today the proposed closure of its cigarette factory and distribution centre in Nottingham.

    The company plans to implement the closing over the next two years. In the announcement, Imperial Tobacco states that the closure reflects among others "declining industry volumes in Europe" and "growing illicit trade in the UK and Europe". The announcement affects up to 540 jobs.

  • Article: Apr 15, 2014

    Nick Clegg has called for the publication of the Chilcot report into the Iraq war, which identifies exactly what happened in the run-up to the conflict in Iraq.

    The Chilcot report includes about 200 cabinet-level discussions, 25 notes from Tony Blair to George W Bush and more than 130 records of conversations between the former US president and Tony Blair.

  • Article: Apr 15, 2014

    The former Speech Writer to Tony Blair said that he believes Nick Clegg is making a difference: "By stopping the Tory Right, the Deputy Prime Minister should be applauded by all liberal voters."

    Philip Collins worked as Tony Blair's Chief Speech Writer, responsible for Blair's very last speech as Leader of the Labour Party. In his article published today, he said that without the Lib Dems in Government, tax cuts for the wealthy would have been more generous. He points out that green taxes would be slashed harder, welfare cuts would be more severe, and there would be greater progress towards abolishing human rights legislation.

  • Article: Apr 14, 2014

    With Passover celebrations starting today, Nick Clegg wishes the Jewish Communities, within Britain and around the world, a happy Passover:

    Transcript:

    "I want to wish Jewish Communities, within Britain and around the world, a happy and peaceful Passover.

    This is a time when families and friends gather round the Seder table to remember the struggles of the Jewish people to secure their freedom. Every year, they tell this story to their children so it is never forgotten.

    And what this ancient journey shows us is the enduring power of people to overcome even the greatest of adversity and build a better future together. And, during this celebration, we're reminded of all those people still suffering oppression, because of their religious beliefs, race or creed.

    That cannot be right and Passover is a chance for all of us to commit ourselves again to helping those -- of all faiths and none -- who face persecution around the world.

    It's also an opportunity for us to recognise the contribution Britain's Jewish Communities make to every area of our society

    Thank you and Chag Sameach."

Loughborough Lib Dems