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There were almost 5,000 same-sex marriages in the year equal marriage was introduced, new figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed.
The figures show there were 4,850 marriages between same-sex couples in 2014, 44% (2,129) between male couples and 56% (2,721) between female couples. In total 1 in 46 marriages that year were between same-sex couples.
Baroness Lynne Featherstone, who as Liberal Democrat equalities minister was responsible for introducing same-sex marriage, commented:
"Almost 5,000 same-sex couples were married in 2014 thanks to the Liberal Democrats in coalition making equal marriage a reality.
"This is a fact to be celebrated and I wish each of these couples a long and happy union."
Commenting on the news that the British Chamber of Commerce has downgraded its growth expectations slightly for 2018 from 1.4% to 1.3%, Shadow Chancellor Susan Kramer said:
“The economy has been propped up by consumer spending but this report makes clear that is due to fall as the public starts to feel the full force of the Brexit squeeze, with a falling pound and rising prices.
“Investment is down and with ministers openly flirting with crashing out of the Single Market on World Trade Organisation terms, business confidence will be hit further.
“Only the Liberal Democrats are fighting to remain in the Single Market. It is very clear from this report that you can’t have a hard Brexit and strong economic growth.”
Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, has attacked the Brexit squeeze budget, saying the government’s decision to take us out of the Single Market will cost the average UK household over £700 a year. Meanwhile, the Chancellor has clobbered “white van man” with £193 increase by next year in National Insurance Charges.
Liberal Democrats calculate households will be £744 pounds a year worse off. Average disposable incomes are forecast to be £29,465 a year by 2020 but they would have been £30,209 without Brexit.
Tim Farron said: “This is an OmNICshambles. This slimmed down budget is only 64 pages long but shows the slimmed down ambition of this government. They are short of cash, short of ideas and short on ambition. Everything today, was overshadowed by a massive Brexit black hole at the heart of the Treasury’s forecasts.
“They have ignored the plight of the NHS, showing you can’t have a hard Brexit and a strong NHS. And they have broken the spirit of their manifesto commitments.
“This government is giving tax cuts to the richest and tax hikes for hard-working entrepreneurs. Targeting the self-employed by hitting white van man with a tax hike betrays Theresa May’s pledge to help the just about managing.
“If that were not bad enough, many public sector workers suffering a pay cap will be almost £3,000 a year worse off by 2020 – another painful example of the Brexit squeeze, caused by the Conservative Brexit government.”
On March 8, people in dozens of countries all over the world will observe International Women’s Day, a day that for more than a century has been set aside to celebrate women’s achievements and campaign for gender equality. On International Women's Day 2017, everyone is becoming asked to #BeBoldForChange.
Councillor Dine Romero, Leader of the Lib Dems on B&NES Council said:
"I am pleased to add my support to International Women's Day. It is crucial that people are able to come together to celebrate the achievements of women around the world. However this is not a time to just be reflective but also a time to look forwards and work together to stamp out all signs of inequality that threaten to undermine our society."
"I'm supporting International Women's Day because women can answer many of the world's problems and investing in women's education, empowerment, and entrepreneurship will change the world. To all young girls, I say one thing - become the woman you want to be."
In Bath and North East Somerset, the local team are calling for more women to register to vote. This can be done easily at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
"I think it's important we remember the struggle of women both past and present to win the right to vote and to stand for election."
"You can register online in just a few minutes. If going online is not suitable, a paper registration form is still available."
"Being able to vote gives you a say on who represents you in your local council and in the UK Parliament. If you're registered, you'll have that chance to have your say."
Local Liberal Democrats have called on local Tory MPs Ben Howlett and Jacob Rees-Mogg to vote to ensure that thousands of EU nationals in our region are guaranteed the right to remain in Britain.
A total of 466 doctors and 3,100 nurses from the EU live and work in our region and their departure would badly impact the NHS in our area.
The news comes after the government was defeated in a historic vote in the House of Lords, after Peers – including local Liberal Democrat Lord Strasburger – voted for an amendment to guarantee the rights of EU citizens to remain in the UK.
The issue will now be voted on by MPs this week as pressure mounts on the government to change position.
Richard Samuel, Lib Dem candidate in Walcot ward, said:
“The government needs to think again over how it is treating the thousands of EU citizens living in our area.
“The NHS and care services in B&NES would struggle to cope if all the doctors, nurses and care workers from the EU left because they no longer felt welcome.
“This shows you can’t have a hard Brexit and a strong NHS.
“These people are looking after our sick and elderly. Theresa May must not use them as bargaining chips at the Brexit negotiations.
“The Liberal Democrats will stand up against this Conservative Brexit Government for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united.”
Councillor Lisa Brett has announced that she is standing down after six years as Liberal Democrat Councillor for Walcot Ward. Lisa will be moving to America with her family and plans to work on women’s rights issues globally. The Liberal Democrats have selected local campaigner Richard Samuel (pictured, with Lisa Brett) as their candidate for the forthcoming by-election.
Lib Dems: Civil partnerships ruling disappointing but fight will continue
A heterosexual couple have lost their Court of Appeal battle for the right to enter into a civil partnership instead of a marriage.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Equalities Secretary Lorely Burt, who was at the Court of Appeal today together with the Equal Civil Partnerships campaign, commented:
“This verdict is a slap in the face to mixed sex couples who want a civil partnership, but the fight will continue both at the grassroots level and in Parliament.
"The Government is now on borrowed time, with judges in agreement that this state of inequality cannot continue.
"Ministers must show political leadership and make a simple change to the law rather than hiding behind today’s judgement.
"It is not fair to the three million couples, and their children, who choose not to marry and therefore face legal and financial uncertainty.
"People should have the freedom to choose and civil partnerships should be open to all who want them."
19 hospitals facing closure as NHS is "downgraded behind closed doors"
Nineteen hospitals are facing closure, including five acute hospitals, according to an analysis of Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) by the i newspaper.
Other findings of the investigation include the planned closure of 2,000 beds in acute and community hospitals and the loss of nearly 3,000 NHS jobs.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb commented:
"Hospital closures and reduced access to care are an inevitable consequence of this government's chronic underfunding of the NHS.
"We are seeing the gradual downgrading of our health service taking place behind closed doors.
"There needs to be an honest debate that fully involves the public. Many people now agree that to secure the long-term future of the NHS and care, we may all have to pay a little more in tax.
"It's time for a national convention on the NHS and care that brings the public and political parties together to come up with bold solutions to this crisis."
“Home Secretary can and must do more for unaccompanied child refugees” says Carmichael
Alistair Carmichael, Shadow First Secretary, today demanded further action from the Home Secretary to ensure Britain takes unaccompanied child refugees where they have families in the UK. Speaking about the Dublin regulations, a set of EU rules which determine the member state responsible for an asylum application process, Mr. Carmichael asked the Home Secretary to use the discretionary sections to ensure that any refugees with families in the UK could be reunited.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr. Carmichael said:
“This is an issue where she has the opportunity to demonstrate that our global vision is about more than just trade deals. Limiting our ambitions to less than 1% of the desperate children who need to be helped is not worthy of that vision. Will the Home Secretary look at the way in which she uses the Dublin regulations; there are discretionary clauses there which could be used more effectively to identify children with family links already in the UK to ensure that they were helped.”
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd responded:
“The Hon. Gentleman has raised an important point about the Dublin arrangements, the fact is that until we had an accelerated process and really leant in to identify children that qualify under the Dublin arrangements into Calais, it wasn’t really working. The number of children being transferred under Dublin previously were very small. We managed to transfer nearly 600 under Dublin last year. I now feel that the Home Office and other associated organisations who help us deliver on Dublin have learnt how to ensure that it operates better in the future, and I am confident that those numbers will improve going forward.”
Commenting after the exchange, Mr. Carmichael said:
"Last Year the government, faced with massive public pressure, agreed to an amendment with cross-party support setting up a process to allow vulnerable children to come to the UK. Yesterday, with some of the pressure off them and when Parliament was busy dealing with the Brexit bill, they slipped out a written announcement that they would be closing the scheme. At a time when Britain's standing is already diminished by our Prime Minister's rush to cosy up to President Trump, this is a further blow to our standing on the world stage."
Stephen Williams has been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Metro Mayor in the West of England, following a vote of the local party members. The election is to be held on Thursday 4th of May this year. Williams, who is a former Local Government Minister and MP for Bristol West, secured the Liberal Democrat nomination following a series of hustings.