Passengers in the Lake District can look forward to faster, greener and more reliable train journeys as Lib Dem Transport Minister Baroness Kramer confirms £16 million of government funding to electrify the Windermere branch line in Cumbria today (28 November 2014).
The 10 mile line, which runs between Oxenholme Lake District station on the West Coast Main Line and Windermere station in the National Park, will be upgraded to allow electric trains to run on the route. Once completed, the line will form part of a direct electrified route between key destinations in the region, including Kendal, Burneside and Staveley, and Manchester.
Susan Kramer said:
Electrifying this key rail link will support the vital tourism industry in the area, and help us build a stronger economy in the Lake District and beyond.
We are committed to building a world-class rail network. Over the next 5 years, more than £38 billion will be spent on improving and running the system, with schemes like this helping to provide better services for passengers across the UK.
Car club schemes across England received a huge boost today (25 November 2014) as Lib Dem Transport Minister Baroness Kramer announced the winning bidders for a share of £500,000 government funding.
Over 50 new vehicles will now be available across car club demonstration projects in Derby, Nottingham, Norfolk and West Yorkshire, thanks to the awards.
Membership of car clubs allows access to low carbon vehicles for short periods of time, often by the hour, on a pay-as-you-go basis. Susan Kramer launched a funding competition to support pilot projects earlier this year as part of the car club development programme.
Susan Kramer said:
These investments will give the growing interest in car clubs added momentum. Car clubs cut congestion, reduce carbon and save people money while still giving people the freedom and flexibility to use a car when they want to.
We can now look forward to the winning towns and cities providing a practical demonstration of the increasing relevance of car clubs to sustainable transport throughout England.
Lib Dem Wales Office Minister Baroness Randerson welcomed the Wales Bill passing through the House of Lords as an important milestone towards creating a lasting and robust devolution settlement.
The Bill will devolve a range of tax and borrowing powers to Wales including landfill tax, stamp duty land tax and, subject to a referendum, some income tax.
It had its third reading in the Lords yesterday where the UK Government’s amendments to give the power to the Welsh Assembly to determine whether 16 and 17 year-olds should have the right to vote in an income tax referendum were also approved.
The Bill is expected to reach Royal Assent in the New Year once it is has been debated in the House of Commons.
Jenny Randerson said:
The Wales Bill will mean big changes for everyone in Wales with more local decisions over how taxes are spent and more powers over how much Wales borrows.
In devolving these powers we are giving the Welsh Government the tools to help build a stronger economy and fairer society in Wales.
Parliament is never short of Bills coming from the Home Office, but the Modern Slavery Bill is different. At the end of the second reading in the Lords last week, the Minister pointed to the warm reception given by every speaker who followed this with seven minutes on all the things that could be added to it. The view on the Lib Dem benches, like others, was to welcome the Bill both for what it is and for the opportunity it provides to do even more to address the abomination (and very big business – this is often highly profitable organised crime) of trafficking and forced labour.
And something else very significant has happened. Forced labour featured in a recent episode of “Scott and Bailey”. Will that do as much to raise public awareness of slavery as the body under the patio in Brookside did for domestic violence? (No-one else mentioned this in the debate though I did hear comments outside the chamber – apparently peers don’t like to admit to watching TV!)
The Bill brings the offences of holding someone in slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour together with human trafficking for exploitation, and increases the maximum penalties to life imprisonment. There is a new offence: committing any crime (for instance stealing a car) with the intention of trafficking. There are powers to require an offender to pay compensation to the victim.
Liberal Democrat International Development Minister Baroness Northover has announced that Britain has joined global action and pledged £31m to help prevent millions of people dying from illnesses linked to cooking over coal, wood, dung or biomass stoves.
Figures from the World Health Organisation show that every year year 4.3m people die from illnesses caused by exposure to household air pollution.
This is more than the number of people dying from Aids, malaria or tuberculosis combined. Women and girls are particularly at risk.
Speaking at the Global Alliance of Clean Cookstoves summit in New York, Baroness Northover called on the private sector to step-up their commitment to creating a commercially sustainable global market-place for clean, efficient and affordable cooking devices.
She announced that the UK is investing £31 million to support the development of the sector to prevent people developing illnesses such as pneumonia, strokes, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.
Refused asylum seekers are being forced to endure destitution and humiliation at the hands of the Azure card. Together with the Red Cross, I am calling for the government to put an end to this cruel and unusual system.
On the 20th of November the House of Lords will debate the Azure card. I ask my colleagues and other noble members not to remain silent on this issue.
The Azure card is a payment card issued to refused asylum seekers who are destitute and have agreed to return to their country of origin but who cannot return immediately due to circumstances beyond their control. The card was designed to provide short-term support. However, because people who cannot be returned also lack the right to work, many have found themselves trapped in a state of perpetual destitution.