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Campaigning recommences - East Dulwich

Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham)

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Out with local Labour members speaking to people at East Dulwich Station & Dog Kennel Hill Primary School this morning as national campaigning recommences following the terrible attack in Manchester. 

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There has been quite a bit of negative publicity about proposed changes to support of the elderly in the Conservative manifesto. Personally, I think it unjustified. But let's  consider it in more detail - starting with the background policy context. We have a Prime Minister who is committed to governing in the interests of everyone. I share her commitment. I also have a long standing personal interest to supporting the frail elderly, the number of whom is increasing very quickly indeed. We cannot carry on as we have been doing over recent decades. The system of care will collapse. The voice of the frail elderly is not being heard. The challenge is to create a care system that is both fair and sustainable. 

There are three changes in future policy written into our manifesto which affect the elderly. Let's consider them in turn. Firstly, we want to introduce a system of financing domiciliary care similar to the current rules on financing residential care - only fairer. For my constituents in Montgomeryshire, its important to note that no change is proposed in Wales, where social care is devolved to the Welsh Government. As the changes affect England, two crucial points are being ignored. Firstly care will be free to anyone worth £100,000 or less. And no matter what value assets anyone has, there will be a maximum total payment (suggested in recent years as likely to be about £70,000).

Secondly, it is proposed that what is known as the 'triple lock' on state pension increases is being replaced by 'a double lock'. The state pension will not automatically increase by 2.5% if inflation is lower. So while inflation is 2.5% or above, which it currently is, the change has no effect whatsoever because it will rise by inflation anyway. In future, there will be a 'double lock' which guarantees that the state pension will increase by inflation or increased level of earnings, whichever is the higher. The problem to be addressed was that following the long period of very low inflation, a degree of inter generational unfairness developed, creating unacceptable pressure on young families and support payments. The 'triple lock' has the potential to divert too much of the welfare budget into the state pension at the expense of everything else. Adopting a 'double lock' is a small change which will deliver more fairness in the long term.

The third change relates to the Winter Fuel Allowance, which will in future be means tested and will continue unchanged for those who need it. Over recent years I've received many emails calling for this change, usually from people who have given their allowance to charity because they felt they had no need of it.

I simply cannot agree that the Prime Minister is being unfair. She, and I are both focussed on fairness, creating a sustainable affordable system of welfare payments and a manifesto which is open and honest about future policy.

This election and Brexit

John Redwood (Wokingham)

I have spoken to various Remain voters so far during this election. Many say to me they accept the result of the vote and just want the government to get on and do the best deal they can. Some tell me they voted Remain because they did worry about the possible economic consequences, and they are now relieved to see the bad predictions of recession this winter and collapse of confidence did not come true.

A few have told me they still cannot accept the decision and still fear there will be bad economic results in due course. They seem to think when we leave there will be all sorts of new barriers and restrictions imposed which will get in the way of normal travel, trade and collaboration across the Channel. They have perhaps been Lib Dem voters in the past and are often particularly concerned about academic and student links, research and cultural exchanges.

Let me try to reassure. The UK government has made very clear it wants a UK open to talent and university collaboration. The UK is not planning closed borders, making it more difficult for people to come here to courses in UK universities. We will still welcome tourists,visitor performers, people with good qualifications, entrepreneurs wanting to invest. The government will be generous with visas for talented and qualified people wanting to come to the UK to be faculty members, just as we are today with academics coming from the USA and other non EU countries. It will also want to see a continuation of the many musical, artistic and cultural links and exchanges that take place with EU and non EU countries today.

Nor do I expect the rest of the EU to want to stop EU citizens travelling to the UK or undertaking university work here. Under international law the EU would not be able to block people and ideas to and from the UK, nor can I imagine they would want to. There are no restrictions the EU could place just on the UK – they would have to be common restrictions against the rest of the world. I do not think the EU wants to cut itself off.

The UK has several world class leading universities and many other good ones. Their interests will be upheld by the government. More importantly, as the UK and the EU both pride themselves on a belief in freedom and on a pluralistic society, universities,individual students and academics will remain free to travel, study, work and collaborate in each other’s countries as they see fit. I want to live in a free society. Such a society does not stop free institutions doing as they wish, and allows them under the law to pursue their aims and development. Some people think government is more important and more powerful than it is, and have a very dim view of how the EU will seek to behave.

Published and promoted by Fraser Mc Farland on behalf of John Redwood, both at 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU

At the minutes silence at 11, We will remember all those who lost their lives and others who were affected by the callous attack on innocent life in Manchester.
There has been a 2 day period of mourning. But now we must prove to the terrorists that we are not afraid and that life, and democracy, must go on. Local campaigning in the election will begin this afternoon.
National campaigning will resume on Friday.
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