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Willie Rennie MSP Leader of the Scottish Liberal DemocratsThe Liberal Democrats are working to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.

That's why in Government we have given 24 million people a £700 tax cut, created 1 million jobs and helped 1.5 million apprentices.

We are the only party that can anchor Britain in the centre ground, ensuring we have sustainable growth and equality of opportunity.

Labour can't be trusted with the economy, in government they would drag Britain to the left, borrowing too much, spending too much and risking the recovery.

And the Conservatives can't be trusted to treat people fairly. If Liberal Democrats weren't in Government, the Tories would focus attention on the best-off, let employers fire staff without cause and allow schools to be run for profit.

Only the Liberal Democrats can be trusted to build a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling every person to get on in life.

Recent updates

  • Article: Aug 16, 2014

    The Liberal Democrat manifesto will include a commitment to introduce new child poverty measures it has been announced today.

    The manifesto will feature the three child poverty targets which were blocked by the Conservatives: reducing relative poverty, reducing gaps in life chances, and reducing entrenched poverty.

  • Article: Aug 16, 2014

    Liberal Democrats would support carers with a package of measures designed to make their lives easier under manifesto plans announced today.

    Carers save the state tens of billions of pounds a year and the Lib Dems want to give them something back.

    The package includes raising the amount carers can earn before losing their allowance.

  • Article: Aug 15, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesperson Jim Hume MSP has calledJim HumeJim Hume for action after figures revealed thousands of older patients may have been discharged from hospital in the middle of the night.

    Figures obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats through freedom of information laws showed that last year over 7000 patients over the age of 65 were discharged from hospital between 9pm and 9am. 2641 patients over the age of 80 are also recorded as having been discharged late at night.

    Responses from Scotland's health boards also revealed that the online system used to monitor patient records does not record the specific time of which the inpatient was discharged. Instead it reflects when the data was entered into the system. Scottish Liberal Democrats have warned that the lack of accurate information prevents hospital managers from providing the highest standard of care to patients.

    Mr Hume said:

    "People deserve to know that their loved ones are receiving the highest standard of care. It's worrying to learn that over 2,500 patients over the age of 80 may be being discharged late at night from some hospitals.

    "Our figures show that in NHS Grampian there were 953 patients aged 80 or over, and 2513 patients aged 65 or older who were recorded as discharged between 9pm and 9am. It's concerning that the patient records system means so many health boards are unable to provide clarity over the true scale of late night discharges. This is unacceptable and prevents hospitals from providing the highest standard of care to patients.

    "In some cases patients may have self-discharged or staff may have updated their record in the quieter times in the evenings. However I don't believe that a single older patient should have to face returning home from hospital in the early hours of the morning. That is why I want to see action taken to rule against the practise of late night discharges for inpatients. This is in line with the good practise already seen in hospitals in Shetland, Tayside and Forth Valley.

    "Being admitted to hospital is a tremendously distressing experience without the added upset of being discharged late at night. In light of these new figures I am sure that patients and their families will be keen for health boards across Scotland to adopt a robust policy on discharges."

  • Article: Aug 14, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie has called on FinanceWillie RennieWillie Rennie Secretary John Swinney to explain why he exaggerated in his claims that the Scottish Government had technical discussions with the Bank of England over its independence proposals for a formal currency union with the UK.

    The call comes after the Bank of England issued a statement today which said that it has not entered into discussions with representatives of the Scottish Government about proposals for future monetary arrangements.

    Mr Rennie said:

    "The Nationalists have repeatedly sought to inflate the credibility of their currency plans. It is very serious that the Bank of England has taken the unusual step of correcting the statement from John Swinney.

    "We need John Swinney to explain why he exaggerated. He must now provide complete clarity over those claims and be upfront with the people of Scotland."

  • Article: Aug 14, 2014

    As a review of policy on the routine deployment of armed police isMike CrockartMike Crockart announced, Edinburgh MP Mike Crockart reflects on his time in the police and examines the debate on armed officers:

    Twenty-four years ago I joined Lothian and Borders Police Force, making an oath to "faithfully discharge the duties of the office of constable".

    Even then there was a debate about whether officers were properly equipped to defend themselves and others. For me, then as now, the answer does not lie in routinely arming our police.

    The wording of the oath I took with such pride is important. It reinforces the nearly two-centuries-old idea of policing by consent laid out by Sir Robert Peel in his nine police principles. It's a principle which, to this day, has guided us against routinely arming our police in contrast to much of the rest of the world.

    Peel said: "The police are the public and the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare".

    So it's extremely worrying that a departure from this founding principle has happened quietly in Scotland. There has been no opportunity for public debate, no chance to say no. It was a decision taken at police headquarters. But it is a choice which fundamentally changes the relationship between police and communities. The change moves us away from the idea that police officers operate with public consent and collaboration.

    Chief Superintendent Mark Williams, Local Police Commander for Edinburgh, has argued that the routine arming of even a small number of officers is "justifiable" and "necessary" because "serious incidents are sufficiently common in Edinburgh that it's not a disproportionate or unjustifiable response".

    It's worth pausing for a moment to examine that claim.
    Look up Edinburgh Division on the Police Scotland website and it proudly boasts that the city was ranked recently by YouGov as "one of the top five safest cities in the UK". In 2013-14, officers in Edinburgh only had cause to present or discharge weapons, including Tasers and baton rounds, 13 times. There are nine such incidents for this year - roughly one per month.

    Undoubtedly our police officers face very real dangers, but serious incidents make up a minority of police call outs. Are we really prepared to arm our officers routinely to deal with a tiny proportion of cases? As an officer I didn't believe that we should and as a MP I certainly don't.

    The far-stronger case is to issue non-lethal options like CS or pepper spray to frontline officers. By doing that we answer the threat they face on our behalf without destroying Peel's fundamental principle.
    Some people, including serving officers, will disagree. I respect that.

    But we need to have that conversation. So whatever we decide to do, whatever we accept as a society as being reasonable, it must only happen following a proper public debate and it must be proportionate to the threat officers face on our behalf.

  • Article: Aug 14, 2014

    A record number of students have been accepted into university this year, with a greater number of opportunities and choices opening up.

    There has been more flexibility introduced, so universities can recruit more students, making it possible for more young people to access the institution of their choice.

  • Article: Aug 14, 2014

    Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone has welcome news that youth unemployment in her constituency has halved since 2010.

    In May 2010, the youth unemployment rate in Hornsey and Wood Green was 7.1%. Four years on, the figure in June 2014 is just 3.1%.

    Overall unemployment in Lynne Featherstone MP's constituency is also down - from 5.2% in 2010 to 3.2% now.

  • Article: Aug 14, 2014

    Scottish Liberal Democrats have today applauded a decision by HM Alison McInnesAlison McInnesInspectorate for Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) and the Scottish Police Authority to undertake a review and inquiry into Police Scotland's policy on armed policing.

    After weeks of calling for a full and formal review into armed police attending routine duties whilst carrying guns overtly, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Alison McInnes said the decision was a victory for local communities.

    The SPA inquiry and the HMICS assurance review will both report to the SPA at a public meeting on the 17th December.

    Ms McInnes said:

    "This is a victory for local communities. After months of pressure from Scottish Liberal Democrats up and down the country, the public and campaign groups, the SPA and HMICS have belatedly recognised that this fundamental change must be formally and thoroughly scrutinised. We need to know if the Scotland-wide policy on armed policing is proportionate to the risks in individual communities in Scotland.

    "After months of dismissing our concerns, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill must now change his tune and publicly back this review."

  • Article: Aug 14, 2014

    Four million people have now automatically enrolled in workplace pensions - an increase of over one million this year.

    Liberal Democrats in government introduced automatic enrolment, which their boss and the government pay in to, in order to give people the confidence to save for retirement.

    Automatic enrolment started in October 2012, requiring all businesses to enrol staff into a workplace pension and start paying contributions, beginning with the largest employers first.

  • Article: Aug 14, 2014

    Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats Willie Rennie has welcomed aWillie RennieWillie Rennie significant contribution from the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy to the debate on allocating powers effectively across Scotland.

    A report from the Commission published today after a year of taking evidence set out a range of measures which suggested how local authorities could become more accountable to their communities.

    Mr Rennie gave evidence to the Commission last year, putting forward key findings from his party's Campbell Commission. A number of the Scottish Liberal Democrat plans to strengthen local communities have been carried forward in the report today, including calls for councils to raise more of what they spend.

    Commenting on the report, Mr Rennie said:

    "I gave evidence to the Commission on Strengthening Local Democracy last year. I'm pleased that this significant report contains the proposals Scottish Liberal Democrats have made on equipping local government with powers to better serve their communities. Giving local authorities powers over their own business rates means they can work more closely with local businesses and boost their local economies. This is the kind of local and responsive decision-making we need in order to build a stronger economy for all of Scotland.

    "Sadly, SNP ministers have presided over the most centralising government we have seen. Police, fire, council tax, hospital funding, colleges and enterprise support have all seen their local accountability stripped away in the last seven years.

    "This new contribution reflects the chorus of people in Scotland who feel that the SNP's centralisation agenda is out of touch with the real ambitions of local communities across Scotland today."