The Act provides investors and industry with the confidence they need to invest in the energy sector and places a legal obligation on British governments to ensure the UK’s energy generating capacity is maintained while at the same time reducing emissions.
Liberal Democrats in Government have already secured more than £30bn of investment in renewable energy which will support around 35,000 jobs and this new package of measures is expected to attract around £40bn of investment in renewable electricity by 2020.
This will provide enough power for 10m homes while at the same time reducing carbon emissions by around 20m tonnes – equivalent to 25 per cent of annual household emissions.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey said:
“The Liberal Democrats are the party of green. I am proud that we have stood up for our environmental principles in Government and put tackling climate change at the heart of the coalition’s agenda.
“The renewables industry is a British success story. Liberal Democrats know that green jobs and industry must be at the heart of the stronger economy and fairer society we are building. That’s what the Energy Act delivers.”
Commenting on the Act, Ian Swales said:
“The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.
“Everyone has felt the impact of the financial crisis, and this Banking Reform Act is a crucial step to ensuring that the British public are not again put in a position where banks that have acted irresponsibly have to be bailed out by the British public.
“For years Labour allowed the banks to run riot. On their watch, banks were allowed to act recklessly and risk the financial wellbeing of our entire country. Liberal Democrats in Government are cleaning up Labour’s mess and the Banking Reform Act is a key part of that.”
Lord McNally has been appointed as the new Chair of the Youth Justice Board, a post which he will take up in mid-March 2014. Simon Hughes will take over as Justice Minister with immediate effect.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
“Tom McNally has been a fantastic minister who has pushed through a Liberal agenda in the Ministry of Justice. He will now bring the same wisdom, experience and effectiveness to his new role helping young offenders to turn their lives around.
“I am delighted to welcome Simon to the Liberal Democrat Government team. He has been a passionate voice for the party’s principles and values throughout the Liberal Democrats’ journey from party of opposition to party of Government.
“Simon will now be able to use his talents inside the Coalition, helping the Liberal Democrats to anchor the Government in the centre ground and helping us to build a stronger economy and a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.”
Simon Hughes said:
“It is a privilege and a huge responsibility to be appointed to this important job in Government.
“Issues of justice and civil liberties have been my passions since I was a teenager. Justice and civil liberties are also core issues for every Liberal Democrat in the country.
“I hope that my experience, training and work on human rights from my time at university and in the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, as a practising barrister for several years before I was elected to the Commons, and over all my time as a Member of Parliament, will stand me in good stead for this job.
“Lord McNally will be a hard act to follow, but I will try and build on his significant achievements and wish him the very best in his important new role.
“I look forward to working in the Ministry of Justice and to contributing energetically to progressive and successful decisions and policies for the fairer and safer society which every Liberal Democrat wants to achieve.”
Lord McNally said:
“It has been an enormous privilege to serve as Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice over the last three and a half years. I believe we have demonstrated that the Coalition can work effectively in taking the tough decisions imposed by economic circumstances while pursuing a radical reform agenda.
“I look forward to the opportunity to build on a decade of success tackling the causes of youth offending. It is a challenge I look forward to with real enthusiasm.”
“30m people in work is another landmark on the long road to recovery. It’s only been possible because we’re sticking to a sound economic plan and because of the hard work of the British people and of British business.”
The Government announced today same-sex couples will be able to get married from Saturday, March 29, 2014.
Nick Clegg welcomed the news and said it would strengthen the tradition of marriage.
He said: “This is the news many couples have been waiting for. After a long and important battle this is a wonderful step forward for equality.
“Love is the same, gay or straight, so it’s only right that the civil institution should be the same.
“March will be a real moment for celebration as same-sex couples finally get the chance to express their love through marriage.”
Couples wishing to be among the first to marry will need formally to give notice of their intention to marry on March 13, 2014.
Nelson Mandela’s message transcended the boundaries of nations, people, colours and creeds. And his character transcended boundaries too: he was a politician, but appeared to be free of all the pettiness of politics.
He was a warm human being with a mischievous wit, and yet seemed to rise above the normal human frailties of anger and hurt.
He was a man who was well aware of his place in history, but he didn’t want to be placed on a pedestal and was humble at all times.
So, with qualities like this, it is little wonder that millions of people who did not meet him in person nonetheless feel they have lost a hero and a friend.
I never had the privilege of meeting Nelson Mandela myself, but like so many people I almost feel as if I had. He clearly made a huge impact on all of those he did meet. I remember Paddy Ashdown once telling me, with a sigh, that his wife Jane would regularly say that Mandela was the funniest and most charming man she had ever met.
As a student, I was one of the thousands of people who flooded into Wembley Stadium for the Free Nelson Mandela concert to mark his 70th birthday.
Stood there, I remember thinking how on earth could this one man live up to everyone’s expectations, if and when he was finally released?
But, as a free man, Nelson Mandela not only met those expectations, he surpassed them.
The challenge for South Africa seemed almost impossible at the time: how could people, who had spent so long divided in conflict, and either perpetrated or suffered so much abuse, find it within themselves to forgive, to move on and build something together.
Well, Mandela could, and did, and the truly remarkable example of forgiveness he set made it possible for his country to be reborn as the rainbow nation.
Given the enormity of his achievements, we are all struggling to work out the best way to honour his legacy.
I like to think that one of the things he would like us to do in this House today is to pay tribute to and support the individuals and organisations around the world that fight for human rights and do not have a global name.
Right now, all over the world, there are millions of men, women and children still struggling to overcome poverty, violence, and discrimination.
They do not have the fame or the standing of Nelson Mandela, but I’m sure that he would tell us that what they achieve and endure in their pursuit of a more open, equal and just society shapes all our lives.
Campaigners like Mary Akrami, who works to protect and empower the women of Afghanistan; Sima Samar, the Head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission; or organisations like the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras which works in the shadow of threats and intimidation.
They are just three examples of the individuals and organisations who deserve our loyalty and support just as much as the British campaigners in the Anti-Apartheid movement in London showed unfailing loyalty and support towards Nelson Mandela in his bleakest days, and here I also want to pay tribute to the Rt. Hon Member for Neath and his fellow campaigners for what they did at the time.
All of this will make the way we mark tomorrow’s international Human Rights Day all the more significant.
And Britain can pay no greater tribute to Nelson Mandela than by standing up, around the world, for the values of human rights and equality he fought for.
When Nelson Mandela took his first steps to freedom, he made no call for vengeance, only forgiveness.
He understood that dismantling apartheid’s legacy was about more than just removing the most explicit signs of discrimination and segregation. And he recognised too that, to build a brighter future, South Africa must confront the darkness of its past.
In doing so, Nelson Mandela laid down a blueprint that has made it possible for other divided communities, such as in Northern Ireland, to reject violence, overcome their differences and make a fresh beginning.
And that is why I hope that in communities where people are still struggling to replace violence and conflict with peace and stability, the principles of forgiveness and reconciliation, which Mandela embodied, are followed by others too.
Recently, for example, we have debated in this House the alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.
Surely, there can be no better way for that country to heal its wounds and bring peace and unity to all its people than to follow Mandela’s example and emulate South Africa’s truth and reconciliation process?
This, as I see it, is Nelson Mandela’s lasting legacy to all of us: to champion the defenders of human rights today and to know that wherever there is conflict and injustice, with hope and courage, peace is always possible.
As the Prime Minister reminded us earlier, at his 1964 trial, Mandela told the world that equality in South Africa was an ideal for which he was prepared to die.
No one who has listened to those words can fail to be moved to hear a man, so explicitly and so courageously, put his life on the line for freedom.
As others have remarked, Mandela famously liked to repeat the great saying, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
So, on this year’s Human Rights Day and beyond, let us honour his memory by ensuring that the hope he gave lives on for all those whose liberties and rights are still denied.
“Our thoughts go out to the people of South Africa who will be left heartbroken by this sad news.
“Every so often history produces an individual whose message is universal, and Nelson Mandela will be mourned and missed on every continent around the globe. The hope he offered was enough to unite races; it bridged cultures and transcended generations; and it could heal the deepest divides.
“That hope must now live on. Nelson Mandela's legacy will continue to burn brightly, there is little doubt about that. But our greatest tribute to him will be our commitment to equality, humanity and peace – the values for which he very literally put his life on the line.”
The policy, announced at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in September, is confirmed in the Government’s Autumn Statement.
As part of the Autumn Statement funding of £450m in 2014-15 and £635m in 2015-16 will be made available to the Department for Education to fund this commitment. This is new money into the Department for Education’s budget. We are also making £150m of capital available to ensure that schools can build new kitchens or increase dining capacity where necessary.
Commenting, Nick Clegg said:
“Early on I made it very clear that universal free school meals would be my personal priority in this Autumn Statement and I’m proud that we are now delivering it. From the start of the next school year, every single infant school pupil will be able to sit to down to a free school lunch.
“Every child deserves the best possible start in life, and at the same time we are doing all we can to help ease the pressure on household budgets. This not only encourages positive eating habits and helps improve concentration and performance in the classroom, but this will also mean significant savings for families.
“Providing universal free school meals will help give every child the future they deserve, building a stronger economy and a fairer society.”
It comes on the day that six major insurers announced plans to collectively invest £25bn in UK infrastructure over the next five years. Much of this investment could go into the projects published today.
Commenting, Danny Alexander said:
“The Liberal Democrats are building a stronger economy in a fairer society, enabling everyone to get on in life.
“Our economy is growing because of the hard work of people and businesses throughout Britain. But the Coalition’s economic plan is the rock on which our recovery is being built – it wouldn’t be happening without the Liberal Democrats.
“The announcement today that six major insurers will invest £25bn over the next five years is a massive vote of confidence in the UK economy. It supports the wider £100bn public investment to rebuild Britain over the next seven years that I announced at the Spending Round 2013. Underground, overground, on shore, offshore, wired or wireless, tarmac or train track. You name it, we’re building it right now.
“This is great news for the people of the UK because after years of neglect, the UK’s energy, road, rail, flood defence, communications and water infrastructure needs renewal. It will boost the UK economy creating jobs and making it easier to do business. It will also make the UK a better place to live for everyone who calls it their home.”