TRAVEL: Compassion for bereaved must be part of new quarantine rules

LibDems highlight the potential need for financial assistance for bereaved travellers.

By Lucy Ashton

New international quarantine rules must take into account compassion for people travelling due to bereavement, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP told the House of Commons.

Mr Carmichael spoke in Parliament following the announcement of new measures to enforce quarantine for international travellers and highlighted the potential need for financial assistance for bereaved travellers.

Mr Carmichael, a former procurator fiscal at Dumbarton,  said:  “Many of those that will be caught by these new measures will be travelling as a result of family bereavement and will already have incurred substantial cost, very often at short notice.

“Could the Home Secretary tell me if there will be some sort of financial assistance available for people of modest means who find themselves in this position at that most difficult of times?”

Home Secretary, Priti Patel said:  “Well, the Rt Hon Gentleman is absolutely right in terms of highlighting the exceptional examples and the sad examples, the circumstances for people to travel, bereavement being a terrible, terrible case.

“The government is already in discussions with regards to exemptions and support packages and things of that nature. I am unable to confirm the details right now because this work is underway, but it’s a matter of time before my colleagues will share further information on this.”

Later, Mr Carmichael said:  “Family bereavement is hard enough even without the extra barriers put up by the pandemic. It is right that we take measured steps to reduce the spread of the virus through international travel but people grieving loved ones must get additional support if they are forced to quarantine away from home.

“I am glad that the Home Secretary has recognised this need – we will be looking for further detail on this in the days to come. A little compassion included in these restrictions will go a long way.”

Jardine questions PM over Scottish whisky losses

Edinburgh West MP, Christine Jardine, has demanded the Prime Minister fulfil his promise to the Scotch Whisky industry over punitive US tariffs.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West and Treasury spokesperson, reminded the Prime Minister of a call he made in a speech a year ago for the US to reduce the tariffs and that his government has so far failed to reach a deal.

Since the introduction of the tariff, following a WTO ruling on EU subsidies to the aerospace industry, the Scottish whisky industry has lost close to half a billion pounds in exports to the US.

Later, Ms Jardine, who was a journalist in West Dunbartonshire and at BBC Scotland,  said:“The importance of the whisky industry to Scotland’s economy cannot be underestimated so I’m disappointed that the Prime Minister’s continues to pass the buck.

“Half a billion pounds is an enormous loss in trade and will have an impact not just in my constituency which is home to Diageo, but across Scotland.

 “The Prime Minister must recognise not just the economic value but the iconic importance of a successful whisky industry to the union.

“The Prime Minister must show, unequivocally, that his Government will support the Whisky industry by offering real support in the forthcoming budget.”

Parents threatened by £4,500 price tag over school start deferral

Scottish Liberal Democrats have  urged the Scottish Government, Labour and Greens to reconsider after they voted in Education Committee to push back to 2023 giving parents the legal right to both defer starting Primary 1 and have it replaced with funded early learning and childcare.

Scottish Liberal Democrats voted against this delay, calling for the legal right to be given to parents immediately as part of the education system’s response to the impact of the pandemic, with four-year-olds set to start school in August despite having missed out on 18 months of normal play and interactions.

The issue is now set to be the subject of a full vote of Parliament.

Education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP commented:  “Four years olds will be turning up to school for the first time after 18 months of missed interactions and play. Some children might barely remember socialising with anyone outside their bubble.

“The £4,500 price tag that the SNP seem determined to leave hanging over families thinking of deferring their child’s start at school is outrageous. Children only start school once so introducing this in 2023 does nothing to help those worst affected by the pandemic. 

“Parents should be given the legal right to both defer Primary 1 and have it replaced with funded early learning and childcare. They should be allowed to concentrate solely on what is best for their child, not the family’s financial situation. The Scottish Government has the power to remove the extra financial barrier. I will continue to support the work of the Give Them Time campaign to make that a reality.”

Minister must reassure students over campus return

Scottish Liberal Democrat education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP has today said that Richard Lochhead must reassure students that their concerns are being listened to at the highest level after he told the education committee that discussions about when university and college students could return to campus were “above my pay grade”. 

In response to a question on when students would return to campus, the Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science told the committee: “that’s obviously a huge question, it’s probably above my pay grade as to when university and college students can return to campus. At the moment we’re clearly in a challenging situation.

Ms Wishart said:“If Richard Lochhead says that details of students returning to campus are above his pay grade, imagine how students themselves must feel.

“Students want to do the right thing but many remain in the dark about accessing learning materials left in term-time accommodation and on the hook for problems in properties that they are not allowed to attend. They need urgent answers.

“With online learning set to continue throughout February and many stuck paying for student accommodation or private housing they can’t use, the Government should ensure these students are treated fairly and are supported with a proper rebate.”



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