We asked our readers to submit questions to be answered by all six candidates for the South Holland and the Deepings seat. Julia’s answers are below...
1 - Mrs Sue Croucher
I have been a carer most of my life and know from personal experience just how hard this role can be. I would like to ask the candidates how they will address the problem of the 700k+ children under the age of 16 who are currently carers for family members, distorting their childhood, and placing a huge burden on such young shoulders. I understand they receive no financial compensation, and very little support from government agencies. They are therefore working for free, an easy opt out for Parliament.
JC: For all of their valuable service, our dedicated young carers are vulnerable to poverty, health problems and disruptions to their education. As a group young carers miss out on many programs designed to assist young people that need help. If elected, I will campaign to include young carers on the list of groups eligible for the Pupil Premium, and by increasing the amount people can earn before losing Carer’s Allowance from £110 to £150 a week, while reducing the number of hours’ care per week required to qualify, we will reduce the number of young people who become carers.
2 - Nita Attwood and Christine Ayliffe
Theresa May stated that she is willing to repeal the Fox Hunting ban. How do the other parties feel about this? This law is surely for the few (elite landowners only) and not the many. My friends and I are beginning to doubt our allegiances to the Tory Party if this becomes law.
JC: While in Government, the Liberal Democrats repeatedly resisted every attempt by the Conservatives to relax the ban on fox hunting. Any attempts by the Conservatives to reopen the issue of hunting will be met with the strictest resistance from the Liberal Democrats. I am in complete accord with my party’s position on fox hunting and am proud of our record of resistance against all attempts to bring back fox hunting.
3 - Roly Hare
What are you able to bring to the table in support of a greater and improved railway link to the people of South Holland, bearing in mind that the franchise is due for renewal in near future and that a huge amount of money has already been spent in modernisation of the network to allow 24 hour access for freight?
JC: Linconshire has become a forgotten corner of the rail network, with poor and infrequent services. We will be pressing for the new franchise to include a regular hourly service between Lincoln, Spalding and Peterborough from early morning to late evening, including Sundays, with good connections to outward services. We support local residents’ campaigns to re-open stations such as Donnington and Littleworth (Deeping St Nicholas), to provide better accessibility and reduce reliance on cars. We are also keen to see as much freight as possible transferred to the railways, to reduce heavy lorry traffic on local roads.
4 - Paul Poll
Why should low earners pay tax so a government can give subsidies to farmers so they can pay exorbitant rents to rich landlords?
JC: If elected, I will join the other Liberal Democrats in parliament to reform agriculture subsidies. We will rebalance away from direct subsidies and focus on effective land management to would ensure that smaller farms are protected while the power of large landowners over them is diminished. We will deliver a more localised agriculture policy overall, as well as provide more support and fairness for businesses further up the supply chain, ensuring that farmers receive a fair price.
5 - Andrew MacDonald
Given the increasing number of candidates that don’t live within the constituency, isn’t legislation prohibiting such applicants overdue as they can hardly best represent local opinion?
JC: I disagree that it should be mandatory for candidates to live within the constituency.
I say that for any party and not just as a member of the Liberal Democrats. If a particular voter finds this issue important to their decision, they may vote with their conscience for the more local candidate. Such a mandate would bring only more pressure on smaller parties that often struggle to find qualified local candidates, and would prevent them from fielding candidates in many constituencies. I believe democracy is best served when voters have a diverse choice of candidates, which is something a ‘local mandate’ would hinder.
6 - Alan Meekings
If elected, will you campaign for a referendum on the terms of Brexit actually offered by the other 27 members of the EU? If not, why not?
JC: The simple truth is that the Liberal Democrats are the only party arguing that the government must put the terms of the agreement before the British public and give them a vote. We agree that the 2016 referendum gave a mandate to the government to begin negotiations to leave the EU. However, we do not believe it gave the Conservatives a blank cheque to shape our future relationship with the EU without consulting the British people about the shape of the final agreement. We believe the British people should have the final say, not the politicians.
7- Yvonne Allcott
Is there no mention of the deliberate destruction of UK Armed Forces for EU Military Unification because the British people would overwhelmingly disagree with this merger?
JC: In the first place, with Britain leaving the EU, the possibility of a merger between the UK’s armed forces and an EU army is void. Secondly, the idea of one nation’s soldiers being commanded by another nation’s general is completely impracticable, and there is no appetite whatsoever in any of the EU member states to merge their armed forces into an EU force.
8 - Rodney Sadd
With so many zero hours contracts in the UK, my concern is with the unscrupulous agencies that exploit job market.
JC: The Liberal Democrats are committed to stamping out the abuse of zero-hours contracts. We will create a formal right to request a fixed contract and consult on introducing a right to make regular patterns of work contractual after a period of time. As part of the coalition government, we succeeded in banning exclusivity clauses in zero-hours contracts, and we will continue to fight against exploitation of workers by rogue employers. Zero-hours contracts work for certain people who appreciate their flexibility, but it must not come at the cost of the protections that workers on regular contracts enjoy.
9 - Michael Ingamells
What will the candidates do for dementia care, how do they see the future of social care... for instance what will they do to enable people to stay in their own homes for longer? What will they do for people who give up work to care for their loved ones in the way of increasing carer’s allowance?
JC: We are living longer, and more of us are living with conditions like diabetes and dementia than ever before. It is more cost-effective to support people to live at home rather than fund long stays in hospital. Our priority in the next parliament will be the integration of health and social care, to limit the amount the elderly pay for social care.
We will implement a low cap on social care costs, raise the amount people can earn before losing Carer’s Allowance from £110 to £150 a week, and reduce the number of hours’ care per week required to qualify.
10 - John Hayter
£13 billion on foreign aid and for our own people, potholes and foodbanks. Discuss, bearing in mind we are paying £60 billion a year on national debt interest payments, more than we spend on the education of the nation’s children.
JC: The Liberal Democrats have always made our unequivocal support for Britain’s role as a world leader in providing aid to those in most need around the world absolutely clear. We legislated to enshrine in law the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of GNI on international aid each year. We contend that a truly sensible and compassionate government can accomplish its foreign and domestic responsibilities simultaneously, and does not need to undercut one for the sake of the other.