Sunday shows: Labour calls for students to return home at Christmas

The Andrew Marr Show

Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy confirmed that Labour wants students to be able to return home from university for Christmas, but would not call for tuition fees to be returned to students. He appeared to criticise the 10pm pubs and restaurants closing time, though said Labour does not want to give mixed messages on Covid measures.

  • On Labour’s call for students to return home at Christmas: “Absolutely. Obviously we want young people home with their families at Christmastime and they need the testing to make sure that can happen.”
  • He added: “By Christmas, we’ll have had the coronavirus for nine months. That we couldn’t get a test, track and trace system in place by then has got to be described as pathetic. Of course we should be able to get students back with their families.”
  • On Mark Drakeford saying we must consider that students may not return for Christmas: “Students have been done over on their A-Levels, they’ve been done over on freshers’ week, the government is now having to lock them up at university. When they graduate, we may be looking at long-term unemployment.”
  • On whether students should get tuition fees back: “Lots of universities are struggling financially… There’s a balance here to be struck.”
  • On Labour backing the Brady amendment to force parliamentary votes on future Covid rules: “What we’re clear on is that we need more transparency, there should be regular reviews so it’s coming back to parliament, and we should be debating rules for the country.”
  • Pressed further: “We’re very sympathetic to Graham Brady’s amendment… If our amendment is not picked, we’re sympathetic to Graham Brady’s.”
  • On Sadiq Khan’s call for a London lockdown, Lammy listed Covid difficulties in the city and concluded: “It’s very likely London will find itself in that situation.”
  • On whether there is any science behind the 10pm pubs and restaurants closing time: “No.”
  • Asked why Labour was backing it: “The truth is there cannot be a situation where we have two different public health messages… The government is the lead, the government has the science.”
  • But added: “It does look like the 10pm – it’s not clear where that came from – has led to a situation where people are bubbling out of pubs, hanging around towns and potentially spread the virus.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden claimed that there is “definitely science behind” the 10pm pubs and restaurants shutdown, although it has been revealed that the government’s scientific advisory group never discussed it.

Dowden said he was “a huge fan of the BBC” but wanted it not to have a “narrow metropolitan outlook”. Asked whether there had been “behind the scenes conversations” with Paul Dacre and Charles Moore for the BBC and Ofcom chair jobs, he replied: “Of course I have conversations with people all the time, but there is a formal process.”

New leader of the Liberal Democrats Ed Davey said he was “hugely sympathetic” to the Brady amendment and that his party would “almost certainly” vote in favour of it, explaining: “My only concern is it doesn’t go far enough. I like it very much.”

Ridge on Sunday

Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens said the Chancellor’s new Covid support package would “trigger mass unemployment like we have not seen since the 1980s” and criticised potential new appointments to key roles at Ofcom and the BBC. She also suggested Labour would support a move by backbench Tories to force a Commons vote on any new Covid restrictions.

  • On reported plans to appoint BBC critics Paul Dacre and Charles Moore to leading roles at Ofcom and the BBC: “I think the whole idea of announcing appointments before a process has actually taken place is a bit strange, and I think people will be wondering where the government’s priorities are on this.”
  • She added: “Why are the government interfering in that kind of thing when they should be concentrating on getting a grip on test and trace, keeping coronavirus rates under control and getting the economy back on track?”
  • On Labour’s official stance: “I’m not going to comment on individuals being trailed as potential heads of the BBC or heads of Ofcom. When an appointment is made and announced, we’ll take a position and we’ll take a view and comment on it then.”
  • On criticisms of the BBC: “I think if you look at the BBC, you’ll have people complaining that it’s too left-wing, you’ll have people complaining that it’s too right-wing. And the fact that they’re both complaining suggests to me that it has probably got it somewhere right in the middle of it.”
  • On the resumed ban on crowds attending sports games: “We know that lower league clubs in football are completely reliant on ticket revenue and this is no different from any other sector of the economy where you need to have targeted support to the sectors that can’t operate or can barely operate.”
  • On the Chancellor’s new economic package: “The one-size-fits-all approach is not working. And that’s why the announcement this week from the Chancellor was so disappointing because, rather than target those specific sectors that need the help, he has taken a one-size-fits-all approach again and that’s not going to work, that’s going to help trigger mass unemployment like we have not seen since the 1980s.”
  • On students facing campus lockdowns: “We have to put safety and public health first, obviously. But we have said, Labour has said, that we think students should be allowed home at Christmas and to enable them to do that we need an effective test, trace and isolate system in place.”
  • On Labour’s support for the Brady amendment: “We have our own amendment, which we have tabled. It will depend which ones the Speaker selects for a debate and a vote.”
  • She added: “If it’s selected, I think the likelihood is that we would back it but we would like to see our amendment debated and voted on, so let’s see which one the Speaker goes for.”

Tory backbencher and Brady amendment supporter Steve Baker criticised the government’s new coronavirus regulations, which have bypassed Commons scrutiny, saying: “How do people think that liberty dies? It dies like this.”

Oliver Dowden insisted that “everyone’s getting a little ahead of themselves” in their speculation about the government’s future appointments to the BBC and Ofcom. He said the government wants “a strong, big person who can hold the BBC to account” as the new BBC chair, and accused the public broadcaster of currently only representing “narrow metropolitan areas”.

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