Naming first Bills would be ‘taking the voters for granted’, says Sir Ed Davey

Sir Ed Davey has declined to name the Bills he wants to table in the first 100 days of the next parliament.

Even if the Liberal Democrats cannot form a government after the General Election, either with another party or by itself, their future MPs could shape the legislative agenda by tabling private members’ Bills.

In the party’s manifesto, unveiled on Monday, the Liberal Democrats set out its proposals for new laws – including a “comprehensive new animal welfare Bill”, “higher standards of behaviour from Government ministers by enshrining the Ministerial Code in law”, and a new Hillsborough Law for “a statutory duty of candour on police officers and all public officials”.

Asked about how he might shape legislation from the opposition benches, Sir Ed told the PA news agency: “Oh, you know, I’m not thinking about that yet. That would be taking the voters for granted – I’m not going to do that.”

Sir Ed Davey emerges from beneath a lattice of rope at an assault course in Kent
Sir Ed Davey at an assault course on the campaign trail in Kent on Thursday (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“But with the manifesto, I guess the key things is if you want to know what Liberal Democrat MPs are going to champion in the next parliament, it’s going to be health and care – we’ve put that at the centre of our manifesto.

“It’s going to be helping people with the cost of living, whether it’s our policy on free school meals or insulating people’s homes to help their energy bills, or it’s going to be things like the sewage scandal, so read the manifesto – that’s what the Liberal Democrat MPs when elected will keep campaigning for.”

The party has pledged to extend free school meals to all children in poverty, with the ambition to extend them to all primary school children when the public finances allow, and offer free insulation and heat pumps “for those on low incomes”.

On the campaign trail on Thursday, Sir Ed visited Arena Pursuits in Wadhurst, on the Kent and Sussex border, with his party’s Tunbridge Wells candidate Mike Martin.

Almost 200 miles away in Manchester, the Labour Party unveiled its manifesto.

Sir Ed said he had heard “dribs and drabs” from his Labour rivals, saying: “I’ve been focusing on getting the Liberal Democrat policies over. I’m leader of the Liberal Democrats, I want to talk positively and I want to talk about our policies.”

Both parties’ leaders faced questions about what would happen to taxes if either is able to form a government.

Sir Ed Davey in a black t-shirt and shorts and Mike Martin in an orange top and tracksuit bottoms try to step in the middle of some tyres on an assault course
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey (left) and the party’s parliamentary candidate for Tunbridge Wells Mike Martin race each other on an assault course in Kent (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote on X that the Labour manifesto “would mean the highest taxes in history”.

A Labour spokesperson denied the claim and insisted the tax burden “for working people” will fall.

They said Conservative Party estimates include Labour plans to crack down on tax avoidance and “money that should already be coming into the Exchequer”.

The spokesperson added: “The whole purpose of what we’ve set out today is the fundamentally different way in which we want to run the economy, which means we will ensure that we get the higher levels of growth, and so therefore that obviously affects the numbers that you have there.”

In Kent, Sir Ed said: “Liberal Democrat plans are very ambitious.

“There’s so much that needs to be put right in our country. We need real change and that’s why we need to have serious investment in health and care.

“We’re suggesting £9 billion of investment to rescue our NHS and we’re talking about investment to help the poorest in our society, and we want to make sure that we’ve got the capital investment in social homes, in the fight against climate change, making sure the nature crisis is dealt with.”

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