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Category Archives: Ed Miliband
The Labour party leader said he would ensure the UK had the best cancer survival rates using money levied on tobacco firmsA future Labour government would guarantee a maximum wait of no more than one week for cancer tests and results to improve treatme…
Rolling coverage of all the days political developments as they happen, including Theresa May giving evidence to the intelligence and security committee and Nick Clegg hosting his Call Clegg phone-in
Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish secretary, is responding to Gordon Brown. He starts by paying tribute to the role Brown played in the Better Together campaign.
Brown says the English votes for English laws proposal would also contradict what the Conservatives devolution commission report said about the need to retain one class of MP in the Commons.
He concludes backing Ed Milibands call for a constitutional convention.
There is a way forward that listens to more sensible voices, a way forward that starts with a balanced programme of devolution that maintains income tax as a shared tax, is built upon a sensible accommodation on exclusively English bills and is open not only to devolution within England, including more powerful cities and regions but also to a wider debate about what kind of constitution our country needs quasi-federal or otherwise.
What Scotland has shown is that it is possible to engage the public in a debate about the distribution of power in their own country. So as the debate about English cities and regions and the future of the British constitution gathers pace, the constitutional convention Ed Miliband has proposed makes a great deal of sense.
Brown returns to his speech.
It would be strange indeed if this house, known as the mother of parliaments, a worldwide beacon for fairness and equality before the law, became the first law-making body in the world to decree two classes, a first and second class, of representation.
If this were only about the rights of MPs, it might remain an insiders issue among the political elite.
Dominic Raab, a Conservative, intervenes. What would Brown say to pensioners in Raabs constituency who complain that the Barnett formula is unfair to them because it guarantees extra money for Scotland.
Brown says it was not him who guaranteed the Barnett formula during the referendum campaign. It was the prime minister, he says.
Brown says balancing the interests of the English against those of the other nations in the UK has always been an issue.
The English predominance is such that every generation has had to balance the power of the majority nation to impose its will with some protection for the interests of the minority nations.
America, Australia, Spain, Switzerland, Mexico, Brazil, Germany and many other countries have in their constitutions found ways of managing the gross inequalities in the size of their regions, provinces and nations. The provisions that they make for minority states or regions shows that a blanket, uniformity of provision such as English votes for English laws mimicking Scottish votes for Scottish laws does not ensure fairness of treatment.
Brown says there is a constitutional crisis in the making because of what David Cameron said after the referendum about English votes for English laws.
The proposal, in practice, turned out not to be any new English rights of representation, but a reduction in Scottish rights of representation in the House of Commons. This was clearly an issue material to the vote in the referendum and the failure to tell people beforehand of the proposed change in Scottish representation has fuelled the demonstrations, petitions and allegations of betrayal, bad faith and breach of promise that have dominated much of Scottish political debate over the past month.
But the Conservative plans for the constitution did not end there. When combined with their proposals to devolve all income tax to the Scottish Parliament, Scottish MPs would be removed not just from ordinary lawmaking on English matters but from the most decisive votes a parliament can make – votes on income tax rates and thus on passing the budget …
Brown says his fourth-demand would be for a wider public debate on further changes to the constitution.
And, fifth, the parties should focus not just on the powers Scotland gets, but on what it does with those powers to create jobs, preserve the NHS and fight poverty.
Brown says all parties should also agree that the status of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the Commons will not be downgraded.
I have always said we should be prepared to consider a change in committee procedures on English-only bills under which English MPs form the committee that debates them.
But we should insist that when any bill comes to the floor of this house in report stage or on second and third reading that the whole house and nothing but the whole house votes.
Brown says he is also making suggestions on tax.
There is general agreement that we should first devolve a wider power to set an income tax rate in Scotland and second, a power to set rates of tax at the top, too.
I suggest, however, that we reject 100 per cent devolution of income tax and I will explain why. We should instead agree to retain income tax as a shared tax, with 75 per cent of it being devolved to the Scottish Parliament alongside devolving 50 per cent of VAT revenues. This will ensure that the test of accountability is met, with the Scottish parliament responsible for raising at least 54 per cent of its spending in 2016, the year of implementation.
Brown says, in an attempt to be constructive, he is putting forward five proposals to avoid a constitutional impasse.
First, I believe we can all agree 16 new powers for the Scottish parliament, from the devolution of attendance allowance and housing benefit to the conduct of elections.
There are areas where we are asking the Conservatives to accept Labour and Liberal Democrat proposals: including the entrenchment of the Scottish Parliament in our constitution and new powers over the work programme, the Crown Estates, the rail franchise, borrowing for infrastructure and the executive authority for UK employment, health and safety and equalities laws.
Gordon Brown is speaking now.
He is presenting a petition signed by 120,000 people in Scotland demanding that the vow made by the three main UK party leaders before the referendum is kept.
Gordon Browns adjournment debate on Scotland will start in about five minutes.
It will just be a half-hour debate.
Saira Grant from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants has strongly criticised David Cameron following the reports (which Cameron has not denied) that he is going to demand the right to block some migrants from the EU coming to the UK. She told BBC News:
Instead of challenging Ukip, hes adopting their policies. As a result, hes going to legitimise what Ukip feel, and therefore Ukip will be a larger threat to the Conservatives and to any mainstream party. It is quite disgraceful that this is what the prime minister has chosen to do.
Heres a short afternoon reading list.
By that, I dont mean that the policy wont work. If you ask European diplomats, theyll tell you it is pretty unlikely that the rest of the EU will bend so far as to compromise freedom of movement just to accommodate Britain and Mr Camerons domestic political needs, but they always say that: it is just possible that hell get some sort of concession out the hardball approach. Nor do I mean that winning limits on freedom of movement rules could have some unforeseen consequences for hundreds of thousands of British expats in Spain and France, though its a second-order consequence well worth pondering.
What I mean is, the politics wont work. The sort of people who are moving to Ukip over immigration/Europe are doing so because they feel that things happen in this country despite their wishes and despite the promises of politicians to stop those things happening. They feel powerless over their own countrys destiny, and they feel that politicians either cannot or will not exercise power on their behalf.
It features Rafael Behr, Polly Toynbee, Toby Helm and Tom Clark talking about Lord Freud, leaders debates and devolution.
All four policies polled were popular, but the one with the highest approval rating was increasing the basic rate personal allowance.
Glenis Willmott, the leader of Labours MEP, has issued this statement about the collapse of Ukips EFDD group in the European parliament.
While a massive blow to Nigel Farage, this news makes little difference for Britain. Ukips group may have given Nigel Farage a front-seat soapbox from which he could preen for the cameras, but it has never helped advance British interests. The EFDD comprised people with extreme views – and to resurrect his group, Mr Farage will probably have to turn to even more racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic allies.
The Local Government Association has said that it is disappointing that Labours plan to encourage house building do not include removing the cap on what local authorities can borrow to fund building. This is from Peter Box, a Labour councillor who chairs the LGAs environment, economy, housing and transport board.
We are pleased the Lyons Review recognises the central role councils need to be given in ending the housing crisis, but it is disappointing it has not recommended removing the housing borrowing cap, which is the single biggest obstacle to delivering the thousands of homes the country desperately needs.
The housing borrowing cap is fundamentally flawed and places unnecessary restrictions on the amount of money councils can invest in housing. Until this is removed councils will continue to be hampered in our efforts to provide the homes residents need.
The description of the haystack is a good one, because if youre searching for the needle in the haystack you have to have the haystack in the first place in order to look for that needle …
Its hugely important, this ability to have a large amount of communications data. We can not emphasise enough that the collection of bulk data is not mass surveillance. Precisely because what happens is this targeted process, which means this is not about just some sort of mass look at everybodys data. Most of the data will not be looked at all, will not be touched.
If you cannot agree to this people will only conclude that your government has something to hide, that you cannot publicly defend your position in relation to disabled peoples entitlement to the minimum wage, and your inaction will haunt you.
Anyone who denies that the minimum wage is a barrier to employment for the less able is living in cloud cuckoo land.
The Lyons review is the first political review that actually looks at comprehensive policies rather than piecemeal sound bites. Better connecting infrastructure and housing is key and can help to get buy in from local communities for new developments.
We were told that the Lyons Review would be meaty, and it has certainly proved to be so. The sensible review is extremely comprehensive and pinpoints exactly where problems in the planning system are and comes up with thoughtful solutions. While some proposals, for example those surrounding use it or lose it, may be difficult to implement, on the whole the review shows a clear understanding of the major problems of the planning system, and how these impact on development in the UK.
What did feature was the foreign secretarys assessment the coalition air campaign has stabilised the strategic picture. I have to say, this seems to be a somewhat complacent assessment, given the air strikes initiated in recent weeks have so far failed to prevent Isil from conquering almost all of Anbar province, coming close to overrunning the Syrian town of Kobani. Indeed, it is reported Isil also drew to within 15 miles of Baghdads international airport only last weekend.
The backdrop to the authorisation granted by this parliament for UK air strikes in Iraq was the expectation that the Iraqi military and the Kurds would provide resistance on the ground, while the US have directed significant resources to supporting he Free Syrian Army within Syria – yet only one of these forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga, have so far resisted Isil effectively.
Heres the full quote David Cameron gave in Rochester this morning when he was talking about taking further action to restrict migration from the EU.
That full Cameron quote on immigration. Does he mean an emergency brake? An Australian points system? Something else? pic.twitter.com/4YhViGeuvl
And here is some more reaction to the reports that the Conservatives are planning to demand the right to impose controls on EU migrants coming to the UK.
From Matthew Elliott, chief executive of Business for Britain, a Eurosceptic group campaigning for EU reform
The PM has to secure changes to freedom of movement as he knows otherwise the public will simply vote Out come what may in an EU referendum.
David Cameron needs to be careful not to talk up what he can achieve on EU migration in Europe, not least since Ukip can always move the goalposts.
An emergency brake on numbers will be very hard and risky but may just be possible to achieve if thats the only thing Cameron goes for, given that there are precedents for other areas in the EU treaties.
This is hot air from a cold, hard, calculating politician whose interests are saving his own skin and not the jobs of the British people. The prime minister is running scared of Ukip and the voters who have called for total control of our borders from Europe. With this latest PR trick he is seeking to pull the wool over our eyes for he knows in advance that the EU will never restrict free movement of European migrants.
We should have one last go at negotiating a better deal.
We need further action to make sure we have more effective control of migration. … I think we need to be clear that the immigration system hasnt been working properly. Greater control is required, but fairness should be at the heart of it.
People recognise that Britain is an open, tolerant country, but immigration in recent years has been too high.
The Labour partys Lyons review into housing, which was previewed in the Guardian this morning, has now been published.
Lord Ashcroft has published some fresh polling today from 11 marginal constituencies. They are all Conservative seats, with Labour in second place. The results suggest that Labour is on course to become the largest party at polling day.
But the figures do not necessarily point to Ed Miliband gaining a majority.
Where does this leave our wider analysis of the general election battleground? Let us return to the equation I explained in my presentation at the Conservative conference last month.
The calculation revolves around the Magic Number, which is the difference between the number of Conservative seats in the House of Commons and the number of Labour seats. Today, the Tories have 303 Members of Parliament, and Labour have 257: the Magic Number is 46. (This could of course change again after next months by-election in Rochester & Strood, and again after any further by-elections or defections).
The Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group in the European parliament, set up by Ukip and other Eurosceptics parties after the European elections, has collapsed.
This is from Jaume Duch, the European parliaments spokesman.
Le groupe europhobe Europe de la Liberté et de la Démocratie directe formé au Parlement européen et dirigé par le Britannique Nigel Farage a été dissous après la défection de son élue lettone Iveta Grigule, a annoncé le Parlement européen.
Here are some of the key points from the hearing.
(Because I missed quite a lot of it when the video feed went down, this is not a very comprehensive summary. Ill post more later.)
The Daily Mirrors Jack Blanchard is not impressed by what he heard during the hearing.
Not entirely sure either the Home Secretary or the members of the ISC really understand very much about the Internet. Which is worrying
Listening to these very important politicians talk incoherently about “the cloud” is like listening to my Dad talking about “the interweb”
Labours Fiona MacTaggart goes next.
Q: Do you feel informed about what the intelligence agencies are doing?
George Howarth takes over again.
Q: Nick Clegg and Yvette Cooper both said the two intelligence commissioners should be replaced by a single figure. Do you agree?
Labours Hazel Blears goes next.
Q: But it is judges who authorise search warrants. Whats the difference?
Labours George Howarth goes next.
Q: You have already said you think it should be ministers who authorise warrants. Some people say these decisions should be taken by judges, or by a technical panel. Why do you think ministers should take on this task?
Sir Menzies Campbell goes next.
Q: Do you see a distinction between post and emails?
Michael Ancram (Lord Lothian) goes next.
Q: Isnt the cloud based in the US?
Lord Butler, the former cabinet secretary, is asking questions now.
Q: Do you accept that human rights apply to foreigners, not just people in the UK?
Q: If a communication is sent from someone in the UK, to someone in the UK, the fact that it might be routed through somewhere else in the world does not mean that it counts as an external communication in terms of the surveillance rules.
May says that is right.
Mark Field, a Conservative, goes next.
Q: Can we arbitrage? Do we go abroad to take advantage of laxer surveillance regimes?
Sir Menzies Campbell is asking questions now.
Q: Am I right in thinking you see a difference between investigations in the UK and investigations abroad, in terms of the surveillance regime?
Im sorry what weve missed. Ill catch up later. But Im in the committee now, and online.
Q: Should looking at data require the same level of authorisation as looking at content?
My colleague Alan Travis has been tweeting from the hearing.
Theresa May says that she has to spend a ‘significant’ part of her day signing intercept and surveillance warrants
Theresa May defends bulk collection of everyone’s personal data by GCHQ: “We have to have a haystack to be able to find the needle we need.”
Theresa May strongly resisting pressure from ISC to release stats showing how often bulk data mining leads to target being identified
Theresa May: “This country is not subject to mass surveillance. There is a lot written about this that is not accurate.”
Theresa May is asked how many requests for surveillance from security services she actually turns down. “The number is very very small.”
Theresa May: We will issue a new code of practice to police re. spying on journalists’ sources
Theresa May: “Collecting bulk data is not in itself an invasion of privacy.”
May says bulk data collection an “important part” of fighting terror. But refuses point blank to give stats on no. of cases solved this way
Im watching the hearing on the parliamentary website, but were having problems with the video feed.
May says she does question surveillance warrants.
She gives a significant amount of time each day to these matters, she says.
Hazel Blears go next.
Q: What would you say to people who say we are constantly under surveillance?
The hearing is starting now.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the chairman, says this is the committees seventh public hearing.
Theresa May, the home secretary, is about to start giving evidence to the intelligence and security committee.
The committee is holding an inquiry into privacy and security, largely prompted by the Edward Snowden revelations about internet surveillance published by the Guardian, and it has been taken evidence in public this week.
Legislation is to be introduced shortly setting up a privacy and civil liberties board within government to counterbalance the strong security interests in Whitehall, the deputy prime minister has said.
Nick Clegg said the details of the civil liberties board were being worked on but it would be modelled on its equivalent American body, which scrutinises policy initiatives at an early stage for their potential impact on privacy and civil liberties.
Here are the key points from Nick Cleggs phone-in.
I think what was so offensive to people about the remarks recorded at the Conservative party conference that Lord Freud made was when he used this word worth and he said some people with disabilities werent worth the minimum wage. I think that is what has, quite rightly, touched a raw nerve because its making a comment about someones individual value. I think that was just so offensive to people.
The Conservatives have got to ask themselves a really fundamental question: are they going to constantly run after Ukip, which I dont think is going to impress anybody. It only has one destination, by the way, they become interchangeable with Ukip, which is what Boris Johnson seemed to imply last week [in his Marr interview]. Why doesnt the Conservative party leadership just come clean and say what they really want is to leave the European Union altogether … This constant shilly-shallying, where every week they edge a little bit closer to Ukip, I think is a disastrous political strategy.
The crime figures are out.
Overall, crime is down according to the crime survey (which measures peoples experience of crime), but the overall figures for crimes recorded by the police are unchanged.
Rape in England and Wales has surged to a record level, according to police figures.
The number of rapes recorded by the police increased 29% to 22,116 incidents in the year to June, the highest level recorded, the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Q: Ive heard you have not quit smoking. Do you smoke in parks?
Clegg says he does not smoke in parks. But he agrees with Boris Johnson that the proposal to ban it in London parks is a bad idea.
Q: Will you support Theresa May in her plans to impose a limit on the amount of time people can be kept on police bail?
Yes, says Clegg. He has called for this in the past.
Q: If Anne Robinson can have 15 contestants on the Weakest Link, why cant the broadcasters have all the parties in their proposes TV leaders debates?
Clegg says he enjoyed the debates last time.
Q: Why are so many childminders leaving the profession? There is a ridiculous amount of paperwork now.
Clegg invites the caller to give him more details about the extra paperwork she is talking about.
Q: What should be done about the people issuing death threats on Twitter to Judy Finnigans daughter Chloe in relation to Finnigans comments about the Evans case?
Clegg says this is just awful. There are already laws that allow these people to prosecuted, he says.
Clegg says that is for the football club to decide.
Q: Will you support the prime minister when he makes immigration a red line in his talks with Europe?
Clegg says the Tories are in a blind panic. These ideas (ie, the proposals in the Times today – see 8.59am) have not been floated in government, he says.
Q: Is there anything you can learn from Ukip?
Clegg says Ukip has one MP. The Lib Dems have 55.
If Ukip came into power, it would be an absolute disaster for this country.
Q: If Ebola is so dangerous, shouldnt we stop planes coming to the UK?
Clegg says the government acts on medical advice. There is screening for some passengers. There are no direct flights from west Africa. But it would not be practical to stop all flights to the UK.
Nick Ferrari picks up on this.
Q: If someone wants to work for £2 an hour, why shouldnt they? We had a call this morning from someone whose son used to work for £1 an hour. When the minimum wage came in that was scrapped, and now he just watches TV all day.
Nick Clegg is hosting his LBC phone-in.
The first caller brings up Lord Freuds comments yesterday.
Theres plenty around today. Theresa May, the home secretary, will be giving evidence to the intelligence and security committee as part of its inquiry into privacy and security (pfd). Theres Call Clegg, as usual on a Thursday. And there may be considerable interest in a story in the Times and the Sun saying David Cameron is on the verge of demanding the right to curb EU migration. Heres an extract from the Times story (paywall).
David Cameron is considering demanding that Britain be given an emergency brake on the number of European jobseekers after promising MPs a game-changing new immigration policy.
The prime minister has so far said only that he wants to curb benefit tourism and extend blocks on migrants from newly joined EU countries. Under increasing pressure from Ukips poll surge, however, Downing Street is now drawing up more radical options …
Rolling coverage of all the days political developments as they happen, including David Cameron and Ed Miliband at PMQs Lord Freud on the disabled and the minimum wage Continue reading…
Rolling coverage of all the days political developments as they happen, including David Cameron and Ed Miliband at PMQs Lord Freud on the disabled and the minimum wage 12.40pm BST Here is another version of the Lord Freud recording, featuring his comm…
Latest survey shows 14% now say they would vote for Nigel Farages party, 35% would vote Labour and 31% ConservativeUkip support has surged after its strong showing in two byelections last week, causing particular problems for the Conservatives ratings,…
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