Category Archives: Ed Miliband

How Farage and Salmond – but not Miliband – ran Cameron ragged

John Crace’s review of the year: from sorry apology to solemn vow, 2014 was not a vintage year of political accomplishment

Politicians rarely find it easy to say sorry but, in April, culture secretary Maria Miller did manage to find a 32-second window in her diary to come to the House of Commons to mutter: “Yeah whatevs I dun nuthin wrong and though I’m sayin soz I don’t mean it cos what’s wrong with claimin to live in wun house and livin in anuva I mean everywunz at it innit?”

One of the shortest parliamentary apologies on record was the preface to one of the longest general election campaigns. The unforeseen consequence of the Fixed Term Parliament Act of 2011, which was introduced to ensure the coalition’s survival for five years, was that parliament had little to do in the government’s final year. Time and again, the then leader of the house, Andrew Lansley, was forced to explain why there wasn’t much government business going on; his nadir came when he had to find a reason, other than inactivity, why the Commons was being prorogued a week earlier than usual at Easter. “I am surprised at the honourable lady’s argument that we are not busy,” he said wearily, before the tumbleweed carried him away. “We are busy. When we return from recess, we have a busy two days.”

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Posted in Andrew Lansley, Autumn statement 2014, Budget, Conservatives, Culture, David Cameron, David Miliband, Economics, Ed Miliband, Europe, European Union, George Osborne, Gordon Brown, House of Commons, Iain Duncan Smith, Immigration and asylum, Justine Greening, Labour, Leon Brittan, Liberal Democrats, Liberal-Conservative coalition, Maria Miller, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage, Politics, Russell Brand, Scotland, Scottish politics, Theresa May, UK Independence party (Ukip), UK news, World news | Comments Off

George Osborne questioned by MPs about the autumn statement: Politics Live blog

Rolling coverage of all the day’s political developments as they happen, including David Cameron and Ed Miliband at PMQs, and George Osborne being questioned by the Treasury committee about the autumn statement

5.42pm GMT

Alok Sharma goes next.

Q: These new figures include the black economy. How do you measure this?

5.37pm GMT

John Mann goes next.

Q: Could you provide us with all the written documents provided to you on this?

5.35pm GMT

Q: Will this affair undermine future government claims to have achieved a good deal in Britain?

No, says Osborne. He says the government has shown it can achieve good deals for the UK.

5.33pm GMT

Steve Baker, a Conservative, goes next.

Q: Isn’t this illustrative of the highly unsatisfactory nature of our relationship with the EU?

5.27pm GMT

Earlier Andrew Tyrie and George Osborne were discussing a statement from an EU commissioner saying the rebate would apply. (See 5.01pm.)

Here is the text. It is from Jacek Dominik, the budget commissioner, and dated 27 October 2014.

For example, in 2014, the UK rebate was revised upwards by EUR 567.3 million, which is financed by all other Member States. This adjustment was included in Amending Budget 4/2014. Similarly in 2013, the UK rebate was revised upwards by EUR 436 million; this was budgeted in Amending Budget 6/2013.

5.21pm GMT

Q: When did you first hear about the extra payment?

Bowman says an official heard about this at the meeting on Friday 17 October. Senior Treasury officials were told on Tuesday 21 October. They then prepared a note for the chancellor, which he got on the Wednesday.

5.19pm GMT

Labour’s Andy Love goes next.

Q: What happened in previous years when there were adjustments to the amount the UK owed?

5.18pm GMT

Tyrie says he is “surprised” Bowman did not think it was clear that the rebate would apply. The rules show that it would apply, he says.

5.14pm GMT

John Mann takes over again.

He says politicians always take credit for positive things.

5.11pm GMT

Tyrie says the rules were clear. He says he can’t understand why the Treasury could not tell the chancellor immediately that the rebate would apply.

Bowman says it was unclear that the rebate would apply.

5.09pm GMT

Labour’s John Mann goes next. He addresses Mark Bowman, the Treasury’s international and EU director general.

Bowman says only a junior Treasury official attended the meeting where the European Commission said Britain would have to pay an extra contribution.

5.05pm GMT

Tyrie says Osborne brought back a good deal for Britain. But the deal was not as good as Osborne claimed, he says.

Osborne says he did not know in advance that he was going to get a €1bn rebate.

5.03pm GMT

Tyrie says getting an interest-free delay was worth something. But that message was “somewhat distorted” by the claim that Britain got half its money back when there was no suggestion that it would not do so.

Osborne says he does not accept this.

5.01pm GMT

Q: People have to decide whether this was a halving of a bill due to a hard-fought negotiation, or whether this was just a clarification of how the rules apply under existing law.

Osborne says there was a hard-fought negotiation.

4.58pm GMT

Q: Was there considerable doubt about whether the recalculation would trigger a change to the rebate?

Osborne says he hoped the rebate would apply.

4.53pm GMT

The Treasury question is resuming. The committee is now asking George Osborne about Britain’s extra payment to the EU budget.

Andrew Tyrie is opening the questioning.

4.45pm GMT

About 10 minutes ago MPs voted on Labour’s bedroom tax motion, calling for its immediate abolition, and Labour lost by 298 votes to 266. My colleague Frances Perraudin was listening to the debate beforehand. She’s sent me this.

Today’s opposition day debate on the bedroom tax, referred to by the government as the spareroom subsidy, proceeded along predictable lines. Labour party members drew parallels with the poll tax and read out case studies of constituents suffering because of the measure, and Conservative party members insisting that the tax hadn’t hit as many people as the opposition suggests and that it is a necessary move to tackle the problem of overcrowding in social housing.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said that the Department for Work and Pensions had made it clear that no additional money would be available to local authorities over their allocation to help people they deem to have been unfairly hit by the charge.

4.07pm GMT

Q: Did you have a discussion with the OECD before you announced the diverted profits tax?

Osborne says the government is heavily involved with the OECD’s work on tax avoidance. The diverted profits tax goes with the grain of what it is proposing.

4.02pm GMT

Alok Sharma, a Conservative, goes next.

Q: How confident are you that you will raise the revenue from your tax avoidance measures that you expect?

4.00pm GMT

David Ruffley, a Conservative, goes next.

Q: I’m all for cutting taxes in the next parliament. People ask how we will do it. But can’t you point out that we’ve cut corporation tax, and revenues have gone up.

3.56pm GMT

If Labour would rather achieve this fiscal consolidation through higher taxes, it will have to say what those taxes are, says Osborne.

3.55pm GMT

Q: Your choices will led to a smaller state. You think that’s a better state. Do you understand that services won’t be the same. The NHS will face difficulties.

Osborne says the government has decided to protect the NHS.

3.53pm GMT

Q: Robert Chote, the OBR chair, said that your plans would take spending as a proportion of GDP to its lowest level for 80 years.

Osborne says that he would find more savings from welfare, and from tackling tax avoidance, than the OBR expects.

Osborne embraces £23bn surplus in 2019-20. Polls show that may be political mistake since it lets Labour run shrunken state line.

3.50pm GMT

Labour’s Andy Love goes next.

Q: The OBR says that income tax revenues will fall short by £10bn by the end of the decade, and overall tax revenues by £21bn. Won’t there have to be tax rises?

3.48pm GMT

Labour’s Mike Kane goes next.

Q: Are your planned spending cuts credible?

3.45pm GMT

Osborne says Gordon Brown was spending 35.9% of GDP in 1999. In 1998 it was 36%.

Q: The OBR says your plans would take it to 35%, to 1930s level. Do you accept that?

3.41pm GMT

Rushanara Ali, the Labour MP, goes next.

Osborne says he signed off the total management expenditure (TME) figures that the OBR used to produce its forecasts for future government spending.

3.38pm GMT

Q: This committee recommended that there should be a consultation on the next charter for budget responsibility. Why did you ignore that recommendation?

Osborne says he has not done that. The charter has been published. People can debate it before MPs vote on it.

3.36pm GMT

Osborne says he has achieved his fiscal target (balance the budget over the next five years). But he missed his debt reduction target by a year.

Anyone who votes for the charter for budget responsibility will be voting for cuts of £30bn, he says.

3.34pm GMT

Teresa Pearce, a Labour MP, goes next.

Q: Are you worried that poor housing can have an effect on productivity?

3.29pm GMT

Sir John Thurso, a Lib Dem, goes next.

Q: How satisfied are you with the service that allows people to switch bank accounts easily?

3.26pm GMT

Q: If private consumption dips, will you allow more government consumption?

Osborne says he has set out his plans for coming years. Consistency is important.

3.24pm GMT

The SNP’s Stewart Hosie goes next.

Q: The OBR told us that people are using up their savings. How long can this go on for?

3.21pm GMT

Q: Professor Nickell from the OBR said last week that immigration could be bad for people on low incomes. Has the Treasury done any analysis on this?

Osborne says government research has shown that there is an impact on low earners. Immigration needs to be controlled, he says.

3.19pm GMT

Mark Garnier, a Conservative, goes next.

Q: Are you worried about the number of people entering the labour market on low wages?

3.15pm GMT

Andrew Tyrie goes next. He says the Treasury’s distributional analyses are very interesting. The Treasury committee tried for 10 years to get this information from Labour. And, when he was a Treasury adviser, the Treasury decided it would not go anywhere near this, he says, because it was thought the figures would be embarrassing.

3.14pm GMT

Q: Originally borrowing was meant to be £37bn this year. How much is it now?

Osborne says Mann must know the figures.

3.11pm GMT

Labour’s John Mann goes next.

Q: Are you and your family better off or worse off than at the election?

3.08pm GMT

Steve Baker, a Conservative, goes next.

Osborne says he and Baker disagree about the impact of low interest rates.

3.05pm GMT

And here is a Treasury news release saying Osborne has announced the re-appointment of Martin Taylor and Donald Kohn as external members of the Bank of England’s financial policy pommittee (FPC). Osborne has also extended Professor David Miles’ second term as external member of the Bank’s monetary policy committee.

3.03pm GMT

The Treasury has put out a news release with more details of the Lloyds bank share sale.

Here’s an extract.

The chancellor has today set out the next stage in the government’s plan to return Lloyds Banking Group to private ownership and get taxpayers’ money back, by announcing that the government will sell part of its remaining shareholding in the firm through a trading plan.

The government received advice from UK Financial Investments today that it would be appropriate to sell another part of the government’s shareholding in Lloyds through a trading plan. The government agrees with that advice and has authorised the plan to be put in place.

2.58pm GMT

Q: There are lots of marginal tax rates. In the tax system there are rates of 12%, 32%, 42%, 62%, and 47%. And, allowing for the withdrawal of tax credits, there are marginal rates of 53%, 73% and 83%. Do you want to simplify this?

Osborne says he does believe in tax simplification.

2.54pm GMT

Osborne ups the rhetoric further on pay outstripping inflation today to Treasury Committee – now “the major moment in this Parliament”.

2.51pm GMT

Andrew Tyrie, the committee chairman, goes first.

Q: In your autumn statement you welcomed the projections saying inflation would be below target. Why?

2.49pm GMT

Osborne is at the committee.

He says the Treasury has just announced plans to start selling shares in Lloyds. It will not sell shares below the price the last government paid for them.

2.42pm GMT

George Osborne will start his evidence to the Commons Treasury committee shortly.

He will be taking questions about the autumn statement, and about Britain’s contribution to the EU budget.

2.18pm GMT

You have lost two MPs to Ukip, you lost 26 too in Europe and you brought a whole new meaning to the phrase conviction politician when Andy Coulson went to jail. The truth is you have given up on compassionate conservatism. They have been exposed for who they really are. Your plan for the 2020s is to go back to the 1930s. It isn’t about balancing the books, it is about slashing the state and in just four months’ time that is the election choice.

I have to say I almost feel sorry for Labour MPs – they can’t talk about the deficit because it has fallen. They can’t talk about growth because it is rising, they can’t talk about jobs because we are increasing them, they can’t talk about immigration because they have been told not to talk about immigration. They can’t talk about their leader because he is a complete waste of space. No wonder for Labour MPs this year it’s a silent night.

We should stand up very firmly against the Russian aggression that has taken place. We led the way in Europe in making sure there were sanctions and what the combination of the lower oil price and the sanctions are showing that I think it isn’t possible for Russia to be part of the international financial system, but try and opt out of the rules based international legal system. That I think is what is being demonstrated and we should keep up the pressure.

What I would say is every excess winter death is a tragedy and the 18,200 last year were too high. But I have to say that is actually half the level of the excess winter deaths in 2008/09 when [Ed Miliband] was the energy secretary.

1.38pm GMT

The Home Office has announced that police funding from central government will be cut by 4.9% in real terms in 2015/16. That amounts to a cut worth £299m.

Mike Penning, the policing minister, announced this in a written ministerial statement (pdf). Here’s an excerpt.

After careful consideration of all Home Office budgets and the impact of the chancellor’s 2013 autumn statement, I have decided to maintain the 4.9 per cent real terms headline reduction to overall central government funding to the police announced at spending round 2013. Taking account of the latest inflationary forecast from HM Treasury published alongside the chancellor’s 2014 autumn statement, this means a total cash reduction of £299m in the overall police funding envelope compared to 2014/15.

1.25pm GMT

This is what political journalists are saying about PMQs on Twitter.

Those saying Cameron did best

PMQs was a little General Election preview: Ed gets thumped on the economy, resorts to screaming “Andy Coulson”

Can understand why Labour thinks it’s ok to attack Tories on economy now. But Miliband’s poor #pmqs shows risk of not doing that well

Cameron knocking Ed all over the place.

Miliband terrible today. Same questions as at any point in last four years.

Decent line from Miliband on economy that Tories don’t want to balance books they want to “slash the state”. But Lab MPs still look glum.

PMQs verdict: David Cameron 5, Ed Miliband 1 http://t.co/hsLBKIWO5V

A good last #PMQs from Ed Miliband in my opinion. Cameron explodes and calls him a “complete waste of space”.

My #PMQs review: A narrow win for Miliband on the Tories’ strongest territory http://t.co/1ydQuF1A1G

Clegg isn’t at #PMQs. Like me, he came for Dfid questions and is simply too embarrassed to leave.

That’s the whole of the election campaign in 10 mins. Wake me up on 6 May. #PMQs

You know those election leaders debates? Think they’ve just had the first one in #pmqs. Only 4 months to go….

Interesting that there were no ironic cheers from Tories when EdM stood up at #PMQs. Morale has shifted.

Miliband attacks Cameron for planning to slash the state and raise VAT. 2015 is going to feel a lot like 2010. #PMQs

Labour benches alarmingly quiet during Cameron’s Ed kickings. Not even heckling. Come on @labourwhips #PMQs

Another Freudian slip? Late in PMQs Cameron referred to his hope for a ‘Conservative-led Government’ after 2015. #Coalicious

Wd Miliband hv been wiser to split his Qs? 3 on WiganPier cuts + 3 on NHS hiring Portuguese/Spnsh nurses (NHS/migration in one)

1.18pm GMT

This is the section of the OBR document that miliband and Cameron were arguing about: pic.twitter.com/xQvu2OGzoH

1.03pm GMT

PMQs verdict: Until now the Conservatives have assumed that the economy is their subject. “Every day not campaigning on the economy is a day wasted,” Jim Messina, the Conservatives’ American strategist, told the party last month. But, in the light of the autumn statement, and what it revealed about the Conservatives’ public spending plans over the next five years, that it starting to look less certain.

Why? Because, even if you don’t think that George Osborne is planning to reduce Britain to a state of Wigan Pier destitution, it is now clear that the public does not want cuts on the scale envisaged by Osborne. This polling, from last week, illustrates this well, and other polls have produced similar findings.

12.38pm GMT

This sums it up very well. It’s from the FT’s Jim Pickard.

Today’s #PMQs summarised: Cameron: economy all well Miliband: economy Orwell

12.36pm GMT

Cameron says Labour in Wales chose to cut the NHS, rather than invest in it. And, in Scotland, the SNP government has not passed on all the extra money it has received as a result of health spending going up in England.

And that’s it. I’ll post a verdict shortly.

12.35pm GMT

Liz McInnes, the Labour MP, asks a closed question about helping old people protect themselves from the cold.

Cameron says the government is helping people insulate themselves.

12.33pm GMT

Labour’s Sheila Gilmore says, despite the bedroom tax, spending on housing benefit has gone up. When will Cameron tackle the real causes of the problem, low wages.

Cameron says Labour want to increase spending, by abolishing the bedroom tax. Their plans do not add up, he says.

12.32pm GMT

John Glen, a Conservative, mentions a constituent saving £4,500 from the stamp duty cut. He will be giving some of it to charity, he says.

Cameron says the message of the autumn statement is that the government is on the side of people who want to own their own home.

12.30pm GMT

Cameron says the problem with Labour’s narrative is that it is not true. They talk about inequality, poverty and child poverty, but they are lower than under Labour.

12.29pm GMT

Kenneth Clarke, the Conservative former chancellor, says the coalition will take public spending back to the level it was under Gordon Brown. But it was only at that level because he stuck to plans drawn up by Clarke.

Cameron says Labour is basing its entire economic policy on some throwaway remark on the BBC from some reporter (Norman Smith) at 6.10am in the morning.

12.27pm GMT

Sir Tony Baldry, a Conservative, quotes from Marx about Britain resisting Russian imperialism.

Cameron says he has not spent as much time studying Marx as Baldry, or even perhaps Miliband – “I don’t know what goes on in Camden these days” – but that he agrees with the quote. We should keep up the pressure on Russia. It cannot be part of the world financial system, but not its legal system.

12.26pm GMT

Labour Tom Blenkinsop asks about health.

Cameron says there are 3,000 more nurses, and 8,000 more doctors, in the NHS

12.24pm GMT

David Burrowes, a Conservative, asks about a hospital in his Enfield Southgate constituency.

Cameron says opening hours at a hospital in Burrowes’ constituency are being extended.

12.23pm GMT

Labour’s Nia Griffith asks Cameron if he agrees with Owen Paterson that the Climate Change Act should be scrapped.

Cameron says he thinks the legislation is delivering. More money is going into green energy.

12.23pm GMT

Stephen Metcalfe, a Conservative, says anyone who thinks you should not talk about immigration with voters is out of touch.

Cameron says Labour MPs can’t talk about immigration, unemployment, the deficit or leadership issues.

12.22pm GMT

Labour’s Derek Twigg asks about a constituent who waited an hour and a half for an ambulance to attend.

Cameron says there are more than 1,000 paramedics than when the government came to power. When an ambulance trust falls down, that is a matter of regret.

12.20pm GMT

Labour’s Nick Brown asks where the cuts in working-age welfare will fall.

Cameron says Labour is voting this afternoon, on the bedroom tax, to add to £2bn to welfare. That would mean taking money from schools or health, he says.

12.19pm GMT

Mark Garnier, a Conservative, asks Cameron for an assurance that he will not build a recovery on a mountain of debt.

Cameron agrees. And he says Labour should recognise that, when you have had a period of growth, you should pay down debt.

12.18pm GMT

Labour’s Tessa Jowell asks Cameron to join her in calling on firms to cut transfer charges paid by people how pay remittances to relatives in developing countries.

Cameron says remittances are hugely important for developing countries. He is looking at what can be done to keep charges down.

12.16pm GMT

Snap PMQs Verdict: Reasonably strong performances from both Cameron and Miliband, but Miliband’s points about the 1930s, and the Tory unfunded tax promises, outgunned Cameron’s Labour Treasury reference, and his attempt to switch the subject back to unemployment. Even more significantly, Miliband chalked up a win on the economy – which is normally Tory territory.

12.13pm GMT

Miliband says the economy is fixed for people on Cameron’s Christmas card list, but not for other people. Will Cameron rule out raising VAT?

Cameron says he does not need to raise taxes because he can raise the money from efficiencies. He says it is Christmas, and he has had his Christmas present early. He brandishes Labour’s document about how to campaign against Ukip. It says the Tories have a 17-point lead on the economy.

12.09pm GMT

Miliband says in a few months’ time Cameron can ask the questions. The mask slipped during the autumn statement. Under the Tories there would be cuts of £50bn. Does he really think services won’t suffer?

Cameron says the pretence that Miliband cared about the economy lasted about a week. Under Labour there would be more tax and more borrowing.

12.06pm GMT

Ed Miliband also starts by condemning the “appalling” massacre in Pakistan, and the “sickening” terrorist attack in Sydney. And he pays tribute to members of the armed forces.

The OBR says government plans will take public spending to its lowest level for 80 years. Why does Cameron think the OBR has joined the BBC in a conspiracy against the Tories?

12.03pm GMT

Oliver Colvile, a Conservative, welcomes the unemployment figures, and says Plymouth needs a faster rail line.

Cameron says he received a presentation on the rail issue.

12.02pm GMT

David Cameron starts by condemning the attacks in Australia and Pakistan. What happened in Pakistan was utterly heartbreaking, he says. The whole world stands with Pakistan.

He also sends his Christmas wishes to members of the armed forces.

11.54am GMT

PMQs starts soon.

I’ve just been checking out the last PMQs from 2013. Here’s how it started.

Miliband: Today’s economic figures show a welcome fall in unemployment, and for every person who gets back into work it benefits not just them but their family as well. Does the prime minister agree, however, that it is a major challenge for Britain that at the end of this year there are more people than ever before in today’s figures working part time because they cannot get the hours they need?

Cameron: It is worth looking at these unemployment figures in some detail, because I think they do paint an encouraging picture. Unemployment is down by 99,000 and the number of people claiming unemployment benefit has actually fallen by 36,000 in this month alone. There are 250,000 more people in work. Youth unemployment is down. Long-term unemployment is down. Unemployment among women is down. We have talked before about 1 million more people in work under this Government; there are now 1.2 million more in work. There should not be one ounce of complacency, because we have still got work to do to get our country back to work. Having everyone back in work means greater stability for them, a greater ability to plan for their future, and greater help for their families. But the plan is working; let us stick at it and get unemployment down even further.

11.49am GMT

If you haven’t already read out the Guardian’s inside account of the Scottish independence referendum campaign, you should. It’s excellent. Today’s instalment reveals that senior figures in Whitehall and Downing Street became so fearful that the Scottish independence referendum could lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom that the Queen was asked to make a rare public intervention in the final days of the campaign.

They have been reading it at Republic, the group campaigning for the abolition of the monarchy. It is urging parliament to censure the Queen for her behaviour. This is from Republic’s chief executive, Graham Smith.

The Guardian makes clear that the Queen was prepared to take deliberate steps to encourage people to vote No in the referendum. Regardless of how people feel about Scottish independence we should all be alarmed at such a political intervention by a hereditary monarch.

We would normally expect a head of state to take an active interest in such a momentous referendum, but the deal with the monarchy is that the monarch stays quiet and keeps out of these debates.”

11.40am GMT

The Polling Observatory, one of the academic teams that uses polling data and election trends to try to forecast what the result will be at the general election, has produced its latest assessment. It says we’re heading for a dead heat.

This month we can also bring you an update on our national polling forecast figure. We didn’t publish a forecast last month, so the changes reported are on the figures from two months ago. Labour’s decline in the polls over that period also is reflected in our forecast, though we do anticipate some recovery from the current level. We forecast a share of 33.4% for Labour next May, representing a fall of 2.8 points over the past two months. The Conservatives’ forecast share has not risen, however – we have them winning 33.8%, up just 0.1% from October’s forecast. The Liberal Democrats are also expected to recover somewhat based on historical trends in the polls. Our current forecast is for 9.2%, up 0.5% on the previous estimate.

11.27am GMT

And the Home Office has published a review of the case for allowing intercept evidence to be used in court. It concludes that this would be a mistake.

Here’s the report (pdf).

Under British law defendants must receive a fair trial under conditions that do not place them at a disadvantage compared to the prosecution. In practice this means the defence should have access to all material on which the prosecution relies, as well as any material which is capable of undermining the prosecution case or assisting the defence. The prohibition on using intercept as evidence is consistent with the right to a fair trial because neither the defence nor the prosecution can rely on intercept material.

For the use of intercept material as evidence to be consistent with a fair trial, all relevant material collected by an intercepting agency in the course of a given investigation would need to be retained to an evidential standard and made available to the defence …

11.21am GMT

John Vine, the inspector of borders and immigration, has revealed that the government has not cut the number of foreign nationals remaining in the UK without permission to stay. This is from the Press Association.

The number of foreign nationals who have overstayed their permission to remain in the UK has remained static as the government fails to control the problem, an inspector has said.

Inspector of borders and immigration John Vine said the overall size of the so-called migration refusal pool – the number of foreign nationals refused leave to stay in the UK after 2008 – was 173,562 in the three months to June this year, compared to 174,057 in the same period two years earlier.

11.10am GMT

Here is some more reaction to the unemployment figures. (See 9.35am.)

From Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary

Today’s fall in overall unemployment is welcome, but after four years when prices have risen faster than wages, working people are over £1,600 a year worse off since 2010. There is a huge amount of lost ground to catch up. And while falling global oil prices have led to the rate of inflation going down, wages remain sluggish.

Over the course of this parliament working people are set to see the biggest fall in wages of any Parliament since 1874-1880. The government’s failure to tackle low pay is making it harder to get the deficit down. According to the OBR income tax receipts alone are £70bn lower than forecast in 2010.

Today’s figures show some long overdue improvements, but at this rate it will take over a decade to recover the real value of people’s earnings. And there is a very long way to go to deal with the problem of so many jobs being insecure, short hours, or on zero hour contracts.

We need to make sure that nobody is left behind in the recovery, so today’s increase in long-term unemployment for young people is a growing concern.

There is almost uniformly good news. Employment levels continued to rise, by 115000, in the latest quarter. Meanwhile unemployment fell by 63000, with the headline rate of unemployment remaining at 6.0%.

The more detailed statistics suggest a continuing trend towards restoration of normality in the labour market. The number of employees in employment increased by 165,000, with a reduction of 29,000 in self-employment. Amongst those who are self-employed, the number working part-time fell by 34,000 while the number working full-time rose slightly. Meanwhile the total number of people working full-time increased by 166,000, and there was a reduction of 51,000 in the number working part-time. This is all reassuring news. We have expressed concern in recent months about the high levels of insecurity that remain in the labour market. While this is still a concern, the latest figures indicate that we are clearly moving in the right direction.

10.56am GMT

Here’s the start of the Press Association story about the findings of the al-Sweady inquiry.

British troops mistreated nine Iraqi detainees following a fierce battle a decade ago, but false allegations of murder and torture were the product of “deliberate lies, reckless speculation and ingrained hostility”, a judge-led inquiry has found.

The long-running al-Sweady inquiry, which has cost the taxpayer almost £25m, concluded in its final report that the conduct of some soldiers towards detainees breached the Geneva convention.

10.50am GMT

Remember Carol Mills, the Australian parliamentary official that John Bercow wanted to hire as the new clerk of the Commons? The move caused a huge row, because MPs thought she was not properly qualified, and Bercow eventually announced that her appointment, which was on the verge of being confirmed, was being put on hold to allow time for an inquiry into whether the job of Commons clerk should be changed.

The committee that conducted that inquiry, chaired by Jack Straw, has now reported. It is recommending various technical changes to the way the House of Commons manages itself, but the key point is that it marks a victory for Commons traditionalists. They’ve won, and Bercow (a moderniser) has lost. For two reasons:

9.54am GMT

Here’s George Osborne on the unemployment figures.

Major moment in UK recovery with unemployment down, more jobs & wages growing significantly above inflation #LongTermEconomicPlan

9.51am GMT

And here is some early Twitter comment on the unemployment figures.

From Newsnight’s Duncan Weldon

Jobs growth driven by fulltime employee positions, self employment down again. Early evidence that the UK is creating ‘better’ quality jobs.

Wage growth up as number of fulltime employees rises – I.e. Some of the ‘compositional’ drag on average earnings may be unwinding.

Growth of 115,00 in number of people getting jobs is almost all in full time employment

Number in work has reached record high of 30.8 million

Public sector employment has fallen by 7,000 but private sector employment up by 120,00

Pay continuing to pick up with wages increasing by 1.6% (excl bonuses) compared to 1.3% last month

Recovery in wages is led by service sector but across all sectors of the economy say @ons

Real wages in UK (wage growth less inflation) rising at fastest rate in 6 yrs. Thanks to lowest inflation in 12 yrs: pic.twitter.com/QGboydvM65

Earnings up 1.4% on the year to October, excluding bonuses it’s 1.6% ONS : “First time in six years both measures higher than inflation.”

Employment rose 115k in Aug-Oct. 76k of this was empt of over-50s. Empt of 18-24yos fell 16k http://t.co/XzPkefR7ZT

Wide measure of joblessness (unemp+inactive wanting work+part-timers wanting f-t work) fell from 5.69m to 5.56m in Aug-Oct

Total hours worked rose 0.7% in Aug-Oct, same rate as GDP. Implies productivity stagnated. Might worry BoE, given than wage inflation rose.

9.40am GMT

And this is from Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury.

Once again, we have a new record for the number of people in work, which is great news in the run up to Christmas. But more than that, today’s earnings figures show that the positive effects of our economic recovery are beginning to show in people’s wage packets.

9.39am GMT

David Cameron has been tweeting about the unemployment figures.

Employment is at a record high & average earnings are rising faster than inflation. More to do, but our long term economic plan is working.

9.37am GMT

And here is a graphic from the ONS with the full figures.

9.35am GMT

Here are the headline unemployment figures.

9.28am GMT

For the record, here are today’s YouGov GB polling figures.

Labour: 34% (no change from YouGov yesterday)

9.02am GMT

It’s the last PMQs of 2014 but don’t expect much indication that we’re in the season of goodwill. I’ll be covering that in detail, as usual, and then, this afternoon, I’ll be focusing on George Osborne at the Treasury committee.

Here’s the agenda for the day.

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Posted in Autumn statement 2014, Budget, David Cameron, Economic growth (GDP), Economic policy, Economics, Ed Miliband, George Osborne, House of Commons, Housing, PMQs, Politics, Property, Stamp duty, Tax, Tax and spending, UK news, World news | Comments Off

David Miliband hints at another stint in British politics

Former MP expresses concern over EU membership debate, claiming ‘it would be unbelievably stupid’ for Britain to leave

David Miliband has hinted at a return to British politics, saying he does not intend to spend the rest of his life in the US.

Miliband, who is currently head of the International Rescue Committee in New York, added that he was worried by the debate surrounding Britain’s membership of the EU.

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Posted in David Miliband, Ed Miliband, Europe, European Union, General election 2015, Politics, World news | Comments Off