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Category Archives: Jeremy Hunt
Rolling coverage of all the days political developments as they happen, including Nick Clegg hosting his LBC phone-in and Sir David Omand and Philip Hammond giving evidence to the intelligence and security committee
Our agencies are in close contact with their Canadian counterparts and, as you would expect, are already analysing what happened in Canada and the implications for us.
Theres also a very important safeguard provided by the culture within the agencies, which is the exact opposite of what some movies might like to suggest. The agencies are extremely cautious, extremely focused on their responsibility to maintain the culture of proportionality and necessity in everything they do. And there is an atmosphere in the agencies which is very far from a gung-ho approach. It is very cautious, very measured.
Perhaps it is a feature of the times that we live in, but Im sure I can speak for all of my colleague who sign warrants that we all have, in the back of our minds, that at some point in the future we will – not might be, but will – be appearing before some inquiry or tribunal or court accounting for the decisions that weve made and essentially accounting for the way weve applied the proportionality and necessity tests. There is a very strong political incentive in the system to apply these tests narrowly and in a way that minimises the scope of the agencies to interpret warrants that are issuesd.
Julian Lewis goes next. He reads out some intelligence legislation. Couldnt this be made easier for the public to understand?
Hammond says most legislation could be made easier for the public to understand.
Lord Butler goes next.
Q:Are you in favour of increasing the transparency of the activities of the intelligence agencies?
Hammond says the British intelligence agencies are analysing the attack on the Canadian parliament, and what its implications are for the UK.
He says he spends several hours a week dealing with warrant applications.
Q: Would it be better if judges signed warrants, not secretaries of state?
Hammond says this would result in the checks being looser.
Labours Fiona Mactaggart goes next.
Q: Would it be possible to codify these arrangements in law?
Julian Lewis goes next.
Q: Section 7 of the Intelligences Services Act has been described as the James Bond section (ie, licence to kill). It appears to authorise MI6 agents to do whatever they want if approved by a warrant.
Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Lib Dem leader, goes next.
Q: Information can be obtained under the Intelligence Services Act. Is this clear to the public?
Lord Butler goes next.
Q: Do you think there is a case for giving citizens more privacy, because more data is now shared on the internet?
Q: If GCHQ examine external information, would they have to keep that to themselves? Or could they share that with MI6 or MI5?
Hammond says they can, where appropriate, pass that on to other agencies.
Sir Malcolm Rifkind goes next.
Q: There is a lot of public concern about this. Is there not a case for the government drawing up a document that explains the difference between an internal communication and an external one?
Q: What happens if I upload photographs into the cloud, into Dropbox? If Im the only person accessing it, is that an internal communication, or an external one?
Hammond says it would be an external communication if the server were abroad.
Q: If I read the New York Times website, is that an external communication?
Hammond says that would count as an external communication.
Julian Lewis goes next.
Q: Can you confirm that if the sender and recipient of an email are in the UK, it will always be treated as an internal communication, even if it is routed through a foreign server?
Lord Butler goes next.
Q: Can you say how wide the categories are when information is searched. For example, would it be all emails from Syria?
Julian Lewis goes next.
Q: Critics of the collection of bulk data would never suggest states look at all of the data all at once. But their concern is about the state being able to search it. How do you search the data? You could carry out a search for the wrong purpose.
Hammond says the automated application of selection criteria by a comuter, and the discarding of 99.9% of the data does not amount to intrusion.
Intrusion only arises as an issue at the point where the data is interrogated, he says.
Mark Field, a Conservative, goes next.
Q: How important is bulk interception?
Lord Butler goes next.
Q: Is greater intrusion into privacy justified when the threat is greater?
Julian Lewis, a Conservative, goes first.
Q: Have your views on these issues changed since you were given responsibility for MI6 and GCHQ as foreign secretary?
Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the committee chairman, opens by saying Philip Hammond has given evidence to the public before (when he was defence secretary, presumably). But this is the first time Hammond has given evidence to it in public.
He invites Hammond to make an opening statement.
Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, is about to give evidence to the intelligence and security committee.
It is carrying out an inquiry into privacy and security.
· expectations of privacy, and the extent to which it may be appropriate to intrude into an individuals privacy in order to protect the rights and safety of others;
· whether it is acceptable to use intrusive capabilities in a targeted way against known threats, and whether it is ever acceptable to use such capabilities to gather information in larger quantities;
If the NHS is going to be one of the key issues at the election, these exchanges between Jeremy Hunt and Andy Burnham were a dry run. They were informative, argumentative and spiky; well worth watching, in other words, which is not something that you can normally say about a Commons urgent question.
I think the public would say wed have a more measured, intelligent sensible debate, the kind of debate they want to hear, if we started talking about the things we agree on a bit more, instead of constantly pretending there are vast disagreements.
This [report] does not endorse Labours narrative. It exposes it for the shallow party-politicking that weve had from [Burnham].
I would like to congratulate [Burnham] on his Houdini-like spin in the way he is approaching this report. He has been constantly telling this House that the NHS is on the point of collapse. But the chief executive of NHS England says that the NHS has been remarkable successful in weathering the pressures of recent years.
We know why he wants to distance himself from this report; it endorses key planks of Labours plan, and leaves him with big questions to answer … Labour has set out its plan. Today the NHS endorses that plan.
Thats because it creates fragmentation, when the future demands integration.
[Burnham] has told this House constantly that the biggest threat to the NHS is privatisation and competition. And here we are, in this report, not one single mention of competition and privatisation as a threat. And yet this is a report that he says endorses Labours plans.
I dont know who runs the NHS these days, but I do know its certainly not him.
The urgent question is now over. Ill post a summary shortly.
Philip Hollobone, a Conservative, says thousands of GPs will retire in the next few years. What can be done about this?
Hunt says this is an important issue. The government is looking at how it can make it easier for GPs to return to work. And it is trying to take measures to reduce the burn out that GPs experience.
Labours Sheila Gilmore asks Hunt if he is worried that reduced tax revenues have led to higher borrowing.
Hunt says that that is why the government has had to cut spending. It has taken tough decisions that were opposed by Labour.
Labours Lilian Greenwood asks why Hunt is not doing more to tackle the health problems caused by cheap alcohol.
Hunt says the government approach to alcohol is not the same as its one towards tobacco. There is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol in moderate quantities, he says.
Bob Blackman, a Conservative, says we should aspire to a smoke-free Britain. Smoking rates are going down. He says he would like to see tobacco firms taxed out of existence. But isnt it irresponsible to base funding plans on a tax on an industry that may not exist in the future? (Thats a reference to Labours proposed levy on the tobacco industry.)
Hunt says that is a good point.
Tom Blenkinsop, a Labour MP, asks about NHS closures in his constituency. Does Hunt take any responsibility? He always seems to blame someone else.
Hunt disagrees. He takes full responsibility for the NHS, he says. Given the pressures it is facing, the NHS is doing well.
Sir Tony Baldry, a Conservative, says a recent Commonwealth Fund report found the NHS top amongst international health systems. So isnt it unedifying for Labour to go on about the NHS failing.
Hunt said the report had one startling fact in it. When Labour left office, the NHS came seventh for patient-centred care. Now it comes top, he says.
Andrew George, a Lib Dem, asks how clinical commissioning groups can integrate services if they are forced to outsource services.
Hunt says they are not forced to outsource services.
Hunt says the report has lots of examples of how the new structures are integrating care. That is why it would be wrong to do what Labour wants, and scrap the Health Act and the new powers it gives to clinical commissioning groups.
Hunt says this government has put 18 hospitals into special measures – more than 10%. The government has been criticised for this. But the hospitals have improved, and six have come out of special measures. The new inspection regime has been a success, he says.
Labours Heidi Alexander asks what proportion of NHS land being sold will be used to create care provision for older people.
Hunt says he would like to see more NHS land sold of for this purpose. The report says it is important to take a more holistic approach to care, covering such issues as housing for older people, he says.
The BBCs Norman Smith makes a good point on Twitter.
Labours Nick Brown asks if Hunt thinks English NHS trusts can clear their deficits just by efficiency savings.
Hunt says this will be challenging.
Oliver Colville, a Conservative, asks what further role pharmacies could play.
Hunt says it would help if they had better access to NHS records.
Labours Dennis Skinner says the NHS has been a political football ever since 1947. The Tories fought against it then, and have fought against it ever since. The report does not back the governments health reorganisation, he says. Labour increased NHS funding by three times in real terms. If that had continued, people would not be dying of cancer because of lack of testing. Hunt and his posh people on millionaires row have opposed the very existence of the NHS. That is why it will be the biggest issue at the election.
Hunt says that kind of rhetoric does the whole country a disservice. If the Conservatives felt like that, they would not have protected the NHS budget.
Liz McInnes, the new MP for Heywood and Middleton, says many people in her constituency cannot see a GP within a week. What will the report do about that?
Hunt says the government has introduced personal GPs for every NHS pate
David Tredinnick, a Conservative, asks Hunt if he will promote more integrated care.
Hunt says he wants more person-centred care. The report is a big stepping stone towards this, he says.
Hunt is responding to Burnham.
He says he spoke to soon when he talked about a more measured tone.
Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, is responding.
He says the report covers NHS spending worth £550bn. Yet Hunt was not proposing to make a statement to MPs.
Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, asks for a statement on the report.
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, is replying.
Simon Stevens was interviewed on the Today programme this morning. Today invited listeners to submit questions, and much of the interview was about the use of private providers in the NHS.
Jeremy Hunt has used his Twitter feed to criticise this line of questioning.
Real shame 2 see key Today prog interview wth Simon Stevens on #5YFV hijacked by 38 Degrees public/private scaremongering. Missed big issues
Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, has also been giving interviews on the NHS Five Year Forward View report. Here are some of the main points he has been making.
Its a good report, and its a fair challenge to all of the political parties, its calling for more money, its calling for big changes to the way services are delivered, and for radical action on public health, and speaking for Labour, I can say today that I am ready to accept those challenges and pledge the action that is needed in all three areas. We have committed to more money for the NHS in the next parliament.
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, will be responding to an urgent question on the NHS Five Year Forward View report in about 20 minutes.
He has already been talking about it in TV interviews. Here are some of the points hes been making.
I think it is a positive report because theres a lot of doom and gloom about the NHS but if you look at his report, it actually says that this is doable and that we can have the kind of NHS that we want, which looks after an ageing population with dignity and respect.
What theyre saying is you need to increase spending in real terms on the back of a strong economy. Weve actually increased spending in this parliament by £5bn but youre right, there is massive pressure on the frontline.
What this report says, and its very much in line with government strategy, is that we need to change the model of care so that were not just depending on hospitals. We need to be much better at looking after people in the community, in their homes, using GP practices, catching people before they get seriously ill.
People have to start taking responsibility for their own healthcare; bosses have to take responsibility for their own employees. If we have a joint endeavour on this, we can start helping people to be healthier, fitter, particularly children in schools.
Here are the main points from Nick Cleggs phone-in.
I think Fiona Woolf is obviously a very credible person … The Home Office did their due diligence and they clearly dont feel that the reasons given somehow disqualify Fiona Woolf from the job. And I havent heard anything yet which suggests to me that the Home Secretary has made the wrong decision.
There will be an urgent question on the NHS Five Year Forward View in the Commons at 10.30am.
Q: Why dont we ask people who come to the UK to bring medical insurance?
We do, says Clegg. The rules on this are being tightened up, he says.
Nick Ferrari plays an excerpt from the Ukip Calypso.
Q: What do you think of it?
Q: What can be done to improve dental care for kids?
Clegg says lots of children turn up to school with poor teeth. He will look into this. He asks the caller if having a healthy meal at lunchtime helps. Absolutely, says the caller.
Q: Your election strategist, Ryan Coetzee, was photographed with a paper showing your election priorities. Is he not fit for purpose?
Clegg says there is no secret what the Lib Dem priorities are. If he had announced this, the media would have taken no notice.
Q: [From a Canadian] What are you going to do about the way legal immigrants are being disadvantaged? People like me with indefinite leave to remain need to have a document to apply for jobs and housing. But it takes four or five months to get this. And we cannot work until we get it. I cannot even apply for benefits, even though I have lived here for more than 30 years.
Clegg says he does not know the details of this. He will take the callers details, and get back to him.
Q: A recent poll showed you coming bottom out of the main four party leaders on trust. Why?
Clegg says polls come and go. As soon as the Lib Dems went into coalition, they lost some support.
Q: Do you agree with Theresa May that Harry Roberts, the police killer, should be freed.
Clegg says this is decision for the probation board.
Q: What do you think about asylum seekers who commit serious offences? Should they be deported?
Clegg says people cannot come here, expect generosity, and then abuse that.
Q: What do you think of Theresa Mays judgment in appointing Fiona Woolf to head the child abuse inquiry? Shouldnt Woolf have to resign? It smells of a cover-up.
Clegg says he does not entirely agree.
Q: Last week you said, in relation to Ched Evans, that footballers were role models. Arent MPs role models too?
Clegg says opinion in Sheffield is divided over Evans. Some people think he should be allowed to play again. Clegg says he thinks the club should bear in mind that players are role models.
Q: What do you think of the threat to cancel a show in Paris because someone in the audience was wearing a veil?
Clegg says he does not know about this story.
Overnight the main news has been the NHS Five Year Forward View report. Denis Campbell has written it up in the Guardian splash and heres how his story starts.
The NHS is asking for an additional £8bn by 2020 to implement a radical plan, including switching funding from hospitals into other services including GP surgeries, which bosses say is vital to ensure the service can safeguard its future.
NHS bosses warn the Westminster parties to accept the need for the services funding to increase from just under £100bn this year to around £120bn by the end of the next parliament an extra £8bn on top of planned increases in line with inflation or risk patients suffering severe consequences.