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Category Archives: Liberal Democrats
Rolling coverage of all the days political developments, including the dispute between the Lib Dems and Number 10 over a Home Office report on drugs policy and a debate on migrant rescue Continue reading…
Rolling coverage of all the days political developments, including the dispute between the Lib Dems and Number 10 over a Home Office report on drugs policy and a debate on migrant rescue
A Labour MEP is going to push for an inquiry at the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee of the European parliament. Claude Moraes, who chairs the committee, said:
Saving lives is not an issue of encouraging or discouraging migration – nor is it a push or pull factor. It is a moral duty to save those in distress at sea. It is a matter of observing the basic norms of maritime law.
Human traffickers will not lose business because we do not assist boats in distress. People take the risk of the perilous journey because there is still hope that they will survive the crossing and it is still the best option they have.
Maurice Wren, chief executive of the Refugee Council, has rejected the governments argument that search and rescue operations encourage people to take perilous journeys, calling it an affront to basic humanity.
The suggestion that if we allow people to drown at sea it will deter others from fleeing persecution is macabre logic.
Future generations will surely look back with shame at the British governments response to the greatest refugee crisis in generations, as it stands on our island, pulls up the drawbridge and callously leaves desperate people to drown while telling them its in their best interests.
Labour MPs have effectively been accusing the government of letting migrants drown to sound tough on immigration in the face of Tory voters switching to Ukip.
Former Labour prime minister Tony Blair has given an interesting interview to Progress, saying it is a bad idea to ape Ukip in the hope of winning back lose voters.
Lets be clear: We dont think that Ukips right, not on immigration and not on Europe so the first thing youve got to be really careful of doing is saying things that suggest that theyre kind of justified in their policy because what youre actually going to do is validate their argument when in fact you dont believe in it.
Tony Blair says both Miliband and Blair are validating Ukip’s argument by following its agenda. http://t.co/Fuanekj5i2 He’s right, too.
Lord Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader and foreign envoy, has made in important intervention on the subject of stopping migrant rescue missions.
Former lib dem leader, Lord Ashdown, says letting migrants drown in the Med is a discreditable policy and contrary to the law of the sea
The Labour backbencher who successfully got to ask an urgent question on the issue was Mark Lazarowicz, MP for Edinburgh North and Leith. This is what he said:
You know that many of those seeking to make this journey are fleeing war, poverty and starvation from places like Syria and Libya.
They know already about the risks of dying… they are exploited by people-traffickers, as you have accepted. If they are picked up by European neighbours or border control, they know that they are not going to be given free entry to Europe but are quite likely to end up in a detention centre in Italy or be sent back to their country of origin.
Surely it is obvious that the refugees and migrants making these journeys are so desperate they will still make these terrible journeys anyway and the idea that search and rescue operations should be discontinued and people left to die in their thousands to discourage others from making the journey is not just cruel and inhumane, but totally without logic.
Labour MPs have been reacting like this:
Minister James Brokenshi in House worming out of responsibility for non rescue policy for Mediterranean migrants facing drowning. Shame.
Just put a question to the Immigration Minister in an Urgent Question on Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean. No real response.
Just replied for the Opposition on search and rescue policy for boats carrying migrants and refugees, governed by international maritime law
This is a summary of what Brokenshire said in the debate:
We have agreed to a request from Frontex, the EUs border management agency, to deploy a debriefing expert in support of the new Frontex Operation Triton off the southern Italian coast.
This operation is not designed to replace Mare Nostrum but will instead patrol close to EU borders.
We stand ready to consider any further request for UK support for the new Frontex operation…
Those [search and rescue] matters are matters for member states individually in respect of their territorial waters and therefore it is ultimately a decision for Italy as to how it conducts its search and rescue matters.
In respect of the Frontex operation that I have outlined, that is providing surveillance capability and other support in respect of the border.
But I find it inconceivable to suggest, and indeed the head of Frontex has said this, that if a boat were in peril that support would not be provided in those circumstances and that obviously rescue would be undertaken
Ian Lucas, a Labour MP, points out that the government has supported air strikes in Syria. He says there is a moral obligation to help people fleeing war zones where the UK is involved.
Home Office minister tells MPs operations to rescue drowning migrant in the Med “need to end at the earliest opportunity”
Barry Gardiner, a Labour shadow minister, accuses Brokenshire of sophistry. He says there must be more action to stop people leaving north Africa before the rescue missions are stopped. He says:
Why is it the minister is taking the safety net away while people are still falling out of the burning building?
David Jones, the Tory former welsh secretary, says the root cause of the problem is the people traffickers. The best thing to do would be an information campaign in north Africa, he says.
Many Labour MPs have been making the point that you can do education work in north Africa as well as rescuing migrants from drowning.
Brokenshire has just dodged a question on whether he can estimate how many lives would be saved by withdrawing the search and rescue missions.
Margot James, a Tory MP and parliamentary aide to William Hague, sounded like she was about to criticise the government but stopped short:
The wars in the Middle East are so dire that Europe is unlikely to be able to impact on the push factors in the near term… Europe needs to face up to its responsibilities more than they are doing to date.
Sheila Gilmore, a Labour MP, calls for more evidence that this will stop deaths before the rescue efforts are axed.
This is what one SNP MP had to say:
Said to the minister that this monstrous race to the bottom with UKIP on immigration is now leaving people to drown in the Mediterranean
Tory rightwinger David Nuttall argues that it would help reduce the pull-factor if the government made it a specific criminal offence to enter the UK illegally.
Brokenshire is keeping his calm in the face of some very angry MPs on the Labour benches.
Jeremy Lefroy, a Tory backbencher, is a voice of dissent among the Conservatives. He asks the government to think again. The rescue efforts should not be withdrawn before better help is in place for migrants in north Africa trying to flee to Europe, he says.
But David Winnick, the veteran Labour backbencher, says this policy can be summed up in three words: Let them drown.
Sir Tony Baldry, a church commissioner and Tory backbencher, supports the government. He stresses it was a unanimous decision by EU member states.
It was never the intention of the UN convention on refugees that if anyone was trafficked from a third country into Europe that they would automatically be given indefinite leave to remain.
Diane Abbott, the Labour backbencher, is up in the Commons and sounding furious.
She compares the decision to the British navy forcing the Exodus ship carrying Jews who were trying to escape the holocaust to go back to Europe. She says the UK will look back in shame at both situations.
Sir Richard Ottaway, the former chairman of the foreign affairs select committee, has given the government his support.
Brokenshire confirms there will still be Italian-led rescue efforts within 50 miles of the coast.
Keith Vaz, the Labour chairman of the home affairs committee, says it will be an unintended consequences that more people will drown in the Mediterranean, even though he understands why governments do not want to give succour to traffickers.
He says the best thing to do is trying to stop people leaving north Africa in the first place.
Sarah Teather, the Lib Dem former childrens minister, has accused the government of washing its hands of drowning refugees Pontius Pilate-style.
She said it was absurd and deeply unethical for the government to claim that people fleeing war zones will be discouraged from taking the risk.
Brokenshire insists that the decision to change the policy is not about short term concerns about immigration but a wider strategic stance aimed at saving lives.
Brokenshire has accused Labour of politicising the issue. He claims all the EU member states have agreed the current course of action.
He denies the UK government will be responsible for deaths, blaming this on the traffickers who take migrants on boats through dangerous waters.
Johnson demands to know whether the UK will provide just one immigration officer as its contribution to dealing with the problem of 150,000 people who need rescuing from the Med each year
She says is is a legal obligation to save people at risk on the seas.
Diana Johnson, a shadow Home Office minister, says the government is just trying to appear tough on immigration ahead of the Rochester byelection with terrible consequences. She says there is no evidence at all that this will work to reduce people getting on dangerous boats.
Instead of trying to reduce this appalling loss of life, the government is going to let it increase… This is a barbaric abandonment of British values.
Brokenshire insists the governments change in position is saving lives, rather than costing them.
Philip Davies, the right-wing Tory backbencher, says the rescue efforts are encouraging people to try their luck to get into Europe illegally
James Brokenshire, a Home Office minister, is defending the governments position on stopping the UKs efforts to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean.
Brokenshire says it is in no ones interest to encourage more and more people to make the dangerous crossing. He stressed the end of rescue operations would have to be widely publicised to prevent more loss of life.
Whenever drugs policy is in the news, its always fun to remind people of what David Cameron used to think (or say he thought). This is from the Independent in 2005:
David Cameron, the Tory leadership contender, believes the UN should consider legalising drugs and wants hard-core addicts to be provided with legal shooting galleries and state-prescribed heroin.
He also supported calls for ecstasy to be downgraded from the class-A status it shares with cocaine and heroin and said it would be disappointing if radical options on the law on cannabis were not looked at.
The case for drugs reform is made by Green MP Caroline Lucas in our pages today ahead of her debate in the Commons on the issue. This is an extract:
On 20 July 2013, Martha Fernback swallowed half a gram of MDMA powder and died. She was 15 years old. Martha should be celebrating her 17th birthday today. She isnt because the current drug laws failed to protect her. Because prohibition hasnt stopped risk taking, but it has made those risks worse.
On Marthas birthday her mother, Anne-Marie Cockburn, will be in parliament to listen to MPs debating whether or not the terms of the Misuse of Drugs Act should be based on an assessment of the best possible evidence.
Aside from the drugs row, heres a quick round-up of all the other political stories of the day:
Conveniently for the Lib Dems, drugs policy will be discussed in the House of Commons today. The backbench debate was brought about after a petition of more than 100,000 members of the public and it is due to start at approximately 12.10pm.
Norman Baker, the Lib Dem minister in charge of drugs policy, will be responding for the government. He may have to tread carefully in what he says, as some of his criticisms of the Conservatives resistance to reform have been said in the context of his job as a Lib Dem MP this morning. Those proposing the motion are Green MP Caroline Lucas, Lib Dem MP Dr Julian Huppert, and Labour MP Bob Ainsworth
That this House notes that drug-related harms and the costs to society remain high; further notes that the independent UK Drugs Policy Commission highlighted the fact that Government is spending around £3 billion a year on policies that are often counter-productive; believes that an evidence-based approach is required in order for Parliament and the Government to pursue the most effective drugs policy in the future; welcomes the recommendation of the Home Affairs Select Committee in its Ninth Report of 2012-13, HC 184, that the Government consider all the alternatives to the UKs failing drug laws and learn from countries that have adopted a more evidence-based approach; notes that the Government has responded positively to this recommendation and is in the process of conducting an international comparators study to consider the effectiveness of national drug policies adopted by a range of countries; and calls on the Government to conduct an authoritative and independent cost-benefit analysis and impact assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and to publish the results of those studies within the next 12 months.
I have an updated the schedule below as there will be an urgent question later this morning about the end of search and rescue operations for migrants in the Mediterranean to be asked by Labour MP Mark Lazarowicz
On the subject of the poll showing the Greens have overtaken the Lib Dems, Clegg sounds relaxed:
We clearly have suffered in the polls, thats obvious… Do I think we are going to do a whole lot better? … I strongly suspect we will have a whole lot more MPs [than the Greens or Ukip] in the next parliament.
Clegg is now talking about child abuse and Ann Coffeys report suggesting hundreds of children in care have gone missing. He says the enormity and the scale of the tragedy keeps on growing but it is not the fault of politicians that they did not know about it.
People have to be held to account for what happened in the past and things must be set right now, he added.
Asked about comments by Michael Wilshaw, the Ofsted chief inspector, suggesting some schools are struggling with an influx of migrants, Clegg says the government has been giving more money to schools to help with children who need it and if there is pressure on places, they need the proper resources.
Clegg is repeating his position on recall, saying Zac Goldsmiths position of allowing the electorate to decide when an MP should be sacked is rich mans recall that could leave it open to abuse by vested interests.
Clegg blames the Italians for the winding down of search and rescue methods for drowning migrants in the Mediterranean.
It was a decision taken by the Italian government. They decided they didnt want to continue with search and rescue… The first thing to say is that we must play our part as a country to make sure people want to stay put and not illegally try and move great distances to another country.
Its not for us to second guess the Italian governments stance. Were being led by what the Italians tell us.
Clegg is now asked about security for senior politicians after a jogger ran into David Cameron as he left an event in Leeds.
The deputy prime minister said the security team is very good and the culture here is that they dont go overboard like in the US. He feels like they strike the right balance.
The questioning moves on the £1.7bn EU bombshell bill. Has David Cameron made a dogs dinner of it all, asks the caller?
Nick Clegg defends the prime minister and echoes his position: Were not going to pay this money by December 1.
Clegg has now laid into the Conservatives, saying they have a totally outdated, misplaced backward looking view that the public will not accept drugs reform.
However, he denies it is a row, saying it is a staunch difference of opinion.
Clegg is being challenged by Nick Ferrari over whether people would be happy to see the state fund someones methadone when others are fighting to get cancer drugs.
The deputy prime minister says:
It is monumentally expensive to chuck people behind bars for a few months [for drugs offences], only to see them come out and get more addicted to harder drugs.
Clegg says he hopes todays report on drugs is a wake-up call for David Cameron and Ed Miliband.
He is not not clear whether addicts should be given surrogate drugs or helped to go cold-turkey by health professionals. The deputy prime minister defers to the experts.
Nick Clegg gets a soft first question on drugs from the first LBC caller, asking him to set out his views. He says the war on drugs is not working and we have to get away from the facile view that talking tough sorts the problem,
He says the report was published after lots of foot-dragging from the Conservatives and he is not going to hide his frustration with his coalition partners.
I do not support a free-for-all. I want to see more criminalisation of the pushers. I want to see more pushers behind bars but I want to see help for addicts.
Norman Baker, a Lib Dem and the Home Office minister in charge of drugs policy, has been all over the airwaves this morning promoting the report. However, Downing Street sources argue it provides no support whatsoever for the Lib Dems policy of decriminalisation. Baker has already hit back, pointing out that it was signed off by both himself and Theresa May, the Conservative home secretary. He told Sky News:
Nothing in the report says about letting drug dealers off scot-free and its not Lib Dem policy anyway to let drug dealers off scot-free. Ive just indicated to you that we want to get harder on drug dealers.
So I fear this is Number 10 back-pedalling because theyve got inconvenient facts. The facts are weve had an independent study conducted by civil servants and some of my Conservative colleagues apparently dont like the evidence thats come out. But if you look at a tree, its a tree.
The reality is this report has been sitting around for several months. Ive been trying to get it out and Im afraid I believe that my coalition colleagues who commissioned the report jointly dont like the independent conclusions its reached… It was suppressed, not by Theresa May, but it was suppressed by the Conservatives. And the reality is its got some inconvenient truths in it.
Morning everyone. This is Rowena Mason, standing in for Andrew Sparrow on the Politics Live blog on Thursday, 30 October. Well have a readers edition tomorrow and normal service from Andrew will resume next week.
Drugs policy is top of the news this morning, with the Lib Dems and Tories trading blows over a report from the Home Office.
Calls to include party in BBCs general election TV leader debates are likely to increase after it comes fourth in pollThe Green party is ahead of the Liberal Democrats in a national opinion poll a finding that intensified pressure for the Greens to be …
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.
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