Which laws should we scrap?

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Submitted by Marcus on Thu, 2010-07-01 08:03

In a historic move, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is asking people to submit ideas about which UK laws need to be scrapped.

He has already set up a website for contributions called "Your Freedom":


It remains to be seen whether the Government will actually act on the popular suggestions, or if it will just end up as a glorified talking shop.

After a quick look through I have seen some encouraging proposals such as the decriminalizing of drugs, allowing protests outside parliament, removing restrictions on fire-arm use, overturning anti-smoking ban and removing restrictions on Sunday trading.

So my question to SOLOists is what law or regulation would you repeal if you could choose just one?

I think I would overturn the ability of the Treasury to prosecute people for not paying taxes. (Assuming that is just one law.)

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Cameron intervenes to settle row over emissions targets

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Cameron intervenes to settle row over emissions targets

"David Cameron has moved to resolve a Cabinet row over the UK's climate change targets, with an agreement on emissions to be announced on Tuesday.

This will see drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to 2027 and a overhaul of the way energy is produced.

But ministers worried about the impact on the economy and burdens on industry have secured a get-out clause.

The targets will be reviewed if European nations backslide on their own climate commitments.

The BBC understands the prime minister intervened after leaked letters showed a disagreement between energy and climate change secretary Chris Huhne and Lib Dem colleague, Business Secretary Vince Cable, on whether to accept the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change on emissions cuts...

Mr Cameron is already under fire over environmental policy with critics saying he has failed to keep his promise to create the greenest government ever. If he had rejected the climate committee's advice, environmentalists claim he would have lost all credibility."

No 10 blocks plan to ban wild animals performing in circuses

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No 10 blocks plan to ban wild animals performing in circuses

"Downing Street has blocked plans by ministers to ban lions, tigers and other wild animals from performing in circuses, according to animal welfare groups.

For 12 months ministers at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have repeatedly indicated their support for stopping wild animals performing tricks in the big top, but No 10, which wishes to reduce Government regulation, is understood to have vetoed the decision during the past fortnight.

Ministers are expected to announce a system of self-regulation by circuses within days."

Thatcher's legacy: UK 'is the only nation working harder

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Thatcher's legacy: UK 'is the only nation working harder than in the 1980s'

Iron lady: Margaret Thatcher broke the backs of trade unions across the country

"Britain is the only country whose people work harder than they did in the 1980s, an international study has found.

Margaret Thatcher’s workplace revolution has seen Britons working more hours per week than when she was in Number Ten.

The former Tory prime minister’s success at cracking down on union restrictive practices and freeing the country’s entrepreneurial spirit means we work much harder than we used to.

Meanwhile, across Europe, people now work fewer hours than they did in the 1980s."

Cameron praises the way media polices itself

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Cameron praises the way media polices itself

"David Cameron yesterday praised the media for its system of self-regulation – as he waded into the debate over whether fresh privacy laws are needed.

The Prime Minister said the Press Complaints Commission deserved recognition for its effective role, adding that he did not want to see it replaced by statutory regulation of newspapers.

Mr Cameron also told Radio 4’s Today programme he was concerned about the growth of super-injunctions, which allow the rich and powerful to suppress reporting.

Critics say ministers should draw up new privacy laws rather than leaving the courts to lay down judgements based on European human rights rules.
Mr Cameron said there was room for a 'debate' on the issue, but indicated that he believed the traditional system of press self-regulation would be more effective than new privacy laws."

Labour fury at David Cameron sexism

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Labour fury as David Cameron tells Angela Eagle: 'Calm down, dear'

"Labour has asked David Cameron to apologise after he told the shadow chief secretary, Angela Eagle, to "calm down, dear" at prime minister's questions.

Cameron made his remarks as he faced pressure over hospital waiting times.

The prime minister repeated "calm down" several times until the Speaker, John Bercow, had to interrupt proceedings to quieten things down.

Labour's official spokesman branded his remarks as "sexist, insulting and patronising". The party called on Cameron to apologise, saying his comments had been, at the least, not prime ministerial and were arrogant.

A No 10 spokesman said Cameron's remarks had been intended to be light-hearted and were a reference to a Michael Winner advertisement, selling insurance, in which he says: "Calm down, dear".

Eagle had become agitated after Cameron attempted to read a quote from the former Labour MP Howard Stoate backing the government's NHS reforms.

He claimed Stoate had been defeated at the last election by a Conservative candidate when – as Eagle was pointing out – Stoate had in fact stood down.

His remarks caused uproar on the Labour front bench, which believes Cameron betrays an arrogance when under pressure.

At a previous prime minister's questions, he had attacked Ed Balls, describing him as the "most annoying MP at Westminster".

Government borrowing falls and retail sales rise

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Government borrowing falls and retail sales rise to boost George Osborne

"The government received a boost today when public borrowing for the last financial year came in nearly £5bn lower than expected and retail sales in March showed a surprise rise.

Excluding the impact of bank bailouts, the government borrowed £18.6bn in March, bringing the total for the financial year to £141.1bn, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics. This was less than the £145.9bn forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility, the tax and spending watchdog.

George Osborne's fiscal squeeze – which includes £81bn of spending cuts and hundreds of thousands of job losses – is expected to kick in fully from this month so the City will be watching closely how fast the public finances improve over coming months.

"If the UK economy can keep growing and fiscal austerity continues at its planned pace, then there is a very good chance that the government can achieve its aim of a zero structural deficit [that part of the deficit not explained by cyclical fluctuations] within the current parliament," said ING economist James Knightley.

He said: "After last week's good trade and employment numbers, it perhaps offers hope that the underlying picture of activity isn't as bad as many analysts believe and that the scaling back of market interest rate hike expectations is overdone."

Prime Minister is festival's poster boy

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Prime Minister is festival's poster boy

"WHAT would David Cameron look like today if he had been inspired by gothic music instead of politics?

That very pressing question has been answered by the organisers of the Witney Music Festival, with a series of new promotional posters by Wantage artist Ian Cater.

And the six illustrations – of Mr Cameron as a choir boy, hippy, rapper, cowboy, punk and goth – have received the Prime Minister’s backing.

Mr Cameron said: “My children found them particularly amusing – and I hope I can get my own set soon. The cowboy one really made me laugh.”


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Royal wedding: Cameron urges street party celebrations

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Cameron urges street party celebrations

"The prime minister has called on the nation to "get on and have fun" on the day of the royal wedding, urging Britons to organise street parties.

David Cameron warns councils "not to interfere", after reports of "petty bureaucracy".

He says 29 April will be a "chance [to]... celebrate the great things about our country".

It comes after recent figures revealed 4,000 applications for street parties in England and Wales.

An estimated two million people will take part in street parties to celebrate the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.

On Monday, Mr Cameron is in the north of England with his wife, Samantha, to promote street celebrations...

Mr Cameron said: "Samantha and I will be holding one in Downing Street and bringing together local people and charities.

"It's incredibly simple. All you need to do is to get in touch with your council if you need to close the road. They'll let you know if there are any issues.

"My message to everyone who wants to have a street party is: I'm having one and I want you to go ahead and have one too.

"The truth is that this is a great chance for communities to come together and celebrate.

"So go on - bring out the bunting and let's make this a day to remember. For everyone."

Minister for health and safety Chris Grayling said: "The royal wedding will be a great national occasion and I want to reassure everyone that they can have street parties with friends and family and bring out the bunting to celebrate in time-honoured British tradition.

"There is no reason whatsoever for anyone to ban these celebrations on the grounds of health and safety. We are restoring common sense to our health and safety system, ensuring it is there to protect people at work not penalise people at leisure."

Bin police are given their marching orders

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Bin police are given their marching orders

"Ministers will move to outlaw fines for petty infringements of bin rules in a shake-up of local authority powers to be unveiled next month, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

In a major victory for campaigners, ministers say they are to limit local authorities' power to impose "immoral" charges and fines for minor mistakes to do with recycling and rubbish.

Councils will no longer be able to fine people for failing to close a bin lid; leaving bin bags next to a bin; putting a bin out on the wrong day; failing to move it back inside the boundary of a property; or making minor mistakes with recycling.

Only the most severe cases of fly-tipping will be subject to penalties.

The law change comes after a long campaign [in this newspaper] against bin charges and repeated promises by ministers that they are about to act."

US Budget Deal Avoids Government Shutdown

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"Under the agreement to be considered by the House and Senate later this week, Pentagon spending would rise nearly $5 billion this year — about $2 billion less than the increase initially sought by Republicans — while non-defense programs would receive targeted cuts as well as a $1 billion across-the-board decrease that would bring net spending reductions to about $38.5 billion."

Aid is certain to be a casualty of US federal budget cuts

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Aid is certain to be a casualty of US federal budget cuts

"It's crunch time on Capitol Hill on Friday. If an agreement on billions of dollars in spending cuts in this year's federal budget is not reached today, the US will face the first government shutdown in 15 years.

Though the dust will take time to settle, whatever the outcome, one of the casualties will almost certainly be US foreign aid, which constitutes less than 1% of the federal budget.

According to the US Global Leadership Coalition, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief programmes would be cut down by 41%, food security and food aid programmes would be slashed by 30% and multilateral contributions would drop by 40%, under budget proposals put forward by congressional Republicans.

Meanwhile, resources for global health programmes would fall by 11%, including a 43% reduction to US contributions for the Global Fund to fight Aids, TB and Malaria. Also on the chopping block is former president George Bush's global Aids programme, PEPFAR.

Republican budget proposals also aim to reinstate the Mexico city rule, which would block federal funding to family planning programmes in developing countries if they give help, or advice, on abortions.

Many of these proposed cuts have come as a surprise, particularly as global health and food security have traditionally garnered substantial bipartisan support...

Whatever the outcome of this budget struggle, though, bigger battles will come this summer in Congress. The 2012 budget proposed on Tuesday by Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House budget committee, would reduce federal spending by $5.8 trillion over the next decade: a 29% cut next year to international affairs and foreign assistance, and 44% by 2016. Defence spending would rise by 14% over the same period.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee, is also expected to submit a bill next week that would overhaul the way the US pays its dues to the United Nations. While the 192-member UN general assembly currently decides how much each country should pay, Ros-Lehtinen wants Washington to be able to decide which programmes to fund. Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, travelled to Capitol Hill on Thursday to defend the work and justify the multi-billion-dollar cost of the UN.

Another longer-term challenge facing US humanitarian assistance lies in the relatively widespread public support received by proposals to cut the foreign aid budget. A recent Gallup poll, for example, suggests that foreign aid is the only part of the federal budget that most Americans think should be cut. So the future of American international aid will remain uncertain, regardless of how today plays out.

However, according to data released on Wednesday by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US was still the world's biggest aid donor in 2010, spending $30.2bn – the largest aid disbursement ever recorded by a single donor, which is still less than 1% of the federal budget."

Parties fail to break US budget deadlock

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Parties fail to break US budget deadlock

"The US began preparations to stand down nearly 1m workers and suspend services ranging from processing tax returns to national parks as a government shutdown loomed over stalled budget talks.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress remained deadlocked over a budget agreement for the final six months of the current fiscal year, ahead of a deadline on Friday when funding for the government runs out...

Democrats say they have agreed to a further $33bn in cuts for this fiscal year but the Republican leadership, under pressure from the Tea Party, is pressing for larger reductions, reportedly as high as $40bn...

Senior administration officials said on Wednesday about 800,000 federal government workers would be temporarily laid off and services suspended as long as there was no budget to support them.

National parks would be closed, processing of paper tax returns suspended, government websites stopped and housing loans guaranteed by the federal government also suspended.

During the peak tourist season in Washington, the National Zoo would close, as would iconic museums like the Smithsonian.

However, emergency services, defined as those covering “safety of life and protection of property”, which include policing and large parts of the military, would remain open."

Minister Greg Barker defends Thatcher cuts comment

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Minister Greg Barker defends Thatcher cuts comment

"A minister has been forced to defend a speech in which he said the government was "making cuts that Margaret Thatcher could only have dreamt of".

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker came under fire after making the remark to an audience in the US.

Labour's Angela Eagle accused him of "letting the cat out of the bag" over the coalition's true agenda.

But Mr Barker said ministers had been forced to take tough decisions because of the previous government's mistakes.

Conservative MP Mr Barker was speaking at the Darla Moore School of Business in Columbia on Friday.

"We have a clear and absolute mission and that is to deal with our overweening budget deficit and as a result were having to set about some very tough cuts," he told the audience of academics.

"We are making cuts that I think Margaret Thatcher, back in the 1980s, could only have dreamt of.

"Many government departments are seeing their budgets slashed by up to 30%. We are questioning the whole range of government programmes, some of them really quite good, but simply recognising there isn't the money there to do it."

He said the government was committed to reducing the UK's budget deficit by 75% over four years, and although unpleasant, the move was "an unprecedented piece of good housekeeping in British history".

Reacting to the speech, shadow Treasury secretary Ms Eagle said: "Greg Barker has let the cat out the bag about the ideological agenda behind this Tory-led government's deep cuts to public services.

"But while Conservatives might dream about deep cuts, for millions of families it's more like a nightmare.

As Nick Clegg himself admitted last month, it was the government's political choice to cut further and faster than any other major country in the world."

Three jails are to be privatised

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To clarify, there are already 11 privately run prisons in the UK, but Birmingham will be the first prison to be privatised from being a state run prison - rather than a newly built private prison.

Fears of mass prison officer strike as Justice Secretary announces three jails are to be privatised

The Government is on a collision course with prison officers after announcing plans to privatise jails, sparking threats of industrial action.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said private sector contractors will run three prisons in England, with HMP Birmingham moving from the public sector to private contractor G4S from October.

Doncaster prison will become the first to be run on a 'payment by results' basis, with contractor Serco getting its full payment only if reoffending rates are reduced, Mr Clarke told the Commons.

The new Featherstone 2 prison will be run by G4S but Buckley Hall in Rochdale will remain under the control of the Prison Service.

The Prison Officers Association (POA) said it would not rule out industrial action, describing the announcement as a 'disgrace'.

Hundreds of prison officers held a meeting outside Birmingham Prison, which holds 1,400 inmates, minutes after the announcement was made in the Commons.

POA general secretary Steve Gillan said: 'This is a disgraceful decision which is politically driven and morally repulsive.'

George Osborne fuels economy with cut in petrol duty

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Budget 2011

"The Chancellor told the House of Commons that he had “put fuel into the tank of the British economy” as he announced that petrol duty would be reduced by 1p a litre from 6pm this evening.

In a move designed to help drivers suffering from record petrol prices, he cancelled a 1p rise in duty scheduled by the last Labour government for next week, and announced a "Fair Fuel Stabiliser" to keep costs down.

The move will be funded by an increased levy on oil and gas production.

In a 56 minute address, Mr Osborne also announced that corporation tax would be cut by 2 per cent, more than the 1 per cent reduction which was already scheduled, with further 1 per cent falls in coming years.

Funded by an extension of the banking levy, the tax will eventually be slashed to 23% from its current rate of 28%.

And he confirmed plans to raise personal tax allowances to £8,015, a real terms increase of £48 a year, or £126 in cash terms...

Other measures include:

* the creation of 21 enterprise zones.

* energy bills to rise by at least £6 a year as a result of world's first carbon price floor for the power sector.

* a simplified, flat-rate pension to be created, probably at a rate of £140-a-week.

* a £50,000 charge for non-domiciled foreigners who have lived in the United Kingdom for 12 years.

* air passenger duty rise postponed for a year, and a new tax on private jets.

* no futher rise in alcohol duty, tobacco increase brought forward to 6pm today.

* business mileage rate increased from 40p to 45p.

As he concluded his speech, Mr Osborne said: “We want the words ‘Made in Britain,’ ‘Created in Britain,’ Designed in Britain,’ ‘Invented in Britain’ to drive our nation forward.

“A Britain carried aloft by the march of the makers. That is how we will create jobs and support families.”

Labour minister says Tories 'want Muslims out of London'

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Labour minister says Tories 'want Muslims out of London'

Karen Buck, the shadow work and pensions minister, has launched an outspoken attack on the Government, claiming that Tories do not want Muslims in central London.

"The Labour frontbencher said controversial plans to cut housing benefit were designed to force “black women, ethnic minority women and Muslim women” out into the capital’s poorer suburbs.

Her comments immediately prompted calls for her dismissal. Baroness Warsi, Conservative Party Chairman and Britain's first Muslim Cabinet minister, described them as “deeply offensive”.

Ms Buck, who was speaking at a public meeting in Islington, north London, also accused the Tories of being “deeply hostile” to the idea of lower income families having children, according to the Independent.

In comments that will raise alarm within the Labour leadership, she said: "(The Government) do not want lower-income women, families, children and, above all, let us be very clear – because we also know where the impact is hitting – they don't want black women, they don't want ethnic minority women and they don't want Muslim women living in central London.

“They just don't. They want people to be moving out of anywhere that is a more prosperous area into the fringes of London and into places like Barking and Newham. I have nothing against Barking and Newham. The problem is they are already full of people who are quite poor."

She went on: “The Government is one that is deeply hostile to middle- and lower-income women having children.

"When you listen to the Tories speaking in Parliament, there is an arrogance and an ignorance that I have never known in my 13 years in Parliament: basically, thinking that anyone whose income is below the top rate of tax shouldn't have children."

Baroness Warsi said the remarks proved that reactionary politics was “alive and well in the Labour party".

"For Karen Buck to use race, religion and class for political point-scoring is deeply offensive and irresponsible," she said.

The plan to cap housing benefit at £400 a week, which comes into force next month, has prompted a furore with many suggesting it will lead to social segregation."

Leaders clash over NHS reform

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"WHITEHALL’S top manda­rin has slammed the Government over a savage attack by David Cameron on civil servants, it emerged yesterday.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell acted after the Prime Minister “hacked off” senior civil servants by ­branding officials “enemies of enterprise”.

Sir Gus is said to have demanded an explanation from Number 10 chief Jeremy Heywood, who is believed to have admitted Downing Street recognised it had not handled the matter well.

The speech had been prepared in a hurry and the headlines were not those Number 10 wanted, he ­reportedly added.

The “enemies of enterprise” quote was among extracts briefed to journalists on the eve of Mr Cameron’s speech to the Tory spring conference in Cardiff earlier this month. Downing Street yesterday refused to be drawn on whether Mr Cameron regretted his choice of phrase.

Mr Cameron was warned yesterday against going to war on civil servants.

Ex-Labour adviser Paul Richard said: “Officials get their revenge by leaking ­stories against ministers who publicly criticise them.”

Oh my god! Not competition! Anything, but that!

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Doctors 'want halt to NHS plans but reject opposition'

"Doctors have called on the government to put a halt to its overhaul of the NHS in England, but have stopped short of opposing the plans outright.

Instead, an emergency meeting of the British Medical Association urged ministers to withdraw the health bill so the plans could be looked at again.

The plans pave the way for increased competition in the NHS - something the union said was "dangerous and risky".

But the government said the BMA should be trying to be more constructive.

The emergency meeting - the first of its kind for nearly 20 years - has been called by the BMA leadership after concerns from its grassroots membership about the plans.

The motion voted in favour of by delegates says withdrawing the health bill is needed so that the controversial and more radical elements of the legislation can be considered again.

But a motion calling for outright opposition of the plans was narrowly rejected, while delegates also voted against a motion of no confidence in Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The union fears increased competition from the private sector could harm hospitals, perhaps even forcing some to close.

BMA leader Dr Hamish Meldrum said he would rather see the NHS as the preferred provider instead of having a level playing field with the big health companies.

He told the BBC it was now time to be "ratcheting up" the concerns."

Government unveils libel law reforms

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Government unveils libel law reforms

"The government on Tuesday unveiled sweeping changes to the libel laws aimed at protecting freedom of speech and bringing an end to so-called "libel tourism" from abroad.

Ken Clarke, the justice secretary, published a draft bill that includes a new "public interest" defence which can be used by defendants in defamation cases and a requirement that claimants can demonstrate substantial harm before they can sue.

The bill will also signal an end to the use of juries in libel trials apart from in exceptional circumstances, and aims to end libel tourism by making it tougher to bring overseas claims which have little connection to the UK in the English courts.

Clarke, unveiling the draft bill on Tuesday alongside minister of state for justice Lord McNally, said the bill would "ensure that anyone who makes a statement of fact or expresses an honest opinion can do so with confidence".

"The right to speak freely and debate issues without fear of censure is a vital cornerstone of a democratic society," he added.

"In recent years, though, the increased threat of costly libel actions has begun to have a chilling effect on scientific and academic debate and investigative journalism."

Million-strong strike planned over pensions

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Million-strong strike planned over pensions

Schools, universities, courts and job centres could all be shut down in June in response to review's recommendations

"Trade unions representing a million state employees are drawing up plans for strikes that could bring Britain's schools, universities, courts and Whitehall to a standstill as early as June in protest over government plans to end so-called "gold-plated" public sector pensions, the Guardian has learned.

Lord Hutton, the Labour former work and pensions secretary charged by the coalition with reviewing public sector pensions, will publish his final report on Thursday, and it now looks likely to act as a starting gun for extended industrial action against the government's austerity programme.

The report will recommend that 6 million nurses, teachers, local government and other public sector workers should pay more into their pension pots, retire later and receive less when they do. All state employees will be affected, and it will create the first legal basis for simultaneous strikes across the public service unions.

Under the plans, the normal pension age of 60 would increase to match the state pension age, which by 2020 will be 66 for men and women. The changes should be brought in by the end of this parliament, though the armed forces should get longer to implement them, Hutton says."

Poppy-burning fine not a strong enough punishment

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Poppy-burning fine not a strong enough punishment, says David Cameron

Prime minister says the burning of poppies on Remembrance Day was 'out of order and has no place in a tolerant society'

"David Cameron has suggested that a court was too lenient in fining a man £50 for burning poppies at an Armistice day event.

The prime minister said Britain should make a "stronger statement" that the incident was "completely out of order and has no place in a tolerant society".

Emdadur Choudhury, a 26-year-old member of Muslims Against Crusades, was fined £50 on Monday after burning two large plastic poppies during a two-minute silence on 11 November.

In a ruling at Woolwich crown court, district judge Howard Riddle said: "The two-minute chanting, when others were observing a silence, followed by a burning of the symbol of remembrance, was a calculated and deliberate insult to the dead and those who mourn or remember them."

Council tax to be frozen in England

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Council tax to be frozen in England as local authorities cut services

Council tax bills will be frozen next year as town hall chiefs cut services rather than passing on the cost of slashed budgets to householders, it will be confirmed today.

"As a result of inflation, families in a Band D property, who paid £1,439 last year, will be better off by around £72, or just under £300 if the freeze continues as planned until 2015.

In a victory for the Government, every local authority in England is expected to give in to pressure not to put up bills, even though they will see their funding fall by an average of 5.5 per cent next year.

Instead, and despite calls by ministers to protect frontline services, cuts will be made in areas ranging from libraries to leisure centres and back room staff.

While the Government does not have the power to impose a council tax freeze on local authorities, George Osborne, the Chancellor, used last October’s Comprehensive Spending Review to formulate a heavy incentive for them to comply.

Councils were invited to share in a £650 million grant pot, which ministers said would be sufficient to ensure that they froze bills, and would only be available to those which agreed."

David Cameron Tory conference speech to hail enterprise

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David Cameron Tory conference speech to hail enterprise

"Prime Minister David Cameron will declare war on the "enemies of enterprise" in a speech to the Conservative spring conference.

In what aides are describing as a "new chapter in the economic story of this government", the PM will set out his strategy for kick-starting growth.

He will say it is down to the ingenuity and "spark" of entrepreneurs.

Labour accused Mr Cameron of "warm words but no action" and said the UK "urgently needed" a plan for jobs.

It says the government is wrecking the UK's chances of economic recovery by cutting public spending "too fast and too deep".

The coalition has said there is no alternative to its plans to cut the UK's budget deficit, but aides say Mr Cameron wants to strike a more optimistic note after spending his first 10 months in government talking about tough economic choices.

There will be no new policy announcements in the speech, but Mr Cameron will attempt to set the scene for George Osborne's Budget on 23 March.

The chancellor has already told the Tory conference in Cardiff that his Budget will be "unashamedly pro-growth" and will include 10 new enterprise zones to boost some of the most deprived areas of England.

Mr Cameron will use his speech to reinforce this pro-growth message, and to promise a "fundamental rebalancing of our economy", with "less debt, more saving; less borrowing, more investment; less dependence on financial services, more new industries, exports and trade".

With interest rates at a record low, and no money to spare, the prime minister will say he wants to champion the growth and ingenuity of the British people: "The spark of initiative. The courage to make your dream happen. The hard work to see it through."

He is expected to say: "There's only one strategy for growth we can have now and that is rolling up our sleeves and doing everything possible to make it easier for businesses to grow, to invest, to take people on.

"Back small firms. Boost enterprise. Be on the side of everyone in this country who wants to create jobs, and wealth and opportunity."

David Cameron: The YouTube World View interview

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Number 5 on this week's viral chart.

Cameron surrounded by soft-cocks

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Libya: Cameron plan for no-fly zone shunned by world leaders

"The Prime Minister told MPs on Monday that he wanted Britain and its allies to look at enforcing a ban on flights over Libya to put pressure on Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, meaning British forces would have to commit to shooting down any Libyan aircraft that breached the zone.

Other countries were lukewarm about Mr Cameron’s call, with Russia opposing it outright and France publicly questioning the wisdom of it.

The US distanced itself from the plan, while Turkey said Nato intervention in the north African country would be “unthinkable”.

Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said a no-fly zone was “superfluous” and that world powers must focus on fully using United Nations sanctions. Russia’s consent is required for any backing from the UN because it is a veto-holding member of the Security Council.

Laurent Wauquiez, France’s minister for European affairs, said: “How would it be perceived? Would it not be turned back against us, with people saying: 'The West is attacking because Libya has oil?’ ”

Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, noted that the UN resolution against Libya did not authorise the use of force and that “there is no unanimity within Nato for the use of armed force”.

“The kind of options that have been talked about in the press and elsewhere have their own consequences, so they need to be considered very carefully,” he said. "

When women's lib is a double-edged sword

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Women and pensioners' insurance costs set to rise

"The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has ruled that using differences between men and women as a risk factor in setting premiums for car and medical insurance and pension schemes breaches EU rules on equality.

"Taking the gender of the insured individual into account as a risk factor in insurance contracts constitutes discrimination," the court said in a statement.

The verdict - which applies from December 21 2012 - will force changes in the current standard practice across Europe of basing insurance rates on statistics about differing life expectancies or road accident records of the sexes.

Women could face a jump of 25pc in car insurance premiums in light of the decision, while pension income form men could fall by between 5 and 10pc...

Tom McPhail, head of pensions research, Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “According to the ECJ, Homo Sapiens is now unique in being the only species to boast three genders: Male, female and European.

“This ruling is a seismic event which will fundamentally reshape the retirement landscape. It is now imperative that every investor shops around with their pension fund at retirement; if they don’t they risk ending up with a homogenised standard–issue annuity which is almost certain to be a poor deal for them.”

Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim also condemned it as “utter madness” and a “setback for common sense”.

A recent ABI research paper suggested that some car insurers might initially set their unisex level at the male rate, particularly in the younger age bands. There are also fears that what younger men save on insurance will be spent on faster cars, potentially pushing up claims for this group further."

Move to raise motorway limit to 80mph (= 130km)

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In fact, when there are no traffic jams, most people in this country drive at 90mph on the motorway and get away with it. I know I often drive 80+ and that's not even in the fast lane. So this would not change much. In all my time in the UK, I have never seen any traffic police on the motorway nor received any speeding fine.

Move to raise motorway limit to 80mph 'will boost economy'

"Motorway speed limits could be raised to 80mph and those on city and town roads be reduced, with the decision on restrictions being made as much on cost as on safety. The Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, said yesterday that decisive factors could include the economic benefits of faster travel as well as environmental concerns.

Britain's 70mph motorway speed limit has been in force since 1965 – when it represented the top speed of most cars on the roads at the time. In France and Italy the maximum speed is 81mph while in Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Belgium it is 75mph. Parts of the German autobahn network have no speed limit at all...

The Transport Secretary's comments came as a report from the RAC Foundation found that the number of traffic lights in the UK had risen by 30 per cent between 2000 and 2008, with the number in London increasing by 23 per cent to more than 6,000.

Produced by the former transport and planning chief Irving Yass, the report also revealed that the number of traffic signals equipped to give priority to buses went up from 3,801 at the beginning of 2007 to 8,425 at the end of 2008.

The number of junctions in London with a full pedestrian crossing stage – when all the lights for vehicles are at red – increased from 481 in 2000 to 783 in 2010. The report called for a review of such junctions and said the Department for Transport (DfT) should consider carrying out trials of flashing amber lights at times when there was little traffic, which would allow drivers to proceed with caution."

Cameron condemns the whingeing BBC

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Cameron condemns the whingeing BBC: It's the British Broadcasting Cuts Corporation, he says

"David Cameron has hit out at the BBC for whingeing about his Government’s cuts.

The Prime Minister blasted the ‘British Broadcasting Cuts Corporation’ for publicising every reduction in spending without properly explaining why efficiencies were necessary.

Downing Street is understood to be increasingly frustrated with the way the corporation is reporting the Government’s austerity programme...

Downing Street sources said the Prime Minister has been using the BBCC joke privately for some time.

Mr Cameron believes the corporation is giving too much of a voice to those campaigning against cuts, and is not providing enough balance. Critics say the corporation gives a platform to union leaders and Labour council chiefs who say they are being forced by the Tories to slash front-line services while doing nothing to sack bureaucrats and reduce fat-cat salaries.

The BBC has also allowed scientists to claim cuts would lead to a ‘brain drain’, and police constables to say they would have to sack policemen, risking rises in crime.

One edition of the BBC’s Six O’Clock News carried four separate stories covering the widespread opposition to the Coalition’s planned cuts, and their potentially devastating effect on everything from the Army to the film industry.

Then it reported that the NHS was paying for teenagers suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder to go surfing in Cornwall."

David Cameron hits out at critics of Britain's arms trade

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David Cameron hits out at critics of Britain's arms trade

Prime minister says expecting small countries such as Kuwait to manufacture all their defence weapons is at odds with reality.

"Opponents of Britain's arms trade are "completely at odds with reality", David Cameron said, as he hit out critics of his three-day visit to the Gulf.

In a staunch defence of Britain's arms exports, as he tours the region with a group of senior defence manufacturers, Cameron said it was wrong to leave small Gulf countries to fend for themselves.

Speaking in Kuwait, which is marking the 20th anniversary of the expulsion of Saddam Hussein's forces, Cameron said: "The idea that we should expect small and democratic countries like Kuwait to be able to manufacture all their means of defence seems to me completely at odds with reality."

The prime minister indicated irritation with his critics when was asked during a press conference with his Kuwaiti counterpart how he could promote democracy and reform in the Middle East while travelling with businessmen selling arms to the region.

Cameron said: "I simply don't understand how you can't understand how democracies have a right to defend themselves. I would have thought this argument is particularly powerful right here in Kuwait which, 20 years ago, was invaded by a thuggish bullying neighbour who disrespected your sovereignty, invaded your country and destroyed parts of your capital city.

He added: "Are we honestly saying that for all time, forever and a day, that countries like Kuwait have to manufacture and maintain every single part of their own defences? I think very few people considering that argument for any time would give it any consideration at all."

Liam Fox defends Mideast arms sales

"Britain should seek to retain a "healthy slice" of the defence market in the Middle East, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said today.

David Cameron has faced criticism for including defence industry representatives in the trade delegation on his tour of the region, amid concerns that British-made equipment could be used to suppress the current wave of popular unrest.

The Foreign Office has already revoked a series of export licences for Libya and Bahrain in the wake of the government crackdowns on protesters in those countries.

Speaking at the Civitas think tank in London, Dr Fox said that such issues should be dealt with on a "case-by-case" basis, depending on how events developed in the countries concerned.

"We have to recognise that countries have a right of self-defence and not all of them have a defence industry so they will always buy externally," he said.

"I want to make sure the United Kingdom - within the limits that we set ourselves ethically on defence exports - is getting a healthy slice of that.

"There are a great deal of unknowns still out there and we will have to look at things on a case-by-case basis."

Dr Fox also emphasised the importance of the assistance of countries in the Gulf region in getting supplies through to British forces fighting in Afghanistan."

Time to scrap the census?

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Time to scrap the census?

"The 2011 census awareness campaign has launched, aimed at preparing citizens for the nationwide snapshot. The national census, administered in England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics, was introduced in 1801 and is carried out every decade.

But if cabinet office minister Francis Maude gets his way, 27 March could well be the last census day in British history. Maude has argued that the exercise – projected to cost £482m this year – is inefficent and advocates using databases held by a variety of agencies, including credit-checking firms. Others criticise the census as an intrusive breach of privacy and say a large number of people do not take it seriously (nearly 400,000 declared themselves Jedi in 2001). Some have also threatened to boycott this year's census after it was revealed that arms firm Lockheed Martin had been contracted to run it. In the face of criticism, the ONS census director, Glen Watson, has defended it as "a bedrock of information for the next 10 years".

Big Brother Watch statement on the 2011 census

Commenting on the launch of the 2011 census this morning, Daniel Hamilton, Campaign Director of the civil liberties group Big Brother Watch said:

"At 32 pages, the census includes intrusive questions on your proficiency in English, your health, when you last worked, the identities of your overnight guests and the type of central heating you have. The government has no need – and no right – to know this information about you.

"This census is a monumental waste of time and money. A large number of the questions duplicate data already held by the authorities on databases such as the electoral register, school records, tax returns and GP information.

"It also makes the entirely hollow but nevertheless bullying threat of fines of £1,000 for non-compliance.

"Back in 2001, 3 million people refused to comply. Given that there were fewer than 100 prosecutions for not filling the census in, it's clear that non-compliance comes pretty much entirely without repercussions.

"Last time, 390,000 people declared their religion as Jedi. There's no reason to think people will take the census any more seriously this year".

PM paves way for privatisation of public services

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PM paves way for privatisation of public services

"Almost all public services could be opened up to private companies under plans being put forward by Prime Minister David Cameron today.

In an article for the Daily Telegraph, the PM said that "complete change" was needed in the public sector to improve standards for users.

A new presumption that private companies, voluntary groups and charities should be allowed to bid to provide services would allow the Government to transform public services without having to legislate repeatedly to allow different providers to get involved.

The changes, to be set out in a White Paper within the next fortnight, could allow non-public providers to run schools, hospitals and council services such as maintaining parks, adult care, special schools and roads maintenance.

Outside providers would be offered payment-by-results contracts, increasing their earnings as the quality of services improves.

Mr Cameron wrote: "We will create a new presumption - backed up by new rights for public service users and a new system of independent adjudication - that public services should be open to a range of providers competing to offer a better service.

"Of course, there are some areas - like national security services or the judiciary - where this wouldn't make sense. But everywhere else should be open to real diversity."

Mr Cameron said that the changes would release the public sector from "the grip of state control", ending the era of "old-fashioned, top-down, take-what you're-given" services.

The Government hopes that the plan will reduce bureaucracy, improve quality and save money.

But it is certain to be opposed by Labour, the unions and many users of public services. "

How we will release the grip of state control

By David Cameron

"This is vital to give meaning to another key principle: choice. Wherever possible we will increase it, whether it's patients having the freedom to choose which hospital they get treated in or parents having a genuine choice over their child's school.

And to give our principle of choice real bite, we will also create a new presumption that services should be delivered at the lowest possible level. Working from this presumption, we will devolve power even further. For example, we will give more people the right to take control of the budget for the service they receive. In this new world of decentralised, open public services it will be up to government to show why a public service cannot be delivered at a lower level than it is currently; to show why things should be centralised, not the other way round.

Of course, the state will still have a crucial role to play: ensuring fair funding, ensuring fair competition, and ensuring that everyone – regardless of wealth – gets fair access. But these important responsibilities for central government must never become an automatic excuse for returning to central control. That's why our Open Public Services White Paper is so important. The principles it sets out will make it impossible for government to return to the bad old days of the standard state monopoly."

Prisoners' vote compensation claims blocked

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Prisoners' vote compensation claims blocked by high court

Almost 600 prisoners denied right to vote in 2010 general election have launched legal action

"The high court has blocked compensation claims by prisoners who were barred from voting in last year's general election.

Claims have been launched in county courts nationwide by 585 serving prisoners and another 1,000 potential cases are in the pipeline, but Justice Brian Langstaff ruled they were unlikely to succeed.

Convicted prisoners are excluded from voting by the Representation of the People Act 1983, which has been held as incompatible with article three of the European convention on human rights.

This has given rise to litigation on a number of fronts – in the European court of human rights in Strasbourg where 2,500 UK claims are pending, in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and previously in the high court in the case of convicted murderer Peter Chester.

Jason Coppel, representing the Ministry of Justice, said the cases should be struck out as they were "misconceived and bound to fail".

"Any remedy is to be sought in Strasbourg and not the domestic courts," he said...

Langstaff said: "It is not obvious that however the margin of appreciation be exercised in honouring the government's international obligations, he would be within a category which would then be enfranchised.

"It cannot therefore be said that, if the incompatibility were removed, he would then have the vote. All would depend on how, legitimately, parliament chose to legislate. He might well remain outside the scope of the franchise.

"I hold that there are no reasonable grounds in domestic law for bringing a claim for damages or a declaration for being disenfranchised whilst a prisoner. Statute precludes it. Case law is against it. European authority is against the payment of compensatory damages in respect of it. A claim for a declaration is not hopeless, but difficult."

Benefits lifestyle 'no longer an option'

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Benefits lifestyle 'no longer an option', says Iain Duncan Smith

A life on benefits will no longer be an option for people after a shake-up of the welfare system, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said.

"He said job vacancies will no longer be filled by foreign workers while "millions" of Britons stay on benefits because radical welfare reforms due to be unveiled by the Government will provide financial incentives.

Mr Duncan Smith is to launch the Welfare Reform Bill at an event in London today with Prime Minister David Cameron.

The proposals include replacing most existing benefits with a universal credit - designed to ensure people are always better off when they are employed, and close the loophole where some couples receive more living apart.

Those who refuse to take up job offers face losing their handouts for up to three years, and there will be tougher sanctions for fraud.

The Prime Minister will also announce moves to tackle the UK's "sicknote culture", pointing out that 300,000 people leave work and claim sickness benefits every year.

The Government's national director for health and work, Dame Carol Black, and David Frost of the British Chambers of Commerce are to lead a review of the problem.

Mr Cameron will warn that people can no longer be trusted to claim only the benefits they need, saying a "standardised" system of sickness and unemployment handouts was sustainable after the war because people felt "shame" when they abused it.

The Government says perverse incentives introduced over the years have undermined aspiration and "collective responsibility", and left the taxpayer with a multibillion-pound burden."

AV referendum to go ahead

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AV referendum to go ahead on May 5, after Lords challenge fails

A referendum on changing the voting system will definitely take place on May 5 after the Government last night saw off an 11th-hour challenge to the plans in the House of Lords.

"A number of Tory peers joined forces with Labour in an attempt to undermine the poll by including a clause which would have required a turnout of 40 per cent for the referendum to be valid.

But after a lengthy battle of wills between the House of Commons and the Lords, peers finally gave way to the will of the elected chamber and agreed to pass the legislation in time for today’s deadline, set by the Electoral Commission.

The move brought to an end months of wrangling over the Voting System and Constituencies Bill. While many Conservatives are lukewarm about electoral reform, David Cameron was forced to agree to hold a referendum this year as a condition of the Liberal Democrats joining the Government.

Third parties traditionally benefit from proportional representation, and Lib Dems have been campaigning for electoral reform for decades.

Voters will now be asked whether they wish to replace the first-past-the-post system for Westminster election with the alternative vote (AV) method, whereby candidates are ranked in order, before the lowest polling politicians in each constituency are eliminated and their votes redistributed among their rivals."

A yank attempts to understand the UK as a country...

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Stand up for Britain's rights!

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Stand up for Britain's rights! MPs' chance to regain control of OUR laws by overturning Europe ruling that prisoners must have the vote

Parliament is preparing to take a historic stand against the European courts.

"David Cameron has given MPs the green light to defy unelected judges who want to hand prisoners the vote.

They will formally vote tonight on a motion which – if passed – will send out a clear signal that MPs are fed up with seeing their law-making powers usurped by diktats from Strasbourg.

The Prime Minister yesterday made it crystal clear he expects Parliament to express its views. He pointedly cut adrift Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke – who had insisted prisoners would ‘obviously’ have to be enfranchised.

Instead, he told the Commons that he had ‘every sympathy’ with Tory MPs furious at the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.

The demand by prisoners to be given the vote was flatly rejected by the British courts a decade ago. The High Court ruled the issue was a matter solely for Parliament and not for judges.

This means Strasbourg’s insistence on granting inmates voting rights not only rides roughshod over Westminster but also Britain’s courts.

Mr Cameron said: ‘I don’t see any reason why prisoners should get the vote. This is not a situation I want this country to be in.’

His forthright remarks gave Tory MPs the signal to deliver an emphatic verdict in tonight’s vote."

Manchester City Council details £109m saving cuts plan

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Manchester City Council details £109m saving cuts plan

"Leisure centres, libraries and public toilets will close as part of a council's plan to make nearly £110m of savings in the next financial year.

Manchester City Council also confirmed 2,000 job losses as it revealed its detailed programme of cuts.

Children's services will be cut by 26% - or £45.1m - but social workers for vulnerable children will be increased, the council said.

Council leader Sir Richard Leese said the cuts process was 'unpalatable'.

Savings of £39.5m or 21% will be made at adult services where some charges will be introduced."

Council staff on £58,000 to be named in war on waste

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Council staff on £58,000 to be named in war on waste

"Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, is to order councils to list the staff and detail their responsibilities.

Many local authorities are threatening to increase charges or make cuts to front- line services because of the steep reduction in central government funding that comes into effect in April. The proposed cuts, including the closure of libraries, a squeeze on social care and a refusal to fill in pot holes, are proving politically damaging for the Coalition.

It is understood that Mr Pickles believes that councils should focus on “middle management waste” before scrapping front-line services. He hopes making salary details public will undermine claims by council chiefs that services must be cut because of budget pressures.

Official figures show that council spending on middle managers is more than £2.4billion – a rise of more than 20 per cent in the last three years.

According to an analysis of council accounts, in 1997 when Labour came to power the average local authority employed just seven people earning more than £50,000 a year. By 2008 this had risen to 81 people per council. Local authorities employing the most middle managers include Birmingham, Hampshire and Essex councils.

It is expected that the move to publish salaries will provoke public anger and effectively force councils to cut their wage bills. Local authorities are thought to have warned the Government privately that staff could be at risk of being assaulted if their details are made public...

There are thought to be 15,388 people working in local councils earning more than £60,000 a year – and several thousand more earning between £58,000 and £60,000. Over the past decade, the number of council middle managers has risen eleven-fold – compared with a three-fold rise in the number of equivalent private sector earners."

State multiculturalism has failed, says David Cameron

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State multiculturalism has failed, says David Cameron

"David Cameron has criticised "state multiculturalism" in his first speech as prime minister on radicalisation and the causes of terrorism.

At a security conference in Germany, he argued the UK needed a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to all kinds of extremism.

He also signalled a tougher stance on groups promoting Islamist extremism.

The Muslim Council of Britain said its community was being seen as part of the problem rather than the solution.

Mr Cameron suggested there would be greater scrutiny of some Muslim groups which get public money but do little to tackle extremism.

Ministers should refuse to share platforms or engage with such groups, which should be denied access to public funds and barred from spreading their message in universities and prisons, he argued.

"Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism," the prime minister said."

'Save buses' campaign launched to fight council cuts

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'Save buses' campaign launched to fight council cuts

"More than two-thirds of councils in England are planning major cuts to their bus budgets, it is claimed.

According to the Campaign for Better Transport, which is launching the Save our Buses campaign, some councils intend to end all subsidised services.

The Local Government Association also warned many bus routes would disappear as a result of government cutbacks...

Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport's chief executive, said the cuts to bus services would hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest.

"We believe any short-term savings will be outweighed by the long-term cost of a vastly depleted bus network.

"These unprecedented cuts will be especially disastrous for people on low incomes and could effectively mean the death of rural bus services.

"Politicians must consider the social, economic and environmental consequences of failing to protect our bus services."

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "If the government really wants people to get off welfare and into work they are going to need transport for it."

Cameron promises budget for growth

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Cameron promises budget for growth

"David Cameron has promised a budget for growth in the spring, while George Osborne told a lunchtime audience of British business leaders that he saw the 50% tax rate on the better-off as temporary.

The prime minister said Europe urgently needed "an aggressive, pan-continental drive to unleash enterprise" and insisted the British people knew "there are no short cuts to a better future".

Treasury sources said the budget would contain an array of measures designed to counter the CBI's criticism this week that the government lacked a growth strategy to accompany its deficit reduction strategy.

"The ambition of my budget on the 23rd of March will be to turn the tide on the forces of stagnation," the chancellor said.

Cameron urged fellow world leaders to conclude the long-running global trade talks as he used a 24-hour trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos to urge steps that would allow cash-strapped governments to grow their way out of trouble.

"Trade is the biggest wealth creator we've ever known. And it's the biggest stimulus we can give our economies right now. A completed trade round could add $170bn (£107bn) to the world economy."

The prime minister joined the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, to demand action to make trade freer after he and George Osborne had used the high-profile international venue to insist that the prospects for the UK were bright.

"We've got one last chance to get this right," the prime minister said of the Doha round of trade talks begun almost a decade ago in November 2001. "2011 is the make or break year.

"So let's agree that this is the year we will make the breakthrough. No one should hold anything back for later. There is no later."


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"THE welfare mess left by Labour was exposed last night after figures suggested three-quarters of sickness benefit claimants are fit to work.

In a shocking indictment of the ‘sick note’ culture endemic across the country, the number of invalid claims is estimated to cost taxpayers £9billion a year.

Officials who carried out fitness tests on people claiming incapacity-related benefits found that 39 per cent were well enough to get a job.

And a further 36 per cent simply abandoned their claims as soon as they were told to undergo new work capability assessments introduced to weed out scroungers.

The total figure of 75 per cent was released by the Department for Work and Pensions yesterday following a review of almost half the 2.1 million people on incapacity benefit.

Tory MP Philip Davies said: “These figures lay bare the extent of the abuse that was going on under the previous regime. Everybody wants a welfare state that provides a safety net for people who fall on hard times through no fault of their own. But what we don’t want is people who abuse the system as a lifestyle choice. I’m delighted the Government has finally got to grips with this.”

BBC set to announce World Service job cuts

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BBC set to announce World Service job cuts

"The BBC is expected to announce hundreds of job losses at its World Service today.

It is thought about 650 jobs will be cut from a workforce of some 2,400 in a bid to save £46 million a year.

Union leaders said the "ferocious cuts" would damage British influence abroad and were a "direct result of the Government slashing funding to an internationally respected and successful broadcaster".

Last night the BBC confirmed the World Service is to close five of its language services.

The corporation said in a statement: "BBC World Service has announced that it will be closing five language services - Albanian, Macedonian, Portuguese for Africa and Serbian; as well as the English for the Caribbean regional service.

"This is part of its response to a cut to its Grant-in-Aid funding from the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

"The cut is part of a BBC World Service restructure in order to meet a 16% savings target announced in the Government's spending review of October 20th last year."

28 day terror detention order to expire

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28 day terror detention order to expire

"The controversial power to detain terror suspects for 28 days without charge will be allowed to lapse next week, reverting to 14 days, the Government announced today.

Home Office Minister Damian Green said the order, which expires at midnight on Monday, will not be extended.

The findings of a full review of counter-terrorism powers will be announced by Home Secretary Theresa May next Wednesday, including long-term plans for the terror detention regime.

But answering an urgent question in the Commons Mr Green said: "In the interim I can announce that the Government will not be seeking to extend the order allowing the maximum 28 day limit and accordingly the current order will lapse on January 25 and the maximum limit of pre-charge detention will from that time revert to 14 days."

There were cheers from MPs who opposed the detention regime as Mr Green made his announcement.

The order allowing the 28-day limit was extended for six months last year while the full review was carried out.

Mr Green said: "This Government is clear that the power to detain terrorist suspects for up to 28 days before they were charged or released was meant to be an exceptional power. This was always Parliament's intention.

"But under the last government it became the norm, with the renewal of 28 days repeatedly brought before the House.

"This was despite the power rarely being used. Since July 2007 no one has been held for longer than 14 days despite the many terrorists arrested since then.

"This is a testament to the efforts of our prosecutors, our police and our intelligence agencies."

Councils in England announce 2,200 more job cuts

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Councils in England announce 2,200 more job cuts

"More than 2,000 jobs are to be cut at two county councils in a bid to make multimillion-pound savings.

About 1,200 jobs are set to be axed at Hampshire County Council under plans to save £55m for 2011/12.

It blamed the cuts on a £30.9m (14.3%) reduction in its government grant.

Meanwhile, Norfolk County Council said it would axe about 1,000 jobs in the next year. On Tuesday, East Sussex County Council revealed plans to shed up to 200 jobs.

The public service union Unison said it was a "disgrace" that hundreds more council workers would be added to "growing dole queues".

Dave Prentis, Unison's general secretary, said: "The government's cuts are taking a terrible toll on council workers and services."

In Hampshire, staff and unions are being consulted over the job cuts, which affect 8% of the workforce.

The authority says it plans to save £7m by cutting senior management and implementing a recruitment freeze and save £10m by renegotiating contracts."

Banks should be allowed to fail in the bad times

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Banks should be allowed to go bust-BOE's Tucker

"Banks should be allowed to fail in the bad times, with their losses being absorbed by their creditors and investors, not by the taxpayer, the Bank of England's deputy governor suggested in a BBC interview to be broadcast later on Tuesday.

Paul Tucker, the bank's deputy governor, said that banks had to incur the losses when things went wrong and that changes to the banking sector had not gone far enough yet to allow for that.

"If we have a system where banks take the upside, but the taxpayer takes the downside, something has gone wrong with capitalism, with the very heart of capitalism and we need to repair this," he told BBC television.

"We want the upside to go to the shareholders and to some extent the managers, but the downside must go with that too. This is going to require big changes internationally," Tucker said in excerpts taken from a documentary to be aired later on Tuesday."

Environment Agency cutting thousands of jobs

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Environment Agency cutting thousands of jobs

"Thousands of jobs are to be cut from the Environment Agency in the next few years, a leading union has claimed.

The GMB said there were already a number of unfilled vacancies at the agency, with little or no indication that they will be filled.

The union accused the Government of claiming that not filling jobs when people left due to early retirement and voluntary redundancy or not filling vacant posts, did not seem to count as a job loss.

The union maintained there will be 3,000 fewer people working for the Environment Agency in three years time than there were 18 months ago.

"The Government is in denial that it is deliberately creating unemployment.

"Ministers do not seem to know what is happening on the ground or else they don't care," said GMB general secretary Paul Kenny.

"These are job losses pure and simple as they are posts which will not available to young workers or others seeking work.

"GMB has grave doubts that the private sector can create enough jobs to make up for these job losses."

The GMB claimed Government ministers were not aware of what was happening on the ground with public sector job cuts.

The union has been tracking threatened redundancies in local authorities because of government spending cuts, saying the total is now well over 100,000."


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"DAVID Cameron yesterday insisted that Britain will not be sucked into any further EU schemes to prop up the crisis-hit euro.

In a clear acknowledgement of the growing public disillusionment with Brussels, the Prime Minister vowed that the UK will never join the euro under his watch.

And he declared that he will not allow the country to become embroiled in any further “mechanisms or new procedures” concocted by Eurocrats to shore up the currency.

But he also admitted he could not rule out further contributions from the British taxpayer towards bailing out debt-stricken euro-zone nations because of an agreement sealed by Labour ministers in the final days of the last government."

It's simple Sandi...

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The Lib Dems are flagging at the moment in the polls.


Because a substantial part of their voters are left-wingers disillusioned with Labour. In their eyes the Lib Dems are now part of a Tory right-wing government.
They don't like that.

Therefore the Lib Dems are trying to court back their voters by saying things they like to hear. However, the Tories know it is insanity to drive the banks away and wont to do anything to make them leave. So in the meantime the Tories let the Lib Dems talk tough to try and keep their party afloat, while in private they tell the banks that everything is OK.

In terms of Europe the Tories are euro-sceptic. This ranges from outright hostility to not giving them any more power (Cameron's view). The Lib Dems on the other hand are Euro-friendly and Cameron wants to give them the minimum he can, i.e. the status quo.

Why he supports Turkey entering the EU, I don't know. Successive American Presidents, including George Bush, have done so too.

My speculation is that when he went on a trade mission there earlier this year, they offered him trade contracts in return for his support. He can get away with this quite easily without any political risk because the majority of EU countries are still against Turkey entering.

Labour’s Dennis Skinner asks David Cameron a very good question:

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Labour’s Dennis Skinner asks David Cameron a very good question:

“Why is the Prime Minister so besotted with the idea that he wants Turkey into the EU and possibly the Euro zone. 80 Million Turks on the move and it won’t be 2 way traffic!!! How can that improve the financial stability?

David Cameron
"If you want the European union to be a force for stability................then this would be a great advantage for the union”

Single Market within the EU
Question from Jeremy Lefroy to David Cameron
“What progress did my right honourable friend make in persuading other countries in the European Union, at the merits of a single market?

Conservative Chancellor George Osborne, “We want the UK to be the global centre for finance going forward; well regulated so it doesn’t fall back on the British taxpayer when it goes wrong”

Project Merlin, headed up by the boss of Barclay’s, where they are actually talking to government on an almost weekly basis. They have this personal access to Osborne and Vince Cable,


A single market, regulated banking with bankers having an open line to the government.
Cameron embracing Turkey into the EU?

Marcus what is going on here?

Top Lib Dem criticises Tory ministers over cuts

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Top Lib Dem criticises Tory ministers over cuts

"Nick Clegg has been urged by the leader of the Liberal Democrats' local councillors to "rein in" two senior Tory ministers who he accused of being "a disgrace" for denying spending cuts would lead to town hall job losses and service reductions.

Richard Kemp, whose own authority of Liverpool faces an 8.9% drop in spending power next year, said Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Housing Minister Grant Shapps were acting "like Laurel and Hardy".

In an email to the Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader, he said the pair were issuing a near-daily "gimmick" in a bid to suggest the massive drop in funding could be bridged alone by pay cuts, efficiency savings and using reserves.

"Their behaviour is a disgrace. Either they really do not know how serious the situation is that they have created by rushing to get brownie points by being the first to settle with the biggest front loading or they are deliberately trying to distract attention from the problems that they have created," he wrote.

His concerns are high on the agenda when he meets with Mr Clegg for talks tomorrow but the party leadership was quick to distance itself from his accusations against the pair.

"These are Mr Kemp's personal views and are not representative of Liberal Democrats in Government," a spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minister said.

"The Coalition Government has, despite the financial mess Labour left us in, embarked on a radical shift of power away from central government to local government and communities."

And Mr Shapps returned fire: "Mr Kemp will be rather embarrassed when he notices that on Monday his own council admitted its senior management was so bloated that it axed 48 posts saving the taxpayer £4.25 million."

Mark Thompson: Britain needs a channel like Fox News

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Mark Thompson: Britain needs a channel like Fox News

BBC's director general says rules on impartiality on television are outdated in internet era and advocates opinionated journalism.

Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, says that as the distinction between the web and television collapses, it no longer makes sense for public service broadcasters to have a 'monopoly' over the airwaves.

"Mark Thompson, the BBC's director general, said British broadcasters should be free to launch an equivalent to Fox News in the UK because existing rules to guarantee impartiality in television were becoming outdated in the era of the internet.

Thompson, while speaking at a Whitehall seminar on impartiality in broadcasting, said that as the distinction between the web and television collapses, it no longer makes sense for public service broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, to have a "monopoly" over the airwaves.

The director general said: "There was a logic in allowing impartial broadcasters to have a monopoly of the broadcasting space. But in the future, maybe there should be a broad range of choices? Why shouldn't the public be able to see and hear, as well as read, a range of opinionated journalism and then make up their own mind what they think about it?

"The BBC and Channel 4 have a history of clearly labelled polemical programmes. But why not entire polemical channels which have got stronger opinions? I find the argument persuasive."

So unexpected was Thompson's intervention that his remarks caught some of the BBC's best known journalists unawares. Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, who chaired the debate on Thursday evening, admitted the DG's plea for regulatory liberalisation had "slightly taken me by surprise".

Thompson said that the BBC News services would remain impartial, but he added that views regarded as "extreme" could and should be broadcast by the BBC even within the current rules on impartiality."

GDP 'Growth'

Frediano's picture

"Hopes of a sustained recovery have been fuelled after official figures revealed Britain's economy grew by a better-than-expected 0.8% during the third quarter.

The quarter-on-quarter rise in gross domestic product (GDP) was less than the 1.2% surge in the previous three months, but double the growth expected by most experts.

Economic growth over the past six months has now hit 2%, which is the fastest pace of expansion seen over two consecutive quarters for 10 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS)."

The definition of GDP includes 'government spending.' 'Growth' in public credit fueled government spending also ends up reported as 'growth' in GDP...

"Growth" in GDP needs to be torn apart to be understood. Is it the same as 'growth' in the underlying economies?

Not always. There is an assumption built into the definition of GDP that public credit fueled government spending is the same as private spending, investment, and net exports over imports -- all indications of 'growth' in the economies.

Is it?

All of them. We don't need

ChuhuaZhu's picture

All of them. We don't need their legislative pseudo-laws.

Bob Ainsworth on making drugs legally available

Marcus's picture

"Bob Ainsworth MP, former Home Office drugs minister and Secretary of State for Defence, says Britain's war on drugs has failed and it is time for a new approach.

He spoke to BBC Radio 5 live's Nicky Campbell."

Bob Ainsworth on making drugs legally available

Britain 'more Thatcherite now than in the 80s'

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Britain 'more Thatcherite now than in the 80s' says survey

British Social Attitude report finds people less supportive of the welfare state than in the 1980s.

A survey of social attitudes has found that Britons are much less supportive of policies to redistribute wealth than in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher was in power.

"Britain is now more Thatcherite than when Margaret Thatcher was in power, with people much less supportive of the welfare state and the redistribution of wealth than in the 1980s, according to an authoritative study of the country's mood.

New Labour oversaw the biggest recorded shift to the right in public attitudes on those measures, despite a surge in concern about the scale of the wealth gap between rich and poor.

Sympathy towards benefit claimants has evaporated, along with support for redistributive tax and spend policies, over the past 20 years, with Labour governing during a period of significant hardening of attitudes towards the poor, the annual results of the British Social Attitudes survey reveal...

"It is twenty years since Margaret Thatcher left office, but public opinion is far closer now to many of her core beliefs than it was then. Our findings show that attitudes have hardened over the last two decade, and are more in favour of cutting benefits and against taxing the better off disproportionately. But just as Blair and Brown incorporated key concepts of Thatcherism into New Labour's ideology, Britain today is sending a clear message to Cameron and Clegg that it values the investment Labour has made in this country's core public services."

UKIP is not a libertarian party

Kenny's picture

UKIP is not an explicitly libertarian party but my appointment as Campaign Director for the 2009 European elections led many to perceive that it is. I left after the European elections for reasons that will remain private for now.

The general election campaign was run Lord Pearson's appointee, James Pryor. It remains to be seen where Nigel Farage takes the party after his re-election as Leader.

My experience of Cameron's Conservatives and UKIP have led me to the same conclusion as P J O'Rourke. Don't vote - it only encourages the bastards!

"Check your premises!"

Marcus's picture

What's the alternative at the moment?

Cameron is the best of the worst.

Even UKIP abandoned their Libertarian principles at the last election.

Your enemy's enemy is not your friend

Kenny's picture

Cameron is an enemy of Objectivism and reason. Check your premises!

What does that prove Kenny?

Marcus's picture

Capital gains tax up (not for everyone)
Government spending up (but reduction in deficit increase)
National Health Service spending increased (not in real terms)
Fat taxes under consideration (John Prescott to be banished Smiling)

I could come up with an alternative list:

ID cards scrapped
ASBOs scrapped
Quangos scrapped (such as the UK film council)
Business tax reduced
NI contribution not increased
NHS reform
Education reform
Welfare reform

You can't tell me you see absolutely nothing positive in any of the measures above.

Can you think of one thing new Labour did to further the liberty of UK citizens?

Give the Bank of England independence, perhaps?

Cameron's record

Kenny's picture

Capital gains tax up
Value Added Tax up to 20%
Air travel taxes up
Tax free pension contribution threshold slashed from £250k to £50k
Government spending up
Foreign aid to increase to 0.7% of GDP
National Health Service spending increased
More powers ceded to European Union
Smoking ban retained
Minimum alcohol prices to be introduced
Fat taxes under consideration

Blue Labour!!

I never claimed...

Marcus's picture

...that they're Libertarians, but they are miles better than the last lot.

I'd rather be called a Cameroon, than a Brownite.

Marcus the Cameroon?

Kenny's picture

It is worth pointing out that Cameron and Osborne have repeatedly criticised libertarianism, individualism and laissez faire in major speeches, e.g. at the party conferences. Cameron's private sector experience is limited to a few years in corporate PR. Osborne has no business experience at all. Yet we are supposed to trust them with our economy?

George Osborne sees the road to recovery

Marcus's picture

George Osborne sees the road to recovery despite report

"The chancellor, who was accused of not having a plan B, told the Commons he would "stick to the course" following a report by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) that provided both ministers and opposition MPs with ammunition as they debated the fate of the economy.

Osborne said the OBR's independent forecast backed his view that the UK was likely to avoid a double-dip recession next year and grow steadily over the life of the parliament. It said the economy would grow by 1.8% this year – a substantial increase on the 1.2% previously expected, and greater than forecasts by international groups such as the OECD.

Osborne told MPs: "This is an uncertain world but the British recovery is on track. Employment is growing, one million more jobs are being created, the deficit is set to fall, the plan is working. So we will stick to the course. That is the only way to help confidence to flourish and growth to return."...

Most economists have spent the last three months downgrading forecasts for next year after surveys showed a slump in confidence among consumers and businesses. With house prices falling and much of the rise in employment attributed to part-time workers, consumer spending is expected to weaken.

The OBR forecast growth would moderate next year from 2.3% to 2.1%, as exports and business investment slowed.

According to analysts at Cambridge Econometrics, even this forecast was optimistic, while David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, warned the economy would struggle next year and unemployment was likely rise above the 8% predicted by the OBR...

Osborne, who used his response to the OBR report to announce a review of corporation tax, said borrowing this year was expected to be £1bn less than forecast in June. He added: "On the OBR's central forecast, we will meet our fiscal mandate to eliminate the structural current budget deficit one year early, in 2014-15. And the same is true for our target to get debt falling as a percentage of GDP." Over the forecast period, Osborne said £19bn would be saved in interest payments on the national debt."

UKIP Nigel Farage MEP on the Irish Crisis

Marcus's picture

Export-led revival

Marcus's picture

Britain's export-led revival

"Amid all the turmoil in the periphery of the euroland, it is comforting that the British economy continues to outperform expectations.

Growth in the third quarter was a robust 0.8 per cent (or more than 3 per cent in annualised terms), which is above trend. The most encouraging aspect of this is that the engine of expansion is net exports.

Finally, as the Bank of England's Andrew Sentance noted in a speech to the CBI in Belfast, there are signs that a business led recovery can sustain British growth as the deficit is brought down.

The manufacturing sector is growing faster than the services sector, indicating that a rebalancing is taking place."

Net immigration to UK increases

"Net migration to the UK rose in the year to March 2010 because fewer British people left the country, according to the latest estimates.

The figures indicate 215,000 more people came to live in the UK than moved to another country.

The Office for National Statistics figures come days after the government outlined its plans to cap immigration.

Ministers want to reduce net migration to "tens of thousands" a year by 2015.

The plan currently involves cutting the number of visas available to skilled workers from outside Europe - although ministerial advisers say the target cannot be met by just targeting workers.

According to the latest ONS data, an estimated 580,000 people arrived in the UK as long-term migrants in the year to March 2010, broadly consistent with the long-term trend. Approximately 15% of those arriving were British citizens who had been living abroad.

Over the same period, an estimated 364,000 people left the UK - continuing a downward trend since December 2008. Since the end of that year, the number of British people estimated to have left the UK has fallen by 28%, says the ONS."

Britannia rules the waves!

Marcus's picture

British Forces Destroy Somali Pirate Vessel

"A British warship on patrol off the Somali coast has destroyed a pirate "mother ship", Nato has said.

The HMS Montrose Lynx helicopter spotted the craft during one of her dawn patrols.

Snipers then sank it with heavy machine gun fire "in full view of the pirate camp", a Nato statement said.

The boat was identified as the whaler from the MV Zouflecar, a vessel which has been acting as a pirate "mother ship" since it was seized on November 3.

"Our destruction of the whaler close to a known pirate camp has sent a message to the Somali pirates, that NATO and other coalition forces are willing to take the fight to them in order to prevent them attacking merchant ships," said Montrose's commanding officer, Commander Jonathan Lett."


Marcus's picture

The Government has been defeated in the Lords after peers voted 235 to 201 (majority 34) to restrict ministers' powers to abolish quangos.

It was the coalition's second Lords defeat in seven days and the fifth in 16 Lords divisions since the general election.

The amendment to the Public Bodies Bill was tabled by Liberal Democrat QC Lord Lester of Herne Hill, but the division was called by Labour peers and crossbench QC Lord Pannick when Lord Lester tried to withdraw it.

The highly controversial Bill gives ministers wide-ranging powers to abolish, merge or modify hundreds of quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations following the Government's recent review of such so-called "arm's-length bodies"...

The previous Government defeat was on the Identity Documents Bill last Wednesday, when peers voted by 220 to 188 (majority 32) to allow people who had bought a soon-to-be abolished ID card to claim a £30 refund.

On Friday the Government announced the creation of an additional 54 peers, 27 of them Tories and 15 Liberal Democrats, but it will be several weeks before they begin to take their Lords seats.



Marcus's picture

"Police have arrested a teenager on suspicion of violent disorder during the student fees protest.

The 17-year-old male student is the 63rd person to be arrested following the Millbank riot in central London.

A Met Police spokesman said the 17-year-old attended Stourbridge police station and remains in custody.

Earlier this week, officers investigating the riot released images of 13 protesters suspected of committing criminal offences.

The images were captured on CCTV cameras inside the office complex and on its roof as dozens of demonstrators stormed the building.

They were also filmed by officers stationed in the forecourt as more than a thousand people gathered outside the headquarters of the Conservative party."


Government publishes Whitehall spending over £25,000

Marcus's picture

"The details behind all Whitehall spending over £25,000 made since the election are being published.

About £80bn of expenditure - 195,000 lines of data - are being published online as part of what ministers call their "transparency agenda".

Early analysis by the BBC shows the private firm receiving the most public money is the outsourcing firm Capita, which received £3.3bn.

But critics warn that the numbers are almost meaningless without context.

The government says thousands of data entries will be published to allow developers, organisations and companies to "reuse and reinterpret" it.

People are being encouraged to pick through the enormous quantity of online data to spot waste and hold ministers to account."

Government publishes Whitehall spending over £25,000

'Politically motivated' equality law to be scrapped

Marcus's picture

"An equality law dubbed "socialism in one clause" will be scrapped, Home Secretary Theresa May said today.

The measure was intended to force public authorities to take into account disadvantage and inequalities when making decisions about policies.

But Mrs May, who is also the equalities minister, said in reality it was just another bureaucratic box to be ticked...

Mrs May said the previous Labour government "stopped treating people like individuals and instead viewed them as part of some amorphous herd".

The coalition Government will stop dictating to people how they should behave, she said."

'Politically motivated' equality law to be scrapped

Teenager held over fire extinguisher 'murder bid'

Marcus's picture

"An 18-year-old has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder over a fire extinguisher thrown at officers during the Millbank riot.

Scotland Yard said the man was detained by Hampshire Police in Southampton. He is now travelling to London where he will be questioned by officers from the Metropolitan Police later

On Friday, a 23-year-old student at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, was arrested and then released on bail on suspicion of violent disorder.

A Met spokesman said: "This arrest follows an investigation into public disorder where a fire extinguisher was thrown from the roof of Millbank Tower."

Police Federation representatives have called for the person who flung the empty metal fire extinguisher to be charged with attempted murder. Senior officers said it narrowly missed injuring two territorial support group officers, brushing down the back of one and hitting the knees of another.

The incident was one of the defining moments of the four-hour stand-off last week after a breakaway group of students attacked the Millbank office complex."

Teenager held over fire extinguisher 'murder bid'

Insure yourself against divorce

Marcus's picture

"Couples should take out insurance on their marriages, ministers warned yesterday.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke wants to scrap legal aid for divorce lawyers. This means anyone who wants to protect their share of the fallout from a broken marriage will have to pay for their own courtroom advice.

The proposal raises the spectre of hundreds of thousands of husbands and wives taking out ‘before the event’ policies against the cost of divorce.

Critics will see such insurance cover as putting further pressure on the natural bonds of trust and affection that should keep married couples together.

Yesterday one of Mr Clarke’s ministerial team, Jonathan Djanogly, said: ‘Couples are too ready and too willing to run to the courts. We think there can be a wider market in before-the-event insurance. We would be creating a new market, but we want to see a market.’

The proposal is part of a seismic shake-up of state-funded legal assistance announced by Mr Clarke. His sweeping reforms include:

*Barring aid for claims against hospitals and schools;

*Withdrawing support from actions by prisoners and welfare benefit disputes;

*Slashing payments to lawyers in ‘no-win no-fee’ cases.

Mr Clarke wants to save at least £400million a year from an annual bill of £2.1billion.

Some barristers who live on legal aid paid in civil disputes are expected to see their fees slump by 40 per cent."

Insure yourself against divorce: Minister's advice on marriage as huge legal aid crackdown looms

Government backs system of working in 'slivers of time'

Marcus's picture

"Disabled people and lone parents face further upheaval to their benefits as an "ultra-flexible" work system, which allows people to sell their labour in small blocks of time, is placed at the heart of the government's welfare reforms.

Lord Freud and Maria Miller, the welfare ministers, are examining changes to benefit rules to allow people to sign up for work for as little as two hours a week under the slivers of time initiative.

The government's decision to throw its weight behind the pioneering system comes as Tesco announces it is to throw open a slivers of time scheme to its 340,000-strong workforce. From today, any Tesco employee will be able to sign up for overtime for modest or longer periods of time at their workplace or at any Tesco store in their area.

Slivers of time, a social enterprise founded by the former BBC producer Wingham Rowan, is designed to tap into the pool of people who cannot work the usual hours expected even of the average part-time employee. It is aimed at parents with young children, disabled people who may not be available for work for most of the week, people who care for a dependent adult or the long-term unemployed who want to ease slowly back into work.

"There are millions of people who need to work in a fragmented way," Rowan said. "Some of these people are real assets but they can be excluded from the labour market."

The government is keen to incorporate the slivers of time system into the new universal credit, the centrepiece of the welfare reforms unveiled last week by Iain Duncan Smith. Freud and Miller want to pilot the system for disabled and lone parents at jobcentres across Britain from next April with a view to rolling it into the running of the universal credit from 2013."

Welfare reform: government backs system of working in 'slivers of time'


Marcus's picture

"Ministers have been urged to privatise vast swathes of the public sector including libraries, schools, hospitals and even prisons and police stations, and transfer them to community ownership.

In a move designed to trump Margaret Thatcher's mass sell-off of council housing in the 1980s, a new report urges the sweeping transfer of state assets.

The call by centre-right think-tank ResPublica backs a radical extension of the former Prime Minister's right-to-buy policy to cover community assets and services, including leisure centres, roads and ports.

The report will be launched by Local Government minister Greg Clark in a sign that the proposals are being taken seriously in Whitehall, according to the think-tank."


Oxford is no1 in Britain's IQ league table

Marcus's picture

Average IQ: 160.2
Proporation of graduates in working population: 36.9%
Proportion of jobs that are skilled: 70.3%
Bookshops: 10.5 per 100,000 people


"Oxford students have come out in support of controversial plans to hike university tuition fees, in stark contrast to the mood on campuses around the country.

While 50,000 students and lecturers joined angry protests against the increase last week, undergraduates at the university's prestigious Christ Church College voted in favour of it.

The college's junior common room held an emergency general meeting to discuss the contentious issue as members thought the college "should have a position" on it.

Law student Sebastien Fivaz, who proposed the motion last Sunday, said: "It's regrettable to raise tuition fees but I don't think we should be in a position where the Government has to plug the hole in funding."


Iain Duncan Smith: it's a sin that people fail to take up work

Marcus's picture

"Ian Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, said today it was a "sin" that people failed to take up available jobs as he prepared to announce a tougher-than-expected squeeze on the unemployed.

This will see the jobless face the threat of losing all benefits for as long as three years if they refuse community work or the offer of a job, or fail to apply for a post if advised to do so.

In the most severe welfare sanctions ever imposed by a British government, unemployed people will lose benefits for three months if they fail to take up one of the options for the first time, six months if they refuse an offer twice, and three years if they refuse an offer three times."


David Cameron: No turning back on tuition fees rise

Marcus's picture

"David Cameron vowed today that he would not turn back on trebling tuition fees and condemned the students who tried to ransack Conservative headquarters yesterday, saying the full force of the law should be used to prosecute violent protesters.

In a round of interviews in Seoul, where he is attending the G20 summit, Cameron said: "We won't go back. Look, even if we wanted to, we shouldn't go back to the idea that university is free."

He also urged the police to learn lessons from yesterday's riot, saying there were 30,000 police officers in London yet only a thin blue line of extremely brave police officers was available to "to hold back a bunch of people intent on violence and destruction".

He also insisted he had a mandate to push through the reforms to higher education, saying: "I think the will of the public was expressed at the time of the election when they rejected debt and deficit and putting off these difficult decisions under Labour, and they chose a new approach and we've got to be true to that and stick to that"...

Asked if he feared the British social fabric was under threat, he said: "There have been protests – both peaceful protests and sometimes protests that have turned quite nasty – under all governments so I don't see it like that.

"Look, people who assault police officers or who smash windows or who break property they are breaking the law and, yes, those people I hope that they will be prosecuted. They should be."

He added: "Lawbreaking is not acceptable and I hope that the full force of the law will be used."


Nick Clegg: I should have been more careful in signing tuition fees pledge

"Nick Clegg today admitted he "should have been more careful" when he signed a pre-election pledge to oppose a rise in tuition fees.

The deputy prime minister and Liberal Democrat leader said the decision to break his promise was "part of a compromise in a coalition government".

Clegg told ITV's Daybreak this morning: "In politics, just as in life, sometimes the things that you want to do, it turns out that you just can't do them," he said. "And then you just simply have to do the right thing with the kind of tools that you have available. I guess the easiest thing for me would have been for me to say: 'I've signed this pledge, I'm going to put my head in the sand, I'm not going to come up with a fair, sustainable solution to universities' and simply refuse to deal with it...

Clegg told Daybreak: "I should have been more careful perhaps in signing that pledge.

"At the time I really thought we could do it. I just didn't know, of course, before we came into government, quite what the state of the finances were. We didn't win the election outright. This is also part of a compromise in a coalition government."

Lib Dem and Conservative ministers were shaken by some of the most violent scenes on the streets of London since the 1990 poll tax riots, in the biggest demonstration in opposition to its austerity cuts since the coalition came to power."


Embrace freedom and law: Cameron risks China fury

Marcus's picture

Michael Gove, Vince Cable, George Osborne and David Cameron toast a business deal in front of a picture of the Great Wall of China yesterday

"David Cameron risked infuriating his Communist hosts today by championing democratic elections and a free press and by saying he hoped China would develop towards 'a greater political opening'.

In an extraordinary condemnation of their repressive political regime, the Prime Minister used a public speech to warn China must correct dangerous trade imbalances, or risk globalisation 'going into reverse', harming economies around the world.

Mr Cameron pointed out that were he not in China, he would today be facing questions from the Opposition in the House of Commons. His Chinese counterparts, on the other hand, have ruthlessly crushed all political dissent...

He explained that Britain’s electoral system means two different political parties, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, have had to come together despite their different histories and political philosophies.

‘The Labour Party is now the official Opposition, with a constitutional duty to hold the new government publicly to account,’ he added.

‘Indeed if I were not in Beijing, I would be preparing for my weekly session of Prime Minister’s questions in the House of Commons, where MPs question me freely about the whole range of government policy.

‘All the time the government is subject to the rule of law.’

He added: ‘I am convinced the best guarantor of prosperity and stability is for economic and political progress to go in step together.’

Education Secretary Michael Gove, a minister travelling with Mr Cameron, last year described China as a police state."


Poppies were worn by the British delegation yesterday in defiance of their Chinese hosts’ demands to remove them.

The Prime Minister was told that allowing his team to sport the symbol would cause grave offence because it would remind Chinese ministers and officials of the Opium Wars.

Also known as the Anglo-Chinese Wars, they were the climax of trade disputes between China and the British Empire over Chinese attempts to restrict British opium trafficking.

China was defeated in both the First Opium War, from 1839 to 1842 and the Second Opium War, from 1856 to 1860.

The poppy is the source of opium and Chinese officials were apparently unfamiliar with its importance in Britain in marking our war dead.

A British aide said: ‘We tried to explain the importance of the poppy in Britain and informed them we would be wearing them all the same.’


Cameron's visit 'fruitful', says Chinese premier

Marcus's picture

"The Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, has called David Cameron's visit to China "fruitful".

The prime minister, who is accompanied by four cabinet ministers and 43 business leaders, called the trip a "vitally important trade mission".

Engine maker Rolls-Royce has won a $1.2bn (£750m) contract - the biggest of the visit so far...

Mr Cameron promised "closer engagement" with China, and said "banging the drum for trade" was key to UK foreign policy.

He said British goods currently accounted for only 2% of China's imports and this had to change.

"Our message is simple: Britain is now open for business, has a very business-friendly government, and wants to have a much, much stronger relationship with China," he said...

Mr Cameron's first stop after landing at Beijing airport was a Tesco supermarket, where he met staff and shoppers.

China has 99 outlets of the British store, which first opened in the country in 2004 and is planning a £2bn investment over the next five years.

Tesco's executive director Lucy Neville-Rolfe, who is part of the business delegation, said: "China obviously represents a huge opportunity for growth, with large numbers of consumers and a government which thinks that expanding internal consumption is important."


Cameron pledges more power for the people

Marcus's picture

"Prime Minister David Cameron promised a shift in power from government to the people today as Whitehall departments published business plans setting out what they intend to do and how voters can hold them accountable for it.

Mr Cameron said the move would help reverse the trend towards centralisation of power in Whitehall and would encourage ministers and officials to govern for the long term."


David Cameron must not be swayed by the strikers

Marcus's picture

The BBC and other public sector workers need to accept that their pensions are unaffordable.

"The only certainty with most private pensions is that you have to contribute large amounts to receive not very much. The public sector avoids that problem because much of the cost is met by other taxpayers. Understandably, those people do not see why their taxes should subsidise retirement arrangements that are so much more generous, and so much more reliable, than anything they will receive. Furthermore, unless taxes rise very significantly, the state simply does not have the money to keep funding public sector pensions at current levels. So for the sake of fairness as well as frugality, they will have to be renegotiated across the whole of the state sector.

That will, inevitably, produce an angry response, at a time when Government employees are already feeling aggrieved about the changes the Coalition is making to their working conditions and staffing levels. Britain’s fiscal deficit was caused in part by Labour’s wildly profligate spending in its last seven years in office, when it added 100,000 extra jobs to the public payroll. The new Government has to slim down the size of the state, as well as making sure that those who are retained work harder and longer and are absent less often. Public sector workers, not surprisingly, don’t want those changes. The Coalition must brace itself for a series of disputes with the public sector unions, and very probably a wave of strikes.

The Government should be able to win these battles: there is no evidence that rest of the working population is prepared to support the unions’ attempts to keep the existing cushy arrangements. But the negotiations will be tough. Strikes by firemen, teachers, nurses and council workers have the potential to inflict large-scale disruption. When that happens, it will be up to the Prime Minister to demonstrate that he is not going to buckle under the pressure. Any indication of weakness will simply encourage the unions to continue their obstructive behaviour, keeping wasteful, unaffordable arrangements in place and tilting the country back towards the misery and futility of the 1970s."


Rowan Williams: Plans to force jobless into unpaid work are unfair

• Archbishop of Canterbury warns of 'spiral of despair'
• Iain Duncan Smith to unveil white paper this week

The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. He says that plans to make the unemployed do unpaid work to stay in benefits are unfair.

"Iain Duncan Smith's plans for welfare reform suffered a setback today when the archbishop of Canterbury suggested they were unfair and could plunge the unemployed into "a downward spiral of uncertainty, even despair".

In a surprise intervention, Rowan Williams, the head of the Church of England, said he had "a lot of worries" about the government's proposals to force some people to do unpaid work in return for unemployment benefit, which could make the workless feel more vulnerable.

Labour and the TUC also criticised the proposal, which was trailed in the Sunday papers, with full details promised later this week when Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, publishes his white paper on welfare reform."


Bank of England does not follow U.S.

Marcus's picture

"The Bank of England today chose not to follow the U.S. into another round of emergency measures to prop up the economic recovery.

Policymakers held interest rates at an historic low of 0.5 per cent and resisted pressure to pump more cash into the economy.

This is despite fears surrounding the Government's deficit-busting spending cuts announced last month.

Although there is likely to have been another three-way split in the nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee, economists suspect recent better-than-expected economic data steadied the hands of those in the no-change camp.

Last night, the U.S. Federal Reserve unveiled a second quantitative easing programme of 600 billion U.S. dollars (£372.8 billion) in a bid to kick-start the lagging recovery.

City expectations that the MPC would follow suit today cooled after higher-than-expected third quarter GDP growth of 0.8 per cent , as well as upbeat data from the manufacturing and services sectors."


Spending cuts 'deliverable', says George Osborne

Marcus's picture

"George Osborne has hit back at claims by a group of MPs that the government's spending cuts are not deliverable.

The chancellor said the cuts would be a "challenge" but would be achieved through greater transparency and accountability.

The "shockingly poor" quality of financial data would also be improved.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee found only £15bn of a three-year £35bn savings programme outlined in 2007 had been achieved by 2009.

This left MPs "gravely concerned" about the possibility of making the larger reductions demanded in the recent Spending Review, its report added.

Mr Osborne said he would succeed where the previous government had apparently failed because, unlike Labour, he had "not set some great big efficiency target and just assumed government departments can deliver on it".

Instead, he had been more "specific" about what should be cut and given more control to departments over how to do it - and introduced greater transparency so that the public could scrutinise how their money was being spent, creating what he called a "nation of auditors".


Cameron appoints Lord Young as Enterprise Tsar

Marcus's picture

"David Cameron has appointed Tory peer Lord Young as his Enterprise Tsar with a remit to slash red tape for small business.

A "brutally honest" review by the former Cabinet minister will also consider how to encourage more people to start up companies.

The Prime Minister said enterprise was crucial to his efforts to create a "new economic dynamism" in Britain, stressing that small and medium-sized businesses provided 60% of the country's jobs.

"I am seeking nothing less than a wholesale change in attitude from my Government and I need help to get there," he said. "So I am delighted that Lord Young has agreed to be my Enterprise Adviser; he'll be working to identify what we need to do to help small businesses grow.

"He brings his own passion for business and a wealth of experience to the role."

In a letter to the peer he added: "Today, Government is institutionally biased against small businesses and enterprise.

"Despite warm words from ministers and governments of all parties, the obstacles and burdens facing small businesses have multiplied over the years.

"Governments have been cavalier in introducing regulations and requirements, wrongly assuming small business owners can just take them in their stride, when in fact it can make their lives impossible.

"This Government must and will be different."

Apprentice star Lord Sugar was the last holder of the post under ex-premier Gordon Brown, but he was fired by Mr Cameron when the coalition came to power.

Lord Young, who served as Trade Secretary under Margaret Thatcher, said: "I'll be focusing on what barriers government policy have been put in the way of small business development and helping to advise on what can be done to make life easier for businesses to start and grow."

Downing Street said his review would focus on:

:: How government can remove barriers and encourage more people to start business, including correcting an institutional bias towards people seeking jobs rather than working for themselves

:: Ways in which government can remove barriers to growth faced by firms and remove or minimise regulatory and bureaucratic burdens which increase costs and hassle

:: Ways in which Government departments and the public sector can support growth of small, through reforming procurement, ensuring access to finance, and supporting trade and investment

:: How government listens to small and medium enterprises in shaping and implementing policy, and providing clear guidance and advice.

Lord Young will juggle his unpaid role as Enterprise Tsar with his other work as Mr Cameron's adviser on health and safety law and culture."


Lib Dems heading for 'car crash' with Tories over control orders

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Splits: Chris Huhne opposes control orders after the government decided they should stay

"The strict measures which can be made by the Home Secretary allow severe restrictions on anybody suspected of being involved with terrorism.

Control orders will be under fresh scrutiny following the discovery of a suspected bomb on an American cargo plane at East Midlands Airport earlier this week.

According to the Observer, when told of the inquiry's findings at a meeting last week David Cameron remarked that the Government was heading for a 'car crash'.

Asked about the situation today in the wake of publicity surrounding the cargo bomb plot, Home Secretary Theresa May insisted 'no decisions on the review have yet been taken'.

'What I am clear about is that we do need to take some steps to rebalance national security and civil liberties, but of course commensurate always with ensuring we can keep this country safe,' she told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

But Mr Huhne, who has previously described control orders as 'Kafkaesque', made his position clear.

'We voted against control orders repeatedly and I think that all of us in government frankly want to preserve the rule of law. It's an absolute key part of out tradition,' he told the BBC's Politics Show.

'Let us see what happens in terms of the review, but I very firmly believe that the values we have in this country of a fair trial, you should know what you're accused of, you shouldn't be locked up or put under house arrest.

'It is not the sort of thing that we have traditionally done in this country and I want to get to a situation where we do not have to do that.'"


No change to housing benefit plan - Cameron

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"David Cameron has insisted the government is sticking to planned housing benefit cuts after Labour claimed the policy was in disarray.

The PM said: "These are difficult changes but I think it is right."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the policy was "a complete shambles" after reports welfare secretary Iain Duncan Smith was rethinking it.

Some Lib Dem and Tory MPs are calling for the planned cap on housing benefit, of £400 a week, to be dropped.

But Mr Cameron, speaking at prime minister's questions in the Commons, said it was not fair for working people to see their taxes used to fund homes "they couldn't even dream of"

And he stressed that the government was "going forward with all the proposals we put in the Spending Review and in the budget".


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