Published:

3pm Sir Andrew Green on Comment: Net migration will fall, despite this week's figures. But will it fall enough for the Government to hit its target?

1.15pm MPsETC: In the wake of Eric Joyce's arrest, is it time for a new understanding of MPs?

12.45pm WATCH: George Eustice MP on workfare opponents: "This is a small number of people orchestrating a campaign… a handful of communists"

ToryDiary: Why the Government is winning the gay marriage debate

Field Mark Feb 2012Mark Field MP on Comment: The new economic thinking is coming from the East

John Moss on Local Government: Some difficult facts about implementing a Mansion Tax

Also on Local Government:

WATCH: William Hague: "We have to intensify the pressure" on the Syrian regime

Osborne insists there will be no cuts to fuel duty

Osborne Large"George Osborne has reportedly ruled out any cuts to fuel duty in next month's budget… Diesel prices hit 143.5p this week and a planned rise in fuel duty in the forthcoming budget has led to calls for protests at Westminster next month. The Chancellor… is set to raise fuel duty by 3p in August, after having deferred the rise from January. But his aides have said that the rise must go ahead as planned, in order to fund business tax cuts demanded by many in the Conservative Party." – Independent | FT (£)

Free Enterprise Group of Tory MPs demand a Budget slashing taxes and red tape to kickstart growth

"The Free Enterprise Group of 36 MPs, most of whom were elected in 2010, is calling for George Osborne to pledge now to cut the 50p top rate of income tax before the General Election. … Mr Osborne has signalled his tacit support for the exercise by despatching his Parliamentary aide Sajid Javid to take notes at the meeting. The MPs also want to slash red tape that is deterring businesses from hiring. They are calling for firms with fewer than ten employees to be excluded from unfair dismissal laws to encourage them to create jobs." – Daily Mail

  • Osborne's Budget is shaping up to be a battle for the soul of the Coalition - Andrew Grice

> From yesterday - Bruce Anderson: Which of these two budget speeches is Osborne more likely to deliver?

Chris Grayling accuses left-wing activists of hijacking his email account

Grayling-Chris-On-Politics-"Employment minister Chris Grayling said activists used his official Commons account to send complaints to Tesco for giving young people a chance. He said: "I only discovered it when I got an automated reply from Tesco thanking me for my comments." He revealed the scam as he defended giving unemployed youngsters four weeks' unpaid work experience. The hard-left Socialist Workers Party has spearheaded a campaign to target firms taking part, including Tesco." – The Sun

  • Companies get cold feet over ‘slave labour’ work experience – The Times (£)
  • Far-Left groups behind drive to sabotage work experience for young – Daily Telegraph
  • Now Cameron's ex-jobs tsar quits her own company - Independent
  • Burger King leaves work experience scheme for jobless – BBC
  • Jobseekers forced to clean private homes and offices for nothing - Guardian
  • A retreat on workfare would fail our young – Telegraph editorial

> Yesterday on MPsETC: John Hayes displays his passion for apprenticeships in the House Magazine

MPs consider plan to give anti-abortion groups role in pregnancy counselling

"A cross-party group of MPs, set up by the public health minister Anne Milton after last September's vote against proposals by the Tory MP Nadine Dorries, is looking at plans that could give anti-abortion groups an official role. The MPs have been presented with three policy options… One option is to make no change while another resembles Dorries' original proposals, which would have prevented abortion providers such as Marie Stopes and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) from providing counselling services." – Guardian

'Bloated' House of Lords will soon have 1,000 members, Mark Harper warns

Harper Mark House wide"Cabinet Office minister Mark Harper launched a provocative attack on the ‘absurd’ Upper House. Mr Harper – Nick Clegg’s deputy at the Cabinet Office – insisted that the Government intends to sweep away centuries of history by replacing it with an elected chamber. He warned fellow Conservatives, who are threatening to rebel against the plans, that the party committed to Lords reform in its election manifesto. He also revealed the Prime Minister is prepared to use the Parliament Act, which allows the Commons to overrule the Lords, to force changes into law even if the Lords refuses to agree." – Daily Mail

David Willetts defends appointment of Les Ebdon in Times interview

WILLETTS READY 4 CHANGE"Offa is, he insists, critical to improving social mobility by widening the type of people who go to the best universities. Mr Willetts not only defends Professor Ebdon but says he, together with Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, chose him. “We were presented with three candidates and Les was the candidate who came from the world of universities and understood it. He will be working within the framework of agreed policy.”" – Full interview at the Times (£)

  • "The courses on offer at his institution do not include traditional degree courses… Instead, there is a less-than-scholastic two-year course in carnival arts — teaching undergraduates how to design costumes and allowing them ‘to take part in Europe’s  largest one-day carnival: the Luton International Carnival’." – Much more in a Daily Mail profile of Ebdon
  • "This week’s worst example of the Lib Dem tail wagging the Tory dog has, however, been the appointment, at Vince Cable’s insistence, of Professor Les Ebdon as director of the Office of Fair Access — the so-called ‘tsar’ whose job is to help youngsters from poor backgrounds go to university." - Simon Heffer

Charles Moore: Free schools are breaking down the barrier to a decent education for all

"[Michael Gove] has built a coalition of advisers and friends who see how much he cares and so want to help him. They are, in that sense, unfashionably ideological. They have a project and – which helps morale – an enemy. They resemble the people, in the early 1980s, many of them Left-wing in origin, who were desperate to break the power of trade union leaders like Arthur Scargill so that ordinary members could regain their rights. They get the feeling that they are winning." - Charles Moore

> From yesterday - WATCH: Michael Gove – my own story as an adopted child

Lib Dem "Equality" Minister Lynne Featherstone: It's not for the Church to decide who can marry

"Lynne Featherstone directly challenges the role of the Church in the debate over homosexual weddings, saying it does not “own” marriage. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Miss Featherstone says the Government has a right to change the definition of marriage and pledges to challenge those who “want to leave tradition alone”." – Daily Telegraph

  • This is not gay rights versus religious beliefs - Lynne Featherstone for the Daily Telegraph

Lib Dem mischief: Tim Farron says NHS Bill should have been axed 'far earlier'

Farron Tim 2

"Tim Farron said it would be “stupid” to ignore the concerns of doctors and other professionals over the proposed changes to the NHS and called on the House of Lords to force the government to back down. … Mr Farron said: “Lots of us are guilty for allowing it to get as far as it has done now. Basically this should have been dealt with far earlier in the cycle." – Daily Telegraph

  • Tory document warns of chaos if health reforms are dropped – Guardian
  • The Lib Dem carcass-to-be isn't ready to give up just yet – Jonathan Freedland

Eric Joyce's antics may call time on the cheap parliamentary pintMarina Hyde

  • "A TORY MP caught up in the fracas in a Commons bar that saw Labour's Eric Joyce nicked said yesterday: "I sort of feel sorry for him."" – The Sun

SSE says independence referendum is creating economic "uncertainty"

Salmond-alex-politics-show"SSE, previously known as Scottish and Southern Energy, said it has “no alternative” but to take into account the “additional risk” of separation when deciding whether to press ahead with energy projects north of the Border. Although the company will not declare a moratorium on an estimated £3.5 billion of schemes that are already in the pipeline, the referendum makes it less likely they will get the go-ahead." – Daily Telegraph

> From yesterday - Mark Menzies MP on Comment: In defence of the Union – a cause for common concern

 Graeme Archer: The strange left-wing priorities of Britain's first Green council

Green20party"But imagine you’re Britain’s first Green council. What would you wish to be remembered for? Isn’t it just possible you’d want to make a positive environmental impact on your city? How, then, to explain a key proposal of its flagship budget, to raise the charges on city allotments by an astonishing two thirds? What were they thinking? “Let’s put up tax and make it harder for people without gardens to grow their own vegetables.” Perhaps allotment holders aren’t, like, radical enough." - Graeme Archer for the Daily Telegraph

  • "Greens leader Caroline Lucas has attacked the biggest UK parties and urged members to "have confidence" in the party's future." – BBC

> Yesterday on Local Government: Council Tax freeze agreed for Brighton & Hove

Downing Street endorses tree scrapping at Portcullis HouseIndependent

Extradited businessman Christopher Tappin says Qatada is better protected by BritainDaily Telegraph

The World War Three files: For 30 years the papers have been kept secret. Now, the extraordinary story of how Whitehall drew up terrifyingly detailed plans for nuclear armageddon can finally be revealed Daily Mail

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