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Disquiet on the Coalition front: Tory ministers speak out against Clegg and his views on free schools

CURSE OF CLEGG one“Tory planning minister Nick Boles, suggested Mr Clegg was a hypocrite because he did not want state schools to have the same freedoms enjoyed by his private alma mater, Westminster School. … Education minister Liz Truss yesterday said it was a ‘shame’ some Lib Dems did not back free schools and suggested Mr Clegg was pretending to be opposed to elements of the programme to appease left-wing activists.” – Daily Mail

  • “Children from private schools were 7 per cent more likely to go into an ‘elite’ job in the media or law than those with the same degree who went to state schools.” – Daily Mail
  • Grammars will axe classics to cope with cuts, says head – The Times (£)
  • Head teacher makes bid to teach pupils about conkers – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “By coming out against free schools, Nick Clegg has distanced himself from the Tories – and revealed that he cares more about politics than about children” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Even members of his own party recognise this tawdry U-turn as a transparent attempt to suck up to Labour in the hope of clinging to his job in any future Lib-Lab coalition.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “What a hypocrite. Because his parents had the money, it was OK for him to benefit from outstanding teachers who weren’t qualified … But it’s not OK at state schools.” – Sun editorial (£)
  • “Nick Clegg is right to reject free schools” – Melissa Kite, The Guardian

Government to announce a new French-built, Chinese-backed nuclear power station

Hinkley Point“The government is set to give the go ahead for the UK’s first new nuclear station in a generation. … France’s EDF Energy will lead a consortium that includes Chinese investors, to build the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset. … Ministers say the deal will help take the UK towards low-carbon power and lower generating costs in future.” – BBC

“But the company has said it will not carry out the work without first receiving Government subsidies to guarantee a hefty return on its investment. … The cost of the subsidies will be passed on to consumers — sparking fears that hundreds of pounds will be added to families’ electricity bills.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Energy Minister Greg Barker has said on-shore wind farms have turned public opinion against renewable energy” – Daily Telegraph
  • “The owner of Scotland’s largest oil refinery has warned he is not bluffing about threats to close the site permanently this week if 1,300 staff do not agree to pensions cuts.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “…if all goes well, the bulldozers may finally start rolling next year, and we can truly say the great British nuclear renaissance is here. Twenty years too late, but better late than never.” – Michael Hanlon, Daily Telegraph
  • “With his far-sighted deal with China and France, George Osborne is trying to instil a lost can-do attitude in this country” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Instead of turning to China for huge projects such as Hinkley Point, we could mass-produce reactors” Matt Ridley, The Times (£)
  • The energy companies are opaque in their pricing and customers do not find it easy to switch supplier, but price rises are made necessary by the cost of investment” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Why are we paying rip-off prices for gas and electricity when an ocean of shale lies untapped beneath our feet? … Yes, blame the scaremongers who claim the world faces a climate catastrophe with melting ice caps and surging ocean levels while refusing to let us drill for cleaner energy.” – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun (£)

As Cameron prepares to demand powers back from Europe, a report that could help his cause

CAMERON flag“David Cameron will this week demand the return of powers from Brussels amid new evidence of the massive cost of EU regulation to Britain. … A report published today by the Open Europe think-tank claims that the top 100 EU regulations are costing the UK more than £27 billion a year, outweighing benefits in a quarter of cases.” – Daily Mail

> Today, by Adam Afriyie on Comment: I won’t be bullied out of moving my EU referendum amendment

European Commission accused of concealing the truth about benefit tourism

“A European Commission report revealed more than 600,000 “non-active” migrants are currently living here. … They include the unemployed, students and OAPs. The report said the cost to the NHS alone could be £1.5billion a year. But it also concluded the impact on public services was ‘incredibly low’. … Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell accused the Commission of ‘spinning the facts to down play the impact of benefit tourism’.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Labour will ban shifts to which only foreigners currently have access as it seeks to shift the immigration debate away from benefit tourism and towards the way in which British people can be locked out of the UK labour market.” – The Guardian

> Today, by Priti Patel on Comment: We should be proud of the tough new measures in the Immigration Bill

> Yesterday, by Henry Smith MP on Comment: We’re right to seek to curb EU benefit tourism

Boris: Let’s not blame foreigners for our housing crisis! Let’s build more homes!

BORIS open mouth“But the answer is not to try to persecute rich foreign investors with new mansion taxes, or complicated and unenforceable taxes on the tiny proportion of homes they leave empty. The answer to house-price inflation is to build more homes – as we can, on London’s 33 brownfield opportunity areas.” – Boris Johnson, Daily Telegraph

  • Bank of England economist dismisses concerns about Help to Buy – Daily Mail
  • House prices in London rise 10 percent in one month (although Help to Buy may not be to blame) – Daily Mail

> Yesterday, by Luke Springthorpe on Comment: Seven problems with Help to Buy

Cameron plans to build on the Royal Mail privitisation with more sell-offs

“David Cameron is planning to build on the huge popularity of the Royal Mail privatisation by prioritising retail investors for the sell-offs ahead of the general election in 2015. … Attracting retail investors will be a key aim as the government prepares to complete the sales of Royal Mail and Lloyds Bank next year, according to people close to the situation.” – Financial Times

We want our pay rise, MPs tell the Prime Minister

Pennies“MPs are expected to have a £7,600 pay rise rubber-stamped within weeks – despite fears of a public backlash. … David Cameron is facing pressure from a powerful group of backbenchers who insist the 11 per cent rise recommended by their independent pay watchdog must be implemented.” – Daily Mail

Hunt presses hospitals to investigate all patient complaints

“Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, is moving to end the situation whereby some hospitals decide not to look into a complaint or to halt an investigation simply because the patient or relatives have also launched a lawsuit – or even just sought legal advice about doing so. … The Department of Health has agreed to issue new guidance to all NHS organisations in England telling them to look into all complaints, regardless of the possibility of being sued.” – The Guardian

  • “The NHS chief responsible for A&E services has said he would be unhappy if one of his own relatives was admitted to hospital over the weekend – because of a shortage of consultants.” – Daily Mail
  • Firms running NHS care services avoiding millions in tax – The Independent

ConHome’s Harry Phibbs discovers that one-in-ten come off benefits altogether after losing spare room subsidy

PHIBBS Harry rosette“The scrapping of the subsidy caused protests by Left-wing activists, who called it ‘the bedroom tax’ and claimed it would inflict misery on less well-off families. … But Freedom of Information requests show that, in tens of thousands of cases, the move encouraged people to find a job. … The figures were revealed by Harry Phibbs, a Tory councillor, in an investigation for the ConservativeHome website.” – Daily Mail

  • “A bosswho advertised for 50 new workers has slammed ‘lazy’ locals — after nobody applied.” – The Sun (£)

> Today on Local Government: Cutting the spare room subsidy is getting thousands into work

Universities should spend more time teaching, says Willetts

“Despite university fees soaring, the system has become ‘lopsided’ with institutions focusing more on research than on teaching students, the Universities Minister David Willetts has said in a damning report. … He said that given the growth in the number of students it was ‘surprising’ that the time devoted to teaching had fallen, and argued that the ‘pendulum has swung too far away’.” – Daily Mail

Pickles and Green join the calls for a Mitchell apology

“Damian Green, the Policing Minister, said today that Mr Mitchell is ‘absolutely’ owed an apology from police. … In a separate interview Eric Pickles, the Local Government Secretary, said he would be ‘honoured’ to sit with his former colleague in the Cabinet.” – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday’s video to WATCH: Damian Green – the police should apologise to Andrew Mitchell

Paterson’s coming battle over genetically-modified food

“Eighty-five scientists have joined forces to challenge the claims of biotech giants and the UK government that GM food is safe for humans. … Environment Secretary Owen Paterson, who has responsibility for food and farming, and the industry have embarked on a huge public relations exercise to win over a sceptical public to genetically modified food.” – Daily Mail

  • “The Local Government Association has written to Owen Patterson, Environment Secretary, telling him that a message from his junior minister advising councils to recycle more efficiently was ‘unhelpful’.” – The Times (£)

Halfon: The licence fee is a “medieval anachronism”

Robert Halfon on television“The BBC licence fee is a ‘medieval anachronism’ and can only be justified if those who pay it elect the chairman and board, have a more direct say on programme-making and an input on celebrity pay, MPs will hear today. … Mr Halfon believes the fact that fee-payers have little input into how the Corporation is run makes the BBC as undemocratic as a ‘feudal monarchy.’” – Daily Mail

The Coalition should rethink the Lobbying Bill, says the Guardian

“The problem is that the bill is so flawed that it is hard to see how it can be easily amended. Instead, as both the constitutional affairs committee and the newly formed Commission on Civil Society, chaired by the former bishop of Oxford, are suggesting, it should be paused until it can be made fit for purpose.” – Guardian editorial

And it should ditch Leveson too, writes Farage

“The press has not covered itself in glory in recent years: the hacking scandal, of which I am a victim, is just one example. However, those who have been libelled or abused by the press have access to legal recourse to defend their rights and their good name. Without a free press to hold politicians to account, the people will not have the knowledge and power to make their voices heard.” – Nigel Farage, The Independent

Huhne: Which Labour ministers okayed GCHQ’s Tempora programme?

“Surely the first question is who signed off this programme? I discount the possibility that GCHQ went rogue. Its head at the time, Sir David Pepper, was a bureaucratic stickler. Sir David Omand, cabinet office permanent secretary in charge of intelligence, would also have insisted on ministerial sign-off.” – Chris Huhne, The Guardian

Cherie Blair calls for apprenticeships for mothers returning to work

“Cherie Blair has called for stay-at-home mothers to get Government-funded training and subsidised salaries to help them get back to work and boost the economy. … The wife of former prime minister Tony Blair said more women could get back on the ‘ramp into employment’ if the state offered support in the first six months of their return to work.” – Daily Mail

Councils face heavier parliamentary scrutiny of their finances, warns Hodge

“Margaret Hodge, the [Public Accounts] committee’s chairwoman, has announced a “deep dive” investigation into town hall finances. … She indicated councillors or town hall chief executives could be called to account if an authority ran into funding difficulties or failed to deliver on the Government’s troubled family programme.” – The Times (£)

The Duchess of Cornwall meets with Justin Welby to discuss payday loans

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall“Her husband has never been afraid of voicing his concerns over the issues of the day. … Now it appears that the Duchess of Cornwall may be following in Prince Charles’s footsteps by taking a more political approach to her role. … [The Archbishop of Canterbury] was invited to Camilla’s London residence, Clarence House, on Friday for a meeting about his campaign against companies that charge exorbitant rates of interest on their loans.” – Daily Mail

  • “The Church of England owns almost £13 million worth of shares in the Big Six energy firms.” – The Sun (£)

Salmond: A deal to remove Trident from Scotland would have to wait until 2016

“Alex Salmond has suggested a final deal on removing Trident nuclear submarines from an independent Scotland would be delayed until 2016 … The first minister appeared to soften his stance on the immediate future of the Trident fleet by suggesting its fate was conditional on the Scottish National party retaining power after independence was formally declared.” – The Guardian

  • “The SNP has to persuade the voters that not much is going to be placed at risk while simultaneously inspiring them to believe that independence would be an historic change for the better.” – Guardian editorial
  • “Not being England isn’t a big enough vision for Scotland” – John McTernan, The Times (£)

> Yesterday’s video to WATCH: Salmond – “We would ask the nuclear submarines to be removed from Scotland as soon as possible.”

News in brief

  • Half of today’s babies will see their parents split up by the time they reach the age of 15 – Daily Mail
  • Iraqi terror suspect plans return to Britain, after legal victory – The Sun (£)
  • The UK arrested 22 individuals in 2012 after receiving extradition requests from the US, compared with 12 arrests the previous year – Financial Times
  • Human rights activists urge boycott of Commonwealth summit in Colombo – The Times (£)

7 comments for: Newslinks for Monday 21st October 2013

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