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Government promises “action” on water bills

independentwater“Moves to stop water companies ripping off their customers are being drawn up by the Government in an attempt to curb above-inflation rises in bills. The plan, which forms part of a drive by David Cameron to see “household bills coming down”, emerged as Ed Miliband signalled the water firms were also in his sights.” – The Independent

  • “Downing Street has indicated “action on water bills” will be announced next week as part of efforts to address concerns about high utility costs.” – BBC
  • “Water bills should be cut by 10 per cent over five years and customers must be handed the chance to switch water suppliers, a former regulator has said. The radical proposals from Sir Ian Byatt — the head of Ofwat who reduced bills by 12 per cent in 1999 — emerged as the price of water became the latest political battleground.” – The Times (£)

Legal Aid cuts criticised by Government’s own lawyers

“Government plans to cut legal aid in criminal cases have been criticised by an elite group of barristers used by it to prosecute the most serious crimes. Treasury Counsel, appointed by the attorney general, said the cuts – £220m from a yearly budget of £1bn for criminal cases – were unsustainable.” – BBC

Conservatives encouraging combat veterans to be candidates as alternative to professional politicians

“Two former British Army soldiers who fought in Afghanistan have been selected to contest winnable seats for the party. A third could be selected on Saturday when Thomas Tugendhat, another Afghan veteran, stands in an open primary in Tonbridge and Malling in Kent.” – Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

MPsETC:

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond used offshore company to minimise his tax…

telegraphminister“A Conservative minister used an offshore company to buy his second home, allowing him to cut his tax bill, it can be disclosed. Stephen Hammond used a company based in Gibraltar, before it moved to Delaware, to buy his family’s £500,000 villa in Portugal. By not owning the villa directly, in his own name, he was able to reduce his tax bill in both Britain and Portugal.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Vince Cable has said he would welcome action “to plug a loophole” exempting foreigners from paying capital gains tax on second homes.” – BBC

 Cameron is patron to 29 organisations….

“David Cameron is a patron of 29 organisations, including the European Union Youth Orchestra, according to a new list of ministers’ interests. Last published in 2011, it includes declarations of share holdings and details about the careers of ministers’ spouses, partners and siblings.” – BBC

  • “The register reveals that Samantha Cameron, the Prime Minister’s wife, is the patron of four charities and an ambassador for both the British Fashion Council, and Save the Children. It also records that her mother, Viscountess Astor, wife of William Astor, the 4th Viscount
    Astor, is chief executive of the luxury furniture dealer OKA. Other notes say: “Mr Cameron’s brother is a barrister, specialising in criminal law. One of Mr Cameron’s sisters is employed as the clinical manager at The Recovery Centre in London. Mr Cameron’s father-in-law is Sir Reginald Sheffield.” – The Independent

…while five cabinet ministers criticised for holding shares in blind trusts

“Five Cabinet ministers hold shares in controversial “blind trusts” that make it impossible to scrutinise their financial interests, new data reveals. The private interests of senior politicians were revealed for the first time in two years as the Government published the register of ministers’ interests almost 18 months behind schedule.” – The Times(£)

Pupils must study at least 15 poems says Gove..

GOVE, Michael blue sky“Teenagers must study at least 15 poems, including works by the likes of Keats, Shelley and Byron, for the new English literature exam in a toughening-up of GCSEs. All pupils will read a series of ‘high-quality, intellectually challenging and substantial whole texts in detail’ as part of reformed qualifications.” – Daily Mail

…and memorise mathematical formulae

“The new curriculum for GCSE maths will see pupils in England spending more classtime studying the subject and memorising mathematical formulae, such as Pythagoras’s theorem. The revised maths curriculum – which comes into force in September 2015 – expands the range of topics that pupils are expected to learn, while the new curriculum for GCSE English literature and language courses will place a greater emphasis on spelling, punctuation and grammar.” – The Guardian

NHS should claw back pay offs to managers

“NHS bosses should have generous redundancy payoffs clawed back if they find new jobs in the health service, Downing Street said yesterday as outrage grew over “revolving door” payments revealed by The Times.” – The Times(£)

  • “The drafting of contracts in the NHS has been as lax as one might expect in an organisation whose cost discipline is not good enough. Staff who are made redundant in the NHS are entitled to apply to rejoin after only a month. It would not damage their legitimate employment rights to make this cooling-off period longer. It might also make sense to stagger the payments so that, in the event that someone did resume what is essentially the same job, there was no need for the full payment to be made.” – Leader The Times(£)

Unite targeted bosses homes in 60 firms

“The Unite union’s campaign of bullying and intimidation has targeted more than 60 businesses in the past two years, the Mail can reveal. Packs of militant protesters hounded senior managers at country hotels, a children’s charity fun run and at the castle where Downton Abbey is filmed in dirty tricks operations designed to humiliate them into giving in to the union’s demands.” – Daily Mail

  • “This was the week the Mail exposed the return of 1980s Scargillism to Britain, with our revelations of the bully-boy tactics endorsed by Ed Miliband’s chief union paymasters.” – Leader Daily Mail

Five BBC staff switching to stand as Labour MPs

“THE BBC was last night hit by a fresh bias row after it emerged five former and current staff are in the running to become Labour MPs at the next election. Conservative vice-chairman Bob Neill said there was “a revolving door” between the Corporation and the party. Ex-Beeb journalists Polly Billington, Clive Lewis, Victoria Groulef and Simon Thomson have all been selected for top target seats in 2015. And Matthew Turmaine, the Corporation’s head of client services and fulfilment, is standing for Labour in Watford.” – The Sun (£)

Charles Moore warns against children becoming property

“People want children of their own, but what does the phrase “their own” mean? It is certainly not a form of property. But the alliance of science with money, law and sexual rights is turning it into that. The right of adult freedom is doing many children a great wrong.” – Charles Moore Daily Telegraph

UKIP could put Miliband into power says Stephan Shakespeare

“The  Tories should benefit from a recovering economy and an ineffective Labour leader but Miliband could be boosted by the potentially historic UKIP/Tory split and a large defection of unhappy Lib Dem voters. It’s all to play for.” – Stephan Shakespeare The Times (£)

Simon Heffer says France shows what Miliband’s Britain would be like

“What is happening in France now offers a chilling vision of what could happen under a Miliband government in Britain. All Hollande has done is bring poverty, unemployment, decline, disillusion and the desertion of France by its brightest and best in search of their fortunes elsewhere.” – Simon Heffer Daily Mail

Charles Elphicke says Labour would increase energy bills

“Lord Donoghue is right. Ed Miliband’s demand for a £125 carbon tax would be painful. Telegraph readers would pay the price, with higher bills. You can see the same callousness in Caroline Flint’s remark that green taxes are “only” adding £113 to people’s bills. It is the same old Labour Party.” – Charles Elphicke Daily Telegraph

News in brief

  • Brent seeks ban on fracking – The Independent
  • Police not pursuing Shapps – BBC
  • TUC claim recovery not boosting household disposable income – BBC
  • RBS shares fall 7 per cent with decision not to split – BBC

17 comments for: Newslinks Saturday 2nd October 2013

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