6.45pm Parliament: Shock! Horror! Conservative MP suggests an end to whipping

Screen shot 2010-07-21 at 19.55.04 5.45pm WATCH: David Cameron reiterates that the blame for releasing the Lockerbie bomber rests with the Scottish Executive – and that the decision was wrong

5pm Parliament: MPs reaffirm the Speaker's call for ministers to make key statements to the House, not the media

4pm WATCH Two clips from today's (D)PMQs:

Picture 122.45pm Gazette: Baroness Thatcher attends the summer reception of a re-energised Conservative Way Forward

1.30pm WATCH: Last night's White House press conference with David Cameron and Barack Obama in full

1pm ToryDiary: The row over death taxes shows why coalition's always a second-best option

12.30pm ToryDiary: Straw tackles Clegg about the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters at a laboured PMQs

10.45am ToryDiary: The New York Times sees Cameron as "Slasher of Government Bloat"


Adeela Shafi on Platform: The welfare state should be reformed so that it is again a stepping stone rather than a landing base

Local Government: Harrow Council rejects transparency

Parliament: Glyn Davies, who beat Lembit Opik, delivers his maiden speech in the first ever debate initiated by the Backbench Business Committee

Martin Parsons on CentreRight: Don't simplify the burqa issue

WATCH: Former MI5 chief, Baroness Manningham-Buller, tells the Iraq Inquiry that the 2003 invasion significantly increase the terror threat in the UK

Afghanistan withdrawal possible from 2011, says Cameron

"The withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan could start as early as next year, David Cameron has said. US president Barack Obama has talked about beginning the pull-out of American soldiers from July 2011. The prime minister told the BBC the same could be expected of UK forces "based on conditions on the ground". A major conference in Afghanistan on Tuesday backed a plan that would see Afghan forces lead security operations across the country by 2014." – BBC

"Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday said British troops could "win" in Afghanistan by restoring order and training their army to keep out potential terrorists." – The Sun

We need to defeat the Taliban, not increase aid – Daily Telegraph editorial

> WATCH: William Hague tells the international conference in Kabul that he welcomes the goal of Afghan-led security operations within five years

Cameron tells Obama he will release Lockerbie files

Picture 1 "David Cameron yesterday vowed to publish fresh papers on the release of the Lockerbie bomber as Barack Obama called for "all the facts to be laid out there". But at a joint White House press conference after talks in the Oval Office, Cameron rejected calls made by many US senators for a fresh public inquiry. He argued an inquiry had already been held by the Scottish parliament, and there was no point holding an inquiry when he said it was known the decision was wrong." – The Guardian

"The Prime Minister said that he and President Obama were in “violent agreement” that it had been wrong for the Scottish government to release Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi last year." – The Times (£)

"The Lockerbie bomber should have been left to die in jail instead of being given his freedom, David Cameron declared yesterday. In a hard-hitting statement, the Prime Minister acknowledged the depth of American anger over the decision to release Abdelbaset Al Megrahi by saying he thought the decision was wrong and “profoundly misguided”. – Daily Express

Cameron: Don't blame BP for Lockerbie bomber release BBC

Obama provides ray of hope for Gary McKinnonDaily Mail

Never mind the quarrels, Obama gives big welcome to ‘my friend’The Times (£)

"David Cameron's first visit to Washington as prime minister is attracting more interest than those of Gordon Brown in a US media whose curiosity was aroused by the general election." – The Guardian

Cameron prepares for final day of US visitSky News

Barack Obama invited to make state visit to UKThe Guardian

"David Cameron's main official gift to the First Family in Washington yesterday was a painting by a former hoodie. The PM's wife Samantha chose the £2,500 work by graffiti ace Eine – one of her favourite artists. It spells Twenty First Century City in the Londoner's trademark lettering." – The Sun

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: As he prepares to meet Obama, Cameron defends the special relationship.

> WATCH: David Cameron speaks at a White House press conference after his talks with President Obama

Nick Clegg to take today's PMQs ITN

Kiss of life for "death tax" bid

Andrew Lansley 2010 "During the election campaign Andrew Lansley, the new Health Secretary, attacked Labour plans to force people to provide for care whether they needed it or not. He helped draw up hard-hitting posters highlighting Labour’s “death tax”. Alongside pictures of gravestones were the words “Gordon Brown wants £20,000 when you die.” It has now been was disclosed that a commission set up by Mr Lansley to examine how care for the elderly would be paid for in the future could still look at the option of a compulsory levy." – Daily Telegraph

Electoral reform could boost the Tories

"The Conservatives would fare better in a general election under the proposed alternative vote system than the existing first-past-the-post voting method, research suggests. Writing on the ConservativeHome website, Lord Ashcroft, the Conservative deputy chairman, said that according to research which polled 6,000 people in key marginal seats, an election under AV would see the Tories take 19 seats from the Liberal Democrats, compared to the 16 they would lose to Labour, a net gain of three. Under FPTP, they would lose 28 and gain 30." – The Independent

"Ministers have denied a referendum on the Westminster electoral system cannot be held on the same day as parliamentary elections in Scotland." – BBC

> Lord Ashcroft on Platform yesterday afternoon: Could the Liberal Democrat meltdown in marginal seats mean the Tories could gain from AV?

> Tim Roll-Pickering on CentreRight yesterday analysed the effects of the AV system in action in Australia

MoD looking at cutting 30,000 troops

Liam Fox Daily Politics "Military planners are examining cutting Britain’s land forces from eight to five brigades, in a radical restructuring option that would hand the army operational command of the Royal Marines. The proposed overhaul, which would slash army numbers by up to 30,000, is an extreme scenario that underlines how a fierce budget squeeze is shaping the defence review." – FT (£)

Defence Secretary Liam Fox warns on spendingBBC

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Liam Fox paves the way for major changes to defence spending as he states that current programmes are "entirely unaffordable"

Small businesses to benefit from streamlining as complex tax rules are set to be torn up

"Britain's baffling tax rules will be torn up and redrawn by a new body unveiled by ministers yesterday. The Office for Tax Simplification will give ministers ideas for streamlining the unwieldy system which has made filing returns a nightmare for millions of individuals and firms. All tax reliefs, allowances and exemptions are to come under scrutiny by the OTS which will make its first recommendations by the autumn and issue a final report in time for next year's Budget." – Daily Mail

"The announcement yesterday by George Osborne of a new Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) is inspired by an honourable principle. The Chancellor is establishing the body so that “people might actually understand the tax laws which they were being asked to comply with”. But he has failed to make the case that the UK needs a permanent office to push constantly against unnecessary complexity in its taxes, rather than a Chancellor who does the same." – Times (£) editorial

> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Office for Tax Simplification launched with two initial reviews

Tough medicine needed as UK's debt pile grows, warns OsborneThe Independent

Budget risks return to recession, warns Treasury select committee The Guardian

Culture department braces itself for redundancies of up to 50%

Jeremy Hunt on Daily Politics "Up to one in two of the staff at the Department for Culture, Media
and Sport are to be made redundant as part of the cuts programme
submitted to the Treasury by the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Hunt
has also proposed moving out of the well-appointed departmental
headquarters in Cockspur Street, just off Trafalgar Square, with the
remaining staff finding room in a different, existing departmental
building." – The Guardian

Big Society insurance policy to be launched

"Community groups who volunteer to help others in their neighbour will be able to take advantage of a low-cost national insurance scheme, the Daily Telegraph has learned. David Cameron wants to protect individuals keen to take part in his Big Society schemes from falling foul of over-rigorous health and safety officials." – Daily Telegraph

Bonuses for senior Home Office staff amid pay freezeBBC

Green watchdog that monitors government is to be abolishedThe Times (£)

Ken Clarke delays enforcement of bribery lawFT (£)

Simon Heffer: The next Labour leader could be prime minister within a year

SImon Heffer "I have never set foot in a bookmaker's in my life, but were I that sort of person, I would be seeing what odds I could get on Ed Miliband's being prime minister this time next year. Oh, I know he's the less famous one, and it has been decreed that the Coalition is going to last five years: but stranger things have happened." – Simon Heffer in the Daily Telegraph

Mandelson attacks leadership contendersThe Times (£)

Cabinet ministers "at loggerheads over fate of RDAs"Northern Echo

David Cameron will not attend TUC conference

"David Cameron has turned down an invitation to address this year's TUC conference after a union leader warned that he would organise a mass walkout if the prime minister made an appearance at the event in Manchester. The TUC insisted Cameron had turned down the invitation because the conference, in September, may coincide with his paternity leave when his wife, Samantha, is due to give birth to their fourth child. The business secretary, Vince Cable, has accepted an invitation – sent separately to Cameron's – to attend." – The Guardian

And finally… Vince Cable's ministerial car caught parked up on new cycling superhighway

"Launched with much fanfare by Mayor Boris Johnson, London's new cycle 'superhighways' are there to make it safer and easier for the growing numbers of cyclists to criss-cross the capital. However, it appears that Vince Cable's chauffeur tried to stymie their efforts by blocking one of the routes with the Business Secretary's ministerial car." – Daily Mail


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