5.15pm Andrew Lilico on CentreRight: "Over the longer term, child benefit in its previous form as a flat-rate tax allowance must surely be abolished. Since it has now been redefined as a welfare payment, it must eventually be restricted to levels much lower down the income scale than £40,000."
5pm Latest in Parliament:
- Tory MP suggests Scotland should be in a separate time zone
- Government considering new legislation to clear Parliament Square of remaining protesters
4pm Jim McConalogue on CentreRight: How Cash and the Eurorealists are turning the tide
1.30pm Francis Maude MP on Platform announces an independent report on open data and personal privacy: Our plans for government transparency continue apace – but we must uphold the highest possible standards of personal data protection
Francis Maude announces his bonfire of quangos
"Francis Maude’s much-trailed announcement of his quango cull generated plenty of large numbers: 192 quangos are to be axed and a further 118 are to be reduced to 57 by mergers. Another 171 face “substantial” reform. In total, 648 of the existing 901 bodies will remain – but almost none have been left untouched. But Mr Maude’s statement on Thursday was almost entirely lacking in hard figures, either for numbers of jobs to be cut or the money that would be saved. That is partly because this overhaul, at breakneck speed, remains in Mr Maude’s words “a work in progress” – not only for the 40 bodies still under review but for many where outline decisions have been taken." – FT (£)
"The highest profile casualties included the Youth Justice Board, the Audit Commission, the UK Film Council, and British Nuclear Fuels. The Hospitality Advisory Committee on the Purchase of Wines, which chooses wines for Government, will also go. British Waterways and the Design Council are to become charities, while the Office of Fair Trading will be merged with the Competition Commission." – The Times (£)
"As bonfires go, this one is a little less fiery and accompanied by a rather less spectacular display of fireworks than you might have thought, listening to the soaring, boastful rhetoric of ministers and the squeals of anguish from the quangos being roasted alive. More of a damp squib really." – Sean O'Grady in The Independent
Kenneth Clarke warns that Western economies are still in "grave danger of collapse"
"Western economies remain in “grave danger of financial collapse” and next week’s spending review is vital if Britain is to avoid falling victim to another downturn, Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, has said… Mr Clarke, a former chancellor, said the spending review was “quite the most dramatic in living memory” and added: “There’s no one alive who remembers a crisis of this kind. I actually am one of those who believes, with a grave danger of financial collapse, we’re not out of the woods in the Western world yet." – Daily Telegraph
Allister Heath: Osborne’s cuts are relatively modest
"It is time for a reality check. The public spending cuts planned by the coalition only involve reversing, over five years, a small part of the enormous increase in expenditure which took place under Gordon Brown… There are three reasons why the cuts will feel harsher than that: interest payments are surging, squeezing the rest; entitlements (such as pensions) are rising, taking away resources from discretionary, departmental spending such as defence; and the political decision to protect the health and foreign aid budgets will squeeze other departments." – Allister Heath in City AM
Jo Johnson MP and Matthew Hancock MP: Whitehall’s old era of fudged savings must end
"Retail magnate Philip Green’s report this week uncovered a “staggeringly” wasteful public sector. Basic items such as printing paper and mobile handsets are purchased at different rates. There is little effective monitoring of costs, and few incentives to spend less than the budgeted amount. In the eyes of a businessman the waste looks like an opportunity. To a public fearful of job losses and cuts in next week’s comprehensive spending review, Mr Green’s vision of painless “efficiency savings” is tantalising. The question now is whether the Treasury has the tools to deliver." – Jo Johnson MP and Matthew Hancock MP in the FT (£)
Iain Duncan Smith battles to turn around the benefits supertanker
"The work and pensions secretary has big plans but little room to manoeuvre as next week's spending review looms… Duncan Smith has described welfare as the supertanker of British politics. So far it seems he has got the engine working – but he is still a long way from getting it to point in the right direction." – The Guardian
Government's announces £4 billion "raid on the gold-plated pension schemes of the wealthy"
"The amount of tax-free income workers can pay into their pension is to be slashed. From April, ministers say the annual limit will fall from £255,000 to £50,000. And the following year the limit for pension pots will be cut to £1.5million, from £1.8million. The move, designed to save the Treasury £4billion a year, may leave high earners facing a hefty tax charge. Officials say around 100,000 will be hit – 80 per cent of whom make more than £100,000 a year." – Daily Mail
Grandparents who care for youngsters to keep pension rights – Daily Telegraph
Peter Oborne: Hard-working families are the victims of a crude political strategy pursued by ministers out of touch with ordinary people
"The Prime Minister loves to talk of fairness, and in his party conference speech in Birmingham last week spoke explicitly and very movingly of his ambition to do everything he can to support the "doers and the grafters" who sustain British society and economy. But it has become increasingly clear that Cameron and Osborne are intent on milking the doers and grafters for all they can get." – Peter Oborne in the Daily Telegraph
Simon Jenkins: Cutting from the rich and clobbering the middle, Cameron looks like a lefty
"The coalition is fast becoming the most leftwing British government since the war. It has clobbered the middle classes on child benefit. On Tuesday it accepted advice to impose a swingeing loan repayment regime on rich graduates. Yesterday it said it would wipe billions in tax relief from private pension plans. This is from a government that is the first to stand by a top-rate tax rise, to 50%, since the Labour government of 1974. Nothing is sacred. Rightwing this is not." – SImon Jenkin in The Guardian
Lord Young's Health and Safety Review to be published today
"Lord Young is to publish his full review of current rules, including proposals to force town halls to pay compensation if they wrongly ban events. It also suggests that teachers be given assurances that they are not liable for everyday mishaps and accidents during school trips and after-hours clubs… The Government is believed to have approved the report in full and will also implement a crackdown on "ambulance-chasing" personal injury firms." – Press Association
Control orders for terrorist suspects to stay, says counter-terrorism review
"A review of counter-terrorism legislation is expected to tell ministers that control orders for suspects should remain, but the time police can hold suspects without charge should be cut to 14 days from 28, the Guardian has learned. The review recommendations can be overturned by ministers but security services and police have so far won their argument that there is no alternative to control orders." – The Guardian
Damian Green defends lifting ban on deportation of failed asylum seekers to Zimbabwe
"The four-year-old ban on sending more than 10,000 failed asylum seekers back to Zimbabwe is to be lifted, the immigration minister, Damian Green, has announced. The Home Office minister said the time was right given the improved situation in Zimbabwe after the formation of an "inclusive" government in 2009." – The Guardian
Clegg unveils £7 billion "fairness premium"
"Next week's comprehensive spending review (CSR) will include a £7 billion "fairness premium" to help children from poorer families as they go through nursery, school and university. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is to announce the move ahead of the spending review. The package will include free pre-school education for two-year-olds from disadvantaged households, a "pupil premium" providing extra cash while they are at school and a "student premium" to help them in higher education." – Press Association
"His new £7 billion fund to deliver a “fairness premium” to children from lowincome homes will not be accessible to the vast majority of working families whose tax contributions fund it. Few will quibble about the desirability of backing to the hilt determined young people who wish to escape difficult circumstances and feckless parents. But doing so in a manner that discriminates against the children of responsible parents puts the coalition in perilous territory." – Daily Express editorial
Adam Smith Institute calls for "widespread privatisations"
"The coalition government should undertake "a radical new programme of privatisation", according to right-wing think tank the Adam Smith Institute. It estimates the government could raise as much as £90bn if it sold its stakes in everything from Network Rail and the Royal Mint to Royal Bank of Scotland." – BBC
Owen Paterson pledges to honour St Andrews Agreement investment funding for Northern Ireland – BBC
The Mirror wants details of Rupert Murdoch's visit to Downing Street – The Mirror
Labour MP Denis MacShane reported to police over expenses claims by Standards Commissioner – Daily Telegraph
And finally… Alas last night, the Lady was not for Returning
"Baroness Thatcher had to pull out of a Downing Street party in her honour last night after she fell ill. David Cameron had invited the former Prime Minister to Number 10 to celebrate her 85th birthday along with 150 friends and colleagues. But although a bout of flu put paid to her attendance, she demanded that the party go on. Mr Cameron read out a message from Lady Thatcher, in which she said: ‘I am so disappointed not to be with you this evening. But I hope that you will appreciate that on this particular occasion I have had to accept that the Lady is not for returning. Please, please enjoy yourselves’." – Daily Mail
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