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6.45pm ToryDiary: IDS defines his mission

6pm Two takes on Comment on the current debate about competition in the NHS:

5pm Dale Bassett on Comment looks at today's OECD economic survey of the UK and notes its support for the cuts and its call for more education reform

Picture 24.45pm WATCH: The exchanges between Cameron adn Miliband on the NHS from today's PMQs

3.30pm Parliament: MPs queue up to support Quilliam

1.30pm Andrew Lilico on Comment: When should a Conservative support a revolution?

1pm ToryDiary: Cameron and Miliband clash on the NHS at PMQs

11.45am Parliament: Four Conservative MPs signal concerns about the Health Bill

10.15am ToryDiary: Employment minister Chris Grayling welcomes drop in those claiming Job Seeker's Allowance but admits "real concern" over new unemployment figures

ToryDiary: The Middle East needs George Bush

Also on ToryDiary: The Daily Mail's new Saturday politics columnist is Iain Martin

Picture 2 Robert Marr on Comment: The five mistakes George Osborne must avoid making next week in his efforts to stimulate growth

Also on Comment, John Baron MP says The Government should focus on the mission in Afghanistan, and not become missionaries

Local Government: Free schools planned for Thurrock, Hemel Hempstead, Oxford, Hull…

Jesse Norman MP on LeftWatch writes that Labour's economic relaunch was a car crash

Also on LeftWatch: More than 200 MPs and peers launch Labour No to AV

WATCH: Sports Minister Hugh Robertson marks 500 days until the London 2012 Olympic Games

Francis Maude says quango cull will save £30 billion…

Francis Maude 2010 "A massive £30billion is being saved by the Government's bonfire of the quangos, it is revealed today. Originally, PM David Cameron had anticipated saving £1billion from tearing apart Britain's 901 busybody organisations. But new analysis has shown the Government will rescue 30 times that figure over the next four years. About £2.6billion alone will come in staff and admin costs that will no longer have to be paid out. The rest will come in programmes being scrapped. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude, writing in The Sun today reveals the giant new sum – equivalent to the combined budgets of the Home Office and Department for Transport." – The Sun

…whilst officials reportedly sabotage Cameron's war on red tape

"Ministers are failing to stem the flow of red tape engulfing businesses because Whitehall officials are circumventing rules designed to block excessive regulation, The Times has learnt. Hundreds of new laws have been drawn up since the Government introduced rules to ease the regulatory burden on businesses, according to sources familiar with new legislation being produced across the Government." – The Times (£)

Ken Clarke's libel law reforms finally published in draft Defamation Bill

Ken Clarke 2011 "Sweeping reforms to stop corporations using their financial power to bring libel actions against their critics were announced under plans to promote free speech. The changes aim to end the "inequality of arms" between big companies and individuals. Justice Secretary Ken Clarke wants to make it harder to bring defamation cases and simplify court processes to reduce the cost for defendants." – Yesterday's Evening Standard

"Ministers have ruled out reforming Britain's privacy laws or bringing in new legislation to stop super-injunctions silencing the media, the Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke said yesterday… His comments will be a blow to media organisations and freedom of speech campaigners, who have become increasingly alarmed by the use of super-injunctions in the courts to silence the press on privacy grounds." – The Independent

  • The publication of a draft Defamation Bill is an important step towards correcting the flaws in the current law – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • The libel reforms are a step in the right direction – but do they go far enough? – Joshua Rozenberg in The Guardian

BMA demands Government abandon health reform Bill – but stops short of no-confidencing Lansley

Andrew Lansley 2 2010 "In what is turning out to be a torrid week for the Health Secretary, the British Medical Association (BMA) called on him to withdraw the Health and Social Care Bill, now going through Parliament, and warned that it would lead to the "fragmentation" and "privatisation" of the NHS. However, the BMA failed to back a vote of no confidence and stopped short of condemning its leadership for pursuing a policy of "critical engagement" with the Government rather than outright opposition to the Bill, after an appeal from the chairman, Hamish Meldrum, not to "tie our hands". – The Independent

"No 10 responded to the British Medical Association vote on NHS reforms by describing the general meeting as unrepresentative of the BMA membership, adding it was disappointed it had decided to oppose reforms it had previously supported. Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, has insisted he will only be making minor changes to the language of the health and social care bill in response to the Liberal Democrat decision to oppose it." – The Guardian

Clegg dashes Tory hopes of ECHR opt out

"Coalition ministers are set to dash hopes of Britain opting out of European human rights laws, it emerged last night. The Government is expected to set up a commission to look at meddling by the European Court of Human Rights over issues such as allowing prisoners to vote, which are deeply opposed by many Tory MPs. But Lib Dem Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is understood to have won an agreement to stop the commission even considering the possibility of withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights." – Daily Express

> Marcus Booth: In defence of the European Convention on Human Rights

> Nick de Bois MP: Now it's time for a free vote on leaving the ECHR

Will George Osborne find the courage to cut taxes?

"With just a week to go before his ‘Budget for growth’, George Osborne should consider a remarkable fact of economics: governments often raise more money by cutting taxes than increasing them. The point was dramatically illustrated during Margaret Thatcher’s premiership, when her chancellors slashed the top rate of income tax from 83 per cent to 40 per cent by the time she left office…  We understand the political difficulties of being seen to cut taxes for the comfortably-off at a time of acute hardship for the poor. But those stubborn facts remain: high taxes are the enemy of growth — and only growth can rescue us, rich and poor alike, from our calamitous debt crisis." – Daily Mail editorial

  • George Osborne must promise tax cuts, says IoD – Daily Telegraph
  • Osborne’s £1bn fuel tax take – The Sun

Conservatives were wrong to ignore child poverty, says Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith speaking "The Conservatives made the mistake of ignoring the issue of child poverty, ceding the ground to the left with the result that the discussion became fixated by income levels alone, the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has said. Giving the Sir Keith Joseph lecture, he said: "The Conservatives ignored the issue for far too long. We seem to have felt uncomfortable discussing poverty, certainly in the context of society at home." – The Guardian

"Giving poor people more money can actually make their lives worse, Iain Duncan Smith has insisted. The Work and Pensions Secretary hit out at the former Labour government for becoming "fixated" on increasing income levels through benefits and tax credits. Pushing people into employment is the "best route" for bringing them out of poverty, he added." – Press Association

  • Cabinet clashes over control of £4.8 billion benefits – FT (£)

Radicalisation review 'to urge more student monitoring'

"A review of policy on radicalisation will call for more monitoring of students by university and college lecturers, the BBC understands. Calls for more analysis of work to look for signs of a growing threat are likely to be resisted by staff who fear they would be seen as spies." – BBC

Unions to fight cuts with £35m war chest to pay wages of striking workers in bid to 'unleash hell'

Picture 5 "Unions have amassed a staggering £35 million war chest to 'unleash hell' on the Government with a wave of strikes over savings in public spending. The funds are expected to be used to fund a nationwide campaign against the coalition's cuts programme – and even cover the wages of workers taking industrial action… Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi said: 'Ed Miliband won the leadership because of the unions. The Labour Party is now almost wholly dependent on them for donations. It’s time for him to stop dithering and speak out'." – Daily Mail

> As long ago as December 2009 we reported that Unions had a £25m war chest to "unleash hell" on Tory government

Cameron's fears for UK nationals in Japan

"David Cameron spoke last night of his fears there are UK casualties among the death toll. The Prime Minister said: "As yet there are no confirmed British fatalities, but we have severe concerns about a number of British nationals." Around 17,000 UK nationals were in Japan at the time and yesterday The Sun revealed how at least ten were feared dead." – The Sun

Daniel Finkelstein is voting NO2AV

Danny Finkelstein 2011 "I’ve been thinking why the arguments in the referendum campaign have been so poor. The first reason, I’ve concluded, is that no one really wants AV. Even the “yes” campaign. What they actually wanted was a proper proportional system, but they couldn’t get MPs to agree to a referendum on it… AV swaps some of the disadvantages and unfairnesses of the current system for one that I think is even worse. It’ll be a “no” from me." – Daniel Finkelstein in The Times (£)

Political news in brief

  • UK to seek further sanctions against Libya at UN – Reuters
  • Justice minister tries to ease anti-bribery rules – The Guardian
  • Sentencing Council recommends downgrading punishment for spitting at police officers – The Sun
  • We don't know what the police 'frontline' is, Home Office admits – Daily Telegraph
  • Super-rich to be given fast-track to settle in Britain – The Guardian
  • Tobacco display ban faces legal challenge – Press Association
  • Elections to devolved bodies could be five-yearly – Press Association
  • Councils to help first-time buyers on to housing ladder – BBC

And finally… Michael Cockerell unmasks the real-life Sir Humphreys

Picture 4 "The cabinet secretary of the day is the most powerful unelected member of the government; he is the real-life Sir Humphrey from Yes, Prime Minister, who pulls the invisible strings across the whole of Whitehall… Unlike the prime minister, the top mandarin is allowed to see all the papers of previous governments. In Whitehall, where knowledge is power, the Cabinet Secretary is the person who knows most of all… For my new television documentary I managed to persuade all five of the surviving cabinet secretaries to talk about their ways of operating within Whitehall’s secret citadel." Michael Cockerell previews his BBC4 documentary in the Daily Telegraph

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54 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 16th March 2011

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