Energy bosses could face jail if they fix prices – the Goverment reveals its plans

Buster Keaton behind bars“Energy bosses will face jail under plans to make the fixing of household fuel bills a crime. … Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, yesterday said specific criminal penalties would apply to ‘manipulation of the energy markets’. … He also pledged to reduce red tape to enable households to switch between energy firms within 24 hours. Currently it can take five weeks.” – Daily Mail

“Voters in the ‘squeezed middle’ are flocking to the Labour party after Ed Miliband pledged to freeze fuel bills for 20 months if he wins the next general election, according to a new poll that shows a dramatic fall in support for the Liberal Democrats.” – The Guardian

  • “If they don’t want to become as hated as bankers, energy companies must wise up to political reality” – Philip Collins, The Times (£)

MPs vote in favour of HS2 funding

“The planned High Speed 2 rail line from London to the north advanced on Thursday when MPs overwhelmingly voted in favour and Labour urged the government to ‘get it back on track’. … Only 34 MPs voted against legislation for hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of interim funding, with 350 in favour, including Labour MPs.” – Financial Times

  • McLOUGHLIN Patrick mouth“Patrick McLoughlin called for cross-party support for the high-speed line as 18 Tory MPs voted against the £50billion scheme.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Labour depicted itself last night as the ‘true friend’ of HS2 as Ed Miliband moved to quash speculation that the party would abandon support for Britain’s first high-speed rail line north of London.” – The Guardian
  • London to Edinburgh in 3 hours is next goal for high-speed rail – The Times (£)

And comment:

  • “George Osborne should halt the train journey no one wants to take” – Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
  • “Why huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ types are out for Tory blood” – Isabel Hardman, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday:

ToryDiary: The problem with HS2
Tory MPs: Small rebellions on HS2 – but where was Balls?

RBS will not split into “good” and “bad” banks

RBS logo“Earlier this year, Chancellor George Osborne commissioned two City firms, Black Rock and Rothschild, to evaluate the case for splitting RBS in two. … The decision to keep the bad assets within the bank, but ring-fenced and managed separately, does not go that far. … It also goes against the advice of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which suggested that toxic loans should be removed from RBS and kept in the public sector for the foreseeable future.” – BBC

Osborne considers a new property tax for wealthy foreign house-buyers

“Wealthy foreigners who buy and sell British property could face a new tax under plans being considered by George Osborne. … The Chancellor is looking at putting capital gains tax on the UK homes of foreign owners in his Autumn Statement next month.” – Daily Mail

  • “A generation of children have remained living in the homes of their middle-aged parents, according to the latest official analysis of British households.” – Daily Mail

Cameron to announce new powers for the Welsh Assembly

“The Prime Minister and his deputy, Nick Clegg, are expected to announce that the Government at Westminster will devolve more power to the assembly at Cardiff Bay. … The Prime Minister last night indicated that Welsh borrowing powers could be used to upgrade the M4 running through South Wales. He also hinted at the possible devolution of income tax powers – although that would require a new referendum.” – Daily Telegraph

Brooks and Coulson had a six-year affair

COULSON Andy“Rebekah Brooks had a secret six-year affair with Andy Coulson before he became David Cameron’s spin doctor, the phone hacking trial heard yesterday. … The pair, both of whom were married, are said to have had a romance at the height of a phone hacking conspiracy in which the News of the World is alleged to have targeted celebrities, politicians and royals.” – Daily Mail

Could ministers just start again with Universal Credit?

“Ministers attempting to put the troubled universal credit welfare reform programme back on track have been presented with a radical plan to restart the scheme and write off £119m of work over the past three years. … The proposals would create a much more web-based system, reducing the need for jobcentre staff, but putting the whole scheme back to ‘phase one’.” – The Guardian

  • “…as facts begin to intrude on his theory, the great reformer is slowing the pace.” – Guardian editorial
  • “Welfare dependency isn’t Britain’s gravest economic problem. Pitiful pay is” – Polly Toynbee, The Guardian

> Today on ToryDiary: The T-800 is coming for your job, not your scalp

> Yesterday, by Ed Holmes on Comment: How to stop the long-term unemployed from falling out of the labour market

GCSE grading changes to reveal high performers

“A shake-up of the grading system for GCSEs to make it easier for employers and schools to spot high ­performance is to be announced on Friday as a ‘once in a decade’ reform. … The system will use the numbers one to nine to denote the standard reached, rather than the current system of grades from A* down.” – Financial Times

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Paxman and Gove go on a Tristram hunt

How much do illegal immigrants cost our health and education systems? The Home Office has answers

Go Home van“Illegal immigrants use £3.7billion worth of taxpayer-funded health and education services every year, figures out yesterday suggest. … Each one taking advantage of Britain’s free NHS and schools costs the Treasury £4,250 per year, a Home Office report reveals. … Only 11 illegals contacted the Home Office as a result of seeing the vans and have been removed.” – Daily Mail

> Today, by Ryan Bourne on Comment: Have immigrants “taken our jobs”?

The Human Rights Act is preventing us from deporting foreign criminals, warns Grayling

“Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, said “human rights laws need to change” after Scotland Yard released figures showing that just one in 100 foreigners arrested in London are removed from this country. … It comes amid growing police concern about the number of ‘foreign national offenders’. More than a quarter of people arrested in London, equivalent to 70,000 people, are from overseas, with about half of them from outside the European Union.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “The fast-track arrest warrant is among 35 EU criminal justice measures the Government wants to retain – but Theresa May has promised to change British law to prevent it being used to extradite UK nationals on trivial or dubious charges. … However, the Home Affairs Select Committee has said it is concerned the reforms do not go far enough and has called for an urgent vote in the House of Commons on continued UK membership of the EAW.” – The Independent

Ben Wallace suggests that Google and Facebook are a bigger risk to privacy than state snooping

“Former military intelligence officer Ben Wallace – now a Tory MP – said security and intelligence agencies were covered by strict laws in place to protect citizens against unwarranted intrusion. … By contrast, lax protections against private snooping allowed mass collection of internet activities by private firms.” – Daily Mail

  • MI5 chief criticised by Dominic Raab over attack on Guardian – The Guardian
  • But another Tory MP, Julian Smith, claims that the Guardian may be guilty of treason – Daily Telegraph
  • “Ministers have been given orders to lock up their phones in sound-proof boxes to stop foreign spies using them as bugging devices.” – The Sun (£)

Whittingdale calls for a compromise on press regulation

Pile of newspapers“As the publishing industry roundly condemned a new Royal Charter yesterday, John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture Select Committee, asked the Government to consider ‘alternative safeguards’ to allay concerns that it will lead to political interference in press freedom.” – The Times (£)

  • “The editors of regional and local newspapers told the Labour leader they would not sign up to a new body overseeing Press self-regulation. … One editor told the Labour leader that the regional Press was fed up with being ‘insulted’ by politicians over the issue of Press freedom.” – Daily Mail

Baker rails against Asbos

“Nearly three in every five Asbos handed out to yobs have been breached at least once, official figures revealed yesterday. … Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: ‘This is further proof of why we need to replace this broken system.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “…we still have doubts over the new Crime Prevention Injunctions. … They may be quicker and easier to dish out. But they still sound like toothless civil orders.” – Sun editorial (£)

Lord Steel attacks the culture of spin and Twitter in modern politics

“Lord Steel has launched a despairing attack on the prevalence of spin doctors in politics, noting that he is given ‘daily outpourings of tweets to circulate’ and bombarded by email with “‘lines to take’ on current issues. … The senior Liberal Democrat said a daily ‘laundry list’ sent out by the party headquarters contributes to the ‘diminution of individual expression or even thought in politics’.” – The Guardian

Miliband doesn’t have the vote of the head of the CBI

MILIBAND Red Ed“The head of the CBI said last night that the prospect of a return to 1970s-style socialism under Ed Miliband ‘raised the hairs on the back of my neck’. … John Cridland attacked the Labour leader’s policies, including an energy price freeze and higher corporation tax.” – Daily Mail

CBI director-general says corporate world must rebuild reputation – The Guardian

  • “The CBI’s criticisms of Ed Miliband are convincing. Penalising business will hamper wealth creation and economic recovery.” – Times editorial (£)
  • “Labour’s lost business love disturbs employers’ group” – Alex Brummer, Daily Mail
  • “All the indicators of progress are heading in the wrong direction, and time is running out” – Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph

More on Unite’s thuggery: now a major Labour donor is dragged into the row

“A firm set up by one of Labour’s biggest donors has been helping union thugs who are running a campaign of intimidation. … The People’s Operator, a mobile phone company founded by multi-millionaire Andrew Rosenfeld – a close friend of Ed Miliband – gives free mobile calls and text messages to Unite members.” – Daily Mail

  • “Of course we all know why Mr Miliband is so reluctant to act decisively on  both this affair and the Falkirk vote-rigging scandal, which also involves Unite officials. … Unite is by far Labour’s biggest donor and its hard-Left boss Len McCluskey has threatened to cut off funding to the party unless it becomes more union-friendly.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “It is sometimes easy to forget that these people aren’t just thugs. … Incredibly, they represent Britain’s biggest trade union — and bankroll the party hoping to form our next government.” – Sun editorial (£)

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Unite thugs intimidate the families of Grangemouth managers – when will this rotten outfit be stopped?

Umunna criticises British television for its “lazy stereotypes” about black people

“The portrayal of black Britons on screen suggests they can only be successful in sport, music or entertainment – and not in business or the law, a senior Labour frontbencher claimed yesterday. … Chuka Umunna, the party’s business spokesman condemned the ‘lazy stereotypes’ that mean too many strong black role models are ‘ignored’.” – Daily Mail

John Rentoul on Tony Blair’s lessons in how best to govern

tony-blair“And it was notable that Cameron, in particular, has replicated Blair’s mechanisms for delivery. Despite criticising Labour’s ‘top-down targets’ in health and education, Coalition ministers have mostly kept them, renamed as ‘benchmarks’ or other euphemisms.” – John Rentoul, The Independent

Business leaders back an EU referendum

“Business leaders believe the costs of being in the EU outweigh the benefits. … A poll of more than 1,000 bosses, from companies of all sizes and sectors, found overwhelming backing for plans for an in-out referendum on Britain’s place in Europe, with 66 per cent in favour.” – Daily Mail

> Yesterday’s video to WATCH: Peter Bone MP says the EU is flushing money down the lavatory

News in brief

  • A public health watchdog suggests that living next to a fracking site is unlikely to cause cancer – Daily Mail
  • NHS gives £1m payoff to couple – and then rehires them a few weeks later – Daily Mail
  • Television cameras filmed a case in the Court of Appeal for the the first time yesterday – and it involved David Cameron’s brother – Daily Mail
  • Taxpayers paid nearly £200,000 in legal bills to fight the compensation claims made by Sharon Shoesmith – Daily Mail
  • Tax sugary drinks to reduce obesity, says new study – The Independent
  • The SNP is to demand powers from Westminster to set quotas for the number of women on public boards – The Times (£)

And finally… Quentin Letts fights back against Whitehall’s war on jam

Jam“But now Whitehall is interfering with our jam — or, at least, the commercially made stuff. Government officials propose to change the minimum amount of sugar (from 60 to 50 per cent) needed in mass-made jams. … If that happens, there is a perfectly straightforward solution. Buy homemade jam! Even better, make it yourself.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

  • “How our jam can be harmonised with that of nations incapable of distinguishing between it and marmalade?” – Daily Telegraph editorial

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