Hancock takes up ConHome Manifesto proposal for a Sovereign Wealth Fund

ConManifesto_jobs‘Fracking for shale gas could prompt a gold rush that will turn northern towns like Blackpool into British equivalents of oil-rich communities in the Middle East, a Cabinet minister has claimed. Business and energy minister Matthew Hancock revealed that the Government is preparing to announce plans for a ‘sovereign wealth fund’ to hold the revenues from fracking for the north of England. Such state-owned funds have been set up in the Middle East and Norway to generate huge sums from the proceeds of oil and gas exploration. They invest in assets such as stocks, property, infrastructure and precious metals, with proceeds able to fund public spending. Chancellor George Osborne is expected to unveil details of a fund in his autumn statement next month.’ – Daily Mail

>Today: ToryDiary: Osborne poised to take up the ConHome manifesto proposal for a Sovereign Wealth Fund

Cameron appeals for tactical voting in Rochester

‘In a highly unusual move, the Prime Minister urged Labour, Liberal Democrat and even Green supporters to lend their votes to the Tory candidate Kelly Tolhurst to prevent a ‘UKIP boost, and all the uncertainty and instability that leads to’. The poll, commissioned by the former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft, put Ukip on 44 per cent, the Conservatives on 32, Labour on 17 and the Lib Dems on only 2 per cent.’ – Daily Mail

  • Tories could win the seat in May – The Times (£)
  • Gove bets on by-election victory – The Sun (£)

>Yesterday: Lord Ashcroft on Comment: UKIP lead by 12 points in Rochester and Strood – but what will happen next May?

Raab: The Government must stop trying to gag MPs

RAAB Dominic‘Facing a controversial debate on 35 measures — including the EAW — that hand more power over Britain’s justice system to Brussels, the government connived to limit the fuss to one vote…Blame should be shared with Labour. But ministers’ failure to ensure a proper debate and vote on Monday only increases the risk that opting into these measures could be challenged in — and decided by — the courts, not elected law-makers. This arrogant disdain for parliament corrodes our democracy. Parliament was first established precisely to shield citizens from bullying rulers. – Dominic Raab MP, The Times (£)


European Court rules against welfare tourism

‘Britain and Germany are to press ahead with plans to clamp down on so-called welfare tourism after the EU’s top court ruled that governments can deny benefits to citizens from another EU state if they have moved countries “solely” to claim them. London and Berlin, which are both contending with surging support for anti-immigration populist parties, hailed Tuesday’s judgment from the European Court of Justice. “This is a common-sense ruling,” said David Cameron.’ – FT

Paedophilia investigation inconclusive

Police‘NSPCC boss Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC had tried to track down 114 files that went missing in the Home Office.  Just one was found; another was shredded by the Ministry of Justice, which took possession of the dossier, just three years ago…In a statement to MPs, Mrs May said of the latest findings: ‘It doesn’t prove or disprove the Home Office acted appropriately in the 1980s.’ She added: ‘There might have been a cover-up.’ – Daily Mail

  • But Cameron dismisses ‘conspiracy theories’ – The Sun (£)
  • Search for Barbara Castle dossier – Daily Mail
  • Please engage brain, Prime Minister – The Sun (£)

Bravo for the Culture Secretary, champion of a free press

‘In the aftermath of phone hacking and Leveson, it is rare indeed to hear a politician speak up for the Press. So this paper salutes Culture Secretary Sajid Javid on a speech packed with insights into the importance to democracy of a flourishing, varied and independent newspaper industry. As he points out, Press freedom and plurality are under attack from all sides – with the BBC driving local papers out of business, back-door censorship through the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’, police abusing anti-terrorism powers to expose whistleblowers and politicians’ lingering ambitions to impose State control.’ – Daily Mail Leader

  • Met Chief welcomes review of police bail – The Sun (£)
  • The BBC might subsidise local papers – The Times (£)
  • Javid: Euro-judges’ internet censorship has helped terrorists – Daily Mail
  • Choudary ally skips bail and flees to Syria – Daily Mail
  • Crowd-sourced heat map reveals mobile notspots – Daily Mail

>Yesterday: ToryDiary: The battle for Fleet Street’s vote

Morgan considers plans for new grammar school

nickymorgan‘The country’s biggest education authority has revived plans to open the first new grammar school in 50 years. Kent County Council has asked Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to approve its plans to open a ‘satellite’ grammar school to meet demand from a rising population. Earlier proposals submitted by the authority were rejected by her predecessor Michael Gove.’ – Daily Mail

Grayling apologises for recording of calls between MPs and prisoners

‘Justice Secretary Chris Grayling was forced to apologise after it emerged prison chiefs have been snooping on phone calls between lags and their MPs. Strict rules state that conversations between prisoners and their MPs and lawyers should not be recorded or listened to. But in the Commons, Mr Grayling admitted it had happened hundreds of times over the last eight years. Mr Grayling said 32 serving MPs had had their calls monitored, but insisted administrative error was to blame.’ – The Sun (£)

IFS: Barnett Formula is ‘unfair’ to England and Wales

England flag‘Scotland has been protected from hundreds of millions of pounds of public spending cuts because of a “flaw” in the formula used to calculate its grant from London, an independent think-tank said on Wednesday. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said the treatment of business rates by the Barnett formula, which calculates changes in the block grant based on UK government spending decisions, “might be considered unfair to England and Wales”.’ – FT

>Today: Henry Hill’s Red, White and Blue column: Scottish battle lines drawn over the future of devolution

>Yesterday: Andrew Rosindell MP on Comment: A new settlement for England, and all Britons

Sluggish assistance and red tape drive Syrian rebels towards extremists

‘Western-backed “moderate” rebels fighting jihadists in Syria are refusing to do battle, giving up and even defecting for lack of weapons and other promised support, leaders have told The Telegraph. Despite President Barack Obama’s strategy, outlined last month, to arm and fund rebels to fight first Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and then the Assad regime, arms supplies remained at a trickle, they said.’ – Daily Telegraph

  • Russian air incursions are back to Cold War levels – The Times (£)
  • Neocons plan a comeback after US midterms – FT

Livingstone, Galloway and the hard left rally to defend Lutfur Rahman

GALLOWAY George‘Ken Livingstone and George Galloway will tonight ride to the rescue of a beleaguered mayor who faces being stripped of his powers by Eric Pickles. Labour’s united front against Lutfur Rahman will be smashed as Mr Livingstone and a fellow member of the party’s national executive join a parade of left-wingers at a rally demanding an end to the “witch-hunt” of Britain’s first elected ethnic minority mayor.’ – The Times (£)

  • Boris caps transport costs for part-time workers – FT

Tony Benn’s son re-establishes claim to Viscountcy

‘Tony Benn’s eldest son is a step closer to taking up the seat in the Lords that his father fought to renounce. Stephen Michael Wedgwood Benn, eldest son of the late Labour MP and the brother of the shadow cabinet minister Hilary, has formally “established his claim” to the Viscountcy of Stansgate.’ – The Times (£)

>Today: George Grant on Comment: Britain’s poor can do without five more years of Labour’s benevolence

News in brief

  • Stephen Sutton’s mother receives his MBE – The Sun (£)
  • Police killer Harry Roberts released – Daily Mail
  • Britain abandons Afghan interpreters – The Times (£)
  • Meet the man who hands out Lottery jackpots – The Sun (£)
  • Army cadet plants 888,246th poppy at the Tower – Daily Mail
  • Banks hit with billions in Forex fines – FT
  • 22,000 dental patients face blood tests – The Sun (£)
  • Rosetta probe to land on comet today – Daily Telegraph
  • ‘British Nate Silver’ in bidding war between Labour and UKIP – The Independent

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