Small Business Saturday: Government promise help over late payments scandal

JAVID Sajid BBC“The Tories will today promise a crackdown on the scandal of late payments totalling £40billion to small businesses. Sajid Javid, the Culture Secretary, will pledge that the Conservatives will set up a ‘small business conciliation service’ to help smaller firms resolve disputes with larger customers. In his speech, which marks Small Business Saturday, he will say that his upbringing above a shop means he understands what small companies go through.” – Daily Mail

  • “The Culture Secretary will unveil the plan to coincide with Small Business Saturday….Meanwhile, a Christmas market was held in Downing Street yesterday.” – The Sun(£)
  • eBay helps small business – The Guardian
  • Small business owners quiz the Chancellor – Yorkshire Evening Post

>Today: ToryDiary: Big Government does not help small firms

Hayes will consider turning off traffic lights on empty roads

“Traffic lights could be switched off outside rush hour to avoid unnecessary delays when there are few cars on the roads. Sir Greg Knight, a Conservative MP, used a debate in the House of Commons to suggest the change, arguing that lights are turned off in several other countries and that it would help prevent “avoidable congestion”. John Hayes, the transport minister, welcomed the suggestion as “the kind of innovation, the kind of radicalism . . . [that] is always close to the heart of this government and this ministry. “We do not have plans to do what he says, but I will certainly consider it,” he added.” – The Times(£)

“Shocking” failure of shop to offer disability access says Harper

HARPER Mark white background“Access for disabled people on the High Street in Britain is “shocking”, according to a government audit of more than 30,000 shops and restaurants. Thousands of venues had failed to adapt their premises, with a fifth of shops excluding wheelchair users, experts found. There are 12 million people in Britain with disabilities, with an estimated spending power of £200bn….”Everyone deserves to be able to go Christmas shopping or enjoy a festive meal or drink with their friends or colleagues,” said Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper, who commissioned the survey.” – BBC

Bill proceeds to enshrine Overseas Aid spending in law

“A bill to enshrine in law a commitment to spend 0.7% of national income on overseas aid has survived an attempt by some Conservative MPs to kill it off. MPs voted by 146 to six to allow the bill to proceed and the legislation was later passed by the House of Commons. Prime Minister David Cameron has said he backs the bill, yet to be agreed by the Lords, but that meeting the target is more important than passing a law.” – BBC

Cameron opts for formal Christmas Card…

cameronchristmascard“All three main Westminster party leaders’ Christmas cards are personal photos, but with different styles. David and Samantha Cameron’s card is formal, showing the smartly dressed couple in Downing Street, flanked by Chelsea Pensioners. Labour leader Ed Miliband’s choice is more casual, depicting him at the table making cards with his family. Nick Clegg’s card shows him and wife Miriam in a series of offbeat “passport-style” shots.” – BBC

  • Card has nothing to do with Christmas – The Independent
  • Analysis from Ronald Bracey, a consultant clinical psychologist – Daily Telegraph
  • Reminder of Party leaders Christmas cards from previous years – Daily Mail

…but pundits declare victory for Clegg

  • Clegg wins battle of the Christmas cards – The Times(£)
  • Ho Ho, what a festive hoot you are St Nick – Daily Mail
  • Clegg’s at least has a bit of self-deprecating humour to it – The Sun Says(£)
  • “Nick Clegg’s card is  a success and arguably one of the better things he’s achieved since joining the coalition.” – The Independent

Bridgen says BBC want Labour to win election to save Licence Fee

BRIDGEN Andrew“Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative back-bencher, said: “They [the BBC] are in a fight to the death over the future of the licence fee. They know that if Labour comes along it’s business as usual but if the Tories come in the licence fee will be cut or abolished. This is going to be a very tight election now and the corporation’s lack of balance could tip the balance in Labour’s favour.” Earlier this year Sajid Javid, the conservative Culture Secretary, suggested that the BBC licence fee could be cut and said that “nothing should be ruled out” when it is reviewed in the Royal Charter negotiations.”- Daily Telegraph

PM intervenes as Northern Ireland faces Treasury penalty over welfare reform

“David Cameron and Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, are preparing to join crunch political talks in Northern Ireland next week to tackle a range of issues paralysing the Stormont administration, including welfare reform. The negotiations in Belfast are seen as a last-ditch attempt to secure a deal on the destabilising impasse at Stormont before Christmas. The five-party administration in Northern Ireland will face about £200 million in Treasury penalties over the next two years if it fails to introduce the government’s changes to the benefits system.” – The Times(£)

Bradley: Don’t ignore modern slavery

“People sold or betrayed by loved ones, others duped, tricked or lured by criminals with promises of a better life. Stripped of their freedom, exploited for profit, victims often endure violence, rape, hunger, and abuse. For all, the emotional, psychological and physical damage is incalculable. The time has come to stop pretending. We can no longer shut our eyes, turn our backs or look the other way.” – Home Office Minister Karen Bradley Daily Telegraph

Balls attacks “extreme” Osborne

BALLS attack dog“George Osborne’s approach to deficit reduction as revealed in this week’s autumn statement will mean the destruction of the post-second world war consensus about the role of the state, the shadow chancellor has said. In a Guardian interview, Ed Balls promised that Labour would cut the deficit year on year. But he said David Cameron and Osborne had vacated the centre ground of politics and were emerging as more extreme than even Margaret Thatcher. “If, at the end of the next parliament, George Osborne actually got his way and brought spending back down to the level of the 1930s, I don’t think this would be the kind of country any of us would want to live in. I don’t think it is the kind of country I would want my children to grow up in.” – The Guardian

  • BBC hits back at Osborne – The Guardian
  • “I felt like a ten-year-old” says Balls on taking a piano exam – The Sun(£)

Farage suggests mothers breastfeed in the corner

FARAGE big laugh“Nigel Farage has been ridiculed after suggesting that breastfeeding mothers should sit in a corner to avoid giving offence. The Ukip leader waded in to the debate over nursing mothers on his regular LBC radio phone-in show as he advised new mums to avoid being “ostentatious” while feeding. “I am not particularly bothered about it, but I know a lot of people do feel very uncomfortable,” he told listeners….Pressed on whether women should be asked to go to a rest room to nurse their babies, Mr Farage responded: “Or perhaps sit in the corner, or whatever it might be. That is up to Claridge’s.” – The Times(£)

UK to establish Middle East military base

“The UK is to establish its first permanent military base in the Middle East since it formally withdrew from the region in 1971. A deal signed in Bahrain this weekend will see the Royal Navy get a £6m base of its own in the Gulf. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the base was an “expansion of the Royal Navy’s footprint” and would “reinforce stability” in the Gulf and the UK. The base will be located at the Mina Salman Port in Bahrain.” – BBC

Proposal for more NHS hospitals to be run by private firms

NHS“Management of more NHS hospitals could be handed over to private companies in a shakeup of England’s healthcare system, according to a government-commissioned review. It suggests the establishment of concessions by which companies were given contracts to operate publicly-funded hospitals and points to Spain as an example that could be followed. At present only one of the 242 hospital providers is run by a profit-making firm, Circle, which won a 10-year contract to operate Hinchinbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire.” – The Guardian

>Today: Adrian Hilton on Comment: Why is Jeremy Hunt contradicting his own Department’s advice?

MPs warn of abuse of RIPA powers to access journalists records

“Surveillance laws that allow police officers to access people’s phone records are not fit for purpose, the Home Affairs Select Committee has said. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) has been used to access journalists’ records in some cases. The committee said journalists’ sources should be “fully protected” and access to data under Ripa was “secretive”. The Home Office said there were measures in place to ensure police powers were not abused.” – BBC

  • “Members of the Home Affairs Select Committee claim ‘lamentably’ poor records were kept of those who were targeted using the snooping legislation” – Daily Mail
  • Chief Constable warns of drift to a police state – The Guardian

Parris: Tories should celebrate the self reliance of a small state

PARRIS Mathhew“The urgent necessity of pain will not serve — it’s just one bounce of the yo-yo and raises hope of a compensating bounce back. From a true Tory it is also dishonest. Wailing that the money has run out implicitly concedes that cuts are a shame, and that a cradle-to-grave welfare state remains the promised land, even if the journey is delayed. This must change. What happened to the Big Society idea with its deep Conservative logic — promoting what would be positive about decreased reliance on the state?” – The Times(£)

News in brief

  • US adds 321,000 jobs – BBC
  • Women to serve on the front line – Daily Telegraph
  • Historic buildings will crumble without a VAT cut warns UKIP – The Sun(£)
  • International fanbase for Pickles investigated – The Guardian
  • Fears for children as Google targets under -13s – The Independent
  • Stamp Duty changes bring optimism among estate agents – The Guardian
  • Labour attack May for not meeting child abuse survivors – The Sun(£)
  • NHS hit by increased litigation – Daily Telegraph
  • Court overturns prison parcels ban – The Sun(£)
  • How grasping David Mellor made his millions – Daily Mail


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