Freedom of Information “under threat” from Government review…

independentfoi“The Government’s decision to launch a review of the Freedom of Information Act was widely condemned last night as likely to lead to “more secrecy, more mistakes and bad decisions”. The unexpected move to set up a review of the law emerged just hours after a FoI request revealed how British pilots were involved in Syrian air strikes – a fact ministers had kept from the public. Critics argued that a commission was likely to lead to more secrecy – allowing politicians  and officials to conceal “bad decisions and mistakes”. They expressed scepticism that the review would be unbiased, given that one of the commissioners, former Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, is an outspoken critic of how the Act is enforced.” – The Independent

  •  Ex-civil servant Lord Burns will head the cross-party review – BBC
  • Panel membership criticised – BBC
  • Addicted to Secrets – Leader The Times(£)

….as Cameron challenged on FOI revelations of Syrian bombing

“David Cameron is coming under pressure to explain why RAF personnel, including pilots, have taken part in bombing raids on Islamic State militants in Syria without approval from Parliament. About 20 UK personnel took part while embedded with US and Canadian forces. MPs only approved action against IS in Iraq and the SNP’s Alex Salmond said the Commons may have been misled. Number 10 played down the revelations but Labour and the Lib Dems are calling for an explanation in Parliament.” – BBC

  • Does Britain want to fight Isil or be internationally irrelevant? – John McTernan Daily Telegraph

Gove proposes selling Victorian inner city prisons…

GOVE Legatum“INNER-city jails including Pentonville and Strangeways could be sold and turned into luxury flats. Justice Secretary Michael Gove said the sales of plum sites could fund a new generation of modern prisons. He claims our Victorian-era jails are overcrowded, insanitary and fuel a worrying rise in drug addiction and violence. The prisons in question have housed notorious criminals such as the Krays and Harold Shipman, as well as celebrity offenders including Keith Richards.” – The Sun(£)

  • Gove praised as a “breathe of fresh air” by penal groups – The Guardian

…The Times welcomes the plan

“Sensibly, Mr Gove plans to sell off ageing and ineffective prisons in inner cities. The government would use the proceeds of such sales to build modern prisons. An obvious candidate for sale would be Pentonville, which occupies a prime piece of real estate in north London. Opened in 1842, Pentonville has a capacity of 900 prisoners. It currently houses 1,300. A recent report of the prisons inspectorate described its bloodstained walls, piles of decaying rubbish and food, and alarming levels of bullying, violence and drug abuse.” – Leader The Times(£)

>Yesterday: Alex Burghart on Comment: Gove aims to bring an education revolution to the aid of prisoners

Green taxes to be cut

cut taxes“Green taxes are set to be cut further, the BBC has learnt. A cabinet source has said that a “big reset” on subsidies paid by consumers, which push up household energy bills, is coming in the autumn. “There is a hardening view in the cabinet that we’ve got to deal with green subsidies,” the source added. Last month, the government announced that new onshore wind farms would be excluded from a subsidy scheme from April next year. Within a few weeks, the solar power industry is expecting its subsidies will be cut.” – BBC

Delay until 2020 in the care costs cap

“The government says its flagship policy to cap care costs in England will be delayed until 2020. Costs were to be limited to £72,000 for the over-65s and younger adults with disabilities from April 2016. The Department of Health said it was still “firmly committed” to the cap, but questions are now being raised whether the policy needs rethinking. The move came after councils wrote to ministers asking for a delay because of the “enormous pressures” they faced.” – BBC

  • Tories break election promise on care fees – Daily Mail

Jones demands free parking in town centres to save the high street

marcusjones“Shoppers in small-town high streets should be allowed to park free, a minister has indicated, as figures show that councils are raising more money than ever from motorists. Marcus Jones, who was made high streets minister in David Cameron’s post-election reshuffle, suggested that small town centres could become “parking meter-free zones” in an effort to save shops from closure. The Government is growing increasingly concerned that punitive parking costs and fines are deterring shoppers from using their local high streets.” – Daily Telegraph

Let train companies compete on the same routes to cut fares says regulator

“Greater “on-rail” competition between train operators could lead to lower fares and better service for passengers, the competition regulator has said as it launches a consultation on the future of Britain’s railways. The proposed reforms could open up the three main intercity routes – the East and West Coast main lines and the Great Western route – and could even result in two franchisees operating on the same line. The Competition and Markets Authority has been looking at the possibility of increasing so-called “on-rail” competition within the industry since January.” – Daily Telegraph

New Tory MPs feel Boris isn’t serious enough

boris-johnson“BORIS JOHNSON has been written-off as yesterday’s man by new Tory MPs – who claim he’s not serious enough to replace David Cameron….One MP told the Sun: “You’ll find most of the 70 of us feel the same way. We don’t really see him as a potential leader. He’s not serious enough.”…Just days earlier a poll by pro-Tory website Conservative Home revealed Boris had lost a big lead over his rivals in a survey of the most likely person to succeed the PM as Tory leader. He was tied with Business Secretary Sajid Javid on 23 per cent – one point ahead of Chancellor George Osborne.” – The Sun(£)

Norman on his role defending the BBC

NORMAN Jesse“The new chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee…priority will be the BBC, after the government published its green paper on the future of the corporation this week. …He describes himself as “in general a supporter of the BBC” but he does believe that there are questions to be resolved. “We will be . . . probing but from the perspective of a broad admiration and understanding of what the BBC has done and what it stands for and the place it holds in the nation’s hearts.” – Interview with Jesse Norman The Times(£)

“Lazy, lying Labour supporters” key to Conservative victory

‘Lazy’, lying Labour supporters were the reason why pollsters predicted the 2015 general election result inaccurately, according to research by the British Election Study (BES). It found that a high proportion of Labour supporters told pollsters they would vote for Ed Miliband but did not turn out on polling day, compared to a much smaller proportion of Conservative backers who did the same.” – The Independent

Corbyn supporters “infiltrating” Labour Party

corbynleader“HARD-LEFT activists are “infiltrating” Labour in a bid to get Jeremy Corbyn elected leader, party bosses believe….Latest figures show Left-wing veteran Mr Corbyn now has the most Constituency Labour Party nominations of any of the four leadership candidates….Labour bosses believe many are on the far Left of British politics and are effectively trying to mount a takeover of the party. One source said: “There are people turning up for CLP meetings who no one knows and who have never voted Labour before just to back Corbyn.” – The Sun(£)

Surge in SNP membership in England

“A London resident since he was a year old, Andrew Chevis might seem an unlikely recruit to the Scottish National party. Yet at a time when the SNP is planning to spread its message beyond Scotland, the former Labour party activist is one of an increasing trickle of English people who have gone a step further and signed up as members.” – The Guardian

Farron will work “from the bottom up”

Gordon Brown Meets With Vietnamese Prime Minister“A new army” of Liberal Democrat supporters could help the party recover in the polls, Tim Farron has said, after being confirmed as its leader….Mr Farron, 45, said 17,000 people had joined the party since that day, and urged supporters to fight “ward by ward” to recover the party’s standing, calling for “hundreds and hundreds” of new Lib Dem councillors. “We may not be able to change Britain from the top down just at the moment, but we can change lives from the bottom up,” he said. “That’s community politics.” – BBC

  • Tim Farron avoids saying whether he sees gay sex as a sin – The Guardian

>Today: ToryDiary: Don’t let’s be beastly to Tim Farron

The PM is taking on “cosy elites” says Daily Mail

“The Tories won the general election on a manifesto for change. With the economy still soaring and the opposition in complete disarray, Mr Cameron will never be in a stronger position to fulfil his promises. It’s his duty to be resolute. For unlike the unions, the BMA, and the shroud-waving BBC, he has the firm mandate of the British people.” – Leader Daily Mail

Mensch: Tape proves Sir Tim Hunt was joking

MENSCH Louise“Today The Times published an audio recording of the end of Sir Tim’s speech. It will be embarrassing for those who persecuted him without even the most basic fact-checking. Sir Tim’s self-deprecating tone is unmistakable: as he has always maintained, he was poking fun at himself. “Congratulations, everybody,” he says warmly. “I do hope there is nothing holding you back, especially monsters like me.’ ” – Louise Mensch The Times(£)

Kirkup: If the Out campaign find the right leader they could win

“The London Mayor has lately seen Mr Osborne steal both his Living Wage agenda and his status as favourite to replace Mr Cameron. Could he regain momentum by making himself the leader of the scores of Conservative MPs inclined to leave? Some Cabinet colleagues also wonder if Sajid Javid, the Business Secretary, might fancy that role. Whoever eventually takes the mantle may just claim a significant prize, even if the referendum ends in a vote to remain in.” – James Kirkup Daily Telegraph

>Yesterday: Daniel Hannan MEP on Comment: The Case for Brexit 5) Global Engagement

Parris: The dishonesty of forgiveness

PARRIS Mathhew“There can be no doubt that those able to persuade themselves they have forgiven, and been forgiven, find the experience liberating: read the moving piece we published by the Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor in April entitled “Why forgiveness is the best revenge of all”. But I’m afraid I see this as a branch of therapy, and one that requires an unacceptable measure of dishonesty. The very headline suggests Kor has not truly forgiven. Nor do I think she should.” – Matthew Parris The Times(£)

News in brief

  • Target to cut Tax Credit fraud missed – BBC
  • Don’t give children fizzy drinks says NHS chief – Daily Mail
  • Edward VIII taught he Queen the Nazi salute when she was seven – The Sun(£)
  • US threat to Putin over western credit – The Times(£)
  •  Men convicted for being gay should get automatic pardons says Burnham – The Guardian

And finally….PM calls for “big conversation” about murderous seagulls

Seagull_in_flight_by_Jiyang_Chen“David Cameron has said he wants to start a “big conversation” about a recent spate of seagull attacks on local people in Cornwall. MPs called for a change in the law which would allow the protected status of seagulls to be axed so that their population in urban areas could be better controlled. One MP suggested that the scavenging birds should be sterilised to stop them reproducing, while another said their eggs could be removed and swapped for moth eggs.” – Daily Telegraph