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BBC pay 1) Transparency sparks equality row

‘The BBC faces spending millions of pounds to boost female broadcasters’ salaries after stars threatened action over a gender pay divide. Salaries of on-screen and on-air presenters earning £150,000 or more were published yesterday, revealing the Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans, 51, as the BBC’s best-paid celebrity. He received up to £2.25 million in the last financial year. Gary Lineker, 56, the Match of the Day host, was paid up to £1.8 million. Claudia Winkleman, 45, who presents Strictly Come Dancing, was the top-earning woman, on up to £500,000. Two thirds of the corporation’s 96 highest earners are men and the top five collectively made three times the salaries of the five best-paid women. Some stars benefited from a loophole in pay disclosure rules. The salary paid to Graham Norton, 54, of at least £850,000 is dwarfed by the £2.6 million he received from So Television, the company that makes The Graham Norton Show on BBC One.’ – The Times (£)

Editorials

>Today: ToryDiary: For all its blunders, faults and bias, the BBC is a price worth paying to help build a civilised society

BBC pay 2) MPs and Ministers urge the Corporation to rein in pay levels

‘Ministers and MPs have attacked the BBC’s excuse that it has to pay its biggest stars hundreds of thousands of pounds every year to stop them switching to commercial media companies. Senior BBC executives defended the large sums paid to stars like Chris Evans, Graham Norton and Gary Lineker, insisting they were necessary to stop them defecting to commercial rivals. However these claims were dismissed by ministers and MPs. One ministerial source said: “I am not sure there are many people out there who will be paying Chris Evans more than he gets for doing what he currently does. “Who [else] is going to pay Eddie Mair £300,000 a year? Nobody. For all the highly paid Radio 4 stars – Radio 4 is their only place. Where is Eddie Mair going to go?”’ – Daily Telegraph

Johnson pressures universities over ‘out of control’ Vice-Chancellor salaries

‘Universities will have to justify high salaries for vice-chancellors and provide consumer protection contracts for students, the universities minister will say today. Jo Johnson will take a swipe at vice-chancellors’ pay, which has faced growing criticism in recent weeks. The highest paid university head earns £450,000, three times the prime minister’s salary. Speaking to The Times before a speech for Reform, an independent think tank, he said that the “upwards ratchet has been out of control for too long”. The issue had been raised before but insufficient progress was being made, he said, adding that there had to be clear evidence of highly paid vice-chancellors outperforming those at comparable institutions.’ – The Times (£)

  • Degrees suffer from grade inflation – The Times (£)
  • When top grades become the norm, they cease to become top grades – The Times Leader (£)

‘There’s no such thing as an unsackable minister’, May reminds her colleagues

‘Theresa May has warned cabinet colleagues that no minister is “unsackable” in her most direct criticism yet of leaks from the cabinet room. The prime minister said the current team of cabinet ministers was safe “for the moment” but that she was prepared to sack persistent leakers. Her comments came after members of the backbench Conservative 1922 Committee told the prime minister she had their backing to sack loose-lipped ministers. “There’s no such thing as an unsackable minister,” May told LBC’s Iain Dale. “But at the moment the team is together and we are getting on with the job of delivering what we believe the British people want us to do.” May denied the briefing over the weekend was linked to her diminished authority following the party’s poor election result. Leaks over the weekend included several ministers criticising the chancellor, Philip Hammond, for cabinet room comments on public sector pay as well as stories attacking the Brexit secretary, David Davis, and the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.’ – The Guardian

  • Gove allegedly refused to support Government position paper over ECJ control – FT

>Yesterday: Andrew Gimson’s PMQs sketch: May cannot dispel a sense of precariousness

Brexit talks yet to deliver a break-through

‘No breakthrough has been made in three days of Brexit talks, senior officials conceded last night. David Davis, the Brexit secretary, is to return to Brussels today to meet Michel Barnier, his EU counterpart, and “take stock”. Last night, however, there was frustration at a lack of progress on citizens’ rights and the Brexit divorce bill. Sources said that both sides had a better understanding of each other’s positions but were no closer to agreement. Yesterday’s talks focused on citizens’ rights. The session went more smoothly than divorce bill discussions but differences remain over to whom, how and from when residency rights would apply, and the governing court. Sources said the discord was in the detail, with both sides eager for an early deal that clarified the position of about 4.5 million citizens across Britain and Europe. Money remains the biggest problem, with sources reporting legal and technical differences over how to define Britain’s budget obligations.’ – The Times (£)

  • The EU says Brexit cannot be reversed – The Sun
  • Good – The Sun Says
  • Fox stands by ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’ – Daily Telegraph
  • Olly Robbins, the man heading the negotiations – FT
  • Brussels tries to strip Poland, a key British ally, of voting rights – The Sun
  • Britain reminds the EU it has a right to return nuclear waste to the countries that produced it – FT
  • Lords minister predicts ‘softest of soft Brexits’ – The Sun

>Today:

Government brings forward rise in the pension age

‘The Government was today accused of ‘picking the pockets’ of millions of people in their forties after it raised the state pension age yet again. The Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke announced plans to raise the state pension age from 67 to 68 will be brought forward by seven years in a shake up which will affect everyone under 47. It means the increase in the pension age will now come into force from 2037 and not 2044, as stated in legislation. The major shift, which will save the Government billions of pounds in the coming decades, was the central recommendation an review former CBI chief Sir John Cridland. But the move has been slammed by Charity Age UK who said it will hit millions of Britons.’ – Daily Mail

  • This move will benefit all of us – David Gauke, Daily Telegraph
  • The change will affect six million people – The Times (£)
  • Young people need to save 18 per cent of salary to afford an adequate retirement – FT

Watchdog criticises ‘outdated’ mental health facilities

‘Thousands of mental health patients are being kept in secure wards for years at a time when they should be being rehabilitated and preparing to leave hospital, a NHS watchdog has revealed. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) criticised both NHS and for-profit mental health providers for forcing such a large number of patients to endure what it called “outdated and sometimes institutionalised care”, often miles from home. The practice leaves already vulnerable patients feeling isolated and less likely to recover, the CQC warned. More than 3,500 patients in 248 mental health wards are kept locked-in. In 2015-16 some stayed for 45 days, but others had been there for up to 1,744 days – four and a half years – the care regulator found. “More than 50 years after the movement to close asylums and large institutions, we were concerned to find examples of outdated and sometimes institutionalised care,” said Paul Lelliott, the CQC’s deputy chief inspector of hospitals.’ – The Guardian

  • English jails are brutal and not fit for purpose – FT Leader

Javid plans to force thousands of new homes in areas where prices are too high

‘A drive to bring down property prices in wealthy areas could see councils forced to approve the building of thousands of new homes. The Communities Secretary is understood to want local authorities to face tough new building targets if prices in their areas are too high. Under Sajid Javid’s plans, they would be told to take the affordability of local homes into account when deciding how many new houses are needed in their area. Every authority would have to calculate how easy it is for young people to get on the housing ladder by working out the local salary-to-house-price ratio. Those with a ratio deemed too high would then be told to build thousands more homes.’ – Daily Mail

Kirkup: Many Tories privately agree with Corbyn

‘The manifesto rejected “untrammelled free markets” and said the state should do more to make markets fair. That struck me as uncontroversial, a reasonable acknowledgment of economic and political reality. But Tory noises-off lamented its deviation from a (largely imagined) standard of Thatcherite free-market purity; one minister described its principal author, Nick Timothy, as a “bearded socialist”. Now, after a real bearded socialist wrecked the Tory majority by getting 40 per cent of the vote, there is a quiet acceptance in the party that Mr Timothy had a point. That to stay in business and in power, the Conservatives need to offer something on the economy beyond a grumpy defence of the status quo. But what?’ – James Kirkup, The Times (£)

>Today: Barry Lewis on Local Government: To win young voters, we must make the case for wealth creation and entrepreneurship

Cable becomes Lib Dem leader…and now backs second referendum that he once called ‘disrespectful and counterproductive’

‘Vince Cable will ditch his opposition to a second EU referendum once and for all when he becomes leader of the Lib Dems tomorrow. Less than a year ago the former Business Secretary described his party’s support for a second vote “seriously disrespectful and politically utterly counterproductive”. But on the eve of taking over from Tim Farron Sir Vince told The Sun: “At the end of the process I want the public offered a choice – do we go ahead or do we stay in the EU.” Sir Vince, 74, escaped a lengthy leadership contest over the summer after he was the only of the 12 Lib Dem MPs to put his name forward for the job. He will take over from Mr Farron after his ill-fated two-years as leader. Sir Vince – who has previously stood in as interim leader – says he is “impatient and ambitious”.’ – The Sun

Just a fifth of acid attack investigations result in prosecution

‘Acid attacks have failed to go to court in 80 per cent of the 455 cases reported to Scotland Yard last year, despite the force identifying suspects in more than 60 per cent of cases. Growing concerns over a spate of attacks in which victims were squirted with corrosive cleaning fluids — which can be bought for as little as £1 — from drinks bottles have put pressure on the government to bring in lengthier sentences and restrict sales of products. The figures for prosecutions, released under the Freedom of Information Act, will raise concerns over policing efforts. Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey will face questions over the numbers when he appears before the London Assembly this morning.’ – The Times (£)

  • Thatcher over-ruled ministers to keep the Moors murderers behind bars – The Guardian

Election observers warn it is too easy to vote multiple times in the UK

‘International election observers have recommended that Britain consider introducing a centralised electoral register to prevent voters illegally casting ballots in more than one constituency, as Tory MPs demand stronger action against suspected electoral fraud. A report by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which sent 32 independent observers to constituencies across Britain last month, warned that it was too easy for voters such as students to register twice. It urged the government to give “serious consideration” to streamlining the 381 separate electoral databases into a single national register. “Although no data is available on the number of persons who registered twice, the ease with which this can be done undetected given the lack of a centralised register can place some strain on the respect of the obligation to ensure equality of the vote,” it said.’ – The Times (£)

Trump bows to Russia by ending anti-Assad efforts

‘President Trump is understood to be ending a covert CIA effort to back rebels battling the Assad regime in Syria, a move that was quickly framed last night as a victory for Russia. The US programme to arm and train anti-Assad rebels was authorised in 2013 by Barack Obama, who hoped to pressure President Assad to step down. The decision to end it is a striking admission of Moscow’s success in propping up the Assad regime. President Putin began his military intervention in Syria to bolster Assad in 2015. Mr Trump decided to end the CIA programme about a month ago, according to The Washington Post, after taking advice from Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, and HR McMaster, the national security adviser.’ – The Times (£)

  • Row over previously unmentioned hour-long conversation with Putin – The Times (£)
  • As long as Putin is president, Russia will be a bigger threat than ISIS – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph
  • McCain diagnosed with brain cancer – Daily Mail
  • Selfish lefties trying to prevent a state visit by the President are harming our country – Rod Liddle, The Sun

News in Brief

  • Grenfell protesters instantly demand resignation of new Kensington council leader – Daily Mail
  • Car parks to charge more for non-electric vehicles – The Times (£)
  • Thatcher’s officials sought to dampen down economic rows – FT
  • Frozen bodies of couple missing since 1942 found in Swiss glacier – Daily Mail
  • Lifestyle changes could prevent a third of dementia cases – The Guardian
  • US grants permanent residency to Charlie Gard – The Times (£)
  • How the developed world is losing its edge – FT
  • Google releases 20 million infected mosquitoes to combat disease – The Times (£)

6 comments for: Newslinks for Thursday 20th July 2017

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