30th January 2009
Change4Life children's health survey launched
The biggest health survey of children's health - 'How Are the Kids?' - has been launched, with millions of families in England being asked to provide information about their eating and activity habits. In return, families will receive an action plan, tailored specifically for their family, full of hints and tips on how to get their children to be more healthy. Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said "Families who take part in this survey and tell us about their eating and exercise habits will be sent a unique health plan by our experts to help them eat well, move more and live longer". Visit http://www.nhs.uk/change4life to take part.
27th January 2009
New Competition Commission Chief Executive Appointed
David Saunders has been named as the new chief executive of the Competition Commission and will take up the £140,000-per-year post on 9 February. The appointment is for five years until February 2014. Announcing the move, Consumer Minister Gareth Thomas said "David will be a very able successor to Martin Stanley, who retires in February, and will continue the good work that Martin has done in meeting the challenges the Commission faces at this time".
13th January 2009
ASA Director General Earmarked to become next Information Commissioner
Christopher Graham has been announced by Jack Straw as the preferred candidate to take over as Information Commissioner in June, when Richard Thomas retires from the post. Graham is the Director General of the Advertising Standards Authority, a post he has held since 2000. The Justice Secretary is inviting the House of Commons Justice Select Committee to hold a pre-appointment hearing regarding Graham's suitability for the position.
12th January 2009
Brown Announces Proposals at Jobs Summit
Gordon Brown has announced new £500m proposals at a Jobs Summit in London that will be spent on recruitment subsidies for employers, financial help for new business start-ups and enhanced training opportunities for those out of work. The Prime Minster said “With the steps we take today; with the guarantees of support for young and old alike; and with the public investment that this government is prepared to make - it is our determination that Britain lead the world in showing what we can do to help the unemployed and create the jobs of the future - and we can do it best in partnership: Britain working best when Britain works together”. Also speaking at the event, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said "It's of course impossible to say with precision [how the British economy will emerge]. But we know a few things. We know, for example, that the UK is almost certainly going to emerge from this downturn with a consolidated financial services sector. The British consumer is going to be minding their money a little more carefully, so retail will probably grow more slowly than the rest of the economy".
8th January 2009
Clegg Readies Front-Bench for General Election
The Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg has announced a reshuffle of his front-bench team "to take the fight to both Labour and the Conservatives in the run-up to the General Election". The new postholders are: Simon Hughes, Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change; Steve Webb, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; David Heath, Shadow Leader of the House; Jenny Willott, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster; David Howarth, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice; with Susan Kramer taking up a new role against the expansion of Heathrow Airport. Clegg has also created an economic recovery group which he will chair that will co-ordinate the party's ongoing response to the recession and includes: Vince Cable, Shadow Chancellor; Steve Webb; John Thurso; Jeremy Browne; Julia Goldsworthy; Stephen Williams; Lorely Burt; David Laws; Chris Huhne; and Danny Alexander.
8th January 2009
Bank Lowers Base Rate to Historic 1.5% Level
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has again voted to lower the interest rate, this time by 0.5% taking the base rate to an historic low of 1.5%. MPC members noted that the recent easing in monetary and fiscal policy, the fall in sterling and prospective decline in inflation may provide a "considerable stimulus to activity as the year progressed" although detailed that the "world economy appears to be undergoing an unusually sharp and synchronised downturn. Measures of business and consumer confidence have fallen markedly. World trade growth this year is likely to be the weakest for some considerable time". Read the reactions from the CBI: Rate cut welcome but won't restore credit flows alone, BCC: British business disappointed with today’s half per cent interest rate cut.
7th January 2009
Gambling Industry to pay Statutory Levy to fund problem gambling
Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe has announced plans for the introduction of a statutory levy on the gambling industry that would fund initiatives dealing with problem gambling. The move comes after gambling operators failed to raise enough money under voluntary contribution schemes. It is esteminated that the levy would raise over £5 million per year. Gerry Sutcliffe said "We have put the protection of vulnerable people at the heart of the Gambling Act and that remains our priority. We must ensure that organisations working to prevent and treat problem gambling are given the financial security they need to carry out the important work they do. Gambling operators have a responsibility to help fund this and it is very disappointing that the industry has so far failed to agree improved voluntary arrangements to do this. So, in order to ensure funding is in place for this vital work, the Government has today set out its proposal for a statutory levy on all licensed gambling operators in the UK". Download the consultation paper.
6th January 2009
FSA Consults on Lifting Short Selling Ban
The Financial Services Authority intends not to renew its ban on short selling of the stocks of UK financial sector companies when the ban runs out on 16 January, but it does intend to extend its temporary disclosure regime for significant net short positions until the end of June. The Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, John McFall, earlier called for the FSA to continue with the ban. Consultation on the proposals will close on 9 January, whilst a separate consultation paper is planned within the month setting out proposals for the longer-term short selling regime. Sally Dewar, managing director of wholesale and institutional markets at the FSA, said "Continuing the disclosure obligations as we propose will reduce the potential for abusive behaviour and disorderly markets".
5th January 2009
Commons Inquiry Report Calls for Tough New Rules on Lobbying
The House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee has published the long-awaited report into public affairs, entitled 'Lobbying: Access and influence in Whitehall', calling for a statutory register of lobbying activity with the firm intention of brining greater transparency to the dealings between Whitehall decision makers and outside interests. The central conclusion drawn from the 18-month inquiry is that “reform is necessary”. Committee Chairman Tony Wright MP said "“Lobbying enhances democracy, but it can also subvert it. Government has accepted that it should be more open to outside interests and ideas, and this has brought benefits. But there are risks too around influence and public mistrust of government, and these risks have not been managed closely enough. Our proposals may seem radical, but they are designed to be proportionate and effective. They are in line with developments abroad, but rooted in our own political tradition. Transparency is key here. There is a public interest in knowing who is lobbying whom about what. Our proposals show that this can be achieved in a reasonably straightforward way”.
The report proposes that a “rigorous and effective” single body is needed to oversee and regulate the ethics of the activities of lobbyists. The committee describes the existing system of voluntary self-regulation as “little better than the Emperor’s new clothes”. Five key principles shold apply for a register of lobbying activity, namely: it should be mandatory; cover all those outside the public sector involved in accessing and influencing public-sector decision makers; be managed and enforced by a body independent of both Government and lobbyists; the register should include only information of genuine potential value to the general public, to others who might wish to lobby government, and to decision makers and; should include information which is relatively straightforward to provide. In order to meet these requirements "lobbyists...and the targets of their lobbying" must provide: the names of the individuals carrying out lobbying activity and of any organisation employing or hiring them; in the case of multi-client consultancies, the names of their clients; information about any public office previously held by an individual lobbyist; and information about contacts between lobbyists and decision makers-essentially, diary records and minutes of meetings, with the aim being to cover all meetings and conversations between decision makers and outside interests.
22nd December 2008
A very Merry Christmas to all!
PubAffairs is taking a break over the festive period and will return in the New Year.