11th June 2008
Brown Scrapes Through 42 Day Commons Vote
The Prime Minister has won the hotly fought Commons vote to extend the maximum time terror suspects can be held in pre-charge detention from 28 to 42 days. The narrow vote was won by 315 to 306 votes. Read more about the Bill's progress here
11th June 2008
BERR Launches Joint Industry Sustainable Construction Strategy
A joint industry-Government Strategy for Sustainable Construction has set out new targets to improve the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of the UK's construction sector. Challenging but achievable targets to be delivered by industry include: achieving a 50% reduction in the amount of construction, demolition and excavation waste to landfill; ensure 25 per cent of materials used in construction projects are responsibly sourced by 2012; cut the number of work-related deaths by 10 per cent year on year; and recruit 230,000 additional trained construction workers by 2010. Business Minister Shriti Vadera said "Our aim is to become a world leader in sustainable construction. An efficient construction sector is essential for the investment in infrastructure and buildings that underpin our competitiveness". Download the Strategy
11th June 2008
Government Actions to Manage Migration
Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, has laid out the Government's actions for managing migration, including a £12m programme of improvements in the collection of migration data, assistance for local services in managing the transitional impacts of migration, together with stricter penalties for those that exploit vulnerable workers and undercut the minimum wage.
11th June 2008
EU Employment Ministers Compromise on Working Time & Agency Workers Directives
Meeting in Luxembourg, EU Employment Ministers reached political agreement on both the Working Time Directive and the Temporary Agency Workers Directive. After years of negotiations within the Employment and Social Affairs Council, the draft laws have now passed through the first reading by both European Parliament and Council. The Working Time Directive maintains the opt-out mechanism from the maximum 48 hour working week, and deals with integration of the European Court rulings concerning on-call time. As for the other measure, Agency Workers will receive equal treatment to that of employees at the place of work from day one. This is the norm across many EU countries already, though the UK is understood to have secured a carve-out from the measure to allow the recently reached social partners agreement. The texts will next be sent back to MEPs for further deliberation. Read more detail about both agreements here
10th June 2008
Manchester Congestion Charging Given Green Light - Subject to Public Consultation
Secretary of State for Transport Ruth Kelly has given the go-ahead for the introduction of congestion charging in Manchester from 2013. Alongside transport improvements to the city which include up to 22 miles of extension to the Metrolink tram, extra buses and major improvements to rail infrastructure, the newly announced package is due to "ensure that people have real choices over how and when they travel". The majority of improvements are set to be delivered before the local congestion charge comes into effect, whilst the Government notes that the "charging scheme will operate only at peak times, when congestion is at its worst". Ruth Kelly said "The Manchester authorities will now work towards 'Conditional' and ultimately 'Full' approval for their plans. They will conduct a full public consultation on their proposals to ensure that as many people as possible have the chance to have their say. Subject to the outcome of the public consultation, we expect an application for Conditional approval in the autumn".
10th June 2008
Tory Chairman's Self-Referral to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
Conservative Party Chairman Caroline Spelman has met with the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards John Lyon over allegations of the misuse of funds. Spelman approached the Commissioner to investigate the "circumstances of the employment of her then secretary in 1997". A statement from the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards said that "The Commissioner is considering carefully this matter against the procedures agreed by the Committee on Standards and Privileges for the investigation of complaints against Members. This includes the nature of the information he has received, the passage of time since the circumstances in question and acting on a referral from the Member concerned rather than a complainant. It would be exceptional for the Commissioner to institute an inquiry into matters which go back more than 7 years. It would also be exceptional for him to do so on a self-referral. In either of these circumstances, the procedure is that the Commissioner consults the Committee on Standards and Privileges before deciding to initiate an inquiry".
9th June 2008
GMB Union Plans for Cutting Labour MPs Funding
General Secretary of the GMB Union, Paul Kenny has outlined plans that could see the removal of financial support for Labour MPs and a cut in overall levels of funding for the Labour Party. Addressing the union's Congress in Plymouth, Kenny said "We know the Government are keen on assessment tests. I think they are called SATS. So we have been running our own tests. We call them “SAPTS”, which are Standard Assessment Political Tests. We have monitored all of our MPs, 108 of them, who we have given financial or organisation support to from election to election. We have monitored their performance in close conjunction with the regions. The aim is very, very simple. If they do not match up on a regional or national basis to a level of performance, then the position is absolutely crystal clear. We are removing funding, support and all organisational support from those MPs and their constituencies until they actually follow and be responsive to the needs of working people in this country". Read the full speech here
7th June 2008
PubAffairs Cricket: PubAffairs take opening match in political league
PubAffairs take opening match in political league. Match report By Tony Cox: Wicketkeeper, roving journalist and consultant at Linstock Communications.
Wandsworth common on a sunny evening in June, what better way to kick off the inaugral political hacks cricket league. The opening fixture was between two old foes, the professional lobbyists, PubAffairs, and the defenders of all those consumer loving lenders, the ABI. Having been on the wrong end of a heavy defeat the previous season ABI captain, the effervescent Jon French, was intent on revenge.
However, it was first blood to PubAffairs captain Martin Koder of Lansons, standing in for Ben Wilson of lewis, as he won the toss and elected to bat first...download the Full Match Report below
5th June 2008
Competition Commission Report into Payment Protection Insurance
The Competition Commission has published provisional findings on Payment Protection Insurance (PPi). The report details that companies face little or no competition when selling to their credit customers. As a consequence, customers appear to be overcharged by over £1.4 billion a year. Inquiry Chairman Peter Davis said: "We've found serious problems with the PPI market and customers are paying for the lack of competition. The way PPI is sold as an 'add-on' to a loan or other credit product means distributors escape the pressure they should face from competing suppliers. Distributors don't appear to compete much with each other on either price or quality of PPI; neither do they appear to do much direct advertising of PPI to win customers from each other". Download the Report
5th June 2008
Government Toughens Up Knife Crime Sanctions
The Government has announced a crackdown on knife crime, targeting those over 16 years of age. Anyone over 16 now caught in possession of a knife can expect to be prosecuted on the first offence. Under 16s committing offences without aggravating factors should still receive a formal caution together with referral to a knife education scheme. The new sanctions come after a Downing Street meeting with Ken Jones the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers and Ken Macdonald, the Director of Public Prosecutions to discuss new national guidance for police and prosecutors. The Prime Minister said "We have to send out a message and reinforce it with immediate action. It is completely unacceptable to carry a knife. Young people need to understand that carrying knives doesn't protect you, it does the opposite - it increases the danger for all of us, destroys young lives and ruins families. Recent tragic events have reminded us of that. I am pleased to see the Police and the Courts working with us to tackle this and make the streets safe in all our communities". Read all about it