Financial Times – Cameron says wage freeze will save jobs
The prime minister has claimed this week that a planned two-year public sector pay freeze would help to prevent job losses reaching more than the 600,000 forecast to be axed over the next 5 years. In defence of last week’s emergency budget, Cameron has argued that by freezing pay, fewer public sector jobs will be lost than those implied by Labour’s pre-election plans. Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman accused the prime minister of “making ideologically motivated cuts, seizing on a Guardian report suggesting the Budget could cost 1.3m jobs in the public and private sectors”.
Times - Tories attack Clarke on prisons
Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke was criticised this morning by activists within the Tory party for being soft on crime. Mr Clarke spoke earlier this week of moving away from previous Conservative policies on sentencing. He sees short sentences in overcrowded prisons as ineffective, costly and not in the public interest. He admitted that the budget deficit had made a sentencing reduction expedient, but said this could be turned to Britain’s advantage.
Financial Times – Treasury blocks move to ditch quango
The Treasury has blocked moves by Conservative members of the coalition to abolish a quango that oversees the financial health of housing associations. “Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, and Grant Shapps, the housing minister, have been keen to burnish their credentials as leading quango busters and last week, Mr Shapps told the magazine Inside Housing that the Tenants Services Authority (TSA) was ‘toast’.” However, Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, had told ministers that such a decision could put the financial capacity of housing associations at risk. Mr Shapps has since changed his stance commenting that although the TSA is under review, there are no immediate plans to abolish it.
Financial Times - Lansley defends choice within NHS
The health secretary has defended his market-like reforms of the NHS this week against possible resistance from GPs. Andrew Lansley has said that patients’ ability to choose where they were treated would help drive through the changes. Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council of the British Medical Association, has suggested that “by taking on the commissioning of care, family doctors would be able to “bypass, if not ignore” the government’s market philosophy”. If GPs took on the commissioning role, they would be able to “integrate care rather than fragment it”, Dr Meldrum said. Some GPs are firmly opposed to the government’s use of competition and the private sector as a means of driving up performance in the NHS.
Times – Landmark human rights ruling on soldiers
The Supreme Court ruled today that soldiers fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas do not have the protection of human rights laws. The judgment represents a victory for the Ministry of Defence in appeal against a previous ruling in favour of the family of a soldier who died of heatstroke while serving in Iraq. However, the court left open a possible line of appeal to its verdict, stating that only the European Court of Human Rights had the power to determine the scope of human rights law in such cases.
Times – ‘Russian spy’ was employed in Britain
A member of the group believed by the FBI to have acted as unregistered agents for the Russian government worked in Britain in 2004 for an estimated four years. Anna Chapman, arrested in the US on Sunday, appears to have worked for private airline NetJets Europe, as well as claiming to have worked for Barclays (though this is unconfirmed). MI5’s website states that Russian and Chinese espionage is of greatest concern for British interests, and that ‘the number of Russian intelligence officers in London has not fallen since Soviet times”.