Yvette Cooper calls on Prime Minister to stop appointing new Peers

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Yvette Cooper, one of the four candidates to be leader of the Labour Party, has called on David Cameron to stop the appointment of any more Peers to the House of Lords.

She accused the Prime Minister of “vandalising democracy” rather than working with other parties to modernise the constitution.

Cooper, who is married to the former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, wrote:

“Our uncodified constitution is being stretched at the seams and our democracy undermined by David Cameron’s pursuit of narrow party political interest. 

“For generations the constitutional settlement in Britain has relied on political parties and Prime Ministers respecting democratic principles and not using constitutional change to pursue their own party purpose. Instead David Cameron and the Tories are vandalising democracy by pursuing their own narrow party political interest rather than seeking public consent or cross party consensus for major changes to our democratic institutions

“The list of Tory party political attempted assaults on our uncodified, and partly unwritten constitution is long – trying to flood the House of Lords with more Tory appointments, to change voting in the Commons to favour the Tories, to change boundaries to help the Tories, to change party funding to hurt the Labour Party and to nobble the Speaker of the Commons. And all of it without cross party consensus, or public consent. The Conservatives are acting without a shred of integrity.

“At the same time there is a long term need for major reform especially after the Scottish referendum, to reflect greater devolution, the need for a new framework for England and Wales and for local government too. And it must include long overdue reform of the House of Lords.

“Our current constitution is out of date. But we can’t rely on this Prime Minister to modernise it in the wider interests of democracy rather than the narrow interest of the Tory Party.

“As Leader I will set up an extra-Parliamentary constitutional convention in the absence of action from the Prime Minister. I want all parties and all parts of civil society involved in this. If David Cameron won’t establish a fair and proper democratic and constitutional reform process, I will”.

Hugo Swire condemns killing of blogger in Bangladesh

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Hugo Swire, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, has condemned the killing of Niloy Neel, a well-known blogger, in Bangladesh.

Neel ran the Blogger and Online Activists’ Network in the country was killed in his flat in Dhaka. His death is the fourth in recent months and it is thought that an Islamic militant may have killed Neel because of his atheist views.

In a statement Swire said:

“I was appalled to learn of the violent murder in Bangladesh of blogger Niloy Neel, the fourth such death this year. It was a horrifying and cowardly crime. My thoughts are with Niloy’s family and friends.

I call on the Bangladeshi authorities to investigate his death urgently, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The freedom of speech is a universal right which must be protected. The UK stands together with the people and government of Bangladesh in the face of extremism”.

Tim Farron is the new Leader of the Liberal Democrats

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The Liberal Democrats have confirmed that Tim Farron is the new leader of the Liberal Democrats. Farron received 56.5% of the votes beating Norman Lamb who received 43.5% of the vote.

The result was unveiled on social media with the 45 year old Farron being announced the winner at 16:00. Farron has represented the constituency of Westmorland and Lonsdale since 2005.

Farron said on Twitter:

“THANK YOU! This is a liberal country. Our job now is to turn millions of liberals throughout the UK into Liberal Democrats”

Nick Clegg, the former leader of the Party, also said on Twitter:

“Congratulations to new leader . It’s a tough job but the best in politics. I know Tim will do us proud”

Norman Lamb, the MP for North Norfolk, said:

“Congratulations to – will make fantastic leader championing social justice and leading the

Prime Minister sets out Government’s objectives over next five years

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David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has set out his objectives for the next five years including a focus on ending the gender pay gap. Speaking to business leaders the Prime Minister said that large companies would in future be required to publish pay differentials between males and females in their organisations.

The full text of the speech is below:

“I really welcome this opportunity to come and speak to you today and to answer questions. It’s a really good opportunity to engage with leaders in the UK. What I want to say is that in the last Parliament we had a very clear goal. And it was a goal that you helped us with. Which was to have a private sector led recovery. Because of that goal and because of the work you all put in, we saw that happen. We saw the 2 million new jobs, we saw 750,000 businesses start up, we saw great success in terms of increasing our exports.

What I’m going to say today is that in this Parliament I’m equally clear about what I want us to achieve. I just lay out a few thoughts before I take some questions.

First of all, we’ve got to finish the job in terms of dealing with our situation of debt and deficit. We’ve paid down half of the deficit in the last Parliament, we will eradicate the deficit in this parliament and move to surplus. We’ve got to have a state that as a country that we can afford.

Second thing we’ve got to do is back enterprise as much in this Parliament, in fact more in this Parliament than in the last Parliament.

And I hope you can see we’ve made a very purposeful strong and rapid start in putting in place those things to back enterprise. I want us to be the best place in Europe to start, to grow, to expand a business. I think that is fully within our reach and that is what we want to do.

At the same time as running this very strong pro-enterprise, pro-business agenda, I do want us to run a government as a genuine one nation government where were trying to extend opportunity to everyone in our country. Whether you are black, white, male or female. Whatever part of the country you come from, we actually think there is a real opportunity to build the opportunity society right here in Britain.

So that means making sure we continue to reform schools, making sure we invest more in childcare, making sure we go after all the causes that hold people back in our country. The fourth thing I’ll mention is that we want to restore the pride, prestige, power and influence of Britain in the world. A lot of these things flow from having a strong economy. You can make as many arguments as you like internationally, but if our economy isn’t strong, if people can’t see that you’re successful at home, you’ll only have a limited impact.

I would say this is not for some reasons of sort of national vanity. This is actually about our national interest. Britain is one of the most international country’s anywhere in the world. We have people and businesses all over the world. We rely on the trade and sea lanes being open all over the world. And so restoring our pride, prestige and influence across the world is absolutely key to our national interest.

Those are the 4 things I’d highlight just to start the discussions this morning. The second thing I’d say I do see this very much as a shared challenge. Government can’t do these things alone. It needs to be a proper partnership between government business and private sector. If you think about it and I’m sure Sajid touched on this. Behind these challenges lies one absolutely key challenge, something that we haven’t been getting right in our country. And that is increasing our productivity. If Britain was as productive as United States. As I’m sure Sajid has just told you, it’s his figure of the day, each family in Britain, would be £22,000 better off. Our economy would be about a third larger. This is a massive shared challenge for our country. Without meeting it we won’t meet the other objectives that I said. That means trading more, investing more, building more, rewiring our economy, investing in infrastructure, so it becomes more productive.

Third thing I would say just to stimulate the debate. Really the division in terms of what I think we need to do and where I hope you can help us. In terms of what the government will do; we will continue to take action on taxes. You saw in the Budget our plans to take corporation tax down to a historic low of 18%. We’ll take action on planning. It’s quite apparent to me we need to further streamline and simplify planning system. So that we can build and invest in the future. We’re going to try and make the investment climate as simple and positive as possible. Making sure an investment plan is set and fixed for the whole of this Parliament. We’re going to continue with a very strong programme investing in infrastructure.

We’ve now got the biggest rail investment programme since Victorian times, the biggest road investment programme since 1970s. Broadband is a massive challenge but we are actually doing well and I think we can go further.

Those are the things that I will focus on that we, the government, will try to deliver. On taxes, on planning on investment, on infrastructure. We also owe you a decision on London’s airport situation and that will be made before the end of the year. Final thing though is what we most want in terms of help from you. Sajid was talking about one of these things as I came into the room.

I identify really 3 things, that I, we hope that business can help us to deliver. The first is closing the skills gap and training. You did brilliantly in the last Parliament with 2.3 million apprentices trained. We’re going to train 3 million in this Parliament. I think we’re only going to that if we do move to this model of having the training levy model that Sajid talked about. I think it’s a massive priority for our country. If we want to close the productivity gap its clearly in the training space where a lot of work will be done.

Second thing is working with us on the areas where I want to make sure we have genuine opportunity.

Huge steps were made in the last Parliament around the employment of disabled people. I think 140,000 extra disabled people were employed in the last year. But breaking down the barriers for disabled people getting work should be a key priority for this Parliament. As should better progress in terms of black and minority ethnic employment, apprenticeships, and university places and opportunities.

The other area I mention which I read about in the Times newspaper today (thank you very much John) is closing the gender pay gap. This is much more difficult in many ways than some of the earlier steps that were made. In terms of the inequality between men and women’s pay, paying men and women different amount for the same job. That challenge isn’t entirely solved, but it is nearly solved. What we have now is a gender pay gap, based on the fact that in many instances men and women are doing different jobs and therefore different levels of pay. So this is a much bigger challenge. One that we absolutely should tackle, one that we can tackle. But it’s going to take real work from government and business to fix that.

Third area I’d mention is exports. Where again, this is a shared challenge. I think in the last parliament we had one or two areas of huge success. I would mention inward investment into the UK, which in many years was greater than all the inward investment in the rest of the European Union put together. And also the situation with China, where our exports rocketed up and inward investments from China has been huge. But the other markets if we are frank with ourselves. When we look at some of the other fast growing around the world, we’re not doing as well as a country as we should do. And we want to work with you very closely to try and close those gaps.

So that gives you, I hope, a flavour of the things I want to achieve in this 5 years. I think we’ve got a great opportunity of building on the base of 5 years of strong economic growth. An economy that has been growing faster than other major countries. Finish the job on the deficit, Britain as the most enterprising economy in Europe. Restoring Britain’s pride and prestige on the international stage. Which is not an act of national vanity, it’s an act of national interest. And building that genuine opportunity, where you can get to the top of whatever profession, whatever line of work you choose, as far as your talents allow. Because there are no barriers in your way. All the causes of poverty, the things that people trapped in the lack of opportunity are addressed either by government or by business”.

Former UKIP MEP Ashley Mote sentenced to five years in prison

Ashley Mote, the former UKIP MEP for South East England, has been imprisoned for five years for expenses fraud. Mote stole £500,000 from the European Parliament over a period of six years from 2004 until 2010.

The disgraced politician had also been found guilty of benefits fraud in 2007 and was sentenced to nine months in jail. He was able to retain his Parliamentary seat as the jail sentence was under a year despite calls for his resignation. Mote ignored calls from the UKIP party leader Nigel Farage to resign and he continued in his role until June 2009.

During sentencing today Justice Stuart-Smith said:

“Your greed and dishonesty were matched only by your hypocrisy, because while this was going on you carried out a high-profile campaign condemning corruption and the improper use of public money in the very institution from which you were leeching it”.

Liz Kendall backs Harriet Harman

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Liz Kendall is the only one of the four candidates for the leadership of the Labour Party to back Harriet Harman in saying that she would support parts of the Conservative Party budget.

Harman in her role as acting leader of the Labour Party said that she understand how some parents were unable to afford to have more children and the party needed to listen to them as well as those on benefits.

Jeremy Corbyn rejected Harman’s stance and said that he would “not be willing to vote for policies which push more children into poverty” but didn’t comment on what he would do for parents who were unable to afford more children.

Police prevent attempts to threaten aircraft landing, positioning and take-offs

Police at Heathrow have prevented attempts from the Plane Stupid campaign to threaten aircraft landings and take-offs at Heathrow’s North Runway. The police have confirmed that they do not at this stage believe that the group had terrorist intentions.

Twelve activists from the group cut through security fencing at around 03.30 today. Heathrow Airport apologised for the cancellation of some flights but said that “our priority remains to ensure the safe running of the airport”.

The airport had indicated that it will begin civil recovery proceedings against those who trespassed onto the runway in a bid to mitigate against the losses incurred which could run into hundreds of thousands.

Liz Kendall, a contender for the Labour leadership, says other candidates are continuity Miliband

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Liz Kendall, one of the five candidates for the leadership of the Labour Party, has said that she is the only candidate who is offering a new approach.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper she said:

“I think I am the only person in this race that isn’t continuity Miliband. The other candidates haven’t spelled out how they would be different from Ed Miliband”.

The Sun announced in mid-June that they were backing Kendall for the leadership of the party saying that she understood the aspirations of their readers.

David Cameron and George Osborne announce plans to increase home ownership

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David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have announced plans to widen home ownership and to encourage the building of new homes.

In an article for The Times newspaper they wrote:

“Having your own place is an important stake in our economy. It’s also one of the best expressions of the aspirational country we want to build, where hard work is rewarded.

We don’t want this to be a country where if you’re rich you can buy a home, but if you’re less well off, you can’t. We want it to be one nation, where whoever you are, you can get on in life.

In the last five years, we got builders building, lenders lending, and government-backed schemes alone helped more than 200,000 people on the property ladder. The next five will be about going much further. Of course, there will be opponents – but we are determined to take them on.

It’s simple: you are either pro-reform or not; for building homes, or not; on the side of young people, or not. We know our position. As a one nation government, we will always be squarely on the side of those who want to get on”.

The Labour Party had pledged to build 200,000 new homes a year by 2020 and introduce rent controls in their General Election manifesto earlier in 2015. The party has said that they are reviewing the policies pending the election of the new leader.