Birmingham City Council stops buying new books for some of its libraries

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Labour controlled Birmingham City Council has been criticised after it was revealed that some of their libraries have stopped buying new books.

The council spent nearly £200 million on a new central library in 2013 and has since then halved opening hours and made 100 staff redundant in a bid to make savings. An investment from Google meant that there has been an increase in opening hours but some local residents have queried why the old library needed to be closed.

The previous central library building was opened in 1974 and was the largest public library in Europe outside of capital cities. The library was also the second more visited in the UK with nearly 1.2 million visitors a year.

The City Council has said that it planned to spend £1 million on new books over the coming year but this represents a substantial fall on previous years.

Government praises growing brewing industry

New figures from the British Beer and Pub Association have shown that there are now over 1,400 breweries operating in the UK. A sharp increase over the last two years has meant that there is now an average of three breweries opening up each week.

Marcus Jones, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government and Minister for Pubs, said:

“Today’s figures show Britain is back on the map as a global ‘brewing powerhouse’ with 3 breweries opening up every week.

We gave the world the I.P.A and the Great British pint has been revered ever since. This brewing boom means we are not only creating some of the world’s best beer that we all enjoy in our local pub and at home but also thousands of jobs and a multi-billion pound boost to the economy”.

The figures from the British Beer and Pub Association also now suggest that the beer and pub sector employs over 869,000 people.

Labour bans 1,200 from voting in leadership election

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The Labour Party has confirmed that 1,200 people have been banned from voting in its leadership election. The party has the power to remove anyone who also supports another political party and said more may be removed later.

Among those removed from voting include Ken Loach, the film director who supports Left Unity, Toby Young, a journalist who encouraged others to join the party to vote Corbyn, and Tim Loughton, the Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham.

The party said of those who were banned from voting there were 214 members of the Green Party, 37 from the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, 13 from the Conservative Party, 7 from UKIP and 1 from the BNP.

The result of the Labour leadership will be announced on 12 September with the four candidates including Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall.

Philip Hammond pays tribute to British war dead in Korea

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Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, has paid tribute to the British war dead in Korea. Hammond was in South Korea as part of his tour of a number of Asian countries discussing matters such as global security and trade.

Hammond visited the Gloster Hill Memorial Park which commemorates the Gloucestershire Regiment who fought in Korea in 1951 at the Battle of Imjin River. During the battle 141 British soldiers were killed and another 1,169 were injured.

Hammond said:

“Britain’s contribution to the Korean War was crucial and it was a privilege to visit the newly-built Gloster Hill Memorial Park to pay my respects to the heroism of the British servicemen who fought and died defending freedom in Korea.

The memorial serves as a clear reminder of the historic links that exist between the British people and the people of South Korea”.

Seema Malhotra criticised for recruiting unpaid interns

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Seema Malhotra, the Labour MP for Feltham and Heston, has been criticised for using unpaid interns in her office despite standing on a platform of no unpaid internships at the 2015 General Election.

Malhotra was also one of the MPs named by The Sun newspaper before the General Election for using unpaid interns and a spokesman for the Unite Union said:

“Our MPs ought to be upholding them, setting a high standard for employers.”

Malhotra was also absent from a vote in the House of Commons in May 2014 which voted on whether unpaid internships should be banned.

Malhotra has represented the constituency since a by-election in 2011 and since 2014 she has been the Shadow Minister for Preventing Violence Against Women and Girls.

Details of the job are currently visible at http://www.w4mpjobs.org/JobDetails.aspx?jobid=52141 and no pay was offered to those working in the MP’s office. The job did though advertise “reasonable lunch and travel expenses” with the role requiring four days of work each week.

The Guido Fawkes blog reposted details of the advertisement earlier today. Malhotra has also claimed in previous years for the tax-payer to fund the lunches and rail fares of the interns with the claims published at http://www.parliamentary-standards.org.uk/.

 

Foreign Secretary in Singapore to Mark Golden Jubilee CElebrations

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Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, is in Singapore today to take part in the country’s golden jubilee celebrations. Hammond said:

“Britain and Singapore have a relationship and history that is as close today as it was 50 years ago. We invest heavily in each other’s economies and the UK sees itself as among Singapore’s best friends.

I look forward to joining the events marking this special day and to conveying personally the British government’s congratulations to President Tan and all the Singaporean people”.

Hammond is expected to take parts in talks during his visit on both international trade and security matters. He also praised the work of Lee Kuan Yew, the long serving Prime Minister and founding father of the country, who died earlier this year at the age of 91.

Singapore became independent in 1965 following a short-lived merger with Malaysia, after a long period of British rule. The country is seen as one of Asia’s economic miracles and has built up substantial wealth despite limited natural resources.

Jeremy Corbyn says sections of industry may be nationalised

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Jeremy Corbyn, one of the four candidates for the Labour leadership, has caused controversy over remarks he made in an interview with the Independent on Sunday over his support for nationalising some companies.

In the interview with the Independent on Sunday Corbyn said:

“I think we should talk about what the objectives of the party are, whether that’s restoring clause IV as it was originally written or it’s a different one”.

The remarks drew criticism from the other leadership candidates, including Liz Kendall who said:

“This shows there is nothing new about Corbyn’s politics. It is just a throwback to the past, not the change we need for our party or our country. We are a party of the future not a preservation society”.

The other two candidates for the leadership, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham, also criticised Corbyn’s comments. Cooper said:

“I want Britain to double its investment in science to create 2m more hi-tech manufacturing jobs. We should be working in partnership with business, not spending billions of pounds we haven’t got buying businesses out”.

 

Philip Hammond on trip to Japan as part of Far East tour

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Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, is today in Japan as part of a tour of the Far East to promote British interests. He met with Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Foreign Secretary, to discuss a range of subjects including global trade and security.

Hammond said:

“I’m delighted to be in Tokyo for meetings with my counterpart Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and others. The UK values highly its strategic partnership with Japan, and the deep friendship between our peoples. Both of our countries have made a significant contribution to global peace and security over the last seventy years, based on our shared values. The UK and Japan have experienced first-hand the impact of Islamic terrorism and have a common interest in tackling this.

Countries like Britain and Japan must play their part in upholding the rules-based international system. I’m proud that the UK is the only country in the world to commit to spending 2% of our GDP on defence, and 0.7% on development. We will keep working together on the dangers we face, and the opportunities we share”.

Lynton Crosby says that UKIP has “no future”

Lynton Crosby, thought by some to be the architect of the Conservative victory at the 2015 General Election, has said that UKIP has “no future”.

Crosby said that the party would remain as a pressure group opposing Britain’s membership of the European Union but added that “at one stage, they were talking about 30 to 70 seats and they ended up with one. I don’t think they have got a long-term future”.

Crosby was talking in Sydney at an event organised by the Australian-British Chamber of Commerce.

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”.