In a letter to the Daily Telegraph 103 senior executives have warned that a Labour Government could threaten the economic recovery.
The letter read:
We run some of the leading businesses in the UK. We believe this Conservative-led Government has been good for business and has pursued policies which have supported investment and job creation.
David Cameron and George Osborne’s flagship policy of progressively lowering Corporation Tax to 20% has been very important in showing the UK is open for business. It has been a key part of their economic plan.
The result is that Britain grew faster than any other major economy last year and businesses like ours have created over 1.85m new jobs.
We believe a change in course will threaten jobs and deter investment. This would send a negative message about Britain and put the recovery at risk.
The signatories include five former Labour Party supporters, Surinder Arora, Duncan Bannatyne, Sir Charles Dunstone, Sir Cameron Mackintosh and Moni Varma.
The Conservative Party welcomed the intervention and said in a statement:
“Their message is clear. A change of course will threaten jobs, deter investment and put the recovery at risk.”
Michael Ashcroft, the former Treasurer of the Conservative Party, has confirmed that he is to stand down from the House of Lords. Ashcroft issued this statement:
“Earlier this year Baroness D’Souza, the Lord Speaker, said that any Member of the House of Lords who can “no longer contribute meaningfully” should retire. She added that since the House has close to 800 members, “retirement at the right time should be seen as a condition of membership of the House of Lords – a duty as well as a right”.
I agree with the Speaker, and have concluded that my other activities do not permit me to devote the time that membership of the Lords properly requires.
Accordingly, I have today written to the Clerk of the Parliaments giving notice of my resignation from the House of Lords with immediate effect, pursuant to Section 1(1) of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014.
I will continue my involvement in politics through Lord Ashcroft Polls and my political publishing interests: Conservative Home, Biteback Publishing and Dods.”
Ashcroft has been a member of the House of Lords since 2000 and has sat on the Conservative benches.
Greenwich council has refused to limit publishing its Greenwich Time newspaper despite an order by Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Kris Hopkins, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:
“It is disappointing that Greenwich council has refused to comply with our direction to stop the weekly publication of its municipal newspaper. Consequently, the Secretary of State has initiated proceedings in the High Court against the council to enforce that direction”.
Denise Hyland, pictured above, is the leader of the council and rejected claims that local newspapers were suffering financially because of the council’s decision to publish Greenwich Times weekly. The order by Eric Pickles restricted the council to publishing the newspaper to four times a year. Hyland said in a statement:
“Our decision is driven by how we can best serve our residents and save money on their behalf, at a time when our budgets are severely threatened by cuts. We are being told by Government to find whatever savings we can then it directs us to spend the equivalent of £2.31 more per household in the borough – making it even harder for us to keep freezing council tax and protect essential services”.
Hyland added that the council is seeking a judicial review before complying with the order from the Secretary of State.
HM Treasury has confirmed that inflation fell from 0.3% in January 2015 to 0.0% in February 2015. Suppressed oil prices and food costs are thought to have caused what is the lowest inflation figure on record.
The low level of inflation may have a short-term advantage of giving consumers more money to spend than they expected but there is the potential fear of deflation where consumers and businesses delay purchasing goods and services in anticipation of price cuts.
David Natzler has been confirmed as the new Clerk of the House of Commons which was a post he had been holding on an acting basis.
Natzler said of his appointment:
“I am delighted, and very proud to have been asked to be the Clerk of the House of Commons and Head of the House of Commons Service. The 2015 Parliament will offer many challenges which I am confident that the House Service will meet with energy, comprising as it does so many talented and committed people”.
Previously Natzler had been Clerk to a number of Select Committees, Social Services 1981-1985, Procedure 1995-1997 and Trade and Industry 1997-2001. He was Principal Clerk of Committees 2001-2004, Secretary to the House of Commons Commission 2004-2006, Principal Clerk of the Table Office 2006-2008, Clerk of Legislation 2009-2011 and Clerk Assistant 2011-2014.
John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, had previously controversially proposed Carole Mills who was an Australian with no direct experience of the Houses of Parliament.
The Conservative Party have confirmed that Afzal Amin has resigned as the party’s candidate for the Dudley North constituency.
Senior figures in the party distanced themselves from Amin after it was alleged that he worked with the English Defence League to announce a meeting which he could take the credit for when cancelled.
Amin admitted that he did have meetings with the English Defence League but said that his actions were “normal conflict resolution, confidence building measures”. The Dudley North constituency for a target for the Conservatives with Ian Austin currently having a 649 majority for the Labour Party.
The Green Party has been drawn in a second investigation into actions of their party representatives today.
Earlier today Jenny Ross mocked Nigel Farage’s cancer and the party leadership has confirmed that a party inquiry will take place into allegations that a Green Party councillor took photographs of Frank Field, a Labour Party MP for Birkenhead, when he was having a heart attack. Field was attending a meeting to debate the sell-off of land of the former Rock Ferry High School at the time that the alleged incidents took place.
Field called on Natalie Bennett, the party leader, to investigate and he said:
“To take a photo of someone who has just had a heart attack would be a despicable thing to do”
Colin Dow, a Green Party councillor, has reported by Labour List to have said that photographs weren’t taken by him but that “had I been closer, I would have taken a picture”.
The Green Party said that an investigation would take place into the allegations.
Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, has rejected comments made by Alex Salmond, the former SNP First Minister of Scotland, that the SNP would influence a future Labour Government.
Miliband said “Alex Salmond is at it again, and it’s a combination of bluster and bluff” and added that “I’ll tell you who is going to be writing the Labour budget, it’s me and Ed Balls. Not Alex Salmond in a million years”.
Miliband’s comments come after Salmond suggested an informal partnership between the parties on a vote by vote issue. Salmond had also suggested that this would help steer the Labour party towards a more progressive direction and that HS2 could be re-routed as a bargaining tool.
Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, has today condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria and called for an investigation.
Hammond said in a statement:
“I am appalled by the reports in recent days of further chemical attacks against civilians in Idlib province which have caused a number of fatalities. The Syrian regime must provide a full account of these incidents. There needs to be a comprehensive investigation and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Fact Finding Mission must be allowed to establish whether this was indeed a chemical attack.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution this month condemning the use of chlorine gas in Syria. The use of chemicals by the Assad regime as a weapon against his own people not only breaches international law, but also violates previous Security Council resolutions and the Chemical Weapons Convention to which Syria acceded. If these latest allegations are verified, this would constitute a violation of UNSCR 2209. The UK, along with international partners, remains committed to ensuring that those responsible are held to account”.
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, said that he was deeply disturbed by the news and added in a statement:
“If true, this would be only the latest tragic example of the Assad regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people, which the entire international community must condemn”.
The Green Party have apologised after their Parliamentary candidate for Stalybridge and Hyde, Jenny Ross, mocked Nigel Farage’s cancer and compared him to Adolf Hitler.
The blog Order Order reported that the Green Party immediately distanced itself from the comments and said that:
“We condemn the language used by Ms Ross. It is neither appropriate or constructive to use this kind of inflammatory language. Our party will fight the vicious rhetoric espoused by Farage but we will not do so by making this kind of offensive remark. We expect an apology from Ms Ross and an internal investigation of her actions is already underway”.
The blog sought a comment from Ross but she refused to apologise and was reported to have made a Twitter post saying:
“No surprise Kippers don’t like dark humour…”