Government Moves Fire and Rescue Responsibilities to the Home Office

Mike Penning
Mike Penning

The Government has moved fire and rescue Ministerial responsibilities from the Department for Communities and Local Government to the Home Office.

Mike Penning will work at the Home Office and will become the Minister for Policing, Fire, Criminal Justice and Victims. In a statement he said:

“As a former firefighter and now Minister for Policing, I know from first-hand experience how well the police and fire service can work together. We believe that better joint working can strengthen the emergency services and deliver significant savings and benefits for the public. This is about smarter working, reducing the cost of back office functions and freeing up the time of front-line staff.

We are demonstrating at national level what we are asking emergency services to do at local level. As the Minister responsible for both fire and policing, I will be looking to ensure that both services learn from best practice, wherever it is found.

I’d like to record my admiration for the work of fire and rescue services. That work is of course particularly visible at times such as these, when many services are playing such a crucial role in the response to flooding; but I know the commitment and dedication of all fire and rescue staff is there day in day out, making their communities safer places for everyone.

This move will have benefits for both services. Fire authorities can learn from the journey that police forces have undertaken on reform over the last five years. Equally, the success of fire and rescue services in prevention holds important lessons for the police”.

Jeremy Corbyn Confirms New Shadow Cabinet

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Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, has confirmed the details of the new Shadow Cabinet.

Leader of the Opposition – Jeremy Corbyn

Deputy Leader, Party Chair and Shadow Cabinet Office Minister – Tom Watson

Shadow First Secretary of State, Shadow Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary – Angela Eagle

Shadow Chancellor – John McDonnell

Shadow Chief Treasury Secretary – Seema Malhotra

Shadow Home Secretary – Andy Burnham

Shadow Foreign Secretary – Hilary Benn

Opposition Chief Whip – Rosie Winterton

Shadow Health Secretary – Heidi Alexander

Shadow Education Secretary – Lucy Powell

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary – Owen Smith

Shadow Defence Secretary – Emily Thornberry

Shadow Lord Chancellor, Shadow Justice Secretary – Lord Falconer of Thoroton

Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary – Jon Trickett

Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary – Lisa Nandy

Shadow Commons Leader – Chris Bryant

Shadow Transport Secretary – Lilian Greenwood

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary – Vernon Coaker

Shadow International Development Secretary – Diane Abbott

Shadow Scotland Secretary – Ian Murray

Shadow Wales Secretary – Nia Griffith

Shadow Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary – Kerry McCarthy

Shadow Women and Equalities Minister – Kate Green

Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary – Maria Eagle

Shadow Young People and Voter Registration Minister – Gloria De Piero

Shadow Mental Health Minister – Luciana Berger

Shadow Lords Leader – Baroness Smith of Basildon

Lords Chief Whip – Lord Bassam of Brighton

Shadow Attorney General – Catherine McKinnell

Shadow Minister without Portfolio – Jonathan Ashworth

Shadow Housing and Planning Minister – John Healey

Strike of junior doctors is back on for next week

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The BMA has confirmed that strike action by junior doctors will take place next week after talks with the Government have broken down. There will now be a 24-hour walkout on Tuesday 12 January 2016 with further and longer action being taken later in the month.

Mark Porter, the Chairman of the BMA, said:

“We sincerely regret the disruption that industrial action will cause, but junior doctors have been left with no option. It is because the government’s proposals would be bad for patient care as well as junior doctors in the long-term that we are taking this stand”.

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, has said that he is asking ACAS to intervene in the process to allow talks to continue. He said:

“It is extremely disappointing that the BMA have chosen to take industrial action which helps no-one”.

Senior Labour figure criticises Ken Livingstone for wanting to sack Hilary Benn

Lady Janet Royall, the former Labour Leader in the House of Lords, has criticised Ken Livingstone after his surprise intervention in the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle. In an interview during the reshuffle Livingstone called for Benn to be sacked from his role as Shadow Foreign Secretary.

Royall, writing on Twitter, called his intervention as “an outrageous comment”. The full details of the Shadow Cabinet reshuffle have yet to be confirmed.

Sir Nicholas Macpherson to retire as Treasury Permanent Secretary

Sir Nicholas Macpherson is to retire as the Permanent Secretary at the Treasury after just over ten years in the role.

He had joined the civil service in 1985 and he served as the PPS to both Kenneth Clarke and Gordon Brown during the 1990s. He became the Permanent Secretary at the Treasury in August 2005 and he will retire from the civil service at the end of March 2016.

McPherson said:

“It has been a privilege to lead the Treasury through an extraordinary period. But after 31 years in the department, and having worked on 33 Budgets and 20 Spending Reviews, it is time to do something else while I still can.

With the fiscal strategy for this Parliament set and the economic recovery well established, now is the right time to stand aside and for someone else to guide the Treasury through the challenges ahead.

I pay tribute to the remarkable energy, creativity, resilience and decency of the Treasury ministers and officials I have worked with”.

Ken Livingstone Intervenes in Shadow Cabinet Reshuffle to Demand Sacking of Hilary Benn

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Ken Livingstone, the former Labour Mayor of London, has said that Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, should sack Hilary Benn from his role as the Shadow Foreign Secretary.  Livingstone made his intervention on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme today.

Livingstone said:

“There is a problem if – as we had with the debate on Syria – our principle spokesman on that stands up at the end of the debate and puts forward a completely different line to the leader of the Labour Party”.

He added that:

“Allowing genuine debate is one thing, but all we had was days of press coverage about splits between Jeremy Corbyn and Hilary Benn. I think that’s counterproductive”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s office refused to comment on the speculation.

Government Expresses Disappointment Over Saudi Arabia Killings

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The British Government has reacted with disappointment after the news that Saudi Arabia had executed 47 prominent individuals. The action has also sparked a diplomatic issue with Iran and led to international concern about the killings.

Tobias Ellwood, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, criticised the killings and said:

“I am deeply disturbed by the escalation in tensions in the last 24 hours in the Middle East.

The UK is firmly opposed to the death penalty. We have stressed this to the Saudi authorities and also expressed our disappointment at the mass executions.

We have discussed with the authorities in Riyadh, and expect that Ali Al-Nimr and others who were convicted as juveniles will not be executed. The UK will continue to raise these cases with the Saudi authorities.

We are deeply concerned to hear of the attack yesterday on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. It is essential that diplomatic missions are properly protected and respected.

There are those who will wish to exploit the situation and raise sectarian tensions higher. This would be against the wishes of the vast majority of those in the region. I urge all parties in the region to show restraint and responsibility”.

Andy Slaughter, the Shadow Spokesman on Human Rights, said that the Government should consider its links with Saudi Arabia:

“It is not right that the UK should be actively cooperating with a justice system that shows such flagrant disregard for the most basic human rights and the rule of law”.

The UK Security Services Reviewing New ISIS Footage

ISIS have released new video footage of what they claim to be five British spies, who they executed. The video was introduced by a hooded figure and a young child who both spoke with British accents.

The footage lasted for eleven minutes and it threatened David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, for launching air strikes on ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq. It is thought to be a continuation of the theme started by Mohammed Emwazi, who was killed by US troops in November 2015.

The British Government has said that the security services will be reviewing the footage, which has not yet been independently verified.