Foreign Secretary pledges help after earthquake in Nepal

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The Government has pledged help to Nepal following an earthquake in the region which is thought to have killed over 1,000 people and caused significant disruption.

Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, said in a statement:

“My thoughts are with the people of Nepal and everyone affected by the terrible loss of life and widespread damage caused by the earthquake.

We are in close contact with the Nepalese government. The British Embassy in Nepal is offering our assistance to the authorities and is providing consular assistance to British Nationals”.

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, added:

My thoughts are with the people of Nepal, in particular all those who have lost loved ones.

“The absolute priority must be to reach people who are trapped and injured, and provide shelter and protection to those who have lost their homes.

Nepal needs our urgent humanitarian assistance and that is why we have rapidly deployed a team of humanitarian experts who will immediately begin work assessing the damage and helping the Nepalese authorities respond to this devastating earthquake”.

Reclaim Brixton Group event ends in violence

An event held by the Reclaim Brixton group in London has ended in violence with the windows of Foxtons estate agents smashed. The event had been intended to campaign for more local housing in the area to counter increasing house prices in the area.

The Metropolitan police confirmed that some of the campaigners broke away from the main group saying in a statement “a group of protesters then made their way to Brixton Road where the window of a commercial premises was smashed and graffiti sprayed on the building”.

The police also confirmed that another group who had entered the force’s police station in Brixton and that CS gas was used to disperse them. The Guardian newspaper reported that violence continued into the evening.

Labour pledges to reform rented housing market

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Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, has said that a Labour Government would reform the rented housing market by introducing rent controls and increasing the length of a minimum tenancy.

Landlords who fail to keep their housing stock in good condition will also potentially lose their buy-to-let tax relief cut. After a six month trial tenancy period tenants will be able to sign a three year tenancy agreement with rental increases linked to inflation.

Sir John Major Warns of the Danger of a Labour-SNP Coalition

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Sir John Major, the Conservative Prime Minister from 1990 until 1997, is to warn today of the dangers of an SNP-Labour coalition in a speech in the West Midlands.

He is expected to say:

“Labour would be in hock to a party that – slowly but surely – will push them ever further to the left. And who would pay the price for this? We all would. We would all pay for the SNP’s ransom in our daily lives – through higher taxes, fewer jobs, and more and more debt.”

Warning that the SNP would have a pro-nationalist agenda Major is also expected to say:

“That is no way to run a country. And nor is it remotely fair to England, Wales and Northern Ireland”.

Villiers pays respect to Lord Mason

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Theresa Villiers, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has paid respect to Lord Mason of Barnsley following his death on 20 April 2015 at the age of 91.

Mason was the Labour MP for Barnsley from 1953 to 1983 and for Barnsley Central from 1983 to 1987. He also held the positions of Postmaster General in 1968, President of the Board of Trade from 1969 to 1970, Secretary of State for Defence from 1974 until 1976 and was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1976 until 1979.

In a statement Villiers said:

“I was saddened to hear of the death of Lord Mason today, who served as Secretary of State with distinction during the 1970s.

Roy Mason will probably be best remembered as someone who stood up robustly to terrorism during the height of the troubles. His work as Secretary of State helped to ensure that political violence and intimidation, from wherever it came, would ultimately never succeed.

My thoughts and condolences are with his family”.

Unemployment at lowest level since 2008

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has confirmed that unemployment has fallen to 1.84 million which is a fall of 76,000 people over the last three months. The number of claimants of Job-Seeker’s Allowance has fallen to 772,400 which is a fall of 20,700 people. The sharp increase in employment takes the number of people in the UK working to over 31 million for the first time and the highest percentage figure since the early 1970s.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said in a speech today:

“We are living through a jobs miracle – brought to you by a Conservative Government that has backed business, reformed welfare and rewarded work”.

Full details of the data are available at the ONS site.

Ken Clarke calls Tory Party too right-wing

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Ken Clarke, the former Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, has said in an interview with the New Statesman that “we’ve got a very good recovery at the moment” but that this “could be swept away if we start doing silly things”.

Clarke also said that:

“No one seems to be able to win elections nowadays. I belong to the Conservative party that usually won elections! Before 1992, the Conservative party had been the national governing party of the country for most of my lifetime. And most elections I fought the Conservative party had won. And now we haven’t been able to win an election for 23 years”.

When asked why this was Clarke replied that:

“[The Conservative Party] has become much too right-wing. Which I hope David will continue to seek to redress in coming times”.

Richard Desmond gives £1 million to UKIP

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Richard Desmond, the owner of the Daily Express and Sunday Express, has donated £1 million to UKIP. Desmond, a former donor to the Labour Party, also donated £300,000 to UKIP in 2014.

In a statement Desmond said:

“They are struggling to have a voice. They do not have a massive party machine or highly paid public relations people. They are human; they are not perfect and they do not pretend to be. But what they believe in is the best for the British people. They are the sort of people who will stand up for people who are struggling”.

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP, said:

“I know there are a lot more people out there who agree in private but I hope this public gesture encourages others to follow his example”.

Sir Simon Fraser departs the Foreign Office

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office have confirmed the departure of Sir Simon Fraser, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary since 2010.

Sir Simon said:

“It has been a tremendous honour to lead the Foreign and Commonwealth Office over five exciting and demanding years. I feel that this is the right time to stand down and to allow someone else to guide the organisation through the coming phase under the next Government. I pay tribute to the dedicated and skilled staff of the FCO who give such outstanding service to our country every day in all corners of the world. I am also pleased to have been able to contribute to the wider leadership of the Civil Service in my time at BIS and the FCO”.

A successor will be appointed after the General Election.