National minimum wage to increase to £6.70 an hour

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Downing Street has confirmed that the minimum wage is to increase to £6.70 an hour, an increase of 20p (3%) from the old rate of £6.50. This increase was recommended by the Low Pay Commission with the minimum wage rates for 18-20 year olds (up 3% to £5.30) and 16-17 year olds (up 3% to £3.87) also increasing.

The Low Pay Commission also recommended an increase in the national minimum wage for apprentices of 3% but the Government has opted for a 20% rise to £3.30 an hour.

David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said:

“At the heart of our long-term economic plan for Britain is a simple idea – that those who put in, should get out; that hard work is really rewarded; that the benefits of recovery are truly national. That’s what today’s announcement is all about – saying to hardworking taxpayers, this is a government that is on your side. It will mean more financial security for Britain’s families; and a better future for our country.”

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, said in a statement:

“This is just one of the many ways in which we’ve created a fairer society whilst building a stronger economy. If you work hard, this government is behind you all the way. Whether you’re on low pay or starting your dream career through an apprenticeship, you will get more support to help you go further and faster.”

Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary, said:

“This 20p rise falls far short of the £7 minimum wage which  George Osborne promised over a year ago. Ministers have misled working families who have been left worse off.”

The increase will take effect from October 2015.

Sarah Champion called “downright low” after claiming for a Remembrance Day wreath

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Sarah Champion, the Labour MP for Rotherham, has returned money claimed for a Remembrance Day wreath after the expenses were questioned by the media.

Champion broke IPSA rules on claiming for the wreath which isn’t allowable under Parliamentary expenses. Champion has said that following the media reports she will be returning the £17 expenses claim next week.

In an interview with The Sun the Tax-Payer’s Alliance said:

“Trying to put the bill on somebody else to honour our servicemen and women is downright low.”

Champion has not made a statement or apology on her Twitter account or on her web-site relating to the claim.

Gordon Brown warns of isolation in Europe

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Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister from 2007 until 2010, has warned that the UK risks isolation if voters decide to leave the European Union.

In an article for the Guardian the former Prime Minister wrote:

“Of course, we must tell the truth about the 3 million jobs, 25,000 companies, £200bn of annual exports and £​450bn of inward investment linked to Europe; and how the “Britzerland” or Norwegian alternatives (even Norwegians oppose the Norwegian option) leave us subject to EU rules, but denied a vote in shaping them. And we must talk about how the Hong Kong option – “leaving Europe to join the world” – is really the North Korea option, out in the cold with few friends, no influence, little new trade and even less new investment.”

Ed Miliband, the leader of the Opposition, has ruled out a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union unless a substantial change in power is proposed. The Conservative Party have offered a referendum on membership of the European Union in 2017.

 

Population increased 500,000 since 2011

A new study from Oxford University has suggested that the UK population has increased by 500,000 since 2011. The report suggests that the number of foreign born residents of the UK has now increased to around 8 million people.

Two thirds of the new immigrants to the UK are thought to have come from other European Union countries

Further information about the report can be found at the Migration Observatory.

Sir John Major calls on Labour to rule out a coalition with the SNP

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Sir John Major, the Prime Minister from 1990 until 1997, has called on Labour to rule out a coalition with the SNP. In an article published in the Daily Telegraph he wrote:

“A Labour-SNP alliance would be a lethal cocktail for the United Kingdom. The two parties loathe and distrust one another in Scotland. At Westminster, SNP minds would not be focused on the well-being of the United Kingdom, but on their own party interests.”

Major also wrote that the two parties fundamentally disagreed on the future of the union and that the SNP would want a coalition with the sole aim of breaking up the union. He added:

“The Labour leader in Scotland, Jim Murphy, has proposed raising the Mansion Tax in England to fund services in Scotland. In doing so, he has opened the door for the SNP to make even more extravagant demands – which they will surely do as their price for propping up a Labour government. The resultant policy could only further penalise UK citizens outside Scotland.”

The Labour party have yet to say whether or not that they would enter a coalition although the SNP have said that they wouldn’t rule it out.

Andrew Mitchell pays £80,000 to policeman in libel trial

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Andrew Mitchell, the former Conservative Party chief whip, has paid £80,000 to the police officer involved in the Plebgate incident, PC Toby Rowland.

A court ruled that Andrew Mitchell had used the word “pleb” following a dispute with police officers on Downing Street. Mitchell had denied using the word when he was told not to ride his bike through the gates.

Following the court decision that Mitchell had used the word “pleb” the police officer began legal proceedings. The £80,000 payment is in addition to the estimated £300,000 legal costs that Mitchell was forced to pay to the Sun newspaper and to the Police Federation.

Court told of phone hacking of an industrial scale at Daily Mirror

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The High Court in London has been told today that hacking took place at the Daily Mirror on “an industrial scale”.

The court heard that Dan Evans, one of the newspaper’s journalists, hacked into private messages on phones around 100 times every day from 2003 to 2004. Evans has already pleaded guilty to phone hacking but the newspaper denies the impact of the illegal operation on the claimants.

There are eight claimants in the case who claimed that their phones were hacked. The claimants are Lauren Alcorn, Robert Ashworth, Sadie Frost, Paul Gascoigne, Shobna Gulati, Shane Richie, Lucy Taggart and Alan Yentob.

The court was told that some of the messages were “deeply private” and that the phone hacking could have been going on for ten years. Many of the claimants have said that they felt that their privacy has been violated so that the newspaper could source information for stories.

The Daily Mirror’s defence team said that claimants did not suffer from long-term and life changing suffering. The paper added that it had already started a compensation fund and apologised for its actions. The below apology was also printed in the Daily Mirror a fortnight ago:

“Trinity Mirror, owner of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, today apologises publicly to all its victims of phone hacking. Some years ago voice-mails left on certain people’s phones were unlawfully accessed. And in many cases the information obtained was used in stories in our national newspapers. 

Such behaviour represented an unwarranted and unacceptable intrusion into people’s private lives. It was unlawful and should never have happened, and fell far below the standards our readers expect and deserve.

We are taking this opportunity to give every victim a sincere and unreserved apology for what happened. We recognise that our actions will have caused them distress for which we are truly sorry.

Our newspapers have a long and proud history of holding those in power to account. As such, it is only right we are held to account ourselves. Such behaviour has long since been banished from Trinity Mirror’s business and we are committed to ensuring it will not happen again.”

Ed Miliband denies photo manipulation

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Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition, has denied allegations that a photo was manipulated or that he stood on a box in a photo with Toby Perkins, the Labour MP for Chesterfield. The story was first posted by the Guido Fawkes blog and followed a statement by Ed Miliband last year that:

“If you want a politician  who thinks that a good photo is the most important thing, then don’t vote for me”.

The original story can be found at the Guido Fawkes blog.

Kris Hopkins confirms Greenwich Council ordered to stop weekly publication of its own magazine

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Kris Hopkins, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has confirmed that Greenwich Council will be forced to stop publishing its weekly publication ‘Greenwich Time’.

Hopkins said that there was a threat to local media and that agreement hadn’t been reached with the council. He added:

“Within the period of 14 days following the notice, as statute provides, Greenwich council has made a number of representations. These included that in the council’s view there is no evidence that its weekly newspaper has an impact on the local independent press in the area, that the proposed direction would be ultra vires, irrational, and procedurally unfair, and that in any event the council would not be able to comply with such a direction by the proposed date of 31 March 2015.”

The department for Communities and Local Government confirmed that the direction meant “not only must the council cease to publish its weekly newspaper, ‘Greenwich Time’, but it is also barred from outsourcing or contracting for the publication of any weekly newsletter, news-sheet or similar communication by a third party to whom the council may make payment.”

The publication of Greenwich Time meant that some local media outlets said that they were facing unfair competition for advertising. The council also admitted that the Greenwich Time was being signed off by the leader of the council which some opponents said questioned the impartiality of the publication.

The council has said that it will comply with its legal duties.

David Cameron condemns killing of Boris Nemtsov

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David Cameron, the Prime Minister, has condemned the assassination in Moscow of Boris Nemtsov who was a former Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation. Nemtsov was killed on a public road and was known as a critic of Vladimir Putin, the Russian President.

David Cameron said in a statement:

“I am shocked and sickened by the callous murder of Boris Nemtsov as he walked in the heart of Moscow last night. This despicable act must be fully, rapidly and transparently investigated, and those responsible brought to justice.

Boris Nemtsov was a man of courage and conviction. His life was dedicated to speaking up tirelessly for the Russian people, to demanding their right to democracy and liberty under the rule of law, and to an end to corruption. He did so without fear, and never gave in to intimidation. He was greatly admired in Britain, not least by his friend Lady Thatcher, who visited him in Russia and who would have been appalled by today’s news. The courage of Nemtsov’s life contrasts with the utter cowardice of his murder.

I extend my condolences to Boris Nemtsov’s family and friends. The Russian people have been deprived of a champion of their rights. Boris Nemtsov is dead. But the values he stood for will never die.”

Nemtsov had given a radio interview just hours before his death which some are saying is linked to the leadership of the increasing controversial Vladimir Putin.