Foreign Office Issues Statement on Iran

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has today issued a statement alongside numerous other European countries with regards to the current situation in Iran.

A spokesperson for the FCO said:

“The UK and a number of European partners today jointly raised with Iran our deep concerns about hostile activities and plots being planned and perpetrated in Europe. Such actions are unacceptable and must have consequences.

We informed the Iranian authorities that those responsible for the June 2018 bomb plot planned in France are being included on the EU list of persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts and will be subject to restrictive measures.

We also condemned other illegal activities, including the recent thwarted assassination plot in Denmark and two assassinations in the Netherlands.

We remain committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, for as long as Iran continues to implement it in full. This agreement remains central to international efforts to halt nuclear proliferation and is crucial for the security of the region. But we are clear that this commitment does not preclude us from addressing other hostile and destabilising activities”.

Foreign Secretary Visits Malaysia as Part of Three Day Tour of Asia

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, is visiting Malaysia today in the first part of his three-day tour of Asia. He praised the progress towards media freedom in the country and said that the UK would help support Malaysian journalists focusing on investigative journalism.

The Foreign Secretary said in a statement:

“The UK is leading international efforts to support and protect media freedoms. At a time when these freedoms are increasingly under threat across the world, I applaud the new Malaysian government for the positive commitments and early steps it has taken. Lifting travel bans on journalists and moving to repeal laws that restrict media freedom demonstrate an intent to support journalists in their vital work and foster a free press.

Later this year I will be hosting an international conference in London on media freedom, which will bring together countries like Malaysia, and mobilise consensus behind the protection of journalists and the environment they operate in”.

The Malaysian Foreign Office added that they thought the visit of Jeremy Hunt would “strengthen the bond of friendship between Malaysia and the UK”.

Government Issues Statement on Elections in Zimbabwe

Jeremy Hunt

The European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of EU Member States present in Harare (France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom) and the Heads of Mission of Canada, Switzerland and the United States of America have joined together to issue a statement on the elections in Zimbabwe.

The text reads:

“The Heads of Mission of the EU, Canada, Switzerland and the United States of America note with grave concern the eruption of violence and occurrence of serious human rights violations following the peaceful election on 30 July 2018. These tragic events stand in sharp contrast to the high hopes and expectations for a peaceful, inclusive, transparent and credible election in Zimbabwe.

The Heads of Mission express their condolences to the families of the victims.

The Heads of Mission condemn the violence, attacks, and acts of intimidation targeted at opposition leaders and supporters. These human rights violations have no place in a democratic society and contravene the fundamental tenets of international human rights standards.

The Heads of Mission urge the government to respect the rights of the Zimbabwean people as enshrined in the Constitution. All allegations of incitement to violence or violent acts, as well as vandalism and destruction of property, should be investigated in accordance with the rule of law, and perpetrators held legally responsible.

The Heads of Mission welcome the President’s commitment to establish an independent commission to investigate the violence against civilians and look forward to the commission starting its work as soon as possible and reporting its findings in a transparent manner.

The Heads of Mission call on the Government to ensure that the Zimbabwean Defence Forces act with restraint, in full respect of international human rights norms and their constitutional role.

The Heads of Mission call on all stakeholders to act responsibly, to adhere to the principles of the Peace Pledge, to pursue peaceful and legal resolution of their grievances and to uphold the integrity of the political and electoral process”.

Labour Call For Action on Same Sex Wards

Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, has called on the Government to do more to eliminate same sex wards to meet promises which it had previously made. Figures released showed that there were 969 breaches of the rules in September, more than double the 2015 figure.

Ashworth said in a statement:

“In 2012 Jeremy Hunt said mixed sex wards had been “virtually eliminated”. The fact that mixed sex wards are now at their highest level for six years reveals a bigger picture of overcrowded and overstretched hospitals as a result of Tory underfunding and mismanagement.

Yet again we see patients cruelly let down by Theresa May. Ministers simply cannot carry on burying their heads in the sand about the scale of the problems facing the NHS. In the Budget, Theresa May must match Labour’s pledge to deliver an extra £6 billion for our NHS across the next financial year to ensure the best possible quality of care is sustained for years to come”.

Government Wins Public Sector Pay Cap Debate Vote

Jeremy Hunt

The Government has tonight won a vote in the House of Commons after an amendment was tabled by the Labour Party to end the cap on public sector pay increases. There had been confusion during the day over whether the Conservative Party would u-turn, but Downing Street confirmed that there had been no change in policy.

The Conservative Party, with the support of all DUP MPs, won the vote in the House of Commons by 323 votes to 309. During the debate some Conservative MPs, as well as former Ministers, argued that the cap should be reviewed.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said during the debate in the Commons:

“People will recognise that in the very difficult period that we have just had, it would not have been possible to increase the number of doctors by nearly 12,000 and the number of nurses in our wards by nearly 13,000 if we had not taken difficult decisions on pay. What I can say is that we will not make our decision on public sector pay until the pay review body has reported. We will listen to what it says, and to what people in this House have said, before making a final decision”.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of the Opposition, said in a statement:

“You can’t have safety and security on the cheap. It is plain to see that seven years of cuts to our emergency services has made us less safe; it’s time to make a change. Our emergency service workers make us proud at the worst of times for our country, such as the Grenfell Tower Fire and the recent terrorist attacks, and deserve the pay rise they have been denied for seven years. Conservative cuts have failed. Labour has a different approach, which values those who look after us and will transform Britain for the many not the few”.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, said in a statement:

“The government must listen to the overwhelming tide of public opinion and give our police, firefighters and nurses a pay rise. But Labour must be honest and admit we won’t be able to pay for strong public services by crashing the economy through an extreme Brexit. Labour MPs who want to protect funding for our police, schools and hospitals should back amendments calling for Britain to stay in the single market. This is a unique chance to force Theresa May to rethink her extreme approach to Brexit, Labour must not be on the wrong side of history”.

John Godfrey, the Prime Minister’s Director of Policy, calls for care fees rethink

John Godfrey, the Director of Policy to the Prime Minister, has said that the elderly should sell their homes to pay for care fees. This is a change to the policy of the David Cameron Government where Jeremy Hunt talked of the scandal of the elderly being forced to sell their homes.

The Observer has reported Godfrey saying:

“On a 10-year view equity release is going to be hugely important, because if you look at the amount of housing equity across the UK that is owned by people of post-retirement age, that is really where an awful lot of the money sits at the moment”.

David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, said in 2014:

“But the point about care homes is also important, because I know there is a concern that, of course, if you take your money out of your pension pot and have it as your own money, then it counts as your money when you are assessed for care needs. That is true; that is the case. But, again, you have the choice: you can leave money in your pension pot or take it out. And also, we are putting in place a cap on the amount of money that someone can be charged for their care needs”.

Godfrey is a former Conservative Party parliamentary candidate and has worked for senior figures including John Patten and Douglas Hurd.

Jeremy Hunt Says Agreement Reached in Junior Doctors Contract Dispute

jeremyhunt

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, has said in a statement in the House of Commons that agreement has been reached in the long-running dispute over junior doctors’ contracts.

Hunt said in his statement:

“I am pleased to inform the House that after 10 days of intensive discussion under the auspices of ACAS, the dispute was resolved yesterday with a historic agreement between the government, NHS Employers (acting on behalf of the employers of junior doctors) and the BMA that will modernise the contract making it better for both doctors and patients”.

Dr. Johann Malawana, a spokesman for the BMA, said:

“Junior doctors have always wanted to agree a safe and fair contract, one that recognises and values the contribution junior doctors make to the NHS, addresses the recruitment and retention crisis in parts of the NHS and provides the basis for delivering a world-class health service. What has been agreed today delivers on these principles, is a good deal for junior doctors and will ensure that they can continue to deliver high-quality care for patients”.

The agreement still has to be approved by doctors in a vote to take place in June, but the BMA is recommending approval.

Junior Doctor Strikes Expected to Go Ahead

jeremyhunt

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, has rejected a proposal from Heidi Alexander, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health, to trial the proposed junior doctors’ contracts before a full implementation.

Alexander’s proposal was also supported by Dan Poulter, a Conservative MP who is a former Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health, and Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP who was the Minister of State for Care and Support in the Coalition Government.

Hunt said on Twitter that the contracts were already being staged, and said:

“Labour ‘plan’ is opportunism – only 11% of junior docs go onto new contracts in August”.

Hunt wrote to Dr Mark Porter, the Chairman of the BMA council, on 23 April 2016 in a final bid to avoid the strike. The letter included the final paragraph:

“The extreme action planned will be deeply worrying for patients, and place enormous additional strain on our NHS at a time of intense pressure. I therefore appeal to you one final time to call off strike action that will see doctors withdraw potentially life-saving care, and to meet with me on Monday to discuss a better way forward”.

The two-day strike of junior doctors will take place from 08.00 until 17.00 on Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 April 2016. The strikes will also involve accident and emergency departments for the first times.

A spokesman for the NHS said:

“Essential care will be provided by senior staff. You can help the NHS cope by choosing the right service and attending A&E only if it is essential”.

Junior Doctors Announce Three Further Strikes

jeremyhunt

The British Medical Association, BMA, have confirmed that there will be three further 48-hour strikes of junior doctors. The strikes will take place on 9 March, 6 April and 26 April as doctors continue to show their disapproval of the new contract proposed by Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health.

Johann Malawana, a BMA representative, said:

“If the government wants more seven-day services then, quite simply, it needs more doctors, nurses and support staff, and the extra investment necessary to deliver them”.

A spokesperson at the Department of Health said:

“Further strike action is completely unnecessary and will mean tens of thousands more patients face cancelled operations – over a contract that was 90% agreed with the BMA and which senior NHS leaders including Simon Stevens have endorsed as fair and safe. The new contract will mean an average 13.5% basic pay rise, and will bring down the maximum number of hours doctors can work”.

The announcement of the three further strikes comes after Jeremy Hunt confirmed that the new contracts would be imposed on doctors after failing to reach agreement.