Monday, 9 July 2012

Morning briefing..


Today the long-awaited Coalition battle on Lords reform kicks off in earnest. The proposed bill will enter its second reading - to be voted on tomorrow night. This will be a real test for David Cameron. The 110 Tory MPs expected to rebel could defeat the Bill, making it the first time the Coalition agreement is broken. The Lib Dems are playing hardball, saying that their relationship will enter "uncharted territory" if it does get through.

The Bills' opponents sound fierce. Nicholas Soames - who has only voted against his party once in his 29-year career - has laid out his stand in the Telegraph today, saying: "this Bill must be defeated at all cost".

Our leader staunchly agrees, acknowledging that it is possible to have some sympathy with David Cameron since the boundary review - that could deliver him a majority in 2015-  is conditional on getting Lords reform through. But urging Tories to oppose the measures anyway.  

There are some loyal voices though. In The Guardian, Stephen Dorrell says "If Lords reform disturbs the balance in Westminster, all to the good"

The amusing twist is that it could pass if Labour, who support the reform, voted with the Government. But the party seems fine about making Mr Cameron squirm. Peter Hain told the Guardian: "I am very comfortable with [voting against the programme motion].Within the rest of the legislative programme are loads of rightwing bills which will damage people in Britain. So I don't think it is any part of our responsibility to try and get those bills into statute. So I will happily vote against the programme motion but I will vote for the second reading and I will support the bill thereafter, though I will back some amendments."

Whatever happens it's going to be bloddy.


Deputy Governor of the Bank of England Paul Tucker appears before the Treasury Select Committee today at 4.30pm. And he'll face a committee determined to pose tough questions on whether or not he gave "a nod and a wink" to Barclays to rig rates on a phone call with Bob Diamond in 2008.  Our business splash considers other more specific questions he might be asked.

But the committee is feeling pretty downbeat if comments by one of its members, Andrea Leadsom, are anything to go by.  The Independent has splashed on an interview with her where she says politicians have been virtually "useless" so far at getting to the truth behind the banking scandal.

Ed Miliband still believes politicians can face up to bankers, though. He's giving a speech on banking at 10.30am today where he will flesh out Labour ideas for increasing competition in banking. The Mail  reports that he'll warn that the UK is a soft touch for rogue bankers and will call for new resources to be put into tracking down and jailing cheating bankers. Will that be enough for people to forget about Labour's failure to regulate them properly in the first place? George Osborne will be hoping not.


And if Lords rebels weren't enough to worry about this week, Dave is facing unrest on other fronts. Today's papers carry three stories of other factions at work. Two come from a report released by the Tory Free Enterprise Group. Worryingly for Dave and George, this group is made up of usually loyal MPs, including George's own PPS, Sajid Javid, and his former chief of staff, Matthew Hancock.

We've picked out their calls to make older workers keep paying NI (currently it's dropped once you reach 65 regardless of whether or not you're working), while  The Guardian reports on their calls for two extra Heathrow runways.

The third story is from a Tory group called Fresh Start, made up of MPs including Andrea Leadsom, Chris Heaton Harris and George Eustice. The trio have a letter published in The Sun  calling for a referendum on the EU. Helpfully for them, the paper has placed the letter on a spread alongside polling that shows that two-thirds of the British public agree.


We've splashed on Steve Webb's plans to shield pensions from stock market falls. He said that if pensioners are put off by fear of risk and volatility of the market "it is very hard to get them back again" into saving. "Some form of guarantee has an important part to play in the success of auto-enrolment", he says.

It's a bold suggestion that will go down well with elderly voters. Of course, as Fraser Nelson et al would argue, what would really help pensioners would be to shut down the printing presses.


And finally, Downing Street won't enjoy the sidebars in the Mail and Mirror's  coverage of Andy Murray's defeat yesterday. They suggest that the "Curse of Cameron" was at work.


Labour MP Jamie Reed:

"@jreedmp: To all slagging Cameron for chewing at the tennis: be fair, he's usually hammered by this time on a Sunday, having watched a box set."


Latest YouGov/Sunday Times results: Conservatives 32%, Labour 43%, Lib Dems 8%, UKIP 8%

Overall government approval rating: -37


In The Telegraph 

Boris Johnson: Stop bashing the bankers – we have no future without them

Nicholas Soames: Lords reform is a constitutional catastrophe

Jeff Randall: Are there any more skeletons, Mr Agius?

Leader: Tories must resist Nick Clegg's ridiculous blackmail over House of Lords reform

Best of the rest

John Kampfner in the Independent: This is no way to hold the powerful to account

Tom Wright in the Times: Don't leave the Lords hostage to party hacks

Jackie Ashley in the Guardian: How Lords reform became a game about fantasy politics

Stephen Dorrell in the Guardian: If Lords reform disturbs the balance in Westminster, all to the good


Today: House of Lords Reform Bill - Second reading

10.30am: Ed Miliband gives a speech on banking.  Co-operative Bank, 9 Prescot Street, London

2.30pm: Home Office Questions

4.30pm: Paul Tucker, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, appears before the Treasury Select Committee

6pm: Parliamentary Labour Party weekly meeting. Committee Room 14, House of Commons, Westminster