Thursday, 13 December 2012

Eurozone banking union agreed..

In the early hours of this morning, EU finance ministers struck a deal on the first steps towards a banking union for the eurozone (Telegraph storyhere). The ECB won new powers to supervise the largest banks in Euro denominated countries, and intervene directly in smaller ones. Direct supervision would apply to around the 200 of 6,000 eurozone banks which have assets of over €30bn and should be implemented by March 2014. The move will hit the City, but only indirectly, as so many European banks have offices in London.
Even if the deal does not represent "a Christmas present to the whole of Europe", as one tired finance minister gushed, it does provide a more serene backdrop to Dave's latest European venture. The Prime Minister heads to Brussels today for a two day summit in which the EU's heads of government will be regaled with Herman Van Rompuy's vision of how closer federation between member states will look. The first steps to a super-state? Yes, argues the Telegraph, given that Mr Van Rompuy's plans are expected to include removing the rights of eurozone member states to set their own budgets.
Oddly, given that his tantric approach to European policy will soon climax in a speech announcing an attempt to claw-back powers, Mr Cameron is disinclined to block the proposals. The fact that Dave is comfortable with integration around the eurozone core, while attempting to pull back the boundaries at the periphery, suggests that the long-feared two-tier Europe is now an article of government policy. Still, as this morning's Times (£) reports, Britian's membership bill over the life of the EC/EU membership will soon hit £100bn, and every move from the centre is also an argument against higher contributions still. It also acts as a good prelude to the Europe speech which increasingly feels like the title of a film, with Dave as the frustrated leader trying to just spit. it. out....
Yesterday's revelation that Maria Miller's special adviser Joanna Hindley had pointed to the minister's influence over press regulation in a bid to prevent news of a £90,000 expenses claim against a home occupied by her parents has been augmented by the news that Number 10's director of communications Craig Oliver also raised Mrs Miller's role in the Leveson negotiations with the Telegraph. Number 10 have briefed their own, not entirely accurate, version of the conversation to the Guardian.
Mrs Miller is already under investigation by the parliamentary expenses watchdog over the claim on her parents' home. The Telegraph also discloses today that she did not declare a home rented from a major Tory donor despite it being possible for the arrangement to represent a perceived conflict of interest.
Baroness Warsi has written to Maria Miller demanding answers to questions posed by the "large volume" of correspondence she has received over gay marriage in her role as Minister for Faith. The Mailreports that Lady Warsi has asked specifically for reassurance over the limitation of "unintended consequences" stemming from the Bill, particularly in terms of legislative and financial support for churches if they are sued. The paper's editorial objects to the proposals on different grounds, however. It's the wrong law at the wrong time, it argues, and "there are much more important issues to engage [Mr Cameron's] considerable talents".
Immigrants push up house prices, Theresa May argued yesterday, delighting tabloid headline writers everywhere. Over a 20 year period, mass immigration added around 10pc to house prices, she claimed, although as the FT (£) reports an analysis by the Migration Analysis Committee earlier this year suggested the impact was somewhat lower. Mass immigration or a house price collapse. Which is the lesser of the two evils? Over to you, middle Britain.
The Prime Minister's desire to place Britain "at the heart of the revolution" when it comes to fracking for shale gas has, to date, been somewhat obstructed by the ban on, er, fracking. As the Telegraphreports this morning, however, Ed Davey, who will announce the plans in a statement to the Commons this afternoon, is an avowed sceptic and is likely to demand tough regulations if the move goes ahead.
The Bank of England could receive a new mission statement and a new target related to the size of the economy, the Telegraph reports this morning. George Osborne is also being prodded by advisers in the Treasury to encourage further QE in a bid to improve the dismal growth outlook. Bold, or buck-passing, depending on your cynicism level.
Good news for the Government on the unemployment front as the number of people out of work declined by 82,000 in the three months to October, hitting 2.51m. On the other hand, as the Independent reports, a separate ONS survey suggested that 100,000 people fewer were actually in work in October. Some of the out-of-work may be going on disability living allowance, the Sun suggests that the number of claimants has nearly trebled since 1992, one of the reasons why 60pc can expect to lose some or all of their benefits once the face-to-face interview system comes into place.
Michael Gove is in dispute with the teaching unions, however implausible that may sound. The Guardian reports that the Education Secretary has written to head teachers at every state school in England urging them to take "robust" action against teachers taking "irresponsible industrial action". Predictably, the unions are furious that their "measured response" is under fire from Mr Gove. Anyone would think they didn't get on.
Question Time is in Bristol tonight. The panel will consist of: Justine Greening, Stella Creasy,Will Self, Peter Hitchens, and Lord Bilimoria, founder of Cobra Beer.

Iain Stewart with a warning to all budding politicos. Being an MP isn't all fact-finding trips to the Maldives and expensing your parents' house. Sometimes you have to go to Germany:

@Iainastewart: "The glamorous side of political life! Heading to LHR at 0430 for a day visit to Frankfurt as part of transport cttee inquiry into airports " 


In the Telegraph

Peter Oborne - The cowardice at the heart of our relationship with Israel
Best of the rest

Martin Kettle in the Guardian - The English, bereft of history, have lost their self-respect
Steve Richards in the Independent - Why Cameron prefers tantric to wham bam thank you, mam
Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail - Immigration and Labour's unforgivable betrayal of the British people


09:00 am: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg gives evidence to Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. Grimond Room, Portcullis House, London.
09:30 am: Home Office to publish draft anti-social behaviour Bill.
09:45 am: Commons Public Accounts Committee takes evidence on award process for West Coast rail franchise. Witnesses: Philip Rutnam, Permanent Secretary, Department for Transport, and Clare Moriarty, Director General Corporate, Department for Transport. Committee Room 15, House of Commons.
10:00 am: Culture Minister Ed Vaizey to visit the, new Newspaper Storage Building of the British Library before it is filled with robotic shelving and becomes the home of the UK national newspaper collection. British Library, Boston Spa, West Yorkshire. Words and video planned
10:00 am: George Osborne gives evidence to Commons Treasury Committee on Autumn Statement. Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, London.
10:30 am: Charles Clarke, Lord Heseltine and Lord Reid give evidence to the Commons Political and Constitutional Committee on the effectiveness of ministerial reshuffles. Grimond Room, Portcullis House, London.
06:00 pm: Jon Cruddas speech on "the good society" to Centre for Social Justice. SJ Berwin, 10 Queen Street Place.