Friday, 17 July 2015

Faron it is..

Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaign is continuing to gather steam, but many senior Labourites are worried. David Cameron seems to be enjoying watching Labour tear itself up over its future, revealing to Conservative MPs that he advised the leftwinger to win by emulating how he became Tory leader in 2005, telling him: "You have got to be the change candidate – I was the outsider." Others share Cameron's support for Corbyn's campaign, with Rupert Myers arguing: "New Labour might not like the image which emerges, but at least Corbyn would turn the contrast button up to full and then rip it off the set."

Chuka Umunna has been trying his best to warn Labour off Corbyn, telling the New Statesman: "There are no free hits in this thing, we are not just selecting a Labour leader, we are selecting somebody who is a Labour prime minister." He told Newsnight that some of his colleagues were reacting to election defeat "like a petulant child", chiding them for "screaming at the electorate". One shadow cabinet minister told the Spectator's James Forsyth that Corbyn's candidacy showed Labour was "in real f***eroo territory now." The latest outpouring of rage comes as scores of rebellious MPs forced Harriet Harman to tone down support for George Osborne's benefit cuts, despite the acting leader warning that Labour lost the election because it was not trusted on welfare spending. 

So where does Labour go from here? Ed Miliband isn't keen on the party moving on, with the Sun reporting his message to supporters that "our cause will win one day". Harman has been hamstrung in her bid to shape Labour's direction, while Corbyn's support from local Labour parties is growing, in a sign of his popularity among activists. "Even to have Corbyn as a serious contender inflicts huge damage on Labour," writes Fraser Nelson in today's Telegraph, "and this lack-of-talent contest will run until September". How long will Labour's infatuation with Corbyn last?


British pilots have carried out military air strikes on Syria for the first time, the Ministry of Defence has revealed. The UK personnel were embedded with the forces of Allied nations, including the USA and Canada, which have been conducting strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) terror group. MPs voted against military action in Syria in 2013 and parliamentary authorisation has so far been given only to UK air strikes against Isil in neighbouring Iraq. Follow our liveblog for more updates.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama's former top military intelligence official has warned that the Iraq war boosted Isil by "putting fuel on a fire". Retired US Lt. General Michael Flynn, who quit as head of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) last August, told Al Jazeera's Mehdi Hasan that American intervention was a "strategic mistake".


Greece's banks may be able to reopen for the first time in three weeks on Monday, after eurozone policymakers handed them a much-needed lifeline, Peter Spence reports. The European Central Bank agreed on Thursday to raise the liquidity it provides to the country's banks by €900m (£630m), which should tide them over for a short time.

"Greece will continue to endure its long Calvary until somebody has the courage to tell the Greek people – and to keep telling them until the truth sinks in – that the drachma is their best hope of economic renewal," writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. "All they are being told now is that any discussion of the drachma amounts to "treason". If that is the level of intellectual debate, God help Greece."


The NHS is undergoing changes as radical as the Reformation, Jeremy Hunt has said, as he promised to put honesty at the heart of its culture, reports Laura Donnelly. The Health Secretary said that for too long, the treatment of the health service as a "national religion" meant that anyone who questioned its orthodoxy could be left "facing the Spanish inquisition".

"If Jeremy Hunt plays his hand right, the BMA may find that is has, at last, overreached itself and lost the battle for public opinion," writes Sean Worth, David Cameron's former special adviser on health policy, in today's Telegraph. "The real winners of such a victory would be the public themselves, who would be rewarded with a health service that matches their needs."


The Scottish Nationalists are to start regularly interfering in English affairs as part of a plan to use their new strength in the Commons to extend their power south of the Border, Simon Johnson reports. Angus Robertson, the SNP's leader at Westminster, said the ranks of new SNP MPs meant the party was no longer restricted to focusing on their traditional Scottish interests and they would now tackle issues affecting other parts of the UK.

This comes as the voting system at the House of Commons is to be changed after the success of the Scottish National Party filled the House with an unprecedented number of MPs whose surnames start with "Mc", Dillon Leet reports. Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the SNP, has denounced a cover of the left-wing magazine New Statesman that suggests female politicians cannot be successful unless they are childless as "crass".


The BBC has become too big and can no longer justify trying to be "all things to all people" in the age of Netflix, the government has warned as it unveiled the biggest overhaul of the corporation for a decade, Steven Swinford reports. John Whittingdale, the Culture Secretary, suggested that the corporation should become "narrower and more focused" to help cut the price of the TV licence and reduce the impact it has on commercial broadcasters. "He said all this in a diplomatic, reasonable, even benign manner. But beneath his emollience the BBC will have detected menace," says our sketchwriter Michael Deacon.

Some of the BBC's stars seem dismissive of the government's proposed overhaul. "I think they should switch off the BBC for two months," Graham Norton tells Bryony Gordon. "Just put £24 into everyone's bank account, and switch the BBC off for two months, and people would s*** themselves."


Britain's biggest trade union, Unite, could campaign to leave the EU if David Cameron uses his renegotiation with Brussels to "water down workers' rights", its leader Len McCluskey has said. He told the FT: "The whole question about what Cameron does to workers' rights would require us to review fully our position."


Interest rates could finally start to rise by the end of this year, the Governor of the Bank of England signalled on Thursday nightSzu Ping Chan reports. In the strongest signal yet that policymakers are preparing to act, Mark Carney said the decision to raise interest rate was likely to come into "sharper relief" by "the turn of this year". Allister Heath has written about why interest rates are about to start going up


Tim Farron has won the Liberal Democrat leadership contest, defeating Norman Lamb by winning 56.5 per cent of the vote, and will now have the task of trying to rebuild the party after its decimation in the general election. Dillon Leet has rounded up 24 things you didn't know about Farron, including his love of Doc Martens, his rockstar past and his karaoke song of choice. A former bandmate of the new Lib Dem leader said he would be good at the job because his days as a pop frontman means he doesn't fear rejection. If you're pressed for time, here's all you need to know about Farron in 60 seconds.


Parents of children with summer birthdays could be allowed to start school a year later, after official figures showed that August-born 11 year olds are 50 per cent more likely to be labelled "special needs", Chris Hope reports. The Government has launched the review because of concerns that summer-born children are being unfairly discriminated against at school and are falling behind solely because they are young for their year. 

"Despite the data from a new study, teacher friends of mine are reassuring, and report that children – whatever their date of birth – do catch up in the end," writes Lucy Denyer. "If you don't believe them, and really are desperate for your offspring to become the next sports star or academic wunderkind, then there's always abstinence – a no-sex policy between the months of July and December. Every child deserves the best start in life, right?"


David Cameron has opened a new front in his war on porn after Brussels made Britain's "adult filter" illegal under new rules coming into force next year, the FT's Duncan Robinson reports.  Britain will try to beat the EU ban by proposing national legislation to ensure the porn blocker remains intact, exploiting a loophole in new EU rules agreed last month


@AlexWhite1812: Finland signs up to Greek deal enthusiastically - 'Soini: There were no good options, we had to choose between plague and cholera'.


From The Telegraph

Fraser Nelson - Labour needs saving from itself – and Cameron is the man to do it

Judith Woods - Seven day shift patterns are a must and I should know

Sean Worth - Finally, the BMA is going to lose a health reform battle

From Politics Comment

Asa Bennett - Why Jeremy Hunt is right to take on doctors over weekend working, in one chart

Tom Harris - Smug MPs need to stop the hand-wringing and take a pay rise

James Kirkup - My failed attempt to destroy Jeremy Corbyn, Labour and British democracy

From elsewhere

Atul Hatwal - What if Comrade Corbyn became Labour leader?

John Harris - What Labour's next leader needs to know

Seumas Milne  - The crucifixion of Greece is killing the European project


09.30 Justice Secretary Michael Gove speaks at a Prisoner Learning Alliance event in London on the state of prisons
Germany's Bundestag votes on Greek bailout deal. Angela Merkel is also due to attend a press conference before she departs on her summer holiday
'Two strike' knife possession law in force in UK
BBC Proms begin
20.00 'Any Questions?' on Radio 4 with guests set to incl Nicky Morgan and Chuka Umunna
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale opens an exhibition in Parliament on the Gallipoli campaign 


Andrew Robathan, former Tory MP - 64



No business 


10:00: Second Reading of Private Members' Bills:
Accessible Sports Grounds Bill [HL]
Online Safety Bill [HL]
Constitutional Convention Bill [HL]

Thursday, 16 July 2015


What does the future hold for the BBC? Culture Secretary John Whittingdale will set the ball rolling on this question today when he publishes the government's green paper, laying out the "root and branch reform" the BBC will need to make as part of its royal charter renewal.

Many have the Beeb's £145.50 annual TV licence fee, which provides most of its income, in their sights. Ministers are considering bringing in a Finnish-style means tested broadcasting levy to pay for the BBC, which will mean middle class families will have to pay more than poor households. Whittingdale will also have to consider the Perry report, which is expected to recommend decriminalising non-payment of the licence fee. Should the BBC ditch the licence fee entirely? Allister Heath argues it should be forced to compete for its audience, writing in today's Telegraph: "The BBC could have a great future in this brave new world, selling British programming all over the world, but for that it needs to embrace truly radical change." 

The government's BBC reform drive will not go unopposed, with a host of celebrities writing to the Telegraph yesterday to defend the corporation. In a warning to BBC-sceptics, former Tory minister Damian Green writes: "Britain benefits from a strong BBC, and we have the prospect of maintaining that in the years ahead." Auntie's supporters may hope Whittingdale's proposed reforms will be limited, taking comfort from his remarks - back when chair of the Commons Culture Committee in February - that "profound changes" to the licence fee should not be rushed, and that the "possibility of change" would only come in the "2020s". Tory backbenchers, by contrast, will hope for quicker progress. 


Hospital consultants will be have to work at weekends under a seven day NHS, the Health Secretary will say as he suggests that their refusal to do so is contributing to 6,000 deaths a year, Steven Swinford reports. Jeremy Hunt will tell the British Medical Association to "get real" as he announces plans to remove an "opt out" from doctors' contracts which means they do not have to work on a Saturday or Sunday. Laura Donnelly explains what deal is on offer for doctors. Follow what happens over today as Hunt goes to war with doctors on our liveblog.


The Greek parliament has approved a bill of tough reforms demanded by the country's creditors in return for a new bail-out, as protests in the country turned violent. Mehreen Khan has chronicled how this panned out on our liveblog. The debate saw tempers run high, with one lawmaker from the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party lashing out at the Greek government over the new economic measures meant to secure a bailout for the cash-strapped country. Among those voted against the package of reforms was Alexis Tsipras's former minister, Yanis Varoufakis, who likened the measures to a "Treaty of Versailles" for Greece, Colin Freeman reports from Athens

"Yanis Varoufakis, the ex-finance minister, said all along that they wanted "ritual subjugation", and that is how it looks to great numbers of people across Europe," writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. Angela Merkel may be pilloried over her seeming lack of sympathy towards Greece, but as I point out, her voters have an even more hardline stance towards their Hellenic friends. 

Meanwhile, British taxpayers will not be left exposed for another Greek bailout, George Osborne hopes, under a compromise struck with Jean-Claude Juncker. The Chancellor is prepared to back the European Commission president's controversial plan to revive a mothballed bailout programme that draws in the entire EU, in exchange for guarantees that British liabilities will be underwritten to protect UK taxpayers, Matthew Holehouse reports


MPs will get a pay rise of up to 10 per cent despite furious protestations from David Cameron and other ministers, Parliament's expenses watchdog is set to announce. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has rubber stamped a plan to increase MPs pay from £67,000 to as much as £74,000 a year. Chris Hope has the details.


Russian-American cooperation on the Iran nuclear deal could pave the way for an agreement on Syria, Barack Obama has said, despite the current confrontation between Moscow and the West over Ukraine, Roland Oliphant reports from Moscow. Mr Obama praised Vladimir Putin for his role in the agreement and said there could now be an "opening" for further detente in the worst crisis in American-Russian relations since the Cold War.


Labour faces an open split over the government's planned cuts to benefits spending after one of its MPs - former shadow welfare minister Helen Goodman - tabled an amendment to the legislation to reject the bill, the BBC reports. This comes after acting leader Harriet Harman warned that if Labour "opposed everything" it would "succeed on nothing". Meanwhile, David Cameron admitted to his own MPs that he is deliberately trying to pass his most controversial policies while Labour is in disarray. Chris Hope has more


The SNP is more interested in "stunts and sound bites" than serious plans for increasing Holyrood's powers, the Scottish Secretary has said as he promised to make major improvements to legislation extending devolution. David Mundell confirmed to MPs that the Government will table substantive amendments to the Scotland Bill and would consider "serious" changes submitted by opposition parties, Simon Johnson reports


Jeremy Corbyn is ahead in the Labour leadership contest by more than 15 points, private polling by his rivals suggests, Michael Wilkinson reports. The left-wing MP, who was a last minute entry into the contest, now looks set for victory according to a poll which will come as bitter news for his rivals Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall. Want to help lumber Labour with the bearded socialist voter-repellent as leader? Follow our simple five step guide on how to help him win.


Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has refused permission for water cannon to be used for the first time on the British mainland. The controversial equipment required authorisation from the Home Office before it could be deployed but Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has already called for them - and bought three second-hand cannon from Germany at a cost of £218,000. Read more here.


Tim Farron, the favourite to win the Liberal Democrat leadership, wants to send all of the party's staff back to work for charities to learn how to campaign again, Chris Hope reports. Farron is tipped to beat Norman Lamb in the LibDem leadership contest on Thursday, and take over the running of the party and its eight MPs in the House of Commons. If you're wondering who exactly Farron is, Rosa Prince has written an insightful profile of the man who could be the next Lib Dem leader.


A lack of funding led to UK stamps being put on postal ballot papers for overseas voters ahead of the general election in May, the Electoral Commission disclosed in a report. A flood of complaints came in from Britons living around the world that they were unable to vote, despite being registered to do so, Elizabeth Roberts reports.


Magistrates' courts could meet in town halls or even hotel suites in a bid to save money, the Justice Secretary has said. Michael Gove confirmed there will be a new programme of court closures but the minister stressed he was keen to retain the way justice is dispensed at a local level, David Barrett reports.

This comes as criminal barristers are set to refuse to take on new cases in an unprecedented protest at the Government's cuts to legal aid. Barristers in England and Wales voted to back the "strike" in a poll by a majority of 55 per cent in favour and 45 per cent against. Read more here.


A mayor has refused to apologise for joking that all women in a town he represents have fat bottoms. Francis Purdue-Horan provoked outrage with a comment he made just before Queen tribute act Mercury was about to perform at a music festival in Bingham, Nottinghamshire. Here's the full story.


@GerriPeev: Bit of a risk for Home Sec to ban water cannons without knowing how the trade union reforms will play out


From The Telegraph

Allister Heath - Ditch the licence fee and force the BBC to compete for its audience

Norman Tebbit - Trade unions need putting back in their place

George Papaconstantinou - Alexis Tsipras gambled away Greece's future. Now he must make amends

From Politics Comment

Asa Bennett - Angela Merkel has been kinder to Greece than German voters would be

Tom Harris - Labour cannot afford to look like a party of protest

Douglas Carswell - The luvvies praising the BBC are like bankers praising their bonuses

From elsewhere

Nicky Morgan - We've made great strides on women's equality - but this is no time to pat each other on the back

Justin Welby - Faith must be strong enough to take offence

Stephen Bush  - Harriet Harman shows just how hard the next Labour leader's job will be


08:00 Defence Minister Michael Fallon is to give a speech at the Chief of the Air Staff's Air Power conference in London
08.30 Ed Vaizey speech on cyber security at Reform think-tank 
09.00 Jeremy Hunt outlines seven-day service plans in '25-year vision' NHS speech
09.30 MPs on Public Administration Committee take evidence on EU Referendum Bill amid 'purdah' debate from Lord Bew and Andrew Scallan
09.30 MPs on Energy Committee quiz Energy Sec Amber Rudd on govt priorities
11.30 Education Secretary Nicky Morgan and Ed Vaizey speaks at Creative Industries Federation event
David Cameron undertakes a regional tour

BBC green paper published
Lib Dems' new leader announced - new leader expected to speak at 19.00
17.30 Liam Fox MP speaks at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London on defence and security issues 
19.00 Bank of England Governor Mark Carney delivers lecture on Magna Carta
Peers debate English votes for English laws
Entrepreneurs Network publish study on MPs' awareness of small business policy


Sir George Young, former Tory MP - 73
Labour MP Frank Field - 72



9:30: Transport questions (topicals at 10:15)
10:30: Business statement
Presentation of Bill: Criminal Cases Review Commission (Supplementary Powers) Bill (Andy McDonald, Lab, Middlesbrough)

Main business
Debate on matters to be raised before the forthcoming adjournment
Adjournment debate: Role of insurance companies in child abuse inquiries (Ann Clywd, Lab, Cynon Valley)


13.30: Sentencing for cruelty to domestic pets (Mark Spencer, Con, Sherwood)
15.00: Police procurement of vehicles (Christian Matheson, Lab, Chester)


Lords Chamber
11:00: Oral questions

Main business
Motions relating to the House of Lords (Expulsion and Suspension) Act 2015
Motions to appoint committee members: Hybrid Instruments Committee and Joint Committee on Human Rights
Balloted debate on the "Responsibility to Protect" and the application of this international norm by the United Kingdom and the United Nations 
Question for short debate on whether the Government plan to consider alternatives to their proposals for English votes for English laws (1 hour)
Balloted debate on worldwide violations of Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the case for greater priority to be given by the United Kingdom and the international community to upholding freedom of religion and belief (Lord Alton of Liverpool, Crossbench) (2.5 hours)
National Minimum Wage (Amendment) Regulations 2015: Motion to approve

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


The Conservatives are channelling the spirit of Margaret Thatcher today, with Business Secretary Sajid Javid unveiling a crackdown on strike laws that will infuriate the trade unions. "Unions will be banned from strikes based on old ballots", we say on our front page, the Mail trumpets "Cameron's war on strike bullies", while the Guardian reports: "Tories launch biggest crackdown on trade unions for 30 years".

Following public anger over last week's tube strikes, the government's bill will be formally published today, with MPs expected to first debate it in early September. However, this will not stop battle lines being drawn, with one union leader - Aslef's Mick Whelan - comparing the proposals to those enacted in Nazi Germany. The GMB and Unite unions are said to be considering legal action, while Unite's Len McCluskey provocatively revealed that his members are no longer advised to carry out strikes "so far as may be lawful". "It is absolutely right that the Government is acting to impose some order", says the Sun.

Britain's unions are determined not to take this quietly, so Sajid Javid has a major fight on his hands. This Thatcherite drive will allow Javid, who proudly hangs a portrait of the Iron Lady on his office wall, to burnish his Conservative credentials. Could it help him become her eventual successor as Tory leader?


Evel (English votes for English laws) is on the agenda today, with Tory MPs wanting David Cameron to strengthen the government's plans in order to stop the SNP from having an effective veto over proposals that only matter south of the border. This comes after Nicola Sturgeon forced the government yesterday to delay a vote on relaxing the ban on fox hunting by threatening to have SNP MPs vote on an issue that only matters to England. 

Sturgeon's threat has been met with disbelief, after she said in February that the SNP's "long-standing position" was not to vote on "matters that purely affect England - such as foxhunting". "This demonstrates the untrustworthiness of the SNP but at least it is consistent in wanting to destroy the Union," we say. Could derailing the foxhunting vote backfire? "The truth is now out in the open: the SNP will be happy to stick their oar into all things English and Welsh," writes Charlie Brooks. "This lust for class warfare has effectively provided precisely the justification needed to pass the legislation required to ban the SNP from voting on English and Welsh issues in the future." 


The International Monetary Fund has set off a political earthquake in Europe, warning that Greece may need a full moratorium on debt payments for 30 years and perhaps even long-term subsidies to claw its way out of depression, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports.
"The dramatic deterioration in debt sustainability points to the need for debt relief on a scale that would need to go well beyond what has been under consideration to date," said the IMF in a confidential report. This comes as Alexis Tsipras said banks could stay closed in Greece for a month.


America and Iran overcame generations of mistrust and rivalry on Tuesday to reach a comprehensive agreement designed to settle the confrontation over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, David Blair reports from Vienna. President Barack Obama hailed a step towards a "safer and more secure" world as Iran formally promised to curb its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions. 

However, not everyone is happy. Con Coughlin writes: "Mr Obama might have convinced himself that the deal cuts off all of Iran's "pathways to nuclear weapons", but that is certainly not how the deal will be viewed by those who have more intimate knowledge of the Iranian regime's devious tactics, such as the Saudis and the Gulf states. If he believes his "historic" deal is going to bring peace to the region, then he needs to think again." Meanwhile, former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr described it as "capitulation".


Tony Blair has held secret meetings with new Labour MPs and told them to do the same "hard work" he and Gordon Brown did to win back voters, Ben Riley-Smith reports. The former prime minster has been inviting groups of new MPs for "informal" chats at his private office and telling them to adopt a "big vision" to changing the party.

"George Osborne told me recently that he spent his early years in Parliament watching and learning from Tony Blair: how he seized and then held the centre ground of British politics, forcing the Tories to the Right," writes New Statesman editor Jason Cowley in today's Telegraph. "Osborne is doing something similar to Labour, by forcing the party to the Left. Whoever ends up leading Labour in September ought to watch and learn."

This comes as Mhairi Black, Britain's youngest MP, has savaged Labour for abandoning its traditional left-wing politics in a powerful maiden speech in the House of Commons. You can watch her debut here. Meanwhile, Tristram Hunt, the shadow education secretary, will urge Labour to "wrap itself" in the St George's Cross to win back voters. He will also tell the party to embark on a "relentless" drive to rebuild its economic credibility if it hopes to win back power, and back the idea of an English Labour party.


Daniel Craig and Sir David Attenborough are among the star names today warning David Cameron that his plans to reform the BBC will damage Britain's global standing, Anita Singh reports. In an open letter to Downing Street, more than two dozen figures from the world of arts and entertainment claim that "a diminished BBC would simply mean a diminished Britain".


At least 35,000 illegal immigrants were discovered trying to breach security measures at Calais to reach Britain in the last six months, David Barrett reports. Over a three week period during French ferry workers' strikes, numbers rocketed to at least 540 a day - or 23 an hour - attempting to break through fences or stow away in lorries, MPs heard.


Barack Obama has described Britain as America's strongest ally after David Cameron agreed to increase defence spending to two per cent of national income, Chris Hope reports. The US President said the decision was "a significant signal from their primary partner on the world stage, in comments which will underline the UK's historic special relationship with America.


Treasury minister David Gauke has been accidentally married to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan by the Evening Standard. The Tory MP noticed that a picture in the paper of the pair described him as her husband Jonathan, and tweeted: "A little surprised to learn from the Evening Standard that I am married to @NickyMorgan01 and called Jonathan."


@ChristopherHope: So far David Cameron has performed three U-turns under pressure from MPs (EVEL, EU ref and now fox hunting). His Government is 67 days old.


From The Telegraph

Con Coughlin - Iran nuclear deal: Peace in our time? Not with this shoddy agreement

Jason Cowley  - England is changing and the Labour Party desperately needs to change with it

Alan Cochrane - Nicola Sturgeon's retreat from pinciple will spark surge in anti-Scottish sentiment

From Politics Comment

Louise Guinness - Why I hunt: Nothing comes close to the thrill of chasing a live quarry

Miriam Gonzalez - The Treasury is about to get tougher on businesses who break EU sanctions

Cathy Newman - David Cameron - a compassionate Tory feminist after all?

From elsewhere

Owen Jones - The left must put Britain's EU withdrawal on the agenda

Daniel Finklestein - As Greece shows, threats will get you nowhere

Chris Deerin  - Hypocritical, shameless, unprincipled: And Sturgeon's stance on hunting is just the start of her war on England


09.15: Michael Gove at HoC Justice Committee
09:30 UK monthly unemployment figures to be published by ONS
10.00 Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt speaks at a Policy Network event in London on responding to rising populism 
10:30 Andy Burnham is to give a speech at Rusi on 'keeping Britain safe in an unsafe world'
11.00 Nick Clegg giving evidence to Lords committee on social mobility
12:00 PMQs – the last before the summer break
13.30 Defence Secretary Michael Fallon speaks at Chatham House in London on the future of the British-American naval alliance
13.35 Chief of Defence Staff Sir Nicholas Houghton speaks at Rusi air power conference
14.00 Voting closes for Lib Dem leadership contest

14:45 Treasury Committee evidence session on George Osborne's Summer Budget with Citi's chief UK economist Michael Saunders and IFS director Paul Johnson among witnesses
15.00 Ukip leader Nigel Farage speaks at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC on the EU referendum 
15.30 David Cameron meets Ukranian PM at No 10
16.00 Opening ceremony of Parliamentary Education Centre
16:05 Airports Commission chairman Sir Howard Davies is to give evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee
22:00 'Dispatches: Escape from Isis' to be broadcast on Channel 4.
MPs to debate the government's plans for English votes for English laws
Greece's parliament is to vote on reforms as part of Monday's bailout deal


David Miliband - 50
Alistair Carmichael - 50
Gareth Thomas - 48
John Denham - 62
Crispin Blunt - 55



11:30: Oral Questions - Scotland
12.00 - PMQs
Ten minute rule motion: Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (Statutory Requirement) Bill (Caroline Lucas, Green, Brighton Pavillion)

Main business
Proceedings on the Supply and Appropriations (Main Estimates) Bill
General debate on English votes on English laws (Day 1 of 2)
Adjournment debate: London's licensed taxi trade (Charles Walker, Con, Broxbourne)


9:30 - 11:00: Housing supply in London (Dr Rupa Huq, Lab, Ealing Central and Acton)
11:00 - 11:30: Future of the UK steel industry (Tom Blenkinsop, Lab,  Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland)
14:30 - 16:00: Regional support for the arts (Robert Jenrick, Con, Newark)
16:00 - 16:30: Bank closures in Northern Lincolnshire (Martin Vickers, Con, Cleethorpes)
16:30 - 17:30: The future of Barking , Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (Mike Gapes, Lab, Ilford South)


15:00: Oral questions, to ask the Government:
- Baroness Cox: What is their response to the Day of Remembrance on 14 July for victims of dishonour-based violence, and what steps they are taking to prevent such violence against girls and women.
- Lord Beecham: What is their assessment of the impact of the £200 million reduction in the public health budget on local authorities in the current financial year.
- Lord Harries of Pentregarth: When they intend to implement the amendments to section 9 of the Equality Act 2010 that requires the introduction of secondary legislation to incorporate caste as a protected characteristic.
- Lord Dubs: What assessment they have made of the impact of their proposed amendments to the Hunting Act 2004 on efforts to protect animal welfare.

Main business
Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill: Report (Day 1.5 of 1.5)
Police Federation (Amendment) Regulations 2015: Motion to regret

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Budget day..

George Osborne will present his first true-blue Conservative Budget today, unrestrained by his former Lib Dem coalition partners, and so he can afford to set out a bold Osbornite vision for Britain. So what are we in for?

The Chancellor's plan to raise the 40p threshold, giving a tax cut to middle class families, leads our front page. The Mail leads on this too, but highlights the "sting in the tail on child tax credits", which are set to be limited to the first two children in any family. "Gordon Brown's tax credits monster must be slain," says Frank Field, Labour chair of the Work and Pensions select committee. It's all part of Osborne's vision for a "lower welfare, lower tax" Britain, as the FT puts it, although he is making his planned £12 billion in welfare cuts more slowly, dragging them out into the second half of this parliament. Freed from Lib Dem influence, Osborne is also set to announce the scrapping of student maintenance grants (which the Independent leads on), and curbs to green levies (as the Sun reports). Make sure to follow what happens on our liveblog.

The Chancellor is just over halfway through his plan to eliminate the deficit, so still has more to do. "Some people close [to him] reckon this will be his most consequential budget," writes James Kirkup. "It certainly should be: he comes to the Commons today with political capital to burn, an opposition in disarray and a five-year Parliament stretching out before him. If he is going to make the move next door one day, today's the day we get our first real glimpse of Prime Minister George Osborne."


The European Union faces "the most critical" moment in its 64-year history, after leaders warned they had five days to prevent Greece from careering out of the euro and into a full blown humanitarian crisis, Mehreen Khan and Matthew Holehouse report. Creditors were openly exasperated after new finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos arrived empty-handed in Brussels following Greece's momentous No vote against their lenders' bail-out conditions. "The two sides are talking past each other, clinging to long-entrenched narratives, no longer willing to question their own assumptions. The result could be costly," writes Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.

Brussels has now convened a full emergency summit of all 28 European leaders on Sunday to thrash out an deal to keep Greece in the single currency. "Despite such determination, it does seem that sooner or later their ambition of ever-closer union will be wrecked on the rocks of financial reality," we say. What does this mean for Britain's political parties? "If the Greek revolt proves contagious, then Labour is the certain loser," argues Mary Riddell


Tory MPs have warned the government that it is pushing through plans for English votes for English laws too quickly raising concerns that the government could face a rebellion, Steven Swinford reports. Senior back-benchers said that the future of the Union is "hanging by a thread" as they called for more time for debate ahead of a vote  later this month. It came as Labour and the SNP joined forces to secure a symbolic victory over the government by winning an emergency vote which it tabled. The government opted to abstain.

"The SNP certainly sound outraged with the Government about EVEL," writes our sketchwriter Michael Deacon. "The trouble is, they've sounded identically outraged with the Government about pretty much everything else, too – and the sheer relentlessness of their outrage is starting to make it hard to tell how authentic that outrage is. Is it always real, or sometimes merely for show – or even just force of habit?"


Immigration is helping to bring Britain back to its Christian roots and reviving religion in a "weary, western" culture, the country's most senior Roman Catholic cleric has insisted, John Bingham reports. Cardinal Vincent Nichols said an influx of new arrivals was not simply boosting flagging congregations but encouraging the British-born population to rediscover its own "wellsprings of faith".


James Naughtie is leaving BBC Radio 4's Today programme in January after 21 years, the corporation has announced. "It is quite big news when we hear that someone is leaving. We had a nice meeting after the programme. The debrief is usually 10 minutes, but this morning we learned that Jim was leaving. There were a few tears shed, I can tell you," his former co-presenter John Humphrys told the Telegraph.

"Fans of his Aberdeenshire tones can be reassured that he will not depart today. Or indeed tomorrow," we say. "In fact Today can count on his political expertise until next year, by which time he will have completed more than two decades in the job. It is time well spent."


Newly-elected Conservative MP Johnny Mercer has appeared half-naked in a Dove advert in which he lathers himself in a bathroom, Michael Wilkinson reports. The 38-year-old was able to pull off the role in the American TV advert after building an impressive physique during his distinguished career as a commando captain.


Ask any number of people 'where is the north?' and you will almost certainly get a different answer every time. Anywhere north of Watford? Only when you get to Crewe? James Wharton, the new minister in charge of George Osborne's much-heralded 'northern powerhouse' project, may therefore be forgiven in his admission that he doesn't exactly know where the north is. Read what happened here


Commons Speaker John Bercow told an MP who asked a long-winded question not "to argue the toss with the Chair". When Liberal Democrat Greg Mulholland complained, he shouted: "Don't shake your head mate." You can watch their exchange here.


Dozens of former MPs, including Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, ex-ministers under investigation for lobbying allegations, have been granted privileged access to Parliament since the general election. Some 381 former members are in possession of passes that allow them to roam the Westminster estate and use the subsidised facilities. Here are more details


Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has been accused of highlighting the fact her Labour leadership rival Liz Kendall does not have any children to win votes as the contest descended into acrimony. This comes after shadow media minister Helen Goodman wrote in a blog for the Huffington Post UK that the fact Cooper was a "working mum" had convinced her to back the shadow home secretary's leadership campaign. 


Lord Patten, the former chairman of the BBC Trust, has accused the Culture Secretary of being an "adolescent ideologue" after he announced "awful" plans to make the corporation pay for pensioners' free TV licences, Steven Swinford reports. John Whittingdale said on Monday that the corporation will bear the £650million cost of the free licence fee for those over the age of 75 from 2020. This comes as the corporation's director general Lord Hall did not deny that the corporation has now become "a branch" of the welfare state. Here are more details


@MikeySmith: If the BBC rebranded economic coverage as "George Osborne's Budgie" and "George Osborne's Awesome Statement", loads more people would watch


From The Telegraph

James Kirkup - Introducing Prime Minister George Osborne

Steve Hilton - The Living Wage is a Conservative idea. Now let's make it happen

Mary Riddell - If Greece's revolt spreads across Europe, Labour will be the loser

From the Politics blog

Asa Bennett - How many more cuts does George Osborne have to make?

Frank Field - Gordon Brown's tax credits monster must be slain

Mark Littlewood- Cutting £12bn in welfare should only be the start, Chancellor

From elsewhere

Rafael Behr - Marmite nation: is the idea of Britishness broken beyond repair?

Daniel Finklestein - Thatcher shows why we must keep on cutting

Christopher Bland - George Osborne should earn his reputation for courage by abolishing free TV licences for the over 75s


09:30 European Council President Donald Tusk to give a speech on Greece to the European Parliament
10.30 Peers quiz Oliver Letwin and Supreme Court President on constitutional reform
12.00 David Cameron at PMQs
12.30 George Osborne's Summer Budget
18:30 24-hour tube strike to begin in London 
19.00 City of London Corporation's H.M. Judges Annual Dinner addressed by Michael Gove
The People's Assembly Against Austerity to stage a mass 'die-in' in front of Parliament in protest against welfare cuts



11:30: International development questions (topicals at 11:53am)
12:00: PMQs

Main business - Budget statement
Adjournment debate on Long term economic plan for the South West of England, led by Dr Liam Fox


9:30 - 11:00: Performance of Southern railway (Nick Herbert)
11:00 - 11:30: Norfolk and Suffolk Broads (Keith Simpson)
14:30 - 16:00: Report of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict (Holly Lynch)
16:00 - 16:30: Effect on recipients of the transfer of the ILF to local authorities (Nic Dakin)
16:30 - 17:30: Cremation of infants in England (Daniel Kawczynski)


15.00: Oral questions, to ask the Government:
- Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede (Lab): What plans they have to restore the link between funding and need to local government funding; and what assessment they have made of the impact of local government funding cuts on both the most and least deprived local authorities in the United Kingdom.
- Baroness Lister of Burtersett (Lab): What steps they plan to take to (1) implement their pledge to work to eliminate child poverty, and (2) meet the 2020 statutory targets set out in the Child Poverty Act 2010.
- Viscount Hanworth (Lab): What is the annual forecast cost for (1) storing, and (2) protecting, the stocks of plutonium at Sellafield in a. 2015, b. 2025, and c. beyond 2025, if there is no decision to deal with the material otherwise.
 - Topical questions

Main business - European Union (Finance) Bill: Second Reading and remaining stages and debate on the reports into investigatory powers (Lord Bates, Con)
Lords Committees - EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee (10:00am, room 3) and Constitution Committee (10:15am, room 1)