Newslinks for Tuesday 11th December 2012
7pm: Chris Skidmore MP: We need a community right of appeal against planning decisions
5pm Tobias Ellwood MP on Comment: Upgrading UK influence in the European Union
3pm WATCH: Discussing the latest Census figures, Keith Vaz MP admits that Labour had an “appalling record as far as illegal migration was concerned”
2.30pm ToryDiary: David Cameron shouldn’t dismiss drugs decriminalisation out of hand
11.30am Local government: Cllr David Pugh: Going Green on the Isle of Wight
10am ToryDiary: Alternative Conservative economic strategies
On ToryDiary, Tim Montgomerie argues that we have an ordinary government in extraordinary times: "I am not, of course, suggesting that the Coalition isn't doing or hasn't done many good things. The education, welfare, localist, transparency and corporation tax reforms are the flagship reforms. But has it done all it could to build the foundations for future prosperity and for social justice? No and no."
Grant Shapps MP on Comment: Labour has taken £1 million from taxpayers for policy development. What have you done with it Mr Miliband?
Also on Comment, Greg Clark MP writes the latest Weekly Letter from a Treasury Minister: The UK economy, excluding the financial and North Sea sectors, has grown by over 4½ per cent in real terms since the beginning of 2010
Columnist Peter Hoskin: 2012 has been the year of the Multi Mass Media MP — all should learn from it
Local Government: Eric Pickles answers your questions
David Cameron speaks out against the decriminalisation of drugs...
"But the Prime Minister, speaking on a visit to Cambridge said: ‘I don’t support decriminalisation. We have a policy which actually is working in Britain. ... Drugs use is coming down, the emphasis on treatment is absolutely right, and we need to continue with that to make sure we can really make a difference. Also, we need to do more to keep drugs out of our prisons. ... These are the Government’s priorities and I think we should continue with that rather than have some very, very long-term Royal Commission.’" - Daily Mail
"Keith Vaz criticised the Prime Minister for the speed with which the Government rejected calls for a royal commission to consider decriminalisation and other aspects of the drive to combat drug abuse." - The Times (£)
- "This report is right to question whether our drugs policy makes sense. But just watch its proposals get crushed" - Raymond Tallis, The Times (£)
- "So, if the rationale for a ban on cannabis is moral disapproval that either no longer exists or has diminished markedly, on what grounds should prohibition continue?" - Philip Johnson, Daily Telegraph
...says that he's "relaxed" about Conservative MPs voting against gay marriage...
"Speaking as ministers prepared to set out detailed proposals today, the Prime Minister accepted that equal marriage rights were ‘not a priority by any stretch of the imagination’ and said he was ‘relaxed’ about the prospect of some Conservatives refusing to support them. ... But David Cameron dismissed the idea that too much energy was being devoted to the issue, saying Parliament was quite capable of considering more than one issue at a time." - Daily Mail
- "The Coalition has been accused of running a 'sham' consultation on same-sex marriage by discounting the views of more than half a million opponents." - Daily Telegraph
- "The new Archbishop of Canterbury is on a collision course with the Government today as the Church of England and Roman Catholics dig in their heels over gay marriage." - The Times (£)
- David Davies defends himself against accusations of homophobia - Daily Mail
And the opinion writers have their say:
- "Mr Cameron deserves credit for picking a fight with the 50-100 MPs on his side who refuse to move on." - Guardian leader
- "On gay marriage, Cameron and Osborne have reached the right decision - for the wrong reason" - Steve Richards, Independent
- ToryDiary: Sir John Major becomes latest senior Tory to endorse gay marriage
- Columnist Bruce Anderson: Cameron shows little interest in defending Britain's great social institutions
- Columnist Andrew Lilico: Gay marriage - what a lot of unnecessary fuss, outrage and confusion!
> Today's video to WATCH: On the Daily Politics, Peter Bone MP and Tim Montgomerie debate gay marriage
...warns about the costs of leaving the EU...
"Britain faces being ‘governed by fax’ from Brussels and reduced to the standing of Norway if it leaves the European Union but stays in the single market, the Prime Minister said yesterday." - Daily Mail
- The Independent Commission on Aid Impact says that the EU's aid programme "performs poorly" – Daily Mail
- "‘Crazy’ pensions rules from Brussels could spell disaster for millions of savers and the economy, the CBI warns today." - Daily Mail
...and of statutory regulation of the press...
"A Labour proposal to write regulation of the Press into law was shot down by David Cameron yesterday with a warning that MPs might in future abuse the change to extend their powers over the media." - Daily Mail
Although: "David Cameron appears to have softened his stance over a statute regulating the press, saying that such a move would 'not be the end of the world' today." - Independent
- Labour’s draft is entitled the “Press Freedom and Trust Bill”. In its very title it demonstrates why opponents are right to have qualms about the principle of legislation. For this would be, despite all the talk about avoiding statutory regulation, a Press Act. It would allow Parliament easily to amend, now and in the future, the laws governing the operation of a free press." - a Times leader (£)
- "A Liberal Democrat peer is to table a draft Bill this week in an attempt to break the deadlock between the Conservatives and Labour over legislating for a new press regulator." - The Times (£)
...fuels the idea that the next election will lack TV debates...
"Televised debates ahead of the 2010 general election 'took all the life out of the campaign', Prime Minister David Cameron has said. ... He suggested that the format agreed between the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems had rendered the debates 'quite dry'." - Daily Mail
- "...Mr Cameron is making a serious mistake if he thinks that the genie can be put back in the bottle. The three TV debates galvanised the 2010 campaign, giving voters for the first time the chance to see party leaders subjected to protracted and detailed scrutiny. Mr Cameron was right in his initial assessment – they are good for democracy." - Daily Telegraph leader
...and will, in January, announce policies to make childcare more affordable
Sources say the government plans to make some child care costs tax deductible - potentially up to a third of costs. But it is unclear how the plan would be administered, how many would qualify, or whether or not it will be limited to basic rate tax payers to ensure it is not criticised for funding those who can more easily meet their childcare costs." - Allegra Stratton's BBC Newsnight blog
The OBR ignites fresh doubts about George Osborne's "shares for rights" scheme
"George Osborne’s 'shares for workers’ rights' initiative could end up costing Britain £1bn a year in lost revenues, the Office for Budget Responsibility has warned, at the same time as the government battles to clamp down on tax avoidance schemes." - Financial Times (£)
- And the Chancellor's crackdown on property tax-dodgers may not be having the desired effect, either - Financial Times (£)
> Yesterday's Jury: How alarmed should we be at the growth in the total debt burden?
The postcode lottery in cancer care "cannot be right", says Jeremy Hunt - Daily Telegraph
Francis Maude in a battle to increase ministerial influence in the appointment of civil servants
"The government is preparing to force through plans to give ministers the final say in the appointment of Whitehall mandarins, putting the coalition at loggerheads with the independent body that currently recommends who is appointed." - Guardian
Dominic Grieve is seeking new inquests into the Hillsborough deaths
"Dominic Grieve, QC, lodged an application in the High Court for the original inquest verdicts of 'accidental death' to be quashed and for fresh ones to opened after 23 years." - The Times (£)
The Government plans to cut whiplash injury claims - Guardian
Lord Baker plans to highlight those schools which offer technical qualifications
"Lord Baker, who served as education secretary in the late 1980s, is introducing the measure, formally called the technical baccalaureate, that will highlight schools teaching skills that manufacturers and engineers believe that Britain is lacking." - Financial Times (£)
Maria Miller claims £90,000 of taxpayers' money for a second home where her parents lived, according to the Telegraph - Daily Telegraph
Nick Clegg is blocking the "web-monitoring" Bill...
"Government plans to give police and intelligence services new powers to monitor email and internet use need a 'fundamental rethink', Nick Clegg says. ... The deputy PM said he would block the draft Communications Data Bill and push for plans that got 'the balance between security and liberty right'." - BBC
- "...with the end of the coalition in sight, a different way of sharing power is developing that is more contractual and less convivial." - Rachel Sylvester, The Times (£)
> From last Wednesday, by Jill Kirby: Theresa May mustn't browbeat Parliament into accepting the Data Communications Bill
...having attended yesterday's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony
"Prime Minister David Cameron stayed away from yesterday's event - one of six EU leaders who decided not to attend. ... Instead, deputy Nick Clegg got his own day of peace, attending alone to represent the UK in the splendour of the Nobel Institute in Oslo." - Daily Mail
> Yesterday, by Allie Renison on Comment: Timing and motivation taint the EU’s Nobel Peace Prize award
Norman Lamb announces the Government's plan to remove vulnerable patients from private care
"Vulnerable patients are to be moved from NHS-funded private hospitals over the next 18 months in the wake of the Winterbourne View abuse scandal, the Government said yesterday. ... Ministers warned tougher regulation, including possible new criminal laws to strengthen corporate accountability, could also be introduced." - Daily Telegraph
Lynne Featherstone urges the charitable sector not to rely on government funding
"Back on home turf, the prospect of tightening purse-strings following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement looms over domestic charities. Featherstone has a stern message for the social sector: 'Charity is amazing, but I think it also got too used to Government being the only funder.'" - Independent
Norman Baker rails against the train companies that are rarely on time
"Rip-off train companies are being ‘totally dishonest’ with passengers on punctuality and must start telling them ‘within just a minute’ when their trains are on time, says Transport Minister Norman Baker. ... In a damning broadside against major train operators he said passengers – and taxpayers- have a right to consider trains to be late if they fail to meet a much stricter 60 second deadline." - Daily Mail
- Average rail fares have risen by 26% since the start of the recession - Daily Mail
The Transport Select Committee warns about reforms to the coastguard service - The Times (£)
Keith Vaz calls for an inquiry into the death of the nurse caught up in an Australian radio prank
"The family of the tragic nurse who took the hoax call to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was staying have been given less support than the Australian DJs behind the stunt, an MP said yesterday. ... Keith Vaz demanded a full inquiry into Jacintha Saldanha’s death after meeting her husband and two teenage children at the House of Commons." - Daily Mail
Margaret Hodge: We may have reached a turning point over corporate taxation
"It was surely the thud of consumer activism hitting the bottom line that prompted Starbucks to cave in to public outrage with an offer of a £20 million cheque to the Exchequer. ... Starbucks’ decision could mark an historic turning point in the corporate approach to paying tax in the UK." - Margaret Hodge, The Times (£)
Insults needn't be illegal, says the Director of Public Prosecutions
"In a boost to free-speech campaigners, Keir Starmer QC said it was safe to reform the controversial law that says it is a criminal offence to use ‘insulting words or behaviour’." - Daily Mail
- "Let’s do away with this insult to free speech" - Geoffrey Dear, Daily Telegraph
> Yesterday, by Keith Porteous Wood and Simon Calvert on Comment: The Lords will vote today on a vital issue of free speech
José Manuel Barroso dents Alex Salmond's EU claims
"An independent Scotland would have to apply to join the EU and negotiate its terms of entry with other member states, José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, has warned." - Financial Times (£)
Concern about the quality of Britain's military drone pilots - The Times (£)
A Channel 4 News report warns about the early sexualisation of children - Daily Mail
British shoppers face one of the highest levels of sales tax in the world - Daily Mail
The number of people living in poverty will halve by 2030, suggests US study - Daily Mail
Another night of violence in Belfast - Daily Mail
And finally 1)... Congratulations to Chloe Smith, who has announced her engagement
"The politician declared it was 'love at first sight' when she met her husband-to-be Sandy McFadzean at a London charity event organised by a mutual friend in the summer. ... Although the couple had discussed marriage before, Miss Smith surprised her new fiance by unexpectedly popping the question last weekend." - Norwich Evening News
And finally 2)... Did the PM really back Will Young at the behest of his daughter?
"The Prime Minister said the only time he had ever voted in a reality TV show was when he backed Will Young to win X Factor, but added he had only done so because ‘my daughter made me’. Really? Young appeared on Pop Idol (a precursor to X Factor) in 2002, two years before Nancy was born." - the Daily Mail's Ephraim Hardcastle column
> Please use the thread below to provide links to news topics likely to be of interest to ConservativeHome readers and to comment on political topics that haven't been given their own blog. Read our comments policy here.