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Newslinks for Wednesday 13th February 2013

6pm Jeremy Hunt MP on Comment: Why the Government's reforms to elderly care are necessary and right

4.30pm Chris Newton writes our latest foreign policy column: David Cameron is no military heir to Blair

PMQs2.15pm WATCH: A double-bill of PMQs videos:

1.30pm ToryDiary: Cameron and Miliband tussle over living standards – not for the first time, and certainly not for the last

11am On Comment, Andrew Lilico writes on novelty: "The correct instinct – the instinct that will drive improvement, not simply change – is to be sceptical of unproven novelties, to require of novelties that they are better and not simply different, and to feel that if we are to change then what is alleged to be new should have a high hurdle to prove that it is really better."

ToryDiary: When will we see a Danny Boyle-style pageant showing nurses mistreating their patients?

DDOn Comment, David Davis MP explains why we need the Conservative plan for elderly care which the Coalition dropped: "...whilst its aims are right, the government’s approach is simply inadequate. For pensioners to get the care they need and to keep their home, the £75,000 threshold must be lowered, and the original Tory insurance idea should be reinstated."

Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Self-regulation of the press. Can a leopard change its spots?

Local Government: Lib Dem misrule on Eastleigh Council

The Deep End: At last! Someone on the left gets it about the economy

WATCH: Barack Obama's 2013 State of the Union address in full

Maria Miller unveils the draft Royal Charter on press regulation

Newspaper 2"Culture Secretary Maria Miller said: ‘The Royal Charter would allow the principles of Leveson to be implemented swiftly and in a practical fashion. ... It would see the toughest Press regulation this country has ever seen, without compromising Press freedom.’ ... The plans were welcomed by the industry and the Lib Dems but both raised concerns on details. ... Labour complained the proposals did ‘not comply’ with standards laid down by Lord Justice Leveson and said they would seek to change them when cross-party talks on the proposals begin again tomorrow." - Daily Mail

  • "Privately senior Liberal Democrat and Labour sources said they were 'hopeful' a deal was in sight. One source involved in the talks said the public opposition mainly represented posturing and that a 'half way meeting' was likely." - Independent
  • "Senior police will be forced to record all contact with journalists on a register, ministers will announce today." - Daily Mail

> Today, by Lord Ashcroft on Comment: Self-regulation of the press. Can a leopard change its spots?

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: The draft Royal Charter on press regulation, unveiled

And the newspapers respond

  • NEwspapers"These considerable reservations aside, David Cameron deserves much credit for coming up with a way to impose rigorous, independent self-regulation – the toughest, indeed, since Oliver Cromwell’s day – while avoiding the sledgehammer blow to freedom implicit in statutory control." - Daily Mail leader
  • "In an unhappy environment for the British press, this Royal Charter makes the best of a bad job. We should be aware, however, of the way it will be interpreted abroad. American publications, particularly the New York Times, have expressed incredulity that Britain could be on the verge of taking this step. Less liberal regimes around the world will see Royal Charters and extra regulations as a pleasing precedent for their own desire to curb their own newspapers." - Times leader (£)
  • "The royal charter is an ingenious concept, and parliamentary lawyers must be salivating at the task of drafting a quintessentially British instrument. But it cannot eliminate the risk of creeping state interference. While some may see such a fudge as a better expedient than statutory control, this newspaper continues to favour credible independent regulation at arm’s length from the state." - Financial Times leader (£)
  • "It could have been very much worse. The Government’s proposal for a press regulator governed by Royal Charter, published today, is grounded in common sense. It is a serious, commendable attempt to find a middle way between those calling for statutory regulation ... and those who would argue for no change at all." - Independent leader
  • "Though the negotiations have achieved progress on detail, private deals carry their own consequences – see the Puttnam amendment to the much-needed defamation bill carried overwhelmingly last week. We need better regulation and better libel laws. Then we can have the press we deserve." - Guardian leader

Iain Duncan Smith condemns yesterday's Poundland ruling

IDS"A court ruling that a jobless graduate was unlawfully forced to do work experience at Poundland could lead to benefit claimants demanding compensation totalling more than £40million, it emerged today. ... Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith called the ruling ‘utter madness’ and said he had ‘no intention’ of paying compensation to any claimant who declined to join a scheme and had their benefits docked as a result. ... Ministers also announced an immediate legal appeal and pushed emergency regulations through Parliament to prevent the schemes collapsing." - Daily Mail

  • "To compare work experience to 'slave labour' is hugely insulting to people living in oppression around the world and sneers at hard-working taxpayers who pay for benefits." - Iain Duncan Smith, The Sun
  • "Ministers will close the legal loophole. Too bad for the gravy train of politically-motivated human rights lawyers hoping to shove their snouts in another trough." - Sun leader
  • "The problem here was with the fine details of the implementation, not the broader idea, which ministers rightly insist will be pursued with even more vigour than before." - Daily Telegraph leader
  • Work placements for the unemployed make a lot of sense - Allister Heath, City AM
  • "This Poundland ruling is a welcome blow to the Work Programme" - Zoe Williams, Guardian

And Owen Paterson condemns the horsemeat slaughterhouses

"Meat from British horses was discovered in takeaway burgers and kebabs yesterday. ... The shocking find, which implicates the UK for the first time in the food fraud scandal, came during police raids in Yorkshire and West Wales. ... Environment Secretary Owen Paterson described the development as ‘utterly and totally disgraceful’ but pulled out of making an emergency statement to the House of Commons." - Daily Mail

  • Waitrose finds pork in its beef meatballs - The Sun
  • Food safety expert fears lamb could be contaminated too - The Times (£)
  • Children from middle-class families more likely to be fat - The Times (£)

Jeremy Hunt announces a "failure regime" for underperforming hospitals

Jeremy Hunt"Underperforming hospitals will be put into a 'failure regime', the health secretary said on Tuesday, as he outlined a 'fundamental overhaul' of inspections. ... The new system will rate the quality of care at least as high as financial performance. ... In his first detailed response to the findings of the Francis inquiry into hundreds of avoidable deaths at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, Jeremy Hunt also set out an objective to slash health service bureaucracy by a third." - Financial Times (£)

"Hospital staff caring for the most vulnerable patients have less training for their job and face fewer checks than bouncers or minicab drivers, an expert warned yesterday. ... Robert Francis said healthcare assistants have only ‘a few hours training’ before being ‘let loose’ on patients." - Daily Mail

  • "A lack of contrition and denial of personal responsibility also plagues the public sector, where it is eroding trust in state services in the same way it corroded faith in politics. ... The most egregious example is that of Sir David Nicholson, who clings shamelessly to his job as chief executive of England’s National Health Service despite the damning report last week into hundreds of patient deaths at two mid-Staffordshire hospitals." - Ian Birrell, Daily Mail

Do NHS trusts want regional pay?

"NHS hospitals are demanding an end to national pay bargaining agreements so they can pay staff to reflect the local cost of living. ... The Foundation Trust Network – which represents more than 200 trusts across England – said introducing new ways of negotiating pay would allow money to be diverted to patient care." - Daily Mail

Nick Boles's nervousness at Bulgarian and Romanian immigration

Boles"The planning minister admits he is ‘nervous’ about the impact of an influx of Romanians and Bulgarians who will have a ‘right to a home’ in Britain. ... Nick Boles backed Government proposals to try to deter incomers from the two countries when controls are lifted on January 1." - Daily Mail

  • The Spectator blog-post which first contained the Boles quotes.
  • "David Cameron has urged ministers to find ways of deterring Romanian and Bulgarian migrants from coming to Britain" - The Times (£)

George Osborne faces calls for further infrastructure spending

"The CBI is to press for extra infrastructure spending from George Osborne in next month's budget after it cut its forecast for UK growth in 2013. ... In its quarterly economic health check, the employers' organisation said it was expecting expansion of 1% this year compared with 1.4% when it last made predictions in November 2012." - Guardian

> Yesterday on ToryDiary: George Osborne is becoming a locus for Tory discontent – the party leadership should be wary

The Chancellor should just axe Inheritance Tax, says Allister Heath

AH"Abolishing inheritance tax altogether would make a start on flattening and simplifying the UK’s horrendously complex tax system. It would also stop so many wealthy pensioners from moving abroad to lower tax jurisdictions, sucking yet more money out of the economy." - Allister Heath, Daily Telegraph

"Multi-million pound taxpayer-funded payouts to terror suspects could help fund al-Qaeda, Ken Clarke warned yesterday" - The Sun

The Government is to crackdown on tax avoidance by contractors who receive public money - Financial Times (£)

A £1.6 billion boost for Philip Hammond

"Philip Hammond, defence secretary, has been given a special dispensation by the Treasury to transfer £1.6bn of unspent cash from the Ministry of Defence budget into the next two financial years, with much of the money going on military equipment." - Financial Times (£)

Department for Education accused of offering "bribes" for schools to drop their opposition to Academy status - Independent

Nigel Lawson pays tribute to the Financial Times, on the occasion of its 125th anniversary - Nigel Lawson, Financial Times (£)

Did Nick Clegg help achieve the EU budget cut? Tory MPs don't think so...

CoC"Mr Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, last year claimed that Conservatives who wanted a budget cut had 'absolutely no hope'. ... At his weekly Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions session in the Commons yesterday, however, Mr Clegg claimed that he had spent 'months making the case for the tough approach' adopted by David Cameron in Brussels last week. ... Tory backbenchers have described Mr Clegg’s comments as 'ludicrous and implausible'." - Daily Telegraph

Ed Davey lays into climate change sceptics

Ed Davey"Ed Davey, the energy secretary, has launched a blistering attack on 'dogmatic and blinkered' climate change deniers who ignore scientific evidence that 'screams out from decade upon decade of research'. ... 'The basic physics of climate change is irrefutable,' he told a Royal Society meeting on Tuesday, in one of the most aggressive assaults any minister has delivered on the contentious issue since the coalition came to power in 2010." - Financial Times (£)

The author, broadcaster and comedy scriptwriter John O'Farrell is Labour's candidate in Eastleigh - Guardian

"To vanquish the spectres of the Iraq war, Labour must stand up for justice" - Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph

The Church of England warns that the legalisation of same-sex marriage could trigger "culture wars" - Daily Telegraph

FSAThe Financial Services Authority will accuse high street banks of offering customers bad financial advice - Daily Mail

  • "If banks and food companies want a good reputation, they should just be honest" - Jeff Randall, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday, by Greg Clark MP on Comment: The five principles that should shape the Government's response to bankers' bonuses

It could take 15 years for living standards to return to pre-crash levels, warns the Resolution Foundation - Daily Mail

  • Food prices are rising three times faster than the average wage packet - Daily Mail 

Study suggests that British schools are among the worst in the world for social mobility - Daily Mail

AA chief: potholes make Britain's roads a national embarrassment - The Times (£)

"The families of Newtown deserve a vote" – Barack Obama's State of the Union address focuses on gun control - Daily Mail

> Today's video to WATCH: Barack Obama's 2013 State of the Union address in full

And finally 1)... Where's Harold Wilson's pipe?

HW"The BBC has been criticised as 'Stalinist' and 'politically correct' for allegedly trying to play down Harold Wilson’s pipe smoking in a five hour television special tomorrow night. .. Lord Donoughue, a former right hand man to Mr Wilson in Number 10, claimed that producers had been told to downplay Mr Wilson’s pipe smoking." - Daily Telegraph

And finally 2)... Michael Heseltine is the Golden Oldie of the year

"Lord Michael Heseltine, Professor Mary Beard and cartoonist and jazz musician Wally Fawkes were among those honoured today at The Oldie of the Year Awards." - Daily Telegraph

And finally 3)... The MPs' self-help guide

"An ‘idiot’s’ style-guide to how to be an MP was the most borrowed book from the House of Commons library last year. ... According to official figures, MPs borrowed veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn’s humorous, self-help tome 19 times." - Daily Mail

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