Firstly I will begin with TTIP.
Do you want to live in a world in which multinational corporations can sue the UK government for raising the minimum wage?  Or how about a world where big tobacco companies can sue the UK for billions of pounds for introducing a plain cigarette packaging law? 
Scarily, this could happen if TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – is passed. It’s basically a Christmas wish-list for big businesses – one with no benefit to ordinary people. Right now, the negotiations are going on behind closed doors. But the devastating consequences will affect us all. We have an opportunity – but only for the next 48 hours – to stop one of the worst parts of the deal.
Thanks to massive people-powered campaigns across Europe, the TTIP negotiating team opened a consultation on the Investor-To-State Dispute Settlement – ISDS. It’s a complex name that covers up a nasty rule that’ll let corporations sue our government for putting their duty to ordinary people before businesses’ profits. 
Together, we need to do all we can to get ISDS dropped from the deal – but the consultation closes in just 48 hours time. This is the first time ordinary people like us will have a chance to have a say on any part of TTIP. Let’s make sure the negotiating team gets the message loud and clear – we don’t want big businesses to dictate laws to our government.
We only have two days left. So far the negotiating team has only heard from shady lobbyists. We need to tell them why this deal is terrible for ordinary people. The consultation doesn’t accept identical entries so we each need to write our own. But you don’t need to be an expert. And there are tips to help you on the web page. Just click the link below to write in:
We know that when thousands of us feed into consultations, we’re too powerful to ignore. Just last week, the UK government went back on its plans to privatise child protection services after 70,000 38 Degrees members fed into their consultation.  When we take part in consultations like this, we create waves.
The TTIP team is vulnerable right now. Just this month the US embassy in Berlin offered grants of $20,000 for campaigns in support of TTIP!  So this is a perfect time to show them how united we are in our opposition. And we’ll be in good company – we’ll be joining hundreds of thousands of voices across Europe who have already spoken out against the deal.
The consultation closes in just two days. It won’t take long to write into it. Please click here to email the TTIP team now.
You all may recall that here in Stroud Constituency, we invited Rev. Philip Foster to speak on energy earlier this week. He has written a book called ‘While the Earth Endures’. As many of you will be aware, I have been actively involved in campaigning against the development of solar farms in the South West since our government continues in its quest to cover our beautiful countryside with turbines/panels thereby exacerbating fuel poverty in this country.
A taster from Philip’s book (there’s a foreword by David Bellamy) is as follows:
Chapter 11 p. 131
Eight wrongs do not make right
1. Global warming will cause sea levels to rise dramatically – with the strong implication (as in Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth) that coastal areas and low lying land will soon be inundated. WRONG
4. Tropical diseases, such as malaria, will spread. WRONG
Once again the IPCC seems determined, as is Al Gore, to spread alarm and disinformation. The group that put together the idea that malaria would spread north had only two real experts on vector-borne disease. These two found themselves constantly at loggerheads with the rest of the group, none of whom had the slightest expertise in the area, but all of whom were activists in environmental movements.
On page 138 C. S. Prakash put it:
Organic farming is sustainable. It sustains poverty and malnutrition.
On page 172 it states:
Why not just build the conventional power station? This would be far cheaper both to build and in cost to the consumer. It would do far less damage to the environment. We shall likely see the lights going out in Britain, Europe and the US anyway due to these crazy schemes. Britain will lose up to 30% of its generating power in the next five year as older power stations go off-line and are not being replaced.
But it’s far, far worse for the developing nations, particularly those in Africa, the least developed continent. Asia has, on the whole, had the very good sense not to play ball with this Western hypochondria. China is bringing four coal-fired power stations on-line every week, thanks to a sensible plan some years back to try and get electricity to as many people as possible.
The same should be happening in Africa. Africa has both coal and oil and should be using it for the good of the people, but Western Governments and NGOs, Green Activists and Christian charities such as Christian Aid and TearFund, obsessed with greenhouse gas fears, are striving to prevent this happening.
It is a sad state of affairs when Christians who raise money supposedly to try and help the destitute out of poverty are the ones keeping them in it!
If you are interested in ordering the book (which is a brilliant read), Philip’s email address is:
David Cameron facing Tory revolt over foreign aid
The Prime Minister will back a Liberal Democrat bill which would enshrine in law a commitment to spend more than £12 billion every year on foreign aid
Some Conservative MPs have complained about the level of foreign aid spending Photo: EPA
By Peter Dominiczak, Assistant Political Editor
4:28PM BST 01 Jul 2014
David Cameron could be facing a backbench revolt after the Liberal Democrats put forward a bill to legally commit Britain to spending 0.7 per cent of national wealth of foreign aid.
Michael Moore, the Lib Dem former Scottish secretary, yesterday tabled a private member’s bill to put the United Nations target on to the statute book and urged all parties to swing behind the legislation.
The Conservatives last night said the party will support the measure in any Commons vote.
Any new law would commit the Government to spending more than £12 billion annually.
The Conservatives and Lib Dems promised in the 2010 coalition agreement not just to meet the UN target but also to ensure it was made a legally-binding commitment for the future.
But despite the target being hit, aid campaigners have been frustrated at the absence of legislation.
Politicians who have called for the legislation have accused the Conservatives of not sticking to the agreement because of Right-wing members of the Tory Party who oppose greater levels of foreign aid spending.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, has previously said that he is proud of the amount of money the Government is spending on foreign aid.
Figures earlier this year disclosed that Britain hiked its aid spending by more than any other country in Europe last year.
Foreign aid soared by 28 per cent last year, meaning the UK hit its target of spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on overseas development.
It left Britain with the second most generous aid budget in the world, outstripped only by the United States.
Mr Moore, the MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh, said that he would introduce the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Bill on September 12.
“I am proud of the fact that the Liberal Democrats have had a long-term commitment to the UN’s 0.7 per cent aid target,” he said.
“And I am very proud to have been a member of the first UK government to reach the target.
“Now I want to see Liberal Democrats legislate with others to make a commitment to keep achieving it.
“The Coalition’s priorities over the past four years may have worked against having Government time for the bill, but I am delighted that my good fortune in the private member’s bill ballot allows Parliament the opportunity to consider this issue.
“Since I intend to build on the work of people in our party, in the Conservatives and Labour, I hope the consensus will be maintained and the bill will pass.
Save the date (12th September)
On this day in 1644 Parliament established a supremacy which lasted until 1973
By Daniel Hannan Politics Last updated: July 2nd, 2014
139 Comments Comment on this article
Parliamentary sovereignty is shorthand for popular sovereignty
Prince Rupert of the Rhine was everything we think of we hear the word Cavalier . Handsome, dashing and impetuous, he had rushed over from the Continent when his uncle, Charles I, raised the royal standard in 1642. Though only 23 years old, he had already had a successful military career, serving in both the Eighty Years War in the Netherlands and the Thirty Years War in Germany. Now, appointed commander of the Royalist cavalry, he promptly raised and trained a fighting force, and won several early victories.
Prince Rupert had a white poodle named Boye, trained to leap and bark at the name of the King, but to cock a leg at the name of Cromwell. Royalist soldiers loved the animal, and promoted it to the rank of Sergeant-Major-General. Roundheads suspected it of being some sort of demon or witch familiar.
Boye died on this day in 1644 at the Battle of Marston Moor. Both master and beast were undone by their rashness, the former rushing from the successful relief of York to take on a larger parliamentary army, the latter breaking free of his tether to follow the kingâ€™s horsemen into battle.
It was a sad day for Boye, for Prince Rupert and for the unfortunate Royalist commander, the Marquess of Newcastle, who had exhausted his fortune in the King cause, and who now sought exile in Hamburg rather than endure the laughter of the court . It was a glad day, though, for freedom, for democracy and for Anglosphere exceptionalism.
The King had lost the North and, with it, the manpower of its conservative shires as well as its North Sea ports. From then on, it was only a matter of time before Charles I was brought to terms. If we are looking for a day when the English-speaking peoples branched irretrievably away from European absolutism, 2 July 1644 is as good a candidate as any.
You might situate the divergence earlier, of course. Some of the men who won the day at Marston Moor would have pointed at Henry VIIIâ€™s break with Rome, others at Magna Carta. Yet others would have gone back still further, to the folkright of Anglo-Saxon common law that had constrained kings before 1066.
Alternatively, you might place the moment later: even in 1688, it seemed possible that the English-speaking peoples might yet be subjected to French- or Spanish-style autocracy.
But I think it was the interlinked conflicts of the 1640s what, in my book, I call the First Anglosphere Civil War – that marked our real break with Eurrope. There were, to be sure, relapses and regressions. But never again was it seriously proposed that a king or a clergyman might stand above the law.
It’s true that the victorious parliamentary regime lapsed into military repression. The admirable Lieutenant General Cromwell who led the horsemen at Marston Moor became the altogether less admirable Lord Protector Cromwell, a harsh dictator. But the restoration, when it came in 1660, was in the first place a restoration of a legitimate parliament. Only after its own re-establishment did that parliament invite Charles II to return.
The English-speaking peoples, in short, had made up their minds in favour of parliamentary sovereignty. And they were determined that that sovereignty should be an ally of freedom and a guarantor of property, not just an instrument of majority rule.
Parliament remained sovereign until 1 January 1973, when Sections 3 and 3 of the 1972 European Communities Act came into effect, giving EU law primacy over British law. If I had to pick just one reform that would right our relationship with the EU, I’d repeal that part of the Act, so that EU Directives and Regulations were treated as advisory pending an implementing decision by our own elected representatives. Grant that, and much else follows.
Email from Dave
BBC Radio 4 Today 3/7/14 07 07:36 ish for 5 mins, I will try for a recording.
Mr Prodi for EU explains a few things, we should note his final line as it is political union.
And, in an referendum we have to emphasize that a stay in the EU means joining over to the Euro dropping the ££
MEPs slam EU session that was over in time it takes to boil an egg.
UKIP MEPs Bill Etheridge and James Carver have today blasted EU bureaucrats after the Parliamentary session was concluded in the time it takes to boil an egg.
In only their third day, the newly-elected MEPs launched a stinging attack.
Bill Etheridge said: “I was shocked and disgusted to hear the President of the European Parliament conclude the day’s session of the European Parliament after no more than three minutes. What a shocking display of waste and vanity.
“I regard this as daylight robbery. It is essentially theft from the taxpayer and I for one will continue to expose the EU´s complete contempt for its citizens.
“This flippant misuse of taxpayers money is the EU all over – stuck in its own lavish bubble detached from reality. It is time to get out of this expensive club and run our own affairs from Westminster.”
James Carver added: “Today’s Parliamentary business was an expensive insult to the electorate. Surely it could have been added to yesterday’s session.
“If this is an example of the EU institutions spend-thrift attitude at a time of economic austerity and despair, is it any wonder that increasing numbers of voters across, not just the UK, but the whole continent are turning their backs on this utopian idea.”
Issued by LEXDRUM HOUSE…
NHS cancer care could switch to private contracts in £700m plans
Private health firms ready to bid for £1.2bn worth of outsourced services at Staffordshire clinical commissioning group areas
Cancer care in the NHS could be privatised for the first time in the health service’s biggest ever outsourcing of services worth over £1.2bn.
A host of private healthcare firms have already expressed interest in securing a £689m, 10-year contract to provide cancer care at four NHS GP-led clinical commissioning group areas in Staffordshire.
Here we go….
(Wales Online) Assembly election poll predicts EIGHT seats for Ukip – and meltdown for the Lib Dems
Wales Barometer Poll predicts Nigel Farage’s party to win eight seats from its current zero – while Lib Dem vote plunges
The UK Independence Party remain on course for a stunning haul of eight Assembly seats at the next election – and the Lib Dems set to lose four of their five AMs, according to a new poll.
A YouGov survey for the Wales Governance Centre and ITV Wales appears to show Nigel Farage’s party has retained its momentum in Wales from the European elections, which saw it narrowly miss out to Labour on topping the poll, while the Welsh Liberal Democrats are projected to lose all their AMs apart from leader Kirsty Williams.
It also continues a trend of gradually sliding support for Labour, with the party’s support slipping in voting intentions for both the 2016 Cardiff Bay and Westminster elections next year.
The Wales Barometer poll, published today in Professor Roger Scully’s Elections in Wales blog, was the first after YouGov changed their method for gathering voting intentions.
For the 2016 Assembly elections, Labour lose two points since the last May poll, slipping to 37% for the constituency vote and one point on the regional list to 34% – translating to the loss of one of their current 30 seats.
But it would be Ukip that would see the most stunning rise, with a three point rise since May in the constituency vote to 13% and a two-point rise to 16% on the regional list – which would translate into eight seats from its current zero.
That would come mainly at the expense of the Lib Dems, who are predicted to lose four of their five AMs, with only Brecon and Radnorshire AM and leader Kirsty Williams surviving the massacre.
While the Tories and Plaid Cymru have both seen marginal rises in both the constituency and regional list votes, both are projected to lose seats in 2016 on the basis of the poll.
It is the latest in a series of polls which suggest Ukip is on the verge of a major breakthrough in the National Assembly, which has a proportional representation voting system that makes it easier for less-established parties to win seats.
Prof Scully said: “These projections indicate the possibility, on the results implied by the current poll, of UKIP becoming a significant force within the National Assembly, and largely doing so at the expense of the Liberal Democrats.”
Labour saw a 2% slip in its Westminster vote to 41% – its lowest poll level since 2010 – while the Tories saw a 3% spike to 25%, its highest Welsh rating since the last election.
Ukip also saw a 1% rise to 14%, Plaid remained static at 11% and Lib Dems saw a two-point slide to 5% – it’s lowest rating in two years.
If translated into seats, Labour would see a boost of two Westminster seats in next year’s election to a total of 28, while the Lib Dems would lose two of their three and the others would remain unchanged with Tories on eight, Plaid Cymru with three and Ukip with none.
Prof Scully said: “Overall, this is a good poll for the Conservatives and UKIP, a solid one for Plaid Cymru, and yet more bad news for the Liberal Democrats.
“As for Wales’ long-dominant party: this poll confirms that Labour’s position in Wales has declined significantly over the last year, but that they still remain well in the lead.
“While Labour look more vulnerable than they did throughout 2011-13, the other parties must still look very enviously at their ratings.”
Watch UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe’s first question in the EU parliament ‘is it right for EU Leader to suggest Western Values are better than African Values?’>>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3WVTN2iGBI&feature=youtu.be
(City AM) Booming Britain surges ahead of sluggish Europe
Manufacturing and construction growth is helping Britain pull ahead of the Eurozone economies, influential survey data showed yesterday.
The UK would even be growing faster than the US in the second quarter, economists said, if America was not bouncing back from a harsh winter at the start of the year.
Construction output expanded at its fastest pace in four months in June, according to Markit.
Its production managers’ index (PMI) hit 62.6 last month – any score of above 50 indicates growth.
Markit’s economists believe this strong result indicates construction output will grow by around one per cent in the second quarter, contributing to overall economic growth of 0.8 per cent.
And the resurgent sector is hiring more staff – vacancies in construction climbed 36 per cent in the last year to 18,000 according to research from accounting services firm NoPalaver.
The job creation index in Markit’s PMI also hit its highest level since the survey began 17 years ago.
Sterling climbed again on the sustained good news – the pound ended the day up 0.23 per cent at €1.26.
Britain’s growth of 0.8 per cent should outstrip Germany’s 0.7 per cent and the wider Eurozone’s 0.4 per cent, according to Markit estimates.
And France’s economy is contracting, falling 0.1 per cent in the second quarter.
However the US will expand more quickly, growing by one per cent as it recovers from the shock 0.1 per cent drop in the first quarter.
Ukip allies claim EU funds to Italy end up in hands of MAFIA
By: Hannah Roberts
Published: Wed, July 2, 2014 TELEGRAPH
UKIP’s Italian partners have told the EU to stop giving money to Italy as it inevitably ends up in the hands of the mafia.
Beppe Grillo, the leader of Italy’s second biggest party, the eurosceptic Five Star Movement, said that EU Structural Funds designed for regeneration disappear in Italy’s poorest regions where they are siphoned off by criminal organisations.
He told a news conference at the European Parliament: “I’m here to say don’t give funding to Italy.”
Mr Grillo, who has teamed up with Nigel Farage to form the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group in the European Parliament, added: “The funding disappears in three regions, Calabria, Sicily and Campania and therefore goes to the Mafia.”
The Structural Fund money is given out by the European Commission in Brussels, and the budget for the funds is nearly £300bn for the years 2014-2020.
But, even by the commission’s own estimates, at least hundreds of millions pounds worth of structural funds every year involve irregularities and fraud.
Experts say the funding of development of renewable energy and wind-farms has been easy pickings for the Mafia, which has largely reinvented itself as a ‘white collar’ organisation.
The mob create shell companies and infiltrate regional bodies which award the subsidies and contracts. They also own many of the construction companies which win the contracts.
A report by the EU Parliament last year showed EU funding to help victims of the L’Aquila earthquake was relayed to companies with links to organised crime.
More than £450million from the EU’s Solidarity Fund went to L’Aquila after the 2009 earthquake.
Mr Grillo’s Five Star Movement have 17 seats in the European Parliament after winning around 20 per cent of the Italian vote at last month’s European elections.
(Daily Express) Open EU borders sees thousands of Spaniards move to UK to find new life
THOUSANDS of Spaniards have escaped the economic gloom of their country and moved to the UK thanks to the European Union’s (EU) open border policy.
More than 8,200 people emigrated from Spain to Britain last year, making it their second most popular destination in Europe to move to.
London was the most popular British city for emigrating Spaniards, according to figure from the Spanish National Statistic Institute (INE) revealed today.
Economists have warned that the influx of people from Spain may cause rental prices in the capital to shoot up.
UK Independence Party (Ukip) MEP Tim Aker said the figures show that with the EU’s open borders policy Britain cannot control who comes into the UK.
He said: “It is clear that inside the European Union, we cannot control the quantity nor the quality of people coming to Britain as we have open borders with twenty-seven other nations.
“When it comes to countries like Spain who are trapped inside the economic straight-jacket that is the Euro, Britain is completely open to unlimited numbers of so-called ‘Euro refugees’ who are free to come to the UK as the single currency continues to weigh down their own country’s economic prospects.”
Experts told The Times that the rise in immigrants into the UK may fuel a similar housing boom to that experienced by Spain, before the country’s property market collapsed in 2008.
In total 79,306 Spanish citizens left their country in 2013 in the hope of finding a new life as unemployment levels hit 25 per cent.
Overall 547,890 people, including non-Spaniards, left Spain last year – the highest number since records began in 1971.
Meanwhile the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said that 51,000 Spaniards had registered for a National Insurance number by May this year.
This is a rise on the 10,000 registered to work in the UK in 2008.
Speaking to the paper, economist Edward Hugh said: “A whole generation of highly qualified Spaniards are moving abroad and it is going to be a drain on the country’s chances of a revival.
“Ironically with all the Spaniards moving to London it is also going to create a mini-boom in rental housing prices in the capital.”
The favoured destination abroad for people moving from Spain was Ecuador, with more than 10,000 citizens packing their bags to live in the South American country last year.
(Daily Express) Families face PENALTIES for not recycling under strict new Europe rules, claim campaigners
FAMILIES could face stiff penalties for not recycling under tough new European rules, claim campaigners.
The European Commission yesterday announced plans for councils to recycle 70 per cent of household waste by 2030.
It is an increase on the current 50 per cent target set for 2020, with new rules demanding at least 80 per cent of packing waste is included.
The commission is also considering a ban on sending any recyclable waste to landfill sites by 2025.
Doretta Cocks, of the Campaign for Weekly Waste Collection, said households could face further fines if councils fail to meet the targets.
Laws which already allow local authorities to slap hefty fines on people who put their rubbish out on the wrong day or use the wrong bin are under review.
She said: “What might happen is that as we get closer to that date, and the figures don’t look good, a new Government may bring in compulsory recycling.
“As we have already seen, with some councils this could lead to fining. People should be encouraged to recycle but although I prefer the carrot to the stick, councils often prefer the stick.
“They have got to give people help to do this, it is going to take a lot of work and I think we will struggle to recycle much more than we do.”
Mike Jones, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Environment and Housing Board, said: “Local authorities have made a huge contribution to meeting existing waste and recycling targets. Additional targets are not the most effective way to encourage this and could lead to increased costs when resources are stretched.”
The 70 per cent targets were described as “extremely ambitious” by Nigel Mattravers, chairman of the Institution of Civil Engineers Waste and Resource Management Expert Panel.
He said: “The momentum behind the current 2020 goal of 50 per cent has flatlined and meeting it will require strategic leadership and coordination.”
Steve Lee, of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management, said meeting the targets would be a “challenge” requiring Government “leadership and ambition”.
According to figures from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs Britain already lags behind on recycling.
Between 2012 and 2013 43.2 per cent of waste was recycled, a big leap from 12 per cent in 2001 but low compared with Austria at 63 per cent and Germany at 62 per cent.
A Defra spokesman said: ““We are carefully reviewing the commission’s proposals and are developing our response.”
“We support efforts to reduce waste but need to ensure that legislation meets our priorities to protect the environment, incentivise growth and avoid unnecessary burdens on business.”
Robert Hunt, of waste collection firm Veolia, said: “To achieve the targets, we need to invest in recycling infrastructure tailor-made to local need.”
Janez Potocnik, European commissioner for the environment, said: “We have to get the most out of our resources, and that means recycling them back into productive use, not burying them in landfills as waste.”
The commission believes the new targets could create more than half a million jobs in waste management across the European Union.
The proposals will be debated by member states and MEPs before they can come into force.
However Friends of the Earth resource use campaigner Richard Dyer slammed the plans as “weak and insufficient”. He said: “If the EU really wants to take this issue seriously it must start measuring all the land, water, carbon and materials Europe is responsible for using.”
News from Labour:
(City AM) Ed Miliband tries to thaw Labour’s relations with business
Labour leader Ed Miliband will today attempt to convince UK financial leaders and entrepreneurs that he backs big business.
Miliband will seek to reassure the business leaders at a speech in London that Labour wants to work with, not against them, in a bid to reverse perceptions that the party is anti-corporation.
“The only way we can realise this mission is through your success. The great, dynamic businesses of our country being enabled to build the wealth, create the jobs and make the profits that will help them succeed,” Miliband will say at an event at the Science Museum attended by bosses including John Lewis chair Sir Charlie Mayfield and BAE Systems’ chairman Sir Roger Carr.
He will also use the speech to firm up plans to develop a National Infrastructure Commission.
The speech forms part of a week-long focus on economic policy for Labour and follows pledges from Ed Balls on corporation tax and Lord Adonis on devolving state spending to newly-created city regions.
Speaking in support of Miliband, shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna wrote in an article this morning: “It is of course crucial that we have growth in the first place – we need to grow the pie as well as ensure that everyone is benefiting from it.”
(Telegraph) Ed Miliband is being ‘gamed out’, warns Cruddas
Ed Miliband has failed to “reconcile” the “different camps” at the top of the Labour party which are undermining the party’s prospects, one of the party’s senior figures has privately warned.
In a leaked recording passed to The Telegraph, Jon Cruddas, the Labour leader’s policy adviser, said “a lot of things haven’t really been reconciled” and also warned that Mr Miliband was being “gamed out” on a weekly basis
The recording, said to have been made at last week’s Fabian conference is the second such warning to have been privately sounded by Mr Cruddas in recent weeks.
Last month, he criticised “the dead hand” of the Labour leader’s office on policy development.
The private remarks underline the growing concerns at the top of Labour over Mr Miliband’s lacklustre leadership. Mr Cruddas’ remarks suggest that Miliband has failed to successfully build bridges with Ed Balls.
In the new recording passed to the Telegraph, Mr Cruddas said that Mr Miliband was battling to unite “different camps” within the party, and struggling to manage the news cycle.
“He’s actually trying to unpack it, he’s trying to unpack it,” said Mr Cruddas. “But he just gets gamed out every day, every week because of the news cycle, the media, levels of intrusion, the party management side.”
“The fact that a lot of things haven’t really been reconciled – the different camps,” he added, as he spoke at the Labour activist gathering at the weekend.
Mr Miliband will today speak about job creation at the Inclusive Prosperity conference organised by the think tank Policy Network in London.
He will emphasise his commitment to British business, emphasising that “Labour will build a prosperity in which all can share fairly, right across Britain.”
“In so doing, we can rebuild faith in business and in politics in Britain for the future,” he will add.
On Wednesday, Mr Miliband set out his plans for campaigning in the the run-up to the election, declaring that the NHS and its waiting times would be a key battleground over the summer.
“You promised the reorganisation in the NHS would make things better – it’s made things worse. Worse on access to cancer treatment, worse on A&E waits, worse on GP access, the NHS is getting worse on your watch. And there’s only one person to blame and it’s you,” Mr Miliband told thePrime Minister during his weekly question time.
“It is this party that created the NHS, and every time we have to save it from that lot opposite,” he added.
Mr Cruddas, who is heading Labour’s policy review before the next election, also appeared to admit that Labour had failed to respond fast enough to the changing political situation as the economy improved in recent months.
“When we lost we never really had a real thorough period of introspection,” he admitted.
He also said that the Labour leadership was failing to take in new ideas, saying they could “just acknowledge them, rather than just say ‘oh, keep away.’”
Mr Cruddas, the Labour MP for Dagenham and Rainham, is a key figure in the Labour party, and has been charged with formulating the policies that will make up the manifesto on which Miliband will fight the next general election.
When he was appointed head of Mr Miliband’s election policy review in 2012, Mr Miliband described him as “one of the most radical and deepest thinkers in the party”.
The new intervention by Mr Cruddas comes in the middle of a difficult week for Mr Miliband. Senior Labour advisers have rounded on him, warning that his party has no direction and will not win a general election while it is perceived as “anti-business”.
The Labour leader was also forced to rewrite a key speech after it emerged that the draft version contained outdated statistics on job creation.
The Conservatives immediately attacked the confusion, when Mr Miliband’s draft speech quoted two year old figures.
“Labour get their facts wrong on jobs – again. How can they ever be trusted with the economy?” David Cameron wrote on Twitter.
After a series of awkward photo opportunities, the former Labour leader Neil Kinnock tried to defend Mr Miliband from his critics, saying the media was driven by “vindictiveness”.
Senior Labour figures have criticised the Sunday Times for reporting the comments he made at a meeting hosted by the left-wing pressure group Compass. On Tuesday, Mr Cruddas refused to take a question from Laura Pitel, a political correspondent from The Times.
(Daily Mail) Miliband ridiculed by shadow cabinet for ‘wonkish’ announcements as guru attacks ‘lack of direction’
Labour peer Lord Glasman warned the party lacks ‘a sense of direction’
Miliband makes pledges on regional development funds and infrastructure
But shadow minister says voters are not interested in economic ‘wiring’
Ed Miliband is facing mounting criticism from within his own top team for ‘wonkish’ policy announcements and a series of embarrassing gaffes.
On the day he attempted to woo business with a plan to hand control of £30billion in development funds to the English regions, there was fresh sniping over his leadership.
Labour peer Lord Glasman, a one-time policy guru for Mr Miliband, warned the party lacks ‘a sense of direction’ and urged his leader to ‘take a couple of novels rather than think-tank reports as his summer reading’.
A shadow minister said there had been too many ‘wonkish’ economic announcements that would not connect with real people – such as the devolution of business rates and plans for a new infrastructure commission.
‘Voters just expect governments to do this stuff [on the economy] – they’re not interested in all the wiring of how it works,’ he said.
Bemoaning a string of presentational blunders, the MP added: ‘We’ve got people being paid an awful lot of money to get these things right, and they’re not.’
Last weekend, it emerged Labour policy chief Jon Cruddas had been secretly recorded talking about bold ideas being stifled by the ‘dead hand’ of the leadership.
And in the Commons, David Cameron seized on Mr Miliband’s ‘misleading’ claim that the Government’s jobs boom has chiefly benefited London.
A briefing to journalists included the claim that four in five new jobs since 2010 have been created in the capital. This was repeated by Labour business spokesman Chuka Umunna and business policy architect Lord Adonis, who declared: ‘Four-fifths of net new jobs since 2010 have been in London.’
However, the statistic was taken from a report by the think-tank Centre for Cities using data from between 2010 and 2012.
The latest official figures from the Office for National Statistics show just a quarter of new jobs were created in London since 2010, and just a fifth over the past year.
Mr Miliband will today use another speech to declare that his ‘central mission’ is to ‘rebuild faith in business and politics’.
The Labour leader will also insist Britain must not ‘drift toward exit’ from the EU and ‘cut ourselves off from the rest of the world’. Earlier this week former London mayor Ken Livingstone said Mr Miliband hated ‘trivial’ concerns about his image and would be a great reforming prime minister.
His intervention follows that of former leader Lord Kinnock, and is the latest from a Left-wing veteran which may prove offputting to voters in Middle England.
Lord Glasman has attempted to backtrack, revealing he said sorry to Mr Miliband for his article in Tuesday’s Financial Times.
‘I’ve apologised for that,’ he said. ‘I did get it wrong. My point is we need a genuine story . . . and I think that’s happening.’
Last night, in another indication of tensions, veteran Left-winger Dennis Skinner was voted off Labour’s ruling national executive committee in favour of former minister John Healey, a loyalist.
MPs claimed there had been a campaign to oust Mr Skinner, who was said to have caused irritation by criticising the leadership.
(Sky News) Airport Security Tightened Over ‘Bomb Fears’
Checks at airports are stepped up after intelligence suggests groups are developing a bomb to bypass current safety measures.
Security at British airports has been increased after warnings from the US that terrorists are developing bombs that can be smuggled on to planes without being detected.
US Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson said he had tasked officials to “implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States”.
However, he declined to say which airports would be affected.
A statement issued by the US Department for Homeland Security said: “We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and consulting the aviation industry.
“These communications are an important part of our commitment to providing our security partners with situational awareness about the current environment and protecting the travelling public.”
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the additional security was not expected to cause “significant” disruption to flights.
He told Sky News: “I would like to reassure the travelling public we have got one of the toughest security regimes in the world, along with the United States.
“It is important that we take these measures to protect the travelling public and the public have confidence when we get information we take the right measures.
“There will be extra security checks but they will be made in the course of events people already go through and I hope there will not be significant delays.”
But British aviation security expert Philip Baum said heightened security will inevitably mean longer queues and increased waiting times to board flights at UK airports.
“It will mean an increase in the number of random searches, secondary searches and an increase in the number of passengers asked to remove shoes and possibly all passengers being asked to remove shoes if they’re going on certain flights,” he said.
“It stands to reason that if we’re going to spend longer doing checks, people are going to have to spend longer waiting in line to board flights.”
US officials said the security alert followed intelligence reports that Islamist groups in Yemen and Syria had joined forces to prepare an attack on the US.
Bomb-makers from al Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, and Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are believed to be working together to develop the new devices.
According to ABC News, they are trying to build non-metallic bombs that could evade metal detectors.
As a result security enhancements are likely to include greater scrutiny of US-bound passengers’ electronics and footwear and installation of additional bomb-detection machines.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s official spokesman said: “There are terror organisations around the world that seek to do the UK, its citizens, and citizens of many other countries including our Western allies, harm.
“We need to always be vigilant to situations that can develop.”
Sky’s US correspondent Dominic Waghorn said US officials were also closely monitoring the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) over concerns its success in Iraq might help it recruit jihadists from Europe, who would have easier access to flights bound for US cities.
The thousands of foreign fighters flocking to join ISIS, including an estimated 400 from Britain, is a serious concern, he said.
(Telegraph) UK green taxes hit record high of £43 billion
Consumers and businesses saw green taxes increase by £1.7 billion in 2013, including a rise of more than £500 million for renewable energy projects
UK households and businesses paid a record £43 billion in green taxes last year, new official figures show.
The Treasury’s revenues from environmental levies increased by £1.7 billion last year, from £41.3 billion in 2012. They have soared from £30.4 billion in 2003.
The total green tax revenues for 2013 are the equivalent of £1,629 for every household – up from £1,564 in 2012 and £1,221 per household in 2003.
However, the ONS said that the majority of the bill was paid by businesses, not domestic consumers.
More than £500 million of the increase in the green taxes last year was due to rising renewable energy levies to subsidise the construction of wind and solar farms and other green technologies
These levies accounted for £2.4 billion of the total last year, up from just £382 million a decade ago, reflecting the huge expansion of heavily-subsidised green technologies to meet climate change targets.
Each UK household paid a £30 levy on their energy bill to subsidise such large-scale renewable energy projects through the Renewable Obligation in 2013, according to energy department figures.
The cost to consumers of such green taxes has become increasingly controversial. Ministers have pledged to roll back green levies on bills to help ease the burden for consumers.
However, the Treasury has already approved a significant increase in such levies, to £7.6 billion in 2020. By that point subsidies for large green energy projects could cost £71 per household.
Of the £43 billion green tax revenues last year, the biggest chunk was £26.7 billion paid in taxes on fuels such as petrol and diesel. Revenues from this kind of tax have risen from £22.5 billion in 2003.
Over the decade, tax revenues from petrol decreased, as rising prices prompted motorists to economise or switch to diesel vehicles. Takings from diesel rose significantly.
Motoring groups have long complained that takes on fuels in the UK are some of the highest in Europe.
Other transport taxes have also soared from £5.6 billion a decade ago to £10.3 billion.
The introduction of a banding system for vehicle excise duty in the mid-2000s contributed to this increase, as did a big increase in revenues from air passenger duty – reflecting both a higher levy and rising passenger numbers.
The ONS was unable to say how much of the £43 billion each household would pay but said that “commercial and industrial revenue would account for the majority of this total”.
“This doesn’t mean each household is paying £1,629,” they said.
“Revenue from environmentally related taxes (in current prices) has gradually increased over the past two decades, peaking at £43.0 billion in 2013.
“This represented 7.5 per cent of total revenue from taxes and social contributions in the UK and was equivalent to 2.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” it said.
The figures are all expressed in today’s prices, which strip out the impact of inflation.
Am I missing something here? I quote from above:
‘the ONS said that the majority of the bill was paid by businesses, not domestic consumers’
and businesses sell their products to consumers so the consumer pays……!!
(The Guardian) Failure to protect girls from FGM is ‘ongoing national scandal’, MPs say
Cross-party committee calls for schools to lose funding if headteachers ignore guidance on female genital mutilation
The failure of successive governments to protect vulnerable girls from female genital mutilation is an “ongoing national scandal”, according to a report by MPs published on Thursday.
The cross-party Commons home affairs select committee calls for schools to lose funding if their headteachers do not read guidance issued earlier this year following a Guardian campaign.
After hearing from victims, health and social workers, police and lawyers the MPs also said there was a case for emulating the French model by checking up regularly on at-risk children,but they stopped short of endorsing mandatory gynaecological checks. It is estimated that 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of female genital mutilation in the UK.
Keith Vaz, the committee’s Labour chairman, said victims had been badly let down. “FGM is an ongoing national scandal which is likely to have resulted in the preventable mutilation of thousands of girls to whom the state owed a duty of care,” he said.
“Successive governments, politicians, the police, health, education and social care sectors should all share responsibility for the failure in recent years to respond adequately to the growing prevalence of FGM in the UK.”
The MPs welcomed the decision taken by the education secretary, Michael Gove, to write to all schools in England and Wales warning them of the dangers of FGM, after a Guardian-backed petition attracted more than 230,000 signatures this year.
However, the committee members said the Department for Education had to do more to make sure teachers were informed and should send the guidance out again.
The report said: “To ensure that the guidance has been looked at, the Department for Education should link the receipt of a proportion of school funding that relates to social education and child protection to the electronic notification that the guidance has been viewed.
“We further recommend that headteachers and child protection officers, where they have not already done so, undergo compulsory safeguarding training which specifically deals with FGM.” The MPs also say:
• Any child seen as being at risk of female genital mutilation should have that opinion regularly recorded in the child’s personal health record. Protection orders should be introduced for those at risk…, as well as provisions to ensure girls living in the UK but without British passports don’t slip through the net.
• Better services are needed for survivors, including refuges for women at risk of female genital mutilation.
• Failure to report female genital mutilation should be made a criminal offence if reporting of the practice does not increase in the next 12 months.
Keir Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions, said the report was a significant milestone for the campaign to end FGM. “The proposals are far-reaching and will need to be worked through, but the recognition that all agencies have a responsibility for FGM prevention and reporting is significant. While prosecutions after the event send a very important message, education and training to prevent FGM in the first place is better.”
Starmer added that while proposals to support victims better, such as anonymity, were welcome “in the end, the greatest prospect of success in enforcing the law lies with proactive policing and intelligence-led cases”.
Campaigners largely welcomed the select committee report but voiced frustration with a lack of some specifics. Lisa Zimmermann, of Integrate Bristol, welcomed the proposal to make training of teachers compulsory. “We are thrilled by the report, education is absolutely vital in putting a stop to FGM – we just hope that the government now acts on these recommendations,” she said.
Efua Dorkenoo, director of the End FGM campaign at Equality Now and a long-time campaigner, said the report was “very positive” but could have gone further.”To have the endorsement of the home affairs committee on this is very important and it is the biggest acknowledgement of the problem we have had so far from parliament,” she said. “I would have liked for them to make the failure of professionals to report FGM a crime, because there is still resistance among some professionals – the government needs to make the decision for them.”
Sarah McCulloch, who runs the grassroots anti-FGM charity ACCMUK, said: “The report is great but for me it has failed to provide guidelines as to what professionals should do or make the government provide funding for local groups to tackle the practice on the ground.”
Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said the RCN was already in the process of updating its own guidance on FGM. “The report correctly identifies the need for training, guidance and support to help health care staff discuss this issue with patients, identify those who are at risk of FGM, and take appropriate action,” he said. “It is important that this momentum is kept up, with improved training and support for staff, increased awareness, and prosecutions, to send the message that FGM has no place in the UK, or any other society.”
(Telegraph) Britons are legally entitled to a referendum on Juncker appointment, says George Osborne’s father-in-law
Lord Howell of Guildford – who is the father of Mr Osborne’s wife Frances – suggests that the way Mr Juncker was put in post amounted a shift in powers from Westminster to the European Union
Britons should be given a vote on the appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Unon, George Osborne’s father in law has said.
Lord Howell of Guildford – who is the father of Mr Osborne’s wife Frances – suggested that the way Mr Juncker was appointed to his post amounted to a shift in powers from Westminster to the European Union.
The peer, a former adviser to foreign secretary William Hague, said that this meant in law there should be subject to a referendum under the 2011 European Union Act.
The law – passed by the Coalition months after the last election – was meant to stop the UK losing powers to the European Union by using a referendum ‘lock’.
It said that any transfer of power to Brussels should only go ahead if it was put to a vote of the country in a referendum.
Lord Howell told peers in the House of Lords: “There has clearly been a transfer of power or competence, as the Prime Minister has pointed out, to an EU institution from national Governments.
“What is the position under the European Union Act 2011, in particular under Section 4(1) – paragraphs (g), (h) and (i) – which I had the privilege of guiding through this House at the time?”
Lord Hill, the Leader of the House of Lords who had been making a statement on last week’s Brussels summit, said that given Lord Howell “took the Bill through and enacted it, and I am sure he knows it far better than I do”.
He added: “My understanding is that the Act applies to changes in the rules that transfer power from Westminster to Brussels.
“In this instance, we believe that the existing rules were pushed to shift power from the European Council to the European Parliament rather than any fresh transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels.
“That is the distinction. It did not represent a further transfer of power from Westminster.”
Lord Hill added: “If I have got that wrong, I will make that clear to my noble friend in a letter that I will circulate to the House and place in the Library.
Bill Cash MP, chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, said: “David Howell is extremely well informed and guided the Bill through the House of Lords.
“Acquiescing in a procedure which does not have any treaty legitimacy raises serious questions – the question is whether that amounts to a transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels is another issue which the courts could resolve.”
Mats Persson, from campaign group Open Europe, added: “It’s true that this amounts to an effective transfer of powers in that EU leaders gave up their collective veto over who becomes Commission President, which represents a net loss of powers for David Cameron.”
But he said that the UK had already lost its power to veto the Commission President appointment under a previous treaty.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “The EU Act 2011 means that there’s a referendum when the rules change and power is shifted from the UK to the EU. The rules haven’t changed but they have been abused.”
(Daily Mail) Mystery of missing dossier on VIP child abusers: Tory peer Leon Brittan faces questions over 1980s files on Westminster paedophile ring
Lord Brittan, 74, is facing questions over handling of ‘explosive’ document
Tory peer told journalists last year he had no recollection of being given it
In a statement yesterday morning, however, he changed his mind
Confirmed he was given ‘bundle of papers’ by MP Geoffrey Dickens
He now says he passed them to officials in 1983 for further investigation
A dossier detailing explosive claims of sex abuse by paedophiles within Westminster has gone missing.
Given to Home Secretary Leon Brittan in 1983, the files allegedly exposed a vile network at Parliament and Whitehall.
But there is no record of any subsequent criminal inquiry and the Home Office yesterday admitted the dossier is either lost or destroyed.
Lord Brittan, 74, is now facing questions over his handling of the document and inconsistencies in his account of what he did with it.
The Tory peer told journalists last year he had no recollection of being given the dossier. But in a statement yesterday morning, he changed his mind.
He confirmed he was handed a ‘substantial bundle of papers’ by MP Geoffrey Dickens in November 1983 and passed them to his officials for further investigation.
He said: ‘I do not recall being contacted further about these matters by Home Office officials or by Mr Dickens or by anyone else.’
Hours later Lord Brittan amended his account again after proof emerged that he had written to Mr Dickens in March 1984 informing him the dossier had been assessed by prosecutors and handed to police.
Home Office officials say they have searched for the dossier but cannot find it.
Last night Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who has challenged Lord Brittan to explain how he dealt with the allegations, demanded to know what police had done with the information provided by the late Mr Dickens.
He said: ‘Why would you destroy such an important document? What action was taken? Were any prosecutions forthcoming? We need to know this. It’s raising more questions than it is answers. Many people will think it has been destroyed to protect the people whose names were in it.’
In his second statement yesterday, Lord Brittan said he had acted properly and the dossier had been fully followed up.
Mr Danczuk said: ‘To hear a former Home Secretary dismiss evidence from Geoffrey Dickens, a member of his own party who has a strong track record in campaigning on this issue, in such a casual, procedural manner is extremely worrying.
‘The impression conveyed is that Sir Leon does not want to talk about this. It goes right to the heart of an attitude in politics that child abuse is a subject best avoided. He should reveal what he knew at the time about paedophile networks and what action he took.’
The Rochdale MP – who helped expose the full extent of Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith’s paedophile attacks in a book earlier this year, serialised by the Daily Mail – is calling for a Hillsborough-style inquiry into child abuse allegations against politicians.
A lawyer representing alleged victims of abuse at the south-west London Elm Guesthouse reportedly named in the dossier, criticised the loss of the document.
Alison Millar, head of the abuse team at Leigh Day, said: ‘My clients are incredulous at how this dossier can have simply disappeared. It seems inconceivable that a document of such importance can have simply disappeared.
‘I would strongly support the calls for a widespread inquiry into historic sexual abuse so that my clients could have their many questions answered about who knew what and that a very troubling veil is lifted from the corridors of power.’
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman declined to back Mr Danczuk’s demands for an over-arching inquiry – a call which has garnered the support of 120 MPs.
He said independent inquiries were already under way into allegations relating to the BBC and the NHS. But when asked whether there should be an independent inquiry into allegations of Westminster paedophile rings, he referred to last year’s Home Office review.
Asked to comment on the Dickens dossier, Scotland Yard said last night: ‘The Metropolitan Police is currently assessing information and conducting a number of investigations under Operation Fairbank. Any material submitted to us, historic or current, is reviewed to establish if it is relevant to these.’
Tim Loughton, former children’s minister, told Channel 4 News: ‘In order to restore confidence in our child protection system, because things have got a lot better, we need an overarching inquiry that puts all this into context and makes recommendations so we can make sure we have a child protection service that is fit for purpose.
‘The victims must come first. And those many victims, many hundreds if not thousands who have been suffering often in silence going back to the 60s, 70s, 80s who have been emboldened to come forward.
At last we are listening to them and their stories are being taken seriously but we need to find out why they weren’t taken seriously when these offences happened.’
(Daily Mail) BBC secrecy on salaries condemned: Corporation attacked by spending watchdog after it stopped investigations into pay deals and IT fiascos
National Audit Office (NAO) blamed BBC ‘gatekeepers’ for stopping it from viewing key documents about financial scandals
Watchdog’s director, Sir Amyas Morse, called for BBC bosses to hand over evidence about how it uses its annual £3.5billion licence fee revenue
Last year, the NAO published two damning reports exposing BBC waste
First found it blew £100m on failed IT project – the Digital Media Initiative
The BBC is too secretive and has stopped official investigators from probing its huge pay deals and IT fiascos, the head of the Government spending watchdog said yesterday.
The National Audit Office (NAO) blamed BBC ‘gatekeepers’ for stopping it from viewing key documents about financial scandals, delaying one crucial report by eight months.
The watchdog’s director, Sir Amyas Morse, called for statutory powers to force BBC bosses to hand over evidence about how it uses its annual £3.5billion licence fee revenue.
He said it can be so hard to extract information from the corporation that he has trouble keeping his staff’s morale up. Giving evidence to the Commons culture, media and sport committee, he said: ‘It is possible, particularly in difficult areas, to find the BBC doesn’t provide evidence where in their judgment it is covered by commercial or confidentiality grounds, or indeed privacy grounds.
‘There are an excessive number of gatekeepers in the organisation who feel they can apply their judgment rather than relying on our professionalism with regards to what we might see.’
The chair of the culture, media and sport committee, Tory MP John Whittingdale, agreed with his criticism: ‘There is a perception that the BBC is an enormously bloated, bureaucratic organisation, with more people carrying out a function than would be the case in any of the equivalent commercial broadcasters.’
Last year, the NAO published two damning reports exposing BBC waste.
The first found it blew £100million on a failed IT project known as the Digital Media Initiative.
The second, which revealed that the corporation handed out £369million in severance pay-offs to its staff over eight years prompted parliamentary enquiries.
But Sir Amyas revealed the Digital Media Initiative report was delayed by eight months because the BBC blocked access to key documents.
And he said there are further delays because the BBC controls when his findings are published. He added: It can be difficult to keep motivation of my people going … when they have to wait a long time for information and it holds the report up.’
The NAO can probe the financial efficiency of all Government departments and agencies, as well as police and the NHS, and has legal powers to force them to reveal documents. However, the BBC only provides access ‘by agreement’, meaning it is able to block investigators.
A BBC spokesman said: ‘We welcome Sir Amyas’ positive comments about the management and governance of the BBC, our work on reducing costs and targets we’ve achieved.
‘We are committed to openness and transparency as the content of previous National Audit Office reports has shown and we have a good working relationship with the NAO which already has full access to the BBC’s operations, with the exception of editorial areas, as protecting the BBC’s editorial independence is paramount.’
(The Independent) Exclusive: BBC’s Panorama team loses confidential information relating to a secret British Army unit
A researcher allegedly downloaded material from an online dropbox service on to a USB stick and handed it to a third party
Highly sensitive and confidential information relating to a secret British Army unit which is alleged to have shot unarmed civilians in Northern Ireland has been “lost” by the BBC’s investigative team on the Panorama programme.
The material, which includes information on former soldiers from the controversial Military Reaction Force, leaked out following a lapse in security.
It is understood that at least one former serviceman from the elite unit has had his identity compromised.
The notoriously secretive MRF included men from the Special Air Service, the Special Boat Service, the Royal Marines and the Parachute Regiment.
Names and details of other senior military figures – in addition to those who served with the MRF – were also contained in the compromised file.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is investigating the major loss of data by the Panorama team after an inexperienced researcher allegedly downloaded a cache of material from an online dropbox service on to a USB stick and handed it to a third party.
It is understood that the matter is being treated as a potential criminal offence under Section 55 of the Data Protection Act.
Initially, the data was believed to relate only to Panorama’s investigation into alleged questionable practices at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The researcher leaked the file to the office of the mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, because she did not believe the documentary, broadcast in April, was balanced.
The material included details of people who had contributed to the documentary anonymously. But The Independent has learnt that the file also contained confidential information relating to “Britain’s Secret Terror Force”, a highly sensitive previous Panorama programme, which was shown last November.
The experienced Panorama presenter John Ware hosted both documentaries, although he is understood not to be responsible for the breach in security.
During the Northern Ireland programme, made by the television production company twenty2vision, seven unidentified members of the plain-clothes Military Reaction Force discussed their covert activities.
They all denied they had been part of a death or assassination squad but one soldier admitted: “If you had a player who was a well-known shooter who carried out quite a lot of assassinations it would have been very simple – he had to be taken out.”
Another said: “We were not there to act like an army unit. We were there to act like a terror group. We had our own rules, but I don’t recall being involved in the shooting of an innocent person.”
Two fatal shootings were linked to the MRF; Patrick McVeigh, a father of six who was shot in Belfast in 1972 and 18-year-old Daniel Rooney, who was killed in West Belfast in 1973.
The Ministry of Defence said it had referred Panorama’s findings to the police.
Last night military figures expressed astonishment that the BBC could have put the anonymity of servicemen who served with elite undercover units at risk. The mistreatment of confidential sources was “absolutely disgraceful”, said Hugh McManners, a military author and commentator.
“Protection of sources is paramount and the BBC and its researcher have behaved utterly disgracefully. I cannot believe that anyone could be so lax. If the media is going to misbehave like that, the Ministry of Defence would be justified in refusing all media requests, which isn’t in anybody’s interests.”
In the making of the Tower Hamlets documentary, it is understood that BBC application forms for covert filming used in the Northern Ireland film were duplicated to use as a basis for applications to film undercover in east London. But due to an error, confidential details used in the Ulster films were not deleted, putting the identities of at least one ex-MRF contributor at risk.
The breach of security occurred at Films of Record, which made the Tower Hamlets investigation “The Mayor and Our Money”, and not at twenty2vision. The researcher, who only worked at Panorama for five days, has told The Independent she acted “because of my conscience”. She said: “My basic point was that this is damaging to the Bengali community.”
It is understood that the Tower Hamlets copy of the file has now been destroyed.
A spokesperson for the ICO said it had to be “particularly cautious” when discussing an investigation which may lead to a criminal prosecution.
“We have been made aware of a possible data breach at Films of Record. We will be making inquiries into the circumstances of the alleged breach of the Data Protection Act before deciding what action, if any, needs to be taken.”
A BBC spokesperson said: “There has been a lot of baseless speculation on the circumstances surrounding this programme. It’s not appropriate for us to comment further while there is an investigation by the ICO under way.”
Licensed to kill: Military reaction force
The Military Reaction Force (MRF) was a covert British Army unit operating in Northern Ireland during the early 1970s at the start of the Troubles.
The undercover unit, which is thought to have comprised 40 men, is said to have been given licence to operate a shoot to kill policy and ignore the Yellow Card rules which spelt out the circumstances under which soldiers were permitted to open fire.
The MRF included men from the Special Air Service (SAS), the Special Boat Service (SBS), the Royal Marines and the Parachute Regiment.
It has been linked to the shootings of several unarmed civilians, including Patrick McVeigh, a father of six children, who was hit by sub- machine-gun fire while manning a nationalist barricade in west Belfast in 1972. The MRF was disbanded in 1973.
Preview YouTube video A Question of Values – Steven Woolfe MEP @UKIP
A Question of Values – Steven Woolfe MEP @UKIP
House of Commons
– The Electoral Commission gives evidence to the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee.
House of Lords
– Oral Questions. Student Loans Company and reports that they have employed misleading practices
– Debate. Strengthening the UK’s manufacturing sector
– Debate. Importance of investment in the rural economy
– LIVERPOOL: Unite national conference. Biennial conference of the Unite union.
– LIVERPOOL: Business minister Matt Hancock speech to Federation of Small Businesses.
– Call Clegg on LBC 97.3.
– LONDON: Ed Miliband speech at the Policy Network conference. Conference opens with welcome speech by Ed Balls at 0925, Mr Miliband speaks at 1005
– LETTERKENNY: IRA spy inquest. Hearing for inquest into murder of Denis Donaldson in 2006.
That’s all for now!