Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

16 May 2019
EU and UK flags

A dossier of internal NHS planning documents has revealed fears of staff shortages in the health service and a hit to medicine supplies after Brexit.

Pro-EU campaign Best for Britain found that almost all of the 35 Trusts which provided communications about the risks of Britain quitting the EU said staffing levels were a worry. A shortage of medicines and uncertainty around future research projects were also among the main concerns uncovered by the Freedom of Information requests. Their findings revealed that at least four trusts saw Brexit as a strategic risk to their workings, with The Dudley Group branding a possible no-deal departure “catastrophic”. The same Trust said critical medicine shortages had already grown since the beginning of the year, with 100 drugs and a product used to diagnose Parkinson's Disease at risk of delivery delays. Elsewhere, the director of pharmacy at the Midlands Partnership Trust voiced fears in an email chain about the need for a civil contingencies medicines stockpile. Meanwhile, Derbyshire Community Health Services said they were looking into the...
16 May 2019
Theresa May and Chris Grayling

Theresa May has given her full support to Chris Grayling, despite mounting criticism of his disaster-strewn ministerial career.

The Prime Minister was forced to insist she has "full confidence" in her Cabinet colleague after the Government ditched his controversial reforms to probation services. Justice Secretary David Gauke announced that he was renationalising the system after Mr Grayling's part-privatisation turned out to be an expensive flop. The U-turn comes hard on the heels of other government gaffes which have been laid at the Transport Secretary's door. Mr Grayling - who ran Mrs May's Tory leadership campaign - was left red-faced when his department awarded a contract for ferry services in the event of a no-deal Brexit to a company with no boats. The Department for Transport also had to pay out £33m to Eurotunnel after the company claimed it had handed out no-deal ferry contracts in a "distortionary and anti-competitive way". Asked whether the Prime Minister retained...
16 May 2019

Ignore the Restoration and Renewal gloom merchants. If we get this right, the world will applaud, writes Tony Grew

The birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s first child is rightly a cause for celebration, although perhaps less so for Ian Blackford, who mixed them up with the decidedly lower profile Wessexes at last week’s PMQs. The arrival of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was a welcome if too-short respite from the endless wrangling over Brexit, and a sign of hope and renewal for our country. For some, restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster is an unwelcome, almost impertinent, interruption in their way of life and must therefore be resisted. However, those people are as wrong as they are reactionary. The publication of the plans for the Northern Estate was another sign of hope and renewal, and for those of us committed to the rescue and restoration of our country’s finest built icon it was exciting too. Congratulations to all those involved, for thinking big, for rising to the scale of the project and for endeavouring to keep the whole Commons family together while the...
Tony Grew
16 May 2019

This week, the Bar Council opens its long-standing Law Reform Essay Competition, which offers a total of £10,000 prize money to winners. The competition has been running for over 10 years and has helped contribute to the costs of qualification as a barrister for many aspiring barristers. 

This is an annual event aimed at developing and fostering an interest in law reform in pupils, law students, CPE/GDL students, BPTC students and those aiming for a career at the Bar.  The competition is generously sponsored by the Bar Council Scholarship Trust and offers prizes of:  £4,000 for the winner £2,500 for the runner up £1,500 for the best CPE/GDL entry £1,000 for the runner up CPE/GDL entry 2 x £500 highly commended awards.                                                                                                                           The competition is judged by barristers on the Bar Council’s Law Reform Committee, which is currently chaired by...
16 May 2019

Older adults who regularly take part in word and number puzzles have sharper brains, according to the largest online study to date.

The more regularly adults aged 50 and over played puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the better their brain function, according to research in more than 19,000 participants, led by the University of Exeter and King's College London. Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This research, much like research we’ve seen in the past, suggests that regularly enjoying word and number puzzles has a positive impact on thinking skills. “Unfortunately it doesn’t yet mean that regular games of Sudoku or jigsaw puzzles will definitely prevent dementia. It’s an important first step – and we are proud to have helped fund the study as it lays the foundations for more research into the relationship between a love of ‘puzzling’ and reducing dementia risk.  This looks to be a well conducted study, although it can only show that puzzling and thinking skills are linked, not that puzzling will improve thinking skills.  It also didn’t look for a link with...
16 May 2019

If the apprenticeship reforms are to work, they need time to bed in, says CMI.

The concerns and frustrations around the apprenticeship levy and the wider system are well-known: too much bureaucracy, not enough flexibility, a lack of transparency and constantly shifting policy priorities.  What employers want is stability. We know that recent changes to funding bands have already resulted in employers either halting the recruitment of new apprentices or withdrawing from existing programmes. If the apprenticeship reforms are to work, they need time to bed in. We need to ensure that there are high quality standards, for all occupations, available right across the country. This includes provision at all levels, including higher and degree apprenticeships. The latter are key to developing the higher-level skills the economy needs and essential if we are to build parity of esteem between academic and vocational routes.  We also need to recognise the role that apprenticeships can play in re-skilling and up-skilling existing workers.  One of the...
16 May 2019
Apprentices in training

We cannot let our apprentices suffer because of a poorly implemented tax that is stopping businesses from taking them on, says Lord Fox.

Last week, I was visiting one of our most successful engineering companies. During the visit, I spoke to the latest intake in their apprentice school. They were an impressive group of people who were all highly motivated. So was the school’s manager, and he had one thing he wanted to talk to me about: The workings of the Apprenticeship Levy. When the Conservatives set a target of three million apprentices, this was a challenging aspiration. When they introduced the Apprenticeship Levy, they made sure the target could never be achieved. Since the levy started in 2017, large employers have been required to set aside the equivalent of 0.5% of their wage bill to train apprentices. At the same time, the Government turned the system for accrediting courses upside down. Not surprisingly, the result has been confusion and concern. The Financial Times reports that during the first year of the levy’s operation in 2017-18, less than 10% of the more than £2 billion raised by the levy was...
16 May 2019
Liz Truss

Britain would be better leaving the European Union without a deal rather than cancelling Brexit altogether, Cabinet minister Liz Truss has said.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury told BBC's Newsnight that if MPs faced a "straight choice" between quitting the EU without a deal or revoking Article 50 the UK would "have to no deal". And, in a thinly-veiled dig at some of her Cabinet colleagues, she accused those who want to rule out a no-deal exit of "saying they're prepared to never leave the European Union". The intervention from Ms Truss, who is considering a Tory leadership bid, comes after Theresa May confirmed that she will put the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to a Commons vote next month. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told a Lords Committee on Wednesday that rejecting the deal again would leave it "dead" and force the Commons to decide whether to go for "a no-deal option or whether it will revoke" Article 50. Ms Truss said her "ideal option" would be to leave the EU with a deal. "But I would agree that if we face a straight choice between revoking Brexit and no dealing we have to no deal," she added. "It's a matter...
16 May 2019
Solar panels

A Labour government would fit nearly two million British homes with solar panels in order to slash energy bills for low income families, Jeremy Corbyn is to announce.

The Labour leader will outline plans to provide a million social homes with the environmentally-friendly systems in a bid to save householders an average of £117 a year on bills. An additional 750,000 households will be given the chance to have them installed through a programme of interest free loans, grants and changes to regulations. Any unused electricity generated by the panels will be used by the national grid, which Labour will take into public ownership, according to Mr Corbyn. Labour said that would save councils an additional £66m per year. Mr Corbyn will say that the policy will create 16,900 jobs and cut back on more than seven million tonnes of CO2 - the equivalent of taking four million cars off the UK’s roads. Speaking in Yorkshire alongside Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Labour leader will say that “environmental destruction” and inequality “must be tackled at the same time". “In this country, too...
16 May 2019
LGBT Pride - Istanbul

Today in the House of Commons we mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia and recognise that there is still more to do as a global community to take a stand against this prejudice, says Nick Herbert MP.

The progress made in the West on LGBT+ equality in the past decade makes it easy to forget that we are living in two worlds.  For every country that enshrines non-discrimination in law there is another that legitimises horrific violence against minority groups in the streets and in their homes.  For every LGBT+ person free to live their life openly and without prejudice, there is another fearing persecution if they dare to live in truth.  Although 26 countries have legalised same-sex marriage, 70 countries still punish same-sex activity as a criminal offence, and 11 of these carry the death penalty as a maximum sentence. Today in the House of Commons we mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (which actually falls tomorrow, 17 May, when the House is not sitting) and recognise that there is still more to do as a global community to take a stand against this prejudice.  A s Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT...