Newslinks for Wednesday 12th May 2021

Queen’s Speech 1) The 31 bills, from planning laws to police powers

“The Queen’s Speech outlines 31 bills that MPs and peers will be asked to scrutinise and vote on over the next year. Some are uncontroversial and will move onto the statute book with barely a mention outside Westminster. Others will dominate the headlines for months. So what is Boris Johnson proposing? The biggest shake-up of the planning system in decades would remove the power from local planning authorities to turn down housing developments if they meet set standards and force local authorities to set new zones for housing. The PM is already facing opposition from his own MPs, who fear it could allow big new developments in their areas against the will of local people.” – The Times

  • Johnson vows to harness ‘extraordinary spirit’ of UK’s battle against Covid – Daily Telegraph
  • New laws to protect university free speech – The Times
  • Protect children online or face big fines, tech giants warnedThe Times
  • Sunak wants a clearer plan to improve social care – The Times
  • Online harm law will not be a ‘woke charter’ that encourages censorship, Dowden says – Daily Mail

>Yesterday:

Queen’s Speech 2) May leads Tory revolt over push for new housing

“Theresa May has said that the government’s Planning Bill will put the “wrong homes in the wrong places” and countryside campaigners said that the reforms would mean “open season for developers” in rural areas. Boris Johnson has set himself on a collision course with Tory MPs after unveiling proposals in his Queen’s Speech to deliver the biggest shake-up to the planning system in more than 70 years. Under the terms of a new bill, land would be designated for either growth or protection, making it easier for developers to secure planning permission for new housing. Ministers are still considering whether or not to include a third, regeneration zone. The prime minister has promised to build 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the decade.” – The Times

Hunt: Our social care problem is now critical… so why the delay in fixing it?

“Leadership often involves banging down doors and making trade-offs so that big issues are tackled head-on. Boris Johnson has defied the sceptics and done just that with Brexit. Voters clearly believe he will do it again when it comes to ‘levelling up’ as evidenced by his stunning victory in Hartlepool last week. But one thing was missing from yesterday’s otherwise packed Queen’s Speech: concrete plans on social care. If ever there was an area we need the same bulldozer spirit to crack a problem that has been ducked by government after government, it is the way we look after older people. I share part of the responsibility for that lack of progress: as health secretary I took legislation through the House of Commons in 2014 to establish a cap on care costs that would mean people didn’t have to sell their home.” – Daily Mail

More comment:

>Today:

I am ‘v free’: Cameron sent 68 messages to ministers and mandarins about Greensill Capital

“David Cameron bombarded ministers and officials with 68 messages about the collapsed lender Greensill, it has emerged, as the scale of his intense lobbying campaign has been laid bare. The communications fired off by the former Conservative prime minister on behalf of the controversial finance firm – totalling up to 19 calls, text and emails in a single day – were published on Tuesday afternoon by a committee of MPs. The Treasury committee, which is one of three Commons select committees conducting an inquiry into Greensill Capital and its collapse, released the messages supplied by Mr Cameron ahead of his appearance before its panel on Thursday.” – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

Patel faces little resistance as Tories sweep police elections

“Priti Patel has consolidated her power over policing after the Conservatives won 70 per cent of elected police and crime commissioner posts, including 11 gains. Policing experts said that the result, which one PCC called a “blue tsunami”, meant that the home secretary would encounter little resistance from PCCs when implementing her agenda. There are no independent PCCs in England and Wales, compared with 12 nearly a decade ago when the elections were introduced and there was emphasis on keeping party politics out of policing. PCCs oversee the strategic direction of forces, control budgets and have the power to hire and fire chief constables. Conservatives now have the posts in 29 of 41 police force areas.” – The Times

Coronavirus 1) Britain back to normal this year if Covid vaccines keep working

“Britain could be back to normal by the end of the year, the government’s chief pandemic modeller has said. Professor Graham Medley of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said that people should return to normal mixing patterns slowly to ensure a third wave was not severe. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said yesterday that the government would be giving people more freedom to make their own judgments about risk as the pandemic eased. “We will be changing the rules to be far more about people taking personal responsibility, exercising common sense according to their circumstances,” Hancock told Sky News.” – The Times

  • Deaths in Britain 7.3 per cent below five-year average as Covid fatalities continue to fall – Daily Telegraph
  • Pfizer asks UK regulator to approve Covid vaccine for use in 12 to 15-year-olds – Daily Telegraph
  • MPs call for more countries to be added to register of ‘safe’ travel destinations to boost economy as we move out of Covid lockdown – Daily Mail

Coronavirus worldwide:

  • Germans fake details to jump queue for Covid vaccine – The Times
  • Lockdown delay cost 2,000 lives, Sweden told – The Times
  • Spain prepares to let British travellers in – The Times

Analysis:

  • Government gamble on working from home risks creating a two-tier Britain – Daily Telegraph

Coronavirus 2) Johnson promises Covid inquiry within a year

“Boris Johnson has committed himself to a “full, proper” public inquiry in the next year into the government’s handling of the pandemic. He said such an inquiry was “essential” and pledged to hold one within this session of parliament. Sessions do not have a fixed length but usually last about a year. Challenged on the timing of an inquiry by Sir Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, Johnson said: “I can certainly say that we will do that within this session — yes, absolutely.” He added: “It is essential that we have a full, proper public inquiry into the Covid pandemic and I have been clear about that.” Ministers have repeatedly said that an inquiry should not be held during the pandemic, arguing that it would be a distraction for officials dealing with pressing issues thrown up by Covid-19.” – The Times

No more tax rises if economic boom provides £20bn windfall

“Britain’s booming economic recovery will remove any need for further tax rises this parliament as Rishi Sunak is given a £20 billion growth windfall, according to an analysis of the Bank of England’s upgraded forecasts. With the government facing a series of uncosted spending pressures on welfare, health and other departments, the chancellor is likely to use the headroom in full to meet the Tory pledge to “end austerity” and avoid having to impose a wealth tax. Andrew Goodwin, chief UK economist at Oxford Economics, which carried out the analysis, said: “The prospect of better growth has given him more flexibility. Tax hikes should be off the table, certainly new tax hikes.” The Bank’s latest forecasts, published last week, are more optimistic than those in March from the Office for Budget Responsibility, the government’s spending watchdog.” – The Times

  • ‘Nightingale’ effect drives thousands to work in NHS – The Times

EU 1) French ports lift ban on Jersey fishermen landing their catch

“France has lifted a ban on Jersey fishermen landing their catch after the Channel Island granted a two-month delay to the controversial post-Brexit fishing licences. Last week the Council of La Manche, Normandy, prevented Jersey vessels from landing their catches in Granville, Barneville-Carteret and Dielette. The fleet was stopped from landing for around five days, fishermen told The Telegraph, with one actively prevented from landing in Carteret on Thursday. Welcoming the news, the Jersey government said the action was “not compliant” with the terms of the Brexit trade deal – the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). But on Tuesday night, the Normandy Fishing committee threatened to block a Jersey freight vessel, the Normandy Trader, from leaving the port of Granville on Wednesday if it attempted to land.” – Daily Telegraph

EU 2) Barnier says France should suspend immigration from outside the EU for five years and warns of migration’s links to ‘terrorist networks’

“Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has called on France to halt migration from outside the EU for up to five years, saying terrorists have infiltrated migration routes. The 70-year-old, who is being tipped to run against President Macron in next year’s election, said the pause is necessary so France can ‘verify, evaluate and if necessary change’ its immigration policies. Mr Barnier, who previously served as France’s agriculture minister, then warned of ‘the terrorist networks which use migratory flows, which infiltrate them.’ France should also push the EU to adopt tougher migration policies at its external borders, he added. His comments came after a group of French soldiers published an open letter to Macron on Monday, warning him of a ‘civil war’, and calling for military action against ‘Islamist’, in another sign of growing tensions in France.” – Daily Mail

Hamas launches more than 200 rockets at Israel as conflict escalates

“Palestinian militants Hamas said on Wednesday that they had fired more than 200 rockets into Israel, in retaliation for strikes on a tower block in the Israeli-blockaded enclave of Gaza, which they control. The armed branch of Hamas said in a statement that it was “in the process of firing 110 rockets towards the city of Tel Aviv” and 100 rockets towards the town of Beersheva “as reprisal for the restarting of strikes against civilian homes”. Sirens warning of incoming rocket fire blared in Tel Aviv early on Wednesday, amid the heaviest fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza in years. The sounds of several explosions were heard. Five Israelis, including three women and a child, were killed by rocket fire on Tuesday and early Wednesday, and dozens of people were wounded. The death toll in Gaza rose to 35 Palestinians, including 10 children, according to the Health Ministry. More than 200 people were wounded.” – Daily Telegraph

Comment:

First decline in private school pupils for ten years

“The number of private school children has fallen for the first time in a decade, according to an annual survey suggesting that a decrease in boarders from overseas is to blame. The Independent Schools Council (ISC) census for 2021 said that last year was the “most difficult period for schools since the Second World War”. Overall there were 5,000, or 1.3 per cent, fewer children being privately educated this January than the previous year, the first decline since 2011. This was despite the sector freezing or even cutting fees during the pandemic. The number of boarders fell by 9,000, or 12 per cent, to 65,000, including those registered with schools and pupils being taught remotely. The number of overseas boarders decreased by 17 per cent, from 29,000 to 24,000.” – The Times

Comment:

News in brief:

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Author: Conservative Home


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