Tuesday News Review

Outgoing head of the CBI slams the government on growth

Richard Lambert has launched an uncompromising but constructive assault on the government’s growth strategy, or lack of it. He said: “The government is…talking about growth in an enthusiastic and thoughtful way… But it’s failed so far to articulate in big picture terms its vision of what the UK economy might become under its stewardship. What I feel is that a number of their initiatives – I’m thinking of the immigration cap, I’m thinking about their move on the default retirement age, about the carbon reduction commitment – have actually made it harder for companies, or less likely for companies to employ people. And what we want, actually, is a sense of direction, a sense of ambition.” It’s a common refrain. The Conservatives campaigned on the deregulation of small businesses at the last election; they are yet to deliver, something for which they are being criticised. In fact, several business bodies lament the onset of yet more regulation. – Spectator

Sir Richard Lambert, retiring boss of the CBI has had a fairly comprehensive blast at the Government’s “supply side” polices on the economy, and especially Vince Cable, asking the key question; “Where’s the growth going to come from?” He’s right to ask, and right to suggest some concrete things – genuine public investment – that only the state can do and which will yield real returns in the decades to come. Prime among these is boosting the UK’s electricity generation capacity, though Sir Richard ducks the great nuclear debate (my own view is that we may end with just no other choice in the matter, though I dread the risks). He is also probably right on the UK’s quixotic new bribery laws, another gift from us to French commerce. – the Independent

The government has struggled to develop a growth agenda. It cancelled plans for a White Paper on the subject. It published, instead, a list of problems rather than solutions. The chancellor and the business secretary are seeing ministers from every department in turn to ask them what they’re doing to help the economy grow. The fear in Whitehall is no longer a double dip recession but a jobless recovery. Ministers feel that they have won the debate on the deficit. Sir Richard Lambert’s speech is a reminder than they are not yet winning the debate about how to get the economy growing.- BBC

News Corp referred to Competition Commission but more questions for Hunt

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is likely to be the subject of fresh criticism today following the news this morning that he has granted Rupert Murdoch a stay of execution over a referral to the Competition Commission of News Corp’s takeover bid for BSkyB. Mr Hunt has claimed he is simply following legal advice but the move could prove controversial. Labour has questioned whether the Prime Minister broke the ministerial code of conduct by meeting the European Chairman of News Corporation, James Murdoch, just days after stripping Vince Cable of the power to decide the fate of NewsCorp’s bid for control of BSkyB. – PoliticsHome

The Crown Prosecution Service is to adopt a “robust approach” in examining “recent or new substantive allegations” of phone hacking. As David Cameron faced renewed pressure over his close links to News Corp, the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer, said he had agreed the approach with the leadership of the Metropolitan police yesterday. Last night’s announcement by the DPP came amid signs that the illegal phone-hacking scandal may be extending beyond newspapers in the Murdoch stable. Paul Marsden, a former Liberal Democrat MP, told the BBC last night he had begun legal inquiries to find out whether his phone was hacked by the Daily Mirror in 2003. Marsden, who defected to the Lib Dems from Labour in 2001, told Radio 4’s PM programme: “We have started those legal inquiries with a specific journalist and also the Mirror Group. If it turns out to be true, I would like it exposed in a court of law. I want to know the truth.” – the Guardian

DAVID Cameron was slammed yesterday for having dinner with James Murdoch as the Government considers whether to let his company take over BSkyB. The Prime Minister socialised with Mr Murdoch, son of News Corporation mogul Rupert Murdoch, over Christmas. Just days earlier the PM gave Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt the final say on whether the Murdochs’ £7.5billion takeover could go ahead. – the Mirror

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