Monday News Review

Cameron takes aim at public sector

A week ago, I made clear that while the urgent priority of this Government is clearing up the mess Labour made of our economy, my mission in politics is to repair the breakdown in our society: the family breakdown and community breakdown that has done so much damage to people’s lives – not to mention the costs that our deep social problems load on to the state. The idea at the heart of this – the Big Society – is about rebuilding responsibility and giving people more control over their lives. But that doesn’t just apply in areas like volunteering. It’s as relevant when it comes to public services and the decentralisation of power. Indeed, I would argue that our plans to devolve power from Whitehall, and to modernise public services, are more significant aspects of our Big Society agenda than the work we’re doing to boost social action. – David Cameron, the Telegraph

The reforms mark a step change because the new “presumption” of public services being open to outside providers means that the Government will not have to legislate again in most areas every time it wants to involve the private sector in future. It will also be an alternative revenue stream for charities that have lost state funding under the Coalition’s programme of cuts. Mr Cameron says the era of “old-fashioned, top-down, take-what-you’re-given” public services will be ended. Downing Street believes the plans represent the biggest shake-up in public service provision for 50 years. – the Telegraph

Clarke and Clegg: We need ECHR reform

The government is to try to reform the relationship between theEuropean court of human rights and national parliaments when it assumes chairmanship of the Council of Europe in November after controversial rulings on sex offenders and votes for prisoners. The pro-European Kenneth Clarke, the justice secretary, told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show that the government intended to scrutinise the relationship. This follows calls from a large number of Conservative backbenchers for the UK to walk away from the ECHR because they are unhappy with its rulings. MPs recently voted to maintain a ban on voting by prisoners despite an ECHR ruling that it was illegal. Many MPs have also been outraged by the UK supreme court’s ruling that the ECHR would uphold the right of sex offenders to appeal against having to register with the police for the rest of their lives. – the Guardian

There is no prospect of the current Government pulling Britain out of the European Convention on Human Rights or defying the rulings of the Court in Strasbourg, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has revealed. But Mr Clarke said that he will seek to initiate reform of the European Court of Human Rights to rebalance its relations with national courts when the UK takes over the chairmanship of the Council of Europe in November. Rows over prisoners being given the right to vote and the right to appeal for removal from the sex offenders register have revived calls from some Conservative right-wingers for the UK to withdraw from the Convention. But Mr Clarke said it would be “startling” for any British Government to say that it will not comply with the rulings of any court whose jurisdiction it recognises. – the Mirror

Not out of the woods yet

Some forests could be stripped of protection under planning reforms being considered by the Government, the Woodland Trust has warned. The conservation charity says the changes to planning guidance could slip through unnoticed in the aftermath of the row that forced the Government into a U-turn over its plans to privatise public forests. According to the trust, a review that aims to consolidate the 25 clauses in the current legislation as part of an attempt to hand power back to local communities, could leave ancient woodlands without sufficient safeguards. Currently, one of the planning policy statements explicitly recognises that ancient woodland is important for wildlife and says local authorities should not grant planning permission for development that will lead to its loss or damage. The trust fears this ban could be weakened if authorities believed the benefits of development outweighed loss of habitat. – the Independent

One Response to “Monday News Review”

  1. Rob Marchant says:

    Fascinating shift in emphasis from Cameron – it’s no longer about volunteering (as that clearly hasn’t worked). It’s about reforming public services (i.e. cuts and selloffs). Important change.

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