Posts Tagged ‘Lord Hutton’

Monday News Review

20/06/2011, 06:25:26 AM

Hutton urges Labour to back his pension reforms

The former Labour business secretary charged by the coalition with overseeing its contentious pensions reforms has called on his party leader to back his plans and ask union leaders to stop threatening strikes. Lord Hutton said people had to face the “reality” that public sector pension reform was necessary and that strikes would not “make this problem go away”. When asked if Ed Miliband should oppose the threat of industrial action by the unions that backed him to become party leader, Hutton said “of course”. He also said he would like to see Miliband endorse his report. The government and unions have been at loggerheads since the end of last week when ministers went public with plans to extend the retirement age and increase pension contributions for millions of public sector workers. Union leaders felt that ministers had pre-empted negotiations with the announcement. The head of Unison, Dave Prentis, and other union leaders threatened the biggest wave of industrial action since the general strike of 1926 after the chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, made the announcement on Friday. The Treasury later said that Alexander was articulating proposals for reform, not settled government policy, but Prentis said that Alexander’s speech had effectively rendered the talks meaningless. – the Guardian

Lord Hutton, the Labour peer who drew up proposals for slashing the cost of state-sector pensions for the Government, yesterday pressed the Labour leader to use his influence to call off the disastrous strike. His intervention came after increasing criticism of the Labour leadership for failing to condemn the one-day national strike planned by teaching and civil service unions on June 30. Lord Hutton, a Cabinet colleague of Mr Miliband in the last Labour government, said: “Strikes won’t make this problem go away, we have to act now. If we don’t, it’s our kids who are going to pick up the tab and it’s not right.” Asked whether he would like to see Mr Miliband back his recommendations, Lord Hutton replied: “I’d like him to endorse the report I produced, yes, because I think it does strike the only fair balance.” Pressed on whether Mr Miliband should “call off” industrial action over pensions, he said: “Of course.” Unions yesterday intensified their rhetoric against the Government in the increasingly bitter dispute. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, insisted the unions would “win” by using “smart” tactics of frequent short strikes rather than the mass confrontations of the 1980s. Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union representing civil servants, said: “I think if the Government isn’t prepared to change course in the negotiations that we are having after that strike, we will see unions representing millions more move to ballot members for strikes in the autumn.” – Daily Express

Cameron’s bad dad rant rebuked

DavidCameron hit out at fathers who run out on their children yesterday and said absent dads deserve to be shamed in the same way as drink drivers. The Prime Minister described family life as the “cornerstone of our society” and said fathers had a ­financial and emotional duty to support their kids. But experts called his comments an extraordinary “contradiction” because new Government rules will actually make it harder for single parents to chase up errant fathers. Not only will they have to pay £100 simply to apply to the Child Support Agency, they then face losing between 7% to 10% of the money they receive in charges. Sadly, Mr Cameron and his ­Government are making life harder for single parents at the moment. They propose making single parents pay a fee and ongoing charges for the Child Support Agency to collect money from runaway dads. It would consist of an upfront ­application fee of £100 plus an extra ongoing charge of between 7% and 12% of the money paid. The proposals will act as a ­disincentive to using the CSA. The people who use it at the moment are the people who need it. They can’t make private arrangements, either as they don’t know where the dad lives or because he is deliberately avoiding and refusing to pay. Sometimes there is a lot of conflict and the mother doesn’t feel able to negotiate an agreement. In those situations, you need help from a statutory agency but £100 is a big chunk of money to pay just to start using the CSA. The people more likely to use the agency are those in more difficult circumstances. They tend to be poorer and to have more difficult ­relationships with the other parent. They are disadvantaged single parents. We need the CSA to be there for exactly those type of parents. The proposals make Mr Cameron’s comments yesterday all the more extraordinary. – Daily Mirror

David Cameron was accused of double standards after calling for fathers who abandon their families to be “stigmatised”, while backing policies which could make it more costly for mothers to pursue them for financial support. In an article yesterday, the Prime Minister said “runaway dads” should feel the “full force of shame” in a similar way to drink drivers. Labour said government reforms would make it easier for fathers to escape their financial responsibilities, by charging mothers to use the Child Support Agency. Earlier this year, the Government announced a consultation on proposals to encourage parents to reach their own arrangements for child maintenance – rather than relying on the state – by introducing a fee. The shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said Mr Cameron’s approach was deeply flawed.”Fathers should take their responsibilities seriously, but he is charging mums when the father leaves now to go into the CSA [Child Support Agency],” Mr Balls told the BBCs’ The Andrew Marr Show. “He is going to make it harder with his marriage tax cut [which] will disadvantage the woman left behind and give the tax break to the father who goes off.” – the Independent

Huhne attacks Coalition partners over green laws

The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, has attacked his Conservative colleagues in government as “rightwing ideologues” and “deregulation zealots” for placing environmental regulations on a list of red tape to be considered for scrapping. In comments made at the weekend to a conference of social democrats in his party, Huhne made it clear he is opposed to environmental protection laws such as the Climate Change Act, the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the National Parks Act being included in the government’s review of regulations in force in the UK. His views are thought to reflect a range of opinion within Liberal Democrats in government. A source close to Huhne said he was supported by the business secretary, Vince Cable, and Lib Dem ministers were braced to do battle over hundreds of regulations they believe their Tory colleagues will be inclined to discard. The move is part of a Lib Dem strategy to fight their corner more aggressively that has been evident in the party leadership’s successful opposition to the NHS changes. Huhne said: “Between the obsession with micro-management and target-setting displayed by the Labour party, and the fixation with deregulation and scrapping rules just because they are rules on offer from some rightwing ideologues, we Liberal Democrats have a real chance to define an evidence-based, intelligent and distinctive approach.” – the Guardian

Ed’s Maggie fixation

Ed Miliband was denounced for ‘naked and cynical positioning’ last night after his aides said he ‘admires’ Margaret Thatcher and is using her as his inspiration to become Prime Minister. The Labour leader is reportedly studying the methods she used to remove Labour from power in 1979, and based his recent pledge to crack down on welfare scroungers on similar moves by Lady Thatcher. However, his claims to be a ‘fan of Maggie’ were dismissed as a stunt by Tory MPs. And they are undermined by a new book which reveals his ‘glee’ when she was forced out of Downing Street in 1990. A new book, Ed: The Milibands And The Making Of A Labour Leader, by Left-wing journalists Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre, reveals that the future Labour leader spent 24 hours celebrating her downfall and wrote of his ‘elation’. At the time, Mr Miliband was a 20-year-old at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he earned a reputation as a Left-wing firebrand student leader in his role as president of the Junior Common Room (JCR). The book describes his reaction to Mrs Thatcher’s downfall: ‘Like so many Labour students, Ed couldn’t contain his glee, referring in the JCR president’s newsletter to the “elation among many Corpus undergraduates.”’ ‘He was ecstatic,’ said a friend. ‘All of us were. We didn’t leave the college TV room for 24 hours. It was the biggest event of our lives.’ – Daily Mail

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