Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The pheonix rises from the ashes

Ok, I’m back. I’m still angry and I’m still full of News Rage. For a while there I just got jaded and couldn’t bring myself to watch or write about any more news. The straws that broke the camels back were the ‘expense row’ followed by speculation that Blair was going to be the EU president. Both sickened me to the extent that I considered life on a boat.

However, thankfully Blair got nowhere near to the role that would have taken him and his repugnant other a step closer to world domination than any of his previous war mongering had done. The ‘expense row’ rages on and appears as though it might now ravage local government which in my opinion can only actually be a good thing when one considers that some LA chief execs earn up to double what the PM earns before expenses.

However for the time being I am not going to focus on publishing news releases from the government or the political parties like I was before. I may do again in the future, but for now, I will concentrate on publishing articles from campaigners and charities and my own view on things that happen in the news…but only if I get angry about something!!!

I am still very keen to hear from anyone who may wish to consider contributing and comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The day the earth stood still


Due to seasonal illness we have been and continue to be unable to publish at the moment. We appologise because there is a lot going on at the moment.

We hope to be back by the beginning of next week.

Stay angry in the meantime!!!

Saturday, 12 September 2009

MI6 investigation makes case for full torture inquiry even stronger - Davey

“At the very least we need to know where and when this occurred, and what kind of incident is being investigated," said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Foreign Secretary. Commenting on the revelation that the Metropolitan Police are to investigate allegations of MI6 complicity in torture, Edward Davey said:

“Given the gravity and number of allegations of UK complicity in torture, separate limited police investigations alone are inadequate.

“The case for a full judicial inquiry has become even stronger.

“The lack of information available on this case is unacceptable. There are surely many more details the Government could reveal which would not prejudice the case but are vital matters of public interest.

“At the very least we need to know where and when this occurred, and what kind of incident is being investigated. We also need to know what has suddenly prompted this apparent outbreak of conscience at MI6. Otherwise, the public may feel information is being kept secret to save political embarrassment.”

Serious problems with student loans system

Shadow Universities and Skills Secretary, David Willetts, has today written to Lord Mandelson to seek assurances about reports that the student loans system is experiencing serious problems with processing applications.

Just weeks before the first payments are due to be made, many potential students have written to express their concern about inaccurate information, loss of documents and an unresponsive helpline.

These problems are reminiscent of recent Government fiascos over Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) payments and national curriculum tests.

The text of the letter is below:

"Dear Peter

I am concerned about the serious problems prospective students are facing in sorting out their financial support before starting university this month. I am receiving letters and emails on a daily basis from students and their parents who are finding it hard to obtain accurate information about their student support applications. The Government set up new arrangements for this year, including replacing Student Finance Direct with Student Finance England, and these do not appear to be working properly. There is a clear and substantial risk that new students will face serious financial problems at the start of the new university term.

Among the problems that people are experiencing are:

  • a lack of useful information on basic facts like whether an application has started to be processed;
  • insufficient information about the receipt and location of original personal documents;
  • repeated website failures and no response from the helpline; and
  • an absence of accurate information on their financial entitlement.

Because students need a financial settlement letter in order to start university, the problems look set to affect their ability to enrol at university as well as their financial situation. And those from less well-off households are affected worst of all, as they are entitled to income-related grants alongside the student loans.

Are you aware of these problems? What steps are you taking to tackle them? And are you able to reassure all young people starting university this autumn who applied before the deadline that they will receive their full loan and grant entitlement at the start of the new term?"

Greens welcome move towards energy-efficient white goods

Comet, the electrical goods retailer, is offering its customers a 20% discount if they trade-in old white goods appliances for a new model. The pilot scheme by Comet will run until the 14th of September.

The UK has roughly 15 million fridges, freezers and washing machines that are over ten years old. Darren Johnson, the Green Party's trade and industry spokesperson, said: "A white goods scrappage scheme will only be effective in reducing energy if there is a commitment to stop selling poorly-rated goods. Otherwise, people just risk trading in one energy-inefficient appliance for another.

We also need a more flexible VAT rate that takes account of the energy rating of household appliances."



Labour leader Iain Gray’s hypocrisy in his attempts to attack the Scottish Government over Diageo has been exposed as an interview with the Scotsman – prior to the Diageo announcement this week – reveals he would have taken part in the march for jobs – despite attacking the First Minister for it.

In the interview he also welcomed the efforts of John Swinney and the First Minister to produce an alternative plan to Diageo’s Kilmarnock closure.

Reported in the Scotsman today Mr Gray said:

"I would have gone on the protest march as first minister.

"Labour's take on this has been to work with the trade unions. That's why I probably would have gone on the protest march because the trade unions were a big part of organising that."

He added: "John Swinney and the First Minister have got involved in the campaign and they have made sure that Scottish Enterprise has worked to try and produce the alternative plan."

SNP MSP for North Ayrshire Kenneth Gibson, who took part in the campaign against Diageo’s closure plans said:

“These comments expose the utter hypocrisy of Iain Gray’s actions in Parliament. Fighting for jobs in Scotland should always come before party politicking, and that is the test Iain Gray keeps on failing.

“Labour must, like the Scottish Government, focus on working with the taskforce, the trade unions and the company to ensure the best deal for those workers and for Kilmarnock who are now facing up to a future without Johnnie Walker.”

“Instead Iain Gray decided to attack Mr Salmond for attending a rally which he himself said he would have gone to had he been First Minister.

"Iain Gray has no idea what direction he or his party are facing. He is fumbling his way through leadership and letting his party down. It's not just that he doesn't seem to know what he or his party believe from one day to the next, he cannot remember what he has said from one day to the next.

“After his poorly judged response to the Megrahi case, Iain Gray has once again displayed why he is not Scotland’s First Minister.”

Maximum Wage to end short term bonus culture

Today Plaid became the first political party to back calls for a maximum wage.

A motion put to the Plaid party Conference in Llandudno will seek to bring about an end to the short term target culture that has contributed heavily to the current economic crisis in Britain.

The maximum wage motion, put forward by Plaid’s Westminster MPs, would ensure a greater balance between the amount paid to high earners and that paid to ordinary staff.

The move also comes following a timely call from the chairman of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, to ban multi-year guaranteed bonuses throughout the banking industry.

Plaid MPs have worked with leading think tank Compass to launch a campaign calling for a High Pay Commission. The establishment of such a body would examine the issues which led to the crisis in the financial sector and relating to excessive pay of executives in public and private companies.

Plaid’s Adam Price MP said:

“The differentials in pay between staff in successful economies such as Sweden are significantly lower than those in the UK and other countries that adhere to the Anglo-American model. It is important in setting out a long term approach to dealing with the recession and stabilising the economy that this imbalance is addressed.

“Passing this motion through Conference today has really highlighted how forward thinking Plaid is. Establishing a High Pay Commission could mean a ground-breaking change in the banking culture and proves that Plaid is in tune with key industry figures and widespread public opinion who are feeling the real impact of the recession bought about by this reckless culture. Gordon Brown’s government is meanwhile playing catch-up and failing to take decisive action to address such unfair practises.

“The motion is designed to tackle the culture of reckless quick fix practices. Instead of bonuses being paid on short term results it will establish the principal of long term development and growth being rewarded.

“Those rewards should also be shared amongst all members of society and not just the privileged few.”

Gavin Hayes, General Secretary of Compass added:

“It is fantastic that Plaid Cymru have adopted a ‘maximum wage’ policy as part of their manifesto. The Compass YouGov polling on attitudes to high pay released earlier this week confirms the public also want tougher action to curb excessive pay - with 63% support for a High Pay Commission which would consider ideas such as a maximum wage.

“It’s also clear that the British people don't just want rhetoric from politicians they demand concrete action, it is therefore a positive step that Plaid Cymru have shown boldness in adopting this policy and it’s high time the other parties caught up.”

New CRB checks "draconian and dangerous" say UKIP

News that parents who regularly drive children for sports or social clubs will have to be vetted or face fines of up to £5,000 were desribed as "draconian and dangerous" by UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom.

Mr Bloom spoke out against the proposals saying it was "unacceptable that the state can and want to control people to this extent."

"What this legislation is essentially doing is allowing the state to decide who is and who isn't a paedophile." he said.

"For years I've been involved with cricket and sports teams in Yorkshire and around the country without the people involved feeling the need for the police to check me out.

'If this government really do wish to 'safeguard children' they'd be better off looking up the word 'liberty' in the dictionary.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Rover report a sorry tale of greed and incompetence - Thurso

"The Government needs to take action to ensure that this type of cynical asset stripping can never happen again," said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Business Secretary. Commenting on today’s publication of the investigators’ report into the demise of MG Rover, John Thurso said:

“After four years of delay and an eye-watering £16m of taxpayers’ money, the lid had finally been lifted on the murky circumstances surrounding MG Rover’s demise.

“This report tells an all too familiar story of greed and incompetence. Former Rover employees throughout the Midlands will be shaking their heads in disbelief at the colossal sums that the Phoenix Four made off with in pay and pensions. The Government needs to take action to ensure that this type of cynical asset stripping can never happen again.

“The one ray of light for those who lost their jobs is that the report’s publication should now unlock access to a fund originally set up for the benefit of ex-employees. Lord Mandelson should immediately establish if this money can now be distributed among workers who lost their jobs.

“The Government’s press briefings at a sensitive time in takeover negotiations were ‘irresponsible’ in the eyes of the inspectors. This is a damning verdict on the pervasiveness of New Labour’s spin machine in the workings of Government.

“It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Government jumped at a £10 bid from an inexperienced consortium, having failed to do proper due diligence. This turned out to be a terrible decision for all involved.”

Ministers do not emerge with any credit from MG Rover report

Shadow Business Secretary Ken Clarke says that questions need to be asked about the Government's role in the MG Rover deal.

Responding to the publication of the report into the collapse of MG Rover, he said that the inspectors "quite rightly" criticise the Phoenix Four and their Chief Executive, "who seem to have enriched themselves at a time when MG Rover workers were losing their jobs".

But, he said, "it is a pity" that the inspectors did not think that the scope of the inquiry enabled them to go more precisely into the Government’s role in the selection of the Phoenix bid.

It is also "regrettable", Clarke said, that they didn't investigate the possible misuse of taxpayers' money seeing as "Ministers put in £6.5m in the middle of an election campaign, to keep the company going beyond polling day".

"Unfortunately this report does not shed enough light on the Government’s undoubted involvement in brokering the deal in the first place and failing to realise that the project was heading for disaster", he added.

"I can understand why Peter Mandelson was so reluctant for this report to come out because it reminds us of this whole sorry episode from which Government ministers do not emerge with any credit."

Stroud Eco Renovation Open Homes weekend

Stroud is playing host this weekend to a 22-home event, where eco-renovations will be shared with the public.

In Stroud, the Green Party has six district councillors and one county councillor. You can find more information on the event's website:

The event has been organised by Transition Stroud's energy group. Philip Booth, Green Party district councillor in Stroud since 2006, is assisting in this year's event.

Booth said: "The weekend is a great opportunity to see measures like internal and external insulation, wood pellet boilers, air source heat pumps, gas condensing boilers, PV, rainwater harvesting and more."

"We are delighted to have the support of many people and groups, including Ecotricity who have sponsored this year's leaflet, and special thanks must go to all the homeowners who are so very kindly opening their homes to the public."

Plaid Conference ’09: Plaid MP calls for ‘honest and open’ debate of prison system

Plaid’s Westminster leader, Elfyn Llwyd MP, has called for an ‘honest and open’ political debate on the future of the prison and justice system.

During the debate entitled ‘Should we lock more people up?’, held yesterday at the party’s conference in Llandudno, Mr Llwyd argued that the current prison system in Wales and England was too over-crowded to be efficient or effective - especially given the significant number of re-offenders.

Plaid’s Hywel Williams MP and Elfyn Llwyd MP have successfully campaigned for the establishment of a prison in Caernarfon given the significant numbers of prisoners kept long distances away over the border.

Mr Llwyd also warned that in the election run-up the London parties would seek to make political capital by talking tough on crime, but that, without a wider debate on the state of the prison system, they would be guilty of failing society by not addressing the root problems.

Plaid’s Westminster leader, Elfyn Llwyd MP said:

“It is high time that a political debate was held about the future of the prison system in England and Wales. The rates of re-offence are shockingly high and I believe we send too many people to jail. It’s not a matter of leniency or going soft on criminals but the fact of the matter is that the system is inefficient as a result of over-crowding, not enough facilities and budget cuts.

“There are many issues that need to be addressed. We don’t have a women-only prison in Wales for example, while a staggering proportion of criminals end up behind bars because of drugs.
"Prison is not an easy subject to discuss, but it is one that must be brought to the fore as the current system is clearly failing. We must look for different solutions and politicians should lead an honest and open debate on the future of our prison and justice system.
“One issue that must certainly be part of this debate is the need for Wales to take control of its own criminal justice and policing systems, through which we would be able to begin to address these issues in their Welsh context."

Treatment of Alan Turing was “appalling” - PM

The Prime Minister has released a statement on the Second World War code-breaker, Alan Turing, recognising the “appalling” way he was treated for being gay.

Alan Turing, a mathematician most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes, was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ in 1952 and sentenced to chemical castration.

Gordon Brown’s statement came in response to a petition posted on the Number 10 website which has received thousands of signatures in recent months.

Read the statement

2009 has been a year of deep reflection - a chance for Britain, as a nation, to commemorate the profound debts we owe to those who came before. A unique combination of anniversaries and events have stirred in us that sense of pride and gratitude which characterise the British experience. Earlier this year I stood with Presidents Sarkozy and Obama to honour the service and the sacrifice of the heroes who stormed the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago. And just last week, we marked the 70 years which have passed since the British government declared its willingness to take up arms against Fascism and declared the outbreak of World War Two. So I am both pleased and proud that, thanks to a coalition of computer scientists, historians and LGBT activists, we have this year a chance to mark and celebrate another contribution to Britain’s fight against the darkness of dictatorship; that of code-breaker Alan Turing.

Turing was a quite brilliant mathematician, most famous for his work on breaking the German Enigma codes. It is no exaggeration to say that, without his outstanding contribution, the history of World War Two could well have been very different. He truly was one of those individuals we can point to whose unique contribution helped to turn the tide of war. The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ - in effect, tried for being gay. His sentence - and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison - was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He took his own life just two years later.

Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him. Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.

I am proud that those days are gone and that in the last 12 years this government has done so much to make life fairer and more equal for our LGBT community. This recognition of Alan’s status as one of Britain’s most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue.

But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind. For those of us born after 1945, into a Europe which is united, democratic and at peace, it is hard to imagine that our continent was once the theatre of mankind’s darkest hour. It is difficult to believe that in living memory, people could become so consumed by hate - by anti-Semitism, by homophobia, by xenophobia and other murderous prejudices - that the gas chambers and crematoria became a piece of the European landscape as surely as the galleries and universities and concert halls which had marked out the European civilisation for hundreds of years. It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe’s history and not Europe’s present.

So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.

Gordon Brown

Consultation on draft Bill to consolidate charity law

The Office of the Third Sector today published a consultation document on a draft Consolidation Bill, which would bring together provisions of the Recreational Charities Act 1958, Charities Act 1993 and most of the Charities Act 2006 into a single piece of legislation.

The aim of consolidating charity law is to make it simpler and more accessible and will not involve significant changes in policy. The amendments made would remove unnecessary inconsistencies and repeal provisions which are now considered obsolete.

Angela Smith, Minister for the Third Sector, said:

"Through the implementation of the Charities Act 2006, the Government has freed charities from unnecessary red tape and introduced fair rules that treat all charities equally. The views of all those who work with charity law will help ensure that we develop the clearest and most user-friendly Bill as possible."

The draft Bill would restructure and modernise the existing text. For example, provisions relating to the preparation of group accounts by charities will be dealt with in the part of the Bill which deals with charity accounts rather than being located in a separate schedule. In addition, longer sections of the existing legislation have been split in to subsections to make them easier to understand.

The closing date for the consultation is 4 December 2009. The Consultation document is available at:


Health and public sector professionals are being asked for their views on how the NHS can improve its services for women and girls who have been victims of violence and sexual assault, Health Minister Ann Keen announced today.

Each year, across the UK, 3 million women experience violence including domestic violence, sexual violence, forced marriage and trafficking. The Taskforce on the health aspects of violence against women and girls is holding a month long in a listening exercise to collect feedback from health and other public sector professionals.

Health Minister Ann Keen said;

“Almost one in three women will experience domestic violence at some point during their lives and nearly one in four will experience some form of sexual assault. Furthermore, more than a third of all rapes recorded by the police are committed against children under 16 years of age.

We know that victims of violence can find it easier to seek help from trusted health professionals and that is why we want health and public sector professionals to tell us what they think of the service provided by the NHS and how it might be improved.

“This will form a valuable contribution to a cross-Government strategy, to be published later this year, which aims to ensure that all frontline services work closely together to reduce violence against women and girls and provide the best possible support to victims.”

Health and public sector professionals will be asked for their views on areas including:

· Service delivery - early identification, access to healthcare services, staff awareness and attitudes maximising NHS resources

· Service commissioning – needs assessment, NHS commissioning, joint commissioning, commissioning from non-NHS providers

· Partnership working – information sharing, service level agreements and protocols, collaborative service delivery

Health and public sector professionals should go to to register their views by the 14 October 2009.

Awareness of Employment Rights on the rise

More than three quarters of people claim they feel well informed about their employment rights – a rise of 13 per cent - according to figures published today by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The 2008 Fair Treatment at Work Survey (FTWS) also shows that problems with specific employment rights have fallen with more people prepared to seek information and advice on problems that do arise. In particular, problems with pay and working time (including annual leave) have more than halved since 2005.

Minister for Employment Relations, Lord Young, said:

“The results of the Fair Treatment at Work Survey are very positive. They show the real progress we have made in raising awareness of workplace rights amongst employees and employers”.

“But whilst these are good results, there are a number of vulnerable groups who are still more likely to have problems at work and be less aware and knowledgeable about their rights than the general population. That is why the Government will be announcing further help for vulnerable workers later this month”.

Key findings include:

78 per cent of the working population feel well or very well informed about their rights generally compared with 65 per cent in 2005

85 per cent claim to know where to find information on their rights if they need it compared to 76 per cent in 2005

Specific employment problems affect around 27 per cent of the working population compared with 41 per cent in 2005

In particular problems fell significantly with; pay (22 per cent in 2005 to 10 per cent in 2008), hours/days required to work (12 per cent to 6 per cent); rest breaks (13 per cent to 5 per cent) and annual leave (13 per cent to 5 per cent).

More people with problems are prepared to seek advice or information for their problem (72 per cent) compared with 2005 (53 per cent)

The Government is currently in the second year of a three year campaign to raise awareness of the workplace rights they enforce. The first year targeted agency workers, and led to an increase of 300 per cent in calls to the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate helpline. The next stage of the campaign will be announced later this month.

Government publishes report into collapse of MG Rover

The Government today published the results of an independent investigation into the collapse of the MG Rover Group (MGRG).

The inquiry was set up by the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry after MGRG, the manufacturer of Rover and MG cars, went into administration on April 8, 2005 owing creditors nearly £1.3 billion.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson today published the findings and announced that lawyers have already begun work compiling the underlying evidence required to bring proceedings against the relevant directors to prevent them holding company office in future. He also decided the report should be referred to the Financial Reporting Council, the regulatory body for auditors, accounting and corporate governance.

In addition he has today written to the Business and Enterprise Select Committee after the Inspectors found inaccurate and misleading explanations were given to MPs and others, including some evidence given by one of the directors to the Select Committee.

Gervase MacGregor FCA and Guy Newey QC were instructed to investigate the affairs of MGRG, its parent company Phoenix Venture Holdings (PVH) and MGR Capital Limited between the purchase of MGRG from BMW in May 2000 and the date of it entering administration.

The inspectors investigated the actions of the directors of PVH throughout their 5 year ownership - particularly Peter Beale, John Edwards, Nick Stephenson and John Towers, known as the Phoenix Consortium or Phoenix Four.

They also investigated restructuring changes within the Group which led to the creation of 33 separate companies throughout that period; the scale of financial rewards made to the directors and the events which led to administration itself. This included the role of Government to secure bridge finance while take-over discussions took place with Chinese car manufacturers Shanghai Automotive (SAIC).

The inquiry studies the role played by professional advisors including auditors and corporate finance advisers Deloittes and lawyers Eversheds; aspects of corporate governance; and financial statements and audit arrangements including the transfer of assets.

The inspectors also investigated the purchase, installation and operation of computer software to eliminate evidence held by one of the directors, Peter Beale, the day after the inquiry was announced.

The inspectors also looked at explanations the directors had given to MPs and found that Peter Beale gave inaccurate and misleading explanations to the Trade and Industry Select Committee on 30 March 2004 about why the Phoenix Partnership was involved in the MGR Capital joint venture.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson today said:

“This has been a painstaking enquiry by independent inspectors. It was important to get all the facts into the open so that workers who lost their jobs and creditors who were not paid know the truth.

“Action is being taken. Based on this report, work has been commissioned to start legal proceedings to seek to declare relevant directors unfit to hold office and to disqualify them from management of any company in future.

“I have today written to the Business and Enterprise Select Committee to ask them to look into the serious findings in the report that one of the MG Rover directors, Mr Beale, misled their Committee about the reasons for setting up a joint venture with MGR Capital. It will be for the Committee Chair to decide whether any action should be taken.

“We are also determined to learn any lessons we can to ensure greater transparency about the impact of decisions which directors are making and the state of the companies they are running. To this end, I am asking the Financial Reporting Council to review the report to see whether changes to audit or accounting standards or guidance should be considered.”

The Secretary of State has received advice from independent Queen’s Counsel that the findings made by the inspectors, if supported by the underlying documents, are such that a Court is likely to find that at least some of the Directors are unfit to be concerned in the management of a company. If successful this would lead to these Directors being disqualified from being directors or otherwise involved in the management of the company. Work has already begun on considering the underlying documents and compiling the evidence that would be needed to commence director disqualification proceedings. Thereafter, the usual procedures will be followed.

  • The report has been sent to the Accounting and Actuarial Discipline Board (part of the Financial Reporting Council) which is currently investigating the work done by Deloitte’s for the Rover Group. The AADB will review the Inspectors’ report to see whether there are issues which need to be followed up.
  • The Inspectors suggested that improvements could be made to auditing and reporting standards that would increase transparency in financial statements. The FRC issued guidance earlier this year to companies and auditors on Going Concern issues in the light of current economic conditions and is currently consulting on updated core guidance on Going Concern. The FRC will now be asked to look at lessons from the Rover case and to consider whether any further guidance should be issued to auditors.
  • The Inspectors suggest that although the transfer of assets and tax losses between companies with the Rover Group was in accordance with accounting standards, readers of the financial statements would have been better informed had the “true or potential value of these assets been explained”. They suggest that making such disclosures mandatory would improve understanding of a company’s financial performance. The UK Accounting Standards Board (also part of the Financial Reporting Council) will now be asked to consider the issues raised by the Report.

The report is available at:

Mind responds to consultation launch on emergency changes to the Mental Health Act

The Department of Health have today launched a consultation on whether they should make temporary changes to the Mental Health Act to allow for exceptional circumstances as a result of pandemic flu. The consultation will consider whether to reduce the number of professionals involved in sectioning people under the Act, should flu lead to severe staff shortages.

Mind's chief Executive, Paul Farmer, said:

"We recognise that these are exceptional circumstances and that to keep mental health services going during a period of low resource it is essential that emergency measures are in place. However, any proposals that will reduce the number of professionals involved in the sectioning process are concerning. Sectioning effectively deprives people of their liberty, and the reason that a number of professionals are involved is to ensure that the best decision is made for the patient, and no one is detained inappropriately. We have to be clear that these are serious changes, and should only be used as a last resort.

"The Government must ensure that plans are carefully crafted, clearly identifying how and when emergency powers will be triggered and that robust safeguards are in place to protect mental health patients. It is important that the Care Quality Commission plays a role as regulator to ensure that people will not be disadvantaged by any new measures introduced."

Olympic sport legacy is a disaster - Foster

Fewer people have been taking part in sport in the last year, and there have been significant drops in participation in many sports, Liberal Democrat analysis of today’s Sport England figures has shown. Analysis of the figures reveals:

  • Drops in participation in rugby union, swimming, rowing, gymnastics and golf despite huge increases in funding last year
  • Participation in gymnastics has fallen by over 30% since the last survey while funding had increased by 130%
  • Falling participation among women and those with a disability across all sports
  • No progress overall against the Government’s target of getting a million more people playing more sport by 2012

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Don Foster said:

“These disastrous figures show the Government’s Olympic legacy strategy is going badly wrong.

“Many sports which have had huge funding increases are actually witnessing a decline in participation.

“There are also worrying drops in participation among women and the disabled - two of the Government’s target groups.

“Money must be better targeted to make sure people have access to high quality sports facilities and opportunities to form longstanding links with local sports clubs.

“Granting gift-aid on junior membership to sports clubs would be a good step in the right direction.”


The European Commission today published its proposals setting out a framework for financing of international climate efforts, including the role of the EU. Commenting on the Commission's international climate finance proposals, UK Green MEP Caroline Lucas said:

"With around 100 days to go to the end of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, the EU urgently needs to adopt a concrete position on climate change financing for developing countries. Unfortunately, the proposals published by the Commission could jeopardise the negotiations by trying to heap a disproportionate share of the burden onto developing countries.

"The Commission's estimations on the required amount of climate financing for developing countries are on the low side (€66-80bn per annum) compared with other recent estimations. On top of this, the Commission claims that only €22-50bn per annum (by 2020) should be accounted for by public financing. This figure is clearly artificially low and smacks of politicking, with the negotiations in mind. Setting the figure too low could jeopardise the commitment of developing countries to a UN climate deal.

"The Commission calculates that EU share of the responsibility for international public financing for climate efforts in developing countries could be 10-30%. Clearly, it needs to be close to the top end of this scale to realistically reflect the responsibility of the EU, based on its historical emissions and its ability to pay, not just its share of current emissions.

"Overall, the underlying assumptions show that the Commission sees most of the global emissions reductions by 2020 taking place in developing countries. This is a clear renouncement of EU's purported leadership on climate change and ignores the EU's responsibility.

"The EU has committed to the goal of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees. If it is serious, it will need to urgently step up its effort, committing to domestic emissions reductions of at least 40% by 2020, as well as climate financing in the region of €35bn. Anything less risks making the 2 degree goal completely unattainable and thereby opens the door to dangerous climate change."