The Planning Bill committee held its last session yesterday. Sixteen sessions in all, lasting a total of something like 100 hours. It has, for the last month, dominated my life, some of which I now hope to reclaim. As it turned out, yesterday was dominated by matters Welsh. The Government had, disgracefully late, tabled a clause giving additional legislative powers to the Welsh Assembly in relation to development plans. Three additional “Matters” were to be added to the devolved competence provisions of the Government of Wales Act.
Phone tapping evidence could help convict Britain’s terrorists
The sooner phone tapping image evidence is permitted in our courts to help secure convictions of terrorists the better. How can anyone argue against presenting evidence to show we are serious about locking them up? The safety and security of our citizens should be the first objective of any government. Yet Britain is one of few countries in the world to ban the use of evidence from intercepted phone calls, emails, letters and faxes as part of a prosecution case in court. Phone intercept material from intelligence services in the courts are commonly used to secure convictions in America, Australia and countries in the European Unions. It’s time we did the same.
David Cameron cannot be bold enough in increasing accountability of politicians
24 hours after the Derek Conway report was published David Cameron took decisive action against the disgraced MP and he has kept up the momentum over the last week with welcome requirements for greater openness from his frontbenchers with regard to their taxpayer-funded expenses. It's also fair to say that Mr Cameron, with considerable support from Ken Clarke and Andrew Tyrie, has been working on many other proposals that aim to restore the public standing of politicians.
PMQs - 06/02/08 Gordon Brown, just answer a bloody question - part two.
I've had to force myself to write something about this week's PMQ's. It was, all in all, a total repeat of last week's pathetic performance. David Cameron can't be blamed; he's doing his job i.e. asking questions that the public want answers to. Unfortunately Gordon Brown now sees it as perfectly acceptable not to answer them. The speaker seems not to care and even allows Brown to question Cameron - it's a sodding farce. We've got Labour back-benchers asking questions like "I think the Prime Minister is more super than Super-Duper Tuesday, will the Prime Minister agree with me?"
Does Brown suffer from selective deafness?
I missed PMQ's yestedray as I was out, but when I read the sketch by Simon Carr this morning in the Indy I couldn't quite believe it was as he said it was, but now that I have checked Hansard and it's true. Nick Clegg asked Brown some questions and Brown's answers were ona completely different subject. A truly bizarre exchange of words.
Brown’s terrible performance at PMQs
The point about Gordon Brown and PMQs is that he is supposed to be getting better at it, not worse. In recent weeks he had developed a certain dogged style which David Cameron could find no way round. It was inelegant but effective.
How Brown could revolutionaise PMQs, improve Labour's standing, polish the image of politics and make the Tories look like silly - all in one go
Another Wednesday, another PMQs (Prime Minister's Questions) in Parliament. What to make of today's Punch and Judy show between Cameron and Brown? First - I guess, as Nick Robinson points out, that Cameron has forgotten his professed distaste for Punch and Judy, you say one insult, I'll say two back more loudly style of politics. Perhaps he genuinely meant it when he said it, but if so he's long since changed his mind. Second -Gordon Brown really ain't that sharp or fast when it comes to PMQs. He was always going to have a tough act to follow after Blair who, love or loathe what he said, was a master of the art of question time.
Fixed rate mortgages for all? - The Chancellor turns mortgage salesman
Today I learn that the Chancellor has become a mortgage salesman again. He is lecturing us to take long term mortgages at fixed rates. Has no-one reminded him that his government has made mortgage selling a regulated activity? I doubt if the Chancellor has bothered to fix himself up with the necessary regulatory approvals to start selling the fixed rate proposition so actively.
Tony Blair and the race for the presidency
I’m told Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have discussed the possibility of Mr Blair becoming President. That’s President of the Council, the new top European job created by the Lisbon Treaty. Some want to find a high profile president to represent the European Union on the world stage at events such as the G8, the Bali summit and for meeting heads of state.