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Government isn't building enough homes - Benn

Posted by David Hughes on November 30, 2012 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

 Hilary Benn MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government

responding to reported comments by Nick Boles on housing, said:

 

“Planning should bring together meeting housing need with local consent. We need to identify land for new homes, but it will be much harder to get that consent if communities feel they are being forced into accepting development.

 

“Nick Boles is ignoring the real problem which is that his Government isn’t building enough homes. The reason housebuilding has collapsed – despite there being existing planning permission for 400,000 homes - is because of the Government’s economic failure. People can’t raise deposits or get mortgages, and that’s why developers aren’t building.

 

“What the country needs is real action to build homes. That’s why Labour has called on the Government to use the windfall from the 4G auction to build 100,000 more affordable homes and create hundreds of thousands of jobs and apprenticeships.”

Ed Miliband's statement on the Leveson Inquiry

Posted by David Hughes on November 30, 2012 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, said in the House of Commons today on the Leveson Inquiry:

 

Can I start by thanking the Prime Minister for his statement, and for his co-operative tone and approach on this issue.

 

I want to echo his tribute and thank Lord Justice Leveson and his team for the painstaking, impartial and comprehensive way they have conducted this Inquiry.

 

And I thank Lord Justice Leveson for the clarity with which he has explained his Report today.

 

Most of all, I want to pay tribute to the innocent victims who gave evidence to the Inquiry.

 

People who did not seek to be in the public eye, who suffered deep loss and grief, and then faced further trauma at the hands of sections of the press.

 

Bob and Sally Dowler. It is easy to forget now, but without the revelations last July about what happened to them and to their daughter, and their courage in speaking out, we would simply not be here today.

 

Gerry and Kate McCann, who suffered so much and showed such courage.

 

Kate McCann, whose daughter remains missing, and who saw her private diary published by the News of the World for the sake of a story.

 

They gave evidence to this Inquiry to serve the wider public interest and we pay tribute to them.

 

It is they who must be at the forefront of our minds today.

 

Much has been written about the reasons for this Inquiry.

 

A free press is essential to a functioning democracy.

 

The press must be able to hold the powerful, especially politicians, to account, without fear or favour.

 

That is part of the character of our country.

 

At the same time I do not want to live in a country where innocent families like the McCanns and the Dowlers can see their lives torn apart simply for the sake of profit.

 

And where powerful interests in the press know they won’t be held to account.

 

This is about the character of our country.

 

There never was just one “rogue reporter”.

 

Lord Justice Leveson concludes that a whole range of practices – from phone hacking to covert surveillance, to harassment, to other wrongful behaviour – were widespread, all in breach of the code by which the press was supposed to abide.

 

I recognise the many decent people who work in our country’s newspapers. And not every newspaper did wrong.

 

But Lord Justice Leveson concludes, and I quote “...it is argued that these are aberrations and do not reflect on the culture, practices or ethics of the press as a whole. I wholly reject this analysis.”

 

This will not come as a surprise to many people.

 

But as Lord Justice Leveson also concludes, there has been “a persistent failure [by politicians] to respond... to public concern about the culture, practices and ethics of the press”.

 

We must all take responsibility for that.

 

The publication of this report is the moment when we must put that right.

 

Upholding the freedom of the press, and guaranteeing protection and redress for the citizen.

 

As the Prime Minister himself said at the Leveson Inquiry: “If the families like the Dowlers feel this has really changed the way they would have been treated, we would have done our job properly.”

 

I agree.

 

Let us be clear about Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals and why they are different from the present system.

 

He proposes:

 

A genuinely independent regulator, with effective powers to protect and provide redress for the victims of abuse.

 

He gives the responsibility for establishing the system to the press, as now.

 

But he provides a crucial new guarantee which we have never had before. He builds in a role for the media regulator Ofcom, to ensure that the system that is established passes the test we would all want applied to it: that it is truly independent and provides effective protection for people like the McCanns and the Dowlers.

 

And to make this guarantee real, he recommends that both Ofcom’s role and these criteria of independence and effectiveness will be set out in statute, a law of this Parliament.

 

A truly independent regulation of the press, guaranteed by law.

 

Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals are measured, reasonable and proportionate.

 

We on this side unequivocally endorse both the principles set out and his central recommendations.

 

We support this new system of regulation. Does the Prime Minister agree?

 

We support Lord Justice Leveson’s view that Ofcom is the right body to carry out the task of recognition of the new regulator.

 

Does the Prime Minister agree?

 

We support Lord Justice Leveson’s proposal that the House should lay down in statute the role of Ofcom?

 

Does the Prime Minister agree?

 

We endorse Lord Justice Leveson’s proposal that the criteria any new regulatory body must meet should be set out in statute.

 

Does the Prime Minister agree?

 

Lord Justice Leveson has, I believe, made every effort to meet the concerns of the industry.

 

There will be some people who say that this will not work because the press will not co-operate.

 

Does he agree with me that this arrangement, as Lord Justice Leveson says, will work but only if the press now come forward to sign up to it and embrace it with genuine commitment?

 

If we cannot achieve a comprehensive system involving all major newspapers, Lord Justice Leveson sets out the necessary alternative: direct statutory regulation.

 

Does the Prime Minister agree that if the newspapers refuse to adopt the system proposed, this will be necessary and must be implemented?

 

Lord Justice Leveson has genuinely listened.

 

He has acted with the utmost responsibility.

 

Newspaper editors and proprietors should now do the same.

 

Lord Justice Leveson also reaches important conclusions on the need to prevent too much media influence ending up in one pair of hands. He proposes there should be continuous scrutiny of the degree of media plurality, and a lower cap than that provided by competition law.

 

Will the Prime Minister take this forward?

 

Lord Justice Leveson makes specific suggestions about greater transparency about meetings and contacts between politicians and the press. He says they should be considered “as an immediate need”. I agree, and I hope these can be taken forward too.

 

I welcome the Prime Minister’s offer of immediate cross-party talks on the implementation of the recommendations on press regulation.

 

These talks must be about implementing these recommendations, not whether we implement them.

 

These talks must:

 

Agree a swift timetable for implementation of these proposals.

 

Agree to legislate in the next session of Parliament starting in May 2013.

 

With a new system up and running at the latest by 2015.

 

And by the end of January of next year we should have an opportunity for the whole House to endorse and proceed with the Leveson proposals.

 

Does the Prime Minister agree?

 

We should move forward together, wholeheartedly, now.

 

After 70 years and 7 reports which have gone nowhere, now is the time to act.

 

The case is compelling.

 

The evidence is overwhelming.

 

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make change the public can trust.

 

There can be no more last chance saloons.

 

And in acting, let us remember the words of Bob and Sally Dowler at Leveson:

 

“...There is nothing that can rectify the damage that has been done to our family... All we can hope for is a positive outcome from this Inquiry so that other families are not affected in the way we have been...”

 

On behalf of every decent British citizen who wants protection for people like the Dowlers.

 

Who wants a truly free press.

 

A press that can expose abuse of power without abusing its own.

 

We must act.


Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, said in the House of Commons today on the Leveson Inquiry:

 

Can I start by thanking the Prime Minister for his statement, and for his co-operative tone and approach on this issue.

 

I want to echo his tribute and thank Lord Justice Leveson and his team for the painstaking, impartial and comprehensive way they have conducted this Inquiry.

 

And I thank Lord Justice Leveson for the clarity with which he has explained his Report today.

 

Most of all, I want to pay tribute to the innocent victims who gave evidence to the Inquiry.

 

People who did not seek to be in the public eye, who suffered deep loss and grief, and then faced further trauma at the hands of sections of the press.

 

Bob and Sally Dowler. It is easy to forget now, but without the revelations last July about what happened to them and to their daughter, and their courage in speaking out, we would simply not be here today.

 

Gerry and Kate McCann, who suffered so much and showed such courage.

 

Kate McCann, whose daughter remains missing, and who saw her private diary published by the News of the World for the sake of a story.

 

They gave evidence to this Inquiry to serve the wider public interest and we pay tribute to them.

 

It is they who must be at the forefront of our minds today.

 

Much has been written about the reasons for this Inquiry.

 

A free press is essential to a functioning democracy.

 

The press must be able to hold the powerful, especially politicians, to account, without fear or favour.

 

That is part of the character of our country.

 

At the same time I do not want to live in a country where innocent families like the McCanns and the Dowlers can see their lives torn apart simply for the sake of profit.

 

And where powerful interests in the press know they won’t be held to account.

 

This is about the character of our country.

 

There never was just one “rogue reporter”.

 

Lord Justice Leveson concludes that a whole range of practices – from phone hacking to covert surveillance, to harassment, to other wrongful behaviour – were widespread, all in breach of the code by which the press was supposed to abide.

 

I recognise the many decent people who work in our country’s newspapers. And not every newspaper did wrong.

 

But Lord Justice Leveson concludes, and I quote “...it is argued that these are aberrations and do not reflect on the culture, practices or ethics of the press as a whole. I wholly reject this analysis.”

 

This will not come as a surprise to many people.

 

But as Lord Justice Leveson also concludes, there has been “a persistent failure [by politicians] to respond... to public concern about the culture, practices and ethics of the press”.

 

We must all take responsibility for that.

 

The publication of this report is the moment when we must put that right.

 

Upholding the freedom of the press, and guaranteeing protection and redress for the citizen.

 

As the Prime Minister himself said at the Leveson Inquiry: “If the families like the Dowlers feel this has really changed the way they would have been treated, we would have done our job properly.”

 

I agree.

 

Let us be clear about Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals and why they are different from the present system.

 

He proposes:

 

A genuinely independent regulator, with effective powers to protect and provide redress for the victims of abuse.

 

He gives the responsibility for establishing the system to the press, as now.

 

But he provides a crucial new guarantee which we have never had before. He builds in a role for the media regulator Ofcom, to ensure that the system that is established passes the test we would all want applied to it: that it is truly independent and provides effective protection for people like the McCanns and the Dowlers.

 

And to make this guarantee real, he recommends that both Ofcom’s role and these criteria of independence and effectiveness will be set out in statute, a law of this Parliament.

 

A truly independent regulation of the press, guaranteed by law.

 

Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals are measured, reasonable and proportionate.

 

We on this side unequivocally endorse both the principles set out and his central recommendations.

 

We support this new system of regulation. Does the Prime Minister agree?

 

We support Lord Justice Leveson’s view that Ofcom is the right body to carry out the task of recognition of the new regulator.

 

Does the Prime Minister agree?

 

We support Lord Justice Leveson’s proposal that the House should lay down in statute the role of Ofcom?

 

Does the Prime Minister agree?

 

We endorse Lord Justice Leveson’s proposal that the criteria any new regulatory body must meet should be set out in statute.

 

Does the Prime Minister agree?

 

Lord Justice Leveson has, I believe, made every effort to meet the concerns of the industry.

 

There will be some people who say that this will not work because the press will not co-operate.

 

Does he agree with me that this arrangement, as Lord Justice Leveson says, will work but only if the press now come forward to sign up to it and embrace it with genuine commitment?

 

If we cannot achieve a comprehensive system involving all major newspapers, Lord Justice Leveson sets out the necessary alternative: direct statutory regulation.

 

Does the Prime Minister agree that if the newspapers refuse to adopt the system proposed, this will be necessary and must be implemented?

 

Lord Justice Leveson has genuinely listened.

 

He has acted with the utmost responsibility.

 

Newspaper editors and proprietors should now do the same.

 

Lord Justice Leveson also reaches important conclusions on the need to prevent too much media influence ending up in one pair of hands. He proposes there should be continuous scrutiny of the degree of media plurality, and a lower cap than that provided by competition law.

 

Will the Prime Minister take this forward?

 

Lord Justice Leveson makes specific suggestions about greater transparency about meetings and contacts between politicians and the press. He says they should be considered “as an immediate need”. I agree, and I hope these can be taken forward too.

 

I welcome the Prime Minister’s offer of immediate cross-party talks on the implementation of the recommendations on press regulation.

 

These talks must be about implementing these recommendations, not whether we implement them.

 

These talks must:

 

Agree a swift timetable for implementation of these proposals.

 

Agree to legislate in the next session of Parliament starting in May 2013.

 

With a new system up and running at the latest by 2015.

 

And by the end of January of next year we should have an opportunity for the whole House to endorse and proceed with the Leveson proposals.

 

Does the Prime Minister agree?

 

We should move forward together, wholeheartedly, now.

 

After 70 years and 7 reports which have gone nowhere, now is the time to act.

 

The case is compelling.

 

The evidence is overwhelming.

 

This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make change the public can trust.

 

There can be no more last chance saloons.

 

And in acting, let us remember the words of Bob and Sally Dowler at Leveson:

 

“...There is nothing that can rectify the damage that has been done to our family... All we can hope for is a positive outcome from this Inquiry so that other families are not affected in the way we have been...”

 

On behalf of every decent British citizen who wants protection for people like the Dowlers.

 

Who wants a truly free press.

 

A press that can expose abuse of power without abusing its own.

 

We must act.

OSBORNE IS BORROWING BILLIONS MORE SIMPLY TO PAY FOR THE COST OF HIS ECONOMIC FAILURE

Posted by David Hughes on November 23, 2012 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

New figures published this week showed that having failed on jobs and growth, the Government is failing on the deficit too with Government borrowing so far this year up by £5 billion – a rise of 7.4 per cent. That’s why Labour is calling for urgent action from this Tory-led Government to create the jobs and growth that are vital to get the deficit down. Unless they do so they will end up borrowing billions more to pay for economic failure and cause long-term damage too.

WELFARE REFORM ? A TRAIN CRASH HEADING THIS WAY

Posted by David Hughes on November 19, 2012 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

The growth of Food Banks is a shocking symptom of the Coalition Government’s attack on people low incomes, through their welfare reforms which started last year, and worse to come in April 2013. Whilst we don't have a food bank yet in Hounslow, I know it is only a matter of time, and I know that the Gurdwaras and other places of worship are feeding more people every day. As the Cabinet Member tasked with addressing Hounslow's response to the Welfare Benefit changes, I am having to develop a strategy and find resources to do this. In researching the issue I am really angry at the impact these changes are going to have on the most vulnerable in our communities, for no obvious benefit to the national economy.

The changes don’t even serve the policy aims of deficit reduction and getting people into work that they were supposed to address. Furthermore thy don’t address the real cause of the high benefit bill - low wages and the rising cost of housing - 80% of new housing benefit claimants are in work. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has reported that the new Universal credit will trap people in poverty, as there will be little incentive to work. And the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned that the government's plans to cut the annual housing benefit bill by £2.3bn by 2015 will lead to around two million of the poorest households receiving lower benefits. The NAO predicted that within five years 48% of England's 275 local authorities would have more than twice as many benefit claimants as two-bedroom dwellings, the most popular housing stock, available to rent.

 

Those most affected are families where the parents are on a low-wage, disabled adults and children. In outer London the reforms go alongside a collapse in construction of new affordable homes and rising private sector rents.

In Hounslow borough;

- 600 households will be affected by the Universal credit cap of which 400 will lose more than £50 pm

- the Council Tax Support scheme will affect 9,000 local families who will lose around £7 per month.

- 1160 children are in lone parent families that will lose over £50 per week

- at lease £7m will be lost from the local economy from the total of reduced benefit payments

 

And the costs are running away – as the Work Programme scheme has failed, the Government has had to increase spending on Jobseekers allowance and housing benefit by £9bn nationally, and the IT costs have soared by £100m as the changes have bee rushed through before the IT systems can be adapted. Local Councils’ costs are rising too ; In Hounslow:

- £2.5m more than planned will be needed to pay for temporary housing for the increased homeless families

- there will be additional demand for social Services for children in particular

- a new hardship fund will have to be set up to replace the DWP Social Fund

- more welfare benefit and debt advisors will be needed to deal with the rising tide of problems

- we'll need to provide on-line access with human support for those now required to access the benefits system via internet, as all other communication channels are closed down.

The Labour Party front bench are demanding that the Government gets a grip on spending, get people who can back to work, and to address runaway rent levels. Ed Milliband is championing the Living Wage, assessed as the lowest income that enable to the basics in life to be affordable – and Hounslow Council agreed in early October to adopt the London Living Wage for all Council staff and contractors.

 

What we need is a fair benefits system that allows those who cannot work or need extra help, to live in dignity, fair rent levels, massive increase in affordable housing, and jobs for those who can work paid at rates that allow for a decent standard of living.

 

Posted by Ruth Cadbury at Sunday, November 11, 2012


Local Government and innovation

Posted by David Hughes on November 18, 2012 at 11:00 AM Comments comments (0)

These are very difficult times for the country and for councils. People are worried about their jobs, the rising cost of living and the affordability of housing – and councils are facing the biggest cuts to their budgets since the Second World War.

 

In these circumstances, the key questions for local government – how do we do our job, how do we provide for our citizens and how do we promote economic growth – take on an even greater significance.

 

For Labour councils, this is a responsibility as well as an opportunity – and up and down the country we’ve been forced to change the way we operate. With such reduced budgets it is no longer possible to make decisions the way we always have, and we’ve been forced to think carefully and creatively about how we govern.

 

From Co-operative councils to fairness commissions there are examples from across the country where Labour has done just that. We’ve proven that even in an era of reduced funding and crushing austerity that we can create innovative new models of governance that are enshrined in our shared principles of greater equality and social justice. While Labour are in opposition nationally, we’re in control locally and have been in the vanguard of delivering effective public services that meet the needs of our local communities.

 

The examples from Labour councils show that we are prepared to do whatever it takes to protect our communities when the going gets tough, and with over 6000 councillors nationally, Labour in local government have started to show what a genuine opposition to this government looks like.

 

In my borough of Islington we’ve achieved this through our “fairness framework”. When we came to power in 2010 we created The Islington Fairness Commission with Professor Richard Wilkinson in an attempt to explore the role that civic leadership can play locally by closing the gaps that divide us. After a year-long listening exercise in which over 500 local residents, businesses, voluntary sector organisations and unions took part, the Commission came up with 19 radical yet realistic recommendations to make the borough a fairer place.

 

Each of these recommendations is helping us to create a fairer borough, and is also showing the difference that a local Labour authority can make. We’ve shown that if we think a national policy is wrong, we can do something about it here in Islington.

 

Take housing as an example, while the government is cutting, we’re building. We are leading Islington’s biggest affordable home building programme for thirty years – and are on track to meet our goal of building 2,000 new affordable homes by 2015. Not only that, we are also the only London borough to use our planning policy and land ownership to reject the Tory-led Government’s ‘Affordable Rent’ scheme, which is raising social rents up to 80% of the market rate.

 

Our support for students is another good example. Working together with London Citizens we’ve just introduced our student bursaries scheme to help young people in Islington who want to continue studying past 16, but no longer have the Educational Maintenance Allowance for support. This now means that Islington students who were in receipt of free school meals will be able to claim up to £300 per year to help pay for their studies.

 

However, possibly my proudest moment this year was becoming one of the UK’s first Living Wage councils. We believe everyone deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work especially in tough times, and at present we’re paying all of our directly employed staff, cleaners and leisure workers the London Living Wage. We’ve also just extended this to include our social care staff who will receive the increase by the summer of 2014. As one of the borough’s biggest and most influential employers we’ve shown that by getting behind the campaign we can make a big difference – there are now at least 760 Islington based staff across all sectors that are now being paid a Living Wage.

 

These are just three examples from my own council, but across the UK you can find hundreds of cases that paint a similar picture – one of Labour in local government finding innovative and creative ways to address inequality in an era of huge budget cuts. We’re doing so in a way that is uniquely Labour, focussing on delivering fairness and protecting our communities against this Government’s slash and burn agenda.

 

Labour in local government is Labour’s future, and the platform for winning a majority in 2015 will be found through our experience at a local level.

 

Catherine West is the Leader of Islington Council

LABOUR IN HOUNSLOW CAMPAIGN DAY SATURDAY 12th Feb

Posted by David Hughes on February 6, 2011 at 1:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The ConDem Goverment has imposed ideologically based reforms and cuts at a pace that not only threatens to devatate local services but also threatens any economic recovery that may come. As a party we need to make clear what differentiates us from this goverment.as well as direct and make aware the public who is responcible and to retain puplic support for the Labour Party. We want all our members to take an active part in this campaign day, the day is being organised jointly between Hounslow's two constituency Labour Parties and the Labour Group of Hounslow Councillors. It'll be a chance to meet other members, hear London and National speakers and for the Local Labour Party to talk about how we can fight back and start campaigning locally.

The Day Runs from 10am to 4pm at the Lampton Park Conferance Centre, Hounslow Civic Centre.

Speakers confirmed: Rt Hon Sadiq Khan MP, shadow lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, Former Genaral Secretary of the Labour Party; Hilary Benn MP, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons; Mary Honeyball MEP, Murad Qureshi, Greater London Assembly Member leading on Environment issues and our Alan Keen MP Feltham & Heston.

David Miliband's Announcement

Posted by Sue Sampson on September 29, 2010 at 6:59 PM Comments comments (1)

"I'm moved and honoured by your support and proud of the campaign we ran together. I now passionately want Ed to have a united Party behind him"

VOLUNTEER AT THE LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES

Posted by David Hughes on September 23, 2010 at 10:07 AM Comments comments (0)

Local MP, Alan Keen is supporting the London 2012 Olympic Games Maker Volunteer programme and is urging his constituents to sign up to volunteer.

Alan Keen is calling on residents who are dedicated to and passionate about the Olympics to apply to the London 2012 Games Maker Volunteering Programme and be part of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The success of the London 2012 Games will depend on a diverse group of up to 70,000 dedicated and brilliant volunteers. Two thirds of the total number of roles are generalist volunteer positions which include welcome desk staff, ticket checkers, costume assistants, drivers and event stewards.

Applications for generalist roles opened at 8am on 15 September 2010. Having carefully considered over the summer whether volunteering for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is for them, people now have until midnight on Wednesday 27 October 2010 to apply on line at www.london2012.com/volunteering.

Sebastian Coe, Chair of LOCOG, said:

“Volunteering with us will be challenging but the rewards are life-long as our London 2012 Games Makers will literally make history happen. We want the best team players in the UK to apply, people who show the same qualities as our athletes including dedication, focus and grace under pressure.

“Whatever your role, you will help welcome the world and show what the UK has to offer. If you have what it takes to be a London Games Maker, apply now!”

Alan Keen MP said:

“This is a great opportunity for Hounslow residents to be part of the world’s biggest sporting event and experience firsthand the unique atmosphere created by the Olympic and Paralympic Games. With such a vital role to play in ensuring the smooth running of the Games, and the enjoyment of athletes and spectators, we are looking for volunteers who will make London 2012 the best Olympics ever.”

“The Games Makers have a vital role to play in ensuring every visitor has the time of their lives and leaves feeling that they have really enjoyed their stay with us. Now is your time to make a difference by signing up to be a volunteer in 2012."

London 2012 Games Makers will need to be available to volunteer for a minimum of 10 days during either the Olympic Games or the Paralympic Games and for at least three days of training, which will be led and provided by the London 2012 Organising Committee.

All those applying from 8am on 15 September 2010 will need to be 18 years of age or over on 1 January 2012. LOCOG is especially keen to recruit disabled people to volunteer for the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and will support disabled candidates through application, selection and as well as at Games-time.

The Young Games Maker programme for up to 1,500 volunteer roles for young people under the age of 18 will be unveiled in July 2011.