Friday 31 May 2013
William Hague is set to to demand a new ‘red card’ system that will allow individual nation states be given powers to block unwelcome laws from Brussels.
Thursday 30 May 2013
Britain will “not stand by” while the European Commission tries to give some unemployed immigrants more rights to claim benefits, the Work and Pensions Secretary said last night.
As Conservative MPs reacted with fury, Mr Duncan Smith said he would never “cave in” to the demands, which could cost taxpayers £155 million a year.
"People in this country expect me to protect the benefits system from abuse and protect the money of hardworking taxpayers,” he said. “So I will not stand by while the European Commission tries to water down the valuable protections we've put in place.”
The move casts doubt on whether David Cameron will be able to deliver his promised crack-down on “benefit tourists”, after he said there were too many foreigners “abusing” Britain’s generous system earlier this year.
The European Commission said the UK’s existing arrangements are illegal and “discriminatory” because British people do not have to pass the same strict “right to reside” test as EU immigrants.
It argues welfare is "unfairly and illegally" denied to thousands of EU citizens living in the UK, who should have been getting child benefit, child tax credit, income based jobseeker's allowance, state pension credit and income based employment and support allowances.
According to EU law, anyone should be able to claim benefits in a member state if they have passed a “habitual residence” test, proving they have a “genuine link” with the country and have “moved their centre of interest” there.
However, Britain argues this is not enough to stop unemployed people from abusing the system. Its “right to reside” test requires immigrants from the EU to jump through extra hoops, such as proving they are looking for work, in work, a student, self-employed or independently wealthy. This is designed to stop unemployed people simply moving from an EU country to Britain to claim unemployment benefits, pension credit and housing benefit, a Whitehall official said.
Peter Lilley, a Conservative MP and former Social Security Secretary, said the European Commission's intervention would be "costly, unwelcome and undemocratic".
Douglas Carswell, a eurosceptic backbencher, also said the "lunatic and offensive decision" would make it easier to convince people "that we need to leave the EU completely".
However, the European Commission accused the UK of stoking up anti-EU sentiment and exaggerating the risk of so-called benefit tourism.
“It is inevitable that it will fan the flames of debate. It has been misrepresented and misinterpreted by some,” a spokesman said.
“It is simply not true that people can claim benefits after getting of a plane under EU rules.
“It is a dialogue of the deaf. They insist they are right and that the commission, the guardian of the treaties, is wrong.”
The commission said 64 per cent of 42,810 EU nationals applying for benefits in Britain 2009 to 2011 were refused, arguing that this is evidence of discrimination.
Commission officials told the Telegraph that repeated meetings with the Government, including "informal contacts, had failed to bridge the impasse leading to the court challenge to British law".
"As a result of this discriminatory test EU citizens cannot receive social security benefits, such as child benefit, to which they are entitled under European law," an official said. "The commission asked Britain to end this discrimination against EU nationals in September 2011 but no measures have been notified to us."
Commission lawyers are acting on complaints made by EU nationals living in Britain and there are a number of petitions complaining about discrimination lodged in the European Parliament.
UK's growing economy will leave Europe behind: Austerity is 'appropriate' says OECD as eurozone stagnates
The British economy will perform better than all its major European rivals this year as the sluggish recovery picks up pace, a leading global watchdog said yesterday.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development forecast growth of 0.8 per cent in the UK in 2013 – slightly weaker than the 0.9 per cent previously expected.
But it slashed its forecast for the eurozone from a decline of 0.1 per cent to a reverse of 0.6 per cent – with Britain doing better than Germany, France, Italy and Spain.
Pier Carlo Padoan, the group’s chief economist, said: ‘The British economy is recovering slowly and that reflects the fact that Europe is doing poorly. Growth is expected to pick up gradually through 2013 and 2014.’
The Paris-based think tank said Chancellor George Osborne’s austerity plans were ‘appropriate’ and ‘necessary’ and added that the outlook in the UK was far brighter than on the Continent, where the situation is ‘dire’.
But, in its twice-yearly Economic Outlook report, it said ‘much more needs to be done’ to repair Britain’s battered finances and bolster growth.
The OECD called for increased spending on infrastructure projects such as housing and transport to help the UK overcome the ‘strong headwinds’ buffeting the economy.
‘Continuing to shift the composition of public expenditure in favour of infrastructure investment would enhance growth prospects,’ said the organisation, which cast doubt over the decision to protect large parts of public spending from cuts, such as the NHS, education and overseas aid.
Jorgen Elmeskov, its deputy chief economist, said: ‘We are perhaps somewhat doubtful [as] to the idea of ring-fencing certain spending areas. That tends to lead to deeper cuts in other areas which may not be warranted.
‘You may or may not want to cut down less on health than on other areas, but that should be a result of an assessment of the costs and benefits of doing it, not because you carve out health and thereby impose bigger adjustments on other expenditure items.’
But the report from the OECD, which represents around 30 of the world’s biggest economies, will come as a relief to Mr Osborne as the austerity debate rages on.
The International Monetary Fund last week called on the Chancellor to loosen the purse strings this year to bolster growth.
But the OECD said further cuts are ‘necessary to store the sustainability of public finances’. It warned that prolonged weakness in the eurozone ‘could evolve into stagnation with negative implications for the global economy’.
Growth forecasts in Germany were cut from 0.6 per cent to 0.4 per cent while the OECD now expects the French economy to shrink by 0.3 per cent instead of expand by 0.3 per cent.
Spain and Italy are set to fare even worse.
Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, admitted that governments need to ‘do more to help themselves get back to growth and move Europe beyond the crisis’. He added: ‘There is no room for complacency.’
Mr Padoan said the pace of recovery around the world was ‘still disappointing’ but insisted that ‘the global economy is moving forward’. He called on the European Central Bank to combat the recession through measures such as a money-printing programme dubbed quantitative easing or QE.
‘Europe is in a dire situation,’ he said. ‘The eurozone could consider more aggressive options. We could call it a eurozone-style QE.’
The OECD said rising unemployment ‘is the most pressing challenge’ facing the region.
The Jaguar Land Rover success story shows no sign of abating, as the company reports another significant rise in sales and profits during the past 12 months. The company has reported revenues of £15.8bn for the fiscal year ended 31 March 2013, up 17% year on year (£13.5bn last year).
Retail sales increased 22% to 374,636 vehicles, supported by significant product actions including the Range Rover, Jaguar XF and XJ and the XF Sportbrake. The company generated positive sales growth in all regions: China up 48%, Asia Pacific up 27%, UK up 20%, Europe up 18%, North America up 9% and other overseas markets up 19%. Profit before tax increased by 11% to £1,675m for the fiscal year (£1,507m last year).
Commenting on the results, Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, Dr Ralf Speth said: ‘The positive result for the financial year demonstrates that we have strong demand for our great, solid product portfolio all around the world. During this period Jaguar Land Rover unveiled major new products, the all-new all aluminium Range Rover and the Jaguar Sportbrake, the AWD XF and AWD XJ and the stunning F-Type.’
Dr Speth continued: ‘Jaguar Land Rover invested significantly in the product creation process, in our advanced manufacturing sites and created more than 3000 jobs. This commitment is set to continue with a sustained programme of investment which will see us spend in the region of £2.75bn on new product, people and infrastructure in the year to March 2014.’
Jaguar Land Rover 2012/13 Fiscal Year Retail Sales:
|TOTAL||374,636 up 22%|
|Europe||80,994 up 18%|
|China||77,075 up 48%|
|UK||72,270 up 20%|
|North America||62,959 up 9%|
|Asia Pacific||17,849 up 27%|
|Overseas||63,489 up 19%|
Conservative Parliamentary Challenger for Eastbourne & Willingdon, Cllr Caroline Ansell addressed a Cabinet Meeting at Eastbourne's Town Hall on Wednesday evening to persuade members to support Eastbourne Borough Council's signing up to an East Sussex wide scheme called the Community Covenant which pledges to provide every assistance to our brave members of the Armed Forces and their families.
"I welcome that Eastbourne Borough Council has formally signed the joint local Community Covenant and embraced the principles which the Covenant upholds.
With recent events in Woolwich, we are reminded, again, of the terrible price some pay in the service of our country, they and their loved ones.
In my teaching years, when working in a boarding school, I was in loco parentis for the daughters of military personnel and so have privileged insight into the lives of military families, incredible cameraderie often but also the everyday sacrifices in service life; I saw too the challenges of coming out of the Forces, particularly around Health, Housing and Education.
The Community Covenant recognises the unique circumstances of Service Life and affirms the special relationship we have with our Armed Forces.
And, through the Community Covenant Grant Scheme, I look forward to seeing local community groups coming forward with initiatives which will enhance and extend that relationship".
Sunday 26 May 2013
When we call a man a terrorist, we bestow a certain status on him. He ceases to be a common criminal, a violent narcissist, a drop-out. He becomes, instead, a man with a cause.
Bellicose young men, in all ages and nations, look for ideologies that justify their aggression. Sometimes, they latch on to an organisation that already exists – the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the IRA, al-Qaeda. Sometimes, as with Anders Behring Breivik or Seung-Hui Cho, they develop their own Weltanschauung – often in language so conceited and hackneyed that, in other circumstances, it would be laughable.
I've mentioned before that what these killers tend to have in common is not so much ideology as personality. Whether they are Islamists or animal rights extremists, loners or ETA bombers, they tend to fit a certain profile. They are overwhelmingly male and in their twenties. They are often slightly brighter than average, and tend to have some education. They have frequently had a history of petty crime. They have rarely been successful with girls.
Michael Adebolajo, the man waving his blood-stained hands in front of the phone cameras, seems to fit the profile well enough. Neighbours recall a hostile boy who once punched a girl in the face when she called to retrieve a ball, who loved shooter video games and who later became involved in drug peddling and gang violence.
At first blush, his doesn't seem an Islamic way of life. For the point about Adebolajo is not that he was a Muslim – few Muslims would recognise him as a coreligionist – but that he was an anti-social thug. Lord Macaulay, who had useful things to say about virtually every subject, observed:
The experience of many ages proves that men may be ready to fight to the death, and to persecute without pity, for a religion whose creed they do not understand, and whose precepts they habitually disobey.Indeed. And if not a religion, something else. We are dealing with people who have faulty empathy, and who have latched on to causes that tell them that the problem is not theirs, but everyone else's.
Don't build up these smalltime crooks as international terrorists. Don't nod towards their view of themselves as soldiers engaged in a war. Don't treat them as representatives of any religion. Don't, in short, do anything that will tempt the next saddo trawling the web from his mother's basement to think that an act of violence will somehow be treated by the authorities as a challenge to the state.
Treat the Woolwich abomination like a crime: an unusually nauseating crime, to be sure, but a crime rather than an ideological act. Let the police deal with it. Spare us the Churchillian rhetoric. If you absolutely must meet in Cobra, call it by its pedestrian full name: Cabinet Office Briefing Room A.
Let people see these men for the losers they are, with their underpants bombs, their belief that you can set glass-and-concrete airports on fire by driving into them, their tendency to blow themselves up in error, their childishly self-obsessed statements. Trumpet the sheer banality of their evil.
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Tuesday 21 May 2013
After the news this weekend, I wanted to write a personal note to members of our Party.
I’ve been a member of the Conservative Party for 25 years. Some time after I joined I became Chairman of my local branch and was one of the volunteers dedicated to getting Conservatives elected to the local council. Since then I have met thousands and thousands of party members. We’ve pounded the pavements together, canvassed together and sat in make-shift campaign headquarters together, from village halls to front rooms. We have been together through good times and bad. This is more than a working relationship; it is a deep and lasting friendship.
Ours is a companionship underpinned by what we believe: that everyone should be able to get on in life if they’re willing to work hard; that we look after those who cannot help themselves; that it’s family and community and country that matter; that a dose of common sense is worth more than a ton of dry political theory; that Britain is a great and proud nation that can be greater still.
That’s why I am proud to lead this party. I am proud of what you do. And I would never have those around me who sneered or through otherwise. We are a team, from the parish council to the local association to Parliament, and I never forget it.
Does that mean we will agree on everything? Of course not. The Conservative Party has always been a broad church – one which contains different views and opinions – and we must remain so today. But there is also much we must do together. We can shout from the roof-tops about how far we’ve already some. The deficit has been cut by a third. We’ve seen 1.25 million new jobs created in our private sector. 24 million working people have had their income tax cut.
And we can be clear about where we are going, too. We are engaged in a great fight to rebalance our economy, to bring excellence back to our schools, to fix the welfare system. And yes, we have a policy on Europe that is right for our country. Amid all the debate, remember this: it is our party that has committed to an in-out referendum on Europe by the end of 2017. Not Labour, not the Liberal Democrats, but the Conservatives who are committed to giving the British people their say.
So to those reading this, here is my message: there will always be criticism from the sidelines. But we must remember what this Party has always been about: acting in the national interest. Our task today is to clear up Labour’s mess and make Britain stand tall again.
We have a job to do for our country – and we must do it together.