Dods at Party Conference 2018

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

19 November 2018
Amber RuddAmber Rudd

Amber Rudd today hit back at a UN expert who issued a damning report about the state of poverty in the UK.

In her first Commons appearance since her dramatic return to the Cabinet, the Work and Pensions Secretary said it was “wholly inappropriate” for special rapporteur Philip Alston to say the UK welfare system was inflicting “great misery” on the most vulnerable in society. After a 12-day fact finding mission to the UK Mr Alston said the Government approach was “putitive and mean-spirited” and said ministers were “in denial” about hardship in the UK. He singled out the controversial Universal Credit system for criticism, saying claimants were being treated “like guinea pigs” and that the Government were ignoring critics. But taking questions from MPs, Ms Rudd took aim at Mr Alston's verdict and the “extraordinary political nature of his language” he used in his damning report. "We on this side of the House will always engage with professionals, with...
19 November 2018
Theresa MayTheresa May

Theresa May today admitted the final Brexit date could be pushed back to the next general election - amid claims the UK could be tied to EU rules for another four years.

The Prime Minister said it was “important” that the so-called implementation period should end before the country goes to the polls again in 2022. Her comments appear to contradict her Business Secretary Greg Clark – who this morning said the UK should have the choice of extending the implementation for the whole of 2022. The transition - currently scheduled to last between the exit date of March 2019 and December 2020 - will see the UK remain tied to most EU rules in a bid to smooth its withdrawal from the bloc. But reports emerged last night that EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier discussed adding a full year to the interim period with ambassadors from the remaining EU 27 member states. The extension is thought of as a way to keep the Northern Irish border open in case no future trade deal is agreed - and would serve as an alternative to the so-called 'backstop' plan which is hated by Brexiteers. Mrs May has previously said the implementation period...
19 November 2018
Consultant analysing a mammogramConsultant analysing a mammogram

Labour Peer Baroness Massey calls for increased access to breast cushions to help women avoid discomfort and pain during mammograms

Breast screening is an important part of women’s health. More than two million are screened every year. It saves one life for every 200 screened – more than 1,300 a year. Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women, yet some do not return for check-ups because of the pain involved in the procedure. Some find it excruciating. They can feel faint or stop the examination, and some feel sore afterwards. To obtain accurate readings, the mammography machine needs to compress the breast. Pain especially affects women with dense breast tissue. The breast cushion is a soft foam pad which is placed between the woman’s breast and the mammography machine, resulting in in a more comfortable experience. Designed by a female breast surgeon, each cushion costs about £2 each. Most women I have asked in the UK have never heard of these cushions. I was alerted to them by a neighbour who has lived in the Netherlands, where they are routinely on offer during mammograms. On returning to...
19 November 2018
House of LordsHouse of Lords

The House of Lords should begin the process of reducing its size and capping the total number of peers as a matter of urgency, MPs have said.

The Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee said the Upper House should make headway on the Burns Report’s proposal to take the number of peers down by 200 over 11 years. The committee backed capping the number at 600, as recommended, and a 15-year term introduced for new peers. The group, who also supported the ‘two-out one-in’ principle to cut back on members, said the growing size was affecting the Chamber’s ability to function effectively. Chair of the Committee, Sir Bernard Jenkin, said: “The Burns report presents an opportunity to take the most obvious next step in the evolution of the House of Lords. “The House of Lords is of vital importance to the UK’s political system, carrying out important scrutiny and revising functions, but it is a problem that the size of the Chamber continues to grow exponentially. “My Committee is calling for the number of peers to be reduced, and then capped, at 600, as recommended in...
19 November 2018
Theresa MayTheresa May

Theresa May will go on the offensive today as she insists her Brexit agreement with the EU is “final”.

The embattled Prime Minister, who is facing the prospect of a leadership challenge as well as mounting pressure from her own Cabinet to renegotiate key parts of the draft deal struck with the EU, will tell the CBI business group that the pact has been "agreed in full". Five Cabinet ministers - including Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom - are expected to meet today to discuss their joint push for changes to the plan, which has drawn anger over its 'backstop' provision to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland. Mrs May's critics fear that the current proposals will leave the UK locked in an indefinite customs tie-up with the EU and are demanding the right for Britain to unilaterally pull out of that arrangement. But Mrs May will insist: "The core elements of that deal are already in place. The Withdrawal Agreement has been agreed in full, subject of course to final agreement being reached on the future framework.   "That Agreement is a...
19 November 2018
GP speaking with patientGP speaking with patient

From diagnosis to recovery, blood cancer is different to other types of cancer. Chair of the Blood Cancer APPG Henry Smith says it is vital that the wider medical profession understand these difference. 

As the most common type of cancer among children, teenagers and young people in the UK, the upcoming NHS plan needs a strong emphasis on ensuring the needs of blood cancer patients and their families are met and given continued focus by the Government. As Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blood Cancer this is a call I continue to make ahead of the publication of the Government’s Ten Year Plan for the National Health Service. Awareness of symptoms among GPs and the wider public is the first step to reducing the impact of blood cancer. These include, but are by no means restricted to fatigue, unexplained weight loss and easy bruising or bleeding. While a patient may think any of these are perhaps a result of a busy lifestyle, the reality is they could have a cancer which 1 in 19 people in this country will develop at some point in their lives. Blood cancer is the UK’s fifth most common cancer but the third biggest cancer killer. At the start of this year the APPG...
19 November 2018
Jeremy HuntJeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt has called on Iran’s government to stop using innocent dual-national Britons as political prisoners.

The Foreign Secretary will urge the regime to release British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been held since April 2016 after she was accused of spying. His visit to the republic marks the first of a western leader since the United States pulled out of a nuclear deal and imposed sanctions earlier this year. Ahead of the trip, Mr Hunt said: “We must see those innocent British-Iranian dual nationals imprisoned in Iran returned to their families in Britain,” “I have just heard too many heartbreaking stories from families who have been forced to endure a terrible separation.” “So I arrive in Iran with a clear message for the country's leaders: putting innocent people in prison cannot and must not be used as a tool of diplomatic leverage.” Mr Hunt is set to meet with Iranian counterpart Mohammad Zarif on the trip, with whom he last spoke at the time of the United Nations General Assembly in September. He will raise concerns around Iranian support for Shia Houthi rebels...
19 November 2018
The coastal communities that struggle are part of a bigger problem, writes Lord BassamThe coastal communities that struggle are part of a bigger problem, writes Lord Bassam

The decline of the British seaside is far from inevitable or a permanent feature. But we need to invest in better connectivity and a more inclusive economic model that spreads wealth and opportunity, writes Lord Bassam 

We all have a fascination for the British seaside and all that goes with it; no other nation quite reveres the seaside like we do. The advent, however, of cheap charter flights and cut-price package holidays from the 1960s onwards cast a long shadow over the Victorian and Edwardian legacy of the seaside as a holiday destination of choice for UK residents. Slow to respond, many of our premier resorts went into sharp decline. In recent years the British seaside has begun to recover its interest and allure for visitors, tourists and day trippers alike. In truth, we Brits never fell out of love with our coastline. So as a timely reminder of this, the House of Lords decided to establish one of its year-long ‘task and finish’ select committees to look at what works to regenerate seaside and coastal economies. We report next March – just in time to face the new economic realities of post-Brexit Britain. So how is seaside Britain faring? Although too early to be definitive, it is clear that...
19 November 2018
Lucy Powell has secured cross-party support for her Online Forums BillLucy Powell has secured cross-party support for her Online Forums Bill

Hidden social media groups are acting as echo chambers for hate and threats of violence, Labour MP Lucy Powell fears. She tells Elizabeth Bates why MPs must take action and back her Online Forums Bill 

Getting Jacob Rees-Mogg to back her bill could prove too tough of a challenge for Theresa May, but not for Labour’s Lucy Powell. The Manchester Central MP has won a diverse spread of cross-party support for a fresh effort to tackle the proliferation of hate speech, fake news and radicalisation online. Her focus is on hidden social media groups, which are inaccessible to everyone but their members and can become dangerous echo chambers of misinformation, aggression and discrimination. The Online Forums Bill, she explains, would remove the anonymity of moderators, making them responsible for any hate speech or defamation which occurs under their watch. The legislation would also force platforms to publish information about secret groups. “The last time there was a piece of legislation in this space was in 2003, before Facebook even existed,” she says. “As politicians perhaps, we are at the frontline of it a lot more than others, but I have been alarmed over the past couple of years...
Elizabeth Bates
19 November 2018
Keya, 13Keya, 13

There is a crisis in our world’s classrooms: more basic than the availability of teachers or books, with massive impact on children’s health, attendance and ability to learn, says Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive, WaterAid.

One in three schools around the world do not have decent toilets, and one in five primary schools have no toilets at all – leaving small children with no choice but to hold it in all through their lessons, or venture out to a corner of the playground or a nearby bush. That is the daily reality of 620 million schoolchildren around the world: the equivalent of almost double the population of the United States, denied their human right to sanitation each time they sit down at their desks, or don’t go to school because there is no toilet. It’s not hard to imagine the impact of this situation: the filthy environment makes children ill, leading to high absenteeism and poor learning. This worsens when girls begin menstruating if they have no safe, private, hygienic space to care for themselves; often they miss lessons completely for several days a month, rather than risk the embarrassment and shame of a leak in front of their classmates. For hundreds of thousands of children each year, it...