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6 November 2019
Signage for the Department for Work & Pensions in Westminster, London

The Department for Work and Pensions has been rapped over “misleading” adverts about Universal Credit.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched a probe after receiving 44 complaints, including from the Motor Neurone Disease Association and the Disability Benefits Consortium, about the campaigns. They claimed the ads, which ran in the Metro, Mail and Mail Online, overstated the effectiveness of the benefit and glossed over its flaws. One of the ads said: "MYTH: Universal Credit doesn't work. FACT: It does. People move into work faster on Universal Credit than they did on the old system." But the ASA said: "Because the advertising claim ... as it would be understood by readers did not accurately reflect the evidence, we concluded the claim had bot been substantiated and was therefore misleading." In response to the complaints, the DWP said that UC claimants were 4% more likely to have been in work at some point in the first six months of making their claim than those on the benefits it replaced. However, the ASA concluded: "Four issues were investigated, three of...
5 November 2019
Labour rosette

A controversial Labour candidate accused those on the right of the party of "weaponising" anti-semitism to score points against their internal political enemies.

Zarah Sultana, who is standing in Coventry South at the general election, said they were "scum" and also accused them disliking Muslims. Ms Sultana has previously been forced to apologise for claiming she would celebrate the deaths of Tony Blair and Benjamin Netanyahu. It has now emerged that in a Facebook comment posted during the 2016 Labour leadership election, she wrote: "The Labour Right are scum and genuinely make me sick. Is there any form of discrimination that they won't weaponise to politically point score like they've done in the past with antisemitism and now with homophobia? "Probably racism cos y'all got a serious deeply-rooted racism problem and Islamophobia cos y'all ain't even discreet about disliking Muslims." The emergence of the post, which has since been deleted, will pile further pressure on Labour bosses to act against the...
5 November 2019

The National Audit Office says that despite being announced in 2014, the Government’s starter homes policy has delivered zero homes instead of the promised 200,000 by 2020. The National Federation of Builders responds. 

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the National Federation of Builders (NFB) said: “We worked hard with the Government to make them understand how important this policy was to small builders and communities. They’ve not only pulled the rug from under small builders, including many hard-working NFB members, but also from under thousands of homebuyers who would have benefited from this policy.” A Government spokesperson said, ‘Even new homes conforming to the intended specifications cannot be marketed as starter homes, which has made getting developers on board challenging.’ The NFB, which has been the major driver behind keeping the starter homes conversation alive, says the Government is being disingenuous. The Government needs to remember that developers are not always housebuilders and that housebuilders often build homes for others, which in this case, could have been councils, Homes England, Government or even a developer. Priced at no more than £250,000 outside London and £...
5 November 2019
A 'recall petition signing place' sign is placed outside Bedford Hall in Thorney, Peterborough

In just two and a half years, the 2017 – 2019 Parliament made history with several firsts. From PMQs to parenting to periods, we remember some of the procedural and more personal firsts in the chamber

Black history 32 years after making history as the first black female MP, Diane Abbott (below) became the first BAME parliamentarian to represent their party at Prime Minister’s Questions when she stood in for Jeremy Corbyn on 2 October 2019.  Writing for The House at the time, Abbott said: “You are faced with a wall of sound, you know that people are watching you on their televisions, possibly even all over the world and there are also top-class hecklers in front of you, and sometimes behind you... In the end, once I hit my stride I rather enjoyed the experience”.  Baby got back After delaying her caesarean for a key Brexit vote, Tulip Siddiq (above) then became the first MP to benefit from the proxy voting pilot after giving birth to baby Raphael in January 2019. Her Labour colleague Vicky Foxcroft covered her voting duties for six months, and 13 other new parents have since taken advantage of proxy voting certificates. This session also saw the first baby present for...
Georgina Bailey
5 November 2019
Family at Home

Slips, trips and falls are among the biggest cause of accidents in the home. Home safety improvements to stairs, lighting and flooring are some of the simple and cost-effective ways we can tackle this issue, writes Lord Jordan.  

More than 6,000 people are killed as a result of a home accident in the UK every year- making the home arguably one of the most dangerous places to be. My question to the government is what are they doing to help prevent these needless fatalities? Slips, trips and falls are by far the biggest cause of accidents, and account for more than 60% of hospital admissions due to unintended injury. Falls and other common life-ending and life-changing accidental injuries don’t attract much media attention because they affect individuals, and happen in our own homes away from the public eye. However, these singular instances are part of a wider trend which, once observed, reveals the larger issue. In addition to my other duties as a peer, I am Vice President of the Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents, known as RoSPA. Their response to this unacceptable level of accidents in the home has been compiled in a forthcoming report: “Safer by design: A framework to reduce serious accidental...
5 November 2019
Prime Minister Boris Johnson Addresses the House of Commons from the Despatch Box

As Parliament dissolves, and the country prepares for a third general election in four years, Georgina Bailey looks back at the moments that have defined the 2017 - 2019 Parliament

With a hung Parliament and looming Article 50 deadline, there were always going to be occasions of high drama this Parliament. Aside from the prolonged periods resembling a legislative Sahara, we also saw record defeats, defections, plots, posturing, and eye-wateringly close votes. But what were the moments that led us to the latest “once-in-a-generation” election? Chucked because of Chequers? With everything that has happened since, you may be forgiven for forgetting that the furore over the Chequers Agreement was less than 16 months ago. If the 2017 general election was the beginning of the end for May, the reaction to her government’s key Brexit white paper was the point of no return. As well as being rejected by the EU, it was also resolutely disowned by two of her Cabinet’s big beasts, with David Davis and Boris Johnson both resigning in the days immediately following its finalisation. Five junior ministers quit government in opposition to the agreement, including self-...
Georgina Bailey
5 November 2019
Dominic Grieve

Dominic Grieve has called on Downing Street to withdraw a “slur” against him amid a deepening row over an unpublished report on Russian interference in UK democracy.

The former attorney general - who chairs the Intelligence and Security Committee - pushed back after a senior government source said its latest report had been leaked “in a very selective way”. And Mr Grieve dismissed as “plainly bogus” the Government’s reasons for holding back the findings. The ISC inquiry is said to have taken evidence from members of the intelligence services and looked into claims that the Kremlin tried to influence the outcome of the EU referendum in 2016 as well as the following year's general election. But its findings have yet to be made public - despite Mr Grieve telling the Commons on Tuesday that the report had been cleared by both the intelligence agencies and the Cabinet Office “by early October”.  “That is why on the 17 October the report was sent to the Prime Minister for final confirmation,” he said. “It is a longstanding agreement that the Prime Minister will endeavour to respond within ten days.” And he added: “My secretariat tell me that...
5 November 2019
Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg has said he is "profoundly" sorry amid an outcry after he suggested the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire lacked “common sense”.

The House of Commons leader told LBC radio that the 72 people who died in the blaze should have ignored firefighters’ advice to remain in their homes and instead leave the burning building. His comment came after a report into the fire last week found that more lives could have been saved were it not for a delay in revoking London Fire Brigade’s “stay put” policy. Mr Rees-Mogg told presenter Nick Ferrari: “The tragedy came about because of the cladding, leading to the fire racing up the building and then was compounded by the stay put policy and it seems to me that is the tragedy of it. “The more one’s read over the weekend about the report and about the chances of people surviving, if you just ignore what you’re told and leave you are so much safer. “And I think if either of us were in a fire, whatever the fire brigade said, we would leave the burning building. It just seems the common sense thing to do. And it is such a tragedy that that didn’t happen.” The comments drew strong...
5 November 2019
Boris Johnson addressing his Cabinet

Boris Johnson has told ministers that they look “full of beans” in a final rallying cry to his Cabinet ahead of the general election campaign.

The Prime Minister said his colleagues should be “very proud” of their government’s first 100 days and insisted that none of them “particularly wanted to hold” to the snap vote on 12 December. In a rare televised address of the weekly Cabinet meeting, Mr Johnson said: “We’re about to go forward to a general election which I think it is fair to say that none of us particularly wanted to hold because I think we were all very much wanting to get on with delivering for our country and getting on with the fantastic things we’ve been doing in the last 100 days and slightly more.” He added: "Thank you all very much for everything you’ve done over the last 100 days. Do you feel up for the campaign? "I think you do, you look as if you are full of beans, thanks you all very much for what you've done so far." Mr Johnson also condemned Parliament for “blocking” his Brexit plans and hit out at Jeremy Corbyn’s “disastrous and calamitous” plans for a second EU referendum. It...
5 November 2019

YouGov figures released as Royal College of GPs launches survey of its members on topic.

New figures released today (Tuesday 5 November 2019) by YouGov reveal that four in five (83%) people with an advanced or terminal illness think that organisations representing doctors should have either a neutral or supportive stance on assisted dying. This comes as the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) launches a survey of its 53,000 members on the issue - the first since 2013. The YouGov survey of over 500 adults diagnosed with cancer, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, multiple system atrophy or progressive supranuclear palsy also found that more than four in five (85%) said that their trust in doctors would either stay the same or increase under a change in the law to allow assisted dying as a choice for terminally ill, mentally competent adults, whereby two doctors would independently assess whether the person is of sound mind and terminally ill with 6 months or less to live. The RCGP, which last consulted its members...