Dods at Party Conference 2019

Labour | Conservatives | SNP

10 June 2019
A local bus service

The strategy must support council funding and increase passenger numbers, says Baroness Randerson

Bus services have been declining since the 1950s and the problem was made worse in the 1980s by the deregulation of bus services outside London. Competition was meant to stimulate the market but in rural areas there is effectively no competition within the bus industry. Almost three in every five journeys made by public transport are by bus. That’s not as impressive as it sounds because, outside London, the car is king. Buses provide vital social links for those who live in the country. The rural population is older and hence less likely to be able to rely on using a car. Young people in rural areas need an alternative to relying on the taxi service provided by mum and dad to get to school, college and employment. As it costs more to run a car in the countryside, because of greater distances, less affluent members of the rural community are also more reliant on bus services. All these groups are left socially isolated when bus services are cut. Decline has occurred despite the...
Baroness Randerson
10 June 2019
Train tickets

Andrew Haylen from the House of Commons Library reports 

Many rail passengers, namely season ticket holders, have been left several hundred pounds worse off under the Delay Repay passenger compensation regime, according to our recent research. Some train operators might also be financially better off under Delay Repay than under the old Passenger’s Charter regime.  But what is the difference between Delay Repay and its predecessor, the Passenger’s Charter scheme? How much does the type of ticket passengers own affect the amount of compensation they can  get? What is the Delay Repay compensation scheme? The Delay Repay compensation scheme was introduced in 2007. Under this scheme, a passenger is entitled to 50% of the cost of a single fare if a train is delayed by more than 30 minutes, irrespective of the cause of the delay. This is more generous for single and return passengers than what was offered under the Passenger’s Charter scheme. The Passenger’s Charter only offered compensation for delays of more than 60 minutes, and...
Andrew Haylen
10 June 2019
Jeremy Hunt and Amber Rudd

Boris Johnson's campaign to become Tory leader has suffered a setback after Amber Rudd backed her Cabinet colleague Jeremy Hunt for the top job.

The Work and Pensions Secretary - a key player in the 'One Nation' caucus of moderate Tory MPs - said that Mr Hunt would be a "serious leader" for "serious times". And in a thinly-veiled dig at Mr Johnson - who had tried to persuade Ms Rudd to back his leadership bid - said it was "not enough to be told to shut your eyes, cross your fingers, pick up some magic beans and believe in Britain". Her announcement came after the One Nation caucus held interview-style hustings with the leading candidates in Westminster last week. Writing in The Times, Ms Rudd said Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt "stands out above everyone". She said: "I was encouraged by the methodical way in which he approached the inescapable facts of the Brexit impasse and sought to provide solutions to them. "He is approaching this seismic challenge with confidence, craft, vision...
10 June 2019
Justice for Lai Dai Han

We cannot stand by and allow historic acts of sexual violence, often from many decades ago, to be ignored, says Jack Straw, International Ambassador for Justice for Lai Dai Han and former UK Foreign Secretary.

In December 2018, Lord Tariq Ahmad, the Prime Minister’s Special Representative for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, announced that the UK would commit an additional £500,000 to the UK’s aid effort to support victims of sexual violence around the world. The additional funding will mean that more experts can be deployed to conflict zones, such as Syria, Nigeria and Myanmar, to gather evidence and provide training. The UK is also urging countries around the world to sign up to the ‘Murad Code’, which sets out the standards of behaviour for government bodies, NGOs and aid workers when gathering evidence of sexual violence from conflict zones for courts. This is an essential step which will see more offenders brought to justice. The UK’s commitment to bringing the perpetrators of sexual violence to justice and to provide support to the victims is unwavering. However, we cannot stand by and allow historic acts of sexual violence, often from many decades ago, to be ignored....
10 June 2019

More disabled people than ever before are choosing self-employment, but are being let down by poor support from government, according to new research from IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) and the Community trade union.

The study, ‘Making self-employment work for disabled people’, found that 611,000 UK disabled people now work for themselves in their main job. The report also found that although they overwhelmingly see self-employment as a positive way of working, they do not get the support they need from government. Key findings of the report are: One in seven (611,000 people) of the self-employed UK workforce are disabled, up by 30 per cent in five years. Disabled people actively choose self-employment; only 12 per cent were ‘pushed’ into it by a lack of opportunities or redundancy. The most common reason for choosing self-employment is to get better work conditions – as confirmed by one in five disabled freelancers. Most of the issues faced by the disabled self-employed – such as late payment – are shared by the whole sector. Disabled self-employed people are struggling not only with difficulties accessing benefits through the Work Capability Assessment, but also with widespread poor...
10 June 2019
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has vowed to cut income tax for people earning more than £50,000 a year if he wins the Conservative Party leadership race.

The former Foreign Secretary told The Telegraph that he would increase threshold at which workers start paying the 40p rate from £50,000 to £80,000 - a move set to which would cost around £9.6bn a year. Mr Johnson said he would find the cash from a contingency fund set aside by the Treasury to pay for the impact of a no-deal Brexit. The pledge came as fellow Tory leadership candidates Jeremy Hunt, Dominic Raab, Michael Gove and Matt Hancock prepared to formally launch their own campaigns for the top job. Writing in the Telegraph, Mr Johnson said: "We should be cutting corporation tax and other business taxes. "We should be raising thresholds of income tax – so that we help the huge numbers that have been captured in the higher rate by fiscal drag. We can go for much greater economic growth – and still be the cleanest, greenest society on earth."...
10 June 2019
Michael Gove

A former co-chair of the Conservative Party has called on Michael Gove quit the Tory leadership campaign amid a row over his use of cocaine.

Baroness Warsi said it was "completely inappropriate" for Mr Gove to stay in the race to become the next Prime Minister. The Environment Secretary will present himself as the "serious" alternative to frontrunner Boris Johnson as he launches his campaign in Westminster on Monday. But Mr Gove, who this weekend admitted he was “fortunate” not to have been jailed for taking the Class A drug more than two decades ago, is facing mounting criticism from Tory colleagues. Baroness Warsi told Channel 4 News: "This case isn’t just about drug taking, it is about trust. "It is about hypocrisy of the highest order and it cannot be that we have somebody who is now mired in this issue of trust and hypocrisy feel that it is still appropriate for him to stand as leader of the Conservative Party and a Prime Minister of this country." At his campaign...
10 June 2019
Grenfell Tower

Labour has called on ministers to take over any private blocks which still have Grenfell-style cladding on them by the end of this year.

Ministers last month vowed £200m to have the combustible material removed from some privately-owned high-rises, in a bid to speed up efforts to prevent a repeat of the disaster. The Grenfell Tower fire, which ripped up the side of the west London high rise, resulted in the deaths of 72 people in June 2017. The Government confirmed in April that more than 300 high-rise residential and publicly-owned buildings still have aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding systems that would be "unlikely" to meet regulations. That means nine in ten private blocks - 164 out of 175 - have still not had it removed and replaced. Labour said the Government should change the 2004 Housing Act to force block owners to replace dangerous cladding, or show substantial progress in doing so by the end of December 2019. Those which have not, they say, should face fines followed by confiscation of blocks, with the council to then take on Government funding to tackle the problem. Furthermore the...
9 June 2019
Esther McVey

Tory leadership hopeful Esther McVey has admitted that she could move to suspend Parliament in order to ensure Brexit is delivered by 31 October.

The former Cabinet minister joined colleague Dominic Raab in refusing to rule out using the process, known as prorogation, if it looked likely that MPs would vote to block a no-deal withdrawal from the EU on 31 October. She said that her hard Brexit position was now a “possible” option given Theresa May's deal was rejected by the Commons three times and that “no bits of tweaking” could improve it by the deadline. When asked whether she would ask the Queen to suspend parliament in a bid to force the process through, the ex-frontbencher said it would not be her “priority” but accepted it was an option. "I’ve said I would use every tool at my disposal, so that would include that," she told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.  She added: "What we have seen by MPs going against the democratic vote of the country, they have torn up 400 years of history, they have ripped up the rule book. "So it seems somewhat wrong to me that people who want to frustrate the vote can rip up...
9 June 2019
Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has faced a backlash over his plan to withhold the £39bn divorce bill agreed with the European Union if he becomes the next Prime Minister.

The frontrunner to succeed Theresa May ruled out making the payments, unless Brussels offered the UK improved terms in the withdrawal agreement. The ex-foreign secretary said it was “extraordinary” that ministers had agreed the sum before the Brexit deal had been finalised and added that “money is a great solvent and a great lubricant” in getting a good deal. In an interview with the Sunday Times he also vowed to scrap the Northern Ireland backstop and instead settle the issue when the bloc was ready to agree a future relationship. The EU has repeatedly ruled out renegotiating the arrangement, which would create a temporary customs union between the UK and EU until an alternative means of keeping an open border in Ireland is reached. But the bloc's Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt responded to Mr Johnson's claims,...