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Commentary and analysis of recent UK politics events

Image of GCHQ donught buildingFollowing Home Secretary Theresa May’s refusal to allow MI5 boss Andrew Parker to appear before the parliamentary home affairs select committee the committee has said that it will question Theresa May more thoroughly.

The issue is about oversight of the security services: the home affairs select committee consider that intelligence agencies should be answerable to parliament and ordinary MPs, the government and the Home Secretary do not. Tim Farron, President of the ‘Liberal-Democrats’ is to propose measures to improve scrutiny of the intelligence services at the ‘Liberal-Democrats’ spring conference. The ‘Liberal-Democrat’ leadership has previously ignored directions from their ‘liberal-democratic’ party e.g. student tuition fees.

The public accounts committee has commented on Chancellor George Osborne use of misleading statistics on Britain’s budget deficit.

PAC chair Margaret Hodge said it was “hard to understand why the government debt and deficit highlighted in the whole government accounts differ from those reported in the ONS’s national accounts.”

“According to the former document, compiled on the basis of well-understood accounting standards, the UK’s in-year deficit for 2011-12 was £185bn. The national accounts used by the chancellor put the figure at £90bn.”

George Osborne has said that he wants “billions” more cut from the welfare budget. George Eaton at the New Statesman speculates where the axe might fall:

What cuts could he have in mind? It’s worth looking back at the speech David Cameron made on the subject in June 2012 when he outlined a series of possible measures, including:

  • The restriction of child-related benefits for families with more than two children.
  • A lower rate of benefits for the under-21s.
  • Preventing school leavers from claiming benefits.
  • Paying benefits in kind (like free school meals), rather than in cash.
  • Reducing benefit levels for the long-term unemployed. Cameron said: “Instead of US-style time-limits – which remove entitlements altogether – we could perhaps revise the levels of benefits people receive if they are out of work for literally years on end”.
  • A lower housing benefit cap. Cameron said that the current limit of £20,000 was still too high.
  • The abolition of the “non-dependent deduction”. Those who have an adult child living with them would lose up to £74 a week in housing benefit.

Osborne would also likely reduce the household benefit cap of £26,000 (he said today that “future governments could change the level” and Tory MPs have been pushing for one of £20,000) and maintain the 1% cap on benefit increases (a real-terms cut).

G4S and Serco are to have their criminals’ electronic tagging contracts transferred to Crapita.

New Statesman has a guide to fast-track processing of asylum-seekers.


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