Weekly Parliament Roundup: 13th-19th January 2014

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 13th-19th January 2014

Parliament Roundup – 13/01/14-19/01/14


Labour Speech

This week, Labour leader Ed Miliband and his shadow ministers will make speeches for the electorate in order to announce Labour’s upcoming plans. The speeches are designed to broaden the debate away from spending and the deficit. Shadow Housing Minister Emma Reynolds made a speech on Tuesday reemphasising on Labour’s plans to build more than 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament in 2020 by stressing that we need to increase social housing. However, this might prove tricky for Labour as they will have to allow more borrowing in order to reach this ambitious goal. This goal in particular might be seen as Ed Miliband’s way of proving that Labour is not just about short term goals such as his established energy price freeze.

Euro sceptics unsatisfied


95 of Conservative backbenchers have recently signed a vote for the law to be changed for the House of Commons to veto new EU regulations. There has been much recent disagreement with this vote and William Hague recently said that it’s unrealistic to give every country a veto on EU law. The main issue is that the euro sceptics will never be satisfied by any of Cameron’s actions towards the European Union. It is very obvious that our relationship with Europe isn’t working but this doesn’t necessarily mean that we should back out when we feel like it and tie the House Commons down with every EU law that is put in place. We can’t join an international treaty and then simply pick and choose what we like and what we don’t like, the whole point of being in union with Europe is to work together and compromise on some issues.  We also need to trust that Cameron is doing the best he can and we should simply let the people decide in 2017 in Cameron’s referendum promise whether or not they want to stay in the EU. Making the House of Commons veto every single EU regulation will not solve the deep underlying issues which Britain need to sort out with the EU.


Ed Miliband and other members of his party have realised that there have been a slight decline in the number of people watching PMQs due to the programme becoming too much like a ‘Punch and Judy Show’ (starring himself and David Cameron). Therefore Miliband is attempting to act more civilized and ordered. So as to doing this, he is trying to find some areas where he and Cameron agree on certain issues. This was visible on Wednesday’s PMQs where Miliband, instead of beginning his questions rather loudly and impatiently towards Cameron, acted in a more ‘professional’ manner. We will see how long it will all last before his tantrums about the Cost of Living Crisis begins again

Miliband questioned Cameron about The Royal Bank of Scotland asking the government to approve bonuses to 100% on multi million pound salaries. It seemed like he was willing to talk about this issue in an orderly manner whereas Cameron resulted to attacking him again about the failures of the labour government to handle the issues with RBS. David Cameron even went as far as stating that Miliband should be apologising of the mess that they made of RBS in the first place.

Other News

- David Cameron will announce that the government will give new incentives to allow shale gas/fracking development .Councils will get more than 1.7 million pounds a year for these sites. See the Guardian for more detail


Gloria Ganda

The Coalition Welfare Reforms Explained

The Coalition Welfare Reforms Explained

Coalition Welfare reforms

Job Seekers Allowance (JSA): The Department for Work and Pensions have set up schemes aimed at getting unemployed people back to work, it has caused much controversy Critics have dubbed the programmes as “Workfare”, likening them to unpaid labour, or forcing people to work for their benefits. To get people back to work by either Work Experience (November 2011, 34,200 people had started a Work Experience placement), Sector-based work academies, Mandatory Work Activity, Community Activity Programme and the Work Programme. JSA has been cut to at least £56.80 a week, varying on an individual’s situation.

Universal Credit: A new in- and out-of-work credit, which integrates six of the main out-of-work benefits. The aim is to increase incentives to work for the unemployed and to encourage longer hours for those working part-time. “The main differences between Universal Credit and the current welfare system are:

  • Universal Credit will be available to people who are in work and on a low income, as well as to those who are out of work
  • most people will apply online and manage their claim through an online account
  • Universal Credit will be responsive – as people on low incomes move in and out of work, they’ll get ongoing support, giving people more incentive to work for any period of time that is available
  • most claimants on low incomes will still be paid Universal Credit when they first start a new job or increase their part-time hours
  • claimants will receive just 1 monthly payment, paid into a bank account in the same way as a monthly salary
  • support with housing costs will go direct to the claimant as part of their monthly payment”

Many feel the policy has been a total failure is in serious trouble. The national rollout, originally intended for this October, has been delayed until next spring and will reach fewer towns. Many observers believe this disaster to be inevitable. Why? Because to work efficiently, benefits must, by necessity, be complicated.  Combining the distribution of benefits and collection of tax requires a gargantuan IT system, a system which is reportedly the problem here, just as it was with the ambitious, disastrous and ultimately – abandoned, NHS IT system, which cost £12.7bn. Universal credit also rolls out in a complex world. People could ruin a perfectly fine idea with their lack of online access and IT skills, which is causing further difficulties. The scale and cost will unnerve ministers, who are struggling to roll out the beleaguered £2.4bn universal credit system, and have admitted that they have already written off £34m on failed IT systems for the project, though departmental estimates suggest the total figure for write-offs could reach at least £140m.

Housing Benefit: Benefit for low income families to help pay for rent, controversial policy includes the ‘Bedroom Tax’ a reduction in housing benefit if the user has spare bedrooms. The government wants to cap housing benefit at £400-a-week for the largest homes or £290-a-week for two-bed flats. It will also cut the amount of the allowance so that it was pegged to the bottom third of rents in any borough. It is also agreed by many that the changes to housing benefit will increase homelessness, which has been the trend in recent years. The aim of the Bedroom tax is to tackle overcrowding and encourage a more efficient use of social housing. Working age housing benefit and unemployment claimants deemed to have one spare bedroom in social housing will lose 14% of their housing benefit and those with two or more spare bedrooms will lose 25%. An estimated 1m households with extra bedrooms are paid housing benefit. Critics say it is an inefficient policy as in the north of England, families with a spare rooms outnumber overcrowded families by three to one, so thousands will be hit with the tax when there is no local need for them to move. Two-thirds of the people hit by the bedroom tax are disabled. Saving £465m a year, as many as 660,000 people in social housing will lose an average of £728 a year.

Old Age Pensions (OAPs): Pensioners are to receive a flat-rate universal retirement payment of £140 a week The Work and Pensions Secretary will pledge to sweep away a host of complex rules and “fundamentally simplify” the basic state pension. Mr. Duncan’s Smith’s intervention represents the start of a Coalition drive to replace the existing state pension regime with a “single tier” retirement payment. Advocates of a single-tier pension say the higher cost could be funded by abolishing a range of secondary retirement measures, including means-tested pension credits, which cost taxpayers £6 billion year.  Pension age risen to 65 men 60 for women, due to rise again soon. These propose changes are challenged by critics saying the rise in pension age has happened too quickly and hits women in their late 50’s the hardest.

Woodhouse Weekly Pick of the Papers: 5th-12th January 2014

Woodhouse Weekly Pick of the Papers: 5th-12th January 2014

Woodhouse Pick of the Papers (5/01/2014 – 12/01/2014)

Woodhouse’ weekly pick of the papers is devoted to keeping A level politics students up to date with the political news and on track with the Unit 1 and Unit 2 syllabus.

1.  Political Parties must be reformed: they are the best ways of delivering democracy.

source: The Guardian

Politics Topic: (Democracy and Participation)

Summary: Voters are engaged with issues that affect them and do want to get involved, but they are turned off by how politics is implemented in Parliament as well as the adversarial parliamentary style in the House of Lords. All of this has to change, writes the Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umuna.

Prime Minister's Questions, David Cameron, 2011

2. Miliband’s enemies’ don’t know what to make of him- the trouble is, neither his friends.

Source: The New Statesman

Politics topic: Party, Policies and Ideas

Summary: Miliband has split the Conservative opinion on him, whether he is dangerous to them or just outright ridiculous. Optimists write him off while pessimists respects him. But his own cabinet don’t know what goes through his mind and don’t know if he can connect with the public to win the next election.

3. If the Tories lose the next election, Clegg must leave with them.

Source: The New Statesmen

Politics topic: Party, Policies and Ideas

Summary: If the Tories do lose the next election in 2015, and the Liberals do swap sides with Labour, there must be a price to pay which they must pay otherwise it would offend the essential order of our democracy as Nick Clegg has become a ‘poodle’ to the Tories.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg visit Wandsworth Day Nursery on 19 March 2013

4. House of Lords warned not to ‘ignore the public’s wishes’ on EU referendum

Source: The Independent

Politics Topic: House of Lords

Summary: The House of Lords has been warned by Conservatives that if they block the bid to put a referendum into the public’s hand they would be in a difficult situation as a unelected chamber is not representative of the people’s voice .

5. Will social media change the way Scotland votes?

Source: BBC News Politics

Politics topic: Democracy/Referendum

Summary: Joe Twyman, director of political and social research at Yougov, believes the role of social media is “overplayed”, with most people still relying on television, radio and newspapers for information. In the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, 16 and 17-year-olds will be allowed to participate in the vote.

Click to read more on study that suggests most 16/17 year olds would vote ‘no’

Kevin Augustine

Weekly Parliament Roundup:4th-11th December 2013

Weekly Parliament Roundup:4th-11th December 2013

Parliament Roundup: 4/12/13-11/12/13

MPs to receive 11% pay rise:

Click for a video explanation

IPSA(Independent Parliament Standards Authority) have recently proposed to provide MPs with a pay rise of 11% which will increase their salary to £74,000. They have stated that there will be changes to the pension scheme which will save tax payer 2.5 billion pounds if the rise is to take place. Even though this might be seen as a great thing for the MPs, lots of them are scared to state publicly that they think it is a good idea. The main issue with this proposal is that it might be the wrong time to make such high rises in MP’s salaries when other public sectors are facing difficult freezes. However, of this proposal is to go ahead, it will take legislation in 2015 to stop this from occurring.

The public might not like the sound of the proposal at first because many might feel that the MPs don’t deserve such a high pay rise as they have failed to improve costs of living. Despite this, the huge worry for IPSA and for several MPs is that the public won’t fully understand the fact that this will not affect them in any major way. This money will not be taken out of the tax payer’s pockets and in fact, it might even aid them. This proposal will also mean that there might be tougher regulations on expenses.

Shadow Red Ed

Following George Osborne’s autumn statement stating that ‘Britain’s economic plan is working’ and that ‘The hard work of the British people is paying off, and we will not squander their efforts’, Ed Balls made one of the most disastrous responses which led him to be mocked by Osborne and the rest of the opposition. In his response, he stated that Labour was winning the economic argument despite being contradicted by recent polls. Despite this, he has recently stated that he’s not bothered at all about the gossip about his performance in House of Commons and he also refuses to accept the fact that his response was weak. David Cameron also attempted to throw an attack at him again in this week’s PMQs by saying that ‘He can dish it out but he can’t take it.’ 

Click here for more detail on Cameron’s argument


Tributes to Mandela

After the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela, Parliament paid tribute to the iconic figure on Monday. All parties stressed upon the fact that he’s legacy will stay imminent in our lives. David Cameron also talked about Mandela’s strength of character and mentioned the fact that progress is not won by people accept the way things are but dreaming of what it can be. Cameron,Clegg and Miliband went to Johannesburg for Mandela’s memorial service on earlier on this week and Prince Charles will be attending the funeral on Sunday.


This week’s PMQs saw the return of Cameron Vs Miliband on another round of Cost of living, only this time the debate was dominated by the 11% proposed pay rise for MPs which Ed Miliband used to strengthen his argument of course. Mr Miliband asked Cameron that if given the current living standards issues among families should MPs receive a pay rise. Surprisingly, the two men agreed on the fact that these proposals were in fact unacceptable and Cameron reemphasized the fact that these decision weren’t finally. After a few seconds of agreement, Cameron once again played the blame game and replied to Miliband’s request to work together on the issue by saying that the Conservatives are still left with the mess that Labour has left behind.


Gloria Ganda


Woodhouse Weekly Pick of the Papers: 25th November-1st December 2013

Woodhouse Weekly Pick of the Papers: 25th November-1st December 2013

Pick Of The Papers (25/11/13-1/12/13)

Woodhouse’ weekly pick of the papers is devoted to keeping A level politics students up to date with the political news and on track with the Unit 1 and Unit 2 syllabus.

1. Powerful swing voters say Labour lacks vision – and that the Tories are still nasty.

Source: The Independent

Politics Topic: Parties Policies and Ideas

Summary: Voters in four key marginals were asked about the two main parties – neither came out well. Voters believe that Miliband lacks vision to become a future prime minister as his policy of an “energy freeze” is nothing more than a “sweetener” as well as the Conservatives due swing voters believing that they “favour the rich” and are associated with “cuts”.

ALevelPolitics Help: Labour leading in YouGov poll but Cameron claims Miliband’s policies are “weak”


2. George Osborne: Boris Johnson is wrong to say low IQs were to blame for people who struggle to get on

Source: The Telegraph Party

Politics Topic: Policies and Ideas

Summary: Chancellor says he does ‘not agree’ with the comments the Mayor of London made arguing that because people have varying IQs economic equality is impossible. In a speech at the Margaret Thatcher lecture last week Mr Johnson suggested that economic equality will never be possible which some have suggested that he is Margaret Thatcher’s Heir. Mr Osborne has been the first Conservative to distance himself from the Mayor of London.

Boris Johnson tells George Osborne to cut NI and 50p tax


3. Cameron warned to protect green policies or risk party split

Source: The Telegraph

Politics Topic: Party Policies and Ideas

Summary: The Prime Minister has been told by a group of his own MPs that he risks division within the Conservative party if he waters down green policies to please the Right.

ALevelPolitics Help: Can Cameron claim a green government? 


4. The Lib Dems’ shift left could be more dangerous for the Tories than Labour

Source: The New Statesman

Politics Topic: Party Policies and Ideas

Summary: With the Tories his party’s main electoral foe, Clegg is seeking to woo the One Nation voters alienated by the Conservatives’ UKIP tendency. Any Labour/Lib Dem coalition after the next election is likely to be based upon common agreement in the policy areas of tax, the environment and housing. This is good news for Labour as Lib Dem voters believe that those three main areas plus jobs are the four key principles in the 2015 manifesto.

Clegg is seeking to woo One Nation voters.


5. Tories deny seeking Big Six energy price freeze

Source: The Independent

Politics Topic: Party Policies and Ideas

Summary: Downing Street is on the back foot over Ed Miliband’s energy price freeze policy as Labour suggests that the government is in disarray over energy freezes over energy companies stating that ministers asked them to halt energy price rises as well as condemning Labour for calling for energy freezes as they are a “con”.

ALevelPolitics Help: Cameron’s Dilemma 


Kevin Augustine


Weekly Parliament Roundup: 27th November – 4th December 2013

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 27th November – 4th December 2013

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 27/11/13-4/12/13

Autumn Statement

George Osborne released an Autumn statement on which was said to concentrate on delivering a responsible recovery.  The statement aims to turn the political conversation back to the economy and to emphasise the fact that we are making considerable improvements as our growth forecast is upgrading and how we are now borrowing less.

Coalition action on Energy Bill Crisis

Recently, there have been Coalition plans to reduce energy bills by an average of £50 per year. In addition to this, the cost of insulating homes will be spread over a longer period and there are plans for a new £1000 incentive scheme given to new home buyers to help them insulate their homes. The government is hoping that this plan will turn attention away from Ed Miliband’s proposed plans to resolve the cost of living crisis which he has not failed to emphasise upon successfully for the last few months.

However, there are many rising issues associated with the plans and the most important one is that the coalition government have not yet made it clear on how these plans will be acted upon and is currently less clear compared to Miliband’s plans. Also, the £1000 incentive is apparently going to be paid off by extra tax avoidance and the £50 will still be paid by the taxpayer. If this is so, how will the government’s proposal be helping individuals if the money that will be supposedly ‘reduced’ from their bill has actually come out of their own pockets anyway?

Loveless Coalition

At the beginning of the coalition it was quite obvious that despite their differences, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had the potential of creating an effective and stable government. The two parties have currently been letting their differences get the better of them and both parties think they’re going all the way to 2015. The Conservatives have been stressing to the Lib Dems that if they talk about what they’ve stopped them from doing and keep creating and strengthening their own agenda, the government will look weak and divided. The union that was immensely strong is beginning to break down as Nick Clegg has finally begun to stand firmly on his own two feet since he has been insisting that the Liberal Democrats crucially need to have their own agenda.

Labour’s silence on the economy

The Cost of Living Crisis has been Labour’s anthem for the last few months and Miliband has not allowed the issue from escaping the Tories’ minds. Even though the Labour party have been trying to make effective plan proposals to solve the issue, they haven’t said a word about the economy. It is hard to identify exactly why this might be but in according to David Cameron, the main reason why they aren’t talking about the economy is because it’s recovering. This might be true but it must be said that Labour has avoided being attacked by the opposition about the recovery of the economy because of their concentration on the Cost of Living Crisis. Yes it’s been like Miliband’s ongoing rant but it has worked in regards to turning attention away from the fact that the coalition government are actually improving the economy, without much of their input.

 PMQs-Liberal Democrats vs. Labour

This week’s Prime Minister Questions was answered by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg as David Cameron visits China. The Deputy PM faced some grilling questions from the opposition, especially from Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman. Mr Clegg was asked by Harriet Harman this winter’s energy bills will be lower or higher and he answered that they would be higher if the coalition government didn’t take the action that they have. He also stated Harriet Harman’s party’s economically illiterate policy was ineffective and that they aren’t able to control energy prices. To add, Clegg also highlighted their inability to stand up to trade union paymasters but Harman hit back by telling Clegg to leave it to labour to handle its party members, especially since some of them used to be his.

Surprisingly, without mentioning the Conservatives, Clegg fired back at the opposition by saying that without the Liberal Democrats, there wouldn’t be a recovery and they didn’t suck up to the banks like labour did. Evidently, we are beginning to see a stronger and more independent side of Mr Clegg which is willing to stand firm by Liberal Democrat policies. However, the opposition still see him as weak and this is shown through Harriet Harman’s reference to Nick Clegg as Cameron’s little helper’ on her recent website post.



Gloria Ganda


Weekly Parliament Roundup: 20th-27th November 2013

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 20th-27th November 2013

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 20th -27th November 


Cameron to take on Brussels:

A Liberal Democrat cabinet minister shared concerns that David Cameron is prepared to take on Brussels by imposing tougher conditions on European migrants. The minister claimed and stressed upon the fact that any rules on migrants’ eligibility to welfare payments should be discussed with all members of the European Union.  David Cameron wants to extend the time that migrants stay in the UK before they are eligible to receive welfare payments. He believes that this would be the best way to ensure that the migrants don’t take advantage of the welfare system which is put in place to help genuine citizens in need. However, he will need an agreement and permission from the EU to do this but it is not obvious on how the conditions will be imposed.



In this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions there was an ongoing battle between Cameron and Miliband in regards to payday lenders and the cost of living crisis, including the proposed 20 month energy price freeze by Labour. When Ed Miliband attempted to attack Mr Cameron on the current payday lenders issue, the Prime Minister attacked back harder by stating that there are ‘dreadful practices’ which take place within the payday lenders industries and for 30 years, Labour has done nothing about it. The fact that the Conservatives are taking action on the payday lenders issue might highlight Labour’s inability to take action on their plans. More importantly, Mr Cameron pointed out that Mr Miliband has never asked a question in regards to payday lenders during for three years and it is only when it becomes an arising issue that Miliband feels the need to take an opportunity to begin questioning Mr Cameron’s intentions on the issue.

More Bobbies on the Beat:

There is to be a report on the future of policing in England and Wales which will recommend that there should be more guaranteed Bobbies on the beat in neighbourhoods. Labour asked Lord Stephens to carry out the enquiry and it will call for more neighbouring policing. Miliband stated that the report’s outcomes will be important for ‘helping communities and tackling crime’. In addition to this, it will also restrict the use of private company policing.

Scottish Independence:

On Tuesday 26th , Scotland unveiled its blueprint for an Independent Nation. In the document, it states that an Independent Scotland would keep the British pound, have the Queen as a monarch, stay in in the EU and have access to the BBC. In addition, an independent Scotland would have its own defence force and even collect its own taxes. On top of all this, there are various other changes which Scotland also wishes for but the big question is, would an independent Scotland truly be independent? The very fact that they want to keep the British pound and the Queen as a monarch might slightly imply that Scotland doesn’t want to fully let go of the tight bond and benefits it has gained from being united with England. However, the document might be the first step for Scotland to achieve the freedom that they evidently wish for.

Labour tied to the Co-op Bank:

Despite the recent scandals that have been tied to the Co-operative bank, Labour can’t seem to get out of the trap of defending them when attacked about the issue by the Conservatives. The bank is one of the main major funders of the Labour party and it has been recently claimed that the party are heavily dependent on the bank for funding.  Labour can’t actually deny support of this bank since their other major funders are trade unions and as they have recently been questioning trade union bosses, they can’t make the wrong move as they might lose both major funding sources. As a result of the issue, the Conservatives have found the perfect opportunity to keep questioning the Labour party about the Co-op bank as this will eventually make them weaker and weaker. The Conservatives don’t really know what they’re after with this but as long as Miliband gets a taste of his own interrogation medicine, Cameron will be just fine.


Gloria Ganda

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 13th-20th November

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 13th-20th November

Weekly Parliament Roundup – 13/11/13-20/11/13

Geneva II Conference November 2013


Over the last few weeks, the Geneva conference has taken centre stage in the news, in regards to Iran’s nuclear projects. The conference was postponed to the 20th and has resumed over the past few days. Even though definite decisions have not yet been made, following his visit to Geneva, Foreign Secretary William Hague states that Britain’s aim is to create a “Interim first step agreement with Iran that can then create the confidence and the space to then create a comprehensive and final agreement”. The main question is however, is it too late for Britain to step in and try to give Iran guidance on the decision that it should make? The country seems set on making the brave choice to go ahead with their plans without the restrictions from America. Hopefully, Hague will make an influential effort to try and impose financial and energy sanctions against Iran, with the help of other countries such as France and Germany.

Increase in Tax Thresholds

Nick Clegg has made recent proposal plans to raise the income tax threshold to £10,500 and wishes for this to be done by April 2015. The Lib Dem leader already succeeded in getting the Conservatives to increase the tax threshold to £10,000 but he claims that by raising the threshold to a further £10,500, it would mean a tax cut of around £100 a year. Mr Clegg has suggested that part of this increase might be funded by the Mansion Tax but David Cameron has not shown any support of this proposal thus far. The main reason why this might be is because there is no clarity as to where this increase will be funded and a big criticism of this proposal is that it’s an extremely expensive way to deliver a positive outcome for the poorest.

Prime Minister’s controversial trip to Sri Lanka

The Prime Minister recently returned from his trip to Sri Lanka and on Monday, he told MPs in Parliament about the outcomes of his trip. In his speech, he emphasized the fact that it was an extremely difficult trip but it had various achievements. In addition, he announced that there will be a time limit to set up an enquiry on the human rights violation allegations and if Sri Lanka’s president doesn’t set up an enquiry by next year March, Cameron will use his way with the UN to get an International enquiry set up regarding the issue. Read up on Sri Lanka’s response to Cameron’s visit

Left Wing Unity Party

There have been recent talks about the setting up of a new Left Wing Unity Party. The proposed party will differ to other left wing parties by appealing to individuals who are not involved in any kind of politics. In other words, the party will try to attract those who feel dissatisfied with current left wing parties and their policies but yet don’t want to vote right wing. For now, these plans have not been finalised and there will be more information on this topic once any Parliamentary action has been taken.

Ed Miliband’s Childcare Cost talks and PMQs

Labour Leader Ed Miliband has been stressing upon the issue of the dramatic increase of problems with child care costs.  He has even gone as far as stating that parents in England are facing a ‘childcare crunch’ and he believes that these issues need to be immediately addressed in order to reduce financial burden on parents. The main reason why there have been rises in childcare costs, he claims, is due to ‘broken coalition promises’ and he made this issue pretty clear as he intensely grilled  David Cameron during this week’s PMQs where he also mentioned about closures of Sure Start services for disabled children. The PM hit back stating that when it comes to childcare, the Conservatives have provided 15 hours childcare for every 3 and 4 year old, 3 hours of free child care for disadvantaged 2 year old children and upgraded child tax credit by £420 which is something the Labour party never managed to do.  Overall, the PMQs highlighted the growing tension between the two leaders. Click to read about how Ed Miliband vows to tackle ‘childcare crunch’


Gloria Ganda

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 6th-13th November 2013

Weekly Parliament Roundup: 6th-13th November 2013

Weekly Parliament review – 6th -13th November 2013

Commonwealth Summit

Prime Minister David Cameron will still attend the Commonwealth Summit in Sri Lanka despite India and Canada boycotting the event. There have been calls for the PM to boycott the event, especially from Labour members who proposed that they would strongly support the Prime Minister if reversed his decision to attend. On the other hand, Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that if the Prime Minister decided not to attend the summit, it would damage the commonwealth without making any positive change in Sri Lanka. The summit will concern the country’s Human Rights records and Cameron has pledged to put ‘serious questions’ to the Sri Lankan President Mahinda  Rajapaksa  about his regime’s widely condemned Human Rights records and allegations of war crimes against the Tamil minority.

Concerns over rise in personal debt in the UK

The Conservative member of the Treasury Select Committee Mark Garnier has raised concerns over the level of personal debt in the UK. He recently stated on The World This Weekend on BBC Radio 4 over the issue:

“I think we’ve, as a society have got ourselves into a pretty terrible mess quite frankly. If you look at household debt as a percentage of household income, then you cast your mind back to the 1980s during the Lawson-boom; we saw household debt as a percentage of household income go from 70% to 80%, and that fuelled what was quite an exciting time for people, such as myself, who were starting their careers.

There are some real pressures on households, and certainly with energy prices. Obviously we’re having this huge debate at the moment in the House of Commons about energy prices, and we’ve got to come up with a proper answer to this, that households are under a certain pressure. But having said that, we have seen in the economy an extra one and a quarter million people in jobs, we’ve got more people in jobs than ever before. So actually what that has meant is that there’s more money collectively around.”

Help to buy scheme

It’s been a month since the Help to buy scheme has been introduced and on 11th November, Cameron will talk to the individuals who have already benefited from the scheme and make a speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet. There have been various criticisms from the opposition in regards to the type of people who are applying, but the scheme seems to be getting off to a good start as recent polls this week has shown that over 2,000 people have put forward offers to enter into the scheme. Additionally, recent polls also show that the majority of those who are placing offers for the scheme are in their early thirties and are also first time buyers-these are the type of individuals which The Tories would like to attract for the next General Elections.

Ed Miliband and Cost of living argument

Ed Miliband has pledged to ban payday lenders to stop advertising on children’s TV channels . On Tuesday  12th November, Miliband took part in an apposition debate where he pledged for the bedroom tax of what the ministers call the ‘spare room subsidy’. The cost of living has been an issue which Miliband has been determined to highlight in Parliament. 54% of people agree that if people are living in a house that is subsidised by the tax payer and they have a spare room, they should receive less housing benefits.


Overall, the week in Parliament heavily consisted of talks about whether or not the Prime Minister should boycott the Commonwealth conference and the benefits and progress of the Rights to buy scheme. Ed Miliband’s “cost of living crisis” campaign which was raised 12th November in the opposition debate has left Nick Clegg wanting to “fightback”, says the Independent. In next week’s review, we will look more closely and in full about this week’s Geneva Conference and William Hague’s proposals regarding the Iraq Nuclear programme.


Gloria Ganda


Woodhouse Weekly Pick of the Papers (4/11/13-10/11/13)

Woodhouse Weekly Pick of the Papers (4/11/13-10/11/13)

Pick of the Papers (4/11/13-10/11/13)

Woodhouse’ weekly pick of the papers is devoted to keeping A level politics students up to date with the political news and on track with the Unit 1 and Unit 2 syllabus.

1.  Ed Miliband’s momentum confronts Cameron with a sharp dilemma

Ed Miliband's popularity rating is rising

Source: The Guardian

Politics topic: Elections

Summary: Labour is frustrated by Conservative stalling over agreeing to the general election TV debates between the leaders, Miliband has a “boost in ratings” and “most people, including Mr Miliband, mainly attribute this to the impact of his pledge to freeze energy bills”. 80% of voters “favour the energy price freeze but only half as many think he could actually deliver it”.

ALevelPolitics help: Read the energy bill crisis article on Cameron’s dilemma

2.  Ignore Russell Brand: Vote and make MPs notice you, says think tank

Source: The Independent

Politics topic: Democracy and Participation

Summary: Parties will change their economic decisions and policies to people who actually vote, not people who do not vote. Turnout has fallen among the young and the least affluent and ”The cuts have disproportionately affected the young and the poor – precisely those groups that vote with least frequency,” says the report. “More worryingly, unequal turnout unleashes a vicious cycle of disaffection and under-representation among those groups. This downward spiral risks permanently excluding these citizens from electoral life… and thus threatens a central claim of democracy: that every citizen’s preference, no matter their status, should count equally.”

ALevelPolitics help: Read the Russell Brand Vs Jeremy Paxman article on the comedian/actor’s view on voting, apathy and indifference

3.  Has UKIP’s Nigel Farage finally grown up?

Getty Images

Source: The Independent

Politics topic: Party policies and ideas/Elections

Summary: UKIP, considered one of the smaller parties are on the “cusp of a national breakthrough” and are edging ahead of the Liberal Democrats in the polls. Farage’s main problems are the “squabbling” that is occurring within the party and the response to his policy on immigration.

ALevelPolitics help: Read the UKIP article on policies and elections

4.  Second witness stands by Unite vote-rigging claim: Decision piles more pressure on Miliband to reopen inquiry into the scandal

Ed Miliband, pictured in Edinburgh yesterday, is under increasing pressure to reopen an inquiry into Unite vote-rigging claims

Source: The Daily Mail

Politics topic: Party policies and ideas/Judges and Civil Liberties

Summary: The mess in the Unite vote-rigging scandal puts more pressure on the Labour leader to start an inquiry into it. Conservative MP Priti Patel said the tactics of the union were unacceptable and asked detectives in Hampshire and Scotland to investigate whether they had been in breach of the law.


5.  Legalising same sex marriage was “damaging” for Tories 

Philip Hammond

Source: The Telegraph

Politics topic: Party policies and ideas

Summary: Philip Hammond says the legislation of the same-sex message was “damaging” for the Conservative party because ”it created a perception that the leadership was in a different place to the core of the party’s active supporters”. Hammond also believes that it was “pushed through too quickly” and that on a separate matter the party needs to continue in reforming its agenda (Education and Welfare state).

6. Nick Clegg is playing to his most loyal voters – the green middle-class 

Pressure is growing for Nick Clegg, the Deputy PM, to show that he believes in more than just stopping other parties doing things

Source: The Telegraph

Politics Topic: Party policies and ideas

Summary: Clegg has been tailoring his speeches to the most loyal of his voters and “pressure is growing for the Deputy PM to show that he believes in more than just stopping other parties doing things”. Clegg states he would not allow the Coalition to take its “foot off the pedal now” on cutting carbon emissions and The Lib Dem party are trying to be seen as capable of improving any government but one that shouldn’t be taken alone, therefore, supporting a future coalition.

 Kevin Augustine