Woodhouse Weekly Pick of the Papers: 30 November 2014

By Theo Cox-Dodgson

1. Theresa Mays announces new anti-terror bill (Civil Liberties/Parties)

Theresa May introduced new security measures to the Commons on Wednesday with the aim of combating “extremist ideology”.  Provisions of the bill include an obligation for schools, prisons and councils to draw up policies dealing with radicalism and an obligation on the part of internet service providers to retain users information so it can be handed over to the Home office on request. The bill would also contain provisions preventing British people fighting for ISIS from returning to the UK. The Home Secretary described the measures of the bill as “considered and targeted”. There are concerns however that forcing Internet service providers to hand over user information to the government would violate user’s privacy, and some campaigners such as Big Brother watch have called into question whether this is even possible or not.




2. Censure motion against Jean-Claude Juncker fails (EU)

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has survived a motion aiming at censuring him over his role in tax avoidance schemes. The motion, which bought together notable enemies UKIP and the French National Front, gained 101 votes in favor, 461 against with 88 abstentions. Nigel Farage, one of the sponsors of the motion,  failed to attend the vote, leading Catherine Bearder, Liberal Democrat MEP to claim it was “nothing more than a media stunt”.  While this may be good news for Mr Junker in the short-term, the investigation into Luxembourg’s tax affairs during his presidency are still ongoing, and with 101 MEP’s voting against him before the results of the investigation are  even published, indicates he may get into more trouble with the increasingly high number of Eurosceptic MEP’s before the end of his term in 2019.



3. David Cameron’s announces new measures to limit EU migration (Parties/Prime Minister/EU)

In response to the news that net migration has soared 38% to 243,000, David Cameron has made his long-waited immigration speech, attempted to strike a compromise between leaders of the European capitals and the threat from UKIP. While abandoning the  promise he made in 2010 to lower net migration to “tens of thousands” by the end of this Parliament, he has instead proposed to introduce stringent welfare restrictions on new EU migrants in order to deter those coming here seeking to claim benefits. Some of these proposals, which will be outlined in the 2015 election manifesto, include a ban on in work tax credits for four years, and the deportation of immigrants unable to find jobs. However he is not going to place any targets on migration, which has been seen by many eurosceptics as a concession to Brussels. However he later went on to say that he would consider withdrawing Britain from the union “as a last resort” if his plans were not agreed to.

Nigel Farage has claimed in response that David Cameron is deceiving voters on this issue, and that a limit on immigration while Britain is a member of the EU is impossible. Nick Clegg, the deputy Prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, has questioned “whether they are deliverable”.



4. More powers are devolved to the Scottish Parliament (Parties)

The Scottish Parliament has been handed £14 billion of income tax and welfare benefits in plans supported by both the Conservative and Labour party. Amongst the welfare controls now devolved to Holyrood include the housing elements of universal credit, disability living allowance and carers allowance. Ed Miliband has supported the devolution plans, most likely in order to combat his plummeting poll ratings in Scotland and the threat the Scottish National Party presents to him coming up to the 2015 general election. However the deputy first minister, John Swinney said the proposals fell “far short” of the powers promised by the No campaign during the Scottish independence referendum. Calls for similar devolution measures to be given to England have been made by many Tory Backbench MP’s.



5. George Osbourne announces an extra £2 billion for the NHS (Parties/Welfare State)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne has announced that he will spend an extra £2 billion on the NHS to help modernize the healthcare system, support staff in their day to day work and meet a rapidly increasing demand. This announcement has been seen as an attempt to neutralize the promise made by the Labour party of a £2.5 billion spending increase in their first year of government. This announcement comes shortly before his Autumn statement next Wednesday, where he is also expected to announce a £15 billion spending investment on roads, a freeze on petrol duty despite falling oil prices and a law committing the government to eliminate the budget deficit by 2017. However the roads building programme and the NHS spending increases contradict the promise of a balanced budget, leading Paul Johnson to warn that severe spending cuts would be required in other areas.


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