Daily Archives: November 2, 2011

Last week, we were told that the government was going to support the Lord Mackay amendment to the health bill, which adds in a clause saying the health secretary “retains ultimate responsibility” for the health service.

This was supposed to have won the support of Baroness Williams and other rebellious Lib Dem peers who have been concerned about the fact that the bill as it stands removes the legal duty on the secretary of state to provide a health service free at the point of contact.

But today, Lord Howe, the government health minister in the Lords, asked Lord Mackay and all other peers to withdraw their amendements for further consideration. They want to reach a compromise that all sides can agree on. Read more

After painful months of matchmaking UKTI have officially announced which ministers will be paired with whom as the trade promotion body looks to inject a litle more commerical prowess into Whitehall.

The scheme pairs top exporters and inward investors with key ministers to make sure that special companies are well looked after. So far six ministers – spread between business, energy and media departments – have been appointed abassadorial roles with 38 companies between them. Jeremy Hunt is getting Microsoft, Google and Facebook, while Vince Cable with look after manufacturer Tata and the oil giants.

The scheme is designed to give key companies a “seamless ‘one-stop’ service in their dealings with Whitehall. It would well be worth an audit in a few months time to see if Lord Green’s scheme lives up to the billing. Expect more ministers and companies to get involved in the coming months as Lord Green extends the scheme.

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The government has published its new document on public sector pensions – which Danny Alexander has hailed as the big compromise offer to the unions.

There are two elements which seem to be striking changes: Read more

It was an intriguing PMQs today. As I have previously noted, Ed Miliband has begun to find his feet on the economy, and once again used this as his main attack line.

As he has done at previous sessions he chose an obscure policy that has achieved little so far (this time the “business growth fund”, which was set up using money from the Merlin agreement), and used it to embarrass the PM.

As has happened before, Cameron didn’t know what the policy was (in fact at the end, he started talking about the Regional Growth Fund – a different fund altogether). So when asked how many businesses the fund had invested in, he was unable to answer. Read more

By Andrew Bounds

The government has risked a fresh fight with Derby after Theresa Villiers, rail minister, pulled out of a rail conference in the city at short notice to attend to constituency matters.

Business and civic leaders in the city, including the Conservative leader of the council, Philip Hickson, are already seething after Bombardier, the UK train maker, lost out to Siemens in a train contract.

It has shed 1,400 jobs as a result and is reviewing the future of the plant.

Ms Villiers told the Derby and Derbyshire Rail Forum on Tuesday that she would not deliver a promised keynote speech on Thursday because she had a more pressing issue. Read more