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
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