The Weekly WHIP: 8 March 2012
Child Benefit cap
The government are facing mounting pressure to back down on their proposed changes to child benefit. At the Conservative party conference in 2010 George Osborne announced that higher rate tax payers would no longer receive this benefit.
Critics say that a key problem with the proposal is that because taxes are assessed individually, a family could have two earners making just below the threshold and keep the benefit, while another with one earner just over would lose it. Nick Robinson over at the BBC assesses the Prime Minister’s conundrum.
Legal Aid Bill
Continuing a tough week for the government, they received three defeats in the House of Lords as they attempted to push through changes to the Legal Aid regime. Ministers defended the proposals insisting cost savings must be made.
A group of faith leaders released a letter to the Secretary of State for Justice, Ken Clarke, with their objections to the bill. The leaders, including the Bishop of Leicester and heads of the Baptist Union, the Methodist Conference and the Salvation Army claimed the changes failed victims of domestic abuse: “Legal aid frequently allows for the resolution of domestic abuse cases before they escalate, in some cases avoiding serious injuries or even loss of life.”
At the end of last week David Cameron got in a spot of bother over riding a retired police horse. The complicating factor was it belonged to the then editor of the News of the World. The Telegraph were delighted by their journalist skills in extracting this vital information. It came out this week that the handover of the horse was agreed at a lunch with a former chief of the Met police.
All this stems from the ongoing Leveson Inquiry into the culture and ethics of the press. There has been a continual trail of journalists, politicians and police who have appeared before the committee, and this week the Press Complaints Commission announced it would be shutting down and reforming in response to the criticism it has received
For those in London the Mayoral election between Boris and Ken (other candidates are standing) is gathering pace and on 18 April a hustings between those two plus Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick and Jenny Jones from the Greens will take place at St. James’ Picadilly – watch out for more details in the coming weeks.