The Guardian - Richard Branson: coalition has failed to invest in businesses
In a dramatic call for a rethink on the economy, the ex-Tory favourite claims rhetoric has not been matched by real action.
Richard Branson, whose support for Tory economic plans was enthusiastically trumpeted by George Osborne in the runup to the last general election, has dramatically turned on the coalition for failing to promote growth.
Britain's most famous business tycoon said ministers' rhetoric on reinvigorating the economy had not been matched by action. He demanded that the government show more support for small and medium businesses which were "the engines of any healthy economy".
In an outspoken intervention, the founder and chairman of the Virgin Group called for a renewed focus from ministers on bringing unemployment down and promoting the country's entrepreneurial spirit.
Branson told the Observer: "To get that growth, we need to get behind the small and medium-sized businesses that are the engines of any healthy economy. They need investment and finance, and that comes from the big banks. The politicians talk of encouraging lending; we need action to match that rhetoric." See Article
The Guardian - Baroness Warsi admits not declaring rental income
Tory party co-chairman says she takes 'full responsibility' for omitting to declare income on property in north London. Baroness Warsi, the Conservative party co-chairman, has admitted not fully declaring income she received from the rental of a flat she owns in north-west London.
The Cabinet Office minister failed to declare the income on the property in Wembley in the register of interests for members of the House of Lords.
The Tory peer bought the property in 2007 but moved closer to parliament when she became a minister in 2010, after which she began letting the flat.
She said she took "full responsibility" for the omission, which she put down to an "oversight".
Baroness Warsi had reported the letting of her flat in the register of ministers' interests and it had also been declared to the Cabinet Office along with HM Revenue and Customs.
But she failed to include it on the register of lords' interests when the rent received exceeded the £500 threshold at which peers are required to declare sources of income. See Article
The Guardian - Census objector granted leave to challenge Census Act
Granting of judicial review comes days after campaigners see Crown Prosecution Service drop their cases. The government's prosecution of census objectors is in jeopardy after a Birmingham man was granted a judicial review to challenge the legality of the act that makes it an offence not to complete the 10-yearly survey.
Privacy campaigner Nigel Simons, who did not fill out the census, argues that section 8 of the 1920 Census Act conflicts with his right to privacy guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
The granting of a judicial review comes days after two census objectors saw their prosecutions unexpectedly dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service. One of them, John Marjoram, who is mayor of the Cotswolds town of Stroud, said he thought the CPS had dropped his case rather than face the prospect of having the issues around privacy aired in a public trial.
"Given the pervasive culture of citizen surveillance and the erosion of individual liberties pursued by recent governments, it is no surprise to me that the CPS preferred to keep these issues under wraps." he said.
The judicial review at the high court next month will be an embarrassment for the Office of National Statistics, the government body that runs the census, and the CPS. To date, the CPS has prosecuted 252 people for failing to complete the census.
Of those, 198 have been given fines of up to £1,000, while 55 have filled out the form. Should the judicial review be successful, those convictions could be appealed.
Objections over the 2011 census focus on three issues: the perceived intrusiveness of some questions, the lack of safeguards to protect data gathered for the census, and the role of the UK subsidiary of the US defence contractor Lockheed Martin in processing census data. See Article
The Guardian - How EU farming policies led to a collapse in Europe's bird population
They have entranced generations with the beauty of their songs and glimpses of their plumage. But today the sound of the linnet and the vision of a turtle dove are becoming increasingly rare experiences for visitors to the European countryside.
Indeed, according to a new survey, the chances of encountering any one of the 36 species of farmland birds in Europe – species that also include the lapwing, the skylark and the meadow pipit – are now stunningly low. Devastating declines in their numbers have seen overall populations drop from 600 million to 300 million between 1980 and 2009, the study has discovered.
This dramatic decline represents a 50% reduction and is blamed on major changes in farming policies enforced by the EU over the last 30 years.
In order to boost food production across Europe, the wholesale ripping up of hedgerows, draining of wetlands and ploughing over of meadows has robbed farmland birds of their homes and food. Numbers of linnets, turtle doves and lapwings have crashed as a result.
The survey, carried out by the Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme, also found that Britain has been one of the nations worst affected by losses to its farmland bird populations. For example, in Europe the population of grey partridges has dropped from 13.4 million to 2.4 million, a loss of 82%. In the UK, that loss was 91%. See Article
The Telegraph - Lloyd's of London preparing for euro collapse
The chief executive of the multi-billion pound Lloyd's of London has publicly admitted that the world's leading insurance market is prepared for a collapse in the single currency and has reduced its exposure "as much as possible" to the crisis-ridden continent.
Richard Ward said the London market had put in place a contingency plan to switch euro underwriting to multi-currency settlement if Greece abandoned the euro.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph he also revealed that Lloyd's could have to take writedowns on its £58.9bn investment portfolio if the eurozone collapses.
Europe accounts for 18pc of Lloyd's £23.5bn of gross written premiums, mostly in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. The market also has a fledgling operation in Poland.
Lloyd's move comes as a major Franco-German provider of credit insurance for eurozone trade, Euler Hermes, said it was considering reducing cover for trade with Greece because of the risk the country might leave the eurozone.
When a company goes bust, it is often sparked by withdrawal of credit insurance for suppliers wanting to trade with it. See Article
Daily Mail - Whispers against Osborne cause Cabinet division between Chancellor and the Prime Minister
Mr Osborne has had a series of embarrassing rebuffs in Cabinet meetings since series of Budget blunders. The rock-solid political alliance between David Cameron and George Osborne has been hit by a sudden fall in the Chancellor’s standing in the Cabinet, it was claimed last night.
Senior Government sources say Mr Osborne has had a series of embarrassing rebuffs in Cabinet meetings since Budget blunders over the reduction of the 50p top rate of income tax, the ‘granny tax’, ‘pasty tax’ and other issues.
It has led to some of Mr Osborne’s supporters suggesting he may have to relinquish his ambition of succeeding Mr Cameron as party leader. See Article
Daily Mail - CONTEMPTUOUS: BBC hires manager who lives in US to move staff between London offices... one year after Commons blasts corporation for the same thing
The BBC has been accused of 'breathtaking arrogance' after it hired a manager who lives in the United States to oversee the movement of staff four miles across London.
Guy Bradshaw, who lives more than 4,000 miles away in Kentucky, has been handed a key role in the relocation of BBC journalists and producers to the new Broadcasting House.
He was hired despite the fact MPs savaged the BBC in an official report last year for giving him a senior role in the Corporation's controversial move to Salford.
In a withering attack last May, the powerful Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee said the BBC had opened itself to 'self-inflicted and predictable ridicule' by sanctioning the extraordinary arrangement. Such decisions cannot simply be dismissed as inconsequential gaffes.
They lower the esteem of the BBC, its senior management and the BBC Trust in the eyes of the public and its own staff.'
The committee called on Trust chairman Lord Patten 'to ensure the BBC is seen always to lead by example in the future'. MPs now plan to raise the matter with BBC director-general Mark Thompson.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal Mr Bradshaw has been transferred to another senior role at the Corporation while still living in the United States.
He is a project manager responsible for organising the relocation of more than 5,000 people, as well as technical and broadcasting equipment, from Television Centre at Shepherd's Bush, and from Bush House in The Aldwych, to the BBC's £1 billion new London headquarters in Portland Place.
Last week, however, Mr Bradshaw was seen strolling in the sunshine through the Kentucky town of Midway, where he lives with his wife and daughter. See Article
Press tv - Blair at UK media ethics inquiry
Britain’s former Prime Minister Tony Blair is to appear before a long-running inquiry into British media and press ethics next week to answer questions about his links with Rupert Murdoch’s media empire.
Blair met with Murdoch 38 times during the time he led the Labour Party from 1994 until 2006. Moreover, ahead of the general election on 1 May 1997, Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper The Sun shifted its allegiance from the Conservative Party to the Labour Party.
Moreover, in July 2006 Blair was in Pebble beach, California, where Murdoch’s New York-based News Corporation conference was located. About two weeks later, Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s ‘rogue’ reporter, who was blamed for the phone hacking practices, was arrested.
In an interview with the Huffington Post UK, Martin Moore of the Media Standards Trust said the relationship between Blair and Murdoch was certainly more complicated than a simple deal because Blair’s policies benefited Murdoch’s media empire and in return his newspapers supported the Labour government.
“It would be terribly interesting to understand a bit more about the relationship…Whatever deal or no deal there was, if there was a perception that people in the government were very close to News International that's going to have a trickledown effect,” said Moore. See Article