In other news… Thurso on banking, Ward on immigration, Swales on G4S & other stories

by Stephen Tall on July 15, 2012

Here’s a round-up of stories we haven’t had time to cover on the site this past few days…

John Thurso MP to lead banking inquiry (John O’Groat Journal)

CAITHNESS, Sutherland and Easter Ross MP John Thurso has been elected to lead an inquiry into how the banking system is run. The Lib Dem politician has been chosen as one of five representatives who will undertake the investigation. … He said: “It is an extremely important inquiry and it will be able to hire a team of smart lawyers and accountants to help delve into specific areas.”

David Ward calls for rethink on earnings link (Bradford Telegraph and Argus)

Plans to set an earnings threshold for people wanting to bring their husband or wife to live with them from outside the EU will mean many families missing out on being with loved ones because the average salary is below the needed income level, an MP has warned. … Mr Ward said: “This is just crazy. It is quite clearly designed as a way of controlling immigration. The levels being set are way beyond the reach of most people in Bradford and that is why government has done it. It is a concerted effort to stop people marrying who they want to marry and coming to this country. I wish government had been honest about it and not gone about it in an underhand way by setting an income limit.”

Lib Dem MP: ‘G4S should have provided Rolls Royce service’ (ITV News)

Ian Swales told BBC Radio 4′s World at One: “We were really concerned because when the announcement of doubling of the number of security personnel was made we looked at the breakdown of the costs and we saw that the G4S contract was going up from £86 million to £284 million, which felt like a colossal amount of money. You would expect to get a Rolls-Royce service for this amount of money.”

Clegg shrugs off criticism during Bristol visit (ITV News)

The Liberal Democrat leader and deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, shrugged off criticism from within his own party during a visit to Bristol today. A city councillor described him as a “big turnoff” and told us he should step down as the public weren’t listening to him.

You can watch the 2-minute ITV report here.

Leading Sheffield Lib Dem councillor defects to Labour (The Star)

ONE of Sheffield’s most senior Liberal Democrat councillors has announced he is defecting to Labour because he disagrees with the party’s national policies. … Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of the council’s Lib Dem group, said: “We are surprised and disappointed to lose a long-standing councillor like Clive [Skelton]. Only recently Clive told us he wouldn’t be seeking re-election, but didn’t mention he was thinking of defecting to Labour. I’m sure the thousands of people who elected him as a Lib Dem councillor will be disappointed too.”

Lib Dem fears escalating Communications Data Bill costs (PublicService.co.uk)

Ministers have faced renewed pressure over their Communications Data Bill, this time being challenged on how they will stop costs spiraling out of control, a problem witnessed in other multi-billion pound Whitehall projects. “When the last government first introduced plans for identity cards, the Home Office estimated costs at between £1.3bn and £3bn,” Duncan Hames said. “By the time the coalition government wisely cancelled ID cards, that estimate had passed £5bn.” He asked how people could have “confidence” that the proposals, which have been labelled by some as a ‘snoopers’ charter’, would “not also prove to be a burden on industry and the taxpayer alike”.

Ministers rule out rethink on ancient leafleting rights (BBC News)

Ministers have ruled out easing restrictions on the handing out of leaflets for community and arts events. Lib Dem peer Lord Clement-Jones wants a change in the law in England and Wales, saying rules in place since 2005 have hit audiences for plays and concerts. … Raising the issue in the House of Lords, Lord Clement-Jones said some councils were asking “exorbitant” amounts to hand out leaflets. … “Isn’t this a traditional civic freedom that should be protected? Will the government not treat these leaflets as no more important than a crisp packet or a burger wrapper?”

Lib Dem shortlist for Bristol’s mayoral elections revealed (ThisIsBristol)

ONLY two Liberal Democrats have been short-listed to become the party’s candidate for Bristol’s mayoral elections in November. They are current city council leader Simon Cook and cabinet councillor Jon Rogers.

Auditor vows to publish City of London’s ‘private’ accounts (Local Government Chronicle)
A follow-up to our May story, Lib Dem Patrick Streeter to stand for City of London election uncontested for 100 years:

A maverick auditor is threatening to publish details concealed for decades of the City of London Corporation’s finances. Accountant Patrick Streeter was elected unopposed as city auditor last week … a Liberal Democrat councillor in Tower Hamlets LBC 20 years ago, [he] said he wanted to find out why a fund named the City’s Cash is listed as of nil value when its assets exceed £1bn, and why its accounts have not been published since 1963. The corporation describes the City’s Cash as “a private fund built up over the last eight centuries”.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.