Cameron tries to change the rules to his advantage for EU referendum – defeated

The new government has suffered its first defeat in the House of Commons, over changes to rules governing the in/out EU referendum campaign.

Ministers wanted to amend so-called “purdah” rules which limit government activity during the campaign period.
But Labour teamed up with rebel Tory MPs to block the move by 312 to 285 and ensure the normal rules would apply.

…Purdah is a long standing convention whereby governments refrain from making any major announcements in the run-up to general elections or other polls to avoid influencing their outcome.

The existing rules were set out in legislation passed in 2000. They prevent ministers, departments and local authorities from publishing any “promotional material” arguing for or against any particular outcome or referring to any of the issues involved in the referendum.

…Arguing for a partial suspension of the normal purdah rules, Europe Minister David Lidington told MPs it would ensure the normal running of government business during the final weeks of the referendum campaign.

“Limited modifications” to the purdah rules would enable the government to transcribe wider EU business “without legal risks”, he said.

‘Humiliating defeat’

But he was accused by Tory Eurosceptic MP Sir Edward Leigh of offering “legalistic claptrap” in a bid to avoid a defeat in the Commons.

He said the process must be “considered to be fair” and argued for Labour’s amendment – to reinstate the full purdah rules – to be accepted.

Commenting after the vote, shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn said the government had tried to play “fast and loose” with the arrangements for the referendum.

“This is a humiliating defeat for David Cameron, with members from all sides of the House supporting Labour’s approach to purdah, which ensures fairness in the conduct of the referendum campaign while permitting normal government business to take place,” Mr Benn said.

“The government should never have rushed through its flawed plans to play fast and loose with the rules on the referendum.” …

Why do most Germans rent their homes?

“It’s just a fact. Many Germans can’t be bothered to buy a house. The country’s homeownership rate ranks among the lowest in the developed world, and nearly dead last in Europe, though the Swiss rent even more. Here are comparative data from 2004, the last time the OECD updated its numbers.”

Peers who NEVER spoke in the House of Lords claimed £1.3 million

“Peers are entitled to claim £300 a day for attending Parliament – even if they do not speak or vote in any debate. Between 2010 to 2015, 30 peers claimed more than £750,000 without ever speaking.”

Senior EDDC officer roundly criticises un-named councillors in public papers

A rather extraordinary inclusion in the papers for tomorrow’s Development Management Committee has piqued the Owl’s interest:

Ed Freeman (Head of Planning) has written an extraordinary attack against previous (unnamed) councillors reproduced verbatim here:

“Where in the past some Members have sought to drive down housing numbers to protect the environment and satisfy the expressed desires of residents to see only limited growth and development this has arguably been a short sighted and perhaps self defeating approach. In terms of following through on the Government’s objectives, we are required to have an objectively assessed housing need which meets the identified needs of the district and then to purposively meet that need.”

Surely it is inappropriate for a senior officer to attack councillors in public for wanting “to protect the environment” and for standing in the way of “Government objectives”? And if EDDC exists ONLY to follow government objectives, what is the point of its existence, one might ask? And that of its officers, whose job is supposed to be to provide neutral and objective support, whatever party might be in power in the district at the time.

It’s particularly rich when it could be said that it is only thanks to EDDC’s self-confessed persistent failure to build enough houses over the past decade, and its inept performance when it comes to the Local Plan, that some councillors are trying to protect the countryside that EDDC itself has put at risk.

Owl wonders if councillors feel it worth a slapped wrist – an officer of the Council should not be criticising councillors for doing their job and who, if not named, can surely be identified .

Click to access 080915-combined-dmc-agenda-compressed.pdf

BBC will help local newspapers

The BBC is to offer staff and content to local newspapers and allow rival shows to be seen on its iPlayer catch-up service as part of a multimillion-pound reshaping of the corporation designed to head off government attempts to reduce its output.”

But will any of those “happy, clappy, never mind the content, feel the advertising” local “newspapers” (they know who they are) be up to publishing REAL news?