“New Tory DWP minister claimed he had ‘experience’ of zero-hour contracts – as a £250-an-hour BARRISTER”

“A Tory who said he had ‘experience’ of zero-hour contracts as a £250-an-hour BARRISTER has landed a job in the welfare department.

Guy Opperman made the astonishing comment in a House of Commons debate in 2013 when quizzed on the perils of insecure work.

Theresa May has now promoted the MP to a junior role in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in her reshuffle.

As pensions and financial inclusion minister, his job will include steering the Tory manifesto pledge to slash winter fuel payments for all but the poorest pensioners.

Mr Opperman made the remark during a debate on zero-hour contracts in October 2013.

He said: “As a barrister, I spent two and a half years without a contract.

“With respect, I therefore suggest I do have some experience of that, with no contract whatsoever.”

He argued MPs should only be against “inequitable and exploitative zero-hours contracts”, not try to ban the type of work outright.

The register of MPs’ interests says Mr Opperman was normally paid between £100 and £250 an hour for his work as a barrister, before he joined the House of Commons in 2010.

The number of zero hour contracts has soared in recent years and stands at more than 900,000.”


“Fury as Theresa May promotes MP who said people use foodbanks because of their ‘choices’ in life”

“There was anger tonight after Theresa May promoted an MP who said people use foodbanks because of their ‘choices’ in life.

John Glen is now in government despite his “astonishing” comments – and at one point was even lined up as minister for foodbanks.

The government told trade website Civil Society News yesterday that Mr Glen would be minister for civil society, overseeing charities.

But that was later retracted and he was confirmed as minister for heritage, arts and tourism, part of the same department.

Even so, Mr Glen has come under fire for remarks blaming foodbank use on “the chaotic nature of lives of some people.”

Source: Daily Mirror

The UK government is abdicating its responsibilities and “unfairly shifting the burden” of dealing with dirty air on to local authorities, says an industry body.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health outlined its views in response to the government’s consultation on air pollution. …


So, instead of doing more with less local authorities have to do even more with less.

“With Grenfell Tower, we’ve seen what ‘ripping up red tape’ really looks like”

George Monbiot:

“But both Conservative and New Labour governments have been highly reluctant to introduce new public protections, even when the need is pressing. They have been highly amenable to tearing down existing protections at the behest of trade associations and corporate lobbyists. Deregulation of this kind is a central theme of the neoliberal ideology to which both the Conservatives and Labour under Tony Blair succumbed.

In 2014, the then housing minister (who is now the immigration minister), Brandon Lewis, rejected calls to force construction companies to fit sprinklers in the homes they built on the following grounds:

“In our commitment to be the first Government to reduce regulation, we have introduced the one in, two out rule for regulation … Under that rule, when the Government introduce a regulation, we will identify two existing ones to be removed. The Department for Communities and Local Government has gone further and removed an even higher proportion of regulations. In that context, Members will understand why we want to exhaust all non-regulatory options before we introduce any new regulations.”

In other words, though he accepted that sprinklers “are an effective way of controlling fires and of protecting lives and property”, to oblige builders to introduce them would conflict with the government’s deregulatory agenda. Instead, it would be left to the owners of buildings to decide how best to address the fire risk: “Those with responsibility for ensuring fire safety in their businesses, in their homes or as landlords, should and must make informed decisions on how best to manage the risks in their own properties,” Lewis said.

This calls to mind the Financial Times journalist Willem Buiter’s famous remark that “self-regulation stands in relation to regulation the way self-importance stands in relation to importance”. Case after case, across all sectors, demonstrates that self-regulation is no substitute for consistent rules laid down, monitored and enforced by government.

Crucial public protections have long been derided in the billionaire press as “elf ’n’ safety gone mad”. It’s not hard to see how ruthless businesses can cut costs by cutting corners, and how this gives them an advantage over their more scrupulous competitors. …

Conservative MPs see Brexit as an excellent opportunity to strip back regulations. The speed with which the “great repeal bill” will have to pass through parliament (assuming that any of Theresa May’s programme can now be implemented) provides unprecedented scope to destroy the protections guaranteed by European regulations. The bill will rely heavily on statutory instruments, which permit far less parliamentary scrutiny than primary legislation. Unnoticed and undebated, crucial elements of public health and safety, workers’ rights and environmental protection could be made to disappear.

Too many times we have seen what the bonfire of regulations, which might sound like common sense when issuing from the mouths of ministers, looks like in the real world. The public protections that governments describe as red tape are what make the difference between a good society and barbarism. It is time to bring the disastrous deregulatory agenda to an end, and put public safety and other basic decencies ahead of corner-cutting and greed.”


Should we judge our LEP by results?

Our LEP loves to take credit – often for the most tenuous reasons – but will it take criticism?

“The South West has haemorrhaged more than 50,000 manufacturing jobs in the past decade, a new study by GMB has shown.

The figures were discussed at GMB’s annual Congress in Plymouth between June 4 and 6. …

In 2006 the South West supported 294,400 permanent and temporary manufacturing jobs – almost 12% of the all jobs in the region.

By 2016, that had slumped to just 243,100 or 9% of the total.


Rees-Mogg looks forward to slashing environmental controls, safety and workers rights

“Britain could slash environmental and safety regulations on imported products after it leaves the EU, a Tory MP has suggested.

Jacob Rees-Mogg said regulations that were “good enough for India” could be good enough for the UK – arguing that the UK could go “a very long way” to rolling back high EU standards.

The idea, floated at a hearing of the Treasury Select Committee, was immediately rejected by an economist, who said such a move would likely cause “quite considerable” difficulties.

“We could, if we wanted, accept emissions standards from India, America, and Europe. There’d be no contradiction with that,” Mr Rees-Mogg said.

“We could say, if it’s good enough in India, it’s good enough for here. There’s nothing to stop that.

“We could take it a very long way. American emission standards are fine – probably in some cases higher.

“I accept that we’re not going to allow dangerous toys to come in from China, we don’t want to see those kind of risks. But there’s a very long way you can go.”

The MP’s comments came in the context of a discussion about trade deals with other countries following Brexit.”