Scotland to raise income tax by 1p for those on over £43,666 to raise money for NHS – as it happened

From 1h ago

Swinney says all Scots earning more than £43,662 will pay 1% more in income tax, to raise money for NHS

Swinney says the starter, basic and intermediate rates of income will stay the same.

But the higher and top rate will go up, he says. (See 2.58pm.)

He says this means people earning more than £43,662 pounds will have to pay an extra penny in the pound on income tax.

He says the money is being raised for a specific purpose – investment in NHS.

These changes will raise £129m in the next financial year, he says.

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JS: &quot;As a result, we're asking all those earning more than £43,662 to pay an extra penny in income tax. I want to be clear, that extra penny is for a specific purpose.

We've taken the decision to enable us to deliver substantial additional investment in our NHS.&quot;

&mdash; The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

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JS: “As a result, we’re asking all those earning more than £43,662 to pay an extra penny in income tax. I want to be clear, that extra penny is for a specific purpose.

We’ve taken the decision to enable us to deliver substantial additional investment in our NHS.”

— The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

Updated at 11.20 EST

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  • John Swinney, Scotland’s first minister, has told MSPs in his budget speech that anyone earning more than £43,662 in Scotland will pay an extra penny in the pound in income tax. He said that cash would go into the NHS, and he presented it as an example of how the Scottish government was making progressive choices and rejecting austerity. His full statement is here.

  • \n

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Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservatives’ finance spokesperson, is responding to Swinney now.

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She says Swinney should stop blaming all his economic problems on the UK government. She says the increase in the block grant to Scotland more or less covered inflation.

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She says the SNP government has had the power to vary income tax rates for a long time, and for years it never used them.

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And she expresses concern about the tax gap that will open up between higher earners in Scotland and people on lower salaries. She told Swinney he risked “undermining the potential for economic growth”. And she asked if the Scottish government had conducted an analysis of whether this might lead to higher earners leaving Scotland.

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In response, John Swinney, the Scottish government’s finance secretary, said that a few weeks ago Smith was urging him to follow the policies in Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-budget.

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Swinney says the starter, basic and intermediate rates of income will stay the same.

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But the higher and top rate will go up, he says. (See 2.58pm.)

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He says this means people earning more than £43,662 pounds will have to pay an extra penny in the pound on income tax.

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He says the money is being raised for a specific purpose – investment in NHS.

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These changes will raise £129m in the next financial year, he says.

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JS: &quot;As a result, we're asking all those earning more than £43,662 to pay an extra penny in income tax. I want to be clear, that extra penny is for a specific purpose.

We've taken the decision to enable us to deliver substantial additional investment in our NHS.&quot;

&mdash; The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

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Swinney says one result of the financial situation is that it will take the government longer than planned to deliver on its agenda.

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Another is the need for public sector demand will be more intense.

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A third consequence is that capital spending won’t be as high as planned.

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And, fourth, he is not publishing a public sector pay policy for 2023-24, because the situation is uncertain.

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Swinney is now delivering the budget statement.

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There is a live feed here.

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He starts by saying Brexit, and the “utterly catastrophic decisions” in the mini-budget have made the economic situation worse.

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John Swinney, the Scottish government’s finance secretary, says no one was given authorisation by him to leak budget details.

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But he says, inevitably, many people were aware of what the budget was going to say.

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He tells Johnstone:

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\n

I unreservedly apologise to you for the situation in which you find yourself a presiding officer in protecting the integrity of parliament.

\n

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He also says some of the information leaked was contained embargoed information given to the other political parties.

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Holyrood’s presiding officer has suspended the Scottish parliament and delayed the start of today’s budget by 30 minutes, after furious protests from opposition parties over the leak by government officials of parts of this year’s budget to the BBC.

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Alison Johnstone, who has intervened more robustly than her predecessors to protect parliamentary authority, said she needed more time to complete her investigation into the protocol breach. Her decision to suspend a budget statement, due to start at about 2.25pm, is thought to be unprecedented.

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The leak was raised by angry opposition MSPs at the end of first minister’s questions on Thursday lunchtime: while Nicola Sturgeon was answering questions, the BBC reported that today’s budget would raise taxes for the highest paid.

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The BBC said John Swinney, the acting finance secretary and deputy first minister, would follow the UK government’s lead by lowering the top rate band to £125,000.

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But, unlike in the rest of the UK, the higher rate, which is 41p in the pound in Scotland, would go up to 42p, with the top rate rising from 46p to 47p.

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In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the higher rate is 40p in the pound, and the top rate is 45p.

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Steve Brine, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons health committee, has joined those Tories calling for the government to improve its pay offer to nurses. Speaking on the World at One, he backed the plan proposed by Jerry Cope, a former chair of the NHS pay review body, for the pay body to be asked to update its recommendations for this year – which are based on a report finished in February, when inflation was much lower. (See 10.09am.)

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Brine said the Cope proposal would be a “sensible” solution. He said:

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Everyone needs to cool it and I think sending it back to the pay review body to have a look would be a sensible answer.

\n

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An announcement of this kind could lead to the Royal College of Nursing calling off the strike planned for next week, he said.

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Asked if movement on pay from the government would resolve the dispute, he replied:

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I would agree. That’s the elegant way to make that movement.

\n

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No 10 has said it has no plans to order a pay review update of this kind. (See 12.33pm.)

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health committee chair joins calls for pay review body report on nurses to be updated","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 15 Dec 2022 11.26 EST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 15 Dec 2022 04.12 EST"},{"id":"639b30cd8f0816e812ef05c1","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

John Swinney, the Scottish government’s finance secretary, was due to be presenting his budget to MSPs around now. But the sitting has been suspended in Holyrood, and the budget delayed, because of a leak, my colleague Severin Carrell reports.

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Steve Barclay, the health secretary, has ruled out moving on pay for nurses but claimed there is “room” for discussion.

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On a visit to London’s Chelsea and Westminster hospital, Barclay said he had had a series of meetings with trade unions in which they found common ground but suggested their pay requests were unreasonable. He said:

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I think asking for 19% at a time when many viewers face significant cost of living pressures is not affordable, given the situation the economy faces.

\n

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Barclay said he had spoken to Dame Ruth May, the chief nursing officer for England, before she appeared on a picket line outside St Thomas’ hospital and he claimed that it was “absolutely right” for her to show her support for all nurses in that way.

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England’s chief nurse Dame Ruth May has just turned up on the picket line here outside St Thomas’s hospital.
She says she supports striking nurses and ministers must reach an “urgent resolution” with the nursing union over pay. pic.twitter.com/1noN2IVH0y

&mdash; Eleanor Hayward (@eleanorhayward) December 15, 2022

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Barclay said:

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I think as chief nurse, that’s absolutely right. She is a hugely respected figurehead across the nursing profession and she wanted to signal today that she supports all nurses, and I discussed that with her today.

\n

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The PM’s spokesman said May was not representing the government on the picket line.

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Rishi Sunak is to visit Northern Ireland later today for talks with the political parties, Stormont leaders have said.

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But Michelle O’Neill, the Sinn Féin leader in Northern Ireland and first minister designate, said she hoped Sunak would go beyond offering just “tea and sympathy”. She said:

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I want a political meeting with the British prime minister.

\n

I want to know what he’s doing to get the £600 into people’s pockets [the energy support payments, which are not being distributed in Northern Ireland because there is no functioning power-sharing executive].

\n

I want to know what he’s doing to secure a deal on the protocol and negotiate a way forward.

\n

So I have no desire to have tea and sympathy with the prime minister, what I want to see is a political outcome to such an engagement.

\n

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She said Northern Ireland was in “political limbo”, (because the Democratic Unionist party is boycotting power sharing, and the executive cannot meet) and that the UK government was “bereft of a plan” to solve this.

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The DUP says it will not resume power sharing until the Northern Ireland protocol is abandoned, or radically changed. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, said he hoped he would hear from Sunak “a renewal of his commitment to resolving the issues around the protocol”.

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Féin’s Michelle O’Neil says government ‘bereft of plan’ to solve NI stalemate ahead of talks with Sunak","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 15 Dec 2022 11.26 EST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 15 Dec 2022 04.12 EST"},{"id":"639b28528f085e68205409ca","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The Conservative MP Dan Poulter, a doctor and former health minister, has joined his Tory colleague Sir Jake Berry in calling on the government to improve its pay offer to nurses.

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As my colleague Aubrey Allegretti reports, Poulter said:

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In normal times, it is right for the government to follow the advice of the independent pay review bodies.

\n

But these are not normal times and inflation has significantly eroded real-terms pay since the review bodies made their recommendations earlier in the year.

\n

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There is more on our nurses’ strike live blog.

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The government has announced an independent statutory inquiry into allegations of war crimes by the SAS in Afghanistan, and claims that the original investigation, Operation Northmoor, was flawed because evidence was withheld from the Royal Military Police.

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Earlier this year BBC’s Panoroma broadcast evidence suggesting that one unit may have unlawfully killed 54 people in a six-month tour in 2010-11. This week the same journalists broadcast new evidence about the scandal, involving a raid in which two civilians were killed that was not properly investigated.

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In a statement to MPs Andrew Murrison, a defence minister, said:

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The secretary of state for defence has commissioned an independent statutory inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act to investigate and report on alleged unlawful activity by British armed forces during deliberate detention operations in Afghanistan in the period mid-2010 to mid-2013.

\n

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Murrison said the allegations had already been subject to “comprehensive service police criminal investigations”, but he said the MoD accepted that “Operation Northmoor should have started earlier”.

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He also said: “There may be further lessons to learn from the incidents despite there being insufficient evidence for any prosecutions.”

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The inquiry will start in early 2023 and will be chaired by Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, a senior presiding judge for England and Wales. There is more detail in the MoD news release.

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At the morning lobby briefing, the PM’s spokesperson played down the prospect of the NHS pay review body being asked to update its recommendations for nurses.

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This morning Jerry Cope, a former NHS pay review body chair, suggested this was a possible solution to the dispute. (See 10.09am.) He said the recommendations accepted by ministers were out of date, and that an update might justify a higher offer, while still respecting the pay review body process (which ministers don’t want to abandon).

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But asked if ministers would ask the NHS pay review body to look again at what it recommended, in the light of the increase in the cost of living since February, the PM’s spokesperson said there were “no plans to tell the independent body what to do”.

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He insisted the pay review bodies were genuinely independent, saying that in 2021 the NHS body made recommendations that were higher than the affordability figure provided by government.

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It is also understood that, without a specific request from the government, the pay review bodies cannot unilaterally update recommendations they have already made.

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Downing Street has confirmed that the king’s speech is being delayed and that the current session of parliament, which started in May, is being extended until the autumn. The news was reported in Politico’s London Playbook briefing (see 9.47am) and at the morning lobby briefing the PM’s spokesperson told journalists:

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As has been reported, we are extending the third session [of parliament since the general election – the current one]. The programme is very full. And to make sure we have all the time we need to get [through] the packed agenda, the session will run until autumn 2023.

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As reported earlier, this will free up more time for Rishi Sunak to pass his anti-strikes bill and his asylum crackdown bill – two pieces of legislation that are now central to his domestic agenda.

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The Bank of England has raised UK interest rates to 3.5%, the highest since October 2008, my colleague Graeme Wearden reports on his business live blog.

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Yesterday James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, told MPs in a written statement that the government had given the Chinese a week for six of their diplomats to comply with a request to be interviewed by the police over the beating-up of a pro Hong Kong democracy campaigner at the consulate in Manchester. He said the diplomats had all avoided police action because they have either left the country, or are about to do so.

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In a Commons urgent question this morning, Alicia Kearns, the Tory chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, accused the government of letting them off. She said:

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The consul general and five others brutalised a refugee on British soil and rather than being expelled or prosecuted, they’ve been allowed to slip off, flee like cowards, which makes their guilt even more evident.

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By giving a week’s notice to them, which goes so far beyond the Vienna convention, we have essentially denied Bob Chan any sense of justice.

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In response, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a Foreign Office minister, said that the government had responded to the incident with “firm diplomacy” and that it was “disappointed” that the police would not get to interview the diplomats.

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And the Unite union has announced that a strike by baggage handlers at Heathrow will go ahead on Friday.

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The 400 Unite members work for the contractor Menzies at terminals 2, 3 and 4.

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They will strike for 72 hours from 4am on Friday. This will be followed by a further 72-hour strike beginning on Thursday 29 December and ending at 4am on Sunday 1 January.

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Sharon Graham, the Unite general secretary, said:

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This is a classic case of an employer that can fully afford to pay workers a fair pay increase but has chosen not to. Menzies needs to stop making excuses and make a pay offer that meets our members’ expectations.

\n

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The workers have been offered a 4% pay increase for this year, and a 6.5% increase from January. Unite is asking for an increase of 13% for this year.

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The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has announced that it is escalating its strikes affecting public services.

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In a statement, it said strikes are being added at the Department of Work and Pensions, in courts, by driving examiners and those working for Hinduja Global Services dealing with the Disclosure and Barring Service.

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As PA Media reports, this is in addition to action being held or planned by Border Force officers, staff at National Highways and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). PA says:

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\n

Last month, more than 100,000 PCS members working in 124 government departments and other bodies voted for strike action.

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On Tuesday, driving examiners across Scotland and north-east England and people working at the RPA were the first to take action.

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PCS said its members at DVSA [Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency] workplaces in Coventry, Grantham and Stevenage will join the action on December 28, 29, 30 and 31 and January, while those at DVSA in Aberystwyth, Basingstoke, Cardigan and Yeovil will strike from January 4-10.

\n

Jobcentre workers in Doncaster will strike on December 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31, joining colleagues on strike in the same building and those at Jobcentres in Liverpool.

\n

In a separate dispute, 300 PCS members working as legal advisers and court associates in 82 courts across England and Wales will take 12 days’ strike action over Christmas.

\n

In another row, 82 PCS members employed by Hinduja Global Services on the Disclosure and Barring Service contract in Liverpool are back on strike until December 23.

\n

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Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary, said:

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\n

We’re delivering on our promise to escalate our action and we shall not cease for as long as the government continues to expect our hard-working members to get through the winter with just a 2% pay rise.

\n

If ministers can shift their position on wind turbines and building houses because some Tory backbenchers aren’t happy, they can shift their position on in-work poverty.

\n

One thing is certain: we won’t shift our position until and unless the government puts money on the table for our members, some of whom are claiming the benefits they themselves administer, thousands of whom are forced to use food banks because they can’t afford to eat and more who are burning candles at home because they can’t afford their fuel bills.

\n

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union announces further strikes affecting DWP, courts, driving instructors and criminal record vetting","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 15 Dec 2022 11.26 EST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 15 Dec 2022 04.12 EST"},{"id":"639aff7f8f085e6820540743","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The Scottish National party is accused of operating behind a veil of secrecy after it emerged that its chief executive – and first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s husband – Peter Murrell gave a loan of more than £100,000 to help it out with a “cash flow” issue after the last Holyrood election.

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Murrell loaned the party £107,620 in June 2021, with around half repaid by October that year.

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The loan was reported in the party’s 2021 accounts, which were published by the Electoral Commission in August, but brought to light by the Wings Over Scotland blog site.

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The revelation raises questions not only about Murrell’s enviably deep pockets but also the party’s lack of substantial donors.

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A SNP spokesperson described the loan as a “personal contribution made by the chief executive to assist with cash flow after the Holyrood election”, but opposition parties described it as “murky” as well as a “slap in the face” for voters struggling with the cost of living crisis.

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MPs have observed a one-minute silence in the House of Commons to mark the 80th anniversary of the declaration on the persecution of the Jews, PA Media reports. PA says:

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\n

The declaration is described by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust as the first public announcement by the British government on the Nazis’ attempt to murder Europe’s Jewish population.

\n

The declaration took place on 17 December 1942, and reports from the time say that in response, MPs rose spontaneously and stood for a moment in silence.

\n

Marking the anniversary in the Commons chamber on Thursday were both prime minister, Rishi Sunak, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, alongside other MPs.

\n

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the house that seven survivors of the Holocaust were present in the gallery to witness the commemoration, alongside representatives of Britain’s Jewish community and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

\n

He told MPs: “On December 17, 1942, 80 years ago on Saturday, the then foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, read to the House a declaration issued by the wartime allies, condemning the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis in occupied Europe.

\n

“The declaration followed a diplomatic note sent to the allied powers a week earlier by the Polish foreign minister in exile, the first official report that the Holocaust was under way.

\n

“The evil acts described in the declaration were and remain difficult to comprehend.”

\n

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My colleague Toby Helm wrote a good article about this anniversary in the Observer on Sunday.

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And this is what Harry Boardman, parliamentary correspondent of what was then the Manchester Guardian, wrote about the minute’s silence from 1942. It was an obscure Labour MP from Islington who proposed the tribute. After describing Eden’s statement, Boardman wrote:

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\n

There followed a still more impressive manifestation of the deep feelings of the House. When it was about to pass to ‘the orders of the day’, a Labour member, Mr Cluse, who sits for South Islington, got up from the obscurity of a back bench and, in a mild voice, proposed to the Speaker that members should stand in witness of their detestation of Germany’s barbarism. Mr Cluse is an infrequent speaker, but he was inspired yesterday.

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In a moment all members were on their feet, and the Lord Chancellor, in the Peers’ Gallery, with them. Nothing comparable with this has happened before. The House stood and sang God Save the King when war was declared 1914, and it rather went off its head when Mr Chamberlain announced his journey to Munich, but these were occasions when national feelings were racing at the flood.

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Yesterday the Commons rose in calm to perform something like a judicial action to brand Germany for these infamies. This was the House of Commons in one of its greatest moments.

\n

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I’ve taken that quote from a selection of Boardman’s articles published in 1960 in a book called (without irony) The Glory of Parliament. Any political writer who proposed a title like that these days would be laughed out of the door by the publisher.

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In her Guardian column yesterday Polly Toynbee wrote a withering assessment of the government’s justification for its pay offer to nurses. She wrote:

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\n

In every interview ministers hide behind the sanctity of the “independent” pay review bodies, claiming they set public pay. They don’t and nor are they “independent”. The government decides on pay, using PRBs as camouflage. The 60 or so members of these eight bodies covering public sectors are picked by ministers, as is their Office of Manpower Economics secretariat. I tried to speak to some members – no luck. Only two of those 60 people come from the employees’ side, says the TUC: one from the army, with no affiliated union. (The Tory press protests at the armed forces standing in for some public staff paid more than them. That’s because, banned from striking, they get short-changed by government; a recent report says Met police, likewise banned, are increasingly forced to use food banks).

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These opaque PRBs are nothing like the Low Pay Commission that sets the minimum wage, whose membership is shared between academics, employers and unions: the TUC says it works well. PRBs have two main criteria to consider, both bogus. What are the current financial circumstances, and what may be needed to recruit, retain and motivate staff? But they are given a fixed spending envelope, with a set pay rise baked in. Any extra pay comes out of the departmental budget, causing cuts.

\n

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This morning the Today programme interviewed Jerry Cope, who was chair of the NHS pay review body from 2011 to 2017, and he rejected the claim that pay review bodies were not independent. He said:

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I describe it as fiercely independent. I know there’s a lot of cynicism about, but all of the members of pay review bodies, and there are many of them, fiercely guard their independence and regard what they do as very important to all the stakeholders in a particular issue.

\n

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Cope said that the information given to pay review bodies by the Treasury as to what was affordable was “a parameter not a constraint”, and he said the NHS pay review body could have said to the government that its proposals were unrealistic. That sometimes happened, he said.

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But he conceded that there was a problem with the recommendation on nurses’ pay because the pay review was out of date. He explained:

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It took place in February and the world was a rather different place in February and therefore I think some of the evidence they considered was probably out of date by the time it was published. Because the process is very slow, the decision is a bit lagged.

\n

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Cope also said this factor offered a possible solution to the government.

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\n

I think they [ministers] should ask the pay review body to reconsider what they did last year, and not reopen last year, because I think it’s too late to do that, but actually say I want you to do a very quick turnaround for this year’s recommendations and I want you to take account on anything you might have missed last time round.

\n

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He said that could open the way to a higher offer, in a way that “respects the integrity of the pay review body” – although he also accepted that the pay review might decide not to change its recommendation.

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In his TalkTV interview last night Sir Jake Berry, the former Conservative chairman, also said that Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy PM, should be suspended from his cabinet post while the allegations about him bullying officials – there are now eight separate complaints, No 10 said yesterday – are investigated. Commenting on the latest developments in the story, he said:

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\n

The problem with this development is, if you work in Aldi in Rawtenstall or Asda in Rawtenstall in my constituency, and you had allegations like this against you, you would be suspended pending investigation.

\n

And I think it’s quite a hard line from the government to maintain there are now eight allegations in relation to unacceptable behaviour in the workplace – which are denied by Dominic Raab – and they haven’t taken any further action than setting up some independent panel which I don’t think anybody, including me, really understands.

\n

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Former Conservative Party chairman Jake Berry says he doesn't think an internal investigation into the behaviour of Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab will &quot;satisfy the public.&quot;@tnewtondunn | @JakeBerry pic.twitter.com/L5CAxCYGgD

&mdash; First Edition (@FirstEdition) December 14, 2022

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Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have said Raab should stand aside while the allegations against him are investigated, and Berry said this was the approach he adopted to people under investigation when he was party chairman.

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Good morning. Britain’s industrial dispute crisis has become notably more serious today with the start of a strike by nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Even in the 1970s the Royal College of Nursing never voted to go on strike, and so this is a measure of how badly the cost of living crisis is affecting the public sector workforce.

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Many hospitals are not affected (nurses voted trust by trust, and in some places they did not reach the 50% turnout threshold for a ballot to be valid), but this is still a big motion – for the NHS, and patients – and my colleague Tobi Thomas is writing a separate liveblog with all the detail here.

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&quot;I can tell you that the government offer is too low.&quot;

Former Conservative Party chairman Jake Berry says the government &quot;is going to have to improve its offer&quot; on nurses pay.
@tnewtondunn | @JakeBerry pic.twitter.com/Xx3U1TNB17

&mdash; First Edition (@FirstEdition) December 14, 2022

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I’ll be covering non-strike issues today, but it is impossible to write about Westminster politics without referencing the dispute and so it will get some coverage here too. And one of the most notable interventions has come from Sir Jake Berry, who was chairman of the Conservative party when Liz Truss was prime minister and before that chair of the Northern Research Group, the influential caucus for “red wall” Tory MPs. In an interview with TalkTV last night, Berry said the government should offer the nurses a better deal. He said:

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The government is going to have to improve its offer.

\n

The nursing union itself is asking for 19%. That does not seem like a realistic figure to people working in the private sector, to people working in other parts of our public sector.

\n

They’ve described it themselves as a negotiating position. And we all know how this works. They ask for 19%, the government offers them 3 or 4, or whatever it is, and they’re going to meet somewhere in the middle.

\n

We need to find a way, as a government, and the union too, to get to that centre point, that point of agreement, straight away.

\n

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Berry also said that nurses were “brilliant public servants” and that a compromise was essential. He went on:

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\n

Both the government and the nurses’ union need to come up together [with] a compromise position straight away. And that has to involve the government increasing its offer.

\n

","elementId":"d8c6d039-c089-43f4-867c-a1e923117fbc"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Asked by how much, Berry initially said “by a lot”, and then said he did not want to put a figure on it. But 19% was too high, he said.

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&quot;I can tell you that the government offer is too low.&quot;

Former Conservative Party chairman Jake Berry says the government &quot;is going to have to improve its offer&quot; on nurses pay.
@tnewtondunn | @JakeBerry pic.twitter.com/Xx3U1TNB17

&mdash; First Edition (@FirstEdition) December 14, 2022

\n","url":"https://twitter.com/FirstEdition/status/1603157545207709699","id":"1603157545207709699","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"a8f8eb01-1c13-40b4-81df-1e845a17d338"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Berry has become one of the most troublesome Tory backbenchers for No 10. He spoke out publicly about Rishi Sunak’s decision to give Gavin Williamson a cabinet job (successfully – Williamson resigned) and about his decision to reappoint Suella Braverman has home secretary (unsuccessfully – she is still there). He also joined a revolt over onshore windfarms (he was was in favour), and he has publicly speculated about the prospect of Boris Johnson returning to save the party from electoral oblivion.

","elementId":"e8d656ad-c78a-4a5c-8d9d-6acb706d201e"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Here is the agenda for the day.

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9.30am: Kemi Badenoch, the international trade secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

","elementId":"417f349b-da4a-46a2-b17a-cbb7401a8b23"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Morning: Stephen Barclay, the health secretary, visits a London hospital, where he will speak to the media.

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11.30am: Downing Street holds its lobby briefing.

","elementId":"d9c80918-4447-426d-bf6c-322ca997dbf7"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

2.45pm: John Swinney, Scotland’s finance secretary, presents the Scottish government’s budget for 2023-24.

","elementId":"f04b7322-d245-487f-a838-64663cfe78ec"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

At some point today Huw Merriman, the rail minister, is holding a meeting with the RMT about the strike.

","elementId":"9fee8d94-2b40-4565-977d-83f38a52d468"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Also, people are voting today in the byelection in Stretford and Urmston to elect a replacement for Labour’s Kate Green, who is leaving parliament to become Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor for policing and crime.

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I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions and, if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

","elementId":"9d9fc3a0-4966-44da-8632-790094c75d8d"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

","elementId":"f082a337-411d-476f-9d3d-2a2058ea0ca5"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Alternatively, you can email me at [email protected].

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Key events

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    \n

  • John Swinney, Scotland’s first minister, has told MSPs in his budget speech that anyone earning more than £43,662 in Scotland will pay an extra penny in the pound in income tax. He said that cash would go into the NHS, and he presented it as an example of how the Scottish government was making progressive choices and rejecting austerity. His full statement is here.

  • \n

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summary","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 15 Dec 2022 11.26 EST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 15 Dec 2022 04.12 EST"},{"id":"639b432f8f085e6820540b23","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservatives’ finance spokesperson, is responding to Swinney now.

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She says Swinney should stop blaming all his economic problems on the UK government. She says the increase in the block grant to Scotland more or less covered inflation.

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She says the SNP government has had the power to vary income tax rates for a long time, and for years it never used them.

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And she expresses concern about the tax gap that will open up between higher earners in Scotland and people on lower salaries. She told Swinney he risked “undermining the potential for economic growth”. And she asked if the Scottish government had conducted an analysis of whether this might lead to higher earners leaving Scotland.

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In response, John Swinney, the Scottish government’s finance secretary, said that a few weeks ago Smith was urging him to follow the policies in Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-budget.

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Swinney says the starter, basic and intermediate rates of income will stay the same.

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But the higher and top rate will go up, he says. (See 2.58pm.)

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He says this means people earning more than £43,662 pounds will have to pay an extra penny in the pound on income tax.

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He says the money is being raised for a specific purpose – investment in NHS.

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These changes will raise £129m in the next financial year, he says.

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JS: &quot;As a result, we're asking all those earning more than £43,662 to pay an extra penny in income tax. I want to be clear, that extra penny is for a specific purpose.

We've taken the decision to enable us to deliver substantial additional investment in our NHS.&quot;

&mdash; The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

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Swinney says one result of the financial situation is that it will take the government longer than planned to deliver on its agenda.

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Another is the need for public sector demand will be more intense.

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A third consequence is that capital spending won’t be as high as planned.

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And, fourth, he is not publishing a public sector pay policy for 2023-24, because the situation is uncertain.

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Swinney is now delivering the budget statement.

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There is a live feed here.

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He starts by saying Brexit, and the “utterly catastrophic decisions” in the mini-budget have made the economic situation worse.

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John Swinney, the Scottish government’s finance secretary, says no one was given authorisation by him to leak budget details.

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But he says, inevitably, many people were aware of what the budget was going to say.

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He tells Johnstone:

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\n

I unreservedly apologise to you for the situation in which you find yourself a presiding officer in protecting the integrity of parliament.

\n

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He also says some of the information leaked was contained embargoed information given to the other political parties.

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Holyrood’s presiding officer has suspended the Scottish parliament and delayed the start of today’s budget by 30 minutes, after furious protests from opposition parties over the leak by government officials of parts of this year’s budget to the BBC.

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Alison Johnstone, who has intervened more robustly than her predecessors to protect parliamentary authority, said she needed more time to complete her investigation into the protocol breach. Her decision to suspend a budget statement, due to start at about 2.25pm, is thought to be unprecedented.

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The leak was raised by angry opposition MSPs at the end of first minister’s questions on Thursday lunchtime: while Nicola Sturgeon was answering questions, the BBC reported that today’s budget would raise taxes for the highest paid.

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The BBC said John Swinney, the acting finance secretary and deputy first minister, would follow the UK government’s lead by lowering the top rate band to £125,000.

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But, unlike in the rest of the UK, the higher rate, which is 41p in the pound in Scotland, would go up to 42p, with the top rate rising from 46p to 47p.

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In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the higher rate is 40p in the pound, and the top rate is 45p.

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Steve Brine, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons health committee, has joined those Tories calling for the government to improve its pay offer to nurses. Speaking on the World at One, he backed the plan proposed by Jerry Cope, a former chair of the NHS pay review body, for the pay body to be asked to update its recommendations for this year – which are based on a report finished in February, when inflation was much lower. (See 10.09am.)

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Brine said the Cope proposal would be a “sensible” solution. He said:

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\n

Everyone needs to cool it and I think sending it back to the pay review body to have a look would be a sensible answer.

\n

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An announcement of this kind could lead to the Royal College of Nursing calling off the strike planned for next week, he said.

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Asked if movement on pay from the government would resolve the dispute, he replied:

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I would agree. That’s the elegant way to make that movement.

\n

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No 10 has said it has no plans to order a pay review update of this kind. (See 12.33pm.)

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John Swinney, the Scottish government’s finance secretary, was due to be presenting his budget to MSPs around now. But the sitting has been suspended in Holyrood, and the budget delayed, because of a leak, my colleague Severin Carrell reports.

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Steve Barclay, the health secretary, has ruled out moving on pay for nurses but claimed there is “room” for discussion.

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On a visit to London’s Chelsea and Westminster hospital, Barclay said he had had a series of meetings with trade unions in which they found common ground but suggested their pay requests were unreasonable. He said:

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I think asking for 19% at a time when many viewers face significant cost of living pressures is not affordable, given the situation the economy faces.

\n

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Barclay said he had spoken to Dame Ruth May, the chief nursing officer for England, before she appeared on a picket line outside St Thomas’ hospital and he claimed that it was “absolutely right” for her to show her support for all nurses in that way.

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England’s chief nurse Dame Ruth May has just turned up on the picket line here outside St Thomas’s hospital.
She says she supports striking nurses and ministers must reach an “urgent resolution” with the nursing union over pay. pic.twitter.com/1noN2IVH0y

&mdash; Eleanor Hayward (@eleanorhayward) December 15, 2022

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Barclay said:

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I think as chief nurse, that’s absolutely right. She is a hugely respected figurehead across the nursing profession and she wanted to signal today that she supports all nurses, and I discussed that with her today.

\n

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The PM’s spokesman said May was not representing the government on the picket line.

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Rishi Sunak is to visit Northern Ireland later today for talks with the political parties, Stormont leaders have said.

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But Michelle O’Neill, the Sinn Féin leader in Northern Ireland and first minister designate, said she hoped Sunak would go beyond offering just “tea and sympathy”. She said:

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I want a political meeting with the British prime minister.

\n

I want to know what he’s doing to get the £600 into people’s pockets [the energy support payments, which are not being distributed in Northern Ireland because there is no functioning power-sharing executive].

\n

I want to know what he’s doing to secure a deal on the protocol and negotiate a way forward.

\n

So I have no desire to have tea and sympathy with the prime minister, what I want to see is a political outcome to such an engagement.

\n

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She said Northern Ireland was in “political limbo”, (because the Democratic Unionist party is boycotting power sharing, and the executive cannot meet) and that the UK government was “bereft of a plan” to solve this.

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The DUP says it will not resume power sharing until the Northern Ireland protocol is abandoned, or radically changed. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader, said he hoped he would hear from Sunak “a renewal of his commitment to resolving the issues around the protocol”.

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Féin’s Michelle O’Neil says government ‘bereft of plan’ to solve NI stalemate ahead of talks with Sunak","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 15 Dec 2022 11.26 EST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 15 Dec 2022 04.12 EST"},{"id":"639b28528f085e68205409ca","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The Conservative MP Dan Poulter, a doctor and former health minister, has joined his Tory colleague Sir Jake Berry in calling on the government to improve its pay offer to nurses.

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As my colleague Aubrey Allegretti reports, Poulter said:

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In normal times, it is right for the government to follow the advice of the independent pay review bodies.

\n

But these are not normal times and inflation has significantly eroded real-terms pay since the review bodies made their recommendations earlier in the year.

\n

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There is more on our nurses’ strike live blog.

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The government has announced an independent statutory inquiry into allegations of war crimes by the SAS in Afghanistan, and claims that the original investigation, Operation Northmoor, was flawed because evidence was withheld from the Royal Military Police.

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Earlier this year BBC’s Panoroma broadcast evidence suggesting that one unit may have unlawfully killed 54 people in a six-month tour in 2010-11. This week the same journalists broadcast new evidence about the scandal, involving a raid in which two civilians were killed that was not properly investigated.

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In a statement to MPs Andrew Murrison, a defence minister, said:

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The secretary of state for defence has commissioned an independent statutory inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act to investigate and report on alleged unlawful activity by British armed forces during deliberate detention operations in Afghanistan in the period mid-2010 to mid-2013.

\n

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Murrison said the allegations had already been subject to “comprehensive service police criminal investigations”, but he said the MoD accepted that “Operation Northmoor should have started earlier”.

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He also said: “There may be further lessons to learn from the incidents despite there being insufficient evidence for any prosecutions.”

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The inquiry will start in early 2023 and will be chaired by Lord Justice Haddon-Cave, a senior presiding judge for England and Wales. There is more detail in the MoD news release.

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At the morning lobby briefing, the PM’s spokesperson played down the prospect of the NHS pay review body being asked to update its recommendations for nurses.

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This morning Jerry Cope, a former NHS pay review body chair, suggested this was a possible solution to the dispute. (See 10.09am.) He said the recommendations accepted by ministers were out of date, and that an update might justify a higher offer, while still respecting the pay review body process (which ministers don’t want to abandon).

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But asked if ministers would ask the NHS pay review body to look again at what it recommended, in the light of the increase in the cost of living since February, the PM’s spokesperson said there were “no plans to tell the independent body what to do”.

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He insisted the pay review bodies were genuinely independent, saying that in 2021 the NHS body made recommendations that were higher than the affordability figure provided by government.

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It is also understood that, without a specific request from the government, the pay review bodies cannot unilaterally update recommendations they have already made.

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Downing Street has confirmed that the king’s speech is being delayed and that the current session of parliament, which started in May, is being extended until the autumn. The news was reported in Politico’s London Playbook briefing (see 9.47am) and at the morning lobby briefing the PM’s spokesperson told journalists:

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As has been reported, we are extending the third session [of parliament since the general election – the current one]. The programme is very full. And to make sure we have all the time we need to get [through] the packed agenda, the session will run until autumn 2023.

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As reported earlier, this will free up more time for Rishi Sunak to pass his anti-strikes bill and his asylum crackdown bill – two pieces of legislation that are now central to his domestic agenda.

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The Bank of England has raised UK interest rates to 3.5%, the highest since October 2008, my colleague Graeme Wearden reports on his business live blog.

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Yesterday James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, told MPs in a written statement that the government had given the Chinese a week for six of their diplomats to comply with a request to be interviewed by the police over the beating-up of a pro Hong Kong democracy campaigner at the consulate in Manchester. He said the diplomats had all avoided police action because they have either left the country, or are about to do so.

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In a Commons urgent question this morning, Alicia Kearns, the Tory chair of the Commons foreign affairs committee, accused the government of letting them off. She said:

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The consul general and five others brutalised a refugee on British soil and rather than being expelled or prosecuted, they’ve been allowed to slip off, flee like cowards, which makes their guilt even more evident.

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By giving a week’s notice to them, which goes so far beyond the Vienna convention, we have essentially denied Bob Chan any sense of justice.

\n

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In response, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, a Foreign Office minister, said that the government had responded to the incident with “firm diplomacy” and that it was “disappointed” that the police would not get to interview the diplomats.

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And the Unite union has announced that a strike by baggage handlers at Heathrow will go ahead on Friday.

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The 400 Unite members work for the contractor Menzies at terminals 2, 3 and 4.

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They will strike for 72 hours from 4am on Friday. This will be followed by a further 72-hour strike beginning on Thursday 29 December and ending at 4am on Sunday 1 January.

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Sharon Graham, the Unite general secretary, said:

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This is a classic case of an employer that can fully afford to pay workers a fair pay increase but has chosen not to. Menzies needs to stop making excuses and make a pay offer that meets our members’ expectations.

\n

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The workers have been offered a 4% pay increase for this year, and a 6.5% increase from January. Unite is asking for an increase of 13% for this year.

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The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union has announced that it is escalating its strikes affecting public services.

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In a statement, it said strikes are being added at the Department of Work and Pensions, in courts, by driving examiners and those working for Hinduja Global Services dealing with the Disclosure and Barring Service.

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As PA Media reports, this is in addition to action being held or planned by Border Force officers, staff at National Highways and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). PA says:

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Last month, more than 100,000 PCS members working in 124 government departments and other bodies voted for strike action.

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On Tuesday, driving examiners across Scotland and north-east England and people working at the RPA were the first to take action.

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PCS said its members at DVSA [Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency] workplaces in Coventry, Grantham and Stevenage will join the action on December 28, 29, 30 and 31 and January, while those at DVSA in Aberystwyth, Basingstoke, Cardigan and Yeovil will strike from January 4-10.

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Jobcentre workers in Doncaster will strike on December 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31, joining colleagues on strike in the same building and those at Jobcentres in Liverpool.

\n

In a separate dispute, 300 PCS members working as legal advisers and court associates in 82 courts across England and Wales will take 12 days’ strike action over Christmas.

\n

In another row, 82 PCS members employed by Hinduja Global Services on the Disclosure and Barring Service contract in Liverpool are back on strike until December 23.

\n

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Mark Serwotka, the PCS general secretary, said:

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\n

We’re delivering on our promise to escalate our action and we shall not cease for as long as the government continues to expect our hard-working members to get through the winter with just a 2% pay rise.

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If ministers can shift their position on wind turbines and building houses because some Tory backbenchers aren’t happy, they can shift their position on in-work poverty.

\n

One thing is certain: we won’t shift our position until and unless the government puts money on the table for our members, some of whom are claiming the benefits they themselves administer, thousands of whom are forced to use food banks because they can’t afford to eat and more who are burning candles at home because they can’t afford their fuel bills.

\n

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union announces further strikes affecting DWP, courts, driving instructors and criminal record vetting","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 15 Dec 2022 11.26 EST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 15 Dec 2022 04.12 EST"},{"id":"639aff7f8f085e6820540743","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

The Scottish National party is accused of operating behind a veil of secrecy after it emerged that its chief executive – and first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s husband – Peter Murrell gave a loan of more than £100,000 to help it out with a “cash flow” issue after the last Holyrood election.

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Murrell loaned the party £107,620 in June 2021, with around half repaid by October that year.

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The loan was reported in the party’s 2021 accounts, which were published by the Electoral Commission in August, but brought to light by the Wings Over Scotland blog site.

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The revelation raises questions not only about Murrell’s enviably deep pockets but also the party’s lack of substantial donors.

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A SNP spokesperson described the loan as a “personal contribution made by the chief executive to assist with cash flow after the Holyrood election”, but opposition parties described it as “murky” as well as a “slap in the face” for voters struggling with the cost of living crisis.

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MPs have observed a one-minute silence in the House of Commons to mark the 80th anniversary of the declaration on the persecution of the Jews, PA Media reports. PA says:

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\n

The declaration is described by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust as the first public announcement by the British government on the Nazis’ attempt to murder Europe’s Jewish population.

\n

The declaration took place on 17 December 1942, and reports from the time say that in response, MPs rose spontaneously and stood for a moment in silence.

\n

Marking the anniversary in the Commons chamber on Thursday were both prime minister, Rishi Sunak, and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, alongside other MPs.

\n

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told the house that seven survivors of the Holocaust were present in the gallery to witness the commemoration, alongside representatives of Britain’s Jewish community and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

\n

He told MPs: “On December 17, 1942, 80 years ago on Saturday, the then foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, read to the House a declaration issued by the wartime allies, condemning the treatment of Jewish people by the Nazis in occupied Europe.

\n

“The declaration followed a diplomatic note sent to the allied powers a week earlier by the Polish foreign minister in exile, the first official report that the Holocaust was under way.

\n

“The evil acts described in the declaration were and remain difficult to comprehend.”

\n

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My colleague Toby Helm wrote a good article about this anniversary in the Observer on Sunday.

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And this is what Harry Boardman, parliamentary correspondent of what was then the Manchester Guardian, wrote about the minute’s silence from 1942. It was an obscure Labour MP from Islington who proposed the tribute. After describing Eden’s statement, Boardman wrote:

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\n

There followed a still more impressive manifestation of the deep feelings of the House. When it was about to pass to ‘the orders of the day’, a Labour member, Mr Cluse, who sits for South Islington, got up from the obscurity of a back bench and, in a mild voice, proposed to the Speaker that members should stand in witness of their detestation of Germany’s barbarism. Mr Cluse is an infrequent speaker, but he was inspired yesterday.

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In a moment all members were on their feet, and the Lord Chancellor, in the Peers’ Gallery, with them. Nothing comparable with this has happened before. The House stood and sang God Save the King when war was declared 1914, and it rather went off its head when Mr Chamberlain announced his journey to Munich, but these were occasions when national feelings were racing at the flood.

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Yesterday the Commons rose in calm to perform something like a judicial action to brand Germany for these infamies. This was the House of Commons in one of its greatest moments.

\n

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I’ve taken that quote from a selection of Boardman’s articles published in 1960 in a book called (without irony) The Glory of Parliament. Any political writer who proposed a title like that these days would be laughed out of the door by the publisher.

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In her Guardian column yesterday Polly Toynbee wrote a withering assessment of the government’s justification for its pay offer to nurses. She wrote:

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\n

In every interview ministers hide behind the sanctity of the “independent” pay review bodies, claiming they set public pay. They don’t and nor are they “independent”. The government decides on pay, using PRBs as camouflage. The 60 or so members of these eight bodies covering public sectors are picked by ministers, as is their Office of Manpower Economics secretariat. I tried to speak to some members – no luck. Only two of those 60 people come from the employees’ side, says the TUC: one from the army, with no affiliated union. (The Tory press protests at the armed forces standing in for some public staff paid more than them. That’s because, banned from striking, they get short-changed by government; a recent report says Met police, likewise banned, are increasingly forced to use food banks).

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These opaque PRBs are nothing like the Low Pay Commission that sets the minimum wage, whose membership is shared between academics, employers and unions: the TUC says it works well. PRBs have two main criteria to consider, both bogus. What are the current financial circumstances, and what may be needed to recruit, retain and motivate staff? But they are given a fixed spending envelope, with a set pay rise baked in. Any extra pay comes out of the departmental budget, causing cuts.

\n

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This morning the Today programme interviewed Jerry Cope, who was chair of the NHS pay review body from 2011 to 2017, and he rejected the claim that pay review bodies were not independent. He said:

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I describe it as fiercely independent. I know there’s a lot of cynicism about, but all of the members of pay review bodies, and there are many of them, fiercely guard their independence and regard what they do as very important to all the stakeholders in a particular issue.

\n

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Cope said that the information given to pay review bodies by the Treasury as to what was affordable was “a parameter not a constraint”, and he said the NHS pay review body could have said to the government that its proposals were unrealistic. That sometimes happened, he said.

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But he conceded that there was a problem with the recommendation on nurses’ pay because the pay review was out of date. He explained:

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It took place in February and the world was a rather different place in February and therefore I think some of the evidence they considered was probably out of date by the time it was published. Because the process is very slow, the decision is a bit lagged.

\n

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Cope also said this factor offered a possible solution to the government.

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\n

I think they [ministers] should ask the pay review body to reconsider what they did last year, and not reopen last year, because I think it’s too late to do that, but actually say I want you to do a very quick turnaround for this year’s recommendations and I want you to take account on anything you might have missed last time round.

\n

","elementId":"66afe9bf-3951-4ec8-a541-a884d9204752"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

He said that could open the way to a higher offer, in a way that “respects the integrity of the pay review body” – although he also accepted that the pay review might decide not to change its recommendation.

","elementId":"fbfa6139-5758-4051-a1fe-06f289d40073"}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1671097800000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"04.50 EST","blockLastUpdated":1671098970000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"05.09 EST","blockFirstPublished":1671098970000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"05.09 EST","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"05.09","title":"Former NHS pay review chair says ministers should request updated recommendation as possible solution to nurses’ strike","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 15 Dec 2022 11.26 EST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 15 Dec 2022 04.12 EST"},{"id":"639ae6e68f0834f3c0579a68","elements":[{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

In his TalkTV interview last night Sir Jake Berry, the former Conservative chairman, also said that Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy PM, should be suspended from his cabinet post while the allegations about him bullying officials – there are now eight separate complaints, No 10 said yesterday – are investigated. Commenting on the latest developments in the story, he said:

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\n

The problem with this development is, if you work in Aldi in Rawtenstall or Asda in Rawtenstall in my constituency, and you had allegations like this against you, you would be suspended pending investigation.

\n

And I think it’s quite a hard line from the government to maintain there are now eight allegations in relation to unacceptable behaviour in the workplace – which are denied by Dominic Raab – and they haven’t taken any further action than setting up some independent panel which I don’t think anybody, including me, really understands.

\n

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Former Conservative Party chairman Jake Berry says he doesn't think an internal investigation into the behaviour of Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab will &quot;satisfy the public.&quot;@tnewtondunn | @JakeBerry pic.twitter.com/L5CAxCYGgD

&mdash; First Edition (@FirstEdition) December 14, 2022

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Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have said Raab should stand aside while the allegations against him are investigated, and Berry said this was the approach he adopted to people under investigation when he was party chairman.

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Good morning. Britain’s industrial dispute crisis has become notably more serious today with the start of a strike by nurses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Even in the 1970s the Royal College of Nursing never voted to go on strike, and so this is a measure of how badly the cost of living crisis is affecting the public sector workforce.

","elementId":"5e26dc10-822e-4dc5-8444-e13c6b84808b"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Many hospitals are not affected (nurses voted trust by trust, and in some places they did not reach the 50% turnout threshold for a ballot to be valid), but this is still a big motion – for the NHS, and patients – and my colleague Tobi Thomas is writing a separate liveblog with all the detail here.

","elementId":"6d74684d-224f-44b5-9704-941807be47b0"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

&quot;I can tell you that the government offer is too low.&quot;

Former Conservative Party chairman Jake Berry says the government &quot;is going to have to improve its offer&quot; on nurses pay.
@tnewtondunn | @JakeBerry pic.twitter.com/Xx3U1TNB17

&mdash; First Edition (@FirstEdition) December 14, 2022

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I’ll be covering non-strike issues today, but it is impossible to write about Westminster politics without referencing the dispute and so it will get some coverage here too. And one of the most notable interventions has come from Sir Jake Berry, who was chairman of the Conservative party when Liz Truss was prime minister and before that chair of the Northern Research Group, the influential caucus for “red wall” Tory MPs. In an interview with TalkTV last night, Berry said the government should offer the nurses a better deal. He said:

","elementId":"bc42a4fc-e16d-42d6-87ba-5a6d520b14d2"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.BlockquoteBlockElement","html":"

\n

The government is going to have to improve its offer.

\n

The nursing union itself is asking for 19%. That does not seem like a realistic figure to people working in the private sector, to people working in other parts of our public sector.

\n

They’ve described it themselves as a negotiating position. And we all know how this works. They ask for 19%, the government offers them 3 or 4, or whatever it is, and they’re going to meet somewhere in the middle.

\n

We need to find a way, as a government, and the union too, to get to that centre point, that point of agreement, straight away.

\n

","elementId":"d4cbad81-97a4-4343-82ae-e4bb969e0411"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Berry also said that nurses were “brilliant public servants” and that a compromise was essential. He went on:

","elementId":"b97de633-eb21-420b-9b0d-457ab2d0f92e"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.BlockquoteBlockElement","html":"

\n

Both the government and the nurses’ union need to come up together [with] a compromise position straight away. And that has to involve the government increasing its offer.

\n

","elementId":"d8c6d039-c089-43f4-867c-a1e923117fbc"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Asked by how much, Berry initially said “by a lot”, and then said he did not want to put a figure on it. But 19% was too high, he said.

","elementId":"549ae9f5-7b0b-44aa-b7ea-216ace8648d9"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

&quot;I can tell you that the government offer is too low.&quot;

Former Conservative Party chairman Jake Berry says the government &quot;is going to have to improve its offer&quot; on nurses pay.
@tnewtondunn | @JakeBerry pic.twitter.com/Xx3U1TNB17

&mdash; First Edition (@FirstEdition) December 14, 2022

\n","url":"https://twitter.com/FirstEdition/status/1603157545207709699","id":"1603157545207709699","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"a8f8eb01-1c13-40b4-81df-1e845a17d338"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Berry has become one of the most troublesome Tory backbenchers for No 10. He spoke out publicly about Rishi Sunak’s decision to give Gavin Williamson a cabinet job (successfully – Williamson resigned) and about his decision to reappoint Suella Braverman has home secretary (unsuccessfully – she is still there). He also joined a revolt over onshore windfarms (he was was in favour), and he has publicly speculated about the prospect of Boris Johnson returning to save the party from electoral oblivion.

","elementId":"e8d656ad-c78a-4a5c-8d9d-6acb706d201e"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Here is the agenda for the day.

","elementId":"65bc8649-9f28-4a1f-b9de-3961d75d3c02"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

9.30am: Kemi Badenoch, the international trade secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

","elementId":"417f349b-da4a-46a2-b17a-cbb7401a8b23"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Morning: Stephen Barclay, the health secretary, visits a London hospital, where he will speak to the media.

","elementId":"bbf29500-cc29-40dd-afd0-ce16dfa10414"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

11.30am: Downing Street holds its lobby briefing.

","elementId":"d9c80918-4447-426d-bf6c-322ca997dbf7"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

2.45pm: John Swinney, Scotland’s finance secretary, presents the Scottish government’s budget for 2023-24.

","elementId":"f04b7322-d245-487f-a838-64663cfe78ec"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

At some point today Huw Merriman, the rail minister, is holding a meeting with the RMT about the strike.

","elementId":"9fee8d94-2b40-4565-977d-83f38a52d468"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Also, people are voting today in the byelection in Stretford and Urmston to elect a replacement for Labour’s Kate Green, who is leaving parliament to become Greater Manchester’s deputy mayor for policing and crime.

","elementId":"d01ce765-6872-46d0-81a8-d6f214449671"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

I try to monitor the comments below the line (BTL) but it is impossible to read them all. If you have a direct question, do include “Andrew” in it somewhere and I’m more likely to find it. I do try to answer questions and, if they are of general interest, I will post the question and reply above the line (ATL), although I can’t promise to do this for everyone.

","elementId":"9d9fc3a0-4966-44da-8632-790094c75d8d"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

If you want to attract my attention quickly, it is probably better to use Twitter. I’m on @AndrewSparrow.

","elementId":"f082a337-411d-476f-9d3d-2a2058ea0ca5"},{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement","html":"

Alternatively, you can email me at [email protected].

","elementId":"a115e3f4-4f0a-4909-bb05-f95e92a23479"}],"attributes":{"pinned":false,"keyEvent":true,"summary":false},"blockCreatedOn":1671095556000,"blockCreatedOnDisplay":"04.12 EST","blockLastUpdated":1671099814000,"blockLastUpdatedDisplay":"05.23 EST","blockFirstPublished":1671095556000,"blockFirstPublishedDisplay":"04.12 EST","blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone":"04.12","title":"Former Tory chair Jake Berry says government should improve pay offer to nurses ‘by a lot’","contributors":[],"primaryDateLine":"Thu 15 Dec 2022 11.26 EST","secondaryDateLine":"First published on Thu 15 Dec 2022 04.12 EST"}],"filterKeyEvents":false,"id":"key-events-carousel-mobile"}” readability=”1″>

Filters BETA

Afternoon summary

  • John Swinney, Scotland’s first minister, has told MSPs in his budget speech that anyone earning more than £43,662 in Scotland will pay an extra penny in the pound in income tax. He said that cash would go into the NHS, and he presented it as an example of how the Scottish government was making progressive choices and rejecting austerity. His full statement is here.

John Swinney, Scotland’s finance secretary.
John Swinney, Scotland’s finance secretary. Photograph: Ken Jack/Getty Images

Updated at 11.26 EST

Scottish Tories claims tax rises for higher earners risk undermining ‘potential for economic growth’

Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservatives’ finance spokesperson, is responding to Swinney now.

She says Swinney should stop blaming all his economic problems on the UK government. She says the increase in the block grant to Scotland more or less covered inflation.

She says the SNP government has had the power to vary income tax rates for a long time, and for years it never used them.

And she expresses concern about the tax gap that will open up between higher earners in Scotland and people on lower salaries. She told Swinney he risked “undermining the potential for economic growth”. And she asked if the Scottish government had conducted an analysis of whether this might lead to higher earners leaving Scotland.

In response, John Swinney, the Scottish government’s finance secretary, said that a few weeks ago Smith was urging him to follow the policies in Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-budget.

Updated at 11.03 EST

Swinney says he will freeze the basic rate for businesses paying non-domestic rates.

He says an extra £1bn will be allocated for health and socal care.

And he says the Scottish government will spend the £20m that would have been spent on an independence referendum, if the supreme court had not ruled that as illegal, on extending its fuel insecurity fund.

He ends by saying the Scottish government has opted “to reject the path of austerity” and instead chosen “a progressive path” with investment in public services.

Swinney also says there will be no limit on the council tax increases that local authorities can implement next year.

The SNP government froze council tax for many years – it was one of its most popular policies – but that ended last year.

Chris Green from the i says this could lead to big council tax increases.

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NEW No limit to council tax rises in Scotland in 2023/24 – will be left up to local authorities to make decisions

Could pave way for big rises

&mdash; Chris Green (@ChrisGreenNews) December 15, 2022

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NEW No limit to council tax rises in Scotland in 2023/24 – will be left up to local authorities to make decisions

Could pave way for big rises

— Chris Green (@ChrisGreenNews) December 15, 2022

In his autumn statement Jeremy Hunt, the chancellor, also paved the way for council tax bills in England to go up, although increases will still be capped at 5%, for authorities with social care responsibilities, and 3% for others.

Updated at 10.53 EST

Swinney says he is allocating an extra £550m for councils next year.

Swinney confirms that the additional dwelling supplement will go up from 4% to 6%. (See 3.12pm.)

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JS: &quot;On Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, there'll be no changes to the main residential and non-residential rates and bands.

Legislation will be introduced today to increase the rate of the Additional Dwelling Supplement from 4% to 6%, raising much needed extra revenue.&quot;

&mdash; The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

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JS: “On Land and Buildings Transaction Tax, there’ll be no changes to the main residential and non-residential rates and bands.

Legislation will be introduced today to increase the rate of the Additional Dwelling Supplement from 4% to 6%, raising much needed extra revenue.”

— The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

Swinney says all Scots earning more than £43,662 will pay 1% more in income tax, to raise money for NHS

Swinney says the starter, basic and intermediate rates of income will stay the same.

But the higher and top rate will go up, he says. (See 2.58pm.)

He says this means people earning more than £43,662 pounds will have to pay an extra penny in the pound on income tax.

He says the money is being raised for a specific purpose – investment in NHS.

These changes will raise £129m in the next financial year, he says.

<gu-island name="TweetBlockComponent" deferuntil="visible" props="{"element":{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

JS: &quot;As a result, we're asking all those earning more than £43,662 to pay an extra penny in income tax. I want to be clear, that extra penny is for a specific purpose.

We've taken the decision to enable us to deliver substantial additional investment in our NHS.&quot;

&mdash; The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

\n","url":"https://twitter.com/theSNP/status/1603414219235418118","id":"1603414219235418118","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"b90e433b-a900-45e1-86f7-f9b551a61a42"}}”>

JS: “As a result, we’re asking all those earning more than £43,662 to pay an extra penny in income tax. I want to be clear, that extra penny is for a specific purpose.

We’ve taken the decision to enable us to deliver substantial additional investment in our NHS.”

— The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

Updated at 11.20 EST

Swinney confirms that the budget will ask people on higher incomes to pay more.

But overall people in Scotland will pay less in income tax than in the rest of the UK, he says.

Swinney says the Scottish government has already raised the value of the Scottish child payments. And other benefits under the control of the Scottish government will go up in line with inflation.

Updated at 10.32 EST

But, Swinney says, the government is still choosing to focus on its priorities. Those include addressing child poverty, and transitioning to net zero.

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JS: &quot;We choose to prioritise the transition to Net Zero because it is precisely through this transition that Scotland will realise its economic potential, not in spite of it.

A stronger, fairer, greener economy benefits everyone.&quot;

&mdash; The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

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JS: “We choose to prioritise the transition to Net Zero because it is precisely through this transition that Scotland will realise its economic potential, not in spite of it.

A stronger, fairer, greener economy benefits everyone.”

— The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

<gu-island name="TweetBlockComponent" deferuntil="visible" props="{"element":{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

JS: &quot;We choose to prioritise the transition to Net Zero because it is precisely through this transition that Scotland will realise its economic potential, not in spite of it.

A stronger, fairer, greener economy benefits everyone.&quot;

&mdash; The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

\n","url":"https://twitter.com/theSNP/status/1603411760807034880","id":"1603411760807034880","hasMedia":false,"role":"inline","isThirdPartyTracking":false,"source":"Twitter","elementId":"ac6e826c-cd43-4a08-a256-b9e5a308efaa"}}”>

JS: “We choose to prioritise the transition to Net Zero because it is precisely through this transition that Scotland will realise its economic potential, not in spite of it.

A stronger, fairer, greener economy benefits everyone.”

— The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

The budget will strengthen the social contract with the people of Scotland, he says.

And he says people in Scotland still benefit from things not available in the rest of the UK, like free prescriptions, free university tuition and the Scottish child payment.

Swinney says Scottish government has had to revise its plan in light of poor economic situation

Swinney says one result of the financial situation is that it will take the government longer than planned to deliver on its agenda.

Another is the need for public sector demand will be more intense.

A third consequence is that capital spending won’t be as high as planned.

And, fourth, he is not publishing a public sector pay policy for 2023-24, because the situation is uncertain.

Updated at 10.34 EST

Swinney says the UK is set to perform worse than any other G20 economy in 2023 and 2024, other than Russia.

This shows how decisions made by the UK government have have “made our economy weaker and put the public finances under tremendous strain”, he says.

Swinney says he has allocated £700m more than planned for public sector pay.

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JS: &quot;As a result of soaring inflation, we have faced significant pay demands from public sector workers.

In response, we reallocated over £700m more than originally budgeted to enhance pay uplifts to better reflect the increased cost of living and especially to tackle low pay.&quot;

&mdash; The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

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JS: “As a result of soaring inflation, we have faced significant pay demands from public sector workers.

In response, we reallocated over £700m more than originally budgeted to enhance pay uplifts to better reflect the increased cost of living and especially to tackle low pay.”

— The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

And he says the financial pressures are so great that he is struggling to produce a budget that will balance.

And he says he does not think he will be able to carry over any money from this year’s budget into next year’s, as he normally does. That will make the situation even more difficult next year, he says.

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JS: &quot;As a consequence of that issue, for the first time since this government took power, I am announcing a Budget for the next financial year assuming that we do not carry forward any fiscal resources from this year into next.&quot;

&mdash; The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

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JS: “As a consequence of that issue, for the first time since this government took power, I am announcing a Budget for the next financial year assuming that we do not carry forward any fiscal resources from this year into next.”

— The SNP (@theSNP) December 15, 2022

Updated at 10.35 EST

Swinney is now delivering the budget statement.

There is a live feed here.

He starts by saying Brexit, and the “utterly catastrophic decisions” in the mini-budget have made the economic situation worse.

Updated at 10.21 EST

Scotland’s finance secretary apologises ‘unreservedly’ for leak of budget

John Swinney, the Scottish government’s finance secretary, says no one was given authorisation by him to leak budget details.

But he says, inevitably, many people were aware of what the budget was going to say.

He tells Johnstone:

I unreservedly apologise to you for the situation in which you find yourself a presiding officer in protecting the integrity of parliament.

He also says some of the information leaked was contained embargoed information given to the other political parties.

Updated at 10.22 EST

Alison Johnstone, Holyrood’s presiding officer, has told MSPs she “cannot express strongly enough” her disappointment about the leak of the budget.

But she said she would allow the statement to go ahead.

Chris Musson from the Scottish Sun has more on the leak of the Scottish government’s budget.

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.@bbckirstenc tells viewers Scot Gov have published Budget documents by mistake (presumably scheduled) despite Budget delay, incl one showing Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scottish Stamp Duty) up from
4-6% for second homes

What a shambles

&mdash; Chris Musson (@ChrisMusson) December 15, 2022

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.@bbckirstenc tells viewers Scot Gov have published Budget documents by mistake (presumably scheduled) despite Budget delay, incl one showing Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Scottish Stamp Duty) up from
4-6% for second homes

What a shambles

— Chris Musson (@ChrisMusson) December 15, 2022

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Currently, buyers of 2nd homes in Scotland have to pay the &quot;Additional Dwelling Supplement&quot; of an extra 4% on purchase price of properties costing more than £40,000. So, this will rise to 6%.

&mdash; Chris Musson (@ChrisMusson) December 15, 2022

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Currently, buyers of 2nd homes in Scotland have to pay the “Additional Dwelling Supplement” of an extra 4% on purchase price of properties costing more than £40,000. So, this will rise to 6%.

— Chris Musson (@ChrisMusson) December 15, 2022

The Scottish parliament is set to resume its sitting any minute now, the Herald’s Tom Gordon reports.

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Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney (with speech) now in Holyrood chamber so Scottish budget looks imminent

&mdash; Tom Gordon (@HTScotPol) December 15, 2022

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Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney (with speech) now in Holyrood chamber so Scottish budget looks imminent

— Tom Gordon (@HTScotPol) December 15, 2022

The Guardian

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