You’re not too posh to wash a patient: Minister orders student nurses back to basics to improve compassion in NHS

Student nurses are to be forced to work for a year as healthcare assistants to improve compassion in the NHS. The back-to-basics approach comes amid claims that many trainee nurses, educated to degree-level, consider themselves ‘too posh to wash’.

He will insist ‘hands-on caring experience’ is just as important as academic training.

Other measures in response to the needless deaths of up to 1,200 patients at Stafford Hospital will include:

* A new chief inspector of hospitals to oversee an inspection system modelled on schools watchdog Ofsted

* A statutory ‘duty of candour’ on hospitals and GP surgeries to stop them concealing mistake

* A ban on gagging clauses preventing NHS whistleblowers from speaking out

* An ‘elderly care tsar’ to protect the interests of older people in care homes

* A new criminal offence to prevent managers fiddling figures such as waiting times and death rates

Last year the Care Quality Commission delivered a damning verdict on the state of the NHS.

It found 15 per cent of hospitals failed to meet national standards on ensuring patients had enough food and drink and 10 per cent did not treat people with dignity and respect.

Inspectors found examples of nurses treating patients as ‘objects’, failing to close curtains when they were carrying out personal tasks, talking over patients and speaking to them in a ‘condescending or dismissive way’.

Many hospitals had out-of-reach call bells or staff who failed to answer them in a reasonable time.

The Daily Mail has highlighted the failure of some nurses to care for patients as part of our Dignity for the Elderly campaign.

In a Commons statement today, Mr Hunt will call for a fundamental change in the culture of the NHS.

Students seeking NHS funding for nursing degrees will be required to work for up to a year as a healthcare assistant or support worker.

The scheme could be extended beyond nursing in the future, meaning doctors would have to spend time learning hands-on care.

Ministers will also publish a code of conduct for healthcare support workers, with clear requirements on behaviour and attitude.

Mr Hunt said: ‘Frontline, hands-on caring experience and values need to be equal with academic training. ‘These measures are about recruiting all staff with the right values and giving them the training they need to do their job properly, so that patients are treated with compassion.’

Insiders say the new chief inspector of hospitals, who will become the most powerful figure in the NHS, is expected to rate hospitals and GP practices as outstanding, good, needing improvement or poor. One third of the entire score will be based on patient experience – the extent to which patients would recommend a service to friends and family.

Ministers will also create an ‘elderly care tsar’ to protect the interests of older people in care homes and challenge institutions which perform badly in the new Ofsted-style ratings.

Ministers are also expected to announce that hospitals and GP surgeries which hide mistakes that lead to patients being harmed will be punished.

David Cameron insisted yesterday the NHS had to go ‘back to basics’ in the wake of Mid Staffs.

‘In the end it’s all about making sure we get back to basic thoughts in the NHS – about standards of care, about care attention for patients and making sure we do right by them. That is the key,’ he said.

Roger Goss, of the pressure group Patient Concern, said: ‘Nurses at present are being told by their Royal College that theirs is now a degree profession on a par with doctors, so they think: “Why should I wipe someone’s bottom? Why should I make sure they have a shower? I’m far too posh to wash – or to care”.

‘It was a bad day for patients when someone decided nursing was a degree profession. It’s not, it’s a vocation.’

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NHS watchdog refuses to pay for lung cancer drug that is twice as effective as chemo and could benefit 1,000 patients a year

A new drug that combats a specific type of lung cancer is too expensive for the NHS, says the rationing watchdog. Crizotinib, which is aimed at patients in their 40s and 50s, halts the advance of the disease for almost eight months – more than double the time for chemotherapy.

The drug, which was fast-tracked for use in the US last year, is designed for patients with a specific genetic mutation – non-small cell lung cancer. It is estimated that 1,000 patients could benefit each year from Crizotinib, which costs £4,000 a month.

But the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence claims it is unclear how much benefit the drug gives to patients so it is not deemed to be cost-effective.

Almost one in seven people with the disease were never smokers or light smokers who gave up, but like all sufferers the cancer is often diagnosed late when it has spread.

For three-quarters of all new cases, five-year survival rates are as low as five per cent because the cancer is advanced.

Dr Michael Peake, Clinical Lead, National Cancer Intelligence Network, said ‘In an aggressive disease like advanced lung cancer, where, for the majority of patients, survival is exceptionally poor and where not all patients can expect to gain much benefit with existing therapies, there is an urgent need for new medicines like crizotinib which target the specific drivers of a patient’s tumour.

‘Clinicians recognise that the future of cancer treatment lies in these types of targeted medicines.

‘If this preliminary guidance is upheld, it potentially signals a setback to the advancement of cancer medicine in the UK.’

Currently many patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC will have a second round of chemotherapy which threatens hair loss and other side effects – some life-threatening.

The drug is designed for NSCLC patients with a specific genetic mutation, of which at least two thirds of patients respond to crizotinib compared with just a fifth having chemo, with far fewer side effects.

They show a doubling of time on average before the cancer progressed, up from three months to 7.7 months.

Around 41,500 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year, including 14 per cent of patients who were never smokers.

It is estimated that 1,000 patients could benefit each year from the new drug, which costs just over £4,000 a month.

Chemotherapy costs more than £1,000 a month but is being given to hundreds of patients who will get little or no benefit, according to experts.

Dr David Montgomery, Medical Director, Pfizer Oncology UK which makes the drug, said ‘Personalised medicines are developed specifically for selected subgroups of patients who are most likely to benefit, sparing those in whom they will have no effect.

‘We believe this approach is better for patients and offers better value for the NHS, a concept in keeping with Nice’s purpose.

‘We are committed to working through the Nice consultation process to address the uncertainties within this preliminary recommendation.’ The drug, has been granted a conditional licence by the EU drug regulatory body because it serves an ‘unmet clinical need’ which is expected shortly to become a full licence.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the UK, accounting for more than a fifth of all cancer deaths.

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I refuse to surrender to the Marxist teachers hell-bent on destroying our schools: Education Secretary berates ‘the new enemies of promise’ for opposing his plans

By Michael Gove

Exactly 75 years ago the great English writer and thinker, Cyril Connolly, published his most famous book – The Enemies Of Promise. Connolly’s work explores the ways in which the talented individuals of his time were prevented from achieving their full potential.

It’s time someone produced an update. Because there are millions of talented young people being denied the opportunity to succeed as they deserve. Far too many are having their potential thwarted by a new set of Enemies Of Promise.

The new Enemies Of Promise are a set of politically motivated individuals who have been actively trying to prevent millions of our poorest children getting the education they need.

Our education system should give all children the tools they need – mastery of English, fluency in arithmetic, the ability to reason scientifically, a knowledge of these islands and their history – to take their place as confident, modern citizens.

There are many brilliant schools – a growing number – which do just that. Their students earn the qualifications which allow them to choose where they will go on to work, or study.

And they acquire the stock of knowledge required to take their place in a modern democracy – how to communicate in formal settings, appreciate the arguments in newspapers’ leading articles and understand the context behind big political decisions.

But, tragically, there are all too many children who still don’t leave school with these basic accomplishments. Businesses report that school-leavers lack basic literacy and numeracy.

Survey after survey has revealed disturbing historical ignorance, with one teenager in five believing Winston Churchill was a fictional character while 58 per cent think Sherlock Holmes was real.

Expectations in science have been so dumbed down that children could be asked if grilled fish is healthier than battered sausages in their GCSEs. And the greatest tragedy is that poor educational performance is concentrated in our most disadvantaged communities – places like Knowsley in Merseyside, Hull and East Durham. Because of my own background, I am determined to do everything I can to help the poorest children in our country transcend theirs.

But who is responsible for this failure? Who are the guilty men and women who have deprived a generation of the knowledge they need? Who are the modern Enemies Of Promise?

Well, helpfully, 100 of them put their name to a letter to The Independent newspaper this week.

They are all academics who have helped run the university departments of education responsible for developing curricula and teacher training courses.

You would expect such people to value learning, revere knowledge and dedicate themselves to fighting ignorance. Sadly, they seem more interested in valuing Marxism, revering jargon and fighting excellence.

They attacked the Coalition for our indefensibly reactionary drive to get more children to spell properly, use a wider vocabulary and learn their times tables. Expecting 11-year-olds to write grammatical sentences and use fractions in sums is apparently asking for ‘too much too young’ and will ‘severely erode educational standards’.

How can it erode educational standards to ask that, in their 11 years in school, children be given the opportunity to use the English language in all its range and beauty to communicate their thoughts and feelings with grace and precision? What planet are these people on?

A Red Planet, if their published work is anything to go by. One of the letter’s principal signatories claims to write ‘from a classical Marxist perspective’, another studies ‘how masculinities and femininities operate as communities of practice’, a third makes their life work an ‘intergenerational ethnography of the intersection of class, place, education and school resistance’.

It is no surprise that two signatories co-authored a paper proclaiming ‘Marxism is as relevant as ever’. It certainly seems to be if you want a position in a university department of education.

School reformers in the past often complained about what was called The Blob – the network of educational gurus in and around our universities who praised each others’ research, sat on committees that drafted politically correct curricula, drew gifted young teachers away from their vocation and instead directed them towards ideologically driven theory.

Some wonder if past reformers were exaggerating the problem in university education departments. Thanks to the not-so-Independent 100 we can see that, if anything, they were underplaying the problem.

In the past The Blob tended to operate by stealth, using its influence to control the quangos and committees which shaped policy. But The Blob has broken cover in the letters pages of the broadsheets because this Government is taking it on.

We have abolished the quangos they controlled. We have given a majority of secondary schools academy status so they are free from the influence of The Blob’s allies in local government. We are moving teacher training away from university departments and into our best schools. And we are reforming our curriculum and exams to restore the rigour they abandoned.

GCSEs and A-levels had been systematically devalued. We have acted. GCSEs and A-levels will again be taken after two years’ study, instead of broken into ‘modules’, and will stretch children with the challenges they need, such as extended essay-writing and more problem- solving in maths and sciences.

We believe children will flourish if we challenge them, but The Blob, in thrall to Sixties ideologies, wants to continue the devaluation of the exam system.

These reforms have the support of the growing number of great heads and outstanding teachers who want children to succeed. More and more schools are now being rated good and outstanding. But there are still a tiny minority of teachers who see themselves as part of The Blob and have enlisted as Enemies Of Promise.
They are the ultra-militants in the unions who are threatening strikes. They oppose our plans to pay good teachers more because they resent the recognition of excellence and they hate academy schools because heads in those schools put the needs of children ahead of the demands of shop stewards.

Previous school reformers have been stymied by these Enemies Of Promise before. Just last week Tony Blair was lamenting the fact teaching unions ‘have stood out against necessary educational change’ and arguing for the policies this Government is pursuing.

Indeed, across the world those politicians who want to help children from poor backgrounds get on are fighting the Enemies Of Promise. Last week I was talking to the Democrat Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, about his battle with the teaching unions.

That’s why it’s such a pity that, this week, Labour’s education spokesman Stephen Twigg chose to side with the Marxists and failed to condemn the unions who want to close successful schools.

The fight against the Enemies Of Promise is a fight for our children’s future. It’s a fight against ideology, ignorance and poverty of aspiration, a struggle to make opportunity more equal for all our children.

It’s a battle in which you have to take sides. Now that Labour seem to be siding with the militants, it’s even more important that we support the great teachers and heads fighting for higher standards for the sake of our children.

SOURCE

Parkinson’s drug ‘helps’ the elderly think younger and reap the rewards from the choices they make

At least this is a study of actual live people –JR

A drug used to treat Parkinson’s Disease could help older people make better decisions, say researchers.

As you get older you begin to lose the ability to learn from experiences, meaning you are less likely to be able to predict the chance of getting a reward from choices made.

This part of the brain, called the nucleus accumbens, is responsible for interpreting the difference between expected reward and actual reward.

These predictors, which come from a brain chemical called dopamine, helps us learn from our actions and in turn make better decisions in the future.

However, a drug widely used on Parkinson’s sufferers could help reverse this process helping older people think as they did when they were younger, according to a new study published in journal Nature Neuroscience.

Dr Rumana Chowdhury, who led the study at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London, said: ‘We know that dopamine decline is part of the normal aging process so we wanted to see whether it had any effect on reward-based decision making.

‘We found that when we treated older people who were particularly bad at making decisions with a drug that increases dopamine in the brain, their ability to learn from rewards improved to a level comparable to somebody in their twenties and enabled them to make better decisions.’

Researchers used behavioural testing and brain imaging techniques, to investigate the decision-making process in 32 healthy volunteers aged in their early seventies compared with 22 volunteers in their mid-twenties.

Older participants were tested on and off L-DOPA, a drug that increases levels of dopamine in the brain known as Levodopa, widely used to treat Parkinson’s.

The participants were asked to complete a behavioural learning task called the two-arm bandit, which mimics the decisions that gamblers make while playing slot machines. Players were shown two images and had to choose the one that they thought would give them the biggest reward.

Their performance before and after drug treatment was assessed by the amount of money they won in the task.

Dr Chowdhury said: ‘Older volunteers who were less able to predict the likelihood of a reward from their decisions, and so performed worst in the task, showed a significant improvement following drug treatment’.

Researchers also looked at brain activity as particpantsn played the game using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

They measured connections between areas of the brain that are involved in reward prediction using a technique called Diffusor Tensor Imaging (DTI).

The findings reveal that the older adults who performed best in the gambling game before drug treatment had greater integrity of their dopamine pathways. Older adults who performed poorly before drug treatment were not able to adequately signal reward expectation in the brain – this was corrected by L-DOPA and their performance improved on the drug.

Dr John Williams, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health at the Wellcome Trust, said: ‘This careful investigation into the subtle cognitive changes that take place as we age offers important insights into what may happen at both a functional and anatomical level in older people who have problems with making decisions.

‘That the team were able to reverse these changes by manipulating dopamine levels offers the hope of therapeutic approaches that could allow older people to function more effectively in the wider community.’

SOURCE

Coldest Easter EVER for Britain: Arctic misery set to last a week as temperatures drop to -15C

BRITAIN is braced for the coldest Easter on record with the bitter Arctic blast showing no signs of easing. Another week of freezing temperatures, gales and snow is forecast as the UK shivers in the chilliest spring for 50 years.

Heavy snow showers and strong winds have swept through the country causing mayhem on the roads, closing schools and downing power lines.

The extreme cold is thought to have caused the deaths of at least four people including two men, aged 25 and 33, at the weekend. Forecasters said the mercury was likely to fall below -10C (14F) this week but windchill could make it feel like -15C or colder across swathes of the country.

Central and northern regions have been worst hit with several inches of snow in many places and drifts several feet deep.

Thousands of homes in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Cumbria were yesterday without electricity for a third day as emergency crews struggled to restore supplies. Roads which became blocked on Friday were still impassible.

The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for ice today across much of the country.

With daytime temperatures likely to struggle above freezing, they last night extended a level-three cold weather health alert to Thursday, warning of a risk to the elderly and vulnerable.

They added that “heavy snow” threatens the Midlands and the South on Easter Saturday as a band of rain moves in from the Atlantic hitting cold air over the UK.

Forecaster Andrew Sibley said: “It is going to remain bitterly cold through the week with easterly winds keeping temperatures below freezing at night and just above during the day.

“There are likely to be more wintry showers along the east coast as this weather persists throughout the week. “There is also going to be the problem of icy conditions on the roads as there is not likely to be any thaw in the next few days.”

Forecasters have warned that next weekend could bring the lowest Easter temperatures since records began. The record currently stands at -9.8C (14.4F) at Lagganlia, near Aviemore in Scotland, on Easter Monday 1986.

Jonathan Powell, forecaster for Vantage Weather Services, said: “We are expecting bitterly cold conditions right through the week and into next weekend.

“Temperatures are on course to beat the record low for Easter, sinking well below -10C in many parts of the country, possibly hitting -15C in the wind. “This is all going to go on for quite some time, possibly until after Easter. It is a very grim and wintery picture.”

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Global Warming Causes Warmer, Wetter Winters Say Met Office (in 2007)

Rest of article here

The winter of 2006/07 was a warm and wet one for the UK. Interviewed by the BBC, Met Office meteorologist Wayne Elliott had this to say:-

“It is consistent with the climate change message. It is exactly what we expect winters to be like – warmer and wetter.”

Perhaps he should have added – “except when they are colder and drier”.

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Have politicians had a mental blackout?

There’s a real risk of energy shortages in Britain, yet still the political class is obsessed with cutting fossil fuel use

`Britain faces gas supply crisis as storage runs dry’, warned Reuters last week. Unseasonably cold weather has meant that demand for gas has shot up just as it should be going down with the arrival of spring. Just to add a little spice to the warnings, tens of thousands of homes were left without power as blizzards knocked out power lines in Northern Ireland and Scotland. A taste of things to come?

As it goes, the claim that gas supplies could run out by 8 April is very much a worst-case scenario. There is normally plenty of supply, from a combination of the North Sea, Europe and shipments of liquefied gas coming from countries further afield, particularly Qatar. Nonetheless, it is daft that a modern, highly developed economy like the UK should even be discussing such things. That we are is the product of years of inertia in central government and an obsession with self-imposed greenhouse-gas emissions targets.

So perversely, just as a set of circumstances was emerging that showed how close to the wind the UK is sailing on energy security, Britain has been closing power stations. For example, on Friday, Didcot A power station in Oxfordshire was disconnected from the National Grid after 43 years. The 2,000-megawatt plant got the chop because it burns coal. Older coal plants are being phased out under EU regulations. Indeed, according to Alistair Buchanan, the boss of energy regulator Ofgem, 10 per cent of the UK’s electricity generating capacity is due to be switched off this month.

Buchanan notes the speed at which plant closures will now kick in: `If you can imagine a ride on a rollercoaster at a fairground, then this winter, we are at the top of the circuit and we head downhill – fast. Within three years, we will see the reserve margin of generation fall from about 14 per cent to less than five per cent. That is uncomfortably tight.’ In fact, some of those coal plants are closing ahead of schedule because their remaining operating hours have been used up quickly to take advantage of low coal prices. At a time when complaints about domestic energy costs are getting louder and louder, we are turning our back on the cheapest form of power available.

We’ve known for quite some time that there was the potential for a major shortfall in energy supplies. Coal and nuclear stations have been shutting but alternatives have fallen short. Wind is expensive to build and intermittent in operation. At some of the coldest periods of the year, wind supply can fall to nearly zero. Renewable UK celebrated the fact that wind produced a record proportion of UK electricity in 2012 – but it was still just 5.5 per cent of the total. New nuclear stations should be being built now, but years of political indecision mean that not a single new plant has actually got agreement yet. Even now, suppliers are haggling with government over guaranteed prices, though planning permission for Hinkley Point C – a new station on the site of two older nuclear reactors – has at least been approved. Nonetheless, it will still take eight to 10 years to build the plant.

Producing new domestic supplies of fuel is also being stymied by the government’s overly cautious approach to shale gas. There are certainly substantial supplies under Lancashire, but overreaction to any safety issue is delaying exploitation. The latest hold-up is the need for an environmental assessment and concerns about the effect on wintering birds. (The latter hold-up is odd, since wind turbines are known to kill a lot of birds, with a disproportionate effect on raptors like eagles and vultures.) Even if shale gas finally gets the green light, significant supplies are still years away.

Another worry has been storage. While France, Germany and Italy hold around three months’ worth of gas in reserve, the UK holds just 19 days. Given that the Lib-Con government’s energy policy relies on burning a lot more gas in the next few years – cleaner than coal, much more reliable than renewables and cheaper than nuclear – storing gas will become much more important in the future. That’s not so much because the UK might actually run out, but because in the future, as the FT`s Nick Butler points out, we’re more likely to buy gas on the open market as and when we need it. If we don’t have reserves, we’ll be forced to pay whatever the price is at any particular moment rather than being able to wait for short-term fluctuations to pass.

The underlying problem is that the successive governments have been caught between a rock and a hard place. In normal circumstances, energy policy would be easy: pick the cheapest and most reliable sources of energy. On that basis, coal wins hands down. It’s cheap and it’s very flexible to use. No wonder King Coal is back with a vengence worldwide – not just in fast-developing countries like China and India, but also in Germany, which is burning more coal to make up for its decision to close its nuclear power stations. In the UK, gas would come second and we might add in hydro and nuclear to ensure diversity of supply.

However, the tunnel vision in the UK about climate change has massively complicated the issue. The UK parliament has committed itself – in what may well be the most expensive and boneheaded act of all time – to cutting emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. So now the aim is to wind down coal use, while boosting wind power, with gas and nuclear as awkward compromises. But there has been such regulatory indecision that every option has been made more expensive. Big energy companies are now unwilling to invest in any particular energy source for fear that a new set of ministers will change the rules all over again. In future, UK consumers are not only paying extra for green energy but are forking out for an effective governments-can’t-make-a-decision surcharge, too.

To put the tin lid on this ironyfest, this morning we had Sir John Beddington, the government’s soon-to-retire chief scientific adviser, complaining that the problem of climate change was not being taken seriously enough. In a country experiencing its coldest March weather for decades, with power stations closing, energy prices rising and serious questions being asked about future security of supply – and all in the context of the fact that global temperatures have plateaued for the past 16 years – it is more the case that climate change has been taken too seriously.

That is not to let the political class off the hook. From the economy to energy production, the inability of governments to act decisively has become a material force in its own right, which holds back society. The real problem with UK politics today is that there’s somebody home but the lights are off – and if the situation continues, that won’t just be metaphorically.

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Incompetence and foot-dragging blamed as backlog of 320,000 migrant cases in Britain will take 24 years to clear

Border officials need 24 years to clear their backlog of 320,000 immigration cases, MPs warn today. Incompetence and foot-dragging is blamed for the sheer number of claims – the equivalent of the population of Iceland.

In a blistering report, the Commons home affairs committee also said the army of foreign criminals on the streets was growing, with the total now almost 4,000.

The audit into the work of the UK Border Agency, which was dubbed not fit for purpose six years ago, found 321,726 outstanding cases involving immigrants.

These include 28,500 current asylum cases, 4,000 immigration cases and 181,541 people placed in a so-called Migration Refusal Pool.

The pool comprises migrants who arrived legally but cannot now be found after their work or study visas expired. Officials say many of the migrants will have gone home – a view disputed by the MPs, who say the lack of proper border checks may mean ‘tens of thousands’ are still here.

They are highly critical of the slow pace at which officials are clearing the backlog. Between July and September last year, it was reduced by only 3,430 – or 1 per cent.

This is despite officials writing off 74,000 cases held in the separate ‘asylum controlled archive’ over that period. The controlled archive was created to hold what remains of Labour’s asylum backlog. It was intended to hold cases that had not been concluded, so they could be reopened if the person was traced.

UKBA officials had been tracking them down – but decided to abandon those they couldn’t find. Critics say it amounts to have an effective ‘amnesty’.

Keith Vaz, the Labour MP who chairs the home affairs committee, said hardly any progress was being made in clearing the backlog. He holds former UKBA chief executive Lin Homer – Britain’s most senior female mandarin – responsible for much of the debacle.

She is clinging to her job in charge of HM Revenue & Customs after MPs concluded she was guilty of a ‘catastrophic’ failure of leadership during her time at UKBA.

Mr Vaz said: ‘No sooner is one backlog closed, than four more are discovered.

‘At this rate it will take 24 years to clear the backlog which still stands at the size of the population of Iceland.’ Also within the backlog are 3,980 foreign criminals who cannot be deported and have been released on bail by the courts. This has increased by 26 in only three months, despite repeated government promises to kick the offenders out. Six years ago the asylum backlog scandal prompted then home secretary John Reid to brand the immigration system ‘not fit for purpose’.

The committee recommends senior UKBA staff are not paid bonuses until there is evidence the backlog is being ‘substantially’ reduced and new backlogs are not emerging.

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s home affairs spokesman, said: ‘This highly critical report shows that practical failings in the immigration system are getting worse.’

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: ‘We have always been clear the UK Border Agency was a troubled organisation with a poor record of delivery.

‘Turning it around will take time but I am determined to provide the public with an immigration system they can have confidence in.’

The Border Agency has awarded a £30million contract to outsourcing firm Capita to help track illegals. It began work in October.

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Theresa May splits border agency to end ‘secretive and defensive’ culture

Britain’s beleaguered immigration service is to be split in two and brought directly under ministers’ control for the first time in five years, the Home Secretary announced today.

Theresa May said the UK Border Agency’s performance was “still not good enough” and it would be split to end its “closed, secretive and defensive culture”.

The unexpected move means immigration will be supervised by Home Office ministers rather than operating at arm’s length under the control of a chief executive.

It comes seven years after John Reid, the then Labour home secretary, described the Home Office as “not fit for purpose” after an immigration scandal that led to the sacking of his predecessor.

“In keeping with the changes we made last year to Border Force, the Government is splitting up the UK Border Agency,” Mrs May told the House of Commons.

“In its place will be an immigration and visa service and an immigration law enforcement organisation.

“UKBA was given agency status in order to keep its work at an arm’s length from ministers. That was wrong. It created a closed, secretive and defensive culture.

“So I can tell the House that the new entities will not have agency status and will sit in the Home Office, reporting to ministers.”

The announcement will leave the Coalition government open to allegations that it failed to get to grips with the UKBA’s failings more quickly, as it comes just a year after the last reorganisation of the agency, and only a day after a scathing attack by MPs on its former boss, Lin Homer.

The all-party Home Affairs Select Committee said in a strongly-worded report yesterday that Ms Homer was responsible for a “catastrophic leadership failure”.

MPs warned that it would take the UKBA 24 years to clear an immigration and asylum case backlog.

Mrs May said she hoped the changes would make it easier to cut backlogs and increase the number of illegal immigrants who are deported.

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English MPs could finally hold sway on England-only laws: Scots’ power must be curbed says report

Laws that affect England alone should no longer be passed in the Commons without the consent of a majority of English MPs, an inquiry has concluded.

The changes are designed to end the problem of unpopular measures affecting England, but not Scotland, being approved only with the support of Scottish MPs.

In 2004, for example, Tony Blair pushed through tuition fees for England even though most English MPs voted against the policy.

It passed only because Scottish Labour MPs packed the lobbies in favour of the move – despite the fact tuition fees would not apply north of the border because the devolved executive there had rejected the plan.

An independent commission, led by former House of Commons clerk Sir William McKay, has said more needs to be done to ensure English MPs have better control.

The report was commissioned by the Cabinet Office last year, and ministers will now consider whether to implement its conclusions.

It calls for a compromise ‘double-lock’ system, under which laws that apply in England alone are approved first by English MPs before they go to a vote before the whole Commons, which comprises MPs of all four nations of the UK.

The report suggests any England-only laws should first be considered by a committee made up of MPs representing English constituencies.

Laws would not go forward unless they achieved the support of this committee, whose make-up should reflect the balance of parties in England.

The legislation would then be voted on by all MPs in the Commons – be they English, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish.

This is to ensure that MPs from other countries are not relegated to ‘second class’ status.

So, in effect, every law would have to be supported by both a representative majority of English MPs and a majority of all of Britain’s MPs.

The new regime is designed to solve the so-called ‘West Lothian’ question, which asks why it is that Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish MPs have the same right to vote at Westminster as any English MP now that large areas of policy are devolved to national parliaments and assemblies.

Many Conservatives have called for purely ‘English votes for English laws’, with MPs from other nations barred from voting on such issues.

But Labour says to do that would undermine the Union. The party is also concerned that, because it often relies on Scottish MPs for a majority at Westminster, English votes for English laws could make governing impossible.

Now Sir William’s commission has unveiled a compromise which maintains the integrity of the UK but provides a greater English voice.

He said: ‘Surveys have shown that people in England are unhappy about the existing arrangements, and support change. There is a feeling that England is at a disadvantage, and that it’s not right that MPs representing the devolved nations should be able to vote on matters affecting England.

‘The status quo clearly cannot be sustained. Our proposals retain the right of a UK-wide majority to make the final decisions where they believe UK interests or those of a part of the UK other than England should prevail.’

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: ‘We will give the report very serious consideration before we respond.’

SOURCE

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About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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