Labour will wage war on dodgy donations and conflicts of interest

In a new announcement covered in the Times today, a Labour Government will introduce sweeping changes to political donations and lobbying, and ban MPs’ paid second jobs, as part of its plan to clean up politics and wage war on conflicts of interest in Parliament and government.

To tackle dodgy donations and dark money, a Labour Government will:

  • Ban donations from individuals who are not domiciled in the UK and who are non-resident for tax purposes, as well as donations from those non-tax compliant, including tax evaders;
  • Prevent the use of shell companies to hide the true source of donations, and force any private company that donates to declare its ultimate beneficial ownership;
  • Require political parties to publish the names of any donors that donate over £7,500 in a calendar year that also attend events organised by that party in that same calendar year, when a purpose of that event is to engage donors. This will end the secrecy of donation clubs like the Leader’s Group.
  • Increase the maximum fine the Electoral Commission can sanction for breach of political finance rules.

If Labour is elected, legislation for these policies will be drafted immediately, to ensure a second EU referendum is conducted free from undue influence.

Labour will also abolish the Lobbying Act 2014 and introduce new rules that will expose and restrict the increasingly uncontrollable corporate lobbying of government, which the Tories have allowed to flourish and have profited from.

Labour’s new lobbying register will:

  • Cover the millions of pounds worth of corporate lobbying conducted by in-house lobbyists and think-tanks, which is currently not captured by existing legislation, as well as by consultant lobbyists;
  • Cover the lobbying of MPs, ministers, and any senior employee of central government and not just permanent secretaries and special advisers;
  • Require lobbyists to declare the specific nature of the lobbying engagement, who is being targeted, what policy areas are under discussion, on behalf of whom, and the estimated value of the lobbying activity registered;
  • Carry tougher sanctions for those individuals or organisations that fail to register the appropriate level of detail. Sanctions will include a ban on future meetings with public officials as well as monetary fines.

Labour will also ban MPs from holding paid second jobs. There will be limited exemptions to maintain professional registrations like nurses.

This will be accompanied by re-written business appointment rules, enforced by a new statutory body that will replace the ineffective Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA).

This new body will produce rulings that are mandatory, not just advisory, and be more representative of society in its membership, and not packed with establishment figures.

Under the new business appointments rules, former ministers will be prevented from lobbying government for a minimum of five years after leaving office, and for longer periods in sensitive cases.

Jon Trickett, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, said:

“Under the Tories politics and government is in serious danger of becoming a playground for the rich and powerful, with decisions often made behind closed doors in the interests of a small few, at the expense of the many. This is very worrying for our democracy.

“The rules that are supposed to prevent this are completely ineffective. The time for their replacement is long overdue.

“Labour will protect our democracy with tough new regulations, as part of our democratic revolution to create real change in how this country works”.

 

Labour analysis reveals NHS staff working one million hours of unpaid overtime every week under the Tories

 On Thursday official NHS data revealed the worst A&E crisis in history and 4.4m patients waiting longer than the 18 week limit for treatment, and a new Labour Party analysis released today of official NHS staff survey data reveals NHS staff are working a staggering one million hours of unpaid overtime each week, to help the NHS cope with its chronic understaffing.

This analysis raises fresh fears of burnout after the Tories this week attacked Labour’s plan to provide extra support to the NHS and its staff.

The most recent NHS Staff Survey shows nearly 270,000 NHS staff said they worked extra hours for free every week – at an average of 2.3 hours a week. Two thirds of NHS staff said their organisation hasn’t enough staff for them to do their job properly.

Doctors and dentists between them worked 125,000 hours a week (average 3.6), allied health professionals such as occupational therapists and physiotherapists worked 210,000 (average 2.2), and nurses worked 380,000 (average 3.0)

There are currently record vacancies in the NHS and this week Labour unveiled its NHS Rescue Plan which pledged a £26bn real terms increase, in a package which includes the recruitment of 24,000 extra nurses and expanding GP training places to 5000 to create 27 million more appointments with family doctors.

 

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: 

 “The NHS is in crisis after nearly a decade of Tory cuts and it’s a disgrace that it’s dedicated staff, who always put their patients first, are having to pick up the pieces to fill the gaps left by this crisis made in Downing Street.

“Boris Johnson’s Tories have let the NHS, its staff and our country badly down by intentionally slashing funding for staff training and scrapping the nursing bursary.

“Labour’s NHS Rescue Plan will restore the nursing bursary and recruit thousands of doctors and nurses that the NHS clearly needs to end the Tory crisis. You can’t trust the Tories with our NHS and we can’t have another five years of this.”

MalikRofidi
MalikRofidi

Labour announces plan for real change for young people’s mental health with a counsellor in every school

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow mental health minister Barbara Keeley have announced today “a plan for real change” for young people’s mental health pledging a qualified counsellor in every school.

The number of children experiencing mental health problems is increasing, with one in eight 5 to 19 year olds diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder in 2017. An estimated 95 per cent of teachers believe that they have taught a child experiencing anxiety, while 60 per cent believe that at least one of the children they have taught are self-harming. Barbara Keeley, Labour’s shadow minister for mental health, has called this an “emerging major health crisis.”

To deliver real change for young people’s mental health, Labour has pledged an additional £845 million per year for a Healthy Young Minds plan that will:

  • Establish a network of open access mental health hubs to enable 300,000 more children to access mental health support directly.
  • Recruit almost 3,500 qualified, on-site secondary school counsellors to ensure accessible pathways to mental health support.
  • Ensure access to a qualified counsellor for every primary school in Britain to ensure early prevention and identification of psychological issues
  • Work to develop and publish a cross-departmental national strategy to better address adverse childhood experiences and childhood trauma

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called Labour’s plan “a vital investment in the lives of our young people and an investment in our country’s mental health”.

Labour’s plan tackles the lack of treatment and early intervention. In 2017, it was estimated that over 100,000 children who had been referred to a mental health specialist did not receive treatment.

Nearly 60 per cent of local authorities have seen a real-terms fall in low level mental health services which are essential for early intervention.

Approximately 185,784 young people were referred to specialists NHS CAMHS services yet only 78,847 received support. CAMHS appointments can cover a range of issues for people aged under 18, including: eating disorders, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, anxiety and depression.

The mental health charity Mind has uncovered data that shows that in the past year the NHS in England has cancelled 175,000 appointments in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) – an overall increase of 25% compared to the previous year. And only three in 10 young people with a mental health problem were able to access specialist mental health services last year.

Announcing the Healthy Young Minds plan, Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“Almost every day someone talks to me about the terrible stresses a child or young person they know are going through. Mental health workers do incredible work but our society is fuelling mental illness on a huge scale and our young people are not getting the support they need.

“As a country, we have to start treating mental health as seriously as physical health. If we don’t help our young people, we are not only failing them, but storing up problems for the future for a whole generation.

“Every young person deserves the support they need for their talents to flourish and to play a full and positive part in the life of the community. Our manifesto will provide the real change young people need to live happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives.

“Our Healthy Young Minds plan is a vital investment in the lives of our young people and an investment in our country’s mental health.”

Barbara Keeley, Labour’s shadow minister for mental health, said:

“The government is failing young people. Too many children can’t access the mental health support they need.“

“Our young people deserve better and our country needs real change to tackle the emerging major health crisis in children’s mental health.

“Labour will ensure every school has a qualified professional on hand to support young people with their mental health, create a network of open access hubs for children to access mental health services without waiting months for an appointment.”

Monday 11th November 2019

John McDonnell, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, commenting on the news that economic growth has slowed to its lowest rate in almost a decade, said:

“Over the last year, growth slowed to its lowest rate in almost a decade.

“The fact that the Government will be celebrating 0.1% growth in the last six months is a sign of how low their hopes and expectations for our economy are.

“Labour will build a high-wage, high-skill economy by investing for growth in every region and nation of the UK.”

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