EU allowance system 'wide open to abuse'

A member of the European Parliament told ITV News no one in Strasbourg ever asks for paperwork in relation to his allowances and expenses.

Live updates

Quango chief steps down after bankruptcy revealed

A businessman appointed by David Cameron to head a multibillion-pound quango has been forced to step down after it was disclosed that he was bankrupt.

A Government spokesman said Tony Caplin - a former Conservative Party chief operating officer - had resigned as chairman of the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB) which is responsible for £60 billion of loans in infrastructure projects.

Prime Minister David Cameron Credit: Cyril Villemain/ABACAPRESS.COM

The Mail on Sunday reported that Number 10 had been forced to act after an investigation it carried out revealed he had been made bankrupt in 2012.

A Government spokesman said: "He should have declared he was bankrupt. This has been pointed out to him and as a result he has resigned."

Senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee, told The Mail on Sunday: "This raises serious questions which should be investigated."

HMRC 'committed' to safeguarding confidentiality

HM Revenue and Customs remains committed to safeguarding taxpayer confidentiality, a spokesman has said, after reported plans to share taxpayers' data with third parties.

HM Revenue and Customs defends potential plans over data sharing Credit: PA

An HMRC spokesman said: "No final decisions have been taken [...] HMRC would only share data where this would generate clear public benefits, and where there are robust safeguards in place.

"Those accessing data would be subject to the same confidentiality provisions as HMRC staff, including a criminal sanction for unlawful disclosure of taxpayer information.

"HMRC will be consulting further and will ask for views on whether to charge to cover the costs of processing and providing anonymised data. This would not be charging for the data itself, purely covering the costs of providing it."

Advertisement

HMRC reported data sharing 'not the way to build trust'

The deputy director of Big Brother Watch has condemned reported plans for HM Revenue and Customs to share taxpayers' data with private firms. Emma Carr said:

Given the huge uproar about similar plans for medical records, you would have hoped HRMC would have learned that trying to sneak plans like this under the radar is not the way to build trust or develop good policy.

Given those who abuse personal information cannot be sent to jail this is yet another instance where Government should be putting proper protections in place before any more data is shared, rather than just hoping nothing goes wrong.

Given the sensitivity of people's financial records that is clearly an inadequate and dangerous approach to take.

David Davis: Data sharing 'borderline insane'

Conservative former minister David Davis has described a Government proposal to share taxpayers' data with private firms as "borderline insane".

Speaking to the Guardian: "The officials who drew this up clearly have no idea of the risks to data in an electronic age."

Former Conservative minister and shadow home secretary Credit: PA

"Our forefathers put these checks and balances in place when the information was kept in cardboard files, and data was therefore difficult to appropriate and misuse", Mr Davis.

"It defies logic that we would remove those restraints at a time when data can be collected by the gigabyte, processed in milliseconds and transported around the world almost instantaneously."

Read: HMRC 'to sell taxpayers' financial data' to third parties

HMRC 'to sell taxpayers' financial data' to third parties

Government plans to share taxpayers' data with private firms were condemned as "borderline insane" by a senior Tory MP.

Under the proposals, HM Revenue and Customs would be allowed to release anonymised information to third parties including companies, researchers and public bodies where there is a public benefit.

The new legislation would allow HMRC to release anonymised tax data to third parties Credit: PA

The Guardian reported that HMRC documents said "charging options" were being examined by officials, indicating that firms could pay to access the data. Treasury minister David Gauke is overseeing the plan, with legislation being drawn up by HMRC, the newspaper reported.

In its response to a consultation on the proposals last year, HMRC insisted the principle of "taxpayer confidentiality" would be protected under the reforms.

Signing up Axelrod 'can hardly hurt Miliband's chances'

Although there are significant differences between the US and British electoral systems, Ed Miliband's decision to take on one of Barack Obama's key strategists, David Axelrod, can hardly hurt the Labour leader's chances.

ITV News Political Correspondent *Romilly Weeks *reports.

Read: Obama strategist Axelrod joins Labour's election campaign

Advertisement

Teachers could be set for fresh round of strikes

Teachers are preparing for a fresh round of strikes at the end of June in a long and bitter row with the Government over pay, pensions and conditions.

The fresh round of strikes could hit schools in England and Wales in the summer term. Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) could walkout this summer if the dispute is not resolved.

The union will debate whether to stage fresh walkouts at their annual conference, being held in Brighton, which seeks co-ordinated national strikes in the week beginning Monday June 23 if "significant progress" is not made in ongoing talks with the Government.

The move comes just weeks after the NUT staged a national walkout and offers the prospect of widespread disruption to schools in England and Wales in the summer term.

Labour website misspells new strategic adviser's name

David Axelrod, one of US President Barack Obama's top strategists, has been warmly welcomed by Labour after joining their election team, however that did not stop the party's website from misspelling his name.

David Axelrod is one of US President Barack Obama's top strategists. Credit: Labour.org.uk

The news release spelled his name 'David Alexrod' but the website has now corrected the error.

Read: Miliband says Axelrod will be huge asset to Labour

Speaker: Party leaders must do more about rowdy MPs

Party leaders are not doing enough to get rowdy MPs under control at PMQs, the Speaker of the House of Commons told Radio 4's PM programme.

In a wide-ranging interview covering MPs expenses and sexual harassment in Parliament, John Bercow criticised all party leaders for not delivering a "specific commitment" on their members behaviour.

I have heard back from the party leaders.

There is a general sense, 'Yes Mr Speaker you make a good point and of course we must behave well and try to impress the public and give serious consideration to what people think', but there's not yet much by way of a specific commitment."

I know there are people in the Westminster beltway, including in the press gallery, who think, 'Well, what's the Speaker moaning about? Why is he so neurotic? This is the way people like it'.

To which my answer is no, that's the way you like it.

– John Bercow

Read: MPs put off PMQs by bad behaviour, warns Bercow

MPs put off PMQs by bad behaviour, warns speaker

MPs are increasingly put off Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs) by the "histrionics and cacophony of noise", the Speaker of the House of Commons has warned.

Read: 'Dunce' Cameron takes aim at 'muppet' Miliband

John Bercow
John Bercow has to frequently call the house to order during PMQs. Credit: PA

John Bercow said women MPs and "seasoned parliamentarians" had given up attending the weekly question and answer session because of bad behaviour by other members of the house.

Mr Bercow said Parliament was "spray painting its own shop window" by appearing to generate higher decibel levels than heavy metal band Deep Purple, regarded as the loudest band in the world in some quarters.

He told BBC Radio 4's PM programme there are "down-market parts of the media" who would "positively relish" it if there was a fight on the floor of the Commons chamber.

Read: Tory MP Anne Marie Morris steals show at PMQs with ear-busting outburst

Load more updates