The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke

Government secret trial proposals

The Government is to go ahead with changes that would allow more trials to be held behind closed doors after opposition from MPs

The High Court in London

The facts on closed-door trials

The Government has set out plans to hold more trials and inquests behind closed doors in order to protect sensitive information. Why?

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Clarke: Government would be 'reckless' to threaten EU withdrawal

Cabinet Minister Ken Clarke has admitted it would be "very reckless" for the Government to threaten to withdraw from the European Union after the next general election.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph he said:

To start threatening, throwing into the air our relationship with the outside world, with the global economy, would I think be very reckless.

I frequently say that to several of my colleagues: there seems little point in opening up the debate at the moment about our membership of the European Union.

The idea that somehow the present problems are caused by Britain's membership of the European Union is a theory that I can't quite follow.

Clarke: Married couples should not 'count on' tax breaks

Married couples should not "count on" the Government delivering them tax breaks before the 2015 general election, Cabinet minister Kenneth Clarke said today.

Conservatives fought the 2010 election on a promise of a transferable tax allowance that could be worth £150 a year to married couples where one spouse stays at home.

But the measure was opposed by Liberal Democrats, who secured the freedom under the Coalition Agreement to abstain in any vote on the issue, and Mr Clarke indicated today in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that tough economic conditions made it unlikely to be introduced before 2015.

Former Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has said tax breaks for married couples might not happen before the next election.
Former Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has said tax breaks for married couples might not happen before the next election. Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Despite the better-than-expected growth of 1% in the third quarter of 2012 announced earlier this week, Mr Clarke said it was too early to be certain the economy is bouncing back.

Saying that he believes a "long hard road" still lies ahead, Mr Clarke indicated that married tax allowances may be a casualty of the tight economic conditions.

"We never committed ourselves to married couples' tax by the end of the Parliament," the minister without portfolio told the Telegraph.

"I'm married, I'm not counting on it. I don't remember anyone promising that kind of thing."On the economy, Mr Clarke - a former chancellor - said: "It would be absolute folly to turn around and say it will all be fine by Christmas."

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Government 'must tackle drug problem'

Ken Clarke has said the government has no intention of changing the law on drugs and that problem will not be solved by decriminalisation.

Ken Clarke has urged the government to tackle the drug problem in the UK Credit: PA Wire

He said: "The Government has no intention whatever of changing the criminal law on drugs.

"I have frankly conceded that policy has not been working. We are all disappointed by the fact that far from making progress it could be argued we are going backwards at times.

"But my own purely personal view is that I would be worried about losing the deterrent effect of criminalisation of youngsters who start experimenting.

"The really key thing is to try to work out how to get fewer young people to start experimenting with drugs.

"One thing that does put them off is that they would get into trouble with the police."

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Ken Clarke condemns press lynch mob

The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke the told BBC Radio4's PM programme it was right that senior politicians were put under "veryclose scrutiny" but he also said:

"There is a bit of a fashion at the moment, the media do tend to act as a bit of a pack and they are steadily working through my colleagues trying to find things to complain about.

Sayeeda (Warsi), I am astonished by some of the complaints against her. It really is pedantic, some of it."

– The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke

Ken Clarke attacks media over Baroness Warsi

Ken Clarke
Ken Clarke Credit: PA

The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has launched a stinging attack on the media for acting like a "lynch mob" against Jeremy Hunt and Baroness Warsi.

He dismissed some of the allegations against the Conservative Party chairman as "downrightsilly" and "pedantic".

The comments came as David Cameron delivered a strong signal that Lady Warsi's job is safe despite ordering an investigation into her failure to declare business links.

The Prime Minister said he was "very happy" with the Conservative Party chairman's explanation after it emerged she took relative and business partner Abid Hussain on an official trip to Pakistan.

Liberty: Public inquests a 'crumb of comfort'

The oldest parliamentary trick is to start with a policy so outrageous that any crumb of comfort looks half-reasonable.

The protection of inquests is that crumb, but what if grieving families and other victims want to sue the military, intelligence or political establishment for abuses of power?

We've all seen fig leaves like 'judicial triggers' and 'exceptional circumstances' before. They give little comfort to the claimant locked out of court while Government lawyers play to an open goal in private with the judge.

– Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty

Clarke: 'Protecting the public cannot come at expense of our historic freedoms'

We have consulted and listened to many critics of our original plans and have made substantial changes. Protecting the public cannot come at the expense of our historic freedoms. That principle is absolutely right and has guided the Government's response.

The Bill now ensures that no evidence given openly in court at the moment can be given in secret in future, and gives the judge the final decision about whether any evidence at all can be heard in closed session.

Only civil cases involving national security evidence will be affected. The proposals were never intended to apply to criminal cases.

– Ken Clarke, Justice Secretary
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