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Ed Miliband visiting Somerset flood victims today

The Labour Leader, Ed Miliband, is visiting Somerset today to meet flood victims and discuss their future insurance claims. His visit coincides with a Downing Street summit today where the Prime Minister will meet representatives from the insurance industry, to discuss flood compensation.

Read: Insurance bosses to meet ministers over flood payouts

Prime Minister talks tactics in Taunton

The Prime Minister was in our region earlier today, warning that the battle against the floods would be "a long haul".

He was speaking as efforts continue to pump water off the Somerset Levels but with yet more heavy rain forecast.

He visited the emergency co-ordination centre in Taunton and again promised that extra help would be provided if necessary, as our political correspondent Bob Constantine reports.


Somerset MP signs petition for Lord Smith sacking

Ian Liddell-Grainger visiting flood-hit homes in Moorland by canoe yesterday Credit: ITV News/David Woodland

Ian Liddell-Grainger, the Conservative MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, has signed a petition calling for the sacking of the Environment Agency chairman Lord Chris Smith.

He said he had signed the petition after watching Lord Smith's appearance on Newsnight on Monday and he didn't see any regret for the devastation on the Somerset Levels.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said farmland had been submerged, homes flooded, businesses forced to close, families evacuated and wildlife wiped out in an area which used to be "one of the finest wildlife habitats in the country".

He added that Environment Agency data showed dredging would have "considerably alleviated" the impact of flooding on the Somerset Levels but it didn't happen.

The MP said Lord Smith should be sacked before he is due to step down in July.

The petition was started by butcher Malcolm Pyne from North Petherton last week.


Tory MPs lend support to Mark Harper after resignation


Very sorry to read Mark Harper's resignation letter. A very good minister, colleague and decent man who has behaved honourably.

Conservative MPs have voiced their support for Mark Harper, who has resigned as Immigration Minister after he discovered he was employing a cleaner who no longer had the right to live in the UK.


V sorry to see Immigration Minister Mark Harper go. He was a good Minister & shows typical integrity & decency in tough decision to resign.

Tory MP Nick de Bois said he was "very sorry" to hear of Mr Harper's departure, calling him "a very good minister, colleague and decent man".


Sorry to hear of mark harper resigning. Really decent guy and like him to act honourably. No calls from the PM, so job offer not mine.

Conservative MP Andrew Percy said Mr Harper was a "really decent guy", and said it was "like him to act honourably" by resigning as he did.


Mark Harper: 'I must hold myself to a higher standard'

Mark Harper, who has resigned as Immigration Minister after discovering that his cleaner was in the UK illegally, said that he felt compelled to resign even though he had "complied with the law at all times".

Mark Harper has resigned as immigration minister after discovering his cleaner was in the country illegally
Mark Harper has resigned as immigration minister after discovering his cleaner was in the country illegally Credit: PA

In his resignation letter to Prime Minister David Cameron, the Conservative MP said: "As Immigration Minister, who is taking legislation through Parliament which will toughen up our immigration laws, I should hold myself to a higher standard than expected of others."

He added: "I have always believed that politics is a team game, not an individual sport.

"Under the circumstances, I have therefore decided that the right course is for me to return to the backbenches. I am sorry for any embarrassment caused."

Mr Harper said he would continue to support the Conservative party and the government "in whatever way I can".



PM accepted Harper's resignation 'with regret'

The Prime Minister accepted the resignation of Immigration Minister Mark Harper "with regret", Downing Street said.

Harper announced his resignation over his employment of a cleaner who was not permitted to work in the UK.

"Mark Harper offered his resignation after he was informed that his cleaner did not have indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom, despite having shown him documents claiming she did," a Downing Street statement read.

"He immediately notified the Prime Minister - who accepted his resignation with regret. There is no suggestion that Mr Harper knowingly employed an illegal immigrant."

Forest of Dean MP resigns as Immigration Minister

Mark Harper Credit: PA

Mark Harper, Conservative MP for the Forest of Dean, has this afternoon resigned as Immigration Minister after it was revealed that his cleaner was an illegal immigrant.

Downing Street say the decision has been accepted with regret. There is no suggestion that Mr Harper was aware of his cleaner's status.

Today is Register to Vote Day

People are being encouraged to register to vote today Credit: ITV News West Country

Today is National Register to Vote Day, which aims to get a quarter of a million voters signed up by the end of the day.

The campaign, which is backed by local councils, is particularly targeting young people - 44 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted in the last general election, compared to 76 percent of over 65s. Registration forms can be found on the Electoral Commission website

Three thousand sign petition against allowances

Councillors will receive the petition at Trowbridge today Credit: ITV News West Country

A public petition with around three thousand names will be presented to Wiltshire councillors in Trowbridge later, protesting at proposed increases in allowances.

In November, the Council agreed to give an increase only weeks after making 252 staff redundant.

Council leader, Jane Scott, has decided not to accept her twenty two percent rise after initially saying she would be taking it.

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