- Published: Tuesday, 18 December 2012 21:02
- Written by Jonathan Walker
We have a detailed interview with Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles lined up for Thursday's Post, in which he insists local authorities - and not the Government - are to blame for cutting services.
But he was also on outspoken form in the Commons on Monday when he was questioned by a Midland MP, as Hansard records:
Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, the former Labour MP for Redditch in Worcestershire, says her party is getting it wrong over benefit cuts.
George Osborne announced in last week's Autumn Statement that he was increasing most working-age benefits by just one per cent. This is a cut, in real terms, because it's below the level of inflation.
It's a political trap for Labour. Mr Osborne even announced he was planning to enshrine the cuts in a Bill, when there is no apparent need for legislation - except to force Labour to vote against it, allowing Tories to say Labour is on the side of benefit claimants.
Former Birmingham MP Lord Fowler is among the Conservatives backing same-sex marriage.
Norman Fowler has the MP for Sutton Coldfield for 27 years, and served as Transport Secretary and Party Chairman.
He's one of the supporters of a group called Freedom to Marry, which is campaigning "to win the freedom of same sex couples to marry, and to ensure that religious freedom is protected".
Politicians won't decide what our newspapers are allowed to print if Lord Levenson's proposals ever are put into effect.
In fact, we have no idea who will actually decide. Nor do we know the criteria they will use to determine whether newspapers have misbehaved or not.
Some opponents of Leveson's ideas exaggerate the extent to which "politicians" will be empowered to influence the content of newspapers.
But I suspect supporters of his proposals are guilty of a little wishful thinking, as they assume that a new body will stamp out the behaviour they consider to be unethical. In fact, we have no way of knowing what it will do.
Let me explain why I say all this.
Why should newspapers be regulated and not news websites or blogs? Lord Leveson's answer is partly that while some bloggers can and do carry out "valuable and professional" work, readers don't particularly expect them to - they expect the internet to be an "ethical vacumn", so that "People will not assume that what they read on the internet is trustworthy or that it carries any particular assurance or accuracy".
He also argues that people discuss things they see in newspapers, while apparently they don't discuss things they see online.
I don't agree with these conclusions. People may regard a personal blog differently to something that looks like a professional news website, but I do think there are many websites which readers take seriously. Readers also do discuss things they see on the internet.
It seems to me that there is a case for greater regulation of the news media but I can't see any reason why some websites (eg those associated with newspapers) should be regulated differently to others (eg those which are online-only news services) if both are presenting themselves as professional, reliable news sources.
See page 736 of his report. I reprint his comments below:
Andrew Mitchell's resignation letter:
It is with enormous regret not least because of the tremendous support and loyalty you have shown me during recent weeks that I am writing to resign as your chief whip.
Black Country MP Tom Watson should be allowed to call Michael Gove "a miserable pipsqueak of a man" according to one colleague.
Chris Bryant (Lab Rhondda) called for a rethink of the rules governing which insults MPs
are allowed to throw at each other.
Apparently, MPs have got away with calling each other "hooligan" and "idiot" - but when Mr Watson (Lab West Bromwich East) called the Education Secretary a pipsqueak in 2010, in a row over the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future project, he was silenced and his microphone was turned off.
The TV cameras didn't catch what Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield) said in the House of Commons yesterday but Labour say they are certain he told Ed Miliband he never did swear at police officers.
However, Mr Mitchell did admit swearing when he met representatives of the Police Federation last week, as we report in today's Birmingham Post:
Chris Jones, Secretary of West Midlands Police Federation, who was present at the meeting, said: "He told us that he did say under his breath 'I thought you lot were supposed to f****** help us.'
"That was from his own lips."
As Andrew Mitchell meets Police Federation officers in his Sutton Coldfield constituency, there have been repeated calls for him to reveal exactly what he said to police officers guarding the gates to Downing Street.
Labour leader Ed Miliband, in Bristol yesterday, said: "We still don't know what he said, what he said to our brave police officers, aned h has got to come forward with an explanation."
In fact, Mr Mitchell, the Chief Whip, has set out his side of the story. It appeared in a column by Matthew d'Ancona in the Sunday Telegraph last month, which states that Mr Mitchell denies calling anyone a "pleb" or suggesting they "learn your place", but states: "The Chief Whip admits that he then said, muttering to himself, but in earshot: 'You guys are supposed to fxxxing help us'."